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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Could lifting weights take a weight off the mind? Yes, said a newly published analysis of dozens of studies that looked at mood disorders.Exercise can help improve symptoms of depression, the analysis found -- and not just aerobic exercises like running, jazzercise or cardio machines.Whether it's the weight room or the mat, the authors of the study published Wednesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said resistance training can also help people suffering with depression.More than 300 million people worldwide are affected by depression, according to the World Health Organization, which can be a debilitating and costly problem. First-line treatments are usually medications and psychotherapy, which work for many, but can also be expensive and time-consuming.Plus, the authors found that almost 70 percent of patients in the studies still reported feeling down for up to 14 weeks after starting therapy -- and close to a third of patients had to try four different medications to get relief.Researchers from Ireland and Sweden pooled the data from 1,877 patients and 33 randomized clinical trials measuring how resistance training affects mood. The patients worked out, 3 sessions per week, for an average of 16 weeks. The intensity of the exercise was mixed, but it wasn't an Olympic effort -- most were putting in low to moderate effort, and ranged in age from their 20s to their 80s.Resistance training -- everything from arm raises and leg lifts to weight training -- alleviated depression symptoms, study participants said. The largest gains were made by patients who reported mild to moderate depression.The analysis was limited in some ways. These were a mix of studies and not every study had the same forms of resistance training or the same amount of information about the specific exercises. Only a few studies compared aerobic to resistance exercises -- and found there was no difference.Improvements in mood did not depend on how much exercise was done, baseline health or the amount of strength gained from the exercise program, the authors found. The important thing was to just do it.This article was written by Sunny Intwala, M.D., a third-year Cardiology fellow affiliated with Boston University School of Medicine and a Clinical Exercise Physiologist who works in the ABC News Medical Unit.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A form of ecstasy, the illegal club drug known for its a euphoric high, may be able to help people with post-traumatic stress disorder. The pure chemical form of the drug, known as MDMA, is showing potential for therapy.Approximately 7 percent of people in the United States will suffer from PTSD during their lifetimes, according to the National Co-Morbidity Survey published by Harvard Medical School.Most patients improve with therapy, anti-depressant medications and time -- but some will be unable to shake it, continually having nightmares or flashbacks, persistently reliving a horrible traumatic event. These patients often suffer symptoms so severe, triggering anxiety or depression, interfering with sleep or concentration, that they live with dramatic changes in mood or behavior.Can MDMA help?The results of a Phase 2 FDA trial, published Tuesday in The Lancet Psychiatry, looked at patients with chronic post-traumatic stress disorder who were dosed with MDMA for therapy. Phase 2 means it is still in the research phase and more studies will need to be done before it would be available for widespread use. But here is what the researchinger were they’re trying to do.What is MDMA? How does it work with therapy?The active ingredient in the recreational drug also known as "ecstasy" or "molly" is MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine). Initially described in 1912, it became popular as a recreational drug in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1985, MDMA was labeled "Schedule 1," meaning no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.MDMA alters mood and perception by working on the brain cells that secrete the chemical serotonin, a brain chemical that regulates mood, aggression, sexual activity, sleep and sensitivity to pain. MDMA is chemically similar to both stimulants and hallucinogens and is illegal in most countries.But mental health researchers wondered if MDMA could help treat a number of mental health conditions; there’s research dating back into the 1970s testing its therapeutic potential.Dr. Michael Mithoefer, M.D., a psychiatrist in Charleston, South Carolina who researches MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, describes MDMA as "unique among drugs that decrease anxiety in that it isn’t sedating and doesn’t impair memory.""People have clear recall of trauma without being overwhelmed by emotions or dissociating and being emotionally numb," he said. "Our model is that MDMA is acting as a catalyst to the psychotherapeutic process, not as a stand-along drug."MAPS, a private non-profit research group that is helping organize many of the FDA trials, argues MDMA should be considered separately from ecstasy or molly, the often impure street formulations.What could MDMA treat?There is certainly interest, but the FDA has approved clinical trials only for limited conditions: Chronic PTSD, severe anxiety related to autism and terminal illness among them. Most of the studies are surrounding PTSD.MDMA is an optimal choice for use in PTSD treatment, Mithoefer notes, because of “PTSD involves prominent fear responses and the fact that MDMA decreases fear by decreasing activity in the amygdala and increasing activity in prefrontal cortex."The initial results from Phase 1 and Phase 2 trials are promising –- these are the stages of research which provide the FDA with basic safety data and information about dosing.In the next stage that begins this summer in 16 sites, Phase 3, researchers can learn more about whether MDMA is effective. European trials are expected in the next year, as well. They expect that positive results in Phase 3 could lead to MDMA being approved for doctors to prescribe.Researchers warn against self-treatment with street drugsFor most patients, standard treatments for PTSD will work. The patients enrolled in these clinical trials are the most severe case
