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Dr. Anne Louise Phelan Doctor Advocate

Silenced and Stigmatized: The Untold Story of Physicians Denied Mental Healthcare | Dr. Anne Louise Phelan

In the noble pursuit of healing others, doctors often find themselves battling an invisible adversary that silently erodes their well-being: their own mental health. However, a daunting obstacle stands in the way of seeking help—the fear that reaching out for support will jeopardize their professional careers. As a doctor and activist for medical professionals, Dr. Anne Louise Phelan passionately advocates for a better system—one that prioritizes support and understanding.

therapist

US Task Force Recommends All Adults Under 65 Be Screened for Anxiety

The U.S. Preventative Services Task Force recommended that all physicians screen adult patients under 65 for anxiety. The move was motivated by the country’s mental health epidemic in the wake of the pandemic.

The USPSTF is a panel of medical experts appointed by the Department of Health and Human Services. The panel said the recommendation was brought forward to prevent mental health disorders from going undetected or untreated for a long time. Over the last few years, people were more stressed and depressed, and anxiety levels went through the roof.

Between August 2020 to February 2021, adults with symptoms of anxiety or depression increased from 36.4% to 41.5%. According to the World Health Organization, anxiety and depression increased by 25% worldwide. In 2021, 1 in 4 adults aged 18 to 44 received treatment for mental health.

The task force recognizes anxiety as “characterized by greater duration or intensity of a stress response over everyday events.”

Clinical psychologist Dr. Lori Pbert, who is on the task force, says that Americans have been remarkably stressed out after a series of stressors like COVID-19, inflation, death of loved ones, fear of illness and crime rates. According to the NYTimes and CNN, Dr. Pbert said, “our only hope is that our recommendations throw a spotlight on the need to create greater access to mental health care — and urgently.”

“Our hope is that by raising awareness of these issues and having recommendations for clinicians, that we’ll be able to help all adults in the United States, including those who experience disparities.”

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The task force lists generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia under the umbrella of anxiety conditions and recommends screening those who are not already diagnosed with a disorder. The panel also recommended that adults be screened for depression.

Mental health providers appreciated the recommendations but acknowledged that while screening tools are helpful, they are not a diagnosis, and subsequent testing is required to determine if an individual has a clinical disorder. A one-time screening may only be indicative of a temporary stressor. Providers also spoke on the lack of resources to address the issue on a wide scale.

Dr. Jeffrey Staab, a psychiatrist and chair of the department of psychiatry and psychology at Mayo Clinic, said the country is “short on mental health resources on all levels — psychiatrists, psychologists and therapists — that’s a real concern.”

“When providers say, ‘You must have a disorder, here, take this,’ we could face an overprescribing problem, but the opposite scenario is that we have lots of people suffering who shouldn’t be. Both outcomes are possible.”

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Dr. Pbert also said the task force’s research showed that people from minority groups are often overlooked in mental health research, contributing to continued systemic inequality both in and outside the medical field.

The primary care practice is currently a missed opportunity for screening. Black and Hispanic people are less likely to be treated for mental health conditions than white people and are more often misdiagnosed when they do receive care. Dr. Pbert said standardized screenings might help reduce those statistics by removing other factors like implicit bias.

The USPSTF made a similar recommendation for children earlier in the year. The task force set the age range to 65 and younger because older adults may produce positive screening results due to the natural aging effects such as fatigue and generalized pain.

The panel will finalize the draft after reviewing public comments and notes submitted before the Oct. 17 deadline. Though the recommendation is not mandatory, many physicians use the panel’s guidance to improve their standard of care.

Individuals With Psychiatric Conditions More Likely To Catch Covid-19

According to a new psychiatric study, individuals diagnosed with a psychiatric condition are more likely to catch Covid-19 after being fully vaccinated. The study reviewed health records of more than 260,000 individuals from the US Department of Veterans Affairs, so the correlation was much stronger in people 65 and older. 

While the results could also be the result of decades of unknowing when it came to psychiatric conditions, individuals who have suffered from these conditions in general have weaker immune systems. 

“There’s a lot of evidence to suggest that chronic stress, traumatic stress, and psychiatric conditions can actually accelerate cellular aging,” Aoife O’Donovan, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco and one of the study authors.

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“It’s putting you at risk for appearing older biologically, and for your immune system, in particular, to function like the immune system of someone who’s older than you, and that’s certainly seen in patients with psychiatric disorders.”

