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It’s normal to feel nervous and awkward in some social situations?

Going on a first date or giving a presentation may give you that uncomfortable feeling of having butterflies in your stomach, for instance.  For some people, though, common, everyday social situations cause extreme anxiety, fear and self-consciousness, and they may become impossible to engage in.

You may go to great lengths and come up with many excuses to avoid dating or giving presentations. You may not even be able to eat with acquaintances or write a check at the grocery store, let alone go to a party with lots of strangers.

Continue reading “SOCIAL ANXIETY DISORDER (social phobia)”

CHILD ABUSE: A Cause of Borderline Personality Disorder?

Traumatic events in childhood — such as physical or sexual abuse — increase the risk of Borderline Personality Disorder and other personality disorders.  But the exact cause of borderline personality disorder isn’t known.  Most likely, it’s caused by a combination of heredity and environmental factors.

Borderline personality disorder is a serious emotional disturbance that’s characterized by unsatisfactory and unstable personal relationships, intense anger, impulsive actions, feelings of emptiness, and real or imagined fears of abandonment.  It may be that emotional trauma at a time when the brain isn’t fully developed alters something in the brain that decreases the ability to effectively deal with subsequent stressful situations.

Continue reading “CHILD ABUSE: A Cause of Borderline Personality Disorder?”

1 in 5 U.S. Adults Suffers Mental Illness

THURSDAY, Jan. 19 (HealthDay News) — Nearly 46 million American adults have had a mental illness in the past year, a new government report shows.

Almost 30 percent of those aged 18 to 25 experienced a mental illness, twice as many as those aged 50 and older at just over 14 percent. And more women than men suffered a mental illness in the last year (23 percent vs. nearly 17 percent), according to the report released Thursday from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“We all know people who have had a depression or an anxiety disorder, maybe something more serious like a bipolar disorder, but this is a pretty big number,” said Peter Delany, director of SAMHSA’s Office of Applied Studies.

“This is only the second year where we have done this as a separate report and the findings were not significantly different from last year,” Delany noted, so there are not enough data to see a trend.

The reasons why so many people are suffering from these problems cannot be easily summed up, he said.

The recent economic downturn may be a factor for some, he said. “But these conditions are multifactorial — there are genetic issues, there are biological issues, there are social issues and also personal issuers,” Delany explained.

Continue reading “1 in 5 U.S. Adults Suffers Mental Illness”

Walgreen, others sue Pfizer over depression drug

(Reuters) – November 01, 2011Pfizer Inc and Teva Pharmceutical Industries Ltd were sued by Walgreen Co and four other large retailers, accused of violating U.S. antitrust law by conspiring to keep generic versions of a popular antidepressant off the shelves.

Walgreen, Kroger Co, Safeway Inc, Supervalu Inc and HEB Grocery Co accused Pfizer’s Wyeth unit of conducting an “overarching anticompetitive scheme” to prevent and delay the approval and marketing of generic versions of the prescription drug Effexor XR, causing them to overpay.

In a complaint made public on Thursday by the U.S. District Court in Trenton, New Jersey, the retailers said Wyeth kept generic equivalents off the market for at least two years after its marketing exclusivity for the original Effexor compound patent lapsed in June 2008.

Continue reading “Walgreen, others sue Pfizer over depression drug”

Health Tip: Managing an Anxiety Disorder

anxiety If you think you may have an Anxiety Disorder — characterized by an intense fear of a person, place or situation — you should visit your doctor to have your condition evaluated and confirmed. Once an anxiety disorder has been confirmed, the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health suggests how to manage:

  • Join a support or self-help group.
  • Take anti-anxiety medication that your doctor prescribes. Do not stop the medication before you speak with your doctor.
  • Share your feelings and experiences with a mental health professional or clergy member.
  • Practice meditation or another form of stress management.
  • Get regular aerobic exercise.
  • Avoid caffeine, illegal drugs and over-the-counter cold medications.
  • Seek support of family members and close friends.

