Depression Treatment News

2011-04-09 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Post-Stroke Depression Treatment Improves Chances of Functional Recovery

SAN ANTONIO – Preventing or treating depression after a stroke can help patients with varying degrees of disability and adaptive skills recover functional ability.

Treatment for depression can help patients develop the plasticity they need to recover physical function, or in the case of more serious poststroke disabilities, help them more readily adapt to their limitations, Dr. Ellen M. Whyte said at the annual meeting of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry.

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Both the brain’s plasticity and adaptation rely on the ability of patients to practice and learn new skills to help themselves recover or adapt after a major medical illness such as a stroke. But evidence from several studies shows that “depression after a stroke is associated with poor functional recovery and decreased efficiency of recovery,” said Dr. Whyte, a geriatric psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh.

Decreased Participation. Depression may impede recovery from a stroke by decreasing a patient’s participation in rehabilitation activities, she said. Depression is also associated with cognitive problems, such as executive impairment, that can interfere with recovery or adaptation, and with motor impairment, such as decreased gait speed, which may also hinder rehabilitation.

A 2004 study from the University of Pittsburgh of 242 patients admitted for rehabilitation showed that patients who were “frequent poor participators” in rehabilitation activities had less physical recovery and longer length of stay, and were more likely to be institutionalized than either occasionally poor participators or good participators (Arch. Phys. Med. Rehabil. 2004;85:1599-601).

A separate study by Dr. Whyte and her colleagues looked at the effects of mood, apathy, memory, attention, executive function, and level of disability on participation in rehabilitation. The patients all had evidence of cognitive impairment, but they were without major depression.

The investigators found that among the 44 stroke survivors aged 60 years and older who were admitted for inpatient rehabilitation, baseline disability and impairment of executive function were independent predictors of participation. They also found that “while level of depressive symptoms was not an independent predictor of rehabilitation participation in this sample, it was strongly correlated with executive functions. Depressive symptoms and impairment in executive functions frequently overlap in late life and after stroke, and potentially represent ischemic injury to frontal-subcortical pathways” (Arch. Phys. Med. Rehabil. 2010;91:203-7).

Falls and Depression Linked. Other studies found that depression, as measured by the Symptom Checklist-90, was associated with a doubling of falls in community-dwelling adults aged 70 years or older (J. Clin. Epidemiol. 2002;55:1088-94), and that poor self-rated health, poor cognitive status, impaired activities of daily living, two or more clinic visits in the past month, and slow walking speed predicted both an elderly patient’s risk of falling and depressive symptoms (J. Epidemiol. Community Health 2002;56:631-6), she said.

Additionally, investigators looking at the effect of depression remission after a stroke found that patients with remission of a depressive disorder at follow-up had significantly greater recovery in activities of daily living (ADL) functions than did patients without remission. The authors also found that patients with remission of either major or minor depression showed greater improvement in ADL than did patients without remission, some of whom had received the antidepressant nortriptyline, and some of whom had received placebo. The finding suggests that nondrug mechanisms of recovery from depression may have accounted for the improvements in ADL among patients with remission (J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 2001;189:421-5).

The evidence points to a stroke-recovery model in which preventing or treating depression would lead to increased motivation and participation in rehabilitation programs, reduced depression-related cognitive impairments, and decreases in depression-related motor impairments, Dr. Whyte said.

Dr. Whyte receives research support from the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research. She has previously received research support from Eli Lilly, Forest Pharmaceuticals, Ortho-McNeil, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Promising new depression treatment

A new, non-invasive treatment for depression that delivers barely perceptible electric currents to the scalp has had promising results in a Sydney trial, and researchers are now looking for participants for a follow up study.

Around half of depressed participants in the trial of transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (DCS) experienced substantial improvements, according to a team of researchers based at the Black Dog Institute and the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

An even larger number enjoyed a clinically meaningful improvement, said study leader, Professor Colleen Loo, from UNSW’s School of Psychiatry. The team is now preparing the results for academic publication.

“These are excellent outcomes when you consider that most of these people had depression that had not responded to other treatments, including medication,” Professor Loo said. “What’s more, further benefits were sustained when we followed people up a month later. That’s an exciting result.”

The trial, the largest of its type in the world, involved stimulating frontal areas of the brain with very small, barely perceptible currents, while patients remained awake and alert. The procedure has no known serious side effects.

“Direct Current Stimulation primes the neurons so that, when they are triggered, their response is enhanced. This trial is suitable for patients seeking an alternative to medication or who are unable to tolerate anti-depressant drugs or Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT),” Professor Loo said.

Studies in the 1960s and 70s reported good results using small electrical currents over a few hours. From 2000, the technique has been further developed, using currents of 1-2 milliamps. Recently, two small overseas studies found promising improvements in depressed patients treated with DCS.

The UNSW researchers are planning another trial to further investigate the optimal way to administer DCS. To begin later this month, the trial is recruiting around 120 people to receive DCS for 20 minutes, five times a week over four to eight weeks. Participants can attend the clinic on an outpatient basis.

Treatment for depression a long-term solution

(Edmonton) Ian Colman, an epidemiologist in the School of Public Health at the University of Alberta, recently completed a study that suggests that treatment of depression may have long-term benefits.

The data Colman reviewed came from the National Population Health Survey, a longitudinal Canadian study, and showed depressed adults who use antidepressants are three times less likely to be depressed eight years later, compared to depressed adults who don’t use antidepressants.

To date, research into the effects of antidepressant treatments for individuals with major depression has only concentrated on short-term outcomes says Colman, and that there is limited knowledge about long-term results.

However, it’s important to note that it’s unlikely that the effects are just the result of ongoing treatment; Colman says, “It’s more likely that results from the study speak to the importance of getting evidence-based treatment, drugs or other therapies, in the first place and treatments that ensure that all of your symptoms are resolved.”

Colman also stresses that, while proper treatment is vital, he also points the importance of treatment that continues until an individual’s symptoms have completely ceased.

“It’s common that depressed individuals will have a partial remission of symptoms where they feel better but some symptoms remain; those people have poor long-term outcomes,” he says. “It’s important to have successful treatment that deals with all of your symptoms.”

The study, Colman hopes, will shed even more light on a complex issue. While depression can be a difficult topic to discuss in everyday conversation, recent research has shown more than 50 per cent of people who are depressed are not receiving treatment, possibly because, Colman says, they don’t recognize symptoms, don’t want treatment, or are not getting appropriate treatment due to stigma around mental illness.

Colman offers several options in order for treatment to be successful. Psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy, which focuses on problem solving and skills building, help the patient deal with stressful situations for example, and have proved to have long-term beneficial outcomes.

“Evidence suggests that cognitive behavioural therapies are as effective as anti-depressants, and the two treatments together is even more effective,” he says.

Pointers for responsible reporting on mental health

Meyers said on the show: “The conference is organised for South African journalists by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG) and the Carter Centre Mental Health Programme, based in Atlanta, Georgia.” Meyers explained on the radio show that the Carter Centre encourages journalists to explore and write about mental health issues, to gain understanding of the technical issues involved with mental health issues and that he would raise questions at the conference on how journalists make sense of the often very technical information provided by doctors, psychiatrists and psychologists.

I attended the second day of the conference, held at the Pfizer building in Sandton on Monday, 4 and Tuesday, 5 April. The second day of the seminar kicked off with a welcome by the Master of Ceremonies, Marion Scher, who is a freelance journalist and a Carter Fellow. She stated that there is a lack of knowledge out there, and that as a result, mental disease becomes “a silent illness”. It is not perceived as serious, and we need to get this awareness out there through the media.

SADAG’s founder, Zane Wilson, introduced the day’s first speaker, Dr Leigh Janet, who deals with “some of South Africa’s most difficult, treatment-resistant patients”. He is a psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist and expert in Bipolar Mood Disorder, who presented on ‘Riding the emotional rollercoaster – understanding Bipolar Mood Disorder’. He likened Bipolar Mood Disorder to the ‘emotional rollercoaster’ you would ride if we were to win the soccer, cricket and rugby world cups on the same day – then to find out a loved one has been booked into hospital and since died. He said, “Now imagine your mood moving like that for no reason,” calling Bipolar the most interesting disorder on the planet as one can have periods of ‘normal mood’ for years, and other conditions can co-occur with the disorder. He added that the mood swings, which range from depression to mania, “don’t feel abnormal to the person at the time.” It is also one of the top disorders associated with suicide and depression, and is linked to strong feelings of guilt. Interestingly, ECT, or electric shock therapy, is often used as treatment in an attempt to imitate a series of epileptic fits, which can be seen to cure depression.

This was followed by an off-the-record case study of a patient who lives with Bipolar Mood Disorder, where she described the prejudices she has faced in the workplace and within her own family, along with the difficulty she has had in convincing people that a mood disorder is as real a disease as diabetes or cancer. It’s a fight to get people to listen. She added that this is made worse by the fact that “government is interested in AIDS and TB, not mental illness.”

Next, Dr Shadi Motlana, Director of Psychiatry M Powered, took to the podium. As the head of Psychiatry at Tara Psychiatric Hospital, she elaborated on mental health patients’ rights and the Mental Health Care Act. She feels that Tara is misunderstood, particularly in the way it screens its patients. In explaining the rights of the mentally ill in South Africa, Motlana stated that the many abuses of government during the Apartheid era were redressed with 2002’s Mental Health Care Act, which sought to bring our practices in line with those of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the African Banjul Charter. Mental Health Care Users (MCHU) of today have the right to respect, protection from unfair discrimination, and the right to intimate adult relationships, as well as knowledge of their rights and the right to appeal. Care treatment and rehabilitation must therefore not be used as punishment or for the convenience of others. Motlana added that the workplace should be made aware of any mental illness as there are reasonable protections in place by the law. She stated, “Silence causes more problems down the line.” She added that certain terminology is problematic, and that there is lots of discriminatory thinking regarding mental health issues. “The obligation lies with reporters to watch how they report on stories and to not exaggerate the facts or ostracise anyone,” Motlana said. Responsible reporting on mental health can destigamatise and raise awareness of mental health issues, getting people comfortable with the topic, so that they realise, “This doesn’t have to be your destiny” – it can be treated. She applauded SADAG for its role in making mental health issues visible to the public eye in terms of raising awareness. Wilson added that it would cost roughly R20 000 per month to run a 24-hour suicide line – the group can currently only afford to run the line from 08:00 to 20:00.

