Researchers explored the association between traumatic events and mental health among girls and women trafficked for sexual exploitation. Two hundred and four trafficked girls and women in seven post-trafficking service settings were interviewed, using the Brief Symptom Inventory and Harvard Trauma Questionnaire. Fifty-five percent of participants met the criteria for high levels of depression symptoms; forty-eight percent met the criteria for high levels of anxiety symptoms; and seventy-seven percent had possible posttraumatic stress disorder. Having a history of sexual violence was associated with higher levels of posttraumatic stress disorder. More time in trafficking was correlated to higher levels of depression and anxiety. Researchers suggest that their findings inform the emerging field of mental health care for trafficked persons, highlighting the need for intervention strategies to help with recovery for trafficked victims.
Researchers suggested, “The mental health community can take the lead by developing and testing formal and informal intervention strategies that help women and girls manage the aftermath of a trafficking experience.”
ScienceDaily (Oct. 24, 2010) — People are more likely to buy unhealthy foods when they pay using credit or debit cards, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Two factors contribute to this intriguing effect,” write authors Manoj Thomas (Cornell University), Kalpesh Kaushik Desai (State University of New York, Binghamton), and Satheeshkumar Seenivasan (State University of New York, Buffalo). “First, there is a correlation between unhealthiness and impulsiveness of food items: Unhealthy food items also tend to elicit impulsive responses. Second, cash payments are psychologically more painful than card payments, and this pain of payment can curb the impulsive responses to buy unhealthy food items.”
The authors conducted an analysis of actual shopping behavior of 1,000 households over a period of six months. They found that shopping carts had a larger proportion of food items rated as impulsive and unhealthy when shoppers used credit or debit cards versus cash. In follow-up studies they found that the vice-regulation effect of cash payment is due to the “pain” of paying in cash, and that the effect is stronger in consumers who are chronically more sensitive to the pain of payment.
“The notion that mode of payment can curb impulsive purchase of unhealthy food products is substantially important,” the authors write. “The epidemic increase in obesity suggests that regulating impulsive purchases and consumption of unhealthy food products is a steep challenge for many consumers.” Given that many consumers struggle so mightily to make healthy choices, understanding that using plastic increases their vice purchases may help people control impulsive behavior.
The authors suggest that there may be a connection between rising obesity and changing modes of payment. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 34 percent of U.S. adults are obese. And nearly 40 percent of all purchases in 2006 were paid by credit and debit cards. “The relationship between these trends suggests that self-control is not entirely volitional; it can be facilitated or impeded by seemingly unrelated contextual factors that influence people’s visceral feelings.”
ScienceDaily (Oct. 20, 2010) — For some women, the effects of breast cancer, the most common cancer affecting women, do not end when they leave the hospital. Now, researchers in the University of Missouri School of Health Professions have studied the lives of breast cancer patients following chemotherapyand found that their environments and available support systems help determine the quality of their lives.
“A lot of times people get mentally and emotionally ready to deal with chemotherapy and they receive a lot of support during that time,” said Stephanie Reid-Arndt, an assistant professor of health psychology in the School of Health Professions. “Then they go home and everyone feels like it’s over, but the patients still have worries and fears about the changes they’ve been through and what it means for the future.”
ScienceDaily (Oct. 16, 2010) — University of Utah (U of U) medical researchers have made an important step in diagnosing autism through using MRI, an advance that eventually could help health care providers indentify the problem much earlier in children and lead to improved treatment and outcomes for those with the disorder.
(Medical New Today) October 15, 2010 – John O’Sullivan had struggled with bipolar depression since he was a teen. He has tried numerous types of psychotherapy and medication but nothing seemed to help for long.
A salesman whose profession required the constant projection of a positive, upbeat image to be successful, O’Sullivan found that his condition frequently left him feeling listless and restless. He switched jobs often and had difficulties in his family life.
“When you’re in a maniacal state with bipolar, it’s not like you’re often happy. You’re irritable and hard to live with,” said O’Sullivan, a husband and father of five. “That’s been tough on the family.”
Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Daniel Hall-Flavin, M.D., answers:
The exact relationship between antidepressants and weight gain isn’t clear. But weight gain is a reported side effect of nearly all antidepressant medications currently available.
Certain antidepressants are more likely to cause weight gain than are others. For example, tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) are more likely to be associated with weight gain than are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). The exception to this may be long-term use of paroxetine (Paxil) — an SSRI that is more likely to cause weight gain than are other SSRIs.