People with any psychiatric condition were found to be 3.7% more likely to develop a breakthrough infection of Covid-19. Among all the diagnoses, non-alcohol substance abuse had the greatest correlation to breakthrough cases; risk is increased by 16%. 

“Addiction causes people to increase risk-taking behaviors, and the pandemic created an environment where everything from hugging to eating at a restaurant was a risk-taking behavior,” said O’Donovan.

Adjustment disorders, or feelings of unusual stress or sadness in response to a life event, was linked to a 13% increase in risk for infection, followed by anxiety conditions (8%), bipolar disorder (7%), alcoholism (5%), depression (5%), and PTSD (3%). 

Overall, the study found that people aged 65 or older with a psychiatric diagnosis are 5% more likely to have a breakthrough Covid-19 infection. Additionally, O’Donovan explained how using data exclusively from the VA wasn’t the most ideal situation when looking at this specific correlation. 

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“Using data exclusively from the V.A. was not ideal. This group is not representative of the entire U.S. population. People who go to the V.A. are more likely to be of lower socioeconomic status, have several medical conditions, and live in a rural area. They are also generally older and almost all men,” O’Donovan says. 

“However, the V.A. did a very good job of gathering all of this information and releasing it quickly. Without that kind of real-time record-keeping, she says, it would be incredibly difficult to get this much information on a recent phenomenon.”

The findings “are unlikely to be specific to Covid-19,” says O’Donovan, “but are much more likely to generalize to other infections. An obvious issue is risk for the flu and prevention of the flu.”

These findings give reason to consider mental health when crafting responses to Covid-19 and other infectious disease outbreaks.

“This study adds to a body of literature that’s telling us that patients with psychiatric disorders may well be — and do appear to be — a vulnerable population in this pandemic that might need targeted prevention efforts,” says O’Donovan. “We may need to be focused on integrating Covid prevention into mental health care and also integrating mental health care into our Covid prevention strategies because the two are so interlinked.”

Depressed Man

“Deaths of Despair” Reach Unprecedented Levels in US, Experts Say

Perhaps one of the most objective statistical indicators of the health of a society is the life expectancy of its citizens. In the United States, life expectancy has risen from 69.7 years in 1960 to 78.69 years in 2016, a gradual increase mirroring the success of medical advancements, public health campaigns, and general economic growth over the course of the modern era. However, American life expectancy has been on the decline in recent years, as a result of the epidemic of obesity as well as so-called “deaths of despair,” which include drug overdoses, alcohol abuse, and suicide. 

In a certain sense, this problem is unique to the United States, as other developed nations around the world have not seen a similar, concurrent decline in life expectancy. This worrying development persists despite the fact that the United States spends more on health care per capita than any other developed nation and that the quality of healthcare in the US, for those who are able to receive it, is comparable to that of most advanced countries. As such, experts believe that factors like “income inequality and mental distress” are the root cause of the increase in rates of death across the country, as the experience of despair leads people to make decisions that increase the chances of early death.

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When viewed as a public health issue, the specific factors that lead to early deaths among Americans become clear, as many Americans, even those who do not suffer from diseases of despair, can recognize the social factors that lead to the development of these illnesses either through their personal lived experiences or through the experiences of people they know. According to Anne Case, a contributing author of the book “Deaths of Despair and the Future of Capitalism,”  “the pillars that once helped give life meaning—a good job, a stable home life, a voice in the community—have all eroded.” 

In Case’s account, the nationwide rise in despair has its roots in economic and political factors, as workers without college degrees have been left out of the increasingly-harsh labor market, men’s wages have remained stagnant for half a century, and companies have been eliminating decent-paying jobs with good benefits, instead outsourcing low-skill work to cheaper economies. Despite the changes in the distribution of wealth in the American economy, the government has failed to adjust to changes wrought by the rapid and accelerating pace of technological innovation and globalization, generating an atmosphere of despair among much of the American public, Case argues.

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While the highly-complex relationship between societal factors, despair, unhealthy behaviors, and early death requires more study, experts view the rise of drug abuse, particularly opioid abuse, as symptomatic of larger social pressures that reduce in people a sense of their meaning in life, instilling in them an attitude of nihilism and apathy that drives them to make unhealthy choices in pursuit of relief from their suffering. According to one study, rates of overdoses and suicides have been on the rise since the 1990s, suggesting that the problem is not just related to the current political environment, but also to longstanding social trends as well as substantial increases in the availability of illicit drugs. 

