James Hudziak, and other researchers, presented information suggesting a strategy for improving brain health, and reducing anxiety and depression in children at risk for these conditions at the 2015 meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
We have previously mentioned in this blog another excellent resource for information on bipolar, Bipolar Network News, and this information is summarized from several blog posts on that website.
At that meeting, researcher James Hudziak suggested that practicing music, mindfulness, and exercise should be encouraged in all school children to increase brain health, and that more intensive efforts are necessary for children in families that are at risk for mood and behavioral difficulties or in children who show some dysfunction in these areas.
Hudziak has implemented a statewide program in Vermont that encourages families to engage in these healthy practices. For more information about the programs Hudziak implemented in Vermont, use the internet to search for the Vermont Family Based Approach, see his book Developmental Psychopathology and Wellness: Genetic and Environmental Influences, or call the University of Vermont Medical Center at (802)847-0000 or (800)358-1144.
Hudziak analyzed brain scans of 232 children ages 6 to 18 and they report that.. “practicing an instrument such as the piano or violin increased working memory, gray matter volume in the brain, and the ability to screen out irrelevant noise. Practicing mindfulness increased white matter volume and reduced anxiety and depression. Exercise also increased brain volume and neuropsychological abilities.”
At the 2015 meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, researcher Benjamin I. Goldstein reported that 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on a bike improved cognition and decreased hyperactivity in the medial prefrontal cortex in adolescents with and without bipolar disorder.
At the same meeting, researcher Danella M. Hafeman reported that offspring of parents with bipolar disorder who exercised more had lower levels of anxiety.
Editor’s Note: Recognizing and responding to mood symptoms is key to the prevention and treatment of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents at high risk for the illness. For these young people, exercise, a nutritious diet, good sleep habits, and family psychoeducation about bipolar disorder symptoms may be a good place to start. Joining our Child Network may also be helpful.
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