We then heard from Peter Matlhaela, the Siyabuswa Support Group Leader, who discussed the complications of getting patients’ care in a rural community, in an interview session with SADAG’s Operations Director, Cassey Chambers. He described his ordeal in dealing with panic attacks following his involvement in a taxi accident, and highlighted the fact that there is lots of stigma or lack of knowledge concerning mental health problems in the rural areas, adding that many people in these areas are illiterate and needed support groups so as to reach the people and educate them in the way they would understand. He said a key issue affecting understanding is that some African cultures lack separate words for depression and panic attacks, lumping them all together as ’madness’ – and if there’s no word for it, how would they understand it? Matlhaela gets around this problem by getting support group attendees to act out how they feel.

Following a tea break, Kevin Bolon, a clinical psychologist and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) expert who has developed a course for the fear of flying, spoke about how obsession and compulsion go hand in hand, offering an insight into Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). He explained that many psychological terms have become popular and are now in everyday use, such as ‘depression’ and ‘panic attack’ – he stated that mental disorders are debilitating and should not be treated lightly – much in the way that anyone with a runny nose and sore throat claims to have the flu, which is actually a serious, potentially fatal illness. He mentioned that washing and counting are among the most common compulsions, and that prayer often gets hijacked into compulsion, in that we feel a need to pray when we think a ‘bad thought’ – the act of praying works to ease our anxiety. He added that the compulsions are targeted in treatment, so that eventually the patient is less likely to feel a need to react a certain way when a certain thought crosses their mind, because they are associating a consequence with a certain unrelated behaviour – this is known as ‘magical thinking’ as people connect a cluster of ‘what ifs’ to reach an unlikely outcome. It is also known as the ‘doubting disease’ because of this. The compulsion only results in a temporary release of anxiety as it reloads. Bolon reassured attendees that “we all have bits of OCD behaviour”, but actual diagnosis is based on the amount of time spent on the compulsions, as well as the level of impairment or interference caused in day-to-day functioning. He added that there is a risk of misdiagnosis and that people are becoming more aware of the disorder due to it receiving greater coverage in articles and TV shows. It is not treated with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which aims to change thoughts during the behaviour – instead, an ‘exposure and response prevention’ method is used, where the patient is made to face their obsession trigger and resist the compulsion. The thoughts get weaker and weaker as treatment goes on. OCD only gets worse if it is not treated as it acts as an addiction. Traditional therapy is also not effective in treatment of OCD as going through past traumas can make OCD worse. Antidepressants are also used to boost levels of serotonin – but not because there is a lack of serotonin or the person is depressed. Bolon explained this is similar to the fact that Panado is used to cure a headache even though a lack of Panado is not the cause of the headache. He asserted that mental health issues are often misrepresented in the media, and that there is no such thing as ‘compulsive’ shopping or gambling, as these are based on impulses.

SADAG Counsellor, Shai Friedland, then gave a personal account of living with OCD, titled, ‘When worry hijacks the brain: An OCD patient takes back his life.’ He shared his typical obsessive thought processes and explained that anyone who suffers from mental health issues is “not a freak – it’s a disorder”. To this, Bolon added, “These people are not weird or strange – they are as normal as you and me. They are normal people dealing with abnormal situations.” SADAG’s Project Manager, Roshni Parbhoo-Seetha, spoke about creating mental health awareness and developing successful school outreach programmes. SADAG promotes several mental health awareness days to raise awareness, as well as school prevention programmes, such as ‘Suicide shouldn’t be a secret’ and ‘When death impacts your school’ in order to discuss the warning signs in a safe environment, as teenagers don’t seem to understand the permanence of the act and it is sometimes seen as a way to attract attention. Wilson interjected that SADAG has revamped its website (, which is a valuable resource for mental health journalists as it includes local and international articles on many topics. She also provided surprising statistics from a survey taken the previous day that proved 30% of the journalists attending the conference suffer from mild depression, 25% from major depression, with one so high that the person might be verging on suicide. A definite sign that there’s a need for better education on the topic!

After a lunch break, Clinical Psychologist, Robyn Rosin, spoke on the topic of ‘Flashbacks: when the worst thing that ever happened to you keeps happening everyday’ in the sense of treating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She stated that the media has a great role to play in terms of getting factual information out there and breaking the stigma of mental health disorders. She said knowledge of PTSD is especially important to field reporters who are at the scene of horrible accidents and violence, often taking horrific images as photojournalists, which continue to haunt them for years. It is also known as vicarious or secondary traumatisation if journalists hear traumatic stories and need to recount them. She added that we like to feel our world is safe and predictable, and we think that “bad things happen to other people” – this is why it is such a shock when something bad happens to us. For the first 24 to 48 hours after experiencing a traumatic event, the typical reaction is to feel numbness and disbelief as we try to make sense of what has happened – debriefing is often essential to put the event into perspective. This involves education and ‘normalising’ the symptoms in order to redress the trauma experiences and put them into perspective, understanding that the symptoms are normal. PTSD is only diagnosed if symptoms persist for a month after the event which triggered the symptoms and is easy to trace. Rosin echoed Bolon’s words, that mental illness is “a normal reaction to an abnormal set of circumstances.” Treatment revolves around getting the person back to their normal state of functioning as soon as possible.

Meyers then presented the final session of the day, on ‘Presenting to editors, producers and supervisors: how to portray your story’. This was a workshop brainstorming session where attendees broke into small groups to discuss possible article ideas based on the topics that had been presented for the day. He spoke of the importance of using a common/ neutral language that does not make mental health patients sound deficient in any way, adding that standards differ greatly among different media, ad that there has been a “coarsening of civil dialogue,” which is why so many newspapers lead with shocking images of bodies splattered on the ground and graphic images of violence.

Rebecca Palpant, Assistant Director of the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, concluded the session by stating, “This is just the beginning for mental health journalism in South Africa,”adding that personal stories are so powerful – stories about mental health should not quote numbers, they should speak of the singular self that is affected. Scher interjected that interested parties should enter the Pfizer Awards for mental Health Journalism through the SADAG website, which results in two awards of R25 000 for mental health journalists.

Best Supplements for Depression

Far from just a “down in the dumps” day or two, depression is a serious illness that affects about 12 million women in America each year. It can cause energy levels to plummet, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, problems with memory and concentration, and feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and negativity.

Many different factors can cause depression (it’s usually a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological issues) and there’s rarely a one-size-fits-all treatment. People with severe depression seem to have a brain chemistry that predisposes them to bouts. It’s important to see a doctor if you experience five or more of these depression symptoms for more than 2 weeks: persistent sad, anxious, or empty feelings; loss of interest or pleasure in activities; feelings of hopelessness, pessimism, guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness; insomnia or oversleeping; appetite loss or overeating; fatigue; restlessness; irritability; difficulty concentrating or remembering; or thoughts of death or suicide.

Tired all the time? If you can’t pinpoint why you’re so fatigued, these tests can help you determine why you’re dragging

Depression is usually treated with some combination of medications, therapy, and lifestyle changes. Antidepressant drugs are commonly a primary treatment for adults with moderate to severe cases. It can take some trial and error to find the med that works best for you, and can take up to 3 months for the med’s effects to kick in. Research shows that talk therapy helps beat depression too; up to two-thirds of people could recover just as well from therapy alone, skipping drugs entirely. Exercise is also a proven natural remedy—in one study, people with mild to moderate depression who started exercising 3 to 5 times a week improved depressive symptoms like anxiety and insomnia by 47%.

Certain supplements may also help manage depression.

Best supplements:

St. John’s Wort: This popular herb has been used to treat depression for centuries. One major review found that it was as effective as standard drugs in many cases, although evidence suggests it’s not as helpful for people who are severely (compared to mildly) depressed. SJW may work by helping to rebalance levels of brain chemicals linked to mood, like dopamine and serotonin. The big warning sign with SJW, though, is that it interacts with many different medications (including some antidepressants), so you should always check with your doctor before you take it.

Omega-3s: Numerous studies have found that heart-healthy fish oil may also benefit your brain and mood. A big study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that omega-3 intake significantly improved depression and certain other psychiatric conditions. Although some study results are mixed, there are many other healthy reasons to eat fish or take a fish oil supplement, and many experts agree it’s a good idea to use it in conjunction with other depression treatments.

SAMe: Short for S-adenosylmethionine, this naturally occurring compound in your body helps boost brain chemicals serotonin and dopamine; low levels of both are implicated in causes of depression. Research shows SAMe is as effective as many antidepressant meds.

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ADHD News and Treatment

2011-03-30 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Dealing with Distractions and Overreactions

More than five million American children and teens have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a condition that makes it difficult – if not impossible – to focus and complete tasks. When Katherine Ellison found herself yelling at her son constantly to shut up, she didn’t know that he had ADHD, nor that she had it too. Together, they embarked on a year-long quest to understand the disorder, investigating and trying different treatments. Ellison chronicled their experiences in a new book, Buzz: A Year of Paying Attention.

Buzz Ellison had many problems in elementary school. He could not sit still, and was constantly jumping up and down in class, not paying attention to his teachers, not focusing on the task at hand. As a result, his mother Katherine Ellison says, he was always in trouble.

“His attitude towards school really changed. I think he got bullied both by his peers and his teachers who insisted that he could do things that he really wasn’t capable of doing at that age and remembering things and they gave him a lot of negative feedback,” said Ellison.

Katherine Ellison, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, says she didn’t understand why he behaved like that, and admits, her behavior was also contributing to the situation.

“I was making things worse often by being anxious or being impatient or not understanding him. I realized at some point that I really hadn’t hugged him in a while. I wasn’t smiling when he came into the room because we were having such a hard time,” recalled Ellison.

