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February 4, 2010, 7:33 AM CT

Treating depression during pregnancy with acupuncture

Treating depression during pregnancy with acupuncture
In a study to be presented today at the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine's (SMFM) annual meeting, The Pregnancy Meeting , in Chicago, scientists will unveil findings that show that acupuncture appears to be an effective therapy for depression during pregnancy.

"Depression during pregnancy is an issue of concern because it has negative effects on both the mother and the baby as well as the rest of the family," said Dr. Schnyer, one of the study's authors.

About 10% of pregnant women meet criteria for major depression and almost 20% have increased symptoms of depression during pregnancy. The rates of depression in pregnant women are comparable to rates seen among similarly aged non-pregnant women and among women during the postpartum period, but there are far fewer therapy studies of depression during pregnancy than during the postpartum period.

Dealing with depression is difficult for pregnant women because the use of anti-depressants poses concerns to the developing fetus and women are reluctant to take medications during pregnancy.

In the study, an evaluator-blinded randomized trial, 150 participants who met the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) criteria for Major Depressive Disorder were randomized to receive either acupuncture specific for depression (SPEC, n=52) or one of two active controls: control acupuncture (CTRL, n=49) or massage (MSSG, n=49). Treatments lasted eight weeks (12 sessions). Junior acupuncturists masked to therapy assignment needled participants at points prescribed by senior acupuncturists. Massage therapists and patients were not blinded. The primary outcome was the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, administered by blinded raters at baseline and after four and eight weeks of therapy. Data were analyzed using mixed effects models and by intent-to-treat.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


February 3, 2010, 8:14 AM CT

Gene variation makes alcoholism less likely in some

Gene variation makes alcoholism less likely in some
Washington University School of Medicine

Elliot C. Nelson, M.D.
Exposure to severe stress early in life increases the risk of alcohol and drug addiction. Yet surprisingly, some adults sexually abused as children - and therefore at high risk for alcohol problems - carry gene variants that protect them from heavy drinking and its effects, as per scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The researchers, from the university's Midwest Alcoholism Research Center, say the finding could aid the development of therapies for alcohol dependence by offering suggestions for targeted therapys based on genetic traits and history of exposure to severe stressors.

Researchers estimate that about half the risk for alcoholism is encoded in a person's genes. The rest comes from environmental factors, such as age at first drink and exposure to extreme stress. Other research has suggested that when the environmental risk factors occur during key periods of brain development, genes and environment working together can increase the likelihood an individual will become alcohol dependent. Child sexual abuse is one of the environmental stressors that can interact with genes to significantly increase the risk for alcohol problems.

But the scientists report in the recent issue of Addiction Biology that people with a particular pattern of genetic markers seem to be protected against alcohol problems, even if they were sexually abused as children.........

Posted by: Janet      Read more         Source


February 1, 2010, 7:58 AM CT

Can blocking a frown?

Can blocking a frown?
Your facial expression may tell the world what you are thinking or feeling. But it also affects your ability to understand written language correlation to emotions, as per research that was presented today to the Society for Personal and Social Psychology in Las Vegas, and would be reported in the journal Psychological Science.

The newly released study reported on 40 people who were treated with botulinum toxin, or Botox. Tiny applications of this powerful nerve poison were used to deactivate muscles in the forehead that cause frowning.

The interactions of facial expression, thoughts and emotions has intrigued researchers for more than a century, says the study's first author, University of Wisconsin-Madison psychology Ph.D. candidate David Havas.

Researchers have observed that blocking the ability to move the body causes changes in cognition and emotion, but there were always questions. (One of the test therapys caused widespread, if temporary, paralysis.) In contrast, Havas was studying people after a pinpoint therapy to paralyze a single pair of "corrugator" muscles, which cause brow-wrinkling frowns.

To test how blocking a frown might affect comprehension of language correlation to emotions, Havas asked the patients to read written statements, before and then two weeks after the Botox therapy. The statements were angry ("The pushy telemarketer won't let you return to your dinner"); sad ("You open your email in-box on your birthday to find no new emails"); or happy ("The water park is refreshing on the hot summer day.").........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 27, 2010, 8:21 AM CT

Parents' perceptions of their childs competence

Parents' perceptions of their childs competence
As per a newly released study, there is no direct link between parents' own level of physical activity, and how much their child may exercise. In fact, parents' perceptions of their children's athleticism are what have a direct impact on the children's activity.

