Health and Fitness

Teens And Parents Need Help Identifying Suicidal Adolescents

Adolescents and parents need help recognizing that suicide is a problem in their own communities, as well as help identifying teens who are suicidal, according to the study, "Attitudes and Beliefs of Adolescents and Parents Regarding Adolescent Suicide, " published in the February issue of Pediatrics (appearing online Jan. 11). In the United States in 2006, 1, 771 children and adolescents ages 10 to 19 committed suicide, making suicide the third leading cause of death in this age group. To design a better suicide prevention program, researchers set out to understand what interventions would be most effective. In focus groups in Chicago and Kansas City, both teenagers and their parents correctly identified many of the known risk factors for suicide, including mental illness, alcohol and substance abuse, relational or social loss, and hopelessness. However, study authors said it was concerning that some of the parents reported regular drug and alcohol use as being a normal part of adolescent development, rather than problem behavior.

Wives Of Deployed Soldiers Suffer More Depression, Sleep Disorders

Wives of soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan are more likely to be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and other mental health conditions than women whose husbands are not deployed, according to a new study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. The study, published Jan. 14, 2010, in The New England Journal of Medicine, examined medical records of the wives of active duty U.S. Army personnel, comparing those whose husbands were serving abroad with those whose husbands were not deployed. "This study confirms what many people have long suspected, " said Alyssa Mansfield, Ph.D., the study's lead author, who conducted the research as a doctoral student at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and is now a research epidemiologist at RTI International. "It provides compelling evidence that Army spouses are feeling the impact of recent deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Temporary Assistance For Families Funds Available For Families Needing Short Term Mental Health And Substance Use Treatment Services

In the face of growing need for mental health and substance abuse treatment, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are notifying states about how Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds can be used to help families in their communities in need of short term mental health or substance use treatment services. The grant notification includes an explanation of how resources under the TANF Emergency Fund - a provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - can be used to support such services. The TANF block grant provides states and tribes federal funds and wide flexibility to develop time-limited assistance programs, employment services for parents, and a broad array of specialized services - including mental health and substance abuse services - for struggling families in their communities. For example, a jurisdiction can use federal TANF funds to provide appropriate short-term counseling services such as mental health services.

Ob-Gyns Encouraged To Screen Women For Depression During And After Pregnancy

Screening for depression during pregnancy and afterward benefits women, infants, and families, according to a new Committee Opinion issued today by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (the College) and published in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology. Because pregnancy and the postpartum period are pivotal times to identify women suffering from depression, the College encourages ob-gyns to strongly consider screening for it. Clinical depression is common among reproductive-age women and is the leading cause of disability in women in the US each year. Between 14%-23% of pregnant women will experience depression symptoms during pregnancy and an estimated 5%-25% of women will have postpartum depression. Studies have shown that untreated maternal depression negatively affects an infant's cognitive, neurologic, and motor skill development. A mother's untreated depression can also negatively impact older children's mental health and behavior. During pregnancy, depression can lead to preeclampsia, preterm delivery, and low birth weight.

Surplus Of Serotonin Receptors May Explain Failure Of Antidepressants In Some Patients

An excess of one type of serotonin receptor in the center of the brain may explain why antidepressants fail to relieve symptoms of depression for 50 percent of patients, a new study from researchers at Columbia University Medical Center shows. The study is the first to find a causal link between receptor number and antidepressant treatment and may lead to more personalized treatment for depression, including treatments for patients who do not respond to antidepressants and ways to identify these patients before they undergo costly, and ultimately, futile therapies. The research, led by Rene Hen, PhD, professor of pharmacology in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neuroscience at Columbia University, and a researcher the New York State Psychiatric Institute, appears in the January 15 issue of the journal Neuron. Most antidepressants - including the popular SSRIs - work by increasing the amount of serotonin made by cells -- called raphe neurons -- deep in the middle of the brain.

