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SuperBetter Partners With Psych Hub To Provide Videos About Mental Health

People around the world play SuperBetter to be stronger and more successful at achieving goals and overcoming challenges across many areas of their lives, including their mental health.

Today, we have great news to share — especially for those playing SuperBetter to tackle depression, anxiety and other challenges related to mental health. Psych Hub has partnered with SuperBetter to provide access to a library of high quality educational videos featuring mental health topics. These videos are available at no cost to the SuperBetter Community.

Psych Hub is a mission-aligned organization that has created a library of short, educational videos on various topics related to mental health such as depression, anxiety, bipolar, PTSD, eating disorders, and evidence based treatments. It was founded by Marjorie Morrison, former CEO of PsychArmor Institute, (a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free online courses about an array of issues of interest to the military community and their families), and Patrick J. Kennedy, former congressman of Rhode Island, mental health advocate, and founder of The Kennedy Forum.

Psych Hub’s mission is to spread greater knowledge and awareness about mental health issues and to decrease the stigma associated with them. By combining clinical research with the art of storytelling, Psych Hub videos provide mental health education that is accessible to everyone.

Psych Hub is partnering with respected organizations like SuperBetter as part of its commitment to bringing accurate and reliable information about mental health to a broader audience. As a partner we have our own page on Psych Hub for the SuperBetter Community. On this page are many videos that we think SuperBetter fans and users may find of interest. We invite you to click over, check them out, and share them with your family, friends, colleagues, and communities!

Lyfebulb and UnitedHealth Group Announce The Winner of Their 2019 Innovation Challenge for Patient Entrepreneurs

Challenge brought together 10 finalists who are building solutions for those affected by depression and anxiety

MINNETONKA, Minn., and NEW YORK (July 24, 2019) Lyfebulb LLC and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) are pleased to announce that Rohan Dixit of Lief Therapeutics was selected as the winner of the “Addressing Unmet Needs in Depression & Anxiety: An Innovation Challenge.” Lief Therapeutics has developed an intuitive, data-driven wearable consumer product for anxiety used to teach the skill of mindfulness using heart rate variability.

Rohan was selected from a group of passionate innovators who were finalists in the Challenge, including Jay Brown of Health Behavior Solutions; Matt Loper of Wellth; Lisa McLaughlin of Workit Health; Katherine Ponte of ForLikeMinds; Jan Samzelius of NeuraMetrix; Dr. Ryan Stoll of COMPASS for Courage; Dr. Mehran Talebinejad of NeuroQore; Quayce Thomas of Timsle; and Keith Wakeman of SuperBetter.

Dennis Urbaniak, Chief Digital Officer of Havas Health & You, who served as Chair of the Jury commented, “Rohan not only has a mission and purpose that aligned with the criteria of the challenge, but also has taken a conventional approach and reimagined it through the patient experience with evidence-based science behind it. Additionally, he has identified viable pathways to commercialization.”

The Innovation Challenge was open to established companies of all sizes that are founded or led by an entrepreneur who has been affected by depression and anxiety, whether as a patient or through a loved one, and who has created a product or service to address an unmet need identified through personal experience. The 10 finalists gathered at UnitedHealth Group’s headquarters for two days of meetings, workshops and pitch presentations. The event culminated with a panel of esteemed judges selecting Rohan Dixit for the $25,000 award.

“Partnering with UnitedHealth Group for a second year in a new therapeutic area which impacts all of healthcare is tremendous for Lyfebulb,” said Dr. Karin Hehenberger, Founder and CEO of Lyfebulb. “We have established a community of people affected by and caring about depression and anxiety, from which we sourced ten exceptional patient entrepreneurs to join us in Minnetonka over the past few days. Their passion and determination to solve daily issues that burden so many individuals came through clearly during the pitches.”

The judges included experts from the patient, business and medical communities including Mike Christy, Senior Vice President of Venture Development at UnitedHealth Group; Dr. Raja M. David, Founder and Owner of Minnesota Center for Collaborative/Therapeutic Assessment; Matt Kudish, Executive Director at NAMI-NYC (National Association of Mental Illness); AnnMarie Otis, Patient Advocate; Dr. Bethany Ranes, Research Associate at UnitedHealth Group; and Dennis Urbaniak, Chief Digital Officer at Havas Health & You.