Source for article: HealthDay News

Antipsychotics get mixed review for unapproved use

(Reuters) – September 28, 2011 –  Newer antipsychotic drugs are often prescribed for conditions they aren’t approved to treat, with questionable benefits, according to a study.

The medications, known as atypical antipsychotics, include risperidone, sold in the United States as Risperdal, aripiprazole (Abilify), olanzapine (Zyprexa) and quetiapine (Seroquel).

While those drugs have been approved in the United States for a few psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, doctors may also prescribe them “off-label” to other patients, including people with substance abuse and eating disorders, typically when they haven’t responded to more standard treatments.

“There are several conditions in psychiatry that are pretty difficult to treat,” said Alicia Ruelaz Maher from RAND Health in Santa Monica, California, the study author.

“Often in psychiatry we think, if something works for one condition, it could possibly be effective for another one.”

Continue reading “Antipsychotics get mixed review for unapproved use”

New Therapy May Help People With Unexplained Symptoms of Pain, Weakness and Fatigue

ScienceDaily (July 28, 2011) — A new type of therapy may help people with symptoms such as pain, weakness, or dizziness that can’t be explained by an underlying disease, according to a study published in the July 27, 2011, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. These symptoms, which can also include fatigue, tingling and numbness, are also known as functional or psychogenic symptoms.

“People with these symptoms make up one-third of all clinic visits, but the outcomes are poor,” said study author Michael Sharpe, MD, of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland.

Previous studies have shown that intense cognitive behavioral therapy can reduce the symptoms, distress and disability in people with these symptoms, but there are obstacles to providing this therapy. Many people do not feel psychological treatment is appropriate and resist referrals to mental health services, and therapists trained in cognitive behavioral therapy are not available in all communities.

Continue reading “New Therapy May Help People With Unexplained Symptoms of Pain, Weakness and Fatigue”

Narcotic Pain Relief Drug Overdose Deaths a National Epidemic

ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2011) — Unintentional overdose deaths in teens and adults have reached epidemic proportions in the U.S. In some 20 states in 2007 the number of unintentional drug poisoning deaths exceeded either motor vehicle crashes or suicides, two of the leading causes of injury death. Prescription opioid pain medications are driving this overdose epidemic. Opioid pain medications were also involved in about 36 percent of all poisoning suicides in the U.S. in 2007.

In a commentary article released ahead of the print version in the April 19, 2011 online issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, physicians affiliated with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and Duke University Medical Center cite data noting that in 2007 unintentional deaths due to prescription opioid pain killers were involved in more overdose deaths than heroin and cocaine combined.

Continue reading “Narcotic Pain Relief Drug Overdose Deaths a National Epidemic”

ANXIETY: When Is It A Problem?

What is the difference between normal worrying and an anxiety disorder?

Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Daniel Hall-Flavin, M.D., and colleagues answer.


Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress. It helps you cope with tense situations. It also helps you focus on the task at hand and motivates you. Almost everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. Typically, anxiety goes away when the triggering event is over.

However, anxiety is a problem when it becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, such as riding an elevator or leaving your house.

People with anxiety disorder experience excessive fear and worry that are out of proportion to the situation. These feelings are more intense and last longer than normal feelings of anxiety.

If you find it difficult to control your worry or stress or if anxiety interferes with your daily activities, consult your doctor or a mental health professional. If you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, effective treatment is available.

Antidepressant May Change Personality

Antidepressant May Change Personality While Relieving Symptoms

ScienceDaily (Dec. 7, 2009) — Individuals taking a medication to treat depression may experience changes in their personality separate from the alleviation of depressive symptoms, according to a report in the December issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Two personality traits, neuroticism and extraversion, have been related to depression risk, according to background information in the article. Individuals who are neurotic tend to experience negative emotions and emotional instability, whereas extraversion refers not only to socially outgoing behavior but also to dominance and a tendency to experience positive emotions. Both traits have been linked to the brain’s serotonin system, which is also targeted by the class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

Tony Z. Tang, Ph.D., of Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., and colleagues studied the effects of one particular SSRI, paroxetine, in a placebo-controlled trial involving 240 adults with major depressive disorder. A total of 120 participants were randomly assigned to take paroxetine, 60 to undergo cognitive therapy and 60 to take placebo for 12 months. Their personalities and depressive symptoms were assessed before, during and after treatment.

