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The Emotion Compass

The Emotion Compass

UA-58123302-1

Emotion-Compass-Final

Emotion Compass

 

 


This is a short introduction to the emotion compass which I designed during my last year of my Psychiatry Residency.  If you wish to see more information about this instrument, feel free to visit the article on my blog.  This is an instrument which I created based on some data extracted from the book, “Language of Emotion”, by Dr. Joel Davitz.

In short, he would give a group of people a scenario like, “you give a speech and find your blouse or pants were undone”.  Then he would ask the subjects to respond to what you would feel by a survey.  Dr. Davitiz had the subjects answer based on a categorical system as well as provide a label of the emotion.  In the case of embarrassment. the subjects agreed on the categories as, “High Energy”, “Moving Away” and “Discomfort”, for example. 

By applying the various data formats, I aligned 50 most frequently (and most reported as common) emotions on a three graduated axis. This permitted me to actually visualize some similarities about various emotions in relation to each other.

 

 

It was only sometime later that I explored how it would work in reverse; by reflecting on characteristics of emotions in order to clue me into an emotion which I would be feeling (when I was not clear on what I felt).  Sure enough, it seemed to prove helpful.  I then constructed the following chart and asked some of my clients to use it during their journaling.  It was well received and seemed very useful in helping my clients connect to their emotions more clearly.  This was then the springboard I used for Cognitive Therapy. For when my patients could own the true feelings they experienced, then they can begin asking, “what types of thoughts bring these feelings on?”.  As it seemed useful in breaking through barriers in Cognitive Therapy, I have found it useful for myself as well.  Feel free to try it out.


Brief Instructions

 

 

When you want to explore what you may be ‘feeling’, go to one bold category that you are more certain about. Here I am pointing to “Movement”, with the subcategory of, “Away”. The feelings you may be having is probably one of the emotions in a colored box as this.

 

 

Now, identify one more column which you are confident about.  Here in the example, I point to the column of “Energy-Low”. So, if I want to “move away” and have “low energy”, then the likely emotion will be where I have a color box in both columns.

 

 

So, if you look at the emotion list on the left-hand side, any emotion that has both the “move away” and “low emotion” are likely emotions I am currently experiencing. Some of the emotions in common by this example are, “shame”, “grief”, “depression” and “apathy”.

 

I hope you will find this Emotion Compass as useful as I do.  

 

Greg

 

 


EMOTION COMPASS

 

 

If you wish to download your own Emotion Compass, feel free to click HERE

 

 

The Emotion Compass was originally published on Braindoctr’s Blog

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The Bridge That Could Not

The Bridge That Could Not

 

 

The Bridge that could not..

 

  

It has been said, “if you want friends, do not build walls, build bridges”.  However, if you have ever felt depressed or under stress, you may have noticed that you did not really feel very sociable.  In fact, you may have avoided being around people.  Often when we face depression, impaired thinking and difficulty with planning accompany it.  When this is our pervasive state, any task undertaken can seem long and very energy demanding.  Even the steps we know we ought to take are challenging because we have difficulty moving forward.  We become myopic, (or nearsighted), lacking the capacity to see what the future has in store.

I have been reading an article recently that explains how this experience is actually a part of a neurobiological process; one that is common not only for times of stress and depression but it also appears to have a common involvement in most dementias.

You see, the bridgework of social engagement is much like the bridgework that can be found between neurons of our brains.  This bridgework aligns neurons across the signaling gap between downstream neurons. The terminal end of one firing neuron (presynapse) communicates with the dendrite (postsynapse) of the next downstream neuron through a gap known as a “synapse”.  This very important space regulates information as a communication relay for neurons.

 

 

Webster provides more about the origin

 

“Latin Synapsis, from Greek, juncture, from synaptein to fasten together”,

 

Presynaptic, synaptic and postsynaptic regions

 

 Depiction of Nectin Adhesion

 The correct alignment of neurons is an important feature for effective communication downstream.  Researchers discovered a structural protein known as Nectin-3 that maintains this important alignment in order to secure connections in their proper place.  This structural protein appears influenced by stress.  Through an experimental design, when mice were placed in a stressful environment, their brains showed a  significant reduction in Nectin-3. This reduction of Nectin-3 also correlated with the avoidance behavior observed in these mice.  In order to verify this relationship of Nectin-3 and avoidance, other experiments designed to restore fibronectin-3 resulted in increased cognitive function and improved socialization in mice.

