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October 1, 2009, 6:45 AM CT

Antidepressant or placebo?

Antidepressant or placebo?
When used "off-label," the antidepressant amitriptyline works just as well as placebo in treating pain-predominant gastrointestinal disorders in children, as per a newly released study in Gastroenterology, the official journal of the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) Institute. To view this article's video abstract, go to the AGA's YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/AmerGastroAssn.

"A number of pharmaceutical products are prescribed for off-label use in children due to the lack of clinical trials testing the efficacy of the drugs in children and adolescents. Therefore, the pediatric gastroenterologist frequently has to make therapy decisions without the evidence of how drugs work in children," said Miguel Saps, MD, of Children's Memorial Hospital and main author of the study. "The high placebo effect we identified in this study suggests that further studies of the use of certain antidepressants in children with functional bowel disorders are needed. While several trials have demonstrated a beneficial effect of antidepressants, including amitriptyline, for the therapy of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in adults, more studies are needed to determine how effective this drug is, if at all, in children".

Amitriptyline (Elavil) is used to treat symptoms of depression, however, it is often times prescribed to children for pain relief from pain-predominant functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs). Pain-predominant FGIDs are among the most common causes for medical consultation in children. Such disorders include three common conditions: IBS, functional dyspepsia and functional abdominal pain.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 30, 2009, 6:54 AM CT

Less than half of men and women with depression

Less than half of men and women with depression
Less than half of men and women in Ontario who appears to be suffering from depression see a doctor to treat their potentially debilitating condition, as per a new women's health study by scientists at St. Michael's Hospital and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES). What's more, a number of hospitalized for severe depression fail to see a doctor for follow-up care within 30 days of being discharged, and a number of head to hospital emergency departments for care. The findings suggest the need for a comprehensive care model involving a multidisciplinary team of health-care professionals, including family doctors and mental health specialists, to help women and men and better manage depression and improve their quality of life.

"As a leading cause of disease-related disability among women and men, depression puts a tremendous emotional and financial burden on people, their families and our health-care system," says Dr. Arlene Bierman, a doctor at St. Michael's Hospital and principal investigator of the study Project for an Ontario Women's Health Evidence-Based Report (POWER). "A number of Ontarians with depression are not treated for their condition and those who are often receive less than desired care. While there is a lot that is known about how to improve depression, we need to apply this to our work with patients if we want to improve the diagnosis and management of depression. "This involves better co-ordination among primary care and mental health-care professionals in both community and hospital settings," added Dr. Bierman, a researcher at ICES.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 29, 2009, 10:45 PM CT

Young Adults May Outgrow Bipolar Disorder

Young Adults May Outgrow Bipolar Disorder
David Cicero is a graduate student, who led a paper on treatment of bipolar disorder.
Bipolar disorder, or manic-depression, causes severe and unusual shifts in mood and energy, affecting a person's ability to perform everyday tasks. With symptoms often starting in early adulthood, bipolar disorder has been thought of traditionally as a lifelong disorder. Now, University of Missouri scientists have found evidence that nearly half of those diagnosed between the ages of 18 and 25 may outgrow the disorder by the time they reach 30.

"Using two large nationally representative studies, we observed that there was a strikingly high peak prevalence of bipolar disorders in emerging adulthood," said David Cicero, doctoral student in the Department of Psychological Sciences in the College of Arts and Science.

and main author of the paper. "During the third decade of life, the prevalence of the disorder appears to resolve substantially, suggesting patients become less symptomatic and may have a greater chance of recovery".

By examining the results of two large national surveys, MU scientists found an "age gradient" in the prevalence of bipolar disorder, with part of the population appearing to outgrow the disorder. In the survey results, 5.5 to 6.2 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 24 suffer from bipolar disorder, but only about 3 percent of people older than 29 suffer from bipolar disorder.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 28, 2009, 6:50 AM CT

How to deliver the bad news?

How to deliver the bad news?
New prenatal tests for Down syndrome are soon to be offered to all pregnant women across the United States, yet telling an expectant couple that their child will be born with Down syndrome is a task very few physicians are trained for, claims research reported in the American Journal of Medical Genetics The study, which evaluated decades of surveys and interviews, offers several recommendations for how physicians can best deliver the news.

