Maximizing Spring Break for mental health

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

  • Many college students look forward to the month of March and spring break, as a way to take time off from school and relax, to recharge for the second half of the spring semester, etc.
  • There are healthy and unhealthy options to keep in mind when considering a rejuvenating spring break.
  • This is important because unhealthy choices during spring break could create more problems for the rest of the semester.

What are unhealthy spring break patterns to avoid?

  • Excessive alcohol, including short term, binge drinking, has been shown to impact brain functioning (1 ), and grades (2), depression (3 ), increased risk of sexual assault (4 ). this can also increase your anxiety for the weeks and months to follow.

Low risk drinking recommendations can be found here (17 )

  • Cannabis use can worsen depression and suicidal ideation (5 ), brain functioning (6,7 ), sleep (8) and anxiety (8 ).
  • Sleep deprivation can impact academic performance (9, 10 ).
  • Consider minimizing caffeine intake since excessive caffeine intake can impact stress (11), and sleep (12, 13).

What are healthy spring break options to consider?

  • Catch up on sleep.
  • Rest your brain. If you’ve been studying intensely, reading, writing, analyzing, etc. it may be useful to rest those areas of the brain by doing different types of activities.
  • Minimize screen time, if possible. If you’ve spent a lot of time doing schoolwork on your computer, it may be useful to rest that part of your brain by doing different types of activities that don’t involve screens.
  • Eat well to fuel yourself properly and for optimal mental health. Examples include plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, lean meats, etc. (14). This might also enhance recovery.
  • If you’ve spent a lot of time indoors, spending time outside, safely and to a point may be helpful for mental health ( 15, and 16).
  • Reduce isolation by spending time with others, if possible.
  • Other options include hiking/camping/other activities in nature, playing recreational sports, traveling to museums, art exhibits, beaches, shows, etc.
  • You might improve your mental health by doing something good in the community where you travel through programs like BUCK-I-SERV, and other service trips, etc. (18)

Tips on how to stay safe during spring break:

  • Since the number one cause of death in young adults is accidents, it may be wise to minimize/avoid high risk-hazardous activities (19).
  • Very useful link for Travel safety tips for spring break (20).

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. Zeigler DW, Wang CC, Yoast RA, Dickinson BD, McCaffree MA, Robinowitz CB, et al. The neurocognitive effects of alcohol on adolescents and college students. Prev Med. 2005;40:23–32.
  1. https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2014/09/12/does-alcohol-use-impact-your-grades/
  2. Boden JM1, Fergusson DM. Alcohol and depression. Addiction. 2011 May;106(5):906-14. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2010.03351.x. Epub 2011 Mar 7.
  1. https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2015/10/21/study-alcohol-impacts-sexual-assault/
  2. Gobbi G, Atkin T, Zytynski T, et al. Association of Cannabis Use in Adolescence and Risk of Depression, Anxiety, and Suicidality in Young Adulthood: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry. Published online February 13, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.4500
  3. Doss MK et al. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannibinol at retrieval drives false recollection of neutral and emotional memories. Biol Psychiatry 2018 May 9; [e-pub]. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2018.04.020.
  4. Schuster RM, Gilman J, Schoenfeld D, et al. One month of cannabis abstinence in adolescents and young adults is associated with improved memory. J Clin Psychiatry. 2018;79(6):17m11977 .
  5. Hser YI, Mooney LJ, Huang D, et al. Reductions in cannabis use are associated with improvements in anxiety, depression, and sleep quality, but not quality of life. J Subst Abuse Treat. 2017;81:53-58.
  6. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/12/31/poor-sleep-and-poor-grades-might-go-together/
  7. Phillips AJK, Clerx WM, O’Brien CS, et al. Irregular sleep/wake patterns are associated with poorer academic performance and delayed circadian and sleep/wake timing. Scientific Reports.                2017;7:3216. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03171-4.
  1. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/04/19/study-caffeine-stress-and-brain-function/
  2. T. Roehrs, T. Roth. Caffeine: sleep and daytime sleepiness. Sleep Med Rev, 12 (2) (2008), pp. 153–162.
  3. 13. H.P. Landolt, E. Werth, A.A. Borbely, D.J. Dijk. Caffeine intake (200 mg) in the morning affects human sleep and EEG power spectra at night. Brain Research, 675 (1–2) (1995), pp. 67–74.
  4. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/06/28/food-choices-to-improve-depression/
  5. Avery DH, Kouri ME, Monaghan K, Bolte MA, Hellekson C, Eder D. Is dawn simulation effective in ameliorating the difficulty awakening in seasonal affective disorder associated with  hypersomnia? J Affect Disord. 2002 May;69(1-3):231-6.
  6. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm
  7. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2018/02/26/alcohol-and-grades/
  8. http://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/11/22/mental-health-benefits-of-volunteering/
  9. https://www.cdc.gov/family/springbreak/index.htm
  10. https://www.limcollege.edu/safety/are-you-prepared/spring-break

 

 

 

 

Cannabis Might Worsen Memory and Stopping It Might Improve It

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

As of 2016, about 37 million individuals in the United States reported using cannabis / marijuana in the last year (1).

