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Psychological Disorders and Genetics

geneticsIndividuals Genetically At Risk Of Developing Psychological Disorders Also Benefit The Most From Positive Environments

Certain individuals have long been regarded as particularly susceptible to developing behavioral and emotional problems when they experience negative environmental conditions, due to the fact that they carry so-called ‘vulnerability genes’. Existing research suggests, for instance, that such ‘genetically vulnerable’ individuals are most likely to become impulsive and hyperactive if their mothers smoked while pregnant, to behave anti-socially if subjected to child abuse, and to become depressed if exposed to many negative life events (e.g., divorce, unemployment). But a new evaluation of existing gene-by-environment interaction (GXE) research highlighting such genetic vulnerability to adversity challenges this traditional interpretation of existing evidence. Research published in Molecular Psychiatry suggests that those carrying ‘vulnerability genes’ are not only more likely than others to be adversely affected by negative experiences but to also benefit more than others from positive environments, making them more malleable or plastic, not just vulnerable. This novel interpretation of old and new findings suggests that ‘vulnerability genes’ might be better conceptualized as ‘plasticity or malleability genes’ because carriers are more affected, for better and for worse, by positive and negative environmental conditions.

This new interpretation of GXE research findings proposed by Professor Jay Belsky, Director of the Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Social Issues at Birkbeck, University of London, and his colleagues reframes the nature-nurture debate. “Our analysis of many published findings suggests that one potential solution to the nature-nurture controversy is to appreciate the role played by environmental experience and the role played by heredity in shaping who we are may actually differ across people,” said Prof Belsky. “Some people have genes which make them more malleable than others, and therefore more susceptible to both positive and negative environmental influences. Indeed, those children most adversely affected by poor environmental conditions are often the very same ones who benefit most from good environments. In contrast, other individuals appear to be rather immune to such environmental effects.”

Professor Belsky and his collaborators carefully combed findings from scores of publications highlighting GXE interactions in the leading psychiatric and psychological journals and repeatedly discovered that in many instances those individuals at risk of developing problems when exposed to adversity due to their genetic make-up also functioned better than others lacking these genetic attributes when they experienced good environments. One of the striking observations was that authors of the publications repeatedly failed to note this pattern in their own data. “One often only sees what one goes looking for,” Professor Belsky said.

The findings may point towards a more personal approach to psychosocial interventions. “This could mirror the trend we are now seeing towards personalized medicine, where an understanding of the genetic make-up of an individual determines the type of drugs used to treat the patient based on their DNA.” said Prof Belsky.

“We use the term ‘vulnerable’ to describe people at risk of something negative, whether it be an increased chance of heart disease, or susceptibility to mental illness. Yet there appears to be no opposite term for those being disproportionately liable to benefit from positive experiences – other than ‘lucky!’ This may, in part, explain why the evidence pointing towards this phenomenon has so far gone unnoticed.”

Source: Birkbeck College

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Anger Management

angerWhy Anger Management Skills are Important to your Health

Everybody experiences anger at some point of time or the other. A certain degree of anger is normal and healthy. However, if it gets out of control you can harm not only yourself but also those you come into contact with. Anger is probably the most real of all human emotions. It can increase your determination and will-power to reach the heights of success or it can catapult you into the valleys of fury and rage. By itself, anger is not really dangerous to your well-being. Everything depends on how you deal with it.

We lead a different life as compared to our fore-fathers. Technology has perhaps improved life in many ways but it has also made it difficult and stressful. We have no time to smell the roses. We always have to do something yesterday, right now, today or tomorrow. This leads to overwhelming pressure and stress. Let’s take an example of the average married man. He wakes up in the morning to rush to work sometimes without breakfast. He travels miles to his workplace only to be reprimanded by his boss for late-coming. During the day he has projects to complete and deadlines to meet, all under his immediate supervisor’s watchful eye. If something goes wrong he is held responsible. He returns in the evening to a mischievous child and a wife who grumbles about his never having the time for her. A squabble follows making him feel stressed out, angry and depressed. And this is an average day in the life of a married man. The bad days are a different story altogether.

Anger Management: In this age of unusual stress and pressure, anger management is of paramount importance. It teaches you to accept what you can’t change and channel your energy to feel positive and calm. It is important for people from all walks of life to control and manage their anger. Employees must learn to deal with work pressure and demanding supervisors. Bosses should control their feelings of hostility towards perceived inefficient workers. Couples must stop venting their frustrations on each other. Anger management teaches you all this and much more. Organizations must recognize the need to incorporate anger management into their training programs. Expressing feelings must be encouraged and honest feedback should be provided. This will bring about a sense of harmony and increase productivity at the work-place.

Stress Management and Anger: Stress and anger are two sides of the same coin. Often, we are angry because we are stressed and vice versa. The causes of stress are many. Demands at the workplace, uncompromising supervisors, inefficient employees, strained relationships, health issues and financial worries are some of these causes. If you can learn to beat the heat and manage stress half the battle is won. There are various techniques that can be used to manage stress. Try deep breathing when faced with a tense situation. Yoga and meditation can also work as stress busters. Therapists endorse exercising as a means to release feel good hormones and do away with stress and tension.

All said and done, anger and stress to a certain degree is desirable and healthy. Excessive stress can lead to fits of anger and affect all aspects of life. Managing stress and anger is important for your emotional as well as physical well being.

The most effective way in managing your stress and anger is to learn anger and fear control skills by taking an anger management class. It would be most helpful if the classes focused on anger management, stress management, assertive communication, and emotional intelligence.

By Gregory Kyles, LPC, CEAP, CAMF http://www.ami-tx.com
www.angermanagementinstituteoftexas.com

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