Cultivating a relationship with your brain can be as satisfying as playing rock music or pampering yourself to “a good cry,” according to research presented at the 361st Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology on Wednesday. In a study of more than 600 people, people who spent more time focusing on their thoughts and feelings were less depressed, anxious, depressed, or worried during the first two weeks after brain injury.
Though the release was scheduled to mark World Brain Health Day, the study was prompted by the fact that its participants are fighting ongoing or recurrent brain injuries. Those patients, who typically wake up unable to speak, usually only experienced occasional depression, anxiety, or depression in the first two weeks. But after two weeks, the patients reported an increased number of symptoms, including irritability, agitation, decreased concentration, difficulty sleeping, and mood swings.
Those patients found to spend more time interacting with their brains were seen as having recovered their thoughts more quickly. Other mind-sapping exercises, including doing a visualization to tame negative thoughts and learning how to meditate, were not linked to the mental improvements.
This isn’t the first time our brains have been studied, and the connection between imagination and real-world satisfaction is old. Greek philosophers like the noted writer Epicurus and Cicero employed what they believed was ancient wisdom to deal with turbulent mental times in the Roman Empire. A nation of motivated and generally well-heeled patients and benefactors inspired Roman emperors to infuse their hospitals with much-needed culture. But effective treatment for brain injury relies on understanding the nature of the injury, which may mean developing new tools.
Doctors must still ascertain what is causing the inefficiencies and disorders in the first two weeks after an injury, but studies like this one suggest that something different might be needed for care.