Buzz was diagnosed with ADHD when he was nine. And, like many parents of children with ADHD, Ellison learned she had the disorder as well. She was in her late 40s.

“It was a great relief to actually get a diagnosis, because I had spent a lifetime really wondering what was going on and why I seem to be different from so many other people I knew,” Ellison noted. “I, like many people with ADD, had a rollercoaster of a life. For instance, I got sued for $11 million for a reporting error that I made in one of my first years as a newspaper reporter. And two years later, I won a Pulitzer Prize. So these are the kinds of things that often happen when you got this disorder; you’re capable of really amazing things and very humiliating, terrible things.”

Ellison and Buzz decided to work together to deal with their disorder and write a book about their experience.

“My son and I started out by writing a contract together, which was terrific because it changed the perspective from being a shameful problem that we had to a joint business project,” explained Ellison. “I also knew that he would cooperate with me. He wanted a percentage of the profits from the book. I was willing to do that because all of a sudden we’re partners rather than antagonists.”

Mother and son delved into the world of ADHD for a year, researching various remedies, specialists and alternative therapies for treatment.

“The two of us spent a lot of time going to neuro-feedback sessions, a process that’s a kind of bio-feedback for the brain where you’re actually conditioning your brain with the help of computers to slow down, become more calm and focused,” said Ellison. “We tried meditation. We both really focused on getting aerobic exercise and we got counseling. And all of these things helped.”

Ellison and Buzz also tried prescription drugs, which doctors often recommend to help youngsters cope with the symptoms of ADHD.

“I was completely against medication,” recalled Ellison. “I thought kids are being over-medicated, which they are, but it turns out that many kids are not getting the help they need. I want to really make clear that I don’t believe meds alone or meds for life are good strategies. And I think that it must be part of a more comprehensive approach.”

Although ADHD is an increasingly common diagnosis, there are many misconceptions about it.

“One of the biggest misconceptions is parents think that this is their fault,” said Peter Levine, a pediatrician in California, who specializes in treating children with ADHD. “Other parents will blame them for it because they see the way these kids acting and they will say, ‘What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you control your child?’ So parents will blame themselves. Another misconception is that the child really is not trying, because oftentimes these kids are trying harder than other kids to control their behaviors. That leads to a lot of frustrations.”

Levine says the first step in dealing with ADHD is getting the facts straight.

“In America, the diagnosis rate in children generally is quoted in the range of about 3 to 7 percent of children,” noted Levine. “It’s more common in boys, by about three to one. This is a highly inheritable disorder. They can’t get over ADHD. I mean it’s not something that you can make go away. As many as two-third of the children who have problems with ADHD will have difficulties as adults. You can’t cure it. You have to find ways of coping with it.”
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One of the most effective ways to do that, he says, is changing ones parenting style. That’s what Katherine Ellison did. She says she is now paying more attention to her son, spending more quality time with him, being less judgmental and giving him more positive feedback. And Buzz is responding with fewer outbursts at home and at school, more focus on doing his school work and a new interest in playing tennis.

Doping or Diet? ADHD Might Be Easily Conquered By Good Food

Along with autism, many people (experts and parents alike) think they know a thing or two about Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Some will even insist that they know what causes it and how to cure ADHD, which is a developmental disorder characterized by hyperactivity and attentional problems that arise in young children, but can follow them throughout their adult life. But at this point, despite the myriad of theories that swirl around ADHD like a perturbed leaf pile on a blustery afternoon, everything is just conjecture.

However a new theory being floated about holds some true promise to coping and, possibly, dismantling the ADHD cycle. Over five million children ages four to 17 have been diagnosed with ADHD (about ten percent of the children in the U.S.), so a viable solution to this vexing problem is welcome news, especially if the treatment is attainable for all. Dr. Lidy Pelsser of the ADHD Research Centre in the Netherlands, and lead author of a study on food and ADHD, holds true to the idea that ADHD is assuredly easy enough to regulate through a particular, but not unreasonable, diet. As reported in the British journal The Lancet this past February, it was discovered with a restricted diet alone, many children experienced a significant reduction in ADHD symptoms. Pelsser insists that 64 percent of children diagnosed with ADHD are actually experiencing a hypersensitivity to food.

For those that are curious, the diet that Pelsser is advocating is hardly challenging or even expensive. The fairly strict diet utilized in the study consisted of water, rice, turkey, lamb, lettuce, carrots, pears and other hypoallergenic foods – all of which were free of additives, preservatives, or artificial ingredients. According to author Kristin Wartman, writing for the website Civil Eats, There are a multitude of credible scientific studies to indicate that diet plays a large role in the development of ADHD. One study found that the depletion of zinc and copper in children was more prevalent in children with ADHD. Another study found that one particular dye acts as a “central excitatory agent able to induce hyperkinetic behavior.” And yet another study suggests that the combination of various common food additives appears to have a neurotoxic effect—pointing to the important fact that while low levels of individual food additives may be regarded as safe for human consumption, we must also consider the combined effects of the vast array of food additives that are now prevalent in our food supply.

To be clear, Pelsser, and advocates of her findings, are not insisting that drugs like Ritalin, commonly used to treat ADHD, should be wholly dismissed in favor of a few turkey legs and a serving of salad. But modifying a child’s diet should be the first measure taken in dealing with an ADHD diagnosis or symptoms. Some children may not respond at all to the elimination diet, but according to this new data, many will.

Do you think it is enough to change up a child’s diet, eliminating questionable foods and introducing an array of whole foods, or do you think ADHD is a serious disorder that should only be dealt with using psychopharmacology? Is diet really the link to many developmental disorders, not just ADHD?
Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

Corpus Christi children at forefront of class-action lawsuit targeting foster care system

The state foster care system puts children in harm’s way, mismanages their health care and shuffles them from one location to the next, a lawsuit filed Tuesday in Corpus Christi says.

Two Corpus Christi children are at the forefront of the federal class-action lawsuit that asks for sweeping reforms of the state’s child welfare program, the Department of Family Protective Services. The case, M.D. vs. Perry, names Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Thomas Suehs, executive commissioner of the Health and Human Services Commission; and Anne Heiligenstein, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services commissioner, as defendants.

In a prepared statement, Heiligenstein rejected the lawsuit’s claims of widespread problems and highlighted recent improvements the department has made, including $1 billion in additional funding during the last several years.

“We’re on the right path and will continue to do everything we can to protect Texas children, but I worry that a lawsuit like this will take critical time and resources away from the very children it presumes to help,” she said.

The Corpus Christi children’s stories, and those of seven other children the state shuffled between foster homes, health care facilities and case workers, were highlighted in the lawsuit filed by Children’s Rights, a national child advocacy group based in New York.

The situations described in the lawsuit paint a picture of a system that places children in inappropriate institutions, ignores their mental health needs, overmedicates them and doesn’t look for permanent homes.

“Once children cross the line into permanent foster care, the state essentially gives up on their prospects for ever leaving state custody with permanent families of their own,” said Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of Children’s Rights.

One Corpus Christi 14-year-old, identified as M.D., grew up in Corpus Christi and was first placed in state custody when she was 8 years old. The state first placed her in her aunt and uncle’s custody, but she was sexually assaulted by a cousin and removed from that home.

As a 10-year-old, she moved through three foster homes in six months and eventually moved to a treatment facility in Victoria, where she became suicidal. The state later moved her to another treatment center outside of Houston and then another center in Denton.

While there, M.D. walked to a nearby retail center and reported that she was raped. The suit claims M.D. wasn’t given counseling but instead was chastised for leaving the facility and sent to a juvenile detention center after a fight at the treatment center.

The girl now is at a therapeutic placement center in San Antonio where she is denied basic privileges.

“She has no visitors. She cannot have any toiletries.” the lawsuit says. “She is warehoused and alone.”

The lawsuit also details the life of a 16-year-old Corpus Christi boy identified as T.C., who has been in the state’s care for eight years. The state has moved T.C. through at least 20 homes and treatment centers, including one home where he stayed only seven days.

He stayed nearly a year at a treatment center in Victoria when he was 9 years old and was sent to seven different psychiatric and behavioral hospitals as far away as Waco and Tyler.

One treatment center where T.C. lived for a year had a history of licensing violations including accusations that staff members beat, chocked, cut and bruised children and children under its care attempted suicide. At one time, T.C. was sent to an adult jail for throwing a rock at an administration building.

T.C. now lives at a treatment center in Greenville, more than 450 miles away from Corpus Christi. Three of his brothers were adopted by a Corpus Christi family, but he has not been able to visit them, a problem the lawsuit says other children also have.

T.C.’s emotional and psychological health has deteriorated while in the state’s care, the lawsuit alleges, and the boy has been diagnosed with ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and Asperger’s syndrome. More than once, T.C. has run away from a treatment center and tried to admit himself to a hospital.

The statement from Heiligenstein highlights changes the state department has made to address the problems.

The state recently reformed its system, increased its funding, decreased workers’ caseloads and is considering more reforms, Heiligenstein’s statement said.

Adoptions have increased by more than 50 percent in the last six years, and placements of foster children with relatives have increased by 38 percent. The use of psychotropic medications has decreased by 31 percent.

The Texas Legislature is considering a proposed redesign of the Texas foster care system. The proposal would provide homes for foster children closer to their communities, minimize the number of placements, keep brothers and sisters together, and provide financial incentives to reward high-quality foster care providers who move children to permanent homes more quickly, according to Heiligenstein’s statement.

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Anxiety Treatment News

2011-03-25 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

One in five delay dental treatment over cost

ONE of the region’s top dentists has been heavily involved in a major study of the nation’s teeth.

Professor Jimmy Steele, head of the Dental School at Newcastle University, said the 2009 Adult Dental Health Survey had shown a “remarkable continued improvement” in the dental health of Britons.

But the survey also showed that one in five people in Britain are delaying vital dental treatment because of the cost.

The survey showed that just over a quarter (26 per cent) said that the type of dental treatment they opted to have had been influenced by the cost and almost one fifth (19 per cent) said they had delayed treatment for the same reason.