A 29-member research team, led by Dr. Brian Skotko from Children's Hospital Boston, supported by the National Down Syndrome Society and informed by experts from across the field, evaluated surveys and research ranging from 1960 to present day to consider how prepared physicians felt they are to deliver a diagnosis. They also studied the opinions of couples who had received the diagnosis to determine the best way of delivering the news.

"Down syndrome (DS) remains the most common chromosomal condition. It occurs in one out of every 733 live births," said Skotko. "Nearly every obstetrician can expect to have a conversation with expectant parents about the realities of life with DS, but very little research has been dedicated to understanding how physicians should communicate the news".

The team observed that in a 2004 survey approximately 45% of obstetric fellows rated their training as "barely adequate or nonexistent"; a similar survey four years later found little change as 40% thought their training was "less than adequate." In 2005 a survey of 2,500 medical students showed that 81% believed they were "not getting any clinical training regarding individuals with intellectual disabilities."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 23, 2009, 7:26 AM CT

Alcohol abuse, depression, and obesity

Alcohol abuse, depression, and obesity
There is new evidence that depression, obesity and alcohol abuse or dependency are interrelated conditions among young adult women but not men.

Using data collected when young adults were 24, 27 and 30 years of age, a team of University of Washington scientists observed that nearly half the sample of 776 young adults tracked during the study met the criteria for one of these conditions at each of these time points.

"The proportion of people with all three of these conditions at any one point is small," said Carolyn McCarty, the main author of a newly released study and a UW research associate professor of pediatrics and psychology. "For women there is a great deal of overlap between these common emotional and health problems that span early adulthood. Men may develop one of these conditions but they don't tend to lead another one later on".

"These conditions are major public health problems. They take a toll on families and community and are not subject to quick fixes. It requires a lot of time, money and energy to treat them".

The study observed that:.
  • Women with an alcohol disorder at age 24 were more than three times as likely to be obese when they were 27.
  • Women who are obese at 27 were more than twice as likely to be depressed when they were 30.........

    Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 23, 2009, 7:21 AM CT

'Lies my parents told me'

'Lies my parents told me'
Parents say that honesty is the best policy, but they regularly lie to their children as a way of influencing their behavior and emotions, finds new research from the University of Toronto and the University of California, San Diego.

Surprisingly little scholarship has been published on the subject of parental lying, so Gail Heyman, professor of psychology at UC San Diego, Diem Luu, a former UCSD student, and Kang Lee, professor at the University of Toronto and director of the Institute of Child Study, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, set out to explore the under-researched phenomenon. They asked U.S. participants in two related studies about parents lying to their children either for the purpose of promoting appropriate behavior or to make them happy.

In one of the studies, a number of parents reported they told their young children that bad things would happen if they didn't go to bed or eat what they were supposed to. For example, one mother said she told her child that if he didn't finish all of his food he would get pimples all over his face. Other parents reported inventing magical creatures. One explained, "We told our daughter that if she wrapped up all her pacifiers like gifts, the 'paci-fairy' would come and give them to children who needed them.I thought it was healthier to get rid of the pacifiers, and it was a way for her to feel proud and special".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 20, 2009, 6:58 PM CT

Why it's hard to be good

Why it's hard to be good
Being seen as either well behaved or naughty at school is never entirely in the hands of the individual child, this study funded by the Economic and Social Research Council shows.

The research demonstrates that being good is not a simple matter. Once some children acquire poor overall reputations among teachers and other school staff, classmates and parents, it becomes difficult for them to be regarded as good. When young children start school they also have to develop interpretive skills to decode and negotiate mixed messages about how to behave.

This study of four and five year olds in reception classes was undertaken by Professor Maggie MacLure and Professor Liz Jones of Manchester Metropolitan University. They observed that two broad types of behaviour in school cause particular concern: physical actions such as kicking and punching and persistent failure to comply with adults' requests. Repeatedly calling out or not sitting properly in class, failing to listen or being noisy in queues are all examples of conduct likely to arouse the concern of teachers and other staff.