“Through this innovation challenge, we learned from patients and caretakers who live and breathe the challenges of this disease every day,” said Dr. Deneen Vojta, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Research & Development at UnitedHealth Group.  “We see depression and anxiety touch all populations we serve and we valued the opportunity to bring together entrepreneurs, health care providers, patient advocates and business leaders at the summit. Together, we can help bring the most innovative, effective tools – inspired by personal experiences – into the marketplace.”

The Implications of Using CBD for Chronic Conditions: Here’s What We Know

Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound in cannabis, has become a popular alternative to pharmaceuticals. CBD users can sometimes find relief from their conditions without harsh side effects. 

41% of cannabis users surveyed report swapping out other medications completely in favor of cannabis, while another 58% use cannabis and other medication or alternate between them,” researchers stated in a survey by Brightfield Group

While CBD may be a beneficial alternative for chronic conditions, it’s important to consider the implications of using CBD before changing your current regimen.

Diabetes

Studies have suggested that inflammation has a correlation with insulin resistance. This may be the result of the body not moving sugar from the bloodstream into cells, causing excessively high blood sugar. Obesity-related inflammation particularly limits glucose metabolism, resulting in high blood sugar. 

Researchers still don’t know exactly how CBD improves insulin resistance, but often credit it to the compound’s anti-inflammatory effects

According to a report on Type 1 diabetes from the Diabetes Council, “CBD can save insulin-forming cells from damage so that normal glucose metabolism can occur.”

It’s important to note that most claims being made are based on studies with animals, not humans. Using CBD to treat diabetes without more substantiated research and medical oversight could be dangerous. Until further human studies are conducted, CBD can’t be considered a direct treatment for diabetes. 

However, the anti-inflammatory effects of cannabidiol may be beneficial for managing secondary symptoms from the disease. For example, CBD has neuroprotective qualities and may prevent retinal damage.

Cancer

While there is anecdotal evidence of successfully treating cancer with CBD, no definitive studies can back this up. However, we do know that CBD plays a role in cancer prevention and seems to have anti-tumor effects. In a 2012 report, researchers explained, “Evidence is emerging to suggest that CBD is a potent inhibitor of both cancer growth and spread.”  

The U.S. National Library of Medicine explains that CBD is anti-proliferative, meaning it can stop, slow down, or reverse the growth of cancerous tumors. It is also anti-angiogenic, meaning it does not support the generation of new blood vessels, specifically ones that allow cancerous tumor growth. Lastly, it is pro-apoptotic, which means it induces cellular suicide of cancerous cells. 

In addition to these cancer-specific effects, CBD may help patients dealing with pain related to cancer treatment, such as pressure on the organs and nerve injuries. Patients with cancer are commonly prescribed opiates to manage pain, but managing pain with CBD may be just as effective with fewer side effects.

Unlike opiates, which mimic our bodies’ natural endorphins, CBD actually encourages the production of natural endorphins by interacting with a neurotransmitter called anandamide. As a result, CBD is a non-habit-forming pain-reliever. 

It’s important to consider the legal implications before using CBD for cancer, or any other chronic condition. Hemp-derived CBD is legal across the United States, with specific guidelines per state. Idaho, Nebraska, and South Dakota have strict, conflicting rules regarding CBD, so caution should be taken if you live in those states. 

Whatever state you’re in, be sure to get high-quality CBD from producers who follow the guidelines of the law. 

Multiple Sclerosis

According to Neurology.org, “inflammation occurs in the brains and spinal cords of people with a specific kind of MS called relapsing-remitting MS.” CBD has been shown to protect against this harmful inflammation

In a 2011 study with mice, researchers found that CBD diminished axonal (nerve) damage and inflammation. CBD also reduced microglial activation, an inflammatory process that occurs in the central nervous system and is attributed to conditions like MS, Parkinson’s, and more. 

CBD may help users get relief from their MS without causing the sometimes intense side effects that come with pharmaceuticals. Still, CBD may cause some side effects that users should be aware of. Side effects may include:

 

  • Anxiety
  • Changes in appetite
  • Changes in mood
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea

Anxiety and Depression

The hippocampus, the most widely studied portion of the brain, is responsible for the regulation of memories and emotions. Researchers believe the hippocampus plays a major role in depression, and have found that this region of the brain can shrink or decay in those with depression.

Fortunately, the shrinkage does not have to be permanent. The brain is very regenerative and can bounce back as new neural connections are made. This process is known as “neurogenesis” and is an important process to target for antidepressants, contrary to the prior belief that they just work to increase serotonin. 

