Researchers have spent decades probing the causes of depression, schizophrenia and insomnia in humans. But a new study may have uncovered key insights into the origins of these and other conditions by examining a most unlikely research subject: worms
The project, which was led by Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation scientist Kenneth Miller, Ph.D., examined the way eye-less microscopic worms known as C. elegans shy away from certain kinds of light. The researchers made several key findings, chief among them that exposing paralyzed C. elegans to ultraviolet light restored normal levels of movement in the worms.
Miller’s discovery provides a window for understanding how the molecular signals in our nerve cells allow them to talk to each other to produce perceptions, behaviors, learning and memory.
Miller said he thinks the worms are hardwired to avoid damaging or lethal doses of direct sunlight, which includes UV rays.
“When you are only a few cells thick, getting a sunburn is fatal,” he said.
Miller emphasized that the research is still in its early stages. “We’re a long way from any treatments based on this research, but I think we’ve opened up a door that we didn’t know was there before,” he said. “There’s a lot of work left to be done, but I’m excited to see where this discovery leads us.”
—Chronic muscle pain, muscle spasms or tightness, and leg cramps —Moderate or severe fatigue and decreased energy —Insomnia or waking up feeling just as tired as when you went to sleep —Stiffness upon waking or after staying in one position for too long —Difficulty remembering, concentrating, and performing simple mental tasks —Abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, and constipation alternating with diarrhea (irritable bowel syndrome) —Tension or migraine headaches —Jaw and facial tenderness —Sensitivity to one or more of the following: odours, noise, bright lights, medications, certain foods, and cold —Feeling anxious or depressed —Numbness or tingling in the face, arms, hands, legs, or feet —Increase in urinary urgency or frequency (irritable bladder) —Reduced tolerance for exercise and muscle pain after exercise —A feeling of swelling (without actual swelling) in the hands and feet —Painful menstrual periods —Dizziness
Symptoms may intensify depending on the time of day
morning, late afternoon, and evening tend to be the worst times,
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. tends to be the best time.
Symptoms may also get worse with -
changes in the weather,
cold or drafty conditions,
hormonal fluctuations (such as just before your period or during menopause),
or other emotional factors.
If the condition is not diagnosed and treated early, symptoms can go on indefinitely, or they may disappear for months and then recur. adapted from a WebMD article
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