Health and Fitness

Two Studies Explore The Consequences Of Not Reporting Sexual Abuse

Half of sexual abuse survivors wait up to five years before disclosing they were victimized, according to a collaborative study from the Universit de Montr al, the Universite du Quebec a Montreal and the Universite de Sherbrooke published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. "The number of victims who never reveal their secret or who wait many years to do so is very high, " says co-author Mireille Cyr, a psychology professor of the Universite de Montreal. "This is regrettable because the longer they wait to reveal the abuse, the harder and more enduring the consequences will be." The research team surveyed 800 Quebec men and women and found 25 percent of respondents never divulged being sexually abused as children. The scientists also found a sharp contrast between genders: 16 percent of women remain quiet about abuse, while 34 percent of men never share their secret. The investigation found that 22 percent of women and 10 percent of men reported beings survivors of abuse, which ranged from molestation to rape, which is comparable to the findings of previous studies on the topic.

Before Or After Birth, Gene Linked To Mental Health Has Different Effects

Scientists have long eyed mutations in a gene known as DISC1 as a possible contributor to schizophrenia and mood disorders, including depression and bipolar disorder. Now, new research led by Johns Hopkins researchers suggests that perturbing this gene during prenatal periods, postnatal periods or both may have different effects in mice, leading to separate types of brain alterations and behaviors with resemblance to schizophrenia or mood disorders. The findings, reported online Jan. 5 in Molecular Psychiatry, could eventually help researchers treat mental illness in people or even prevent it. To manipulate DISC1 expression during different periods, the researchers, led by Associate Professor Mikhail Pletnikov, M.D., Ph.D., crafted a novel mouse model in which a mutant form of the gene could be turned off by feeding the animals small amounts of the antibiotic doxycycline in their chow. The animals could get the drug directly by eating it or through their mothers during gestation.

European Research Council Grant For Neuroscience Research

Zachary Mainen, coordinator of the Champalimaud Foundation Neuroscience Programme at the IGC, has become one of the most recent winners of the prestigious and highly competitive European Research Council grants, to the value of 2.3 million euro, for a period of five years. This grant, which recognises Mainen's contribution to the Neuroscience field, will be used to elucidate the biological role of the neurotransmitter serotonin. The ERC is the most prominent European organism supporting scientific research. Zachary Mainen, north-american, has published over 30 studies in leading scientific journals. In 2007 he left the Cold Spring Harbour Laboratory for the Neuroscience Programme and is now living in Portugal. Zachary Mainen and his group propose to shed light on one of the most enigmatic topics in Neuroscience - the exact role of serotonin in controlling vital behaviours such as eating, sleeping or breathing, and associated psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression, migraine or eating disorders.

Launch Of Largest Academic-Industry Collaboration For Drug Discovery In Depression And Schizophrenia

An international consortium of scientists, led by H. Lundbeck A/S and King's College London, has launched one of the largest ever research academic-industry collaboration projects to find new methods for the development of drugs for schizophrenia and depression. Novel Methods leading to New Medications in Depression and Schizophrenia (NEWMEDS) is a unique project, bringing together top scientists from academic institutions with a wide range of expertise, and partnering them with nearly all major global drugs companies including AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Novartis, Orion, Pfizer, Roche, Servier and Wyeth. Other academic institutions involved are: Karolinska Institutet (Sweden), The University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), Central Institute of Mental Health (Germany), CSIC (Spain), the University of Manchester (United Kingdom) and the Bar Ilan University (Israel). A further two pharmaceutical small and medium-sized enterprises (SME), deCODE (Iceland) and Psynova (United Kingdom) will contribute to the success of NEWMEDS, while the SME GABO:mi (Germany) will be managing the project.

Using The Web To Treat Panic Disorder

An online treatment system for patients suffering with panic disorder and anxiety problems combine biofeedback therapy with web technologies and allows patients and medical professionals to communicate effectively, according to research published in the International Journal of Business Intelligence and Data Mining. Vincent Tseng and Bai-En Shie of the National Cheng Kung University are working with psychiatrist Fong-Lin Jang of the Chi-Mei Medical Center, in Tainan, Taiwan, to develop a system they say will have a "pivotal impact" on the healthcare industry. The increasing pace of life, the industrialisation of society, and the advent of digital technology are all thought to underlie the growing prevalence of mental illness. Disorders, such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression are now diagnosed more frequently than ever before. Panic disorders are not easily diagnosed but do represent chronic illness for countless patients and lead to hospitalisation with increasing frequency.