That being said, there are signs of hope that society is beginning to tackle the public health crisis of despair, as the stigma surrounding mental illness has diminished in recent years and an increasing number of businesses are prioritizing the health of their employees, including when it comes to problems like drug addiction and mental illness. If you’re experiencing despair, keep in mind that there exist resources to help with mental health problems, including the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), which is available 24 hours a day.

Girl Waking up Happy

Tips for Getting a Good Night’s Sleep

Though we tend to focus our attention on events that transpire during our waking lives, we spend roughly a third of our lives sleeping. Sleep is an often-overlooked part of life that affects nearly all aspects of human health and well-being, but many of us neglect to prioritize a goods night’s sleep, often erroneously thinking that we can be more productive during the day if we spend less time sleeping. While caffeine can temporarily mitigate the effects of poor sleep, sleeping poorly for a long period of time is linked to a number of health problems, including depressed mood and increased risk of heart disease and obesity. As such, this article will discuss several strategies you can use to improve the quality of your sleep so you can enjoy a more alert and productive waking experience.

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The practices associated with high-quality sleep are referred to as “sleep hygiene,” and include a number of important behaviors, all of which are essential for sufficient rest. Perhaps the most important factor is limiting your use of electronic devices in bed or near bedtime. Ideally, usage of electronic devices should be eliminated before going to sleep, as electronic devices with light-emitting screens stimulate the mind and make it difficult to rest. However, if it’s not possible to avoid using electronics late at night, it may be helpful to activate a blue-light filter on your computer, phone, or other device. These filters tint the screen to a reddish-orange hue, reducing the output of blue light which is thought to inhibit sleep by reducing the body’s production of melatonin. In general, the bed should only be used for sleep and sex, as setting these boundaries helps to create an association in your mind between being in bed and falling asleep, subconsciously helping you to fall asleep faster.

Conditions like depression and anxiety can wreak havoc on your sleep/wake cycle, causing you to get too few or too many hours of sleep and sleep at inappropriate times

Making various lifestyle changes can also help to improve sleep quality. Two of the most important lifestyle factors that contribute to sleep quality, as well as overall health, are diet and exercise. Tiring yourself out for a half hour or more of strenuous exercise per day not only improves your cardiovascular health and strength, but it can also relieve anxiety and stress, reduce tension, and prepare the body and mind for sleep. While exercising immediately before going to bed probably isn’t a good idea, exercising earlier in the day can help you feel more tired and prone to sleep later in the night. The food you eat also affects your sleep; eating a large meal immediately before going to bed can keep you awake as your body uses energy to digest food, whereas a diet high in sugar could cause you to wake up several times throughout the night. A healthy diet that includes fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat proteins can not only help you maintain a healthy weight but also improve the quality of your sleep. Be mindful of foods that cause heartburn, as any heartburn sufferer knows that it can prevent you from going to sleep.

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Good psychological health is also important for quality sleep. Conditions like depression and anxiety can wreak havoc on your sleep/wake cycle, causing you to get too few or too many hours of sleep and sleep at inappropriate times, so if you’re experiencing symptoms of mental illness, be sure to seek treatment from your health care provider, as these illnesses can often be treated with therapy and medication. One of the actions you can take to improve your mental health, alongside diet and exercise, is to begin a mindfulness meditation practice, which can reduce stress and negative emotions by training the brain to observe experiences with openness and acceptance. Another good way to support mental health is to maintain a regular daily routine, ensuring that you wake up, eat, exercise, and go to bed at the same time every day. Doing so will naturally support the body’s circadian rhythms, helping you to feel tired enough at night to fall asleep quickly and alert enough in the morning to start your day. 

Group of Teens on Cellphone

Study Claims Social Media Harms Teens’ Health by Interrupting Positive Activities

There’s no question that frequent social media use has become a virtual cultural necessity, especially among young people. Social networks that were for millennia supported by face-to-face interpersonal relationships now exist mostly online, and such a drastic shift has raised concerns about how social media use impacts mental health. The science on this subject is far from settled; while some studies show that social media can actually improve teens’ sense of social engagement, others have found that young people are feeling increasingly isolated and depressed, likely in part as a result of distorted perceptions of others’ lives precipitated by social media. Amidst this controversy, a new study, published on Tuesday in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, examined the relationship between mental health and social media and found that it is more complicated than commonly assumed.