 

When the scientist explored the mechanism behind the nectin-3 reduction, an enzyme known as MMP-9 was identified.  It was observed that during times of stress, high glutamate levels prompt the release of this enzyme, which degrades the nectin-3 protein.   

 

Normally, this enzyme has an important role in modifying memory. It likely has a part in fine tuning what we retain much like how a professional would tune a piano to precise tone.  However, in situations where we experience stress, there is a wider sweep of disconnections in a regional runaway mechanism, hindering our ease in social interactions as well as our capacity to think clearly.

 

MMP (like Military Police)

 Consider the MMP as if it were a rogue group of Military Police (MP), which lose their role as peacekeepers, causing mass chaos in a crisis.

As for the role of MMP-9 in our daily life, I can imagine how this may be a way our brains manage to protect us.  Life has many stressful moments.  Some moments are much worse than others are.  I can imagine that under a very intense and stressful situation, we may feel overwhelmed, requiring that we find a way to “step back” and reset our perspective in order to address our stress another way.  Such a mechanism as “sending out the Military Police (MMP) on our distressed brain, may allow us a certain “numbness”, a form of objectivity as it were until we can get back on our feet and face the problem a new way.

I am including a reference to this article below.

Thanks for joining me at this moment objectively!

 

Greg

 

 

 

I invite you to read this article below.

 

Stress Management Makes Us Antisocial Due To Severed Synapses: New Finding Opens Window For Disorder Treatment

New research (htp://lgc.epfl.ch/)from the Brain Mind Institute at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL),

 

 

The Bridge That Could Not was originally published on

 

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The Edge of Good Bye, balancing the choice to live on


suicidepro

The edge of Goodbye


We may have a biochemical marker in the near future which can help flag those who are prone to suicidal attempts.  Researchers at John Hopkins University have discovered a gene that helps regulate the stimulation of cortisol.  When pressures mount, this gene, (known as SKA) apparently helps to limit the cortisol impact on the cortical receptors within the forebrain. Those individuals prone to suicidal activity were found to consistently have low SKA expression.

 

fast

Cortisol: the train

A good way for me to conceptualize this process is to think of cortisol as a speeding train moving through the brain.  It is set in motion by a perceived  stress we are experiencing.  Ideally, the cortisol prepares our bodies for a “get up and go” necessary to meet our challenges.  However, the brakes are necessary to slow the train down in order to remain in control of the moment. So if the cortisol is the train, then the SKA gene is the brakes.

handbrake

SKA:the breaks of the train

Studies have shown that the SKA gene remains unchanged in our makeup.  However, our life experiences can influence the expression of this SKA gene (known as epigenetic regulation). As you may grasp, when the expression of SKA is hindered, the cortisol released during periods of stress has no way to regulate activity downstream.  Cortisol becomes a runaway train. Life can become a train wreck.

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Train wreck


See attached Article

A blood test for suicide?

Alterations to a single gene could predict risk of suicide attempt

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered a chemical alteration in a single human gene linked to stress reactions that, if confirmed in larger studies, could give doctors a simple blood test to reliably predict a person’s risk of attempting suicide.

The discovery, described online in The American Journal of Psychiatry, suggests that changes in a gene involved in the function of the brain’s response to stress hormones plays a significant role in turning what might otherwise be an unremarkable reaction to the strain of everyday life into suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

“Suicide is a major preventable public health problem, but we have been stymied in our prevention efforts because we have no consistent way to predict those who are at increased risk of killing themselves,” says study leader Zachary Kaminsky, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “With a test like ours, we may be able to stem suicide rates by identifying those people and intervening early enough to head off a catastrophe.”

