“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.
LiveScience reports on a new analysis revealing that children diagnosed with ADHD who are prescribed stimulant medications take longer to fall asleep, sleep for shorter amounts of time and don’t sleep as well as other children diagnosed with ADHD who are not taking stimulants. "Sleep was worse in every analysis that we did," said study author Katherine M. Kidwell, a psychology doctoral candidate at the University of Nebraska.
Psychological abuse and childhood neglect are strongly associated with depression in adulthood, according to a meta-analysis of childhood trauma and depression published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders. “The findings clearly highlight the potential impact of the more ‘silent’ types of childhood maltreatment (other than physical and sexual abuse) on the development of depression,” the researchers conclude.
In this short audio clip, psychologist Sheldon Solomon discusses what research on our unconscious fears about death can tell us about terrorism, intolerance, and radicalism. “In the wake of the Paris attacks, we examine the worm that some people think is eating away at our core — our fear of death.”
Different types of child abuse have equivalent psychological effects, according to a study in JAMA Psychiatry. It has previously been assumed that emotional and verbal abuse could have different or less harmful impact on a child’s psychology than physical or sexual abuse, but research now suggests that these forms of abuse can be just as damaging.
The American Academy of Pediatrics came out with new recommendations that suggest doctors screen all of their child patients for hunger. About 16 million children in the US live in food scarcity and poverty that can lead to physical health issues as well as behavioral issues, which can be misdiagnosed.
Reuters covers a new study in JAMA Psychiatry that suggests that children exposed to physical abuse and emotional abuse suffer from similar psychological and behavioral problems. “Even though doctors and parents often believe physical or sexual abuse is more harmful than emotional mistreatment or neglect, the study found children suffered similar problems regardless of the type of maltreatment endured.”
In the Boston Globe, Sarah Schweitzer tells the story of a young boy brutally abused by his parents then given to his grandparents who struggled with extreme poverty and homelessness. “Researchers now understood that trauma could alter the chemistry of developing brains and disrupt the systems that help a person handle stress, propelling a perpetual state of high alert. The consequences could be lifelong. As an adult, he’d be more likely to suffer anxiety and depression and heart disease and stroke. His ability to hold a job, manage money, and make good decisions could be compromised. And there was evidence, controversial but mounting, that he could pass on these traits to his children.”
Researchers recently completed a first of its kind, large-scale international survey of attitudes about mental health and they were surprised by the results. According to their analysis published in this month’s issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders, people in developed countries, like the United States, are more likely to assume that ‘mental illnesses’ are similar to physical illnesses and biological or genetic in origin, but they are also much less likely to think that individuals can overcome these challenges and make a full recovery.
New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, relates the story of Andrew Francesco, a boy who began taking Ritalin at age five and died from complications with Seroquel when he was fifteen. His father, a former pharmaceutical industry executive, reveals the industry’s greed in his memoir “Overmedicated and Undertreated.” Now the industry is pushing for a first-amendment right to market its drugs for off-label uses.
Prior use of benzodiazepines, such as Xanax, Librium, or Ativan, may increase the risk of treatment-resistant depression (TRD), according to a new study published in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. The study, which aimed to examine the determinants of TRD, found that the "regular use of benzodiazepines was a particularly strong correlate of TRD."
New research is investigating how “poverty reduction promotes cognitive and brain development.” Kimberly Noble, a professor of neuroscience at Teachers College, Columbia University, writes in the Washington Post of her plans to run a large clinical trial involving cash payments to low-income families. She hopes that the study will be able to “estimate the impact of these cash supplements on children’s cognitive, emotional and brain development, as well as the effect on family functioning.”
Chile’s Skills for Life (SFL) program, the largest school-based psychosocial intervention program in the world, has demonstrated improved behavioral and academic outcomes for elementary students identified as “at risk.” A team of Chilean and U.S. researchers assessed the SFL program and will publish their results in the October issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).
The Chronicle of Higher Education has called the soaring rates of anxiety and depression among college students an “Epidemic of Anguish.” PBS interviews Jennifer Ruark, the editor of the Chronicle series, and Micky Sharma, the director of counseling at Ohio State University. Ruark reports that about “1 in 4 students reporting to campus counseling centers now are already on some kind of psychotropic medication.” Sharma adds, “just because a student is crying does not mean he or she needs psychotherapy. Sometimes that’s actually the type of emotional response that I would want to see.”
This month’s issue of JAMA Psychiatry ran an editorial commenting on recent research revealing that the majority of youth prescribed antipsychotics have not been diagnosed with a mental disorder. For these youth, the harms outweigh the benefits.
On Tuesday, NPR told the story of DeAngelo Cortijo. DeAngelo became a foster kid at age 3 after his mother attempted suicide. He was “diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders, attachment disorder, intermittent explosive disorder or posttraumatic stress disorder,” and was prescribed “a combination of antipsychotics, antidepressants and stimulants, and was told that taking them was his only hope of being normal.” Through equine therapy, DeAngelo was eventually able to get off all of his medication. Now, California is hoping to pass reforms that would prevent foster kids, like DeAngelo, from being “prescribed antipsychotic drugs at double to quadruple the rate of [those] not in foster care.”
“We are consistently seeing sensory, motor, and cognitive issues pop up more and more in later childhood, partly because of inadequate opportunities to move and play at an early age,” writes Angela Hanscom in The Washington Post.
Healthline reports that as five second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) lose patent protection, Medicaid expenditures for antipsychotics are projected to be cut in half over the next five years. But some worry that the decrease in spending may lead policymakers to lift existing restrictions on antipsychotics at a time when most SGAs are prescribed to children for off-label reasons.
In what the editor of the American Journal of Psychiatry called a "landmark" study, an international team of researchers re-examined data from the large Twin and Offspring Study of Sweden, and discovered environmental factors more readily explained anxiety "inheritance" than did genetics. More →
Salon looks at old data on depression studies and new data on anxiety disorders, and finds pharmaceutical companies and psychiatric researchers still "aren't telling you the whole truth." More →
Time discusses a review of the literature published in the journal of Aging and Mental Health, examining the effects of a number of relaxation techniques on depression and anxiety in elderly people. More →
Researchers in Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois reported in Depression and Anxiety that their meta-analysis of the scientific literature showed that "a single bout" of exercise could reduce anxiety symptoms. More →
Many youth who get into legal troubles have histories of having social anxieties, and seem to derive benefit from becoming engaged in simple, service-oriented social activities, according to a study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. More →
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