Recent News Items

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.”

Spousal abuse: The ‘silent illness’ driving women into homelessness, by Lisa De Bode. Aljazeera America, August 14, 2015.  “Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness for women, according to John Lozier, the executive director at the National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC). That link is nothing new. A study of 220 homeless families in sheltered accommodation that was published in The American Journal of Public Health in 1997 found that two-thirds of mothers have a history of domestic violence. Yet medical practitioners don’t routinely screen for the abuse and aren’t trained to act on the symptoms, missing opportunities to rehabilitate women and help them stave off homelessness.”

The Challenge of Being Transgender in a Nursing Home, by Mo Perry. The Atlantic, August 12, 2015.  “Currently, there are more than 1.5 million LGBT people over 65 in the U.S., a number expected to double over the next 15 years as the population ages. But precise statistics on older transgender adults—or, for that matter, transgender people of any age—are hard to come by. One 2011 study using health-survey data estimated that the country’s transgender population was around 700,000; this past May, the Census Bureau published a study that analyzed the number of “likely transgender individuals” based on the people who had changed their name (around 90,000) or sex (around 22,000) with the Social Security Administration. These estimates vary so wildly in part because there’s no reliable means of tracking when people change their gender: The Census Bureau still offers only male and female, and many trans people haven’t completely transitioned into living full-time as their expressed gender. Others have so successfully suppressed their history that there’s little evidence they ever lived as anyone else. One thing, though, is clear: For transgender people, aging into the later years of life can present a unique set of challenges.”

The Right Dose of Exercise for the Aging Brain, by Gretchen Reynolds. The New York Times, August 12, 2015.  “A small amount of exercise may improve our ability to think as we age, but more may not be better, according to a new study of exercise and cognition.”

Music boosts recovery from surgery, reduces pain, by Kate Kelland. Reuters, August 12, 2015.  “Listening to music before, during and after surgery reduces patients' pain, eases anxiety and lessens the need for painkillers, British scientists said on Thursday. After reviewing evidence from around 7,000 patients, the scientists said people going for surgery should be allowed to choose the music they'd like to hear to maximize the benefit. But they also warned that the music should not interfere with the medical team's communication during an operation.”

Campus Suicide and the Pressure of Perfection, by Julie Scelfo. New York Times, July 27, 2015.  “Nationally, the suicide rate among 15- to 24-year-olds has increased modestly but steadily since 2007: from 9.6 deaths per 100,000 to 11.1, in 2013 (the latest year available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). But a survey of college counseling centers has found that more than half their clients have severe psychological problems, an increase of 13 percent in just two years. Anxiety and depression, in that order, are now the most common mental health diagnoses among college students.”

New Study Finds Many Veterans Live With War Trauma Throughout Their Lives, by Lucy Perkins. NPR, July 24, 2015.  “A new study of veterans from the Vietnam War has troubling implications for troops who fought much more recently — in Afghanistan and Iraq. The study suggests that 40 years since the Vietnam War ended, hundreds of thousands of those vets still struggle every day with mental health problems linked to the traumas they experienced. It was published in the latest issue of JAMA Psychiatry.”

Basis for eating disorders found in children as young as eight, by Sarah Boseley. The Guardian, July 23, 2015.  “Children as young as eight can experience dissatisfaction with the size and shape of their body that puts them at risk of eating disorders in their teens, according to a major study which for the first time reveals how early anxieties about body image set in. The largest UK study ever on eating disorders in children followed 6,000 kids to the age of 14. It finds that self-esteem in eight-year-olds is one of the critical predictive factors for problems in the teens.”

Older children often neglected in adoption process, by Bridgette Brosette. July 21, 2015.  “There is a growing need for families to consider adopting older children. Older children, including sibling groups and special needs youth, often get left behind. According to the Children’s Action Network “several foster care alumni studies show that without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these older youth are often left vulnerable to a host of adverse situations.””

Women with impaired memory deteriorate twice as fast as men, study finds, by The Associated Press. Aljazeera America, July 21, 2015.  “Older women with mild memory impairment worsened about twice as fast as men, researchers reported Tuesday, part of an effort to unravel why women are especially hard-hit by Alzheimer's. Nearly two-thirds of Americans with Alzheimer's are women. At age 65, seemingly healthy women have about a 1 in 6 chance of developing Alzheimer's during the rest of their lives, compared with a 1 in 11 chance for men. Scientists once thought the disparity was just because women tend to live longer — but there's increasing agreement that something else makes women more vulnerable.”

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.