MIGRAINE: Recognizing an Aura

(HealthDay News) — March 25, 2010 – About one in five migraine sufferers experiences an aura that warns of a pending migraine, the National Headache Society says.

Scientists believe aura results when nerves in the brain are activated just before a migraine and become super “excited.”

 The society says aura may be characterized by:

  • Seeing lights that flash.
  • Seeing lights that appear in a zigzag pattern.
  • Developing blind spots.
  • Having distorted vision.
  • Sensing a tingling or “pins-and-needles” feeling in one arm or leg.

http://health.yahoo.com/news/healthday/healthtiprecognizinganaura.html

Therapy Via Teleconference?

Therapy Via Teleconference? Professor Studies Remote Psychotherapy

ScienceDaily (Mar. 24, 2010) — Obtaining therapy via teleconference is just as effective as face-to-face sessions, according to a new research by Stéphane Guay, a psychiatry professor at the Université de Montréal.

“Previous studies have shown that phobia therapy via teleconferencing was just as efficient as face to face contact,” says Dr. Guay, who is also director of the Trauma Studies Centre at the Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital’s Fernand-Seguin Research Centre. “We wanted to see if the process could also be used for post-traumatic stress treatment.”

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National Study Offers New Insight On How Physicians Prescribe Psychiatric Drugs

(National News Today) – March 24, 2010 – A new study sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) outlines the conditions that physicians around the country reported treating with psychiatric drugs such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety drugs.

Psychiatric medications are one of the most widely prescribed categories of drugs in the nation; yet few studies have comprehensively examined the types of illnesses being treated with these medications. In particular, there has been a great deal of interest and some concern about how psychiatric drugs are being prescribed for medical conditions not included in their Food and Drug Administration-approved labeling – or “off-label” — use. In most instances it is legal and a common practice for physicians to prescribe drugs off-label, even though less may be known about a drug’s risks and benefits for an unapproved indication.

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Secondhand Smoke Can Harm Children

(HealthDay News) — March 23, 2010 – Secondhand smoke is particularly dangerous to young children, whose lungs are still developing, the American Academy of Pediatrics says.

The academy cites the following health problems that are more likely to develop in children exposed to secondhand smoke:

  • Asthma.
  • Respiratory tract infections.
  • Insufficient lung growth.
  • Reduced tolerance for exercise.
  • Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).

http://health.yahoo.com/news/healthday/healthtipsecondhandsmokecanharmchildren.html

Topiramate Effective for Alcohol Dependence

Source:  Medscape Today

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) Mar 22 – The anticonvulsant topiramate (Topamax) helps treat alcohol dependence, but serious side effects might limit its use, researchers say.

In their systematic review, Dr. Ann K. Shinn and Dr. Shelly F. Greenfield from Harvard Medical School in Boston found “robust” evidence supporting use of topiramate in alcohol-dependent patients.

On the other hand, they found no support for using topiramate to treat dependence on nicotine, cocaine, methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, opioids or Ecstasy.

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Depression: Antidepressants Beneficial in Physically Ill Patients

ScienceDaily (Mar. 17, 2010)Antidepressants are effective against depression in patients suffering from physical illnesses, according to a new systematic review by Cochrane researchers at King’s Health Partners Academic Health Sciences Centre in the UK. The researchers found the drugs were more effective than placebos at treating depression in these patients.

One of the most neglected areas of healthcare research is the effects of physical illness on an individual’s mental health. Research suggests that more than ten percent of patients suffering from physical diseases also suffer from depression. For reasons that are not entirely clear, depression may amplify the symptoms of physical disease and increase the risk of these patients dying. Studies suggest that doctors are less likely to prescribe antidepressants to people who are physically ill because they are unsure if they are helpful for these patients. Therefore, it is important to know whether antidepressants can be effective in people with physical illness.

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Brain damage linked to prenatal meth exposure

WASHINGTON (AFP) – March 16, 2010 – A developing fetus exposed to methamphetamine can cause far more damaging brain, cognitive and behavioral problems than prenatal exposure to alcohol, a study said Tuesday.

University of California Los Angeles professor Elizabeth Sowell and her colleagues used structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI) to evaluate the specific effects of prenatal meth-exposure by comparing the brain scans of 61 children.

Among the participating children, 21 had prenatal meth and alcohol exposure, 13 had heavy alcohol exposure only and 27 were not exposed to either meth or alcohol.

The scientists showed for the first time that children whose mothers consumed meth during pregnancy — with or without alcohol — had structural abnormalities in the brain that were more severe than those seen in children whose mothers abused alcohol alone.

They found that the caudate nucleus, a structure important for learning and memory, motor control and motivation, was one of the brain regions more reduced by meth than alcohol exposure.

Earlier studies have shown that alcohol-exposed children have some smaller brain structures. Sowell and her colleagues found the affected brain regions were similar for meth-exposed children, with some of the brain regions even smaller and others larger than normal.

The larger volume in meth-exposed children was found in the cingulate cortex, an area linked to control and conflict resolution.

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Combination Treatment May Help Depressed Alcoholics

MONDAY, March 15 (HealthDay News) — Combined treatment with the antidepressant Zoloft (sertraline) and the alcoholism drug naltrexone improves the likelihood that people with both major depression and alcohol dependence will be able to stop drinking, U.S. researchers report.

Their 14-week study of 170 patients found that 54 percent of those who received the combined treatment were able to stop drinking, compared with 21 to 28 percent for patients who received a placebo, Zoloft only, or naltrexone only.

The patients who received the combined treatment also went for a longer period of time before they started drinking again — 61 days compared with 15 days for patients in the other groups.

 The findings may prove an important advance in the treatment of patients with alcohol dependence and depression, said the University of Pennsylvania researchers.

 “When depression and alcohol dependence occur together, each condition has a negative influence on the outcome of the other, so not only does this pairing of illnesses affect a lot of patients, it also makes the individual disorders worse,” study author Helen Pettinati said in a news release. “Combining sertraline and naltrexone could be a practical approach for these patients because both have (U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration) approval.”

 The study was published March 15 in the The American Journal of Psychiatry.

http://health.yahoo.com/news/healthday/combinationtreatmentmayhelpdepressedalcoholics.html

Smoking, but Not Past Alcohol Abuse, May Impair Mental Function, Study Suggests

ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2010) — Men and women with a history of alcohol abuse may not see long-term negative effects on their memory and thinking, but female smokers do, a new study suggests.

In a study of 287 men and women ages 31 to 60, researchers found that those with past alcohol-use disorders performed similarly on standard tests of cognitive function as those with no past drinking problems.

The findings were not as positive when it came to tobacco, however.

In general, women who had ever been addicted to smoking had lower scores on certain cognitive tests than their nonsmoking counterparts. The same pattern was not true of men, however, the researchers report in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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Deadly: Inhalant Abuse

12 Year Olds More Likely to Use Potentially Deadly Inhalants Than Cigarettes or Marijuana

ScienceDaily (Mar. 14, 2010) — More 12 year olds have used potentially lethal inhalants than have used marijuana, cocaine and hallucinogens combined, according to data released March 11 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in conjunction with the 18th annual National Inhalants & Poisons Awareness Week.

The National Inhalant Prevention Coalition (NIPC) and SAMHSA kicked off National Inhalants and Poisons Awareness Week at a press conference featuring information and personal stories about the dangers of inhalant use or “huffing.” One of the leading participants in this year’s event was the American Osteopathic Association (AOA), which represents more than 67,000 osteopathic physicians (DOs). The organization urged its members to take continuing education programs designed to help enhance physician awareness of this risk to youth.

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