Posts Tagged ‘
Thursday, March 7th, 2013
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), which is marked by heightened levels of anxiety, disruptive repetitive thoughts, and compulsively repeated behaviors, strikes new mothers at higher rates than it affects the general population, a new study to be published in The Journal of Reproductive Medicine has found.
OCD during the postpartum weeks and months may take the form of repeatedly checking to make sure baby is breathing, repeatedly washing bottles, or worrying unceasingly about germs and safety. More from RelaxNews:
Previous studies have suggested that women experience OCD symptoms during the postpartum period, but these studies were based on subjects’ recall of past events, LiveScience reports. However, the new study followed moms throughout the first six months after a baby was born, asking partipants to respond to survey questions. More than 460 new moms participated in the study. About half of the subjects who reported symptoms at two weeks improved by six months, while other women’s OCD symptoms sparked at six months. Stress is a well-known trigger to OCD, so the stress of being a new mom could trigger a preexisting condition in some women, the researchers noted. Postpartum hormone levels could play a role as well.
Image: Baby bottles on drying rack, via Shutterstock
Thursday, February 7th, 2013
Some kids handle the pressures of their young lives–chiefly their abilities to score well on standardized tests in school–while others crumble under the anxiety of the pressure to succeed. An article in this weekend’s New York Times magazine looks at this fact through the lens of what it can teach us about anxiety and panic in children. The article chronicles a growing body of research on this question and concludes that though biology plays a role in a child’s ability to manage anxiety, it is far from the only factor in the equation:
An emerging field of research — and a pioneering study from Taiwan — has begun to offer some clues. Like any kind of human behavior, our response to competitive pressure is derived from a complex set of factors — how we were raised, our skills and experience, the hormones that we marinated in as fetuses. There is also a genetic component: One particular gene, referred to as the COMT gene, could to a large degree explain why one child is more prone to be a worrier, while another may be unflappable, or in the memorable phrasing of David Goldman, a geneticist at the National Institutes of Health, more of a warrior.
Understanding their propensity to become stressed and how to deal with it can help children compete. Stress turns out to be far more complicated than we’ve assumed, and far more under our control than we imagine. Unlike long-term stress, short-term stress can actually help people perform, and viewing it that way changes its effect. Even for those genetically predisposed to anxiety, the antidote isn’t necessarily less competition — it’s more competition. It just needs to be the right kind.
Read the full New York Times article for details on the new research into childhood anxiety.
Image: Standardized test, via Shutterstock
Thursday, June 28th, 2012
A study published this week in the journal BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology has found that women who fear childbirth may actually have to endure labors that are, on average, an hour and a half longer than women who are not fearful. From CNN.com:
Study author Dr. Samantha Salvesen Adams initially thought her team would find the prolonged labor could be explained by other factors – women who feared birth the most were first time mothers, who are known to have longer labors anyway, or obstetric interventions like epidurals. But when those factors were taken into consideration, the difference in time between the fearless and the fearful was still 47 minutes.
“Mental stress is associated with physiological arousal and release of stress hormones,” Adams wrote in an e-mail. “During labour, high levels of stress hormones may weaken uterine [contractions].”
In other words, the adrenaline released when a body is stressed stops the oxytocin hormone production that makes a woman’s uterus contract, slowing labor. It’s a natural, biological response to fear, [Dr. Stuart] Fischbein said.
Image: Pregnant woman with clock, via Shutterstock.
Monday, October 24th, 2011
Preliminary research into the effects of in-utero exposure to the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA) has correlated high levels of the compound with behavioral issues in 3-year-old girls, The Associated Press reports.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that preschool-aged girls whose mothers had high levels of BPA during pregnancy scored worse–though still within normal range–on behavioral measures including anxiety and hyperactivity. For every 10-fold increase in BPA in the mothers during pregnancy, the study found that girls scored 6 points worse on the behavioral questionnaire given at 3 years.
The results did not seem to be replicated in boys.
Nearly all Americans have measurable BPA levels in their bodies (the pregnant women were given urine tests). The chemical is found in some plastics and food can linings, though increasing numbers of companies are marketing “BPA-free” materials, especially in items intended for use by children.
Researchers called these results “preliminary” and called for further study of BPA’s effects on child health. This study was specifically faulted for not tracking other potential behavior-influencing factors, such as the mother’s prenatal eating habits.
Parents can consult the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website for information on current research and advice on managing BPA levels in children.
(image via: http://onmybaby.com)
Tuesday, October 18th, 2011
About half of all teenagers in the United States qualify a “shy,” a new study published in the journal Pediatrics has found. But only 12 percent of those shy teens meet the criteria for full-fledged, lifelong social anxiety or social phobia. Researchers hope the findings will help de-stigmatize shyness and defray accusations that calling someone “shy” suggests that they have emotional health problems. The Associated Press reports:
“Shyness is a normal human temperament,” says lead researcher Dr. Kathleen Merikangas of the National Institute of Mental Health, whose teachers always noted her own childhood shyness on her report cards.
But just as it can be hard to tell when feeling sad turns into depression, “there is a blurred boundary between people who describe themselves as shy and clinically significant impairment,” Merikangas adds.
The difference: The shy can be drawn out and adapt, while teens or adults with full-fledged social anxiety become so paralyzed during social situations that it interferes with everyday functioning.
Shyness also tends to be seen differently across gender lines, research shows:
In school-age boys especially, “shyness isn’t very well tolerated in the United States,” says [Children's Hospital Boston's Dr. Nancy] Snidman, who wasn’t involved with the new research.
Snidman and colleagues at Harvard Medical School have tracked infants to their college years, and know that babies who react very negatively to new people and objects tend to grow into shy children. That’s not a bad thing — caution is considered an important evolutionary adaptation.
Usually, the clinging tot does just fine as he or she grows older and finds a niche, Snidman says. Girls may think the shy teen boy is nice because he’s not macho, for example, or the shy kids wind up on the school newspaper so they can write instead of do public speaking. Many outgrow their shyness.
Yet a very shy child is considered more at risk than others of later developing some type of anxiety disorder — just as the opposite extreme, a very outgoing child, can be at greater risk for attention or conduct disorders, she says.
(image via: http://ruelmiralles-myblogmylife.blogspot.com/)