Other barriers to dental treatment included “extreme dental anxiety”, experienced by about 12 per cent of adults with teeth.

The survey showed that 92 per cent of adults who tried to make an NHS dental appointment were able to do so.

Professor Steele said: “Whilst more people than ever before are regularly visiting their dentist and British teeth are better than they ever have been, for some people visiting the dentist is still difficult for reasons of cost and particularly anxiety, more than one in 10 British adults are still classed as extremely anxious about attending the dentist and this can still be a major barrier to ensuring good teeth.”

He said there is an ideal opportunity for people to find out about dental health when Newcastle University hosts an open morning this Saturday March 26.

Free advice from some of the top experts in the country will be available, as will demonstrations of techniques and treatments.

The open day will take place at the Dental School on Framlington Place, Newcastle NE2.

The survey was commissioned by the NHS Information Centre and carried out by the Office for National Statistics.

Health Matters: Anxiety

Q I can’t put my finger on why but I’ve started to feel increasingly anxious about things in general, and in situations within which I shouldn’t really be under stress.
Sometimes just the thought of going out or doing something just a little out of the ordinary can spark it but I have also woken up feeling anxious, without any apparent reason for doing so. What could be causing this and how can I best deal with it?

A Anxiety is something that can affect us all at certain times – particularly if faced with a dangerous or seemingly threatening situation.

It affects different people in different ways and some are more prone than others to suffering.

Experiencing a certain level of anxiety is not a bad thing as it helps keep the brain alert and aware of signs of danger – that said, there is no reason for anybody to feel anxious all the time and it becomes a problem when it starts to impact on everyday life.

Symptoms of anxiety will include a constant feeling of worry, sweating, irritability, dizziness, lack of concentration, diarrhoea and sometimes muscle pain. Worrying about what the symptoms mean can often cause a sufferer to become even more anxious so it can be a vicious circle.

Various things are thought to contribute to the onset of anxiety.

Genes are thought to play a part and research has also suggested that it’s a chemical imbalance in the brain itself that will determine whether or not a person suffers symptoms of anxiety.

Other factors will include lifestyle – personal circumstances such as stressful times associated with moving house or the breakdown of a relationship – and also in very specific cases, addictions such as those to drugs or alcohol.

In most cases it is likely to be a combination of factors that leads to people suffering with anxiety and there are a number of simple lifestyle factors that may be worth looking at as a first step to dealing with this condition.

Firstly, don’t be afraid to speak to friends or colleagues if you are feeling anxious about a particular situation or task – it’s often subconsciously worrying about something that leads to anxious feelings, usually in the middle of the night when there’s nothing you can do.

Take time to relax and don’t feel guilty about it. Some people find meditation and exercise help. Yoga and Pilates can help both body and mind unwind but likewise, a good aerobic session can be a great stress buster.

A good diet is key to an overall healthy lifestyle and be mindful of the excessive consumption of things such as caffeine – not always a positive stimulant – and also alcohol.

Make an appointment with your GP as there are treatments available that will help you. These include psychological therapy such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT).

CBT is one of the most effective types of treatment for severe anxiety and will involve working with a therapist to identify behavioural patterns and change those that are unhelpful. There are various medications available for the treatment of anxiety and if your symptoms necessitate this course of action, your GP will be able to advise.

You don’t have to be embarrassed about being anxious – it’s something that affects us all in different ways and at different times. The important thing is to try and address the symptoms and in doing so you will hopefully limit future episodes.

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Depression Treatment News

2011-03-22 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Controversial Shock Therapy Works for Depression

Natasha Tracy and the Bipolar Burble welcome Steven Schwartz, the BiPolar Badger as a guest blogger this week. Steven will be speaking from the point of view of someone who has chosen to get electroconvulsive therapy treatments and is in the middle of his current series of electroconvulsive therapy treatments.
Electroconvulsive Therapy Primer

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is the second most controversial medical procedure. (Abortion is the first.) Certainly when I write about ECT it seems to prove the controversy of this topic. And it doesn’t matter what I say about ECT, even if it’s not pro or con, people insist on expressing very strong viewpoints on the use of ECT.

And generally the strong viewpoints are anti-ECT. They are from the ECT-is-torture crowd. A prevalent crowd online, to be sure, but someone needs to actually talk about the facts of ECT.
ECT Saves Lives

ECT saves people absolutely nothing else can. And if you have ever looked down the long, dark, hallway of treatment only to see a black hole, you would know how essential it is to have it as an option.

I know people don’t want to hear this, but ECT saves lives. ECT brings people out of the deepest, darkest depressions that no medication can touch. ECT saves people who are suicidal. ECT saves people who are determined to kill themselves while in the hospital.

It is critical this be an option, no matter how untenable it may be.
ECT Kills Brain Cells

That being said, electroconvulsive therapy induces a clonic seizure in the brain. You won’t feel it, you’ll be under anesthesia and other medications, but the whole point of treatment is to produce a seizure. And seizures cause brain damage. A friend of mine who’s epileptic will tell you how that goes. He spends an awful lot of time trying to prevent brain-damaging seizures.

ECT can cause memory loss and cognitive deficit. Mind you, there’s not a lot of science to back that up the kind of dramatic stories typically touted online.

ECT Can Offer Hope. ECT Can Cause Problems.

In the end, ECT is a gamble. You are doing something unpredictable to your brain. Bad things could happen. Very bad things, in fact. But nasty treatments for severe, intractable depressions are like that. If depression could be cured with lollipops it wouldn’t be a problem, but to the best of my knowledge, lollipops don’t have a very high success rate.
Modern ECT is Safe and Effective

There is no point in comparing modern ECT with ECT from 30 years ago. Everything has changed.

Which is to say modern ECT is safer and more effective than ever before (safety and efficacy are relative). Every year we learn more about the brain and how to target specific areas for treatment. It is now common to see ultra-brief-pulse unilateral ECT rather than bilateral ECT. This means the current runs through a small portion of your brain comparatively. Still a gamble, no doubt, but we’re getting better.
Anti-Psychiatry and Anti-ECT People Are Vocal

I have no doubt ECT has gone very wrong for some people. I have no doubt it has been terrible. It may very well be the case ECT has caused long-term problems. But this small handful of people are the ones filling up all the space on the internet. One person’s experience, good or bad, cannot be the basis for the opinion of a treatment in general. Chemotherapy and radiation kill people. But people do it because they are facing a horrible disease. Just like those who choose ECT.
People Who Have Received ECT Are Ashamed

People who have received ECT are scared to say so.

People who have had electroconvulsive therapy are scared of being judged. They are scared of all the vocal people mentioned above. They are scared of all the people who think something brutal, inhumane and akin to rape saved their lives. I don’t blame them for being scared. Standing up to loud opponents about such a delicate and fragile subject is tough. People have enough problems.
People Shouldn’t Be Ashamed of ECT

But of course people shouldn’t be afraid of admitting they had ECT. They shouldn’t feel bad about a treatment that did (or didn’t, for that matter) help them.

There are people with positive experiences with ECT even if they aren’t shouting it from the rooftops.
Guest Blogger: Steven Schwartz, the BiPolar Badger

Which brings me to next week’s guest author: Steven Schwartz – the BiPolar Badger. Steve is in the middle of a series of six ECT treatments and he’ll be writing about his experiences thus far. Steve has had ECT in the past, has found it effective, and has chosen to do it again.

More on the BiPolar Badger:

Steven Schwartz is a former journalist living with BiPolar disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder. Writing about his personal experiences of life with Mental Illness to reduce its stigma, shame and misconceptions. Steven writes in a open, frank, humorous and sometimes brutally honest style as a way of showing the human side of living with Mental Illness.

I hope you’ll all join me in reading his guest post this week, for a view within shock therapy.

Online Messaging Provides Effective Follow-Up Care For Depression

Online messaging has been shown to be effective in providing follow-up care to patients suffering from depression, U.S. researchers say.

UPI reports that follow-up online messaging by trained nurses resulted in less depression among patients being treated for depression.

Dr. Gregory E. Simon, a Group Health psychiatrist and Group Health Research Institute senior investigator, says the study involved a randomized controlled trial of 208 Group Health patients.

Half had three online care contacts with a trained psychiatric nurse, and were significantly more likely to feel less depressed, take their antidepressant medication as prescribed and be more satisfied with their treatment for depression.

The patients in the trial were starting antidepressant medication prescribed by their primary care providers.
“While more Americans are taking antidepressants, the quality of care for depression remains among the lowest scores on the U.S. health care report card,” Simon said in a statement.

Online Messaging Provides Effective Follow-Up Care For Depression

“Especially in primary care, where most treatment for depression starts, not enough patients receive follow-up contact or take their antidepressant medication as prescribed.”

In previous studies, Simon and colleagues delivered organized care for depression via telephone calls.

Organized depression care includes systematic contact with patients, assessment of their depression and whether they are taking their antidepressant medication as prescribed, and guidelines for evidence-based care.

One such guideline is suggesting that the primary care provider change the dose, or add or switch to another medication, if depression or side effects bother a patient after a standard trial period.

For each phone contact with a patient, clinicians wasted a half hour playing “phone tag,” Simon said.

According to the authors, unlike phone calls, online messages require no simultaneous live contact, so they may boost the convenience and affordability of follow-up care.

Simon and colleagues found that secure, asynchronous messages within Group Health’s existing EMR can improve care of chronic conditions, and that patients being treated for depression are particularly likely to use online communication with their healthcare providers.

“We worried that patients might need live voice contact in real time to be understood and feel supported,” the researchers concluded.

“But this online care management helped these patients, even though they never met the trained psychiatric nurse in person or talked with her on the phone.”

The findings are published online ahead of print in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

Elderly Depression – Key To Treating Depression Among The Elderly Disclosed

The numbers are, well, depressing: More than 2 million people age 65 and older suffer from depression, including 50 percent of those living in nursing homes. The suicide rate among white men over 85 is the highest in the country — six times the national rate.

