Chapter Three: The Benefits
Shouldn't everyone be using this?
A Broad Range of Potential Benefits
Now elevating mood and permanently altering and changing personality are obviously reason enough to consider using this experimental routine, but in my opinion the benefits are far beyond these two basic attributes!
It’s my belief that daily use of the routine leads to increased self-esteem, a positive attitude, increased health, the potential to reduce or eliminate psychiatric medications, increased longevity of life, creativity, heightened feelings of spirituality (for those of that inclination) and less chronic pain. The list is endless! And, although feeling good is great, I feel the psychological, health, longevity, etc. benefits are even better.
Part One: Psychological Benefits
Mood Elevation - The Value of Positive Emotion
Barbara L. Fredrickson, Phd and her colleagues, are researchers in a new field known as “positive psychology” which was the brainchild of a former president of the American Psychological Association, Martin Selectman. Fredrickson wrote a very informative article in the American Scientist titled “The Value of Positive Emotions”.
In the article she relates positive emotions to an increased ability to adapt to our environment, and to longer life. In her Broaden-and-Build Theory she proposes that positive emotions serve to solve problems concerning personal growth and development.
She says that “experiencing a positive emotion leads to states of mind and modes of behavior that indirectly prepare an individual for later hard times”. Fredrick son proposes that “the positive emotions broaden an individual’s momentary mindset, and by doing so help to build enduring personal resources”. For example, her research has shown that positive emotion leads to perceptions of the “big picture” in individuals as opposed to being narrowly focused on issues! This suggests to her a “broadened pattern of thinking.”
In the article Fredrick son discusses related research over the years by Alice Ines, and her colleagues, at Cornell University in which it was shown that “when people feel good, their thinking becomes more creative, integrative, flexible and open to information! By moment-arily broadening attention and thinking, positive emotions can lead to the discovery of novel ideas, actions and social bonds”.
And finally, Fredrick son, et al, through their research, have come up with her Undoing Hypothesis Theory that says positive emotions may help undo the negative physiological effects of negative thought such as anxiety, worry and stress! In other words, positive emotions, may lead to reversals in illness!
Accelerated-State Conditioning (ASC) theory states that evoking "the chemicals of positive emotion" with the routine elevates mood, energy and motivation. One of those chemicals is the neurotransmitter dopamine. ASC elevates endogenous dopamine levels in the brain by evoking multiple episodes of frisson (chills) over a few minutes time. Frisson has been linked in a recent study to elevated endogenous dopamine levels (Salimpoor 2011).
An interesting article in DoctorTipster.com dated May 4, 2013, titled "Dopamine regulates our motivation to act, according to new study", reviewed some studies conducted by researchers in Spain showing that dopamine may be involved in the regulation of motivation, which means that previous beliefs according to which this neurotransmitter is involved in the generation of pleasure can be of the past.
Here are some highlights from the article:
"Researchers have shown that dopamine underlies motivation and cause individuals to act or to persevere to get what they want. Discoveries made by researchers at the Universitat Jaume I of Castellón, have implications in many neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and in addiction.
University researcher Mercè Correa explained that for a long time it was thought that dopamine is associated with pleasure because it is released when we get something we want. In fact, recent studies show that dopamine acts before, in other words make us act. He added that dopamine is released to get something good or to avoid something bad. Studies so far have shown that dopamine is released not only in terms of pleasure but also under stress, pain or loss. However, according to Correa, this research has been done to highlight only the positive influence of dopamine. The new article is actually a review of several investigations on the role of dopamine in motivated behavior in animals.
Dopamine level is different for each man separately, some are more motivated to take action to achieve their purpose while others are more lax. Correa explained that dopamine is involved in maintaining the level of activity required to achieve a goal. He added that although it is generally positive, it largely depends on the stimuli. Increased levels of dopamine could explain the behavior of some individuals with various addictions. Understanding the biological parameters underlying human motivation has applications not only in medicine but also in other areas such as education or work.
Because of this these latest findings, dopamine is now seen as a neurotransmitter that can compensate for the lack of energy and motivation that occur in certain diseases such as depression. Correa explained that depressed people are not motivated to act and this is due to low levels of dopamine. Lack of energy and motivation are also found in other diseases such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, Parkinson’s and others.
On the other hand, dopamine is involved in addictive behavior because high levels can cause a compulsive attitude. Correa suggests that dopamine antagonist therapy that have been applied so far had no effect perhaps because of inadequate treatment which was based on a misunderstanding of the mechanism by which dopamine function."
ASC Enhances Self-Image
As I've stated, Accelerated-State Conditioning implies more than a method of altering mood or consciousness. It implies changing behavior (ire., conditioned or learned responses or habits). For me, this routine has dramatically altered my personality and self-image over a period of years, with the many hours of re-programming and re-conditioning that I have gone through as part of ASC process. (Actually, as I’ve since learned and will explain below, it's not so much the number of hours, but rather the "intensity" of the re-programming that is important).
So, not only is ASC a terrific tool for helping you get into and stay in a good mood, as I've mentioned, it's also a useful way to overcome unwanted behavior (e.g. "bad habits") and create new patterns of behavior. And you don't have to go through the many years of trial and error that I did. Habit changes can actually be generated in a period of weeks or, worse case, a few months using Accelerated-State Conditioning. (After all, as I've said, fear would keep me from using the routine for months and sometimes years at a time).
Social Fears and Phobias
Still, another benefit to the ASC routine involves overcoming fears and inhibitions, especially the fear of socialization and public speaking. I really believe these fears were at the core of my prior history of dysfunctional behavior. I grew up extremely shy and withdrawn and immediately upon begin-ning to use this routine I noticed it greatly enhanced my ability to "get out there and mingle" and even give a few speeches. And, thanks in no small part to ASC, I went on in sales and became a national sales champion two years running with a national mortgage banker. So, all you aspiring public speakers, take heed. This routine may not cure your state-fright but it will hopefully "keep the butter-flies in your stomach in line"!
