After undergoing a nine-week cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) treatment for social anxiety, patients show changes to both the physical structure of their brain and its activity, according to a new study published in Translational Psychiatry. The amygdala is most closely associated with the experience of fear and this study found that patients receiving CBT with reduced social anxiety had significant changes to this section of the brain.
The case of “Beth” depicts, almost innocently, the trials and tribulations of a well-adjusted, talented 15-year-old who developed depression, paranoia, panic attacks, and self-injurious and homicidal behavior, and “bipolar disorder” after being prescribed antidepressants, and then antipsychotics. After Beth decided – on her own – to discontinue psychotropic medications in favor of hormone therapy, she remained free of psychiatric symptoms.
“This is an article about how our education system is ruining young people’s lives. Nobody is listening to the teachers who say it, so perhaps someone will listen to me,” sixteen-year-old Orli writes in the Guardian. “Nothing is so important that it’s worth risking your health over, not even the piece of paper you get, age 16, to tell you whether or not you’re good enough.”
In his NY Times article “A Drug to Cure Fear,” Richard Friedman noted: “It has been an article of faith in neuroscience and psychiatry that, once formed, emotional memories are permanent.” This has not been a principle of these disciplines, including clinical psychology, for many years. Consolidation-reconsolidation-extinction models have been around for some time now, applied in particular to persons suffering from traumatic memories; e.g., Holocaust survivors, war and genocide survivors, etc.
A study out of the University of Buffalo explores the use of Narrative Exposure Therapy to treat youth PTSD and substance abuse. “Trauma is like a book on a shelf full of memories that a person has no control over in terms of when or how it is experienced,” says Volpe, PhD, assistant professor in the UB School of Nursing. “Narrative exposure therapy helps reestablish the link between memories that were destroyed by trauma, allowing people to have more control over the book.”
The Guardian covers research out of Australia that found that levels of the “stress hormone” cortisol in the hair of 70 nine-year-old children corresponded to the number of traumatic events experienced by the child. “Childhood is an imperative and sensitive period of development, and when things go wrong it can have lifelong consequences, not just on mental health, but also on general health.”
In a featured article for Psychiatric Services, psychiatrists from Dartmouth raise the alarm on the increasing numbers of children prescribed dangerous antipsychotic drugs. Despite the fact that data on the safety of long-term use of these drugs in this vulnerable population “do not exist,” the rate of children and adolescents being prescribed antipsychotic drugs have continued to increase over the past fifteen years.
In the SundayReview section of the New York Times Vicki Abeles discusses Stuat Slavin’s research on depression and anxiety in US schools. “Many of the health effects are apparent now, but many more will echo through the lives of our children,” says Richard Scheffler, a health economist at the University of California, Berkeley.
“Do they make people less aggressive? Yes, sometimes they do. Will they sedate people? Absolutely. Will they make kids easier to manage? They will,” Robert Whitaker tells Liz Spikol for Philadelphia Magazine. “But I know of no study that shows that medicating these kids long-term will help them grow up and thrive. The developing brain is a very delicate thing. The narrative is that these side effects are mild, and that’s just not true, and that the benefits are well-established, and so often they’re not.”
There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that being exposed to bullying in childhood can contribute to mental health problems later in life. In a new study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, the researchers found that children who reported being bullied at age eight were significantly more likely to seek treatment for mental health problems by age twenty-nine.
“According to a new study, the consequences of this wage gap extend beyond the checking account: women who earn less than their male peers are at greater risk for anxiety and depression than those who are fairly compensated.”
“The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of pharmaceutical treatment for low sexual desire in women has launched a heated debate over the dangers and benefits of medicalizing sex,” Maya Dusenbery writes in the Pacific Standard. Is “female Viagra” a feminist victory or a product of clever faux-feminist marketing by Big Pharma?
Listen: NPR’s On Point with Tom Ashbrook discusses the new book “Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You’re Taking, The Sleep You’re Missing, the Sex You’re Not Having and What’s Really Making You Crazy,” by the psychiatrist Julie Holland.
Children of parents who suffer from depression have a severely heightened risk of mental health problems, but new research points to several factors that seem to strengthen young peoples’ resilience and predict good mental health.
A new NIH-funded study suggests that children from low-income environments are more likely to have neurological impairments. The researchers claim that these neurodevelopmental issues are “distinct from the risk of cognitive and emotional delays known to accompany early-life poverty.”
Rob Wipond takes HealthNewsReview.org to task for its coverage of a Philadelphia Inquirer article about a medical device designed for people experiencing panic. He writes that “hyperbolic psychiatric and psychological claims frequently get free passes from otherwise thoughtful medical critics.”
Boston College Psychologist Peter Gray writes for Aeon about the impact of the gradual erosion of children’s’ play in the United States. “Over the same decades that children’s play has been declining, childhood ‘mental disorders’ have been increasing.”
In the context of the Silicon Valley suicides, one mother offers her story about her daughter. “It’s my premise that not only the culture of Silicon Valley, but also, almost more importantly, the nature of the remedies that are being proposed in the name of mental health counseling, are to blame in these deaths.”
In Scientific American, Kasley Killam presents insights from research on “post-traumatic growth,” highlighting the importance of finding meaning or underlying significance in our struggles and misery. “The psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl wrote extensively about this process after observing that his fellow inmates in concentration camps were more likely to survive the horrific conditions if they held on to a sense of meaning.”
Psychologist William Copeland writes for Mental Health Recovery that “bullying can occur at any age and the effects of which remain harmful long after the behavior has been endured.” “We, as a society, are just beginning to understand and come to terms with the havoc that bullying wreaks on the emotional lives of its victims.”
“My message today is that your state of gut will affect your state of mind. To have a healthy brain, we may need a healthy gut. We’re beginning to see, as in Pinocchio, a kind of puppet and puppeteer relationship, especially early in life, between the brain and microbiome...In the 20th century, all the focus in microbial medicine was on killing [microbes] with antibiotics and saving lives at the same time, which was great. But now we can really appreciate the importance of the microbiome in having a beneficial effect on health, including brain health.” (Lecture Video Below)
In 2004, the FDA added a black-box warning to SSRI antidepressants on the increased risk of suicide among children taking these drugs. A new study suggests that this warning has increased the proportion of children who begin an antidepressant on a low dose, but the majority are still receiving higher than recommended doses.
The latest economic recession led to a spike in diagnoses for mental illnesses, suicide attempts, and suicide, according to report out of the University of Bristol.
“The point, overall, is that given the dizzying array of possible factors at work here, it’s much too pat a story to say that kids are getting more 'fragile' as a result of some cultural bugaboo,” Jesse Singal writes in response to the flurry of recent think pieces decrying the weakened resolve of today's college students.
“In America, medication is becoming almost as much a staple of childhood as Disney and McDonald’s,” writes Sarah Boseley in the Guardian. In this piece photographer Baptiste Lignel follows six boys and girls to examine the long-term effects of these drugs.
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