Treatment Issues for Bipolar Disorder in Women

By HeidiAnne Duerr, MPH, Contributing Editor | November 9, 2012
Treating women with bipolar disorder (BD) requires some special considerations, explained Laura Miller, MD, during her presentation at the 2012 US Psychiatric & Mental Health Congress in San Diego. Miller reviewed treatment issues across the lifespan of women—from puberty and menstruation to sexuality to issues in menopause—and shared practical tips and clinical consideration with attendees.
Issues Associated With Menstruation
Miller, professor at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Women’s Mental Health Divisionin the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, said the hormonal changes associated with the menstrual cycle and menopause can complicate treatment and disease course. For instance, in a retrospective study of 2524 women, 65.1% of women with bipolar type I and 70.5% with bipolar type II reported increased premenstrual mood symptoms. Only 33.7% of women without BD reported increased mood symptoms.1 She added that there are a number of well-documented cases showing a clear exacerbation of mood symptoms associated with the menstrual cycle. To read more, click here.

The benefits of gratitude

By Mary MacVean, Los Angeles Times

November 17, 2012

Before we eat Thanksgiving dinner at my house, along with saying grace, each of the 20 or so people at the table takes a turn lighting a candle and expressing gratitude. The appreciation can be lighthearted — for mashed potatoes or a day off from school. Or the thankfulness may be accompanied by a heavy heart — for the memories of a loved one recently passed.
As it happens, this expression is not an empty exercise. And if we developed the discipline to be consciously grateful on a regular basis, year-round, research shows we’d be happier and suffer less depression and stress. We’d sleep better and be better able to face our problems.

There’s evidence that gratitude is uniquely important to well-being. Long embraced by religion as a “manifestation of virtue,” it’s one of the few things that “can measurably change people’s lives,” says Robert Emmons, a UC Davis professor who has been studying gratitude since 1998 and is the author of the book “Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier.”

“Gratitude implies humility — a recognition that we could not be who we are or where we are in life without the contributions of others,” Emmons writes. Click here to read more.

What Do Bullying and Youth Substance Use Have in Common? More Than You Might Think.

Written By: Frances M. Harding, Director, Center for Substance Abuse Prevention

October is Bullying Prevention Month and National Substance Abuse Prevention Month, a busy and important time for prevention efforts.  On the surface, bullying and youth substance use may seem like separate problems.  However, from research, we know that youth who use substances are at risk for other problem behaviors during their teen years.  In fact, new findings suggest that middle and high school students who bully their peers are more likely to use alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana.
Bullying and substance use among children and teenagers have shared risk and protective factors.  Effective prevention efforts minimize these risk factors and maximize protective factors in a child’s life.  If a problem has already surfaced, learn to recognize the warning signs of bullying and being bullied, underage alcohol use, and drug use to intervene before the problem becomes worse.
But let’s rewind: how do you know which risk and protective factors to focus on?  Read on!

Hormone Use in Menopause Lowers Depression, Anxiety

By Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 6, 2012
According to a new study, low doses of estrogen pills, such as Premarin, can significantly improve levels of stress and depression that often show up during menopause.

In younger women, the drug has no negative effect on memory or the ability to think clearly, which can be a side effect for women over 65 who take hormones.
Nearly all previous hormone replacement therapy studies have involved older women, researchers said.
“While we saw there was a wealth of data, a lot of it might not be applicable to young women,” said Mitch Harman, director of the nonprofit Kronos Longevity Research Institute.

Researcher and physician JoAnn Manson said it is important to pay attention to the concerns of women who just recently reached menopause. Click here to read more.

Home-Based Assessment Tool for Dementia Screening

Posted October 2, 2012 Atlanta, GA

 With baby boomers approaching the age of 65 and new cases of Alzheimer’s disease expected to increase by 50 percent by the year 2030, Georgia Tech researchers have created a tool that allows adults to screen themselves for early signs of dementia. The home-based computer software is patterned after the paper-and-pencil Clock Drawing Test, one of health care’s most commonly used screening exams for cognitive impairment.