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The study was impressive in scope, as it involved interviews with nearly 10,000 English children between the ages of 13 and 16. Researchers found that social media can have a particularly negative effect on girls’ mental health, not only because it increases their likelihood of being victimized by bullying, but also because it gets in the way of sleep and physical exercise. According to the researchers, social media itself does not harm young people’s development, but an overuse of online social networks can result in harmful consequences. As such, the researchers believe that strategies meant to decrease teens’ social media use may not be effective alone, and that strategies designed to reduce cyberbullying and improve sleep and physical health are likely more effective. The study also found that while boys also experience mental health challenges, these challenges are generally not linked with social media use, suggesting that more research on how social media affects boys’ mental health is needed.

The study’s finding of association between frequent social media use and mental health problems matches other research that has been conducted on the subject, such as a study published last year that found a link between the amount of time teens spend looking at screens and their probability of having depression. That being said, psychologists have stressed that the content of one’s social media experience is likely more predictive of mental health problems than frequency of social media use by itself, noting that there are many ways social media can promote mental health, such as strengthening social ties and exposing young people to others’ points of view.

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Other studies have corroborated the finding that girls are more strongly negatively affected by social media than boys. A study published in The Lancet found that girls who used social media for more than five hours a day were 50% more likely to have depressive symptoms than girls who used social media less frequently, whereas boys who used social media for the same amount of time per day only had a 35% increase in depressive symptoms. That being said, neither study can prove that social media use causes depression, as it may instead be the case that people who already have depression are simply more likely to use social media excessively than people who do not. According to this study, girls were both more likely to report depressive symptoms and to use social media more than three hours per day.

While more research needs to be done to determine the reason for this gender gap, psychologists have suggested that it may have to do with the different types of content boys and girls engage with online. Girls are more likely than boys to focus on their physical appearance when using social media, which might mean girls are more likely to develop body image issues by comparing their appearance with others. Accordingly, Instagram, which is an app that in large part revolves around sharing pictures of oneself, has been found to be the most detrimental social networking service for young people’s mental health, followed by Snapchat, which is used in a similar way. For their part, Instagram has taken steps to try to reduce the negative psychological effects of its platform, starting with hiding the number of people who have liked a user’s picture to prevent social comparison that can leave people feeling isolated and inadequate. 

Mental Health

FOBO: Are You suffering From The Latest Mental Health Issue?

Mental health is a big issue that affects one in four people around the world and since the advent of social media, conditions such as anxiety and panic attacks are increasing.

Sometimes it can seem as if everyone else on social media is having a better life than you. Whether they are showing off their home, what they wear, what they look like – which thanks to the abundance of filters available usually is not what they look like normally – or showing us the latest event they have attended.

Which can lead to users developing FOBO – or ‘fear of better options’. Similar to FOMO – Fear of Missing Out – FOBO can affect anyone who has had difficulties making the easiest of decisions. The thought of having to make that vital decision can bring you out in a sweat, make you feel nauseous and generally feel like if you choose the wrong option, you could be missing out on something even better.

Although FOBO sounds like a new thing invented for the “have it all” younger generations, it is in fact something that has been around forever, it is just that now there is a name for it!

Let’s think about it. Each day we have to make thousands of decisions from the mundane things such as what to have for breakfast, whether to watch the latest episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians or catch a movie, to the more important decisions including should I change my job or should I move homes.

The idea that more choices gives us more freedom can be challenged. For example, Netflix currently has 5863 different TV shows and movies showing and the choices at your local coffee shop can be mind blowing – especially with the new seasonal ranges.

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Yet even with all these choices, if you find yourself undecided or unsure many will accuse you of sitting on the fence, a phrase guaranteed to annoy someone making a decision, but it could just be that you are dealing with FOBO.

Patrick McGinnis, a US venture capitalist, created the term – he is also responsible for FOMO – and claims those affected by FOBO experience a feeling of being overwhelmed by the potential of what their decision could lead to, even if the end result is not certain. This in turn leads to the sufferer tending to stay away from commitment, or to some extent, committing then canceling before the decision can be carried out.

According to McGinnis, this type of behavior is not new but reflects our basic need of wanting the best of everything.