This is projected to increase in the future as many states move to legalize medicinal and or recreational cannabis or marijuana use.

As with many things like excessive junk food, excessive alcohol, tobacco, etc. being legal does NOT ALWAYS mean being  healthy.

For example, a recent study looked at cannabis and false memories (2), while another study looked at memory changes after stopping cannabis (3).

What was the first study? (2)

  • 23 healthy people aged 18 to 29 with and without tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
  • They were asked to learn material while sober.
  • 2 days later, researchers compared memory recall among those who had used cannabis vs those who had not 2 hours before the test.

What were the study results of the first study (2)

In the first study, subjects who used cannabis 2 hours prior to the test were more likely to have false recognition of words and pictures that had not been presented during the sober study session (2).

What does this mean?

This small study suggests that cannabis use might impact academic performance (2), though further study is needed.

What was the second study (3)?

  • 88 individuals (Average age 21 years) who used cannabis at least weekly were randomized to 30 days of abstinence or to a control group, abstinence confirmed through biochemical testing (3).
  • Participants underwent cognitive testing at baseline and then weekly for 4 weeks.

What were the results of the second study? (3)

This 4 week study showed that improvements in memory started at week 1 and continued improvement through week 4. (3)

What does this mean?

  • This small study implies stopping cannabis may improve memory; and further longer, larger studies are underway (3).
  • Subjects used cannabis atleast weekly, and it is unclear if there is a difference in benefit among heavy vs light users.
  • These studies suggest that Cannabis or Marijuana may impact your ability to remember, and may cause false recall during tests; as well as memory improvement after stopping cannabis use.  A previous post showed that cannabis may increase alcohol intake (4).

How else is cannabis impacting you?

What are some useful resources regarding cannabis?

Drug treatment group at OSU Office of Student Life Counseling and Consultation Service.

Treatment Facilities in the Columbus, Ohio area:

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. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Detailed Tables, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville 2017.  http://www.samhsa.gov
  2. Doss MK et al. Δ9-Tetrahydrocannibinol at retrieval drives false recollection of neutral and emotional memories. Biol Psychiatry 2018 May 9; [e-pub]. (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2018.04.020) .
  3.  Schuster RM, Gilman J, Schoenfeld D, et al. One month of cannabis abstinence in adolescents and young adults is associated with improved memory. J Clin Psychiatry. 2018;79(6):17m11977 .
  4. https://u.osu.edu/emotionalfitness/2017/02/08/study-impact-of-cannabis-on-alcohol/

Poor sleep and poor grades might go together

College students might stay up late or have an erratic sleep schedule for a variety of reasons.

A recent study looked at the impact of sleep pattern on grades.

Who was studied? (1,2)

  • 61 undergraduate students at Harvard college
  • They were asked to keep a sleep diary for 30 days.

What did the investigators find? (1,2)

Compared to peers, students reporting irregular patterns of sleep and wakefulness had:

  • Lower grade point averages.
  • Delays in the times people went to bed and woke up compared to more normal sleep/wake times.
  • Upto 3 hour delay in melatonin (sleep related hormone) release compared to students with regularly scheduled sleep and wakefulness pattern.

What are some caveats?

  • Poor sleep can impact almost every aspect of health and many parts of brain functioning, including learning, remembering, mood, energy level, decision making, etc.
  • This is a small study and does not prove cause-and-effect (2).
  • Students with erratic sleep schedules ended up sleeping the same number of hours as those with a regular sleep schedule. (1,2).
  • Study participants might have an erratic sleep schedule for a variety of reasons.

What are some ways of improving sleep?

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests the following ways to improve sleep (3):

  • 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 before bedtime.
  • Reduce your fluid intake before bedtime.

Anything else?

  • Some people may need to eliminate caffeine or alcohol completely.
  • If you have to use electronics in the evenings, consider BLUEBLOCKERS.

Consider seeking professional help:

OSU Counseling and Consultation Service

OSU Wilce Student health center

https://ccs.osu.edu/self-help/sleep/

How is your sleep? How are your grades?

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. https://consumer.healthday.com/sleep-disorder-information-33/misc-sleep-problems-news-626/poor-sleep-habits-61-poor-grades-723563.html
  2. Phillips AJK, Clerx WM, O’Brien CS, et al. Irregular sleep/wake patterns are associated with poorer academic performance and delayed circadian and sleep/wake timing. Scientific Reports. 2017;7:3216. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-03171-4.
  3. http://www.sleepeducation.org/essentials-in-sleep/healthy-sleep-habits