All participants experienced improvement in their symptoms of depression. However, even after controlling for these improvements, individuals taking paroxetine experienced a significantly greater decrease in neuroticism and increase in extraversion than those receiving cognitive therapy or placebo. “Patients taking paroxetine reported 6.8 times as much change on neuroticism and 3.5 times as much change on extraversion as placebo patients matched for depression improvement,” the authors write.

The findings provide evidence against a theory known as the state effect hypothesis, which proposes that any personality changes during SSRI treatment occur only as a result of alleviating depressive symptoms, the authors note. Several alternative explanations could be considered. “One possibility is that the biochemical properties of SSRIs directly produce real personality change,” they write. “Furthermore, because neuroticism is an important risk factor that captures much of the genetic vulnerability for major depressive disorder, change in neuroticism (and in neurobiological factors underlying neuroticism) might have contributed to depression improvement.”

SSRIs are widely used to treat depression, but understanding of their mechanisms are limited, the authors conclude; they have also been shown effective in treating anxiety disorders and eating disorders, conditions for which high neuroticism and low extraversion may also be a risk. “Investigating how SSRIs affect neuroticism and extraversion may thus lead toward a more parsimonious understanding of the mechanisms of SSRIs,” they conclude.

The data set of this study came from a clinical trial supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Md. GlaxoSmithKline of Brentford, England, provided medications and placebo pills.

Adapted from materials provided by JAMA and Archives Journals, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.

Risks for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Genes And Environment May Interact To Influence Risk For Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

ScienceDaily (Nov. 3, 2009) — Individuals who experience both childhood adversity and traumatic events in adulthood appear more likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder than those exposed to only one of these types of incidents, according to a report in the November issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals. In addition, the risk was further increased in individuals with a certain genetic mutation.

Although 40 percent to 70 percent of Americans have experienced traumatic events, only about 8 percent develop PTSD during their lifetimes, according to background information in the article. PTSD is a complex anxiety disorder that involves re-experiencing, avoidance and increased arousal following exposure to a life-threatening event. “In addition to the obvious effect of environmental factors, PTSD has a heritable component,” the authors write. Recent studies estimate that genetic factors account for approximately 30 percent of the difference in PTSD symptoms.

Pingxing Xie, B.S., of ptsdYale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., and VA Connecticut Healthcare Center, West Haven, and colleagues studied 1,252 individuals who had experienced childhood adversity (including abuse or neglect), adult trauma (such as combat, sexual assault or a natural disaster) or both. Participants age 17 to 79 (average age 38.9) were interviewed and assessed for a variety of psychiatric and substance use disorders. DNA was extracted and used to differentiate between versions of a particular polymorphism or gene mutation — known as the 5-HTTLPR genotype — previously found to be associated with emotional response after stressful life events.

About one-fifth of the participants (229, or 18.3 percent) met criteria for PTSD. A total of 552 of the 1,252 participants (44.1 percent) experienced both childhood adversity and traumatic events in adulthood. These individuals were more likely to have a lifetime diagnosis of PTSD than were those who experienced trauma in only one life stage (29 percent vs. 9.9 percent).

“Although the 5-HTTLPR genotype alone did not predict the onset of PTSD, it interacted with adult traumatic events and childhood adversity to increase the risk for PTSD, especially for those with high rates of both types of trauma exposure,” the authors write. The genotype may influence the way the brain processes the neurotransmitter serotonin, affecting an individual’s anxiety levels and changing the way neurons react to fearful stimuli, they note.