ASC and Stage Fright
One very common social phobia is stage fright. Public speakers like to “pump” themselves up mentally right before giving a speech. I can’t think of a better way to accomplish that than with the Accelerated-State Conditioning.
Permanently Changing Behavior
(Habit Elimination and Formation)
And finally, one of the most powerful benefits of the ASC routine pertains to permanently changing behavior or unwanted habits! much of habitual behavior is automatic and mechanical, and therefore we do it without thought. For example; how many times have you put food into your mouth before remembering you just started a new diet? When we remember our goal of changing a behavior, such as over-eating, right before committing, the unwanted act , we can sometimes divert our focus on the food and overcome the impulsive behavior. For example; drinking water curbs the appetite, but if we are not in the habit of substituting water for food we don’t do it. Each time we are able to do this substitution of a healthy habit for an unhealthy one we get the satisfaction of completing a goal and take another step towards staying healthy and creating a new self-image.
Mechanical behaviors (habits) are conditioned responses. We perceive a stimulus and we have learned to respond in a specific way. We feel hungry, sad, bored or lonely and we think something would taste good and we pick it up and eat it. Mom probably didn’t teach us this habit deliberately but somewhere along the line we learned to do it. To change this automatic response something new has to get between the impulse and the eating.
This is where one of many values of repeating affirmations which come about during the ASC routine. The more specific and detailed your affirmations are, e.g., “I like it when I can remember to drink water instead of snacking between meals”, the more likely we are to remember our goal of drinking water instead of snacking and averting the impulsive behavior of eating when we feel the urge. General affirmations, such as I like it when I eat right just don’t do the job.
After about three weeks of repeating specific affirmations, during your ASC routine, there is a new conditioned response forming; the memory of the goal of substituting water for food between meals. You start to bring the food to your mouth and you automatically remember the affirmation of you’ve been repeating during the ASC routine. Before setting the goal of not snacking between meals, there was no new memory to come between the stimuli of feeling hungry and the behavior of snacking between meals goal. Now you have something that gets between the stimulus and response; it’s the memory of how to substitute a healthy behavior for an unhealthy one and even if you don’t always do it your chances of substituting the desired response are greatly enhanced. You’ve got a new memory working for you.
ASC Increases Energy
Another huge benefit from Accelerated-State Conditioning is the increase in energy that results from elevating your mood! No one can deny the energy that comes from feeling good. As you do this routine regularly, it becomes obvious that we have virtually unlimited sources of energy from within! Our thoughts simply change our interior chemistry and we've got the "fuel" to do it all.
Granted, creating a temporary state of euphoria (hyperthymia) is a double-edged sword. The positive attributes of being temporarily "high" are obviously tremendous. For a few minutes you are invincible! You're fearless, gregarious, uninhibited, and creative...("happy as an Angel", as Scrooge says), the list goes on and on. But, at the end of the routine, when you come back down to reality, you bring back more and more of these attributes, (as a result of your new programming), which becomes a permanent part of your personality, self-image and daily life!
But, on the other hand, when you're high, you can be irrational, careless, lack objectivity; again the list goes on and on. Obviously, you can't stay in this frame of mind, or make important decisions during these episodes. But, unlike the positive attributes, these potentially negative aspects of euphoria (since you're not acting on them during the ASC routine), don't blend into the personality when you calm down. In fact, it's a good idea to repeat affirmations during the routine that reinforce objectivity rationality, for example common sense, etc. to remind yourself while you’re high that you have to be careful!
ASC Creates Optimism
Another potential benefit from ASC is that it creates tremendous optimism in the user. Hope springs eternal the saying goes, and because creating euphoria results in a mind expansion of sorts, I continue to see more and more of my true theoretical potential.
Naturally, a better way is to feel good about ourselves is to actually accomplish things, but when we are depressed, or even just lethargic and unmotivated, the option of action escapes most of us! But once I began using the Accelerated-State Conditioning routine routinely, I began to realize or believe that I was capable of doing much more than I felt previously. Now, whether this is just some grandiose thinking or really true, really doesn't matter much. What matters is that I truly believe it with every fiber in my body while high and I find my behavior changing without effort or fear. And as a result start accomplishing more! I used to think the expression “you are, what you think you are“, was just a lot of hype. No more.
This heightened awareness of my true potential is really the same type of knowledge that Chopra (The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success)1966, (who as you may know is also a Harvard trained M.D.), and many before him of the Eastern philosophy, have described when speaking of the benefits of Transcendental Meditation (tm). A practice I thoroughly believe in and use.
It's just that from my perspective, Accelerated-State Conditioning is faster and easier to use for accomplishing the mood/personality changes I've described. And I don't know if you have ever tried holding all thoughts out of your mind for 20 or 30 minutes, but for me, it "isn't easy". Most people I know have given up the practice for this reason. Again, I certainly believe in meditation, especially for stress-reduction and calming down, and I feel there are long-term benefits (such as enhanced assertiveness and greatly diminished co-dependency), whether it's coming from blending with the Universal Mind or purely physical! (Who's to say we aren't also tapping into an unknown source when we are high (euphoric)!
ASC Reduces Aggression
Accelerated-State Conditioning (ASC) theory states the ASC routine elevates positive emotion and mood by elevating levels of the brain chemical dopamine. It theoretically accomplishes this through evoking multiple frissons within minutes. Frissons have been linked to significant elevations in dopamine levels. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in pleasure and reward.
An article in HealthDay News.com, dated June 11, 2012 and titled "Low Levels of Brain Chemical May Boost Aggression" cites a small study showing that people with lower levels of the dopamine are more likely to be highly aggressive in competitive situations.
The study included 18 healthy participants in their 20s who played a computer game in which they could win money. They were told, however, that an opponent in another room who was able to cheat may steal some of their winnings.
