Fewer Drop Out of Phone-based Psychotherapy

Fewer Drop Out of Phone-based PsychotherapyBy Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 7, 2012

A new study finds that individuals and therapists using telephone therapy improves access and compliance and has comparable outcomes to office-based care.
The ubiquity of cell phones and smartphones like the iPhone and Droid allows an individual to receive counseling in whatever setting they choose. A new Northwestern Medicine research study discovered patients who had therapy sessions provided over the phone were more likely to complete 18 weeks of treatment than those who had face-to-face sessions.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first large trial to compare the benefits of face-to-face and telephone therapy. Previous research has shown the effectiveness of telephone-based therapy.
Phone therapy is a rapidly growing trend among therapists. About 85 percent of psychologists now deliver some of their services over the phone because competing demands, transportation time and other problems make it difficult for many patients to get to their offices.
“Now therapists can make house calls,” said David Mohr, Ph.D., the lead author and a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
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Mental Health of the Elderly

Having good mental health throughout life does not ensure immunity from severe depression, Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety disorders and other disorders in the senior years of life. In fact, some studies show elderly people are at greater risk of mental disorders and their complications than are younger people. However, many of these illnesses can be accurately diagnosed and treated.

  • From 15 to 25 percent of elderly people in the United States suffer from significant symptoms of mental illness.
  • The highest suicide rate in America is among those aged 65 and older. In 1985, this age group represented 12 percent of the total U.S. population, but accounted for 20 percent of suicides nationwide. That means close to 6,000 older Americans kill themselves each year.
  • Worldwide, elderly people lead the World Health Organization’s list of new cases of mental illness: 236 elderly people per 100,000 suffer from mental illness, compared to 93 per 100,000 for those aged 45 to 64, the next younger group.
  • Severe organic mental disorders afflict one million elderly people in this country and another two million suffer from moderate organic disorders.

Sadly, many of the nation’s elderly are reluctant to seek psychiatric treatment which could cure or alleviate their symptoms and return them to their previous level of functioning. Why? Many older people don’t understand mental illnesses or acknowledge that they even exist. They feel ashamed of their symptoms or else feel that they are an inevitable part of aging. Medicare, which sets the standard for health care insurance coverage, has traditionally discriminated against psychiatric care by offering a low level of benefits. Elderly people, their loved ones and friends and often their own doctors fail to recognize the symptoms of treatable mental illness in older people. They blame them on “old age” or think nothing can be done to alleviate the problem. As a result:
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Exercise Benefits Memory, Mental Health

Exercise Benefits Memory, Mental HealthResearchers at Dartmouth College have found that exercise can benefit memory, as well as help children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
By Janice Wood Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 26, 2012

Over the past few years data has shown that exercise creates neurobiological changes, according to David Bucci, an associate professor in the department of psychological and brain sciences.
His latest research finds that the effects of exercise are different on memory, as well as on the brain, depending on whether the exerciser is an adolescent or an adult. Researchers have also identified a gene that seems to mediate the degree to which exercise has a beneficial effect, which has implications for the use of exercise as an intervention for mental illness, Bucci said.
He said he began his pursuit of the link between exercise and memory with ADHD, one of the most common childhood psychological disorders, noting he is concerned that the treatment of choice is medication.
“The notion of pumping children full of psycho-stimulants at an early age is troublesome,” Bucci said. “We frankly don’t know the long-term effects of administering drugs at an early age — drugs that affect the brain — so looking for alternative therapies is clearly important.”
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Cognitive Therapy for Depression

Are your thoughts dragging you down?
WebMD Feature

Almost everyone has dark thoughts when his or her mood is bad. With depression, though, the thoughts can be extremely negative. They can also take over and distort your view of reality.
Cognitive therapy can be an effective way to defuse those thoughts. When used for depression, cognitive therapy provides a mental tool kit that can be used to challenge negative thoughts. Over the long term, cognitive therapy for depression can change the way a depressed person sees the world.
Studies have shown that cognitive therapy works at least as well as antidepressants in helping people with mild to moderate depression. Treatment with medication and/or psychotherapy can shorten depression’s course and can help reduce symptoms such as fatigue and poor self-esteem that accompany depression. Read on to see how cognitive therapy or talk therapy might help you start thinking and feeling better if you are depressed.