“Our ancestors a million years ago were programmed to wait for the best because it meant they were more likely to succeed. However, our ability to compare both options and ourselves via technology and social media has accelerated this tendency, sometimes escalating to crippling levels.”

Unlike FOMO which can affect anyone, FOBO seems to only affect those that have a higher income than most as “the richer you are, the more powerful you are, the more options you have. That’s when you start to feel it.”

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With the ever increasing number of choices given to us we should be happier, however research clearly indicates having so many options can lead us to be dissatisfied with our decision due to “decision fatigue.” A condition created when trying to work through all the choices on offer.

So maybe we should be presented with fewer options. A recent study tested the buying habits of customers with a store offering samples of jam, with either six or 24 being offered every other day. Surprisingly, out of those who were offered a choice of only six, 30% bought some jam, while out of those that were offered 24 choices only 3% spent any money. A clear indication that too much choice can be too overwhelming.

Unlike FOMO, which can sometimes improve our lives as we choose to do something we may not have tried before, FOBO can be more “destructive” as the principal fear seems to be the “fear of letting go.”

McGinnis comments “in order to choose something you must let go of another thing and it’s the fear of having to mourn the road untaken. So we would rather not decide at all and keep our options open.”

But do not worry, there are several ways you can overcome FOBO. McGinnis has several suggestions:

“For everyday things, I do what I call ‘Ask the Watch’. I whittle something down to two options and then assign each item to a side of my watch. Then I look down and see where the second hand is at that moment. Decision made. It sounds silly, but if you try it – asking the universe – you will thank me. For the big things, I try to think like a venture capitalist. I write everything down on the topic – pros, cons, etc – and I read it out loud. That process is basically like writing an investment memo for a VC investment, but in this case the investment is of your time, money, energy, etc.”

World Mental Health Day

Mental Health Illness In Young People Reaches ‘Alarming’ Rates

With reports suggesting one person commits suicide every 40 seconds worldwide, there have been calls to address the alarming rates of young people suffering from mental illness.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst young people aged 15 to 29 and became the focus of the World Health Organization (WHO) during this years’ World Mental Health Day.

The WHO are keen to promote measures which can be taken to help prevent and reduce levels of suicide across the world. Their recommendations include reducing access to the means of suicide, ensuring that the media always reports responsibly on the topic, introducing more school/college-based interventions and identifying cases early – such as individuals who already suffer from mental illness or substance abuse.

There are also calls to improve the training of non-specialized health workers, so that they are better able to recognize and monitor those at risk from suicide. Not forgetting that mental health issues can be long term and require continual monitoring, the WHO has also recommended more adequate follow-up care and community support for those who have previously attempted suicide.

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On the November 7th the WHO and UNICEF hosted a global conference to discuss child and adolescent mental health. The WHO’s 2013-2020 action plan aims to reduce global suicide rates by 10% by 2020 and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals are aiming for a 33% reduction by 2030.

With an estimated 3.1% of the US population suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder affecting more than 16 million American adults, it is of critical importance that people feel supported through any mental health difficulties but are also empowered with techniques to alleviate any unnecessary feelings of fear, depression and anxiety so that these do not become a wider issue.

Whilst it is true that an element of fear is required for survival and motivation, these feelings can be crippling and have a drastic impact upon someone’s quality of life. Within his new book A Life Without Fear transformational coach Garry Jones is keen to share practical tools and the necessary push to go out, take control and use exactly what works for them to their own benefit.

At the heart of Garry’s process is a simple A.B.C; he encourages people to Accept nothing, Believe nothing and Check everything. He doesn’t think It is enough for people to simply take his word for it that these techniques work, he is passionate that everyone needs to try these tools for themselves to really discover what is most effective for them. Garry explains “The real test is the “Check Everything” part. It is very easy to do the first two using a solid set of beliefs/truths that are yours. The most important part is to check it.”

