Posts Tagged ‘
mental health ’
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
Friday, March 1st, 2013
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) may share genetic codes with mental illnesses including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depression, and schizophrenia, according to new research published this week in the journal The Lancet. The New York Times has more:
[The study] was based on an examination of genetic data from more than 60,000 people world-wide. Its authors say it is the largest genetic study yet of psychiatric disorders. The findings strengthen an emerging view of mental illness that aims to make diagnoses based on the genetic aberrations underlying diseases instead of on the disease symptoms.
Two of the aberrations discovered in the new study were in genes used in a major signaling system in the brain, giving clues to processes that might go awry and suggestions of how to treat the diseases.
“What we identified here is probably just the tip of an iceberg,” said Dr. Jordan Smoller, lead author of the paper and a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. “As these studies grow we expect to find additional genes that might overlap.”
The new study does not mean that the genetics of psychiatric disorders are simple. Researchers say there seem to be hundreds of genes involved and the gene variations discovered in the new study only confer a small risk of psychiatric disease.
Steven McCarroll, director of genetics for the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute of Harvard and M.I.T., said it was significant that the researchers had found common genetic factors that pointed to a specific signaling system.
“It is very important that these were not just random hits on the dartboard of the genome,” said Dr. McCarroll, who was not involved in the new study.
Image: Genetic markers, 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
Wednesday, December 5th, 2012
Most teenagers who have been identified as having a mental health disorder are not taking medications for the condition, a new study from the National Institutes of Health has found. The news will be a relief to those who fear that American teens are abusing psychotropic drugs, but of concern to others who fear emotional problems are going untreated among teenagers. More from Reuters:
“Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funded the study, said there was no compelling evidence for either misuse or overuse of psychotropic medications, which include stimulants for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), antidepressants and antipsychotics.
“Certain the use of psychiatric medications has been increasing in children and adolescents over the years,” said Benedetto Vitiello from the NIH, who worked on the study.
“(But) most of the adolescents who met the criteria for a condition were not receiving medication, which suggests that they were being treated with something else, maybe psychotherapy, or maybe they were not even treated,” he added. “This data may suggest that there may be underuse (of psychiatric medications) in some cases.”
The findings, which appeared in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, are based on interviews with more than 10,000 teens and their parents, most of whom had at least a high school education and were middle class or above. The interviews were conducted between 2001 and 2004.”
Image: Depressed teenager, via Shutterstock
Monday, December 3rd, 2012
In a move that is sure to elicit strong opinions in parents of autistic children, the American Psychiatric Association has approved proposed changes to the new edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM) that will eliminate an independent diagnosis of “Asperger’s Disorder” and include Asperger’s kids within the diagnostic label of “autism spectrum disorder.” The Associated Press has more:
“One of the most hotly argued changes was how to define the various ranges of autism. Some advocates opposed the idea of dropping the specific diagnosis for Asperger’s disorder. People with that disorder often have high intelligence and vast knowledge on narrow subjects but lack social skills. Some who have the condition embrace their quirkiness and vow to continue to use the label.
And some Asperger’s families opposed any change, fearing their kids would lose a diagnosis and no longer be eligible for special services.
But the revision will not affect their education services, experts say.
The new manual adds the term “autism spectrum disorder,” which already is used by many experts in the field. Asperger’s disorder will be dropped and incorporated under that umbrella diagnosis. The new category will include kids with severe autism, who often don’t talk or interact, as well as those with milder forms.”
The Asperger’s changes are not the only ones that will appear in the new edition of the DSM, which will be published in May. Another major change is the addition of the diagnosis of DMDD, or disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, which will be given to children who have severe and recurrent temper tantrums.
The new edition is the 5th for the DSM. The last edition was published in 1994.
Image: Girl with psychiatrist, via Shutterstock