“It was only in the group of subjects who could be characterized as having had the highest rates of trauma exposure (i.e., in both childhood and adulthood) that an impact of 5-HTTLPR could be detected,” the authors conclude. “This suggests that there may be many neurobiological (including genetically determined) ‘buffers’ to PTSD; only in instances of extreme and/or repeated trauma exposure (which, it should be pointed out, characterizes those trauma ‘types’ with the highest conditional risk for PTSD, e.g., domestic violence and military combat), in which these buffers are overwhelmed, can the impact of specific genes such as 5-HTTLPR be detected.”

This work was supported by National Institutes of Health grants.

Can Physical or Sexual Abuse in Childhood Cause BPD?

cher-sexual-abuse-borderline-pers.jpg     Can physical or sexual abuse in childhood cause             borderline personality disorder?

Mayo Clinic psychiatrist Daniel Hall-Flavin, M.D., answers:

Traumatic events in childhood — such as physical or sexual abuse — increase the risk of borderline personality disorder and other personality disorders. But the exact cause of borderline personality disorder isn’t known. Most likely, it’s caused by a combination of heredity and environmental factors.

Borderline personality disorder is a serious emotional disturbance that’s characterized by unsatisfactory and unstable personal relationships, intense anger, impulsive actions, feelings of emptiness, and real or imagined fears of abandonment. It may be that emotional trauma at a time when the brain isn’t fully developed alters something in the brain that decreases the ability to effectively deal with subsequent stressful situations.

Childhood abuse can also be associated with other mental illnesses including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorders and substance abuse disorders.

Depressed Teens Continue to Suffer

FRIDAY, Sept. 4 (HealthDay News) — Mildly depressed teenagers are more likely to have major depression, anxiety disorders and eating disorders as adults, a new study suggests.

In 1983, researchers interviewed 755 teenagers who were about age 16 about mood, anxiety and eating disorders, disruptive behaviors and substance abuse.

 About 8 percent were found to have minor depression, defined as feeling down, losing interest in normal activities, and having insomnia or difficulty concentrating for two weeks or more. The symptoms of minor depression are similar to, but less severe, than those of a major depressive episode.

Researchers followed up with the teens when they were in their early 20s and in their early 30s, and found that teenagers who had had minor depression were significantly more likely to have major depression in adulthood.

 Depressed teens were also more likely to have anxiety and eating disorders as adults.

 The study appears in the September issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

 “The study findings emphasize the importance of providing needed assistance and support to youths who have two or more persistent symptoms of depression,” said Jeffrey Johnson of the department of psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center and the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

 Based on the findings, researchers could not say if mild depression in adolescence contributes to the development of major depression later in life, or if the mild depression is an early phase of major depressive disorder.

 The data used in the study was from the Children in the Community Study, a longitudinal study of health issues in adolescence and their impact on mental health in adulthood.

My 2 Cents:  I must say I agree with this study.  My depression actually began earlier than my teen years, but during my teen years they consisted of depression, numerous days of suicidal ideation and great frustration.  Into adulthood came the major depression.  Don’t know if this is a common pattern; would like to hear other people’s views.

Cognitive Behavior Therapy Eases Anxiety for Older People

mental health-elderly

The technique lessens worries more than usual care, study finds

TUESDAY, April 7 (HealthDay News) — For older adults, anxiety is an increasingly common problem, and new research suggests that cognitive behavior therapy may help them ease their worries more than standard care does.

Researchers found that people over age 60 who were treated with cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) had less worry, fewer depressive symptoms and improved general mental health at the end of the study compared to people who received biweekly telephone calls from their health-care provider.

“This kind of treatment (CBT) can be useful for people who have anxiety, and it can help them learn how to manage it better,” said the study’s lead author, Melinda Stanley, a professor in the Menninger department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.

“Many older adults are not always thrilled with the use of medications for anxiety. Many times, they’re already on medications for chronic health conditions, and they may be afraid of side effects. This is a non-medication treatment option,” she noted.

The findings were published in the April 8 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder is estimated to be more than 7 percent in older people living in the community. People who are more anxious later in life have a higher risk of physical disabilities, memory problems, a lower quality of life, increased use of health-care services and death, according to background information in the study.