Yet such behaviour does not always result in children gaining poor reputations. This is most likely to happen when a child's immediate conduct is regarded as a sign of a wider problem.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 15, 2009, 9:46 PM CT

Reading Kafka Improves Learning

Reading Kafka Improves Learning
Reading a book by Franz Kafka -- or watching a film by director David Lynch -- could make you smarter.

As per research by psychology experts at UC Santa Barbara and the University of British Columbia, exposure to the surrealism in, say, Kafka's "The Country Doctor" or Lynch's "Blue Velvet" enhances the cognitive mechanisms that oversee implicit learning functions. The researchers' findings are published in an article reported in the recent issue of the journal Psychological Science.

"The idea is that when you're exposed to a meaning threat -- something that fundamentally does not make sense -- your brain is going to respond by looking for some other kind of structure within your environment," said Travis Proulx, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB and co-author of the article. "And, it turns out, that structure can be completely uncorrelation to the meaning threat".

Meaning, as per Proulx, is an expected association within one's environment. Fire, for example, is linked to extreme heat, and putting your hand in a flame and finding it icy cold would constitute a threat to that meaning. "It would be very disturbing to you because it wouldn't make sense," he said.

As part of their research, Proulx and Steven J. Heine, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia and the article's second co-author, asked a group of subjects to read an abridged and slightly edited version of Kafka's "The Country Doctor," which involves a nonsensical -- and in some ways disturbing -- series of events. A second group read a different version of the same short story, one that had been rewritten so that the plot and literary elements made sense. The subjects were then asked to complete an artificial-grammar learning task in which they were exposed to hidden patterns in letter strings. They were asked to copy the individual letter strings and then to put a mark next to those that followed a similar pattern.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 15, 2009, 9:44 PM CT

The Impact of Stress on Decision Making

The Impact of Stress on Decision Making
We are faced with making decisions all the time. Often, we carefully deliberate the pros and cons of our choices, taking into consideration past experiences in similar situations before making a final decision. However, a newly released study suggests that cognitive stress, such as distraction, can influence this balanced, logical approach to decision making.

Psychology experts Jane Raymond and Jennifer L. O'Brien of Bangor University in the United Kingdom wanted to investigate how cognitive stress affects rational decision making. In this study, participants played a simple gambling game in which they earned money by deciding between stimuliâ€"in this case, two pictures of different faces. Once their selection was made, it was immediately clear if they had won, lost, or broken even. Each face was always linked to the same outcome throughout this task. In the next stage of the experiment, the volunteers were shown each face individually and had to indicate whether they had seen those faces before. Sometimes volunteers were distracted during this task while other times they were not.

The results, published in the current issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, reveal that distractions significantly impact decision making. When volunteers were not distracted, they tended to excel at recognizing faces that had been highly predictive of either winning or losing outcomes. However, when they were distracted, they only recognized faces that had been linked to winning.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Read more         Source


September 15, 2009, 7:26 PM CT

Brain's response to seeing food and weight loss maintenance

Brain's response to seeing food and weight loss maintenance
A difference in brain activity patterns may explain why some people are able to maintain a significant weight loss while others regain the weight, as per a newly released study by scientists with The Miriam Hospital.

The researchers report that when individuals who have kept the weight off for several years were shown pictures of food, they were more likely to engage the areas of the brain linked to behavioral control and visual attention, in comparison to obese and normal weight participants.

Findings from this brain imaging study, published by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggest that successful weight loss maintainers may learn to respond differently to food cues.

"Our findings shed some light on the biological factors that may contribute to weight loss maintenance. They also provide an intriguing complement to prior behavioral studies that suggest people who have maintained a long-term weight loss monitor their food intake closely and exhibit restraint in their food choices," said main author Jeanne McCaffery, PhD, of The Miriam Hospital's Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center.

Long-term weight loss maintenance continues to be a major problem in obesity therapy. Participants in behavioral weight loss programs lose an average of 8 to 10 percent of their weight during the first six months of therapy and will maintain approximately two-thirds of their weight loss after one year. However, despite intensive efforts, weight regain appears to continue for the next several years, with most patients returning to their baseline weight after five years.........

Posted by: Daniel      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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