It’s important to remember that association is not the same as causation. Weight gain during antidepressant therapy can be due to several factors. Many people lose weight as part of their depression. Improvement in appetite associated with improved mood may result in increased weight. Overeating as a result of depression also can cause weight gain. In addition, some medical conditions that mimic depression, such as underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism), may cause weight gain.
If you gain weight after starting an antidepressant, discuss this with your doctor. He or she can determine the likely cause of weight gain. If your antidepressant seems to be the culprit, adjusting the dose or switching medications may be an option.
ScienceDaily (Oct. 6, 2010) — Using electrodes to stimulate areas deep within the brain may have therapeutic potential for patients with obsessive compulsive disorder that is refractory to treatment, according to a report in the October issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.
“Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a psychiatric disorder characterized by persistent thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive ritualistic behaviors (compulsions),” the authors write as background information in the article. “It has an estimated lifetime prevalence of 2 percent and affects men and women equally. If left untreated, OCD can destroy a person’s capacity to function at work, socially and even at home.” Current treatments include cognitive behavioral therapy and medication; these therapies work for only half of patients and reduce symptoms by an average of 40 to 60 percent. An estimated 10 percent of patients remain severely affected by OCD despite receiving the best available treatments.
ScienceDaily (Oct. 8, 2010) — Patient personality affects the accuracy of reports by friends and family members of mood history and symptoms and can cause missed diagnoses of depression, according to research published online by the journal International Psychogeriatrics.
Friends and family members of a person who is highly outgoing and fun-loving and who is likely to experience happiness and excitement, for example, often miss the signs that indicate the person is depressed.
“When a person who has enjoyed socializing and whose mood normally is positive becomes depressed, friends and family often don’t recognize it. Depression is inconsistent with the expectations that people have,” said Paul R. Duberstein, Ph.D., professor of Psychiatry at the University of Rochester Medical Center and corresponding author of the journal article.
Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Daniel Hall-Flavin, M.D. answers:
Lorazepam is a mild sedative that’s sometimes used to treat panic disorder. Lorazepam belongs to a class of medications known as benzodiazepines. The short-term use of any benzodiazepine — if closely monitored — typically doesn’t lead to significant physical dependence or addiction. However, stopping such a medication after taking it for longer than a few months or so usually requires tapering off the medication to minimize withdrawal symptoms.
It is important to keep in mind that just because your body develops a physical dependence on a drug doesn’t mean that you are addicted to it. Addiction is marked by impaired control over the use of the drug, preoccupation with its use, and continued use despite adverse consequences, with or without physical dependence.
If you have a history of addiction or feel that you’re somehow vulnerable to addiction, it is best to work with your doctor to select a medication that is less likely to be associated with dependence and addiction and that won’t interact with other medications you’re taking.
Medication is one treatment option for people with panic disorder. But another effective and often overlooked treatment option is cognitive behavior therapy. If you have a panic disorder, it is important to work with a psychiatrist who specializes in anxiety disorders and has experience in managing the use of benzodiazepine medications.
(Yahoo Health) Oct. 04, 2010 – Teenagers with unhealthy online habits may be at greater risk of depression, new findings from China hint.
While the study isn’t proof of a causal link, it is the first to approach the question of whether some forms of Internet use might trigger mental health problems down the road, according to the authors.
They rounded up more than 1,000 high school students in the city of Guangzhou and had them fill out two sets of questionnaires, spaced nine months apart, about their mental health and Internet use.
(Yahoo Health) Oct. 04, 2010 – Cannabis users suffer mental health problems twice as often as non-users, a study published Monday by Statistics Netherlands said.
“The percentage of people with a less good mental health is two times higher among cannabis users than non-users,” CBS said in a statement.
The study, which was carried out between 2007 to 2009 and involved some 18,500 people, found that “20 percent of male cannabis users complained of mental problems, compared to 10 percent among non-users”.
The proportion was the same for women, with 28 percent of users complaining of mental problems, compared to 14 percent among non-users, CBS said.
Smokers complained of mental problems such as anxiety, melancholy, sadness and impatience, but CBS said the physical health of users and non-users barely differed.
The study found that four percent of the 15-65 year-olds who took part had smoked cannabis at least once in the last 30 days.
Though technically illegal, the Netherlands decriminalised the consumption and possession of under five grammes (0.18 ounces) of cannabis in 1976 under an official “tolerance” policy.