Health and Fitness

Analysis Suggests That Benefit Of Antidepressant Medications Varies With Severity Of Depression Symptoms

An analysis of randomized trials indicates that compared with placebo, the magnitude of benefit of antidepressant medications varies with the severity of depressive symptoms, and may provide little benefit for patients with mild or moderate depression, but appear to provide substantial benefit for patients with very severe depression, according to an article in the January 6 issue of JAMA. Antidepressant medications (ADM) are the current standard of treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD), but there is little evidence that they have a specific pharmacological effect relative to placebo for patients with less severe depression, according to background information in the article. Jay C. Fournier, M.A., of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to estimate the benefit of ADM vs. placebo across a wide range of initial symptom severity in patients diagnosed with depression. The researchers combined data from 6 large-scale, placebo-controlled randomized trials.

Deployment And Use Of Mental Health Services Among U.S. Army Wives

The deployment of soldiers to the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan is increasing the need for mental health services provided for their family members, according to a new study by researchers at RTI International, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. The study found extended U.S. Army deployments increase the occurrence of depression, anxiety, sleep disorders and other mental health diagnoses for soldiers' wives left at home. The study, published in the Jan. 14 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine, estimated the relationship between the time U.S. Army soldiers spent deployed and the use of mental health services and mental health diagnoses among their wives. "This study confirms what many people have long suspected, " said Alyssa Mansfield, Ph.D., the study's lead author, now a research epidemiologist at RTI International. "It provides compelling evidence that Army families are feeling the impact of lengthy and repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Psychologist Whose Research Changed Opinion On Abortion Side Effects Dies

One of the first clinical psychologists to study the psychological effects of abortion, Henry David, died on Dec. 31 at age 86 of congestive heart failure, the Washington Post reports. David was best known for his research that "showed that unwanted children were more likely to experience long-term difficulties in school and life than those whose families planned their births, " the Post reports. In the years following his initial research, David encouraged other psychologists to conduct similar research, and "their combined efforts helped alter the prevailing assumption among clinicians that abortion was a source of mental health problems in women, " the Post reports (Brown, Washington Post, 1/15). Reprinted with kind permission from You can view the entire Daily Women's Health Policy Report, search the archives, or sign up for email delivery here. The Daily Women's Health Policy Report is a free service of the National Partnership for Women & Families, published by The Advisory Board Company.

Three Key Factors To Help Children Avoid Social Rejection Identified

Neurobehavioral researchers at Rush University Medical Center have found three key factors in a child's behavior that can lead to social rejection. The studies are a crucial step in developing scientifically sound screening tests and treatment planning for social-emotional learning difficulties. The results from the studies are published in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Findings from the pair of studies indicate that the ability to pick up on non-verbal cues and social cues in social interaction as well as recognize the meaning and respond appropriately to them are key to helping children develop skills to maintain friendships and avoid a host of problems in later life. A child who experiences social rejection is more likely to suffer from academic failure, drop out of school, experience depression or anxiety, and experiment with drugs. "Children's ability to develop positive peer relationships is critical to their well-being, " said Dr. Clark McKown, study principal investigator and associate executive director and research director at the Rush Neurobehavioral Center.

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults, UK

Mind's campaign to improve access to justice for people with mental health problems took a major step forward today. In a statement in the House of Commons, Phil Hope, Minister for Care Services, announced measures to prevent abuse of adults and to bring abusers to justice. Specifically he announce to Parliament that: - local safeguarding boards that bring together health, care, housing and criminal justice agencies to share information would be made a legal requirement in every area of the country - a group of five Ministers would meet regularly to set and coordinate policy on safeguarding issues at the highest level - a review of existing guidance would begin immediately. The Government agreed to review safeguards for vulnerable adults after Mind raised serious concerns that the system did not work for people with mental health problems. Our research has shown that these crimes are often perpetrated by the very people who should be supporting and empowering those in their care. Others have undergone systematic abuse by their neighbours or even other patients in hospital wards, but their care workers have never thought to challenge or report these crimes.

