Recent News Items

Self-weighing may be a hazardous behavior among young women, by Elsevier Health Sciences. ScienceDaily, November 09, 2015.  “Self-weighing can be a useful tool to help adults control their weight, but for adolescents and young adults this behavior may have negative psychological outcomes. Researchers tracked the self-weighing behaviors of more than 1,900 young adults and found increases in self-weighing to be significantly related to increases in weight concern and depression and decreases in body satisfaction and self-esteem among females.”

Stereotypes About Teens Can Undermine Parents' Confidence, by Aimee Cunningham. NPR, November 05, 2015.  “Parents, don't let your views of adolescence get you down. Stereotypes about adolescents can make moms and dads feel less confident about their parenting skills right at a time kids need their parents to be present in their lives.”

Behind Bars, Vets With PTSD Face A New War Zone, With Little Support, by Quil Lawrence. NPR, November 05, 2015.  “The VA doesn't track the number of veterans incarcerated. The most recent government statistics are from 2004, but new numbers are expected to be released this month. A recent study did show that Iraq and Afghanistan vets in prison — like Carlson — have high rates of PTSD.”

More U.S. high school students smoke only pot, not cigarettes, by Lisa Rapaport. Reuters, October 28, 2015.  “As fewer U.S. high school students exclusively smoke cigarettes and cigars, more of them are using marijuana, a recent study suggests. Overall, the proportion of teens in grades 9 through 12 who only smoked traditional tobacco products declined to 7.4 percent of students in 2013 from 20.5 percent of students in 1997, the study found. However, exclusive use of marijuana more than doubled from 4.2 percent of students to 10.2 percent over the study period.”

Support, not two in cockpit, key to reducing pilot suicide risk, experts say, by Victoria Bryan. Reuters, October 27, 2015.  “Seven months after a pilot apparently crashed an airliner into a mountainside, killing himself and 149 other people, experts said better support for pilots with mental health disorders would do more to reduce the risk of pilot suicide than requiring that two people be in the cockpit at all times.”

Could Depression Be Caused By An Infection?, by Bret Stetka. NPR, October 25, 2015.  “Late last year, Turhan Canli, an associate professor of psychology and radiology at Stony Brook University, published a paper in the journal Biology of Mood and Anxiety Disorders asserting that depression should be thought of as an infectious disease. "Depressed patients act physically sick," says Canli. "They're tired, they lose their appetite, they don't want to get out of bed." He notes that while Western medicine practitioners tend to focus on the psychological symptoms of depression, in many non-Western cultures, patients who would qualify for a depression diagnosis report primarily physical symptoms, in part because of the stigmatization of mental illness. "The idea that depression is caused simply by changes in serotonin is not panning out. We need to think about other possible causes and treatments for psychiatric disorders," says Canli.”

Therapy program may improve function for depressed kids, by Kathryn Doyle. Reuters, October 05, 2015.  “A cognitive-behavioral prevention program to prevent depressive symptoms among at-risk youth may still be effective years later, according to a new study.”

The Mothers Who Can't Escape the Trauma of Childbirth, by Ilana E. Strauss. The Atlantic, October 02, 2015.  “Many people, including doctors, confuse postpartum PTSD with postpartum depression, even though the two disorders are quite different: Mothers with postpartum depression generally don’t suffer from the intrusive memories and flashbacks that plague PTSD sufferers. Instead, they most commonly deal with things like sadness, trouble concentrating, difficulty finding joy in activities they once enjoyed, and difficulty bonding with their infants. Postpartum depression is also unique to new mothers, but any traumatic experience can bring on PTSD. Postpartum PTSD sufferers experience typical PTSD symptoms like hyper-vigilance, intrusive memories, flashbacks, severe emotional distress, irritability, trouble sleeping, and nightmares, explains Anastasia Pollock, a therapist who specializes in treating trauma. Mothers who suffer from PTSD often end up structuring their lives around their disorder, doing everything they can to avoid triggers that remind them of their trauma.”

Caring for loved one with Alzheimer’s may be most stressful for spouse, by Lisa Rapaport. Reuters, October 02, 2015.  “Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease isn’t easy under the best of circumstances, but it may be much more stressful for spouses and people who suffer from depression, a Finnish study suggests. Researchers followed 236 family caregivers of Alzheimer’s patients for three years after the diagnosis. Caregiving appeared to be much more stressful for people who were married to the patients or who suffered from depression when the study began.”