PET scans were used to assess dopamine levels in the participants' brains. During the game, participants with lower levels of dopamine were more distracted from their attempts to win money and were more likely to show aggressive behavior, wrote study author Dr. Ingo Vernaleken, of the department of psychiatry at RWTH Aachen University in Germany, and colleagues.
The researchers were surprised by the results because they expected to find that higher levels of dopamine were associated with increased aggression.
The study was scheduled for presentation in June of 2012 at the Society of Nuclear Medicine's annual meeting in Miami Beach, Fla.
Research presented at medical meetings should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
Is ASC a Spiritual Routine?
Some would say another benefit to ASC pertains to spirituality. Many think of elevating a positive mood as being spiritual. They feel when raising positive emotions they are literally raising their spirits! Some say, when I'm “high”; I'm loving, caring, altruistic, non-judgmental, understanding. Sounds like a pretty good description of spirituality to me!
Part II: Potential Health Benefits
Avoidance of Depression
Depression and Health
It may be a bold claim, but I firmly believe that ASC reduces or eliminates the symptoms of depression. There are many other studies relating health issues related to mood swings and depression. We all know that depression is one of the most prevalent maladies in western civilization, but it’s not so widely known than depression has profound effects upon your physical health as well!
It is becoming obvious that we must do everything in our power to stay out of low mood cycles for health reasons. This is the primary reason I feel the ASC routine will become widely used. There are millions of people who want to elevate their mood to stay physically healthy but are afraid of medication or want to reduce the amount of anti-depressants they have to take!
Depression and Cancer
Studies relating disease and its severity to negative mood and depression are coming out constantly. According to an article in Health DayNews.com (August, 2003), cancer patients with symptoms of depression are more likely to have their lives cut short than cancer patients who are free of depression. The article says that warning comes from a study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine (5). The researchers used a number of demographic, medical, cancer treatment, and psychological factors to predict longevity over a 10-year period for a group of 205 people with cancer. They discovered that symptoms of depression were the most consistent psychological predictor of shortened survival time.
This examination of psychological predictors of survival among people with cancer is a fairly new area of research. At the end of the 10-year study period, 125 of the people were still alive and 80 had died from cancer-related causes. "We're trying to understand the role of the mind in the disease process. The fact that depressive symptoms were shown to affect the course of cancer in this study has important implications for psychological screening and treatment of cancer patients," University of Rochester lead researcher and psychologist Kirk Warren Brown says in a news release. He and his colleagues suggest the first year after someone is diagnosed with cancer would be an appropriate time to screen for symptoms of depression.
Depression and Stroke
Depression may raise the risk of stroke, a new study suggests. Researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health and Brigham & Omen’s Hospital found that participants with depression were 45 percent more likely to have a stroke and 55 percent more likely to die of stroke than those without the mood disorder.
The study authors speculate that depression inflames hormones in the nervous system, which could increase stroke risk, according to findings published (Sept. 2011) in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Positive Emotion Probably Results in Fewer Colds
According to an article in HealthDayNews.com, research reported in the July o3 issue of Psychosomatic Medicine found that people who have more positive emotions, such as happiness and calmness, have fewer colds than glum people. "We found that people high on positive emotional style were less likely to develop colds than people who were low," says study author Sheldon Cohen, a professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. And, he adds, "as positive emotions increase, the probability that they would develop a cold decreased." So, as you get happier and more relaxed, your chances of catching a cold are reduced even further.
For the study, Cohen and his colleagues recruited 334 healthy volunteers. They were bet-ween the ages of 18 and 54, with an average age of 29. One hundred and seventy-five of the volunteers were women. At the start of the study, all of the volunteers were tested to make sure none had colds.
They were then interviewed by phone three nights a week for two weeks. The researchers asked them to rate on a scale of zero to four how closely a particular emotion described how they had felt during the day. The nine positive emotions were: lively, full of pep, energetic, happy, pleased, cheerful, at ease, calm and relaxed. The nine negative emotions were: sad, depressed, unhappy, on edge, nervous, tense, hostile, resentful and angry.
The researchers then averaged the emotions from all of the inter-views. People who scored high on positive emotions were said to have a positive emotional style, while people who scored high on negative emotions had a negative emotional style. For the last week of the study, the participants were quarantined. Using nasal drops, the researchers placed a virus that causes the common cold into the volunteers' noses, and then monitored them for signs of infection and symptoms of a cold for five days. People with positive emotional style weren't less likely to be infected with the cold germs. However, they were less likely to show any symptoms of being ill than people who scored low in positive emotional style, the researchers say. Having a negative emotional style didn't increase the risk of getting sick, but these people tended to complain more about the symptoms they did have.
Positive Emotion Linked to Better Health Habits
Cohen says the researchers also found people with positive emotional style had better health habits, such as exercising, eating well and getting enough sleep, and they had lower levels of three stress hormones. He says the researchers controlled for these factors and still found an association between positive emotions and fewer cold symptoms. He explains that chemical mediators, such as histamine and pro-inflammatory cytosine, are responsible for cold symptoms. And he suspects positive emotions may dampen the production of these mediators.
So, can the power of positive thinking keep you healthy? Maybe, says Cohen, but he cautions that this study couldn't define if the people who scored high in positive emotions during this study have always been happy people, or if they were simply in a good period of their lives during the research.
Shiner says he believes people can make themselves happier. He adds that it's important that you don't keep your emotions bottled up and that you take time to do things you enjoy. "Stress and emotions do affect our immune responses," says Shiner. "If we're comfortable and happy, then we'll live longer and healthier lives."
Depression Leads to Higher Risk for Heart Disease
In another example, a report by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) looked at the care of women admitted to hospitals in the year 2000. Among the study's conclusions: Depression was the second-leading cause of hospitalization for women aged 18 to 44, with some 205,000 admissions in 2000. The number one reason for hospitalization for women in this age group was obstetrical care and childbirth. In another study, sited in the July 13, 1998 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine, men diagnosed with depression have twice the risk of heart disease found in men without depression, and this increased risk lasts for several decades!
