Mental health impact of interruptions

By R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

While there are benefits to having roommates, living with others, electronic devices, studying with others; even brief interruptions of work can have drawbacks.  A study (1) by Mark and colleagues looked at this issue.

What was the study?

  • Mark and colleagues (1) studied the impact of interruptions via phone or interruptions via instant messaging on 48 college students, average age 26 years old.
  • Participants were given information and asked to answer related emails as “quickly, politely, and correctly as possible”.
  • During the task, participants were subjected to phone or instant messaging interruptions related, or unrelated to the task or no interruptions.

What were the results?

  • Mark and colleagues (1) found that people in the interrupted conditions experienced a higher workload, more stress, higher frustration, more time pressure, and effort.
  • Depending on the type of interruption, they also found that it could take upto 23 minutes to return to the original task (1).

What are some potential strategies to minimize interruptions?

  • When studying minimize/turn off unnecessary notifications on your electronic devices.
  • Students may want to time some of their studying around the schedules of others in their living situation (house with family members, roommates, etc); and parts of the day when there are fewer interruptions by others.  It may be helpful to proactively communicate with others about your wish to not be interrupted for certain times of the day.
  • Identify study areas on campus that have few interruptions.
  • Some students may benefit from white noise or instrumental music to help maintain focus others may prefer a quiet space.
  • It may be useful to study or do a key task or two first thing in the morning before using electronic devices or doing other tasks.
  • Try keeping a notepad handy to make a note of any ideas or thoughts that may occur while you are working on a task.
  • Experiment doing 1 task at a time for with various chunks of time, to determine how long an ideal chunk of time is for you to stay focused on a single task.  This may help you schedule things more effectively in the future.
  • Consider meditation practice to improve your focus.
  • Consider the OSU Dennis Learning center to improve your study skills.
  • For stress management and mental health: Go to our mental health support options page: https://ccs.osu.edu/mental-health-support-options/

Other thoughts:

  • This is a small study and further research in this area is needed.
  • It is possible that some people may work better in high interruption environments.
  • It is also possible that interruptions have a different impact depending on the type of work you are doing and they type of interruption.
  • Further research in this area is needed.

By R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Gloria Mark, Daniela Gudith, and Ulrich Klocke. 2008. The cost of interrupted work: more speed and stress. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’08). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 107–110. DOI:https://doi.org/10.1145/1357054.1357072

 

Ways to Improve Sleep

By R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

About 30% of adults experience insomnia (1), which can be thought of as daytime impairment caused by frequent difficulties falling or staying asleep or poor quality sleep (1).

College students with sleep disorders are more likely to experience academic failure (defined as GPA less than 2) compared to college students without sleep disorders (2).

Individuals with insomnia are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, alcohol, and drug abuse (3 ).

What are some ways of improving sleep?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests the following ways to improve sleep (4):

  • Keep a consistent sleep schedule.
  • Get up at the same time every day, even on weekends or during vacations.
  • Plan to get at least 7 hours of sleep.
  • Don’t go to bed unless you are sleepy.
  • If you don’t fall asleep after 20 minutes, get out of bed.
  • Establish a relaxing bedtime routine.
  • Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
  • Make your bedroom quiet and relaxing. Keep the room at a comfortable, cool temperature.
  • Limit exposure to bright light in the evenings.
  • Turn off electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
  • Don’t eat a large meal before bedtime. If you are hungry at night, eat a light, healthy snack.
  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy diet.
  • Avoid consuming caffeine in the late afternoon or evening.
  • Avoid consuming alcohol, nicotine, other drugs.
  • Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.

Anything else?

  • For some, the effects of sleep deprivation can start by missing as little as 30 minutes or more of your usual sleep time.
  • Some people may need to eliminate caffeine or alcohol completely, gradually.
  • If you have to use electronics in the evenings, consider BLUEBLOCKERS.
  • Young adults should plan on 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night.
  • Avoidance of things that interfere with sleep: screen time (consider using a bluelight filter or nightmode). Avoid large meals/snacks at bedtime.
  • Practice Relaxation skills such as progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, deep breathing, guided imagery.
  • Positive visualization: visualize positive past or future events.
  • Consider keeping a notebook to jot down things on your mind at bedtime.
  • Avoid naps when possible, sleep more at night instead, and if you take naps, keep them brief (under 20 minutes) to avoid nighttime sleep disruption.
  • If you have had limited or no benefit from these strategies, professional treatment may be needed (see resource link below).

