Adults who suffer migraine headaches are more apt to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the general population, a new study suggests. And having PTSD and migraine may lead to greater headache-related disability.

Excerpts follow:


Among a group of 593 adults with migraine, PTSD was present in roughly 30 percent of those who suffered chronic daily headaches and about 22 percent of those with “episodic” migraine headaches. By comparison, approximately 8 percent of the population is estimated to have PTSD.


“The implications are such that abuse causes not just psychological distress from PTSD but also physical pain such as migraine,” Peterlin said, and there is an increased disability seen in those migraine sufferers with PTSD than those without PTSD.


SOURCE: Headache April 2009.
The full article can be found at

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) issued the following news release:

Meditation May Increase Gray Matter

Push-ups, crunches, gyms, personal trainers — people have many
strategies for building bigger muscles and stronger bones.

But what can one do to build a bigger brain?

That’s the finding from a group of researchers at UCLA who used high-
resolution magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of people
who meditate. In a study published in the journal NeuroImage and
currently available online (by subscription), the researchers report
that certain regions in the brains of long-term meditators were larger
than in a similar control group.

Specifically, meditators showed significantly larger volumes of the
hippocampus and areas within the orbito-frontal cortex, the thalamus and
the inferior temporal gyrus — all regions known for regulating emotions.

“We know that people who consistently meditate have a singular ability
to cultivate positive emotions, retain emotional stability and engage in
mindful behavior,” said Eileen Luders, lead author and a postdoctoral
research fellow at the UCLA Laboratory of Neuro Imaging. “The observed
differences in brain anatomy might give us a clue why meditators have
these exceptional abilities.”

Research has confirmed the beneficial aspects of meditation. In addition
to having better focus and control over their emotions, many people who
meditate regularly have reduced levels of stress and bolstered immune
systems. But less is known about the link between meditation and brain


The *British Medical Journal* issued the following news release about an
article appearing in one of its associated journals (*Journal of
Epidemiology and Community Health*):

Half a glass of wine a day may boost life expectancy by five years

Long-term wine consumption is related to cardiovascular mortality and
life expectancy independently of moderate alcohol intake

Drinking up to half a glass of wine a day may boost life expectancy by
five years–at least in men–suggests research published ahead of print in
the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The Dutch authors base their findings on a total of 1,373 randomly
selected men whose cardiovascular health and life expectancy at age 50
were repeatedly monitored between 1960 and 2000.


Rush University Medical Center issued the following news release:

Depression linked with accumulation of visceral fat

Study explains association between depression and cardiovascular disease

Numerous studies have shown that depression is associated with an
increased risk of heart disease, but exactly how has never been clear.

Now, researchers at Rush University Medical Center have shown that
depression is linked with the accumulation of visceral fat, the kind of
fat packed between internal organs at the waistline, which has long been
known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.


The American Physiological Society issued the following news release:

Laughter remains good medicine

New study reports on the mind-emotion-disease model

The connection between the body, mind and spirit has been the subject of conventional scientific inquiry for some 20 years. The notion that psychosocial and societal considerations have a role in maintaining health and preventing disease became crystallized as a result of the experiences of a layman, Norman Cousins. In the 1970s, Cousins, then a writer and magazine editor of the popular Saturday Review, was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. He theorized that if stress could worsen his condition, as some evidence suggested at the time, then positive emotions could improve his health. As a result, he prescribed himself, with the approval of his doctor, a regimen of humorous videos and shows like Candid Camera(c). Ultimately, the disease went into remission and Cousins wrote a paper that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine and a book about his experience, Anatomy of an Illness: A Patient’s Perspective, which was published in 1979. The book became a best seller and led to the investigation of a new field, known then as whole-person care or integrative medicine and now, lifestyle medicine.

Points from the news release:

  • Beta-endorphins elevate mood state
  • Human growth hormone (HGH) helps with optimizing immunity
  • Cortisol and epinephrine (also known as adrenaline) are detrimental stress hormones that negatively affect immunity if chronically released.
  • A group of 10 diabetics with hypertensoin and high cholesterol were assigned regularly to watch funny videos for 30 minutes. Over 12 months, their blood chemistry was compared to 10 matching people who were not made to laugh.
  • Adding laughter standard diabetes care may lower stress and inflammatory response and increase “good” cholesterol levels. The authors conclude that mirthful laughter may thus lower the risk of cardiovascular disease associated with diabetes mellitus and metabolic syndrome.

In describing himself as a “hardcore medical clinician and scientist,” Dr. Berk says, “the best clinicians understand that there is an intrinsic physiological intervention brought about by positive emotions such as mirthful laughter, optimism and hope.

More details follow:


BBC News released an article: “Promotion ‘bad for mental health.'”

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

Getting promoted at work may be bad for a person’s mental health, a
study suggests.

Warwick University researchers quizzed 1,000 workers who had been
promoted into supervisory or management roles in the past five years.

They were asked about about their health, mental well-being and use of
health services.

The study found that after promotion the quality of an individual’s
mental health deteriorated by 10% on average.

Experts said being given extra responsibility could lead to more stress,
anxiety and depression.

They said the problems could be exacerbated by workers who were promoted
having less time to access health services.

GP visits fell by 20% to less than two a year after promotion, the study

It has long been assumed that a person’s job status directly results in
better health.


Lead researcher Chris Boyce said: “Getting promoted at work is not as
great as people think.

“Our research finds that the mental health of managers typically
deteriorates after a job promotion and in a way that goes beyond merely
a short-term change.

“People given senior positions need to be given the proper support and
training to handle the extra responsibility.”

The research will be presented at the Royal Economic Society’s
conference later this month.

[end excerpts]

The article is online at:

Courtesy of Ken Pope.

Wiley-Blackwell issued the following news release:

CBT and BT: Some effect against chronic pain

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Behaviour Therapy (BT) show some
effect in helping the disability associated with chronic pain, according
to a Cochrane Systematic Review. The researchers assessed the use of CBT
and BT on chronic pain, mood, and disability.

“For people with chronic pain, psychological therapies can reduce
depression and anxiety, disability, and in some cases pain, but guidance
is still required on the best type and duration of treatment,” says lead
researcher Christopher Eccleston, at the Centre for Pain Research at the
University of Bath.

Both CBT and BT try to manage pain by addressing the associated
psychological and practical processes. CBT involves the avoidance of
negative thoughts. BT helps patients to understand how they can change
their behaviour in order to reduce pain. Both approaches have been in
development for around 40 years and are sometimes recommended for
patients with long lasting, distressing pain that cannot be relieved by
conventional medicines.

In a systematic review, researchers considered the results of 40 trials
of CBT and BT, which included 4,781 patients in total. Patients
suffering from pain due to any cause, except headache, migraine, or
cancer, were included. Most studies were of CBT, which showed small
positive effects on pain, disability, and mood. There was less evidence
for BT, which the researchers say had no effect on disability or mood.

“Although there is overall promise for CBT in chronic pain, the term
covers a diverse range of treatment and assessment procedures. Right
now, we are not able to say which specific features of therapy may be
critical for improvement of a patient’s condition,” says Eccleston.

According to the researchers, simpler studies of CBT and BT that focus
on a purer form of treatment, rather than a variety of mixed methods,
would benefit the field.