Positive Affect and Longevity/Aging
The daily motivational routine I call Accelerated-State Conditioning is designed to elevate positive affect (positive emotion, positive mood, happiness, a sense of well-being, etc.) whenever needed or desired.
Several studies have linked emotional affect to physical health which obviously bears on longevity. In one study researchers Andrew Step toe, Jane Waddle, and Michael Marmot at The Rockefeller University in New York (2) found some links. Here are some of the author’s abstract highlights:
“Negative affective states such as depression are associated with per-mature mortality and increased risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and disability. It has been suggested that positive affective states are protective, but the pathways through which such effects might be mediated are poorly understood. Here we show that positive affect in middle-aged men and women is associated with reduced endocrine, inflammatory, and cardiovascular activity.
Positive affect was assessed by aggregating momentary experience samples of happiness over a working day and was inversely related to cortisol output over the day, independently of age, gender, socioeconomic position, body mass, and smoking. Similar patterns were observed on a leisure day.
Happiness was also inversely related to heart rate assessed by using ambulatory monitoring methods over the day. Participants underwent mental stress testing in the laboratory, where plasma fibrin stress responses were smaller in happier individuals. These effects were independent of psychological distress, supporting the notion that positive well-being is directly related to health-relevant biological processes.”
In essence, happiness (which presumably includes frequent positive mood) promotes longevity.
Shyness May be Related to a
Weakened Immune System
The Washington Post in December, 2003 reviewed a study from UCLA and published in the journal Biological Psychiatry relating shyness to a weakened immune system! The Accelerated-State Conditioning daily motivational routine is a terrific tool for overcoming shyness! According to the Post’s review, “this carefully done study showed that shy men have much less resistance to the AIDS virus than extroverted men and benefit far less from treatment with retrovirus drugs. It is the first study to demonstrate through laboratory tests a connection between being introverted and the course of AIDS in individuals, researchers said”.
The Post article goes on to say “In the new study, HIV-infected men who were introverted, reserved and kept to themselves had nearly eight times as many viral particles in their blood as did “outgoing” men. After treatment with anti-retro viral drugs for as long as 18 months, the viral load among extroverted men fell 162-fold. Among shy men, the drop was only twenty fold, said the lead author Steve Cole at the AIDS Institute of UCLA” . The Post article further cites, “There is a link between psychological profile and poorer response to HIV, and maybe even a number of other viral diseases”, agreed Anthony Faucet, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the federal government’s lead research center in the fight against AIDS.
And there are many more studies indicating that people are not taking advantage of current ways to deal with these problems of depression and shyness. People don't believe there is a fast, easy, economical way to overcome depression, but of course, there is. The Accelerated-State Conditioning routine affords a safe, inexpensive, drug free way to dramatically reduce or even eliminate this behavior. Since making it a firm habit to use this routine a minimum of 5 minutes a day, I simply no longer feel any significant, prolonged depression! And my health is excellent.
Now obviously, as I said before, ASC may not in itself eliminate the causes of depression any more than does anti-depressant medication!
But, just like with medication, if you feel better, you're more inclined (wiyh more energy and motivation) to go out and spend some time finding answers (conventional therapy, job and life-style changes, etc.). And, if your depression is gone, isn't that what's important?
How ASC may boost cancer therapy
The daily motivational routine Accelerated-State Conditioning is designed to enable a person to elicit multiple frissons (chills) at will, within minutes. Frissons have been linked to significantly elevated levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine (Validation 2011). Dopamine has been linked in dozens of studies to elevated positive emotion.
According to a recent study, doses of the neurotransmitter dopamine might offer a way to boost the effectiveness of anticancer drugs and radiation therapy, according to researchers at the Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solve Research Institute. (4)
Using animal models of human breast and prostate cancers, the researchers found that injections of the neurotransmitter dopamine can improve blood flow to tumors and improve delivery of an anticancer drug, doubling the drug's concentration in tumors and increasing its effectiveness. The increased blood flow also raised tumor oxygen levels, a condition that typically improves the effectiveness of both chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
The study also found that dopamine plays an important role in maintaining the structure of normal blood vessels, and
that it does this by working through the D2 dopamine receptor, which is present in normal blood-vessel cells called endothermic cells and Pericles. Dopamine was absent in tumor blood-vessel cells.
"Our study indicates a use for dopamine in the treatment of cancer and perhaps other disorders in which normalizing abnormal and dysfunctional blood vessels might improve therapeutic responses," says Dr. Suit Bass, associate professor of pathology and a researcher in the OSUCCC – James Experimental Therapeutics Program.
"Since dopamine and related agents are already used in the clinic for other disorders, these comparatively inexpensive drugs might be applied to the treatment of cancer to increase the therapeutic responses of chemotherapy and radiotherapy," he says. The blood vessels that develop inside tumors are structurally abnormal, chaotic and leaky and do a poor job of supplying blood to the tumor, Bass notes. This hinders the delivery of chemotherapeutic agents, and it leaves tumors oxygen deprived. This oxygen deprivation makes tumor cells resistant to chemotherapy and radiation.
Bass and his colleagues found that the dopamine treatment normalizes the structure of abnormal tumor blood vessels, indicating an important role for a neurotransmitter in the remodeling of blood vessels. Other key findings include the following:
1. The tumor tissue used in the study showed the absence of dopamine.
2. After dopamine treatment, tumor blood vessels in both cases resembled normal vessels in regard to leakiness and architecture. Pretreatment with a dopamine receptor antagonist negated this effect.
3. Subcutaneous human colon tumors in mice treated with dopamine and the chemotherapeutic drug 5-fluoroscopic (5-FU) accumulated twice the amount of 5-FU as tumors in mice treated with the drug only.
4. Subcutaneous human colon tumors in mice treated with both dopamine and 5-FU were less than one-third the size of tumors in mice treated with 5-FU only.
"Overall, our findings suggest that the normalization of tumor blood vessels using the neurotransmitter dopamine might be an important approach for improving therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of cancer patients," Bass says.