And we’re not getting any younger. In the next 35 years, the number of Americans over 65 will double and the number of those over 85 will triple.

So the question becomes, how to help elderly depressed individuals?

Researchers at UCLA turned to a gentle, Westernized version of tai chi chih, a 2,000-year-old Chinese martial art. When they combined a weekly tai chi exercise class with a standard depression treatment for a group of depressed elderly adults, they found greater improvement in the level of depression — along with improved quality of life, better memory and cognition, and more overall energy — than among a different group in which the standard treatment was paired with a weekly health education class.

The results of the study appear in the current online edition of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

“This is the first study to demonstrate the benefits of tai chi in the management of late-life depression, and we were encouraged by the results,” said first author Dr. Helen Lavretsky, a UCLA professor-in-residence of psychiatry. “We know that nearly two-thirds of elderly patients who seek treatment for their depression fail to achieve relief with a prescribed medication.”

In the study, 112 adults age 60 or older with major depression were treated with the drug escitalopram, a standard antidepressant, for approximately four weeks. From among those participants, 73 who showed only partial improvement continued to receive the medication daily but were also randomly assigned to 10 weeks of either a tai chi class for two hours per week or a health education class for two hours per week.

All the participants were evaluated for their levels of depression, anxiety, resilience, health-related quality of life, cognition and immune system inflammation at the beginning of the study and again four months later.

The level of depression among each participant was assessed using a common diagnostic tool known as the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, which involves interviewing the individual. The questions are designed to gauge the severity of depression. A cut-off score of 10/11 is generally regarded as appropriate for the diagnosis of depression.

The researchers found that among the tai chi participants, 94 percent achieved a score of less than 10, with 65 percent achieving remission (a score of 6 or less). By comparison, among participants who received health education, 77 percent achieved scores of 10 or less, with 51 percent achieving remission.

While both groups showed improvement in the severity of depression, said Lavretsky, who directs UCLA’s Late-Life Depression, Stress and Wellness Research Program, greater reductions were seen among those taking escitalopram and participating in tai chi, a form of exercise that is gentle enough for the elderly.

“Depression can lead to serious consequences, including greater morbidity, disability, mortality and increased cost of care,” Lavretsky said. “This study shows that adding a mind-body exercise like tai chi that is widely available in the community can improve the outcomes of treating depression in older adults, who may also have other, co-existing medical conditions, or cognitive impairment.

“With tai chi,” she said, “we may be able to treat these conditions without exposing them to additional medications.”

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ADHD News and Treatment

2011-03-11 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Attention deficit disorder often persists into adulthood

Everyone has distracted moments. We lose our keys, forget our list when we go shopping or are late for an appointment from time to time.

These things happen to most of us and are considered quite normal, if annoying.

However, when there is a disorder involved, such as ADD or ADHD, that’s when things become serious.

The feelings attached to ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) include confusion, frustration and sadness when one can’t move from intention to action.

At home or work, relationships can suffer due to disorganization and inconsistent behaviour. A job may be jeopardized because work is late, incomplete or inaccurate.

According to the Centre for ADHD/ADD Advocacy Canada, the most conservative estimates indicate ADHD affects more than one million Canadians.

Experts estimate 80 per cent of children diagnosed with ADHD continue to meet the criteria for diagnosis in adolescence and more than 60 per cent report symptoms in adulthood.

ADHD has a significant impact on our social and economic systems and is estimated to cost the Canadian economy close to $8 million each year.

ADHD often runs in families. According to research, if one person in a family has ADHD there is a 25 to 35 per cent chance another family member also has it.

What if your partner’s behaviours are all indicators of undiagnosed ADHD?

Indicators may be:

– being easily distracted

– being forgetful

– low self-esteem

– difficulty following through on tasks

– tendency to tune out

– impatience

– impulsiveness, either verbally or in action, such as spending money, changing plans, changing careers

– mood swings

– often being late

– being disorganized

– chronic procrastination

– need for high stimulation. ADHD is a complex neurobiological disorder that affects the brain’s ability to function normally. Experts say it is probably due in part to a lack of certain neurochemicals.

ADHD/ADD is recognized by mental health professionals as one of the most common disorders of childhood, and was previously thought to resolve itself in adolescence.

During the past decade there has been a growing awareness that for many if not most individuals with ADD, it persists into adulthood. Effective treatment of adult ADD is a relatively new area of study.

The diagnosis for this condition needs to be done by a specialist. A doctor or psychiatrist who has specialized training in this field generally does it. Proper diagnosis and medication prescribed by the doctor or psychiatrist is recommended.

Cognitive therapy, behaviour modification and lifestyle changes with the help of the therapist can go far to diminish or eliminate these issues.

The good news is that ADHD/ADD often affects people who are creative, intuitive and highly intelligent.

Some famous people who probably had the disorder include: Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill and Richard Branson.

Counselling deals not only with the symptoms, but also the resulting issues related to emotions, self-esteem, relationships, work performance, etc.

Couple counselling can go far to help the non-ADD partner understand how these behaviours are linked to ADD and not to an unwillingness or lack of care coming from the ADD partner.

Learning new ways to gain control of ADD-related problems is an important part of coping with ADD. A first step is to gain insight and understanding of how ADD impacts your life. This understanding can then be used to identify the challenges and eventually to develop new strategies and skills for dealing with your ADD symptoms, problems and relationship challenges.

Here are some coping strategies for Adult ADD/ADHD:

1. Increase structure: make lists, use schedules, establish routines, prioritize tasks, break down large projects into parts and develop a step-by-step plan

2. Exercise

3. Take frequent breaks

4. Create variety and novelty to sustain interest and motivate

5. Keep a notepad on hand

6. Modify your work environment

7. Become more aware of your thoughts -train yourself to think before acting

8. Make plans, don’t let impulses have control

What if someone you love, who you feel you have to parent and nag; who is often disappointing and lets you down; who doesn’t seem to listen; and is forgetful, actually has undiagnosed ADHD?

What if the reason behind his/her impulsivity and irresponsible behaviour is not due to not caring or ignoring you, but due to this disorder? Malegra – Viagra + Cymbalta

Wouldn’t that make it a whole lot easier to forgive, understand and help give you hope that this relationship can be saved?

Camp STAR to offer evidence-based therapy for children with ADHD

Camp STAR, the Chicago area’s only summer camp offering evidence-based therapy for children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and other behavioral, emotional and social difficulties, begins its fourth season in June.
The camp, whose name stands for Summer Treatment for ADHD and Related Issues, is a partnership of the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Jewish Council for Youth Services.

The director of Camp STAR, Dr. Mark Stein, professor of psychiatry at UIC’s Institute for Juvenile Research, says that the program is not only effective in reducing ADHD symptoms, but in teaching skills to children and their parents that can improve social functioning. Children with ADHD and associated problems often struggle to fit in at typical camps that do not address their special needs, Stein said.

“At Camp STAR we have the opportunity to provide a very intensive treatment using behavior modification, modeling, medication and by looking at a variety of activities — how the child participates in sports, and how the family structures the home,” Stein said. “We’re able to dramatically change their behavior. The really exciting thing is that many of the children, by the end of the summer, have had a success experience, and it translates into them feeling better about themselves.”

Every child gets an individualized treatment plan to teach and reward social skills, improve attention, and control impulsive behaviors. A one to two staff-to-camper ratio ensures that each child receives individual attention. Advanced undergraduate and graduate students in psychology, education, or health-related fields staff Camp STAR.

Camp STAR is based on the behavioral therapy principles used in the Multimodal Treatment Study of ADHD, which showed that children who participated in a summer treatment program obtained a high level of success with lower doses of medication than children who did not receive behavioral treatment.

Camp STAR combines typical camp activities with behavioral treatments to improve social skills and anger management, reduce oppositional behaviors, and enhance self-esteem.

FDA Approves New Drug For The Treatment Of ADHD

There’s a new option available for the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or “ADHD” in patients aged six to 17.

The FDA has approved a once-daily nonstimulant drug called Intuniv.

Medical expert Dr. Floyd Randy Sallee of the University of Cincinnati says Intuniv may provide relief to patients who’ve experienced side effects with stimulants.

Dr. Sallee adds that side effects of stimulants can include interference with sleep, agitation, and appetite suppression.

Intuniv may be taken alone or in combination with stimulants.

But what separates ADHD from the energy of a growing child? Dr. Sallee says that when a young patient’s hyperactivity begins to interfere with his or her family relationships, friendships, and/or an ability to learn, parents should seek answers.

Dr. Sallee also says that people with ADHD typically have a high level of cognitive flexibility — or an openness to a wide range of thoughts and activities.

Some of the notable individuals who’ve discussed their experiences ADHD according to a recent feature include pop star and actor Justin Timberlake, chef Jamie Oliver, and celebrity socialite Paris Hilton.

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Anxiety Treatment News

2011-03-09 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Common Anxiety Treatment Options

Recognizing anxiety disorder symptoms is just the first step towards overcoming the problem. The next step is to find a suitable anxiety treatment plan, and this may consist of medication, behavioral therapy, dietary changes, and nutritional supplementation. According to, “if no physical illness is found, [the sufferer] may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist who is specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses. Treatments for generalized anxiety disorder most often include a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy.”

Below are common anxiety treatments for people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and other anxiety difficulties.

1. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. A licensed professional works with the sufferer in this type of treatment to identify the triggers of panic attack in the sufferer. This treatment includes probing for the thoughts, behaviors and emotions that cause the sufferer to act irrationally.

2. Anxiety medication. Several types of prescription drugs have proven to be effective for treating anxiety disorders, and the type and dosage varies by person and condition. The most common types of medication prescribed to those with anxiety disorder are a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. These drugs have a tranquilizing effect on the body, and include drugs such as Valium, Librium, Xanax and BuSpar.

3. Antidepressants medication. People with anxiety disorders are also commonly known to show symptoms of depression. Treating the symptoms of depression can help solve most effects of anxiety disorder in some cases. Effexor and Paxil are antidepressants commonly prescribed to lift the mood and reduce the tension of a person.