Medications are often prescribed to treat anxiety disorders. Benzodiazepines, such as Valium and Xanax, or antidepressants, such as Lexapro and Paxil, are commonly prescribed for people with anxiety, according to the study. But, many people are concerned about the side effects of these medications, particularly benzodiazepines, which may be sedating.

Another study, however, confirmed that Lexapro (escitalopram) was an effective anxiety treatment. This study, published in the Jan. 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that Lexapro was more effective than a placebo in reducing anxiety in older adults, and even helped reduce blood pressure, too.

In the new study, about 42 percent of the volunteers were taking either a benzodiazepine or an antidepressant at the start of the trial. Stanley said the researchers didn’t ask anyone to stop the use of their medications, because they wanted to “make this a more real-world trial.” Stanley said the researchers told the study volunteers that they could change their medication if they needed to, but the study didn’t require it.

The study included a total of 134 people with an average age of 67 years. All were being treated in primary care for their anxiety. About half underwent cognitive behavior therapy with experienced therapists. They had up to 10 sessions of CBT over three months that included relaxation training, problem-solving exercises, behavioral sleep management, cognitive therapy and education and awareness training.

The other half received standard primary care, and they were called biweekly to ensure their safety and provide support if needed. Both groups were told to call the therapists if their symptoms worsened.

Response rates were higher in the CBT group versus the usual care — 40 percent compared to 22 percent, respectively. Worry severity and depressive symptoms were more reduced in the CBT group, and overall mental health was improved more in the CBT group, based on the Penn State Worry Questionnaire.

On another measure, the GAD Severity Scale, the researchers didn’t find a significant statistical difference, but this scale hasn’t really been validated as a measure of change, according to Dr. Gary Kennedy, director of the division of geriatric psychiatry at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.

“I think this was a very carefully done study that moves us another step along in treating anxiety in older people,” Kennedy said. “Cognitive therapy works for older adults. It significantly reduced people’s anxiety.”

Stanley and Kennedy both said they weren’t aware of any trials that compared the use of medications to CBT. But, Kennedy pointed out that the two treatments aren’t “mutually exclusive.”

Iraqis don’t seek help for mental disorders: study

BAGHDAD (AFP) – March 07, 2009 – Years of war and bloodshed have left many Iraqis suffering from mental disorders but stigmas attached to such illnesses prevent most from seeking treatment, a survey published on Saturday said.

Sponsored by Iraq’s ministry of health and the World Health Organisation (WHO), the survey found that 16.5 percent of Iraqis have suffered from a mental problem but just 2.2 percent had sought help.

“In Iraq there is considerable stigma attached to having a mental illness,” said Health Minister Saleh Mahdi al-Hasnawi.

“We must implement large-scale community education programmes to decrease this stigma and encourage people to come forward and seek the treatment they need.”

The report covers 4,332 adults aged 18 years and older from Iraqi households throughout the country.

It said anxiety disorders were the most common class of disorder and depression the most common mental health problem. Disorders that were most often classified as severe were bipolar disorder and substance-abuse.

However, resistance to the mental effects of violence was also high among adults in Iraq, according to the study.

It found that the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder was 3.6 percent, lower than expected after six years of conflict and violence in the wake of the 2003 US-led invasion.

Researched in 2006-2007 at the height of a bloody sectarian conflict that left tens of thousands dead, the report said that Iraqis had developed innate mechanisms to handle their stressful environment.

“Stress levels are high while mental disorders are comparable to other countries,” said Naeema al-Gasseer, WHO’s representative in Iraq.

“This suggests that Iraqis have had to develop coping strategies to survive during the past few decades of unrest.”

Women had a higher prevalence of anxiety and behavioural disorders than men, but men had higher rates of substance abuse.

The higher the exposure to trauma, the greater the chance of mental illness, the report said.