ASC and Bipolar Disorder
And, for Manic-Depressives (those affected by Bipolar Disorder), like I was “diagnosed” with once upon a time, (more on this later), the more I used the ASC routine to stay out of extreme lows, the less I found myself experiencing the extreme highs of mania (which I have not experienced since 1994). Psychologists tell us mania is nature’s defense against depression and low self-esteem, (granted, it’s an over-reaction, but when we are extremely depressed it seems to be necessary for many of us to revert to this mania.) So, ASC serves to keep me in the "middle road" instead of experiencing wild mood swings.
A new study out supports this idea. Researchers found that those who suffer from Bipolar Disorder (Manic Depression) are less likely to relapse if they stay on anti-depressants medication rather than following the usual course of stopping anti-depressant medication from the Bipolarity’s regime after six months). Of course for me, using the ASC routine to elevate mood in lieu of anti-depressant medication to prevent severe depression is preferable.
Quoting a recent article in Health Day News, standard treatment guidelines for bipolar depression are challenged in a UCLA study that appears in the July issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry. Those guidelines recommend that antidepressants be discontinued within the first six months after the symptoms of bipolar depression ease. But the UCLA study found people treated under the guidelines relapsed at almost twice the rate of people who continued taking antidepressants in conjunction with their mood stabilizer medication during the first year after remission of acute bipolar depression. The study found there was no increased risk of manic relapse in the patients who continued the medication for a year.
Researchers examined 84 people with bipolar disorder whose depression symptoms eased with the addition of an antidepressant to an ongoing mood stabilizer. The study compared the risk of depression relapse in 43 people who stopped taking antidepressants within six months of remission to the risk of relapse in 41 people who continued taking antidepressants. One year after improvement in depression symptoms, 70 percent of the people who stopped taking antidepressants had suffered a relapse, compared to 36 percent of the people who continued taking antidepressants.
"The common clinical practice of discontinuing antidepressant use in bipolar patients soon after remission of depression may actually in-crease the risk of relapse," study author Dr. Lori Saltshaker says in a news release. "Long-held concerns regarding a risk of switching into mania may actually interfere with establishing effective guidelines for treating and preventing relapse of bipolar depression. Guidelines more similar to those of maintenance treatment of unipolar depression may be more appropriate for individuals with bipolar depression who respond well to antidepressants. A controlled, randomized study is needed to address these questions," Saltshaker says. About 3.5 percent of Americans have bipolar disorder, which is characterized by alternating cycles of depression and mania.
Psychologists say symptoms of hypomania and mania may include an inflated sense of self-esteem or self-importance, elevated or expansive mood, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts and impulsive behavior. I feel this research is just one more confirmation of the importance of staying out of depression and of course my theory is that the Accelerated-State Conditioning routine will be used in the future as an alternate or supplement to anti-depressant and mood-elevating medication.
Another reason that I feel the frequent inducing of frisson with ASC prevents mania is because we probably build a “tolerance” over time to the chemicals associated with mania. Mania may well be the result of too much dopamine, etc. for someone not used to frequently elevated positive emotion and mood. We've all heard of something similar as when addicts find that they can no longer get “high” on the same amount because of building up a tolerance to their drug of choice.
ASC and Addictions
Another possible benefit from the ASC routine pertains to addictions. One of the driving forces for addiction is the temporary high that results from substance abuse. You feel good for a while! Since ASC creates a “high”, doesn’t it stand to reason that the addict’s or alcoholic’s need for a high would be diminished if they created a temporary high with the ASC routine? Many mental health educators explain "addictions", as behavior designed to "avoid feelings" rather than "feel" them. Believe me, if you start using the ASC routine, you are going to have feelings...”big time"!
Many times I've tried to start the routine and felt extremely upset when trying to repeat positive words about myself. It can be like unwanted shameful memories springing forth! Repeating positive affirmations while experiencing these old “hurts” just doesn't feel right. But this is a perfect time to “work on yourself” when these strong feelings come to the surface. The more we “allow ourselves to feel” and “acknowledge our feelings” the less powerful are our addictions. When we let ourselves “feel” the anxiety, anger, and sorrow that is inevitable in our lives ,“cravings” subside and can even end.
And that pain (of feeling negative emotion) is so minor compared to the pain of an addictions aftermath that it’s far lesser of the two choices! And, if you have to create an artificial high, why not do it in a manner that does not have physical destruction, financial ruin, or worse as a by-product.
And it's not like you're switching addictions by using Accelerated-State Conditioning to achieve a high. ASC isn't the slightest bit addicting in my opinion! There are no severe withdrawal symptoms to deal with. Like any routine that's similar in nature to exercise, it actually takes a little effort to force yourself to do it! In thirty-five plus years of use I still occasionally have to prod myself somewhat to get started. But like I say, it's certainly not painful so it doesn't take much to get going.
ASC and Cocaine Addiction
Cocaine is a powerfully addictive stimulant drug, and new research suggests another stimulant (much less addictive) might just be the trick to helping people break the addic-tive cycle.
Researchers have shown a single dose of methylphenidate (brand name Ritalin), a stimulant drug prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), may norm-alize the nerve pathways that go haywire in cocaine addicts' brains.
"These findings may also be generalizable to other types of addiction," study lead investigator Dr. Rita Goldstein, a professor in psychiatry and neuroscience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City, told CBSNews.com.
When a person uses cocaine, it causes the brain to become flooded with the neurotransmitter dopamine, a chemical messenger essential for controlling pleasure responses and movement. Dopamine is also implicated in drug addiction.
During addiction, the dopamine pathways and networks involved in controlling our behavior get dysregulated, Goldstein explained, and chronic use can cause dopamine to respond less to the stimulants. Those changes may lead people to take the drugs compulsively and become addicted.
Methylphenidate, like cocaine, targets dopamine transporters.