The book is set out in his M.A.G.I.C.K structure, Meditation, Anchor, Gratitude, Intentions, Cardio and Kin-aesthetic, and within this, he demonstrates the importance of acting upon the advice and techniques he provides. He says “Billions of pounds/dollars are spent each year on self-help books and media. And yet, very few people change. Why? The key to the clue is the very first word – SELF! Taking responsibility for change. Wanting to change. Really wanting to change. So, unless you are prepared to take that to heart, save yourself some money and put this book back on the shelf”

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Garry emphasizes the importance of breathing throughout. For Garry, a life without fear is purely breathing with ease. He thinks that to really minimize fear and embrace life, people need to utilize their whole lung capacity, which currently many people do not, particularly if they are consumed by panic or worry. Garry thinks that breathing has major transformative powers and can alter our body chemistry. Focusing on the out breath helps to reduce these feelings because this activates the Vagus nerve which has the power to change someone’s heartbeat. He also says sufferers should fill the space in their lungs not only with air, but also with gratitude and positivity.

This is alongside clearing out the brain clutter, changing their perspective and embracing the beneficial impact of cardio that he believes also contribute extensively to mental well-being.

For Garry, everyone deserves to live a life without unnecessary fear and it is only by taking action will this be truly possible. It is not enough to simply own and read ‘self-help’ books as he is passionate that action is the vital component needed for release.

“To really move forward individuals need to give themselves permission to change, hold themselves to account and be honest with themselves in order to create a future without fear where they feel truly alive,” explains Garry.

Deep Sleep

Deeper Sleep Can Reduce Anxiety Up To 30%

The connection between sleep and mental health has always been present. A lack of sleep can lead to a greater sense of irritability, lack of motivation, increase in depression and anxiety, etc. Sleep is one of the most important aspects of being a human being, so when we’re not getting enough of it, our physical and mental well-being suffers greatly. Extensive research has only further emphasized the connection specifically with sleep and anxiety; sleepless nights can lead to a 30% increase in overall anxiety, according to Medical News Today

Deep sleep was the main focus of this particular study, as it’s been proven countless times in the past that the longer period of time you’re in the “deep” part of your sleep cycle, the less anxiety will be present the following day. 

“To measure anxiety levels, the researchers asked a group of 18 young adults to watch emotionally unsettling videos after a full night of sleep and after a sleepless night. After each viewing, the participants completed a standard anxiety questionnaire called the state-trait anxiety inventory. The scientists used functional MRI and polysomnography to scan the brains of the sleeping participants in order to identify the stages of sleep. The brain scans showed that a brain area called the medial prefrontal cortex was deactivated after a sleepless night,” according to Medical News Today.

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The prefrontal cortex has been studied in the past in anxiety studies, which have worked to prove that this area of the brain is what helps us reduce our daily stresses and anxieties. So when this area is “deactivated” due to a lack of sleep, the anxiety and stress of our everyday lives are amplified, as there’s no on switch for the prefrontal cortex once it’s turned off. The only way to turn it back on is to get some much-needed deep sleep. 

To better understand our sleep cycle, let’s break down the stages of our nightly sleep patterns. Scientists divide our sleep cycle into two categories. There’s rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. Non-REM sleep is what controls how well, and how deeply we sleep every night. There’s four main stages to non-REM sleep, the first two are light and involves the part of the night where our bodies are fully relaxing, unwinding, and succumbing to the comfort of temporary unconsciousness. The third is our friend, deep sleep, which is the majority of the night in which our bodies fully recharge themselves and give us restorative energy to use when we wake up. Finally, the fourth stage is also a lighter sleep, this time towards the end of the night, this stage is when most of our dreams occur as our bodies begin to wake up with all the newly developed energy we gained from stage 3. 

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So without enough proper sleep during this cycle, our brains can feel heavier and it becomes harder to function. Without enough deep sleep, there’s not enough restorative energy to last an entire day and our emotions are able to run rampant, as our brain doesn’t have enough energy to turn them off. This is what leads to overwhelming feelings of anxiety. Our increase in irritability and emotional distress causes massive feelings of discomfort. 

“We have identified a new function of deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by reorganizing connections in the brain. Deep sleep had restored the brain’s prefrontal mechanism that regulates our emotions, lowering emotional and physiological reactivity and preventing the escalation of anxiety,” reports Eti Ben Simon, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Human Sleep Science at UC Berkeley and the study’s lead author.

While sleep is not the cure to clinical anxiety, and certainly won’t cure any other mental health ailments one might be experiencing, it definitely doesn’t hurt. Giving your body the necessary rest and restoration it needs for daily function is extremely important. Make sure you’re trying to get your full eight hours every night, and if you’re someone who suffers from feelings of insomnia, talk to your physician right away. Everyone deserves a good night’s rest, and a reduction in their everyday stresses.