Having Parents With Bipolar Disorder Associated With Increased Risk Of Psychiatric Disorders

ScienceDaily (Mar. 3, 2009) — Children and teens of parents with bipolar disorder appear to have an increased risk of early-onset bipolar disorder, mood disorders and anxiety disorders, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

As many as 60 percent of patients with bipolar disorder experience symptoms before age 21, according to background information in the article. Identifying the condition early may improve long-term outcomes, potentially preventing high psychosocial and medical costs. Having family members with bipolar disorder is the best predictor of whether an individual will go on to develop the condition, the authors note. “Therefore, carefully evaluating and prospectively following the psychopathology of offspring of parents with bipolar disorder and comparing them with offspring of parents with and without non-bipolar disorder psychopathology, are critical for identifying the early clinical presentation of bipolar disorder,” they write.

Boris Birmaher, M.D., of Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and colleagues compared 388 offspring (ages 6 to 18) of 233 parents with bipolar disorder to 251 offspring of 143 demographically matched control parents. Parents were assessed for psychiatric disorders, family psychiatric history, family environment and other variables, and were also interviewed about their children. Children were assessed directly for bipolar disorder and other psychiatric disorders by researchers who did not know their parents’ diagnoses.

Compared with the offspring of control parents, children of parents with bipolar disorder had an increased risk of having a bipolar spectrum disorder (41 or 10.6 percent vs. two or 0.8 percent) and having any mood or anxiety disorder. Children in families where both parents had bipolar disorders also were more likely than those in families containing one parent with bipolar disorder to develop the condition (four of 14 or 28.6 percent vs. 37 of 374 or 9.9 percent); however, their risk for other psychiatric disorders was the same as offspring of one parent with bipolar disorder.

“Consistent with the literature, most parents with bipolar disorder recollected that their illness started before age 20 years and about 20 percent had illness that started before age 13 years,” the authors write. “In contrast, most of their children developed their first bipolar disorder episode before age 12 years, suggesting the possibility that parents were more perceptive of their children’s symptoms early in life or perhaps that bipolar disorder has more penetrance and manifests earlier in new generations.”

The findings have important clinical implications, they note. “Clinicians who treat adults with bipolar disorder should question those who are parents about their children’s psychopathology to offer prompt identification and early interventions for any psychiatric problems that may be affecting the children’s functioning, particularly early-onset bipolar disorder,” they continue. Further studies are needed to help determine the clinical, biological and genetic risk factors that may be modified to prevent the development of psychiatric disorders in the offspring of those with bipolar disorder.

Erasing Bad Memories?

Study takes step toward erasing bad memories

LONDON (Reuters) – Feb. 15, 2008 – A widely available blood pressure pill could one day help people erase bad memories, perhaps treating some anxiety disorders and phobias, according to a Dutch study published on Sunday.

 The generic beta-blocker propranolol significantly weakened people’s fearful memories of spiders among a group of healthy volunteers who took it, said Merel Kindt, a psychologist at the University of Amsterdam, who led the study.

 “We could show that the fear response went away, which suggests the memory was weakened,” Kindt said in a telephone interview.

 The findings published in the journal Nature Neuroscience are important because the drug may offer another way to help people suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and other problems related to bad memories.

 Traditionally, therapists seek to teach people with such disorders strategies to build new associations and block bad memories. The problem, Kindt said, is the memories remain and people often relapse.

 Animal studies have shown that fear memories can change when recalled, a process known as reconsolidation. At this stage they are also vulnerable to beta-blockers like propranolol, which target neurons in the brain, the researchers said.

 Kindt and her team’s experiment included 60 men and women who learned to associate pictures of spiders with a mild shock. This experience created a fearful memory, the researchers said.

 Other participants saw the same picture but did not receive an electrical shock. For these people this established a “safe” association without a fear response or bad memory.

 One day later people given the drug had a greatly decreased fear response compared with people on the placebo when shown the picture and given a mild shock, the researchers said.

 “There was no difference to the fear spider and the safe spider,” Kindt said. “This shows it is possible to weaken the underlying memory by interfering with it.”

 The next steps are to look at how long the drug’s effects on memory last, and testing the treatment in people who actually are suffering from some kind of disorder or phobia, Kindt said.