Where does CBD come in? Research has shown that cannabidiol signals a serotonin receptor called 5-HT1A. This receptor is responsible for controlling many neurotransmitters, and is also the target of some anti-anxiety medications, like Buspirone. Activating this receptor can encourage neurogenesis, and potentially relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

While each individual case is unique, anxiety and depression tend to go hand-in-hand. CBD may encourage the neural regeneration necessary to find relief from either or both conditions. 

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is caused by — you guessed it — inflammation. A 2009 study found CBD was beneficial for colitis, a form of inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers induced colitis in mice and tracked their gut inflammation, finding that “cannabidiol, a likely safe compound, prevents experimental colitis in mice.”

Another review found “this compound may interact at extra‐cannabinoid system receptor sites, such as peroxisome proliferator‐activated receptor‐gamma. This strategic interaction makes CBD as a potential candidate for the development of a new class of anti‐IBD drugs.”

If you’re considering using CBD with other medications, consult your doctor first. Much like grapefruits, CBD inhibits the cytochrome P450 enzyme, which can prevent drugs from metabolizing properly. 

CBD could also negatively affect the liver by increasing liver enzymes. A 2014 review of CBD saw changes in the liver function of 10% of the subjects, and 3% had to drop out of the study to prevent further damage. Again, consult with a doctor if you want to use CBD for a chronic condition like IBD but are worried about the effects on your liver.

The Bottom Line

Americans spend around $1,200 on prescription drugs each year, which is more than the residents of any other developed country. The price of pharmaceuticals has risen without any improvements or innovation, according to CNBC. This makes CBD an exciting avenue as a potential alternative to standard pharmaceuticals.

It’s important to remember that the effects of CBD will vary by person, and that a lot of the claims we hear about CBD are in relation to animal studies and not humans. It’s also important to be as informed as possible before diving into the complicated world of buying CBD.

Still, many people find success with CBD for their chronic conditions. 

 

Macey Wolfer HeadshotMacey is a freelance writer from Seattle, WA. She writes about natural health, cannabis, and music.

Lyfebulb and UnitedHealth Group Launch Second Annual Innovation Challenge for Patient Entrepreneurs

Lyfebulb and UnitedHealth Group Launch Second Annual Innovation Challenge for Patient Entrepreneurs

  • Challenge aims to inspire patient-driven innovation in the management of depression and anxiety
  • Finalists will compete at UnitedHealth Group headquarters for a chance to win $25,000

group image for UnitedHealth Innovation Challenge

MINNETONKA, Minn. and NEW YORK, May 13, 2019 /PRNewswire/ Lyfebulb LLC and UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) invite patient entrepreneurs to compete in “Empowering Patients: An Innovation Challenge,” for the second annual Lyfebulb and UnitedHealth Group Innovation Award.

This year’s challenge will recognize the top patient entrepreneurs developing innovative ideas for better management of depression and anxiety using health care information technology, medical devices, diagnostics, consumer products or services.

UnitedHealth Grouup logo

Eligible companies are those that are founded or led by a patient entrepreneur: someone who has been personally affected by depression or anxiety (themselves or through a loved one) and who develops a product or service to address an unmet need identified through personal experience. Companies based in the United States or Canada (excluding Quebec) are eligible to apply. The application, detailed rules and eligibility criteria can be found at click here. Applications are open until 11:59pm EST on May 31, 2019.

“Depression and anxiety are issues that particularly affect people living with chronic disease,” said Dr. Karin Hehenberger, founder and CEO of Lyfebulb. “We are honored to work with UnitedHealth Group on an issue that affects so many people in our community and nationwide. We are eager to tap into the unique insights that patients have, and leverage those to identify user-driven solutions by patient entrepreneurs for issues they face.”

A joint steering committee composed of Lyfebulb and UnitedHealth Group executives will conduct a thorough sourcing and screening process, and select 10 finalists who will be invited to the Empowering Patients event July 23-24, 2019, at UnitedHealth Group’s headquarters in Minnetonka. There, the finalists will pitch their solutions to a panel of experts (a jury) from the business, medical and patient communities. The jury will award a $25,000 prize to the company with the most innovative and impactful solution at the closing ceremony.

“Depression and anxiety weave through all areas of disease – chronic and acute – yet they are understudied and underserved in terms of dialogue and solutions today in the United States,” said Gene Baker, Ph.D., a research fellow at UnitedHealth Group. “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with Lyfebulb and look forward to hearing from patients and entrepreneurs to learn more about the innovative, patient-driven solutions to help people living with depression and chronic disease.”