The study by Oregon State University scientists Stewart Trost and Paul Loprinzi, reported in the journal Preventive Medicine, studied 268 children ages 2 to 5 in early childhood education centers in Queensland, Australia. Of these children, 156 parents or caregivers were surveyed on their parental practices, behaviors correlation to physical activity and demographic information.

What they found is that parents' level of physical activity is not directly linked to their children, but instead that the direct link was between parental support and a child's level of physical activity.

"Active parents appears to be more likely to have active children because they encourage that behavior through the use of support systems and opportunities for physical activity, but there is no statistical evidence that a child is active simply because they see that their parents exercise," Trost said.

Trost, who is director of the Obesity Prevention Research Core at the new Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families at OSU, is an international expert on the issue of childhood obesity.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 26, 2010, 8:50 AM CT

Antidepressants and lactation difficulties

Antidepressants and lactation difficulties
As per a newly released study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM), women taking usually used forms of antidepressant drugs may experience delayed lactation after giving birth and may need additional support to achieve their breastfeeding goals.

Breastfeeding benefits both infants and mothers in a number of ways as breast milk is easy to digest and contains antibodies that can protect infants from bacterial and viral infections. The World Health Organization recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. This newly released study shows that certain common antidepressant drugs appears to be associated with a common difficulty experienced by new mothers known as delayed secretory activation, defined as a delay in the initiation of full milk secretion.

"The breasts are serotonin-regulated glands, meaning the breasts' ability to secrete milk at the right time is closely correlation to the body's production and regulation of the hormone serotonin," said Nelson Horseman, PhD, of the University of Cincinnati and co-author of the study. "Common antidepressant drugs like fluoxetine, sertraline and paroxetine are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) drugs and while they can affect mood, emotion and sleep they may also impact serotonin regulation in the breast, placing new mothers at greater risk of a delay in the establishment of a full milk supply".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 25, 2010, 7:59 AM CT

Benefits of psychodynamic psychotherapy

Benefits of psychodynamic psychotherapy
Psychodynamic psychotherapy is effective for a wide range of mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety, panic and stress-related physical ailments, and the benefits of the treatment grow after therapy has ended, as per new research published by the American Psychological Association.

Psychodynamic treatment focuses on the psychological roots of emotional suffering. Its hallmarks are self-reflection and self-examination, and the use of the relationship between therapist and patient as a window into problematic relationship patterns in the patient's life. Its goal is not only to alleviate the most obvious symptoms but to help people lead healthier lives.

"The American public has been told that only newer, symptom-focused therapys like cognitive behavior treatment or medicine have scientific support," said study author Jonathan Shedler, PhD, of the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. "The actual scientific evidence shows that psychodynamic treatment is highly effective. The benefits are at least as large as those of other psychotherapies, and they last." .

To reach these conclusions, Shedler evaluated eight meta-analyses comprising 160 studies of psychodynamic treatment, plus nine meta-analyses of other psychological therapys and antidepressant medications. Shedler focused on effect size, which measures the amount of change produced by each therapy. An effect size of 0.80 is considered a large effect in psychological and medical research. One major meta-analysis of psychodynamic treatment included 1,431 patients with a range of mental health problems and found an effect size of 0.97 for overall symptom improvement (the treatment was typically once per week and lasted less than a year). The effect size increased by 50 percent, to 1.51, when patients were re-reviewed nine or more months after treatment ended. The effect size for the most widely used antidepressant medications is a more modest 0.31. The findings appear in the recent issue of American Psychology expert, the flagship journal of the American Psychological Association.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 22, 2010, 8:22 AM CT

Childhood clues to adult schizophrenia

Childhood clues to adult schizophrenia
Years before adults develop schizophrenia, there is a pattern of cognitive difficulties they experience as children, including problems with verbal reasoning, working memory, attention and processing speed.

Drawing on a long-term study of more than 1,000 New Zealanders born from 1972 to 1973, a team led by Duke scientists has found a consistent pattern of developmental difficulties that first appeared when adult study subjects with schizophrenia were 7 years old.

"The proportion of kids who don't score well on these tests is big, and the number of kids who develop schizophrenia is tiny," said co-author of study Terrie E. Moffitt, the Knut Schmidt Nielsen professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke. But now that the study subjects are in their late 30s and mental illnesses have been identified, "we looked backwards to understand more about how schizophrenia may develop".