Cognitive Therapy for Depression: A Thinking Problem

Cognitive therapy was developed in the 1960s as an alternative way to treat depression, says Judith S. Beck, PhD. Beck is director of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Therapy and Research located outside Philadelphia. She tells WebMD that the principle underlying cognitive therapy is “thoughts influence moods.”
According to cognitive therapists, depression is maintained by constant negative thoughts. These thoughts are known as automatic thoughts. That means they occur without a conscious effort. For example, a depressed person might have automatic thoughts like these:

  • “I always fail at everything.”
  • “I’m the world’s worst mother.”
  • “I am doomed to be unhappy.”

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Glenn Close: Let’s End the Stigma Around Mental Illness Now

In 1987, when Glenn Close was cast as Alex Forrest — the iconic lead character in Fatal Attraction — Close met with several psychiatrists. She was hoping to learn more about the obviously troubled lead character. Little did she know, she was also about to learn something more troubling about the status of mentally ill people in our society.
Glenn says those visits provided insight towards the stigma around mental illness: “Not only did I not have a vocabulary for it, I realized, startlingly, that [the psychiatrists] didn’t either.” She realized that even mental health professionals still struggled to speak openly about mental illness. That experience, along with the experiences in her own family, is part of what made her into the mental health advocate she is today.
I recently had the privilege of attending the annual meeting of One Mind for Research at UCLA. With the ambitious title “Curing Brain Disease,” the conference was filled to capacity with neuroscientists and policymakers with a powerful vision: that all mankind experiences a lifetime free of brain disease.
A highlight of the conference was “The Science of Stigma,” a panel led by Glenn Close. I was fortunate enough to sit in, and to interview Glenn and the panelists afterward.
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The 3 Minute Test for Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder and PTSD

These are serious conditions that affect, not only your quality of life, but your physical health.

Did you know that having a mood disorder may increase your heart attack risk and decrease your ability to recover from other illnesses like stroke, diabetes, multiple sclerosis and cancer?

Your M3 score is a number that will help you and your doctor understand if you have a treatable mood disorder, like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or post traumatic stress disorder. You can even monitor your score to see how your mental health is changing over time.

What’s my M3? Knowing can help you take control of your mental health, and you can discover yours in about three minutes with our free, confidential test.

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Screening for mental illness? Yes, there’s an app for that

By Michelle Healy, USA TODAY

There are numbers to track cholesterol and numbers to assess blood pressure, body temperature and weight. But can a number give an accurate read on your mental health?
The medical team behind a screening tool called Whats MyM3 says it can — and it can tell if you’re at increased risk for depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
WhatsMyM3 (originally My Mood Monitor) can help adults, whether in treatment or not, “monitor their own symptoms and have a view of what’s going on” in terms of mood and anxiety, says psychiatrist Steven Daviss of M3 Information, Bethesda, Md. Daviss is chairman of psychiatry at Baltimore Washington Medical Center.
WhatsMyM3 is available as a mobile app ($2.99 for iPhone, iPad and Android), or free on the Web (WhatsMyM3.com). M3Clinician is a version for physicians. The company has no financial or other relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, says president Michael Byer.
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Preemies at Greater Risk for Future Bipolar, Depression, Psychosis

By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 3, 2012
Preemies at Greater Risk for Future Bipolar, Depression, PsychosisBabies born prematurely are at a much greater risk for developing severe mental disorders including psychosis, bipolar disorder and depression, according to a new study.

Researchers found that individuals born very prematurely (less than 32 weeks) were three times more likely to be hospitalized with a psychiatric illness at age 16 and older than those born full-term.
The scientists believe the increased risk may be due to small but critical differences in brain development if the child is born before the full 40-week gestation period.
The risk varied with each condition. Psychosis was two and a half times more likely for premature babies, severe depression three times more likely, and bipolar disorder 7.4 times more likely for those born before 32 weeks.
Researchers also found smaller but significant increased psychiatric risks for infants born only moderately early, between 32 and 36 weeks.
“Since we considered only the most severe cases that resulted in hospitalization, it may be that in real terms this link is even stronger,” said Chiara Nosarti from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, who led the research.
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