4. Lifestyle change. A change in lifestyle is sometimes needed to alleviate most effects of anxiety disorder. People under chronic stress are advised to maintain a regular exercise regimen and meditation practice. Cardiovascular activities, such as yoga and pilates, improve blood and oxygen circulation thus making a person feel centered and more relaxed.

5. Nutritional supplements. For people who have difficulty sleeping or calming down, nutritional supplements such as Valerian extract, chamomile and lavender can help to reduce tension and induce sleep naturally. These supplements may be most effective for people with mild symptoms and brief episodes of chronic anxiety.

6. Dietary changes. Eating certain types of food can increase or reduce the risk of anxiety attacks or tension. Eating too many sugary foods can increase the heart rate and make it difficult to concentrate, thereby aggravating some of the symptoms of anxiety. Calming foods such as milk, oats, lentils and yogurt can help keep energy levels stable and reduce the risk of an anxiety attack. Making minor dietary changes on a regular basis often accompanies anxiety treatment programs.

It is important to explore available treatment possibilities to eliminate the symptoms of anxiety disorders. It is even more important for a sufferer to work with a qualified health professional in creating an anxiety treatment plan as a short and long-term solution.

If you’ve ever suffered from anxiety when planning holidays or traveling, there is hope. Powerful non-pharmaceutical approaches are emerging to help you to free yourself from the fearful thoughts that can lead to panic attacks.

Does social anxiety disorder respond to psychotherapy?

When psychotherapy is helping someone get better, what does that change look like in the brain? This was the question a team of Canadian psychological scientists set out to investigate in patients suffering from social anxiety disorder. Their findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association of Psychological Science.

Social anxiety is a common disorder, marked by overwhelming fears of interacting with others and expectations of being harshly judged. Medication and psychotherapy both help people with the disorder. But research on the neurological effects of psychotherapy has lagged far behind that on medication-induced changes in the brain.

“We wanted to track the brain changes while people were going through psychotherapy,” says McMaster University PhD candidate Vladimir Miskovic, the study’s lead author.

To do so, the team – led by David Moscovitch of the University of Waterloo, collaborating with McMaster’s Louis Schmidt, Diane Santesso, and Randi McCabe; and Martin Antony of Ryerson University – used electroencephalograms, or EEGs, which measure brain electrical interactions in real time. They focused on the amount of “delta-beta coupling”, which elevates with rising anxiety.

The study recruited 25 adults with social anxiety disorder from a Hamilton, Ontario clinic. The patients participated in 12 weekly sessions of group cognitive behaviour therapy, a structured method that helps people identify – and challenge – the thinking patterns that perpetuate their painful and self-destructive behaviours.

Two control groups – students who tested extremely high or low for symptoms of social anxiety – underwent no psychotherapy.

The patients were given four EEGs – two before treatment, one halfway through, and one two weeks after the final session. The researchers collected EEG measures of the participants at rest, and then during a stressful exercise: a short preparation for an impromptu speech on a hot topic, such as capital punishment or same-sex marriage; participants were told the speech would be presented before two people and videotaped. In addition, comprehensive assessments were made of patients’ fear and anxiety.

When the patients’ pre- and post-therapy EEGs were compared with the control groups’, the results were revealing: Before therapy, the clinical group’s delta-beta correlations were similar to those of the high-anxiety control group and far higher than the low-anxiety group’s. Midway through, improvements in the patients’ brains paralleled clinicians’ and patients’ own reports of easing symptoms. And at the end, the patients’ tests resembled those of the low-anxiety control group.

“We can’t quite claim that psychotherapy is changing the brain,” cautions Miskovic. For one thing, some of the patients were taking medication, and that could confound the results. But the study, funded by the Ontario Mental Health Foundation, is “an important first step” in that direction – and toward understanding the biology of anxiety and developing better treatments.

The work might also alter perceptions of therapy. “Laypeople tend to think that talk therapy is not ‘real’, while they associate medications with hard science, and physiologic change,” says Miskovic. “But at the end of the day, the effectiveness of any program must be mediated by the brain and the nervous system. If the brain does not change, there won’t be a change in behaviour or emotion.”

Psychotherapy triggers changes in the brains of people with social anxiety disorder.

Medication and psychotherapy are used to treat people with social anxiety, a common disorder in which people experience overwhelming fears of interacting with others and expectations of being harshly judged. But there’s been far less research on the neurological effects of psychotherapy (talk therapy) than on medication-induced brain changes.

To look into the efficacy of talk therapy for treating social anxiety and track the brain changes while people were going through psychotherapy, researchers studied 25 adults from Canada with social anxiety disorder who underwent 12 weekly sessions of group cognitive behaviour therapy, which is meant to help patients identify and challenge their unhealthy thinking patterns that perpetuate the behaviour. These clinical group participants were compared to two control groups who tested either extremely high or low for symptoms of social anxiety but received no psychotherapy.

All of the participants underwent a series of electroencephalograms (EEGs), which measure brain electrical interactions. The researchers focused on the amount of delta-beta coupling, which increases with rising anxiety. The patients were given four EEGs – two before treatment, one halfway through, and one two weeks after the final session. The researchers collected EEG measures of the participants at rest, and then during a stressful exercise: a short preparation for an impromptu speech on a hot topic, such as capital punishment or same-sex marriage; participants were told the speech would be presented before two people and videotaped. In addition, comprehensive assessments were made of patients’ fear and anxiety.

Before treatment, the clinical group’s delta-beta correlations were similar to those of the high-anxiety control group and much higher than those of the low-anxiety control group. When measured at a point about midway through psychotherapy, improvements in the patients’ brains matched symptom improvement reported by both doctors and patients. After they completed psychotherapy, the patients’ EEG results were similar to those of the low-anxiety group.

This study might alter perceptions of therapy as people tend to think that talk therapy is not ‘real,’ while associating medications with hard science, and physiologic change. It is also an important first step toward understanding the biology of anxiety and developing better treatments.

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Anxiety Treatment Today

2011-03-01 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Mind & Meaning: Chase the blues away with colour therapy

I stumbled upon a psychiatrist talking about the value of colour therapy in treating depression, anxiety and a host of psychiatric conditions on an American TV channel last week.

Never having heard any huge discussion of this ‘treatment’ before, I was surprised to have a patient ask me about it a few days later in my clinic — perhaps she was watching the same station.

The belief that colour can influence mood and behaviour is a popular one in the US, so much so that when adolescents in many correctional units become violent they are put in a room, distinguished by the fact that it is decorated in bubble-gum pink. They have been noted to stop yelling, relax and often go to sleep.

Around 1,500 institutions are convinced enough about this to have at least one room painted in this shade. Blackfriars Bridge in London was painted blue as a way of trying to reduce the numbers of people taking their own lives by jumping. Blue, apparently, has calming and relaxing properties.

The history of colour therapy, also known as chromatotherapy, or more recently as photobiology, dates back to Avicenna, a 10th century doctor, born in what is now Uzbekistan.

A polymath with expertise in astronomy and philosophy as well as medicine, he wrote about this treatment in his book ‘The Canon of Medicine’. It was widely used in universities, including Louvain, as late as the 17th century.

He provided details of the uses of various colours to treat a range of symptoms and held that the use of the wrong colour would result in a lack of improvement.

He believed, for example, that a person with a nose bleed should not look at red objects as this would further stimulate the bleeding, while blue would soothe it.

During the 19th century the Victorians believed that everything from meningitis to constipation could be treated by filtering light through coloured glass. Many medical historians now regard this as simple quackery.

In 1933, an Indian scientist, Dinshah P Ghadiali, published an encyclopedia of colour therapy. He postulated that certain colours produced changes in organs and that by applying the correct colour an organ could be restored to normality.


Older traditions in medicine native to India suggested that the body consists of seven chakras, or spiritual centres, located along the spine and that each is associated with a particular bodily function, colour and organ.

By applying the correct colour to the site on the spine, the chakra was rebalanced, resulting in the cure for a particular ailment or symptom. Chakra balancing was something Tony Blair’s wife, Cherie, was reportedly an enthusiast for.

Modern-day colour therapists are placed well within the alternative grouping and they have retained many of the themes of the chakra concept, producing lists of colours and the symptoms and organs they target.

For some, the modern study of colour is more sophisticated and even the term photobiology, now replacing chromatotherapy, has distanced the topic from its somewhat magical origins.

Photobiology is the study of the effects of light on organisms. In humans it examines its effect on circadian rhythms and on our biological functions such as release of growth hormones. The impact of light on mood disorders such as seasonal affective disorder is also of interest.

But colour therapists/phototherapists are divided on how effects are achieved. Some suggest that this is physiological while others disagree, believing it to be purely psychological.

This dichotomy is mirrored in what is written about it in magazines and scientific journals. Conferences on photobiology are advertised alongside courses on holistic and colour therapy, while the uses of light for tanning are hailed beside its use for jaundice in newborns.

Only time will tell if the use of orange in bedrooms really stimulates appetite and reduces sleep or whether replacing white walls and orange carpets with blue and grey really does improve children’s classroom behaviour.

Avicenna may be right, but if he is then we should understand why and how light and colour influence our behaviour and impact on illness. If we do not gain this information then we will be no better than the Victorian quacks.

Kava might help in reducing stress

Recently, some researchers from Melbourne conducted a few trials to find the effects of on stress and anxiety level and they found that kava extract was quite safe and effective in reducing anxiety. At the same time they mentioned the need to conduct more researches of advanced level.

Dr. Sarris conducted a couple of trials in which he used this South Pacific plant as a treatment for anxiety. He belongs to an international group which is devising a framework to aid the reintroduction of kava to certain countries.

Europe, Britain and Canada have always banned the use of kava because of its association with liver problems though it’s widely available over counter in Australia where it was approved in 2005 for medical usage.

The makers of this framework have made sure that only high quality kava is consumed throughout the Pacific and the rest of the world.

Psychiatrist Dr. Jerome Sarris from Melbourne University, who was the part of this research, had a detailed discussion with Pacific Beat about problems associated with drinking kava.