About Lyfebulb
Lyfebulb is a chronic disease-focused, patient empowerment platform that connects patients and industry (manufacturers and payers) to support user-driven innovation. Lyfebulb promotes a healthy, take-charge lifestyle for those affected by chronic disease. Grounded with its strong foundation in diabetes, the company has expanded disease states covered into cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, multiple sclerosis and depression/anxiety.

See www.lyfebulb.com, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Karin Hehenberger LinkedIn, and Lyfebulb LinkedIn.

About UnitedHealth Group
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) is a diversified health care company dedicated to helping people live healthier lives and helping to make the health system work better for everyone. UnitedHealth Group offers a broad spectrum of products and services through two distinct platforms: UnitedHealthcare, which provides health care coverage and benefits services; and Optum, which provides information and technology-enabled health services. For more information, visit UnitedHealth Group at unitedhealthgroup.com or follow @UnitedHealthGrp on Twitter.

Contact:

Lyfebulb
Karin Hehenberger, M.D., Ph.D., CEO
917-575-0210; Karin@lyfebulb.com

UnitedHealth Group
Tyler Mason
424-333-6122, tyler.mason@uhg.com

Chronic Illness & Anxiety: A Chicken & Egg Scenario

Anxiety and depression are prevalent for those who suffer from chronic illness. In fact, one study found that 40% of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) patients had abnormal anxiety levels and this drastically increases to 80% when the patient is in a flare-up . With chronic illness typically, there is a feeling of loss of control over your own life which can in turn cause stress, anxiety and depression.

Chicken or Egg?

I was diagnosed with IBD 9 years ago and while I have learned to (mostly) manage the symptoms of my disease over time, I have yet to master the feelings of worry and anxiety. After having a bowel resection surgery, I have been in clinical remission but not without its bumps along the way. The fear of the unknown can do a number on one’s mental health. The possibility of a flare-up always lives in the back of my mind. I can remember the countless visits to the hospital, procedures, medications, and extreme pain. I was barely able to take care of myself, and now that I have children, I worry that if I were to have a flare-up, I wouldn’t be able to take care of them or participate in their lives in a meaningful way.

I know that having a chronic illness has increased my anxiety levels, but does stress and anxiety exasperate my symptoms? Research shows that stress can worsen symptoms and cause a relapse of remission. From WebMD “When someone is under stress, the body gears up for a fight-or-flight response by secreting certain hormones, including adrenalin, as well as molecules called cytokines. They stimulate the immune system, which triggers inflammation. In people whose ulcerative colitis is in remission, this sets the stage for the return of their symptoms, known as a flare-up.” This is something I’ve experienced and heard from talking to fellow chronic illness sufferers. Lack of quality sleep and environmental stressors have often caused a revival of symptoms which can be a slippery slope to a full-on flare.

Anxiety definition (from Merriam-Webster):
an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physical signs (such as tension, sweating, and increased pulse rate), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it.

Stress definition (from Merriam-Webster):
constraining force or influence: such a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation
Anxiety = Fear

When speaking about Generalized Anxiety Disorder it is often associated with people who have irrational fears or worry for no reason. When talking about sufferers from chronic illness, often the anxiety is derived from perceived AND real fears. From my experience, my anxiety stems from a fear of a past trauma reoccurring. Fear of pain, a flare-up, of being out with no access to bathrooms. Fear of foods and eating, procedures, fear of damage caused by long term use of medications (i.e. Remicade can cause an increase in cancer). Fear of missing work, fear that people don’t understand, fear of drug/procedure costs and benefits coverage. This can be scary stuff and can plague your thoughts even when in remission.

From diagnosis to remission the fear still exists, it just changes in size and scope. A newly diagnosed patient can go through stages of grieving and without having the tools to manage the illness it can be very scary. Fast forward to remission, chronic illness has many layers and can be unpredictable. No matter how much you’ve done to manage your illness, there is still a possibility you can have a relapse. The feeling of helplessness can trigger depression, but on the flip-side depression can slow recovery. This begets a vicious cycle which can be hard to get under control.