Low Socioeconomic Status Affects Cortisol Levels In Children Over Time

It's no surprise that children from low socioeconomic backgrounds may be at risk for numerous health problems in the future. Scientists speculate that these health problems, including increased risk for depression, anxiety and substance abuse, arise from the physiological toll that the environment has on the children's bodies. Previous research demonstrates a clear link between low socioeconomic status (SES) and body systems that regulate stress, specifically the HPA-axis, which produces the hormone cortisol. Overtime, higher and more prolonged levels of cortisol can lead to a number of psychiatric disorders and physical ailments, including, but not limited to, depression, PTSD, diabetes, and obesity. Given the importance of identifying risk factors for such diseases early in life, a new study in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, looked at the relationship between low SES and cortisol in children over a 2-year period. The researchers hypothesized that living in a low SES environment would increase cortisol trajectories over time.

Why Some Brains Are More Vulnerable To Stress And Resistant To Antidepressants

A new study provides insight into the molecular characteristics that make a brain susceptible to anxiety and depression and less likely to respond to treatment with antidepressant medication. The research, published by Cell Press in the January 14th issue of the journal Neuron, may lead to more effective strategies for treating depression, a major health concern throughout the world. Although brain mechanisms associated with depression and anxiety are not completely clear, recent research has implicated a combination of stressful life events and predisposing biological factors as playing a causal role in depressive disorders. The most popular antidepressant medications, such as the commonly prescribed selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), increase serotonin levels in the brain. "Unfortunately, more than half of all depressed patients fail to respond to their first drug treatment, " explains senior study author Dr. Rene Hen, from Columbia University. "The reasons for this treatment resistance remain enigmatic.

Could Acetaminophen Ease Psychological Pain?

Headaches and heartaches. Broken bones and broken spirits. Hurting bodies and hurt feelings. We often use the same words to describe physical and mental pain. Over-the-counter pain relieving drugs have long been used to alleviate physical pain, while a host of other medications have been employed in the treatment of depression and anxiety. But is it possible that a common painkiller could serve double duty, easing not just the physical pains of sore joints and headaches, but also the pain of social rejection? A research team led by psychologist C. Nathan DeWall of the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences Department of Psychology has uncovered evidence indicating that acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) may blunt social pain. "The idea - that a drug designed to alleviate physical pain should reduce the pain of social rejection - seemed simple and straightforward based on what we know about neural overlap between social and physical pain systems. To my surprise, I couldn't find anyone who had ever tested this idea, " DeWall said.

Routine Screening For Postnatal Depression Not Cost Effective, UK

Routine screening for postnatal depression in primary care - as recommended in recent guidance from the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) - do not appear to represent value for money for the NHS, concludes a study published on bmj.com. The results suggest that both the NICE guidance and widespread current practice should be reviewed. More than one in 10 women suffer from postnatal depression six weeks after giving birth, yet fewer than half of cases are detected in routine clinical practice. Formal identification methods, such as postnatal or general depression questionnaires, have been advocated but have attracted substantial controversy. Furthermore, guidelines issued by NICE in 2007 recommend the use of specific questions to identify possible postnatal depression, but the cost effectiveness of this strategy is uncertain. So researchers at the University of York used a computer model to evaluate the cost effectiveness of formal methods to identify postnatal depression in primary care.

Depression Saps Endurance Of The Brain's Reward Circuitry

A new study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggests that depressed patients are unable to sustain activity in brain areas related to positive emotion. The study challenges previous notions that individuals with depression show less brain activity in areas associated with positive emotion. Instead, the new data suggest similar initial levels of activity, but an inability to sustain them over time. The new work was reported online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "Anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure in things normally rewarding, is a cardinal symptom of depression, " explains UW-Madison graduate student Aaron Heller, who led the project. "Scientists have generally thought that anhedonia is associated with a general reduction of activity in brain areas thought to be important for positive emotion and reward. In fact, we found that depressed patients showed normal levels of activity early on in the experiment. However, towards the end of the experiment, those levels of activity dropped off precipitously.

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