For more resources: Go to our mental health support options page: https://ccs.osu.edu/mental-health-support-options/

By R. Ryan Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. Roth T. (2007). Insomnia: definition, prevalence, etiology, and consequences. Journal of clinical sleep medicine : JCSM : official publication of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, 3(5 Suppl), S7–S10.
  2. Gaultney JF. The prevalence of sleep disorders in college students: Impact on academic performance.  J Am Coll Health.  Sep-Oct 2010; 59 (2): 91-97.
  3. Breslau N et.al. Biol Psychiatry. 1996, 39: 411-418.
  4. http://sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits

Marijuana (Cannabis) withdrawal and mental health

By R. Ryan S Patel DO, FAPA OSU-CCS Psychiatrist

During times of stress people may become vulnerable to using cannabis as a way to cope.

Previous posts have discussed the negative impact of cannabis on memory, cognitive performance, and PTSD.

Cannabis withdrawal can cause and worsen a variety of mental health symptoms.

It is important become aware of this connection for mental health.

What are some symptoms of cannabis withdrawal syndrome (CWS)?

CWS involves 3 or more of the following symptoms within 7 days of reduced cannabis use (1):

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Changes in sleep
  • Irritability, anger, or aggression
  • Appetite or weight disturbance
  • Restlessness
  • Somatic symptoms, such as headaches, sweating, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal pain.

How common is cannabis withdrawal syndrome?

A meta-analysis(2) of 47 studies including 23,518 participants, found that the prevalence of cannabis withdrawal syndrome was found to be 47% (2).

What are some factors that were associated with higher cannabis withdrawal syndrome (2)?

Researchers (2) found that Daily cannabis use, concurrent tobacco use, and use of other substances was associated with higher CWS (2).

Other thoughts:

  • It bears repeating that daily users were more likely to have cannabis withdrawal syndrome.
  • Some people may report cannabis use helping with anxiety, depression, or insomnia when it may just be masking the withdrawal symptoms caused by previous cannabis use.
  • Research shows an association between cannabis use and several medical, cognitive, functional, and psychosocial problems(3).
  • Short-term risks of cannabis use include impaired short-term memory motor dis-coordination, altered judgment, paranoia, and psychosis (4).
  • Some long-term effects of cannabis use include addiction, altered brain development, poor educational outcomes, cognitive impairment, diminished quality of life, increased risk psychotic disorders, injuries, motor vehicle collisions, and suicide (4,5).
  • Further research is needed on cannabis and mental health.

If you would like to be notified about future posts on strategies to improve your mental health, enter your email above.

Resources for mental health support can be found here.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to be informative only. It is advised that you check with your own physician/mental health provider before implementing any changes. With this article, the author is not rendering medical advice, nor diagnosing, prescribing, or treating any condition, or injury; and therefore claims no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or injury caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented.

References:

  1. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. American Psychiatric Association Publishing; 2013.
  2. Bahji A, Stephenson C, Tyo R, Hawken ER, Seitz DP. Prevalence of Cannabis Withdrawal Symptoms Among People With Regular or Dependent Use of Cannabinoids: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(4):e202370. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.2370.
  3. Crean  RD , Tapert SF , Minassian  A , Macdonald  K , Crane  NA , Mason  BJ .  Effects of chronic, heavy cannabis use on executive functions.   J Addict Med. 2011;5(1):9-15. doi:1097/ADM.0b013e31820cdd57
  4. Volkow  ND , Baler RD , Compton  WM , Weiss  SRB .  Adverse health effects of marijuana use.   N Engl J Med. 2014;370(23):2219-2227. doi:1056/NEJMra1402309
  5. Carvalho  AF , Stubbs B , Vancampfort  D ,  et al.  Cannabis use and suicide attempts among 86,254 adolescents aged 12-15 years from 21 low- and middle-income countries.   Eur Psychiatry. 2019;56:8-13. doi:1016/j.eurpsy.2018.10.006