Recent News Items

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.”

Birth-Defect Risk From Antidepressants Is Seen as Small, by Betsy McKay. Wall St. Journal, July 08, 2015.  “The risk of some birth defects increases just slightly when pregnant women take certain antidepressants, according to a large study published Wednesday that sheds new light on a much-debated topic. The study, published in BMJ, a medical journal, found associations between certain birth defects and two antidepressants—Prozac, or fluoxetine, and Paxil, or paroxetine—taken in the month before pregnancy and through the first trimester. But it found no such links with three other antidepressants: Zoloft, or sertraline, the drug taken by most participants in the study’s control group, who were in treatment for depression, as well as Celexa, or citalopram, and Lexapro, or escitalopram.”

Heroin Use Surges, Especially Among Women And Whites, by Richard Harris. NPR, July 07, 2015.  “Health officials, confronted with a shocking increase in heroin abuse, are developing a clearer picture of who is becoming addicted to this drug and why. The results may surprise you. The biggest surge is among groups that have historically lower rates of heroin abuse: women and white (non-Hispanic) Americans. They tend to be 18-25 years old, with household incomes below $20,000. "In addition, persons using heroin are abusing multiple other substances, especially cocaine and opioid pain relievers," says a report published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Sniffing could provide autism test, by James Gallagher. BBC, July 03, 2015.  “The way children sniff different aromas could form the basis of a test for autism, suggest researchers in Israel. People spend longer inhaling the delightful aroma of a bouquet of roses than the foul stench of rotting fish. The results of tests on 36 children, in the journal Current Biology, showed that there appeared to be no such difference in children with autism.”

That's Not Fair! Crime And Punishment In A Preschooler's Mind, by Nadia Whitehead. NPR, June 24, 2015.  “Toddlers can throw their fair share of tantrums, especially when you don't yield to their will. But by age 3, it turns out, the little rug rats actually have a burgeoning sense of fairness and are inclined to right a wrong. When they see someone being mistreated, children as young as 3 years old will intervene on behalf of others nearly as often as for themselves, a study published this month in Current Biology suggests. Just don't ask them to punish the perpetrator.”

Alzheimer’s May Begin 20 Years Before Symptoms Appear, by Alice Park. Time, June 24, 2015.  “The latest breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s research focus on the time well before patients even know they might have the neurodegenerative condition. Studies so far have found evidence that the biological processes that cause the mental decline may begin 10 to 12 years before people first notice signs of cognitive decline. But in the most recent report published Wednesday in the journal Neurology, experts say that the disease may actually begin even earlier — 18 years earlier, in fact — than they expected.”

Massachusetts launches plan to counter heroin epidemic, by Jacqueline Tempera. June 22, 2015.  “Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker unveiled a $27 million plan on Monday to increase the state's capacity to treat drug addicts and reduce the stigma around addiction, as the United States battles a surge in heroin and opioid use. Opioid abuse is a public health epidemic," said Baker at a press conference. "The solution to eradicating opioids is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and will require all of us to rethink the way we treat addiction.”

Signs of Postpartum Depression May Appear Months After Initial Screening, by The Wall Street Journal. The Wall St. Journal, June 22, 2015.  “Screening women for symptoms of depression shortly after giving birth may fail to identify those at high risk to develop postpartum depression in later months, says a study in the Annals of Family Medicine. For many women, the first signs of depression appeared months later, the study found. Surprisingly, women who appeared least likely to develop depression after giving birth were later found to be at greatest risk. Currently, women aren’t routinely screened for postpartum depression in the U.S.”

What Babies Understand About Adult Sadness, by Maanvi Singh. NPR, June 12, 2015.  “Babies tend to wear their hearts on their tiny little sleeves. They cry because you took away that thing they picked up off the floor and then put in their mouths. They cry because they're tired. Sometimes, they cry just because. But by the middle of their second year of life, it turns out, babies do understand that a stiff upper lip can be appropriate in certain situations. Children this age show more concern for adults who overtly express sadness, according to a study published this week, but they're also understanding of people who are more emotionally reserved.”

Bullied kids are more likely to be depressed years later, by Kathryn Doyle. Reuters, June 12, 2015.  “Being bullied in adolescence may make kids more vulnerable to depression in early adulthood and explain almost a third of depression burden at that age, according to a new study in the U.K. Among nearly 4,000 children in southwest England followed from birth, kids who were frequently bullied at age 13 were more than twice as likely to be depressed at age 18 as those who were not bullied – even after accounting for other factors that could contribute to depression risk.”

Study: Rape prevention training works, cuts sex assault risk, by The Associated Press. Aljazeera America, June 11, 2015.  “A program that taught college women ways to prevent sexual assault cut in half the chances they would be raped over the next year, a Canadian study found. It was the first large, scientific test of resistance training, and the strong results should spur more universities to offer it, experts say. Five percent of freshman women who went through the four-session program said they had been raped during the following year, compared to 10 percent of others who were just given brochures on assault prevention. Attempted rapes also were lower — about 3 percent in the training group versus more than 9 percent of the others.”

The Truth Behind The Suicide Statistic For Older Teen Girls, by Susan Brink. NPR, June 02, 2015.  “For years, Suzanne Petroni, senior director at the International Center for Research on Women, would speak — backed by mountains of evidence she studies — about the number one cause of death among women around the world: maternal mortality. Then, in September, 2014, the World Health Organization released its report on "Health for the World's Adolescents: A Second Chance in the Second Decade." "I read the report, and there was one line tucked away," says Petroni. The line addressed females age 15 to 19. "The number one cause of death had changed," she says. "It was suicide."”

Depression Treatments Inspired By Club Drug Move Ahead In Tests, by Jon Hamilton. NPR, May 28, 2015.  “Antidepressant drugs that work in hours instead of weeks could be on the market within three years, researchers say. The new drugs are based on the anesthetic ketamine, which is also a popular club drug known as Special K. Unlike current antidepressants, which can take weeks to work, ketamine-like drugs have an immediate effect. They also have helped people with depression who didn't respond to other medications. The drug that is furthest along is esketamine, a chemical variant of ketamine that has been designated a potential breakthrough by the Food and Drug Administration. Esketamine is poised to begin Phase 3 trials, and the drug's maker, Johnson & Johnson, plans to seek FDA approval in 2018.”

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.