Brain Circuit Connects Feeding And Mood In Response To Stress

Share Button

Submitted by the Baylor College of Medicine….

stressMany people have experienced stressful situations that trigger a particular mood and also change certain feelings toward food. An international team led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine looked into the possibility of crosstalk between eating and mood and discovered a brain circuit in mouse models that connects the feeding and the mood centers of the brain. Published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, these findings may help explain some of the observations between changes in mood and metabolism and provide insights into future solutions to these problems by targeting this circuit.

“This study was initiated by first author Dr. Na Qu, a psychiatrist of Wuhan Mental Health Center, China, when she was visiting my lab,” said corresponding author Dr. Yong Xu, associate professor of pediatrics and of molecular and cellular biology at Baylor College of Medicine.

Qu, a practicing psychiatrist who also conducts basic brain research, was interested in investigating whether there was a neurological basis for the association between depression and other psychiatric disorders and alterations in metabolism, such as obesity or lack of appetite, she had observed in a number of her patients.

Xu, Qu and their colleagues worked with a mouse model of depression induced by chronic stress and observed that depressed animals ate less and lost weight. Then, they applied a number of experimental techniques to identify the neuronal circuits that changed activity when the animals were depressed.

“We found that POMC neurons in the hypothalamus, which are essential for regulating body weight and feeding behavior, extend physical connections into another region of the brain that has numerous dopamine neurons that are implicated in the regulation of mood,” said Xu, who also is a researcher at the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor and Texas Children’s Hospital.We know that a decrease in dopamine may trigger depression.”

In addition to the physical connection between the feeding and the mood centers of the brain, the researchers also discovered that when they triggered depression in mice, the POMC neurons were activated and this led to inhibition of the dopamine neurons. Interestingly, when the researchers inhibited the neuronal circuit connecting the feeding and the mood centers, the animals ate more, gained weight and looked less depressed.

“We have discovered that a form of chronic stress triggered a neuronal circuit that starts in a population of cells that are known to regulate metabolism and feeding behavior and ends in a group of neurons that are famous for their regulation of mood,” Xu said. “Stress-triggered activation of the feeding center led to inhibition of dopamine-producing neurons in the mood center.”

Although more research is needed, Xu, Qu and their colleagues propose that their findings provide a new biological basis that may explain some of the connections between mood alterations and changes in metabolism observed in people, and may provide solutions in the future.

“Our findings only explain one scenario, when depression is associated with poor appetite. But in other cases depression has been linked to overeating. We are interested in investigating this second association between mood and eating behavior to identify the neuronal circuits that may explain that response,” Xu said.

Other contributors to this work include Yanlin He, Chunmei Wang, Pingwen Xu, Yongjie Yang, Xing Cai, Hesong Liu, Kaifan Yu, Zhou Pei, Ilirjana Hyseni, Zheng Sun, Makoto Fukuda, Yi Li and Qing Tian. The authors are affiliated with one or more of the following institutions: Baylor College of Medicine, Huazhong University of Science and Technology and China University of Geosciences.

This work received financial support from grants from the National Institutes of Health  (K99DK107008,606 R01DK111436, R01ES027544, R21CA215591), USDA/CRIS (6250-51000-059-04S), American Diabetes Association (1-17-PDF-138), American Heart Association awards  (17GRNT32960003, 16GRNT30970064 and 16POST27260254), National Natural Science Foundation of China (81400886), Hubei Province health and family planning scientific research project (WJ2015Q033) and Population and Family Planning Commission of Wuhan (WX14B34). Further support was provided by award and fellowships from Wuhan Young & Middle-Aged Talents, Health and Family Planning Commission of Wuhan Municipality and China Scholarship Council (File NO.201608420019).

What You Can Do Right Now To Improve Your Mood

Share Button

Submitted by the Baylor College of Medicine….have opinions about their article, please share in the comments section below….

womanThe blues, a funk or a bad mood – whatever you want to call it – it’s is not an uncommon feeling, but according to an expert at Baylor College of Medicine, it’s how you react to it that matters.

“It’s normal to feel stressed at work if you have a lot of emails waiting or if there are a lot of competing demands on your time – those can all be setups for stress and anxiety,” said Dr. Sanjay Mathew, associate professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Baylor. “Everyone has difficult situations so it’s how you react to it that is important. Do you react with alarm and fear or are you able to cope and manage it?”

Mathew offers some tips to help improve your mood or get you out of your funk.

LIGHT EXPOSURE

Make sure that you have sufficient light exposure. Working in an office without windows or a dark environment can impact your mood. According to Mathew, research shows exposure to light can be mood-elevating and can help you get your day off to a good start. Take advantage of situations where you can go outside for a walk or get fresh air – this can be an immediate way to elevate your mood.

EXERCISE

Exercise has a very potent effect on mood and anxiety. Exercising on a daily, consistent basis is optimal but according to Mathew, even short bursts of exercise throughout the day can be beneficial. Take the stairs instead of the elevator.

“If you’re feeling like you’re in a rut or feeling anxious and want to think things through, exercising in a systematic way is an important thing,” said Mathew.

TALK ABOUT IT

If stress is the source of your bad mood, Mathew suggests talking to others and not trying to do everything on your own.

“Reach out to others to get social support. The act of talking to others about something can be helpful and can relieve stress,” he said.

AVOID DAMAGING HABITS

Avoiding damaging things such as excessive alcohol consumption, sleep medications or even caffeine is important in improving your mood and stress level, Mathew said.

SOCIAL INTERACTION

There are many ways to think about social interaction. Support groups or groups of like-minded individuals doing a hobby together can improve a person’s mood. The act of interacting with others also can decrease the aloneness that people feel.