Drugs and Talk Therapy Affect the Brain in Different Ways, by Christian Jarrett. New York Magazine, September 30, 2015.  “This raises an interesting question: Are the brain changes induced by psychotherapy the same or different from those induced by antidepressant medication? A new meta-analysis (the kind of research that looks at results across many previous studies) published recently in Brain Imaging and Behavior looks at this very question in relation to major depression. The researchers, based at several institutions in Italy, say their results suggest psychotherapy and drugs affect the brain in different but complementary ways.”

Parents Can Learn How To Prevent Anxiety In Their Children, by Lynne Shallcross. NPR, September 25, 2015.  “Children of anxious parents are more at risk of developing an anxiety disorder. But there's welcome news for those anxious parents: that trajectory toward anxiety isn't set in stone. Therapy and a change in parenting styles might be able to prevent kids from developing anxiety disorders, according to research published in The American Journal of Psychiatry Friday.”

Feeling anxious? Check your orbitofrontal cortex, cultivate your optimism, by Diana Yates. ScienceDaily, September 22, 2015.  “A new study links anxiety, a brain structure called the orbitofrontal cortex, and optimism, finding that healthy adults who have larger OFCs tend to be more optimistic and less anxious. The new analysis, reported in the journal Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, offers the first evidence that optimism plays a mediating role in the relationship between the size of the OFC and anxiety.”

Survey: 1 in 4 college women reports unwanted sexual contact, by The Associated Press. Aljazeera America, September 21, 2015.  “Nearly a quarter of undergraduate women surveyed at more than two dozen universities say they experienced unwanted sexual contact sometime during college, according to a report released Monday. The results of the Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey come at a time of heightened scrutiny of the nation's colleges and universities and what they are doing to combat rape. Just last week, Vice President Joe Biden visited Ohio State University to highlight several new initiatives, including mandatory sexual violence awareness training for freshmen beginning next year.”

Watchful parents help early-maturing girls avoid alcohol abuse, by Anne Harding. Reuters, September 21, 2015.  “Girls who hit puberty early are at sharply higher risk of abusing alcohol as teens if their parents don't keep tabs on them, new research shows. Early-maturing girls whose parents gave them free rein at age 13 showed a “dramatic increase in alcohol abuse” over the next four years compared to early-maturing peers who were supervised more closely, Dr. Brett Laursen of Florida Atlantic University in Fort Lauderdale and colleagues found. And over time, the more often these girls abused alcohol, the less closely their parents supervised them, according to research published in Pediatrics.”

In 'hidden epidemic,' senior citizens getting hooked on painkillers, by Laila Al-Arian. Aljazeera America, August 30, 2015.  “More than 16,000 Americans die each year after overdosing on opioid painkillers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—a number that exceeds those who die from cocaine and heroin overdoses combined. While the image of the typical opioid addict is still that of a young or middle-aged drug abuser, that perception is slowly changing. “When you look at the groups that have had the greatest increase in problems associated with prescription opioids—for example, visits to hospital emergency rooms because of opioid misuse—it’s Americans over 65,” said Andrew Kolodny, the executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.”

Suicide-risk behaviour patterns identified - study, by BBC. BBC, August 30, 2015.  “Depressed people who display "risky behaviour", agitation and impulsivity are at least 50% more likely to attempt suicide, a study has found. Research by the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) concluded that the behaviour patterns "precede many suicide attempts". The study said effective prevention measures were "urgently needed".”

Collateral damage: Harsh sex offender laws may put whole families at risk, by Steven Yoder. Aljazeera America, August 27, 2015.  “In 1996, Congress passed Megan’s Law, which allowed states to publicize the names of those convicted of sex offenses. A wave of federal and state laws followed that created online sex offender registries, broadened who is listed and restricted where registrants can live. But today there’s a growing body of research and court opinions questioning those laws’ effectiveness and constitutionality. No studies have looked at what proportion of the country’s nearly 850,000 people on state registries are providing for families of their own. Activists say, however, that thousands of female partners and children are being hurt by laws that aim to protect kids.”

Disclaimer: Material on the William James INTERFACE Referral Service website is intended as general information. It is not a recommendation for treatment, nor should it be considered medical or mental health advice. The William James INTERFACE Referral Service urges families to discuss all information and questions related to medical or mental health care with a health care professional.