Roundup: More about growing healthy brains; more research kudos for meditation; is this how NOT to help those who are depressed??

It’s Brain Awareness Week! The Dana Foundation has a short overview of the thousands of celebrations around the world. And check out the cool brain art. Our nod to the festivities is a link to yesterday’s video that Jenna Bush Hager did on the Today show: “Why a good day care matters.”

She profiles a teenager with two kids who languished in day care where they were being neglected. She interviews Dr. Jack Shonkoff of Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, who does a great explanation of how neglect actually shrinks and dissolves the connections between neurons in a kid’s brain. She ends the story with an interview with Susan Buffett, Warren Buffett’s daughter who founded the Buffett Early Childhood Fund. Buffett provides a happy ending. Too bad this video isn’t on YouTube!

HALF OF FAMILY dementia caregivers end up clinically depressed from chronic stress. Yoga meditation may help, according to this LA Times Booster Shots blog post by Jeannine Stein. A small study of 49 caregivers compared active meditation with passive relaxation. The meditation increased the mental health of half the participants by 50% and reduced depression in 65% of the participants by 50%. It also increased activity at the ends of chromosomes, which boosts the immune system. The study was published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

IN AN INTERVIEW that Dr. Vincent Felitti once did with a morbidly obese patient, the man, who had tried every diet known, laughed at the memories of people telling him that overeating was bad for him, and that if he would only pay attention to good nutrition, he’d lose the 200 extra pounds he was carrying. That never helped him, he said. But getting at the root of why he was overeating — how his childhood trauma affected his life and health — was more effective. Until he was able to come to understand his trauma, he regarded the despair and frustration he was living with as more harmful than eating, which suppressed the feelings. For anyone who’s ever been depressed, advice about the wrong things to do when you’re depressed just doesn’t register. So, when I saw The Worst Ways to Treat Depression, I was reminded of that story.

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