 (Reporting by Michael Kahn; Editing by Maggie Fox and Elizabeth Piper)

Migraines and mood disorders may be connected


NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Jan. 21, 2008 – Research suggests that people who suffer from migraine headaches are at increased risk of also suffering from mood and anxiety disorders.

“An expanding body of literature has shown that migraine headaches are associated with higher rates of mental disorders,” Dr. Jitender Sareen, of the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Canada, and colleagues point out in a published report. However, previous studies have been subject to a number of limitations.

To better clarify this relationship, Sareen and colleagues analyzed data from the German Health Survey conducted between 1997 and 1999. Migraines were diagnosed by a doctor and trained interviewers evaluated participants for mental disorders.

Among 7,124 adults, 11.7 percent reported a history of migraine headache. According to the team, there was a significant association between having migraine headaches in the past 12 months and suffering from various mood and anxiety disorders.

“Although the cross-sectional nature of this study cannot determine causality, there are several possible explanations of the relationship between migraine and mental disorders,” Sareen’s team notes.

It may be that a common environmental or genetic factor influences both migraines and mood/anxiety disorders, they suggest. A causal relationship may also exist between mental disorders and migraines, they add, noting that this study and others found that anxiety often precedes migraine, which often precedes depression.

SOURCE: General Hospital Psychiatry, January/February 2009.

Lexapro may ease anxiety in older adults: study

By Julie Steenhuysen

 CHICAGO (Reuters) – Jan 20, 2008 – The popular antidepressant Lexapro showed promise at easing anxiety symptoms in older adults, but the effect was “modest” and would need to be studied further, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

 They said antidepressants like Lexapro, made by Forest Laboratories Inc and known generically as escitalopram, may be useful as a new treatment option for older adults with generalized anxiety disorder, a disabling condition that can also cause muscle tension, insomnia and fatigue.

 “We found improvements not only in anxiety and level of worry but also in functioning,” Dr. Eric Lenze of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association, said in a statement.

 He said many people who took the drug were better able to carry out their daily activities. But for most people, he said, the drug alone is likely not enough.

 “Overall the benefits were fairly modest,” Lenze said in a telephone interview. “It will help some people a lot. Most people will probably need some sort of combination treatment.”

 Lenze’s team did uncover an unexpected benefit: the drug helped people get their blood pressure under control.

 “That suggests there can be some long-term health benefits in treating anxiety in this older age group,” Lenze said.

 While the study looked only at Lexapro, Lenze thinks the benefits would extend to all antidepressants in the class, which are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs.

 Older patients with anxiety typically get no treatment or are given sedatives such as Valium or Xanax. And while these drugs can relieve anxiety, they can also impair thinking ability and can even lead to falls.

 In the study, Lenze and colleagues evaluated 177 people aged 60 or older with generalized anxiety disorder who got either Lexapro or a dummy pill for 12 weeks.

 They found 69 percent of patients got better, compared with 51 percent of those whose symptoms improved simply by taking a placebo. Those who took the drug showed greater improvement in both anxiety symptoms and in social functioning.

 In a more conservative analysis that included people who had dropped out of the study, the drug showed no benefit over the placebo arm. Side effects in the drug arm included fatigue, insomnia and urinary symptoms.

 Lenze is now studying the long-term effects of treatment and is also studying the drug in combination with a goal-oriented type of talk therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy.

 Forest, which faces the loss of patent protection for Lexapro in 2012, supplied drugs for the study. It was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

 (Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Maggie Fox, Richard Chang)

Obese Teens May Be At Risk Of Depression Later


By Amy Norton

Thursday, November 22, 2007 – NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Obese teenage girls may be more likely than their thinner peers to develop depression or anxiety disorders as adults, a study suggests.

Researchers found that among nearly 800 children and teenagers followed for 20 years, girls who were obese as teens had a roughly four-times higher risk of clinical depression or anxiety disorders in adulthood.

There was no such link seen among boys, however, the researchers report in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine.

Adult obesity is known to raise the risk of a number of health problems, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. For children, though, the most immediate consequences of obesity are often emotional and social — such as being ostracized by their peers.