“Technology allows us to check our weight, blood-sugar levels and blood pressure, but not our own cognitive abilities,” said project leader Ellen Yi-Luen Do. “Our ClockMe System helps older adults identify early signs of impairment, while allowing clinicians to quickly analyze the test results and gain valuable insight into the patient’s thought processes.”
Georgia Tech’s ClockMe system eliminates the paper trail and computerizes the test into two main components: the ClockReader Application and the ClockAnalyzer Application. Click here to see a video demo.
ClockReader is the actual test and is taken with a stylus and computer or tablet. The participant is given a specific time and instructed to draw a clock with numbers and the correct minute and hour hands. Once completed, the sketch is emailed to a clinician, who uses the ClockAnalyzer Application to score the test. The software checks for 13 traits. They include correct placement of numbers and hands without extra markings. People with cognitive impairment frequently draw clocks with missing or extra numbers. Digits are sometimes drawn outside of the clock. The time is often incorrect. To contine reading click here.

5 Ways to Beat Job Burnout

Feeling burned out? You’re not alone. According to a new survey published by ComPsych, the world’s largest provider of employee assistance programs, burnout is up among Americans, with 63 percent of the 1,800 surveyed participants citing work as the root cause of their stress.

This becomes a serious problem because the more a person experiences daily stress, the higher their risk of developing numerous health problems, including heart disease, depression, and obesity, according to the Mayo Clinic.

“Stress also affects productivity,” says Gloria S. Rothenberg, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist who is not affiliated with the study. “Fatigue and mental exhaustion lead to poor concentration and a greater rate of errors,” she says. In fact, more than one-third of the surveyed workers in ComPsych’s study lost an hour or more per day in productivity at work due to stress. Essentially, the more stressed you are about work, the less productive you become. Cue the vicious cycle. Click here to read more.

Family Stress In Infancy Linked to Anxiety in Teen Girls

By Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 6, 2012
High levels of family stress during infancy are associated with future anxiety and everyday brain function problems in teen girls, according to a new study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Babies who lived with stressed mothers were more likely to become preschoolers with higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone. Fourteen years later, these girls with higher cortisol showed weaker communication between brain areas associated with emotion regulation.
Finally, both high cortisol and differences in brain activity predicted higher levels of anxiety at age 18.
The males in the study did not show any of these patterns.
“We wanted to understand how stress early in life impacts patterns of brain development which might lead to anxiety and depression,” said Dr. Cory Burghy of the Waisman Laboratory for Brain Imaging and Behavior.
“Young girls who, as preschoolers, had heightened cortisol levels, go on to show lower brain connectivity in important neural pathways for emotion regulation — and that predicts symptoms of anxiety during adolescence,” said Burghy.

For the study, scans designed by Dr. Rasmus Birn, assistant professor of psychiatry, showed that teen girls whose mothers reported high levels of family stress when the girls were babies had weaker connections between the amygdala (threat center of the brain) and the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (responsible for emotional regulation). To continue reading, click here.

Alcohol Abuse Common among Bullies, Victims

By Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 30, 2012
A new study suggests both school bullies and their victims are likely to abuse alcohol after a bullying episode.

University of Cincinnati researchers examined bullying, recent alcohol use and heavy drinking episodes among more than 54,000 7th – 12th grade students in schools across Greater Cincinnati, including the tri-state regions of Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.
Keith King, Ph.D., along with Rebecca Vidourek, Ph.D., discovered more than 38 percent of students were involved in school violent victimization, defined as ranging from verbal intimidation to threatening with and using a weapon.

Investigators also determined that school violent victimization was associated with increased odds of recent alcohol use and heavy drinking among males and females and across 7th-12th grades.
Click here to read more.

Bullying Has Long-Term Health Consequences

ScienceDaily (Oct. 30, 2012) — Childhood bullying can lead to long term health consequences, including general and mental health issues, behavioral problems, eating disorders, smoking, alcohol use, and homelessness, a study by the Crime Victims’ Institute at Sam Houston State University found.

“What is apparent from these results is that bullying victimization that occurs early in life may have significant and substantial consequences for those victims later in life,” said Leana Bouffard, Director of the Crime Victims’ Institute. “Thus, the adverse health consequences of victimization are much more far-reaching than just immediate injury or trauma. Understanding these long term consequences is important to assessing the true toll of crime on its victims and on society as well as responding to victims more effectively.” To read more, click here.