Talk Therapy May Help Treat Social Anxiety

A 12-week course of talk therapy, when used to treat social anxiety disorder, produces changes in the electrical activity of the brain, according to new research. The findings appear in Psychological Science.

Symptoms of social phobia or social anxiety disorder include anxiety and self-consciousness in everyday social situations. This anxiety may also have associated physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea, and difficulty speaking. In some, the anxiety is limited to a specific situation, such as public speaking. In other people, it becomes so overwhelming and debilitating they can no longer leave the house.

The researchers say that there has been a substantial amount of research on how medications used to treat social anxiety disorder affect the brain but far less research on how psychotherapy produces changes in the brain.
The Study

In the new study, 25 people with social anxiety disorder completed a 12-week course of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), a time-limited type of psychotherapy that aims to alter behavior by changing the way people think about their anxiety and its triggers. Researchers used electroencephalograms (EEGs) to measure brain electrical interactions before treatment, halfway through treatment, and after the final CBT session. These readings took place at rest and during an impromptu videotaped speech they were asked to give before two people — an anxiety-producing task for many with social phobias.

EEG results were compared with those of two control groups consisting of people who had not been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder — one group with high social anxiety levels and another group of people with low levels of social anxiety.

Talk therapy produced meaningful changes in the amount of “delta-beta coupling” seen on the EEGs. Delta-beta coupling, a particular pattern of brain waves, increases with rising anxiety. After the 12-week course of therapy, EEG readings of the people who received CBT resembled those of the control group who had low levels of social anxiety. By contrast, the earlier delta-beta coupling patterns seen before the talk therapy more closely resembled those with high anxiety levels, say the researchers, who were led by Vladimir Miskovic, a PhD candidate at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

“The main purpose of our study was not to set out to establish whether cognitive behavioral therapy is effective for the treatment of social anxiety, but rather, to determine whether there is some neural correlate that changes alongside symptomatic improvement,” the study authors tell WebMD in an email.

Whether these findings are generalizable to other anxiety or psychological disorders is not known but does seem likely based on what is already known about the effects of CBT, the researchers say. “Future studies need to specifically test individuals diagnosed with other mood and anxiety disorders,” they say.

Study Limitations

Some people in the study were also taking medication to treat their social anxiety, which could skew the findings, but researchers attempted to control for this by making sure that medication dosages remained constant throughout the study. Still, “it would be ideal to follow up with medication-free patients with CBT alone in a future study. However, it is important to note that such plans also present significant challenges, as most outpatients seeking treatment for social anxiety disorder are already taking medications, and asking them to discontinue these would obviously be unethical,” the study authors say.
Talk Therapy Is a Part of Treatment for Social Phobia

Alan Manevitz, MD, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, says the new study is helping to build an evidence-based case for the positive effects of psychotherapy.

“Social anxiety disorder treatment involves a multi-pronged treatment approach targeting the biology, psychology, and behavioral aspects of the disorder,” he says. “Social anxiety can be quite disabling, and we need to approach it on all these levels.”

More studies are needed to determine the effects of medication. “We know that psychotherapy and medicine work better together than psychotherapy alone or medication alone,” he says.

Srini Pillay, MD, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School in Boston and the author of Life Unlocked: 7 Revolutionary Lessons to Overcome Fear, is not surprised by the new findings.

“The finding that CBT changed brain function that correlated with improvements in social anxiety is expected,” he says in an email. “The fact that patients were medicated does raise the question of whether being on medication helped the treatment response and it might have, so we cannot say that CBT is a convincing first-line treatment yet,” he says. “We can say that CBT can alleviate symptoms, so for those people who decline to be on medication, there are other symptomatic treatments and some hope that they will feel better.”

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Mental Health News

2011-02-09 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

ADHD Often Linked to Other Mental Health Disorders

Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder are more likely to have other mental health or neurodevelopmental conditions, and their social and educational functions worsen with more comorbidities, according to a study published online Feb. 7 in Pediatrics.

TUESDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) — Children with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to have other mental health or neurodevelopmental conditions, and their social and educational functions worsen with more comorbidities, according to a study published online Feb. 7 in Pediatrics.

Kandyce Larson, Ph.D., of the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities in Los Angeles, and colleagues examined the patterns of comorbidity, functioning, and service use for 5,028 children with ADHD. They performed a cross-sectional analysis using data from the U.S. 2007 National Survey of Children’s Health.

The researchers found a parent-reported prevalence of ADHD of 8.2 percent. Children with ADHD were significantly more likely to have a learning disability, conduct disorder, anxiety, depression, and speech problems compared to children without ADHD. Children with ADHD were also more likely to have difficulty in school and socially. They also had higher odds of having poor parent-child communication and higher levels of parent aggravation. Most children with ADHD had at least one comorbidity, and poor children were 3.8 times more likely to have three or more comorbidities than well-off children. As the number of comorbidities increased, the children’s function declined and the use of health and educational services increased.

“Professionals and parents need to be aware of the high prevalence of mental health/neurodevelopmental comorbidities among school-aged children with ADHD in the United States. Patterns of worsening function with increasing numbers of comorbidities reflect the challenge of meeting the needs of children with complex clinical pictures within the current system of care,” the authors write.

Smoking pot speeds mental illness

CANNABIS can speed up the appearance of psychotic illness, a ground-breaking Australian study has found .
Dr Matthew Large, a staff specialist in mental health from the University of New South Wales and the Prince of Wales Hospital, said the risks are especially high for younger people, whose brains are still developing.

“What our research has found is that cannabis smoking brings schizophrenia on early by an average of 2.7 years,” he said.

For young people who smoke cannabis regularly, instead of having about a 1% chance of developing schizophrenia during their lifetime, they would end up with something like a 5% chance of developing schizophrenia, said Dr Large.

His research, that pulled together data on 20,000 patients and drew on more than 80 international studies, is published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

The study has again prompted drug experts to call for regulation, not prohibition, of marijuana.

With about 33% of the Australian population and 18% of secondary school students using the drug, in a few years there would be more Australians smoking cannabis than smoking tobacco, said Dr Alex Wodak, the director of the Alcohol and Drug Service at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital and head of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation.

“Having a black market of that size is not good for anybody,” he said.

“An unregulated cannabis market is about profits, not ethics. We have a responsibility to reduce the harm associated with cannabis use.”

He recently said he believed the time was right for a trial of a hash coffee shop in the community of Nimbin.

David Halliwell, a Fellow of the Chapter of Addictive Medicine Unit at the Royal Australasian College of Physicians and a long-term Northern Rivers resident said: “At the moment, the cannabis industry is just kept in the dark and prohibited.

“The laws have failed.

“We have an illegal market run by criminals. Regulating supply would be a much better way (of controlling cannabis use).”

South Carleton High School Does it for Daron

Summary: South Carleton High School is awash in the colour of purple today to draw attention to youth depression and mental illness in general in honour of Daron Richardson.

South Carleton High School is awash in the colour of purple today to draw attention to youth depression and mental illness in general in honour of Daron Richardson.

School Principal Trudy Garland says students Cydney Roesler, Rebecca Watson, Paige Watson, Logan Watson, Megan Carty, Mackenzie Coney, and Hannah Driver are selling wrist bands to raise funds for the Daron Richardson Foundation partnered with the Royal Ottawa for Mental Health. Meanwhile Manager of Cafeteria Services Kelly Watson baked cookies and cupcakes with purple sprinkles and the slushie machine is purple in honour of this special day.

Daron’s 15th birthday would have been celebrated today. February 8, 2011 has now been dubbed Do It For Daron Purple Pledge Day, where people are being asked to wear purple in support of the Daron Richardson Fund at the Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health. Purple was Daron’s favourite colour.

The Royal Ottawa Foundation hopes the movement will help youth address any problems they may be experiencing. The funds will go towards an early identification and intervention program for youth.

Ms. Garland says the students involved in the South Carleton High School project played in community hockey games with Daron over the years and wanted to participate in honouring her memory. She added, “They believe it is important to bring awareness regarding mental health to youth and who better to do it, but youth themselves. Kids talk to kids and they listen.”

South Carleton High School is located at 3673 McBean Street in Richmond.

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Anxiety Treatment Today

2011-01-29 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Alleged Ponzi schemer to get drug treatment in jail

TEXAS, United States, Thursday January 27, 2011 – Fraud accused Allen Stanford will have to remain in jail to get the treatment he needs for an addiction to anti-anxiety medication, a judge ruled yesterday as he put in writing an earlier ruling that the former billionaire is unfit to stand trial.

US District David Hittner said that the alleged Ponzi schemer would not be allowed to go to a private facility as his lawyers had requested. He said Stanford would get what he needed at a prison hospital and would also receive further psychiatric testing to determine his competence to stand trial later on.

“The court’s finding that Stanford is incompetent…does not alter the court’s finding that Stanford is a flight risk and that no combination of conditions of pretrial release can reasonably assure his appearance at trial,” Hittner wrote.

Stanford’s trial stems from allegations that he defrauded investors of US$7 billion through the sale of certificates of deposit at the Stanford International Bank in Antigua. Prosecutors say he conducted a Ponzi scheme in which earlier investors are paid not from returns on their investments, but with the money paid in by later investors.

He was to face 21 charges in a trial that was scheduled to start Monday. But after Hittner heard from one government and two defence psychiatrists earlier this month that Stanford had been taking high doses of anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs that left him unable to assist in preparing his own defence, the judge postponed the trial indefinitely and said he would set a new date only after Stanford’s had detoxified and was declared competent.

In his written ruling, Judge Hittner said while the three psychiatrists could not identify the exact cause of Stanford’s diminished mental capacity, they all agreed it could be one or a combination of over-medication, which has led to an addiction; brain damage caused by the head injury he sustained in September 2009 in a prison fight; and/or Major Depressive Disorder, also known as clinical depression.

All the psychiatrists agreed that Stanford should be withdrawn from his medications, a process that could take up to six months.

Judge Hittner has advised both the defence and prosecutors to diligently prepare their cases in the meantime.

