News Briefs: Migraine Surgery; Sleep’s Effect on Diet; Seasonal Depression

MGH Study Finds Migraine Surgery Relieves Symptoms, Improves Functioning

A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital plastic surgeon Gerald Austen, Jr., MD, found that migraine surgery reduced the severity and intensity of migraine headaches, as well as led to significant improvements in daily functioning and coping ability. The study was published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. For people who do not respond to standard migraine treatments, surgery has become a more widely used option in recent years. The cosmetic forehead-lift appears to affect some trigger sites linked to certain migraine headache patterns. Plastic surgeons noted several years ago that their patients reported fewer headaches after the cosmetic procedure. In his study, Dr. Austen examined the results of 90 of his patients who underwent the surgery between 2013 and 2015. Before and after surgery, the patients were evaluated on a standard migraine questionnaire (the Migraine Headache Inventory, or MHI) and on the Pain Self Efficacy Questionnaire (PSEQ). The PSEQ includes information on pain scores, as well as functional disability and ability to cope with pain while doing everyday activities. Study results show that PSEQ scores improved by an average of 112 percent from the baseline. “It seems that migraine surgery patients can recover function and ability to cope with pain very well after surgery, in stark contrast to what has been shown in other pain conditions,” Dr. Austen and coauthors wrote in the journal.

Sleeping Longer Every Night May Improve Your Diet

If you’re not getting enough sleep each night, you may be more inclined to eat sugary foods and other unhealthy items. A recent study out of the United Kingdom, however, suggests that if you can get a little more sleep, you may also end up eating less junk food. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers worked with a group of 42 men and women who typically slept for less than the recommended seven hours a night. Half of the participants received a 45-minute sleep consultation, which sought to increase their sleep time by up to 1.5 hours per night. The consultation included a list of sleep hygiene behaviors personalized to each participant’s lifestyle. Suggestions included no caffeine in the evening, establishing a relaxing routine before bedtime, not going to bed too full or too hungry, and establishing a bedtime that would encourage more sleep. The other 21 people in the study received no intervention. All the participants wore wrist monitors that measured their sleep and how long they were in bed before falling asleep. They also kept detailed food diaries. By the end of the first week, 86 percent of those who received sleep advice increased their time in bed and half bumped up their time spent asleep by 52 to almost 90 minutes. A majority of participants in the sleep advice group also consumed less added sugar and total carbohydrates. Other studies have also shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to gain weight. One explanation is that poor sleep elevates levels of ghrelin, a hormone that stimulates feelings of hunger. Researchers suggest that improving your sleep can be a simple step to improve your health in many ways, including eating fewer carbs and added sugars.

Study: Women Affected More Than Men by Seasonal Depression

As the country looks ahead to a warmer, brighter spring, there is news about a common winter condition that affects about one out 20 people in the U.S. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) usually occurs in winter, when there is less natural sunlight across most of the country. SAD symptoms include depression, fatigue, low energy, and a withdrawal from things one normally enjoys. In a study published recently in the Journal of Affective Disorders, researchers found that women are much more likely than men to experience these seasonal changes in mood and energy. This appears to be true regardless of lifestyle differences, including smoking, alcohol consumption, and exercise. Researchers were unable to pinpoint why women may be more vulnerable to SAD, though they did suggest that there may be a sex-specific biological component contributing to this disparity. They also advised women and their doctors to be aware of the SAD risk starting in the fall and for women to speak up if they notice symptoms developing as the days grow shorter and colder.

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