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October 5, 2006, 10:13 PM CT

Child custody with abusive ex-spouse?

Child custody with abusive ex-spouse?
What influences women when they are making child custody decisions that will bring them into future contact with a violent or controlling ex-husband? Fear, pragmatism, and the belief--sometimes reinforced in mandated divorce education classes--that their children will suffer if both parents are not in their lives, as per a University of Illinois study in the August Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.

"Will the mother and father be able to co-parent without a recurrence of violence or controlling behaviors? That's the most important consideration in making child custody decisions," said Jennifer Hardesty, a U of I assistant professor of human and community development.

Unfortunately, other factors, including fear, practical considerations about money, and guilt over breaking up the family, influence such women heavily when they are making custody decisions, the researcher said.

Hardesty conducted extensive interviews with 19 abused women of varying backgrounds and in varying stages of the divorce process to develop a theoretical model for future research. The study was conducted in two Missouri counties that mandatory divorcing couples with minor children to attend a class on post-divorce parenting.

"Fear was very important in the women's decisions to leave, but guilt over breaking up the family was more influential in making custody decisions," she said.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

October 4, 2006, 10:23 PM CT

Parent's Conversational Style

Parent's Conversational Style
Parents who use a particular conversational style with their children--drawing them out to elicit detailed memories about past shared events and to talk about emotions--contribute to the child's secure attachment, sense of self-worth, and eventual social competence, says a new University of Illinois study published in a September special edition of Attachment and Human Development.

"As soon as children start talking, parents develop conversational patterns with their kids, and different parents have very different patterns," said Kelly K. Bost, a U of I associate professor of human development.

In the study, Bost and her colleagues compared the conversational styles of 90 mothers and their three-year-old children with assessments the researchers had made in the home of the children's attachment security. The research confirmed that mothers of securely attached children use a more elaborative conversational style than those of insecure children.

"In elaborative conversations, parents provide rich detail and lots of background information and try to get their child to provide new information from his memory as the conversation goes on," Bost said.

Experts believe elaborative conversations aid in memory development, foster the ability to organize and tell personal stories, and promote a sense of shared history with the parent, she said.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

October 2, 2006, 9:52 PM CT

Parents In The Dark About Substance Abuse

Parents In The Dark About Substance Abuse
A team of scientists led by School of Medicine researchers has observed that parents often don't know when their children are using alcohol, nicotine or other drugs.

"We observed that parents knew their kids were using alcohol, cigarettes or marijuana only about half the time," said Laura Jean Bierut, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry and principal investigator of the study.

In addition, the study, reported in the recent issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, observed that for cocaine or other illicit drugs, the number of parents who know is even lower, with only 28 percent reporting that their adolescent children used these drugs.

"For example, among 12- to 17-year olds, 8.5 percent of the children said that they had tried a drug other than marijuana, but only 3.1 percent of parents reported that their child had used one of these drugs," said Sherri L. Fisher, the study's first author and the project coordinator for the St. Louis site of the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA).

The scientists surveyed 591 children ages 12 to 17, asking them questions about alcohol, tobacco and drug use. They also surveyed one parent per child to ask about whether their child ever had used alcohol or other drugs. A total of 438 parent-child pairs came from families participating in the COGA study, meaning that at least one member of their family had sought therapy for alcoholism. Another 153 pairs were from families recruited from the community. The scientists observed that parents who had experienced drug or alcohol problems themselves were no more likely to know that their children were using alcohol, tobacco or other drugs.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

October 1, 2006, 7:54 PM CT

Helping Children, Women To Sleep Better

Helping Children, Women To Sleep Better
The refusal of young children to go to bed at night can cause unnecessary stress for members of their family. However, parents and guardians can take comfort in knowing that behavioral therapys are an effective means for resolving a child's bedtime problems and night wakings.

The study, conducted by Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, of St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia, is based on a review of 52 therapy studies, participated by 2,500 infants and toddlers, by a task force appointed by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM).