For the study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, the researchers recruited 18 adults who were addicted to cocaine but were otherwise healthy and were not on any medications. They were randomized to either receive a single 20 milligram pill of methylphenidate or placebo, and had MRI brain scans taken when at rest. Non-addicted individuals were also used to serve as control subjects for comparison.
Study co-author Anna Konova, a psychology graduate student at Stony Brook University in N.Y., told CBSNews.com that the researchers wanted to see through imaging scans how specific regions of the brain connected with each other, by comparing the addicted individuals' brain connectivity pathways to those of the non-addicted ones, with and without methylphenidate.
They found that a single dose of methylphenidate normalized the brain pathways, increasing and reducing some of the neural activity between different networks of brain regions. Given the brain networks involved, Goldstein theorized methylphenidate may have boosted the brain's control over the automatic, impaired responses that may lead a user to compulsively seek a drug.
As previously discussed, the ASC routine , like methyl-phenidate, elevates dopamine levels and might be an effective replacement therapy for many disorders poten-tially caused by dopamine depletion.
The ASC routine has no known addictive properties. So, using the same theorizing as done in the study above, ASC might be an effective replacement therapy for reducing or even eliminating cocaine addiction.
ASC and Obesity
In a recent Huffington Post Blog (3), journalist Ray Herbert reviews a recent study published in Psychological Science that discusses find-ins suggesting affirmations can help with weight control.
The study concerns dieting and weight control strategies. Herbert points out that here are two major reasons for unhealthy weight, according to experts. One is a simple lack of self-control, the second is an inability to cope with stress.
Herbert describes a question purposed by the study "what if there were a simple psychological intervention that addressed both of these issues at once -- bolstering self-control and buffering against everyday stress?". According to Herbert, researchers Christine Loge of the University of Waterloo, Ontario, and Geoffrey Cohen of Stanford University describe a brief and simple way to give people the tools for resisting temptation and coping with life's pressures.
It's called "values affirmation," and it's done with a simple writing exercise describe just such an intervention. It's called "values affirmation," and it's done with a simple writing exercise.
In the study, half the subjects wrote an essay on their most "cherished values" (a form of self-affirmation like used in the ASC routine). The other half (the "controls") wrote about something they did not value particularly.
The results at the end of 2.5 months showed significant weight gain with the "controls" and significant weight loss with the "positive affirming" group.
As stated, I believe the ASC routine elevates levels of dopamine. Studies show a link between low levels of dopamine and overeating. According to an article in Nevada Appealing on Tuesday, November 23, 2010 written by Anna Sachs/CTW Features, in a recent study conducted by scientists at the Scrips Research Institute, Jupiter, Fla., and published in the journal “Nature Neuroscience,” when rats raised on healthy food were suddenly given unrestricted access to a diet loaded with fat and sugar, they completely lost control over their eating. Even mild foot shocks couldn't keep them from compulsively consuming bacon, cheesecake, Ding Dongs and other highly palatable, readily available junk food. Within 40 days, their weight had increased 25 percent.
In addition to getting fatter, the rats developed the same changes in brain reward circuits that have been reported in humans addicted to drugs - specifically, they showed lower levels of the dopamine D2 receptor. The brain releases bursts of dopamine in response to feel-good experiences, such as eating cookies or snorting cocaine. However, scientists believe that too much of a “good” thing can overload and essentially crash the dopamine D2 receptor, making it necessary to take more drugs, or, in the case of the rats, eat more and more to achieve the same pleasurable effect.
The resulting lowered D2 receptor levels then seemed to drive the development of “habitual” feeding behaviors among the rats, says study co-author Paul Kenny, PhD, an associate professor at Scrips. To wit, when researchers replaced the junk food with healthy fare, the animals opted to starve themselves.
And here is a related study; (cited in Science Daily (Se. 30, 2010)); [New research provides evidence of the vicious cycle created when an obese individual overeats to compensate for reduced pleasure from food. Obese individuals have fewer pleasure receptors and overeat to compensate, according to a study by University of Texas at Austin senior research fellow and Oregon Research Institute senior scientist Eric Stine and his colleagues published in The Journal of Neuroscience.
Stine shows evidence this overeating may further weaken the responsiveness of the pleasure receptors ("hypo functioning reward circuitry"), further diminishing the rewards gained from overeating. Food intake is associated with dopamine release. The degree of pleasure derived from eating correlates with the amount of dopamine released. Evidence shows obese individuals have fewer dopamine (D2) receptors in the brain relative to lean individuals and suggests obese individuals overeat to compensate for this reward deficit.
People with fewer of the dopamine receptors need to take in more of a rewarding substance -- such as food or drugs -- to get an effect other people get with less.
ASC and Chronic Pain
Another potential (but unverified) benefit of the ASC routine pertains to chronic pain reduction. As mentioned above, I suspect one of the primary chemical changes that come with euphoria (as deliberately produced or evoked by the ASC routine) is a dramatic increase in the endorphins. Numerous studies have shown the benefits of elevated levels of endorphins for pain reduction. Opiates and analgesics (commonly used to kill pain) of course attach to the receptor cell sites nature designed for the endorphins. Just plug the words endorphin and pain into a search-engine such as Google and you will find numerous references.
Related to the subject above, a study at Stanford University (1) may have identified an association between reductions in chronic pain and increased activity in neural pleasure circuits. The study showed an association between long-term love and chronic pain reduction. The temporary euphoria that ASC evokes could be the result of this same activation and it seems reasonable to assume a relationship between euphoria and chronic pain reduction. Gosh, maybe we can get rid of the spouse and just use ASC for pain reduction (Important Note: I'm just kidding, we love you dear).
ASC and Vision
Daily Use of Accelerated-State Conditioning might help with diabetic induced vision problems -
The 5-minute daily motivational routine Accelerated-State Conditioning (ASC) is designed to elevate levels of endogenous (natural) dopamine (and other “chemicals of positive emotion”), dramatically, at will and within minutes.