Prolonged Immigration Detention Puts Detainees At Higher Risk Of Mental Illness

Asylum seekers and other detainees who are held in Australian immigration detention centres for long periods of time are more likely to require medical attention for mental health problems than those detained for a shorter time, according to the results of research published in the Medical Journal of Australia. Prof Kathy Eagar, Professor of Health Services Research and Director of the Centre for Health Service Development at the University of Wollongong, and her co-author conducted an analysis of the health records of 720 people in detention in the 2005-06 financial year. The analysis showed that both the reason for, and time in, detention had a significant effect on the rate of new mental health problems among detainees, with a significantly higher rate of mental health problems in those arriving in unauthorised boats seeking asylum and those detained for more than 24 months compared with those who were released within three months. Prof Eagar said that, overall, the incidence of a range of health problems among detainees also varied by reason for, and time in, detention, with the highest rate of new health problems recorded in those designated as asylum seekers (unauthorised boat and air arrivals) and detained for more than 24 months.

One In Four Girls Aged 12-17 Were Involved In Serious Fights Or Attacks In The Past Year

A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) indicates that, in the past year, one quarter (26.7 percent) of adolescent girls participated in a serious fight at school or work, group-against-group fight, or an attack on others with the intent to inflict serious harm. "These findings are alarming, " said SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde, J.D. "We need to do a better job reaching girls at risk and teaching them how to resolve problems without resorting to violence." When combined, 2006 to 2008 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) shows that 18.6 percent of adolescent females got into a serious fight at school or work in the past year, 14.1 percent participated in a group-against-group fight, and 5.7 percent attacked others with the intent to seriously hurt them; one quarter (26.7 percent) of adolescent females engaged in at least one of these violent behaviors in the past year. Other key findings from the NSDUH survey include: - The prevalence of these violent acts in the past year decreased as annual family income increased.

Todd Krass To Lead AHA's Section For Psychiatric And Substance Abuse Services

Todd Krass, CEO of Research Belton Hospital in Belton, Mo., is the 2010 chair of the American Hospital Association's (AHA) Section for Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Services, a constituency section representing 1, 300 behavioral health providers across the country that provides guidance in AHA's policy development and governance. During his one-year term as chair, Krass and a 16-person governing council will work with the AHA to identify ways to define and focus AHA policy, advocacy, public policy issues and member service strategies regarding health care systems. Krass has served as CEO of Research Belton Hospital, a 71-bed community hospital, since 2005. Previously, he served as CEO of Research Psychiatric Hospital - a 100-bed freestanding psychiatric hospital - for 11 years. For the past seven years, he also has been responsible for the administration of behavioral health services for HCA's Midwest Division, an 11-facility system of hospitals, outpatient centers, clinics, physician practices, surgery centers and an array of other services to meet the health care needs of the greater Kansas City area.

New Federal Law Expands Mental Health Coverage

The Los Angeles Times reports on the federal Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which went into effect on Jan. 1. "Passed as part of the federal stimulus package, the act requires that insurers provide mental health coverage that's no less restrictive than traditional medical coverage. In theory, the act should enable patients needing lengthier therapy to receive it. But skeptics point to several loopholes -- chiefly, that insurance companies are not required to cover mental health care at all. The new law affects 113 million Americans whose states did not already have mental health parity provisions in place. California has followed a mental health parity law since 2000 and so will not be affected." The law may change the balance between psychodynamic therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy in mental health treatment (Jaffe, 1/11). This information was reprinted from with kind permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives and sign up for email delivery at kaiserhealthnews.

Race-Based Misdiagnosis Still Remains A Health Care Problem

Black men are over-diagnosed with schizophrenia at least five times higher than any other group - a trend that dates back to the 1960s, according to new University of Michigan research. Race-based misdiagnosis emerged in the context of the civil rights era of the 1960s and 1970s, when activism became equated with mental illness, says Jonathan Metzl, an associate professor of psychiatry and women's studies. Metzl examined archives of Ionia State Hospital for the Criminally Insane and learned that black men, mainly from Detroit during the civil rights era, were taken there and often misdiagnosed with schizophrenia. "Some patients became schizophrenic because of changes in their diagnosis rather than their clinical symptoms, " said Metzl, a 2008 Guggenheim award recipient. Events at Ionia, located in a mostly white northern Michigan community, mirrored national conversations that linked the disease with blackness, madness and civil rights, he said. Many black men came to the hospital during the Detroit riots, dramatically increasing the facility's black population.

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