Men More Likely to Experience Memory Problems than Women

According to a recent research, mild cognitive impairment, which occurs with aging, is more common among men. People who experience mild cognitive impairment have problems with short-term memory and difficulty keeping conversations flowing. Several indicators include misplacing items or remembering what they want to say.

The study used to compile the article concludes that men are 1.5 times more likely than women to experience mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which frequently leads to Alzheimer’s disease.

Ronald Petersen, MD, Ph.D. from the Mayo Clinic was in charge of executing the study. Peterson and his team interviewed 2,050 people between the ages of 70 and 89. Variables included data collected about the participants’ memory and medical history.

Results showed MCI was present in approximately 14 percent of the patients, and dementia in approximately 10 percent. 76 percent demonstrated normal memory and thinking. 19 percent of the men had MCI, compared with 14 percent of the women. Also, MCI rates were higher among participants who never married and those who had lower education levels.

According to Petersen, the combined rates of MCI and dementia (22 percent) represent the great impact of the two conditions, as well as the need to find treatments for them. The higher male rate was unexpected for Petersen, as Alzheimer’s disease rates are higher in women. This study suggests that 25 percent of the population age 70 and older experience dementia, or are at risk of developing the disorder in the future. This statistic highlights the importance of early detection and research for treatment improvement.

Feeling impulsive? High dopamine levels may be the cause

According to a study published in Journal of Neuroscience, high levels of dopamine make people more likely to act on impulse. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain involved with reward, motivation and learning through reinforcement. This finding may better explain disorders such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which is characterized by high levels of dopamine and extremely impulsive behavior.

Scientists already know that sensory inputs such as smells, sights, sounds, anticipation and neutral cues associated with rewards boost dopamine levels and cause people to act more impulsively. However, this research helps understand why disorders associated with abnormal dopamine levels can lead to impulsive behavior.

Before scientists can prescribe medication lowering dopamine levels, they must be certain that the medication does not impair other important functions. Dopamine is responsible for a wide range of function in the brain, from movement to cognition.

Study Concludes Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is Genetic

ADHD is a condition that affects children and adults across the globe. According to Healthcentral.com a classroom with 30 students will have between 1 and 3 children with ADHD, and one-fourth of children with ADHD have serious learning disabilities such as: oral expression, listening skills, reading comprehension and/or math.

According to scientists at Cardiff University, children with ADHD are more likely to have segments of their DNA missing or duplicated. There is a clear genetic link between the same segments and other neurological disorders.

The scientists analyzed the genomes of 366 children, all diagnosed with ADHD. They found that children with ADHD are more likely to have a parent with the condition. Also, a child whose identical twin has the syndrome has a 75 percent chance of having ADHD.

People often believe that ADHD is developed as a result of poor parenting or a bad diet. However, the disorder is actually one of the most common child mental health disorders. Children who have ADHD are very restless, impulsive and easy distractible. They often experience difficulty learning. Treatment typically includes medication and behavioral therapy.

The findings will help scientists gain a better understanding of the disorder, which could lead to a better diagnosis and improved treatment options.

New Study Provides Breakthrough in Addiction Treatments

According to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, a memory-enhancing medication may help drug addicts avoid relapsing after therapy. Scientists have found that D-cycloserine, a chemical used to treat fear and anxiety disorders, may help a drug addict gain resistance.

The study, led by Mary Torregrossa of Yale University, consisted of observing 168 rats that self-administered cocaine for weeks, a behavior identical to addiction in humans. The researchers used extinction therapy, a behavioral therapy, to minimize the craving effects of cues.

They also added the D-cycloserine memory-enhancing drug to supplement the therapy, which typically only works where it is performed, such as in a treatment center. They noticed that using the drug to allow the therapy to work more broadly is a huge advancement in addiction treatment since typically addicts are able to stay clean inside a treatment facility but experience immense difficulty staying clean when they are released.

The results show that D-cycloserine, combined with extinction therapy can help addicts resist relapsing due to environmental cues such as drug-related sights or smells. The study is under further review to determine how the findings may be applied to humans.