Coping Physically and Mentally

Patients must cope with not just the disease itself but the mental health side effects of it. While I believe I’ve received excellent care from my Gastroenterologist, he deals with only clinical IBD symptoms so often the mental health aspect of the disease gets overlooked. It is important to bring up your emotional health to your doctor when suffering from a chronic illness despite the perceived stigma. Having that aspect under control could potentially help with physical symptoms. Anxiety and chronic illness can be a chicken and egg scenario where consideration must be given to both to have a holistic treatment plan.

Strategies for Coping With Anxiety:

Find your support: whether that be a close friend, family member, a fellow patient, or support group like Lyfebulb, knowing you aren’t in this alone makes a world of difference.

Don’t assume the worst: challenge those negative thoughts! Remember that you have survived thus far, and all those experiences make you stronger.

Try yoga, meditation, or deep-breathing:  Research has shown this to be an effective complementary therapy for patients with IBD.

Seek counseling – an impartial third party can help instill coping techniques

SOURCES: [Sharma P, Poojary G, Dwivedi SN, Deepak KK. Effect of Yoga-Based Intervention in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Int J Yoga Therap. 2015;25(1):101-12. doi: 10.17761/1531-2054-25.1.101. ]
Cannabis is an increasingly popular therapy for IBD with cannabidiol (CBD) showing promise as an anti-inflammatory and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) as a pain reducer and sleep-aid. [Ahmed W, Katz S. Therapeutic Use of Cannabis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2016;12(11):668-679.]

– Krystal Laferriere, Lyfebulb Ambassador (Instagram @xtra_ordinary_girl )

Diabetes and Depression

Diabetes and depression is a topic I feel strongly about, but also one that is not easy to discuss. Many people with diabetes and relatives to those with diabetes do not want to acknowledge the psychological issues one can have when living with diabetes. These issues are not only related to the fact that diabetes is a chronic disease, that one has to inject insulin to survive, and that one has to modify diet, exercise, relationships etc etc.

In fact, John McManamy, author of “Living well with depression and bipolar disorder” says that a Kaiser Permanente study of some 1,680 subjects found that those with diabetes were more likely to have been treated for depression within six months before their diabetes diagnosis. About 84% of people with diabetes reported a higher rate of earlier depressive episodes. He goes on to say that a 2004 Johns Hopkins study tracking 11,615 initially non-diabetic adults aged 48–67 over six years found that ‘depressive symptoms predicted incident Type 2 diabetes. Women, in particular are at greater risk, according to other studies; and another study shows that this risk, among both men and women, persists even after controlling weight, caloric intake, smoking, and economic factors.

It has clearly been shown that depression is higher in people living with diabetes, and that this differs from other chronic disease. It is also clear that the depressive tendencies people struggle with are exacerbated by volatility in blood sugar, and can be reduced when control is improved. I recognize this, since I know that when I was “high” I felt tired, lethargic and often hopeless. This would lead to thoughts not moving fast enough, and frustration with my own capacity as a thinker. I would be sad about small things and be emotional about events that otherwise did not bother me. The worst part of depression triggered by blood sugar volatility is the feeling of loss of control and the vicious circle triggering poor management of diabetes which makes both the physical problems and the psychological issues worse!

My recommendation is as always to try to stay in control and when you do slip, ask for help! Being alone with your disease is the worst, and the concept of peer-to-peer mentoring helps, especially with more emotional issues than with medical and physical details. It is hard for a doctor or a nurse to understand the sense of hopelessness, fear of complications and the loss of control that we feel at times when living with diabetes. This is when a friend who also has the disease can help you tremendously by bringing you up in your mood, and down from the rollercoaster of sugar.

My other piece of advice is to reduce the simple carbs in your diet– it really helps you control the volatility. As you may have seen in children without diabetes, their mood is seriously affected by high sugar meals, and the subsequent crash is hard on parents and caretakers.

Lastly, exercise creates a natural surge in anti-depressive hormones such as serotonin and endorphins so adding exercise to your daily regimen will reduce the risk of depression.

I had a pancreas transplant in 2010, and since then my HbA1c has been normal with few glucose excursions. My mood and my energy levels have improved dramatically, but yet, when I eat a carb-loaded meal (rarely!) I do feel a high in the beginning, but then I dip and I lose my mojo. I feel lost and without control. I may have solved the sugar highs, but I am still vulnerable to lows in sugar and that is still my trigger for also feeling low in my mood.

Sugar is evil and I hope that in the future children will not be fed high-sugar meals and handed candy as rewards – it kills, mutilates and makes you sad!

Image of a woman siiting curled up on the ground

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