"The results indicate hat behavioral therapies produce reliable and durable changes in bedtime problems and night wakings in infants and children," wrote Mindell. "Across all studies, 94 percent report that behavioral interventions produced clinically significant improvements in bedtime problems and/or night wakings. Approximately 82 percent of children benefit from therapy and the majority maintain these results for three to six months".

Mindell noted that additional research is needed to examine the delivery methods of therapy, longer term efficacy and the role of pharmacological agents.

As per Mindell, studies have shown that 20 to 30 percent of young children have significant bedtime problems and/or night wakings. In addition, night wakings are among the most common sleep problems in infants and toddlers, with 25 to 50 percent of children over the age of six months waking during the night, added Mindell.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

October 1, 2006, 7:45 PM CT

Treatment For Sleeplessness In The Elderly

Treatment For Sleeplessness In The Elderly
Insomnia or lack of sleep is a common problem among elderly people. It is a more widespread problem than we recognize. Now scientists are suggesting that a brief behavioral therapy for insomnia (BBT) could help those elderly individuals suffering from insomnia.

Brief behavioral therapy for insomnia (BBTI) appears to be a promising intervention for elderly adults who suffer from insomnia.

The study, conducted by Anne Germain, PhD, and his colleagues of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, focused on 17 elderly adults who were randomly assigned to receive BBTI, and 18 selected to receive an information-only control (IC) condition. All participants completed clinician-administered and self-report measures of sleep quality, as well as a sleep diary. Interventions were delivered in a single individual session with a booster session administered two weeks later. Postintervention assessments were completed after four weeks.

The results showed significant improvements in sleep measures and in daytime symptoms of anxiety and depression in 71 percent of those individuals who received BBTI, in comparison to 39 percent favorable response among IC participants. Furthermore, 53 percent of BBTI participants met criteria for remission, while 17 percent of those in the IC group met the same criteria.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

October 1, 2006, 7:17 PM CT

A Rheostat In Brain For Emotions

A Rheostat In Brain For Emotions
Scientists are revealing secrets about serotonin system and a serotonin receptor called the 5-HT1A autoreceptor.

Eventhough drugs that target the brain's serotonin system are widely used to treat depression, the basic biological mechanism by which they help to alleviate symptoms is poorly understood. Now, new University of Pittsburgh research suggests these drugs work by acting on a specific serotonin receptor called the 5-HT1A autoreceptor, which the study's researchers found plays a key role in regulating the response of the amygdala.

The findings, reported in the journal Nature Neuroscience, also provide a model of how specific changes in 5-HT1A autoreceptors and associated amygdala reactivity may impact a person's risk for developing depression. Much like a rheostat, these serotonin receptors regulate the brain's emotional responses and may contribute to one's vulnerability for depression and other psychiatric disorders.

The amygdala is a critical component of brain circuitry that processes clues from the environment about potential threats and generates appropriate behavioral and physiological responses such as the "fight or flight" response to these challenges. Research has indicated that depression and other mood disorders, such as anxiety, are linked to emotional brain circuitry problems involving the amygdala.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

September 27, 2006, 9:11 PM CT

Binge-drinking teenagers

Binge-drinking teenagers
Teenagers who drink alcohol are at higher risk of becoming victims of violence, a Cardiff University study has observed.

A team from the School of Dentistry's Violence Research Group studied drinking habits in children aged 11-16 in England. They found not only a link between drink and aggression but also that children who drank were more likely to be hit, even if they weren't violent themselves.

The scientists are now calling for measures to prevent alcohol misuse to reduce injury risk. Current policy focuses on reducing aggression but this research shows that there should be equal effort to reduce victimisation.

More than 4,000 children were surveyed at 13 schools at four local authorities in the North, the Midlands, London and the South. The study observed that 25% of 11-year-olds were drinking monthly and 3.6% daily, with 12.8% admitting to getting drunk three to five times a year. By the age of 16, 40% were drinking weekly and 6.2% were drinking every day. The research also showed 22.6% of 16-year-olds getting drunk more than 21 times a year.

The study, which has just been reported in the Journal of Adolescence, found a strong link between frequency of drinking and frequency of hitting other people.