“Meet for lunch or some type of activity,” suggests Mathew.

WRITE IT DOWN

Some people find that journaling their thoughts can be enormously helpful, Mathew said. Keep a diary – getting it down on paper can be therapeutic.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

womanstrengthworkoutLearning something new and finding ways to keep your mind mentally sharp are great ways to improve your mood. Taking a yoga or cooking class or even learning a second language are some ideas Mathew suggests.

“It’s a good rule of thumb for mental health – continuously trying to learn new things that intrigue you. There’s less of a chance that you’ll stagnate or become bored,” he said.

SEEK HELP

If you’ve tried these tips but still find yourself decreasing your socializing and cutting yourself off from others, it can be a red flag to seek out help.

“If you stop returning phone calls or emails or are finding reasons not to engage with others, it can be an early sign that you’re not doing well,” said Mathew.

Mathew says that recognizing it is the first step. If you are not feeling confident about yourself or if there is something that is holding you back, think about what has changed. If a group activity feels overwhelming, try to do something on a one-on-one basis with a friend.

If there are continued problems with motivation, lack of interest or joy, sadness or despondency for a couple of weeks, consider speaking with your doctor or contacting a therapist.

If you are religious, consider pastoral counseling at your place of worship.

Harried Holidays?

Share Button

Your Aura Colors – Signs of Stress & Tips to Be Happy

By Pamala Oslie

stressedwomanWe all know that the holiday season can be the most stressful and that, ironically, many of us find ourselves strung out and unhappy at a time when we are expected to be our happiest.

How we handle the stress of the season has a lot to do with the kind of person we are. Knowing that, we can use specific strategies to deal with holiday demands and make the season what is was meant to be- joyous.

How can we know what kind of person we are? The answer is in the colors of our aura. Everyone has an aura- what science calls the electro-magnetic field- and we’ve all felt them. We’ve been instantly drawn to some people and repelled by others, because we’ve felt their energy. That energy is expressed in different color bands that radiate from our bodies- what we call the aura.

I have learned in my work as a professional psychic who can also see auras that our aura colors reveal very important information about who we are – our personality, relationship style and compatibilities, best career paths, potential health challenges and more. Discovering our aura color personality type and unique coping skills is a valuable key to knowing how to handle stress.

* Yellows are fun loving, humorous, creative, physical, generous, sensitive & natural healers.

Signs that you’re stressed: You are not laughing and enjoying life. You’re avoiding, procrastinating or distracting yourself with addictions (food, alcohol, TV, sweets, drugs, caffeine, etc.) Your back or knees hurt.

Tips to become happier: Spend time in nature, exercise, dance, eat healthy, get a massage, play, laugh, cheer up others, hang out with your dog, simplify your life, find reasons to be optimistic, smile, watch a funny movie, and laugh some more.

* Greens are intelligent and driven accomplishers, often business-owners, managers, sales, etc.

Signs of stress: You’ve become a workaholic; you’re frustrated, critical, controlling, arguing, yelling, blaming others, or being hard on yourself. You have tight neck & shoulders, heart problems or digestive issues.

Tips to become happier: Write a list of your accomplishments, appreciate everything on that list, take deep breaths, organize your space, reduce your caffeine intake, reassess & write a list of your goals, trust yourself, and develop a plan. Then once you learn how to breathe, take action.

stress* Violets are visionaries, leaders, teachers, artists & humanitarians who want to help the world.

Signs of stress: You’ve become overwhelmed, scattered, constantly multi-tasking, stuck, bored, restless, or depressed; or you’re bossy, judgmental & impatient. Your thyroid may be unhealthy or your eyes may be bothering you.

Tips to become happier: Practice your favorite form of daily meditation, travel, listen to positive music & inspirational teachers, spend quiet time alone realigning with your visions, get involved with humanitarian projects, be with people who inspire & motivate you, travel again – hopefully to foreign countries.

* Blues are loving, nurturing, spiritual, emotional, and perpetually counseling and helping others.

Signs of stress: You’re exhausted from giving too much, you’re sad, cry a lot, feel unappreciated, feel unlovable or unworthy, feel guilty, or depressed. You may have throat, breast or reproductive issues.

Tips to become happier: Pray, connect with a Greater Source, walk, breath, meditate, appreciate your home & loved ones, remember all the loving things you’ve done for others, let go of guilt, trust you are loved, learn to love yourself by doing good things for you too, learn to say no, help others without over doing it, spend time with supportive friends.

* Tans are practical, logical, patient, detail-oriented, reliable, and value stability & security.

Signs of stress: You’re worried, anxious, impatient, frustrated, critical, bottling up anger or intense emotions, pessimistic, withdrawn or shut down. You may be experiencing headaches or eyestrain.

Tips to become happier: Exercise, watch less news, take a break from the details, develop a secure financial plan, rest your eyes, breathe, read positive & optimistic information, find healthy outlets for your emotions (such as talking with a calm & rational friend who can give practical & trustworthy advice), research data until you feel more secure.

– Pamala Oslie is an author, consultant, radio show host, and professional psychic. Pamala has written three successful and popular books, Life Colors, Love Colors, and Make Your Dreams Come True, and has a very extensive clientele, including many celebrities. She has been a guest lecturer at the International Forum on New Science, Fortune 500 companies, the TEDx Talks 2012, and many seminars for professionals in the psychology, education, health fields and more. Pam is the Founder of LifeColorsCity.com, a one-stop virtual city designed to help you create love, joy and fulfillment in EVERY area of your life.