According to ASC Theory, ASC assists individuals to accomplish this, in part, by evoking or "triggering" multiple episodes of frisson at will. Frisson has been linked to significant elevations of the neurotransmiter dopamine (Salimpoor 2011).
According to a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience (1), dopamine-restoring drugs already used to treat Parkinson's disease may also be beneficial for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness in adults, researchers have discovered. Diabetic retinopathy affects more than a quarter of adults with diabetes.
Doctors had previously thought most of the impairment of vision in diabetic retinopathy came from damage to the blood vessels induced by high blood sugar, but had known that dopamine, a vital neurotransmitter in the brain, was also important in the retina.
"There was some evidence already that dopamine levels were reduced in diabetic retinopathy, but what's new here is: we can restore dopamine levels and improve visual function in an animal model of diabetes," says Machelle Pardue, PhD, associate professor of ophthalmology at Emory University School of Medicine and research career scientist at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.
The first author of the paper is MD/PhD student Moe Aung. Senior authors are Pardue and P. Michael Iuvone, PhD, professor of ophthalmology and pharmacology and director of vision research at Emory Eye Center.
Aung and his colleagues examined mice that were made diabetic by treating them with streptozocin, which is toxic to insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. By injecting the mice with L-DOPA after getting streptozocin, the researchers could delay the appearance of visual problems by weeks and lessen the severity of the visual defects. Researchers also found that the visual benefits of L-DOPA originated from the retinas, since treatment improved retinal responses (as measured by electroretinography) to levels similar to control animals.
L-DOPA, a precursor to dopamine, is part of the most common drug treatment for Parkinson's disease. The symptoms of Parkinson's (tremors and movement difficulties, as well as disturbances in sleep, digestion and cognition) are caused by the death of dopamine-producing cells in the brain. L-DOPA is usually combined with carbidopa to combat side effects and increase uptake in the brain.
The researchers also measured the effects of other dopamine-related treatments on visual function. Dopamine receptor agonists – drugs that mimic the action of dopamine – are sometimes prescribed for Parkinson's patients who do not respond to L-DOPA. Neurons and retinal cells have several molecules that enable them to respond to dopamine, and individual drugs affect them to varying degrees. Working with Iuvone, MSP graduate student Chad Jackson, now at Vanderbilt, found that giving diabetic mice dopamine receptor agonists that acted on the receptor D1R improved the ability to see fine lines (acuity), while drugs that act on D4R improve contrast sensitivity.
"This is important because it shows that treatments targeting dopamine could be beneficial to patients with established diabetes," says Iuvone. "It should be straightforward to try L-DOPA or dopamine receptor agonist treatment in adults, although L-DOPA could have complications in children. Bromocriptine, a dopamine receptor agonist, is already FDA-approved to treat type 2 diabetes. It will be important to determine if the same dopamine receptors modulate acuity and contrast sensitivity in humans."
(1) Aung, Moe H., et al. "Dopamine Deficiency Contributes to Early Visual Dysfunction in a Rodent Model of Type 1 Diabetes". The Journal of Neuroscience, 15 January 2014, 34(3): 726-736; doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3483-13.2014
Street Drugs – Effects On Health
And, still another benefit to the ASC routine, pertains to unwanted side effects, addictiveness, or health risks associated with other methods of creating a high (alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, heroine). Even supposedly harmless "POT" is becoming more and more suspect, e.g., a new study indicates smoking marijuana may cause
gene mutations that can trigger cancer. "Smoking marijuana is every bit as risky as smoking cigarettes," concludes study lead author Dr. Maribel Summerhouse of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. And the effects of marijuana may be particularly severe in the unborn child, with a potential for causing birth defects or child-hood cancer, according to the report. Recent surveys have revealed that a growing percentage of teenagers believe marijuana is a relatively harmless substance, especially when compared with tobacco or alcohol. In a statement, Summerhouse noted that many of the young women involved in her study "told us very proudly that they didn't smoke tobacco, that they only smoked marijuana."
Side Effects of Marijuana Use
The Texas researchers conducted DNA tests on blood samples obtained from 17 of these young women (all clients of a local prenatal clinic), and compared the results to those of 17 healthy non-smoking women who did not use marijuana. They focused their DNA research on mutations within the 'hart' gene. They explained that mutations in this gene act as a kind of indicator of "DNA dam-age potentially occurring in other areas of the genome." The authors discovered that regular marijuana users had three times as many hart mutations as non-users. Furthermore, the users' mutation rates were actually slightly higher than those of light tobacco users (5 to 8 cigarettes per day), as assessed in a previous study. This finding did not surprise the investigators, since they say "tobacco smoke and marijuana smoke contain many of the same carcinogens and mutagens." DNA mutations can be a real cause for concern, the Texas team concludes, since they "have been identified as early events in the development of cancer."
Previous research has already uncovered cases of tongue, lung, and head and neck cancers in long-time marijuana users who did not smoke tobacco.
The researchers say another study reported "a 10-fold risk of leukemia in the offspring of mothers who smoked marijuana during pregnancy." The findings appear in the journal Mutation Research 1998; 403:55-64.And then there is the "easy-to-do factor". Unlike most routines of one type or another, the ASC routine is easy to start-up. And, unlike physical exercise, there is no real pain involved with beginning the routine. It doesn't hurt (like starting up that rowing machine)! In fact, you begin looking forward to it because you know it's going to feel good.
Side Effects of Anti-Depressant Medication
Millions of people are elevating their moods daily with very powerful drugs (either street or pharmaceutical) that have the potential for unwanted side-effects. The ASC routine may can be a better alternative and a more powerful mood-elevator than these drugs. Or, at least ASC may be a good supplement which might allow a substantial reduction in the quantity of drug/medication use. And, when used with caution, ASC can be used without side effects!
Theoretically, the chemicals being elevated during the routine are nature’s own brain and body made (endogenous) mood-elevators, so any “side-effects” are natural reactions.