However, children who reported drinking monthly were also three times more likely to be hit. Adolescents who drank but didn't get into fights were more likely to be hit than those who did fight.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

September 27, 2006, 7:20 PM CT

Spinal Cord Stimulators For Migraine Headaches

Spinal Cord Stimulators For Migraine Headaches
Anyone who has gone through the experience of migraine headache knows the misery of this miserable disease. Now there is some active research going on in this field that might interest those who are suffering from those miserable headaches.

A new therapy for migraine headaches is in the horizon: occipital nerve stimulation, a surgical procedure in which an implanted neurostimulator delivers electrical impulses to nerves under the skin at the base of the head at the back of the neck.

This treatment may help migraine sufferers who do not respond to other available therapies, or who cannot tolerate the side effects of existing medications.

"The purpose of the randomized, double-blinded study is to evaluate the safety and efficacy of occipital nerve stimulation as a therapy for refractory migraine headache," says Dr. Sandeep Amin, Rush study investigator and anesthesiologist who surgically implants the device in the two-visit operation.

Rush is recruiting patients through the Diamond Headache Clinic and is the only site in Illinois in the trial.

The study, known as PRISM (Precision Implantable Stimulator for Migraine), uses Boston Scientific's Precision neurostimulator with approximately 150 patients at up to 15 sites in the U.S. The implantable pulse generator will deliver electrical impulses to the occipital nerves located just under the skin at the base of the skull at the back of the neck.........

Posted by: Daniel      Permalink         Source

September 24, 2006, 10:13 PM CT

Alcoholics Anonymous Reduces Homicides

Alcoholics Anonymous Reduces Homicides
Studies consistently show a strong link between alcohol use and violence, such as homicide. New research that looks at the relationship among drinking, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) membership, and homicide mortality has observed that AA can have a beneficial effect on alcohol-related homicide mortality rates, especially among males who consume beer and spirits.

Results are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

"It is important to try to understand the factors that could reduce alcohol's adverse effects," said Robert E. Mann, senior scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, and associate professor of public health sciences at the University of Toronto. "We know that economic and legal measures such as taxation policies, increased drinking ages, and lowered legal limits for driving can exert powerful effects on alcohol problem rates. We also know that individual participation in AA and alcohol therapy can have very beneficial effects. We wanted to see if these beneficial effects are observable at population levels, that is, if numerous people are positively influenced." Mann is also the study's corresponding author.

As per the World Health Organization, said Mark Asbridge, assistant professor and chair of graduate studies in the department of community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University, "alcohol is a leading [contributor to the] global burden of disease, and homicide is just one of many negative consequences of its consumption. Given this link, any policies or intervention that reduce or remove alcohol consumption are bound to offer some beneficial reduction in aggregate violent incidents in this case, mortality."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source

September 24, 2006, 10:07 PM CT

Decision-making Process In Alcoholics

Decision-making Process In Alcoholics
People make decisions all the time: they form preferences, take action, and evaluate outcomes, whether rewarding or aversive. Impaired decision making is regarded as one of the neurobehavioral hallmarks of addiction. New research has observed that alcoholics with certain coexisting personality disorders (PDs) have decision-making abilities that are especially impaired.

Results are reported in the recent issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research

"Normally, we make choices by weighing immediate benefits of different options relative to possible negative consequences in the longer term," said Geert Dom, head of therapy at the Alexian Brothers Psychiatric Centre in Boechout, Belgium. "When these abilities are impaired, people are less able to cognitively evaluate the longer-term consequences of their choices. This is reflected in real life by choices that are socially inadequate and/or correlation to overtly negative outcomes. Substance or polydrug use/abuse is one example".

On a neuronal level, added Dom, decision making is believed to involve multiple brain structures in the limbic region. "These brain regions are very important in the processing of emotions, motivational processes and the processing of rewards and punishments," he said. "Earlier studies have indicated that individuals with lesions in these regions lose the ability to make advantageous decisions, reflected by severe social behavioral problems and impaired performance on decision-making tasks such as the Iowa Gambling Task, which was originally designed to study decision-making in neurological patients with brain lesions."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         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. Archives of psychology news blog

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