For his series of experiments, Kaminsky and his colleagues focused on a genetic mutation in a gene known as SKA2. By looking at brain samples from mentally ill and healthy people, the researchers found that in samples from people who had died by suicide, levels of SKA2 were significantly reduced.

Within this common mutation, they then found in some subjects an epigenetic modification that altered the way the SKA2 gene functioned without changing the gene’s underlying DNA sequence. The modification added chemicals called methyl groups to the gene. Higher levels of methylation were then found in the same study subjects who had killed themselves. The higher levels of methylation among suicide decedents were then replicated in two independent brain cohorts.

In another part of the study, the researchers tested three different sets of blood samples, the largest one involving 325 participants in the Johns Hopkins Center for Prevention Research Study found similar methylation increases at SKA2 in individuals with suicidal thoughts or attempts. They then designed a model analysis that predicted which of the participants were experiencing suicidal thoughts or had attempted suicide with 80 percent certainty. Those with more severe risk of suicide were predicted with 90 percent accuracy. In the youngest data set, they were able to identify with 96 percent accuracy whether or not a participant had attempted suicide, based on blood test results.

The SKA2 gene is expressed in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is involved in inhibiting negative thoughts and controlling impulsive behavior. SKA2 is specifically responsible for chaperoning stress hormone receptors into cells’ nuclei so they can do their job. If there isn’t enough SKA2, or it is altered in some way, the stress hormone receptor is unable to suppress the release of cortisol throughout the brain. Previous research has shown that such cortisol release is abnormal in people who attempt or die by suicide.

Kaminsky says a test based on these findings might best be used to predict future suicide attempts in those who are ill, to restrict lethal means or methods among those a risk, or to make decisions regarding the intensity of intervention approaches.

He says that it might make sense for use in the military to test whether members have the gene mutation that makes them more vulnerable. Those at risk could be more closely monitored when they returned home after deployment. A test could also be useful in a psychiatric emergency room, he says, as part of a suicide risk assessment when doctors try to assess level of suicide risk.

The test could be used in all sorts of safety assessment decisions like the need for hospitalization and closeness of monitoring. Kaminsky says another possible use that needs more study could be to inform treatment decisions, such as whether or not to give certain medications that have been linked with suicidal thoughts.

“We have found a gene that we think could be really important for consistently identifying a range of behaviors from suicidal thoughts to attempts to completions,” Kaminsky says. “We need to study this in a larger sample but we believe that we might be able to monitor the blood to identify those at risk of suicide.”

Along with Kaminsky, other Johns Hopkins researchers involved in the study include Jerry Guintivano; Tori Brown; Alison Newcomer, M.Sc.; Marcus Jones; Olivia Cox; Brion Maher, Ph.D.; William Eaton, Ph.D.; Jennifer Payne, M.D.; and Holly Wilcox, Ph.D.

The research was supported in part by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health (1R21MH094771-01), the Center for Mental Health Initiatives, The James Wah Award for Mood Disorders, and The Solomon R. and Rebecca D. Baker Foundation.

More information:

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/profiles/results/directory/profile/5411152/zachary-kaminsky

http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/genetic_predictors_of_postpartum_depression_uncovered_by_johns_hopkins_researchers

Johns Hopkins Medicine (JHM), headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland, is a $6.7 billion integrated global health enterprise and one of the leading health care systems in the United States. JHM unites physicians and scientists of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine with the organizations, health professionals and facilities of The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System. JHM’s vision, “Together, we will deliver the promise of medicine,” is supported by its mission to improve the health of the community and the world by setting the standard of excellence in medical education, research and clinical care. Diverse and inclusive, JHM educates medical students, scientists, health care professionals and the public; conducts biomedical research; and provides patient-centered medicine to prevent, diagnose and treat human illness. JHM operates six academic and community hospitals, four suburban health care and surgery centers, and more than 30 primary health care outpatient sites. The Johns Hopkins Hospital, opened in 1889, was ranked number one in the nation for 21 years in a row by U.S. News & World Report.

Media Contact:

Lauren Nelson
410-955-8725; lnelso35@jhmi.edu

Helen Jones
410-502-9422; hjones49@jhmi.edu

 

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