As I've stated, my belief is that the ASC routine can reduce or eliminate the symptoms described as depression. If this is correct, many people might be able to reduce or eliminate the medications prescribed for this "condition". Naturally, this is a decision made by each person individually and their physicians
Here are some articles and research studies that discuss the potential side effects of these medications:
From and article in Pressurization, 12/4/10: Using an older class of antidepressant is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, a large population-based study says. The study, which followed more than 15,000 people in Scotland, showed that the consumption of tricycle antidepressants is linked with a 35 percent increase in the risk of developing heart diseases.
The other known side effects of tricycles, including high blood pressure and diabetes, may be responsible for the increase noted in the risk of cardiovascular events in individuals taking these medications for long term, the study found.
Another article discussing possible health effects of psychiatric medications comes from Canada dated 6/14/10: The risk of coronary heart disease and a cluster of conditions known as metabolic syndrome increases soon after otherwise healthy, but depressed people are started on psychiatric drugs, putting them at risk for an early death, Canadian researchers are reporting.
Antidepressants, anti-psychotics and other psychoactive drugs are the second most-prescribed drug class in the country, second only to cardiovascular, according to prescription drug-tracking firm IMS Health Canada. Across Canada, retail pharmacies last year dispensed 61.2 million prescriptions for psycho therapeutics, worth nearly $2.4 billion.
"Usually five of the top 10 prescribed medications worldwide are psychiatric drugs. We need to start looking at the impact of these medications on other systems," says Dr. Valerie Taylor, an assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at St. Joseph's health care and Masterly University in Hamilton.
In a study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Taylor and her colleagues followed 52 patients, age 16 to 40, newly diagnosed with bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder. Many were university students who had become ill for the first time. All were "treatment naive" — they had never before been treated for a psychiatric illness.
At the start of the study, researchers measured waist circumference, blood pressure, blood fats and other markers of metabolic syndrome — the name for a grab bag of health problems that increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. People with metabolic syndrome are twice as likely to die from, and three times as likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared to people without the disorder. They also have up to a nine-fold greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
At the start of the study, 11 per cent of patients met diagnostic criteria for metabolic syndrome, similar to the general population. This increased to about 17 per cent after two-years of follow-up. "It was actually quite disturbing, given that this was a young, healthy population when we started," Taylor said. "If this had been in a regular clinic, the patients would never have been monitored, simply because no one thinks that a healthy 29-year-old needs to have their glucose checked regularly because they have a mental illness."
The risk of having a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years also increased for both sexes over time, but was higher for women. All medication classes — antidepressants, mood stabilizers and "atypical," or newer anti psychotics — appeared to increase the risks. People diagnosed with depression lose 25 years or more of life expectancy, Taylor said.
"The whole focus of my research has been trying to understand why giving an 18-year-old girl a diagnosis of depression means that she is much more likely than her counterpart to have a heart attack when she's 55 — even if everything else between the two of them is the same," Taylor says.
One in five people will experience depression at some point during their lifetime. "We're not talking about a small group of people who are affected by this. This is something that's impacting a large segment of the population. "The medications used to treat depression are lifesaving," Taylor says. "But these medications also come with a host of side-effects," she said — especially weight gain. Many of the patients in the study gained weight rapidly. "People can gain as much as 10, 20 to 30 pounds over the course of a year," Taylor said. "Over the course of two years, we were definitely seeing significant changes" in weight.
The study has one of the longest follow-up periods published so far. "Mental health treatments are not like antibiotics — you don't take them for six weeks and then stop," Taylor said, "despite the fact that that's how most studies are designed. "These are medications that are taken for years, if not lifelong, because depression and bipolar disorder are not illnesses we can cure. They're illnesses we can treat."
She said patients with depression need early screening and appropriate treatment for cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome.
So to come back full circle here; ASC may me an alternative offering the abscense of unwanted side-effects like those outlined above.
Not All Addictions are Negative
Some addictions become what the psychiatrist William Glaser describes as "Positive Addictions"! (in his book of the same name). What keeps bringing us back to the routine, is not the pain of withdrawal, as with a physical, chemical or process addiction, but rather the memory of the pleasurable positive results and benefits. And, unlike anti-depressant medication, ASC can be temporarily suspended, immediately if need be. Especially for those who recognize a manic phase coming on. With psychological medications you can't just stop and start them as needed because they can only be reduced gradually over a period of days or even weeks! (See Ann Blake Tracy's Prozac, Pandora or Panacea? - 1994).
The Placebo Effect of Anti-Depressants
And then there is the theory that anti-depressants only work due to the "placebo effect anyway". According to some research, most people who take medication for depression break out of the doldrums not because the pills change their brain's chemistry, but because they believe so strongly that the drugs will work. In a controversial new study appearing in the July, 1998 edition of Prevention & Treatment, a new journal published by the American Psychological Association, Dr. Irving Kirsch and Guy Hammerstein pooled and analyzed data from 19 randomized, placebo-controlled studies involving 2,318 patients. They concluded 75 percent got better because of the placebo effect, and the other 25 percent got better due to the positive side effects of the drugs.
The placebo effect is the well-documented phenomenon in which people who are given sugar pills or other fake medications get better as long as they believe whatever they've consumed is supposed to work. Recent research at Harvard Medical School shows the placebo effect works in 35 percent or more of cases.
Kirsch and Wittgenstein’s "meta-analysis" assessed the efficacy of various medications in treating depression. Some of the studies involved drugs that are not considered anti-depressants. Across 19 studies, they calculated the extent to which the beneficial effects of the various drugs could be attributed to the drugs themselves, and the degree of positive effects that could be attributed to the placebo effect. They say their conclusion ``does not mean that only 25 percent of patients are likely to respond to the pharmacological properties of the drug. Rather, it means that for a typical patient, 75 percent of the benefit obtained from the active drug would also have been obtained from an inactive placebo.'' They speculate the positive benefits came ``from an enhancement of the placebo effect caused by the fact that those who received medication, rather than a dummy pill, could tell by the side effects that they had taken something.''