When Worries Never End: Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Some people are worriers, or are just a little more anxious than others. But when that anxiety starts to take over your life, when you find you can’t make it through the day without getting worked up about something, it’s more than just anxiety. It might be generalized anxiety disorder.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Endless Worry

Unlike phobias or other more specific anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, isn’t a fear or worry about one particular thing or things. Instead, it’s constant worry — not about major events, but about the little things that you do every day. This level of anxiety is usually considered a disorder when it continues for more than six months and starts to affect daily life. People with generalized anxiety disorder excessively worry about things like their job, their money situation, their health problems, and their loved ones.

“People who have generalized anxiety feel it in multiple situations. They describe feeling tensions that they cannot first label as tension-producing, that they feel are innocuous situations, and in effect they live a life in which they have a sense of foreboding about everything,” says Charles Goodstein, MD, a clinical professor of psychiatry at New York University Langone Medical Center. “They cannot localize it.”

Other symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:
Always feeling edgy or tense
Constant anxiety and worrying
Anxiety that is excessive given the circumstances (irrational anxiety)
Having a hard time concentrating
Feeling shaky, tired, and cranky
Frequent headaches
Insomnia and other sleep problems
Physical symptoms like upset stomach or diarrhea, difficulty catching your breath, rapid heart rate, and sweating

Almost seven million adults in the United States deal with generalized anxiety disorder, a little over 3 percent of the total population. While anyone can get the disorder, twice as many women as men have it. And generalized anxiety disorder can strike as early as childhood, although symptoms may not show up until middle age or later.

Hypericum perforatum treatment: effect on behaviour and neurogenesis in a chronic stress model in mice

Extracts of Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort) have been traditionally recommended for a wide range of medical conditions, in particular mild-to-moderate depression.

The present study was designed to investigate the effect of Hypericum perforatum treatment in a mouse model of anxiety/depressive-like behavior, induced by chronic corticosterone administration.

Methods: CD1 mice were submitted to 7 weeks corticosterone administration and then behavioral tests as Open Field (OF), Novelty-Suppressed Feeding (NSF), Forced Swim Test (FST) were performed. Cell proliferation in hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG) was investigated by both5-bromo-2′-deoxyuridine (BrdU) and doublecortin (DCX) immunohistochemistry techniques and stereological procedure was used to quantify labeled cells.

Golgi-impregnation method was used to evaluate changes in dendritic spines in DG. Hypericum perforatum (30mg/Kg) has been administered for 3 weeks and then neural development in the adult hippocampus and behavioral changes have been examined.

Results: The anxiety/depressive-like state due to chronic corticosterone treatment was reversed by exogenous administration of Hypericum perforatum; the proliferation of progenitor cells in mice hippocampus was significantly reduced under chronic corticosterone treatment, whereas a long term treatment with Hypericum perforatum prevented the corticosterone-induced decrease in hippocampal cell proliferation.

Corticosterone-treated mice exhibited a reduced spine density that was ameliorated by Hypericum perforatum administration.

Conclusion: These results provide evidence of morphological adaptations occurring in mature hippocampal neurons that might underlie resilient responses to chronic stress and contribute to the therapeutic effects of chronic Hypericum perforatum treatment.

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Anxiety News

2011-01-11 / Mental Health / 0 Comments

Amid anxiety and hope, southern Sudanese vote in Kenya

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan. 9 (UPI) — The shriek echoed down the line and everyone turned. The shriek didn’t come from fear or anger. Instead it was filled with laughter, tears and happiness. Then, all the southern Sudanese women in the line joined in with ululations, jubilant changing and a chorus of “Hallelujah!”

Some carried the Christian cross, others waved the flag of southern Sudan,. A pregnant woman massaged her stomach to attract the cameras’ attention to what is written on her T-shirt: “The Mighty Moment: Go Southern Sudan. Go.”

More than 2,000 registered voters were expected to cast their ballots at just one of the polling places set up in Nairobi. Voters started queuing at 3 a.m., bracing against a chilly night, but everyone trying to be the first one to vote. There were pregnant women, mothers carrying babies, disabled people leaning on walking sticks, sons and daughters holding the hands of elderly parents. A blind woman chanted excitedly as she was led down a corridor.

“I am so excited,” said Ruot Chawgath Kai, who works with the Southern Sudan Referendum Commission in Kenya. “When God opens that door today, no one will be able to stop Southern Sudan from seceding.”

The 2011 Southern Sudan Referendum is giving the people of southern Sudan the opportunity to vote for secession from northern Sudan. If the vote is affirmed, then the world will get its newest state on July 9.

The voting will last a week, until Saturday, and will require a turnout of 60 percent. This means that more than 2.3 million out of the 3.9 million registered voters must vote for the referendum to count.

The SSRC, a body that is independent from the governments of Sudan or Southern Sudan, alongside the International Organization of Migration is running the Out-of-Country Voting and Registration.

The OCV will also take place in eight countries — Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, Ethiopia, Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom — in addition to Sudan.

The Referendum Commission said those eight countries were chosen because they are densely populated by communities of South Sudanese outside Sudan.

“It is a possibility that the referendum result will be accepted, given the successful voter registration, and this gives the commission high hope,” said Achuoth Philip Deng, the commission’s representative in Kenya.

About 4 million people are registered to vote in the referendum, he said. Kenya leads the way for out-of-country voting, with more than 15,000 southern Sudanese registered.

The referendum is taking place in eight centers around Kenya. Two centers are in Nairobi, one each in Eldoret, Nakuru, Kitale, one in the Dadaab refugee camp, and two more centers in Kakuma refugee camp.

Deng said Kenyan police officers will be deployed at the eight voting stations around the country during the seven-day process of voting.

At Blue Springs Hotel, one of the two voting centers in Nairobi, people were ecstatic.

As voters trickled into the center on time, there was mismanagement as to how they were supposed to line up. As disorder affected the queuing process, officials from the SSRC were at a loss on how to control the crowds, as voters started pushing each other for space.

Even so, voters were determined to stay in line until they vote.

“People are eager to vote” said Oliver Bakata Frazer, head of the Consideration Committee at the voting station. “They came here at 3 in the morning, and they are determined to finish the process.”

Electoral observers arrived early to witness the referendum kickoff at 8 a.m. Representatives from the Institute for Education, Sudan Council of Churches, All Africa Conference of Churches, the Carter Center and Kenya’s Interim Independent Electoral Commission were all in attendance.

“I believe us, the youth in Kenya, more than others, will change the future of southern Sudan,” said Stephen Duol, who was draped with a Southern Sudanese flag as he voted. “It is a change we believe in. Yes, we can.”

Wiederer: Duke turns anxiety into momentum in crunch time

If you’re looking for the time period of Sunday night’s ACC clash during which No. 1 Duke turned its anxiety into momentum, let me save you the research. It started with 17:23 left against Maryland with a peculiar substitution by coach Mike Krzyzewski and ended 6 minutes and 22 seconds later with any nerves the Blue Devils had been feeling replaced with a winning combination of aggression and positive energy.

So who’s to credit for the surge that allowed Duke to surface from a wild scrum at Cameron Indoor Stadium with a 71-64 win? Freshman Tyler Thornton.

Yes, that Tyler Thornton, the young guard who sat out Duke’s entire ACC opener against Miami last weekend and remained cemented to the bench for the entire first half Sunday.

Common sense said Thornton would be in his warm-ups for the entire night against Maryland. How could Coach K possibly feel comfortable throwing such an untested rookie into a game more feisty than any Duke had played this season?

Yet sometimes instinct overrules common sense. Which is why Krzyzewski gave Thornton a point with 17:23 remaining, sent him into the game to replace Andre Dawkins, then sat back for the next 6:22 and watched something special happen.

With a grin on his face as he played defense, Thornton delivered exactly the kind of focus and hustle that will make Duke so darn tough to beat this season.

Using his greatest asset, his fundamentally sound and spirited defense, Thornton lit a fire under the Blue Devils. He showed his teammates he was fearless, ready for all the chaos Sunday night’s game had to offer.

He made a steal from Terrapins guard Pe’Shon Howard and converted it into a pretty floater on the other end. He drew a charge against Howard.

He clapped his hands. He pumped his fists.

“We call Tyler ‘The Bulldog,” Dawkins said. “We put him into the game and we sic him on the other point guard. He was playing defense for 94 feet. He gave our entire team energy. You can’t put into words the boost he gave us tonight.”

Immediately after Thornton entered, Duke delivered a 14-2 run that turned a six-point deficit into a six-point lead.

“He was a difference maker,” Krzyzewski said. “How would you ever predict that?”

The initial surge of the second half had gone miserably for the Devils. Not only had they gone to halftime with plenty to worry about, up just 32-31 and digesting a first half in which they missed nine of 10 3-point attempts, but Maryland began the second half by scoring seven points in the first minute, staggering the defending national champions and leaving Krzyzewski looking for answers.

That the Hall of Fame coach got such a bold performance from Thornton seemed to surprise even him.

In 12 minutes, Thornton contributed four steals, drew two charges and had a strip of Maryland star Jordan Williams on a putback try with 4:00 left.

What’s more, on a night where the Terrapins harassed Nolan Smith all over the floor, Thornton’s ability to lighten Smith’s load by taking over point guard duty for significant stretches steadied Duke.

“Having not played in the first half and really not being part of that seven-man rotation (we have), for Tyler to play as well as he did tonight is really one of the things that make you love coaching,” Krzyzewski said.

Krzyzewski knew from the first day he recruited Thornton that the kid had something special. His big-game experience playing at Gonzaga High in Washington and with D.C. Assault in the AAU ranks has given him an obvious basketball maturity.

It would be an exaggeration to label Duke’s win season-changing. But it would be similarly naïve to dismiss the possibility that such a determined comeback fueled by Thornton’s hustle will propel the Blue Devils to be a more complete team.

“This is a great win for us. Are you kidding me?” Krzyzewski said. “We’re not this great basketball team. We’re a good basketball team that has to gain experience, gain maturity and learn.”

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