It’s not clear from this study why obese teenage girls had a higher risk of mental health problems later in life, lead researcher Dr. Sarah E. Anderson told Reuters Health.

But based on other research, social stigmatization and teasing may play a role in some cases, said Anderson, of the Ohio State University College of Public Health in Columbus.

It also makes sense that girls would be more vulnerable than boys, she and her colleagues note in their report. Girls and women face more social pressure to be thin, and at any weight, girls tend to have a poorer body image than their male counterparts do.

Still, Anderson said, more research is needed to understand the reasons for the link between teen obesity and subsequent depression and anxiety in girls. She added that it’s also important to remember that many obese girls in the study did not develop either disorder.

The findings are based on 776 boys and girls who were between the ages of 9 and 18 when they entered the study in 1983. Over the next 20 years, they were assessed three times for major depression and anxiety.

In general, the risk of these disorders was higher among girls who were obese between the ages of 12 and 18 — even when other factors, such as family income, parents’ education and parents’ history of emotional problems, were taken into account.

“Our findings add to a growing body of research suggesting that, particularly for women, obesity may impact upon psychological health and well-being,” Anderson said.

She suggested that teenagers who are concerned about their weight, or about any depression or anxiety symptoms, talk to their parents or another trusted adult.

SOURCE: Psychosomatic Medicine, October 2007.

Mental Illness Linked to Domestic Violence


DAVIS, Calif., Aug. 16, 2007 (UPI) — An analysis of a survey to explore mental health problems in Asian-Americans found domestic violence more likely if a family lacked closeness.

University of California at Davis psychology Professor Nolan Zane and graduate student Manveen Dhindsa found that other factors also stood out as significant risks for marital violence including if a spouse suffered from an anxiety disorder or stress related to acculturation into American society.

Zane and Dhindsa combed through data from the National Latino and Asian-American Study, a National Institute of Mental Health-funded survey of 2,554 Latinos and 2,095

Asian-Americans conducted between May 2002 and November 2003.

Marital violence was defined as any angry physical contact from shoving and slapping through more serious abuse.

Zane will discuss the findings at the Asian-American Psychological Association and American Psychological Association meetings.

Copyright 2007 by United Press International. All Rights Reserved.

Source: Science Daily

Bullying Tied to Mental Health Problems Later


Monday, August 6, 2007

By Amy Norton

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Boys who bully or are victims of bullies may have a higher risk of mental health disorders as young men, a study published Monday suggests.

The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, are based on a group of 2,540 boys Finnish boys. At age 8, the boys were asked whether and how often they bullied other children, were targets of bullying, or both. Parents and teachers also answered questions about any psychiatric symptoms the boys had.

This information was then compared with psychiatric diagnoses in young adulthood — made during medical exams for compulsory military service at 18 to 23 years of age.

Overall, the study authors found, boys who habitually bullied were more likely than their peers to be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder as young men. People with this disorder have a disregard for the law and the rights of other people, and are often aggressive or violent.


On the other end of the spectrum, boys who were frequent victims of bullying had an elevated risk of anxiety disorders as young men.

Boys who were both perpetrators and victims of bullying appeared to be the worst off; they had elevated risks of both anxiety disorders and antisocial personality disorder as young adults.

The findings suggest that frequent bullying and victimization is “a red flag that something might be wrong and preventive interventions should take place,” said lead study author Dr. Andre Sourander of Turku University in Finland.


At particular risk are boys who are both involved in bullying — as perpetrator or victim — and have emotional or general behavioral problems, Sourander told Reuters Health.


He recommended that these boys be evaluated by a mental health professional. Boys who are both bullies and victims seem especially in need of help, Sourander noted. Of these boys, who made up 3 percent of the study group, nearly all had some psychiatric problem at the age of 8, he said.


For parents of bullies and bullying victims alike, it’s vital to work with teachers and school health staff to help their children, according to Sourander. “Cooperation between parents, teachers and health professionals is most important,” he said.


SOURCE: Pediatrics, August 2007.