Racial Equality In Mental Health Stuck At A Standstill, UK

Figures released today by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) show that five years on from the first Count me in census [1] people from black and minority ethnic communities remain 3 times more likely than average to be detained under the Mental Health Act and there is still no evidence of a decline in admissions. The survey also shows the use of mixed sex wards remains unacceptably high, with 67 per cent of patients still on mixed sex wards, a figure which rises to 76 per cent for women. Mind's Chief Executive Paul Farmer said: "It is unacceptable that five years after this census was introduced black and minority ethnic groups continue to be grossly over-represented on inpatient wards and there has been no real progress towards reducing the number of people on mixed sex wards. In some areas of the country good work is being done to address these issues but the big picture shows a fundamental failure to deal with problems. It is simply inexcusable that in 21st century healthcare a quarter of women on psychiatric wards don't have access to single sex bathroom facilities, or that men from black and minority ethnic groups are three times more likely to be sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

APA Reminds Congress Of Its Priorities In Health Care Reform Legislation

The American Psychiatric Association sent a letter to congressional leadership this week emphasizing the importance of including mental health parity and a basic benefit package requirement in all qualified health insurance plans in the legislation that reforms our nation's health insurance system. "As you continue to work toward passage of health care reform, we urge you to include House language protecting advances in mental health 'parity' and extending health benefit coverage requirements to all health insurance plans, regardless of plan size, within five years of health reform passage" said APA President Alan F. Schatzberg, M.D., in the letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Schatzberg explained that the Affordable Health Care for America Act, H.R. 3962, includes the following two provisions that are urgent for the practice of psychiatry and the treatment of our patients. - Preserving in whole the recent advances for parity in mental health and substance-use disorder treatment.

UCSB Scientists Discover How The Brain Encodes Memories At A Cellular Level

Scientists at UC Santa Barbara have made a major discovery in how the brain encodes memories. The finding, published in the December 24 issue of the journal Neuron, could eventually lead to the development of new drugs to aid memory. The team of scientists is the first to uncover a central process in encoding memories that occurs at the level of the synapse, where neurons connect with each other. "When we learn new things, when we store memories, there are a number of things that have to happen, " said senior author Kenneth S. Kosik, co-director and Harriman Chair in Neuroscience Research, at UCSB's Neuroscience Research Institute. Kosik is a leading researcher in the area of Alzheimer's disease. "One of the most important processes is that the synapses - which cement those memories into place - have to be strengthened, " said Kosik. "In strengthening a synapse you build a connection, and certain synapses are encoding a memory. Those synapses have to be strengthened so that memory is in place and stays there.

What Is St. John's Wort? How Effective Is St. John's Wort?

St. John's wort, or Perforate St. John's wart, Tipton's Weed or Klamath weed, is a medication that comes from a flowering plant called Hypericum perforatum. For a long time it is believed to have medicinal qualities, especially for the treatment of depression. Recent studies appear to conclude more favorably than unfavorably regarding St. John's Wort's efficacy in treating depression. St. John's wort is also known as: Amber, Amber Touch-and-Heal, Demon Chaser, Fuga Daemonum, Goatweed, Hardhay, Hypereikon, Hyperici Herba, Klamath Weed, Millepertuis, Rosin Rose, Saynt Johannes Wort, and SJW. Studies from reputable research centers report that St. John's wort is more effective than a placebo and equally effective as tricyclic antidepressant drugs in the short-term (1 to 3 months) treatment of mild-to-moderate major depression. Experts continue to debate whether St. John's wort is as effective as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors). Experts say that the active chemical in St.

Half Of Depressed Americans Go Untreated

A national survey of 15, 762 households by UCLA/Wayne State University researchers found that only 21 percent of Americans suffering from clinical depression receive medical care consistent with American Psychiatric Association guidelines. Half receive no treatment at all. The majority of treated patients, nearly 45 percent, received psychotherapy with no medication. Only 34 percent of patients were prescribed antidepressants. Of that number, Mexican Americans and African Americans were prescribed antidepressants a third less often than Caucasians. Factors such as education, health insurance and income did not explain the lower rates of medication use. African Americans and Mexican Americans faced the greatest barriers to mental healthcare and received adequate treatment only half as often as Caucasians. Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States. Impact The findings unmasked disparities in healthcare access often overlooked when Latinos are inappropriately lumped together.

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