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(PITTSBURGH) -- Would you call out your child's bully?A mother from Pennsylvania is fighting to regain privileges at her son's school after she was banned by the district for confronting her child's alleged bully on the school bus.Tammy Aikins, a mom of two, said that last Aug. 28th, on the second day of school, her younger son Carson, then-5, was crying on the floor of the school bus as it arrived to drop him off at home.Aikins said she asked the driver if she could get on the bus, a request that she said was granted."The mommy in me came out - right, wrong or indifferent," Aikins told ABC News. "It was not this elaborate plan. It was a split-second decision. He authorized me to get on the bus and I said, 'Is it that the kid, there?'"Aikins said that Carson told her he was a victim of name-calling and physical violence on the first day of school as well, by the same child.Aikins said she never went beyond the bus stairwell or approached the child, but rather shouted to the back of the bus where the child was sitting, to tell him to stop bullying her son."You - look at me," Aikins said she told the child. "I'm his mom. I will not have you bully my 5-year-old son. You know what you did.""I'm not doing it. I hope everybody hears me. I'm not doing it this year," she said she told the child, referring to previous efforts the year before that she had made to prevent the bullying of her son.Aikins says that the same day she addressed the child, she went to the school principal to report the alleged behavior. The principal told her that the problem would be addressed, though Aikins claims that didn't happen."I was instantly upset because last year, it ended with my son Tyler being bullied," Aikins said. "I said, 'I can't do this again. Emotionally, I don't have it in me."Mom speaks out on preschool's decision to 'dissuade' students from using term 'best friend'"The principal should've done [her] job and I would've never been in that position," she continued. "But being that they have failed my children on numerous occasions, I needed to make it [apparent] to my children that I will always have their backs."A five-page letter that Aikins' attorney sent to the Gateway School District lawyer charges that Aikins was banned from her son's elementary school classroom, field trips and stripped of her role as a homeroom mom after the bus incident. The bans are still in place, Aikins said.The letter, which was obtained by ABC News, contends that Aikins received permission from the bus driver to enter the bus and that she never used profanity.In a response letter, also obtained by ABC News, district superintendent William Short disputes that Aikins received permission to board the bus, saying that bus surveillance video and audio reveals "no indication of permission being asked or received.""The video and audio recording of you boarding the bus shows you verbally abusing kids and alleging someone was "bullying" your child," Short writes in the letter.Aikins said that the full surveillance footage, which has not been released to her, should reveal that she was given permission to get on the bus.A month after the bus incident, Monroeville, Pennsylvania police showed up at Aikins' home to investigate, she told ABC News, but determined that no law had been broken and ultimately no charges were filed.In a subsequent police report dated September 21, 2017, a school resource officer recommended that no files be charged."Based on my viewing the video as well as my past experience with similar situations during my time as the School Resource Officer (SRO) with the Gateway School District, I do not believe Mrs. Aikins' actions warrant any type of criminal charges."The report goes on to say that the officer spoke with Short and "advised him of my conclusions, and he was satisfied.""Therefore, this case should be considered closed."Although the bus incident involved Aikins' son Carson, she is currently banned only from her son Tyler's sec
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  • Haraz N. Ghanbari(TOLEDO, Ohio) -- It's been almost 70 years since Bob Barger last sat in a classroom, but the World War II veteran will finally receive his college diploma this weekend.The 96-year-old former U.S. Navy pilot will graduate Saturday with an associate degree in technical studies from the University of Toledo in his hometown, the school said.He is believed to be the oldest graduate in the university's history."I never thought I'd live to see this," Barger said in a recent interview with ABC station WTVG in Toledo, Ohio. "It's a miracle!"Barger enlisted in the Navy in 1940, where he served as a commissioned naval officer, earned his naval aviator wings and was detailed as a naval flight officer. After war ended and Barger returned home to Toledo, he took classes at the local university.But Barger dropped out before finishing his degree to focus on his job and providing for his wife and two children, according to a press release from the University of Toledo.Decades later, Barger was asked to officiate the promotion of Navy Reserve officer Haraz Ghanbari to the rank of lieutenant, and the two became friends. Ghanbari, the director of military and veteran affairs at the University of Toledo, eventually learned that Barger was a former student who never graduated.So he started searching for the veteran's transcripts."We were able to retrieve his transcripts from the archives. They were actually on microfiche," Ghanbari said in a recent interview with WTVG.The records showed that Barger attended the University of Toledo from 1947 to 1950, and that he had completed enough courses to graduate from the school's University College with an associate degree -- a two-year diploma not offered at the time he was a student."We are proud to honor a member of the ‘Greatest Generation’ at commencement," Barbara Kopp Miller, dean of University College at Toledo, said in a statement. "It will be a memorable moment to see Bob receive the degree he earned and pay tribute to a veteran who served our country."The plan is for Barger to be first of nearly 3,100 students to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas at the university's Glass Bowl stadium Saturday morning.Ghanbari said he'll be by the veteran's side to help him do that."I will just put one foot in front of the other and keep going, I guess," Barger laughed.Barger, who has four grandchildren, five great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren, said he looks forward to celebrating the milestone with family and friends."My grandson graduated from UT, and he no longer can say he is one up on me," he said in a statement through the school. "I have a degree, too, just took me a while!"
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  • Scott Olson/Getty Images(DES MOINES, Iowa) -- Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds announced on Friday she is going to sign a bill banning abortion in the state after a fetal heartbeat is detected.A heartbeat can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Some women may not even know they are pregnant before being prohibited from undergoing an abortion.Cases of rape and incest are not excluded from the abortion law, one of the most restrictive in the country. The only exception is when the mother's life is threatened.The Iowa state legislature passed the measure earlier this week.Reynolds' office issued a statement after the bill passed, saying the Republican lawmaker "is 100 percent pro-life and will never stop fighting for the unborn."This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.
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