Bipolar Disorder: Getting Your Facts Straight

Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million Americans, and as the number of cases continues to rise, so do the myths associated with it. Bipolar disorder, commonly referred to as manic-depressive disorder, is a mood disorder characterized by individual experiencing extreme manic episodes which are followed by equally extreme depressive episodes. The term bipolar refers to the cycling between high and low episodes (poles). There is an increased awareness of bipolar disorder due to an increased diagnosis rate; but, the increased awareness is leading to the development of numerous myths surrounding the disorder. In a recently published article, “8 Myths about Bipolar Disorder,” Web MD discusses and relieves the most common myths about bipolar disorder.

Myth 1: Bipolar disorder is a rare condition

Not true. Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million Americans a year. Recently, researchers looked at the number of office visits with a bipolar disorder diagnosis in 1994-1995 and 2002-2003 in the U.S. They found that the number of office-based visits quadrupled for children and nearly doubled for adults from the first time period to the second.

Myth 2: Bipolar disorder is just another name for mood swings

Not true. The mood swings associated with bipolar disorder are very different than those of people without the condition. The mood swings associated with bipolar disorder are more severe, longer lasting and pose a heavy strain on the patient’s day to day life.

Myth 3: People with bipolar disorder shift back and forth from depression to mania very often.

Not true. This myth refers to the Jekyll and Hyde scenario in which an individual will shift from an extreme manic state to an extremely depressive state on a dime. This is the oldest and most popular myth associated with the Bipolar disorder. There are patients that shift back and forth more quickly than others, but that is not a typical pattern. Generally, the medication a patient takes not only controls the severity of their states but also the transition period between them; ensuring a subtle if at all noticeable, change.

Myth 4: When they’re in the manic phase, people with bipolar disorder are often very happy

True for some. A person with bipolar disorder may enter the manic phase happy but not stay that way. Additionally, manic phases vary from to person to person; one’s manic phase may seem as another’s depressive phase. The article also discusses multiple other factors that contribute to the level of a patient’s manic state. Some of these include: alcohol, drugs, diet and exercise but all effects are completely based on the individual patient.

Myth 5: There is a bipolar test

Not true. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder depends on the physician taking a careful patient history, asking about symptoms over time and trends in the patient’s family.

Myth 6: Bipolar disorder can’t be diagnosed until age 18

Not true.In fact, many adult patients report having symptoms before age 18. But it is true that it’s more difficult to diagnose it in children, because of varying patterns of the disorder. Typical childhood behavior – such as having a tantrum and recovering quickly– can also make it difficult to diagnose the condition in children.

Myth 7: People with bipolar disorder should not take antidepressants

Not true.  The myth originated from a unique case in which regarding individuals who were diagnosed with both depression and bipolar disorder. The concern is that if they take antidepressants they could flip into an extreme state of mania. In a study published by The New England Journal of Medicine, a group of doctors randomly assigned 366 patients with bipolar disorder to a treatment of mood stabilizer drugs and placebo or to mood stabilizer drugs and an antidepressant. After following up with them 26 weeks, they found absolutely no difference between groups of patients in regards to a shift from depression to mania. Some people just need drugs, it is crucial, however, to consult a physician to attain accurate dosages and types

Myth 8: Aside from taking medication and engaging in psychotherapy or “talk therapy,” a person with bipolar disorder has few options for controlling the condition

Not true. Medications and therapy is important, but paying attention to lifestyle choices can also have a large impact. Ken Duckworth, MD tells WebMD that “Active strategies, such as getting regular aerobic exercise, keeping a regular bedtime, eating a healthful diet, and paying attention to personal warning signs that a shift to depression or mania is coming can all help a person manage bipolar disorder.”

Bipolar is a very serious disorder, but thanks to technological advances, it does not have to be as much of a hindrance on a patient’s life as it once was. To find out more about bipolar disorder and all psychiatric disorders visit NorthShore University HealthSystem’s neuroscience department.