By age 32, 1 percent of the study participants met the formal criteria for schizophrenia and had been hospitalized and put on antipsychotic medication. Another 2.5 percent met the diagnostic criteria for the disorder, but hadn't received therapy.

Knowing what they know now, the scientists were able to track the progress of these cognitive deficits as the subjects went through testing at ages 3, 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 as part of the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 22, 2010, 8:22 AM CT

Do children need both a mother and a father?

Do children need both a mother and a father?
The presumption that children need both a mother and a father is widespread. It has been used by proponents of Proposition 8 to argue against same-sex marriage and to uphold a ban on same-sex adoption.

On the other end of the political spectrum, Barack Obama endorsed the vital role of fathers in a 2008 speech: "Of all the rocks upon which we build our lives, we are reminded today that family is the most important. And we are called to recognize and honor how critical every father is to that foundation".

The lead article in the recent issue of Journal of Marriage and Family challenges the idea that "fatherless" children are necessarily at a disadvantage or that men provide a different, indispensable set of parenting skills than women.

"Significant policy decisions have been swayed by the misconception across party lines that children need both a mother and a father. Yet, there is almost no social science research to support this claim. One problem is that proponents of this view routinely ignore research on same-gender parents," said sociologist Timothy Biblarz of the USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Extending their previous work on gender and family, Biblarz and Judith Stacey of NYU analyzed relevant studies about parenting, including available research on single-mother and single-father households, gay male parents and lesbian parents. "That a child needs a male parent and a female parent is so taken for granted that people are uncritical," Stacey said.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 22, 2010, 8:15 AM CT

How to Live Your Life Twice

How to Live Your Life Twice

Prof. Carlo Strenger
Elliot Jacques coined the term "mid-life crisis" 40 years ago, when the average lifespan was 70 and "mid-life" came at age 35. Individuals could expect their quality of life to decline from that point forward, Jacques argued, so some extreme reactions to encroaching mortality were to be expected, such as having extra-marital affairs and buying a Corvette.

Not any more, says Prof. Carlo Strenger of Tel Aviv University's Department of Psychology. In an article co-authored with the Israeli researcher Arie Ruttenberg for the Harvard Business Review last year, and another in the journal Psychoanalytic Psychology, Prof. Strenger posits that the mid-life years are the best time of life to flourish and grow.

Citing research based on empirical evidence and studies from the field, Prof. Strenger says that adult lives really do have second acts.

"Somehow this line has been drawn around the mid and late 40s as the time for a mid-life crisis in our society," says Prof. Strenger. "But as people live longer and fuller lives, we have to cast aside that stereotype and start thinking in terms of 'mid-life transition' rather than 'mid-life crisis.'" He dismisses the prevailing myth that reaching the years between the 40s and the early 60s means adapting to diminished expectations, both internally and from society.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


January 12, 2010, 8:49 AM CT

Mind-Body Techniques for Treating Celiac Disease

Mind-Body Techniques for Treating Celiac Disease
For adults and children diagnosed with celiac disease, the only therapy is a gluten-free diet, which can be very challenging. Gastroenterologists at Rush University Medical Center are conducting a newly released study to see if mind/body techniques could help patients with celiac disease adhere to the very strict diet.

Celiac disease is a lifelong, digestive disease affecting children and adults. People who have celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein found in almost all food products as well as medicines, vitamins and lip balms. Gluten can damage the small intestine and interfere with absorption of nutrients from food.

"Eating even a small amount of gluten can damage the small intestine," said Dr. Ali Keshavarzian, vice chairman of medicine and gastroenterologist at Rush. "The damage will occur in anyone with the disease, including people without noticeable symptoms".

Hidden sources of gluten are sometimes additives such as modified food starch, preservatives and stabilizers made with wheat. Also, a number of corn and rice products are produced in factories that also manufacture wheat products, and can be contaminated with wheat gluten.

"The purpose of this study is to determine whether participation in one of two mind/body courses can help patients cope with the restricted diet," said Keshavarzian. "It can be very hard and stressful for people with celiac disease to stick to a gluten-free diet."........

Posted by: Sue      Read more         Source



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Did you know?
Too little evidence exists to recommend or rule out estrogen as a treatment for schizophrenia in women, a new review of studies finds.People diagnosed with schizophrenia suffer distorted perceptions of reality and hallucinations. Today, estrogen is strictly an experimental therapy for the psychotic symptoms associated with the mental illness.

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