Does a Western Diet Shrink the Brain?

A healthy diet makes for a healthy brain, while a poor diet might actually be killing off neurons, leading to brain shrinkage and a greater risk of depression and dementia.

Toddler Temperament and the Gut

This spring and summer brought many exiting new studies teaching us more about the gut-brain connection. One article that made splashy headlines linked differences in the gut microbiome with different behavior in kids.

When Food Is Medicine

Doctors designed the dietary intervention of this study of older adults because they thought it wouldn't impact mental health compared to psychotherapy. They were in for a big mood-brightening surprise.

The Secret Life of Melatonin

Melatonin is a commonly used over the counter sleep aid, but this hormone's effect on fertility and puberty are powerful and not fully understood in humans. Caution should be exercised before any chronic use or using melatonin in kids.

Climate and Suicide

Decades of data link increases in temperature to higher violent suicide rates. What sort of factors could be at play, and what questions need to be answered to help us understand this linkage better?

Your Brain on Chocolate

Chocolate, a fermented extract of the seed pods of the Theobroma cacao plant, is one of the world’s most popular foods. Given the active caffeine, theobromides, and rich number of flavanols in chocolate, it’s no surprise that cocoa has been used as a medicine for at least 3000 years. Could it have beneficial effects on the brain?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The KonMari method is a new and popular way to declutter your life. I talk about the book and some of the rules.

Five Year Synthesis: Start Here Post

Simple whole foods, both plant and animal, are best for the brain for some obvious reasons and some you won't expect. Good food and good sleep are lacking in our modern world, yet our mental health can depend upon them.

Junk Food, Gut, and Brain

People who eat mostly whole foods, meaning minimally processed foods that don’t need a label to tell you what is in it, tend to have better mental health. Why is that the case? It could be due to how these foods affect the gut. A new study shows how dramatic and rapid the changes in gut can be.

Genetics and the Ides of March

The change of seasons has long been known to cause changes in mental health. Is there a genetic component?

Lifestyle Interventions for Depression

Clinical depression is a complicated condition. Stress of course is known and easily accepted to be the main cause, but two people may endure the same stress with only one developing depression. What lifestyle factors can make us more resilient, and why?

Diet, Depression, and the Microbiome

The next generation of treatments for depression may include diet changes and probiotics.

Sunshine and Suicide

Sunshine is nature's antidepressant, and like most antidepressants, it can make you irritable and agitated before you start feeling better. This fact may explain why a short burst of sunny days increases the risk of suicide, while a long stretch decreases the risk.

A Gene For Violence?

Are we genetically programmed to be timid or violent? Earlier this week a study was published in Molecular Psychiatry. Two groups of Finnish prisoners had their genes tested, and in a brute force hack comparing behavior and genotype it turns out that the most violent offenders had a greater risk of having certain key genes.

Magnesium and the Ketamine Connection

It’s great to see an interesting compound like ketamine be taken seriously and thoroughly studied for its action in serious, resistant depression. However, I'd love to see the mineral magnesium studied, particularly as an adjunct treatment for depression and anxiety.

The Ketamine Key

The drug ketamine acts on certain brain communications networks, rapidly reversing one of the most disabling symptoms of depression, the inability to experience pleasure. The more we can understand about these brain systems and how they interact, the better a chance we have to develop sophisticated tools to fight depression.

A Bold New Experimental Treatment for Alzheimer's Dementia

A dietary supplement called a ketone ester could possibly be the first truly effective treatment for Alzheimer's Dementia. A fascinating case study explains the science and the results.

Is Gluten Causing Your Depression?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity may not exist as a cause of irritable bowel, but a small study induces depressed feelings in people with gluten. If you feel better on a gluten-free diet, you might want to experiment with low FODMAP diet as well.

New Insights Into the Genetics of Schizophrenia

Last month, a new veil was lifted from the mysterious and devastating disease of schizophrenia. If this research holds true on reexamination, we might be taking the first steps toward isolating the pathology of a major psychiatric disorder, as infectious disease doctors did a hundred and fifty years ago with the development of germ theory.

Ele-Mental Health

One need only look at the first several rows periodic table to find some elements essential to good mental health. Human brains need minerals to function normally, and a diet high in processed foods will lower mineral content, so that mineral levels in the body suffer. Zinc, magnesium, lithium, iron, chromium, and calcium all influence our moods and resiliency.

Human Microbiota and Depression

The microbiota are a crucial part of our immune system and regulate inflammation, they are also intrinsically linked with the hypothalamic pituitary axis and stress response system of the body. A new study finds links between species of microbiota and depression in humans.

A Tangled Web: Wheat, Schizophrenia, and Infection

A new generation of researchers have taken up the mysteries linking Toxoplasma infection, gluten antibodies, and schizophrenia.

Evolutionary Psychiatry 101

Distilling the important parts of a paleo diet and lifestyle and mental health.

The Gut-Brain Connection, Mental Illness, and Disease

The 100 trillion organisms of our microbiome have an enormous effect on our immune system, stress response, and resiliency. How well our gut bacteria work with our immune system can make a difference in mental health, autoimmune disease, and even cancer. The consequences are profound, and we are just only beginning to understand it.

Tylenol in Pregnancy and ADHD

Tylenol use during pregnancy correlates with a linear increased risk of ADHD in offspring. Should the use of Tylenol as a "safe" painkiller during pregnancy be reconsidered?

Targeted Diet Interventions in Autistic Spectrum Disorders

The autism spectrum disorders are mysterious as they are devastating, frustrating parents, physicians, and researchers looking for a cause and a cure. However, a recent paper from Greece gives us some amazing clues that could open future treatment options for families.

Raise a Glass to Cooperation and Mutual Trust

The neurotransmitter serotonin is a powerful and sometimes misunderstood molecule. It is secreted from a tiny percentage of neurons in the brain, yet it controls mood, appetite, grooming, and even violent behavior and suicidal tendencies.

Brains, Spirituality, and Depression

A number of heavy-hitting psychiatry journals have published articles about a lower risk of depression in people who are religious or spiritual. Could the findings have biologic underpinnings?

The Self-Cleaning Brain

Why is sleep so important? As much as we know about the brain and the importance of sleep, much of what goes on to make sleep replenishing and vital remains a mystery. Last week, a new paper was published in Science, “Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain” that may give us enormous insight into some of the basic physiology of sleep.

Depression and a Broken Heart

An intriguing link between mind and body can be found by tracking the beats of the heart. People struggling with clinical depression often have an altered heart rhythm compared to people who are not having symptoms. With proper recovery and self-care, we can undo some of the ravages of chronic stress and keep ourselves functional and resilient.