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August 22, 2006, 8:08 PM CT

Self-inflicting injuries in teens

Self-inflicting injuries in teens
In a survey of more than 6,000 15 and 16-year-old school pupils, scientists observed that girls are four times more likely to have engaged in deliberate self-harm in comparison to boys, with 11 per cent of girls and 3 per cent of boys reporting that they had self-harmed within the last year.

Prior estimates for the amount self-harm in the country were based on the 25,000 'presentations' at hospitals in England and Wales each year that are the result of deliberate self-poisoning or self-injury amongst teenagers.

However, research by academics from the universities of Bath and Oxford has observed that only 13 per cent of self-harming incidents reported by the pupils had resulted in a hospital visit.

Eventhough self-poisoning is the most common form of self-harm reported in hospitals, the study revealed that self-cutting was the more prevalent form of self-harm (64.5 per cent), followed by self-poisoning through overdose (31 per cent).

"The study shows that deliberate self-harm is common amongst teenagers in England, particularly in girls who are four times more likely to self-harm than boys," said Dr Karen Rodham from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath.

"Until now, most studies of deliberate self-harm in adolescents in the UK have been based on the cases that reach hospital.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 22, 2006, 6:48 PM CT

Snap Judgments Decide A Face's Character

Snap Judgments Decide A Face's Character
We may be taught not to judge a book by its cover, but when we see a new face, our brains decide whether a person is attractive and trustworthy within a tenth of a second, as per recent Princeton research.

Princeton University psychology expert Alex Todorov has observed that people respond intuitively to faces so rapidly that our reasoning minds may not have time to influence the reaction -- and that our intuitions about attraction and trust are among those we form the fastest.

"The link between facial features and character may be tenuous at best, but that doesn't stop our minds from sizing other people up at a glance," said Todorov, an assistant professor of psychology. "We decide very quickly whether a person possesses a number of of the traits we feel are important, such as likeability and competence, even though we have not exchanged a single word with them. It appears that we are hard-wired to draw these inferences in a fast, unreflective way."

Todorov and co-author Janine Willis, a student researcher who graduated from Princeton in 2005, used timed experiments and observed that snap judgments on character are often formed with insufficient time for rational thought. They published their research in the recent issue of the journal Psychological Science.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 22, 2006, 6:04 PM CT

Ever-happy Mice And Treatment Of Depression

Ever-happy Mice And Treatment Of Depression
Can you think of being permanently happy and cheerful? That's what a team of scientists did. A new breed of permanently 'cheerful' mouse is providing hope of a new therapy for clinical depression. TREK-1 is a gene that can affect transmission of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is known to play an important role in mood, sleep and sexuality. By breeding mice with an absence of TREK-1, scientists were able create a depression-resistant strain. The details of this research, which involved an international collaboration with researchers from the University of Nice, France, are published in Nature Neuroscience this week.

"Depression is a devastating illness, which affects around 10% of people at some point in their life," says Dr. Guy Debonnel an MUHC psychiatry expert, professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University, and principal author of the new research. "Current medications for clinical depression are ineffective for a third of patients, which is why the development of alternate therapys is so important".

Mice without the TREK-1 gene ('knock-out' mice) were created and bred in collaboration with Dr. Michel Lazdunski, co-author of the research, in his laboratory at the University of Nice, France. "These 'knock-out' mice were then tested using separate behavioral, electrophysiological and biochemical measures known to gauge 'depression' in animals," says Dr. Debonnel. "The results really surprised us; our 'knock-out' mice acted as if they had been treated with antidepressants for at least three weeks."........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 22, 2006, 5:10 AM CT

Schizophrenics At Risk For Type 2 Diabetes

Schizophrenics At Risk For Type 2 Diabetes
Dissecting the relationship between schizophrenia and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes has physician-researchers reaching across the Atlantic Ocean.

They are looking at newly diagnosed schizophrenics in an upper-middle-class Spanish community to find whether the disease that causes patients to hear voices and smell, feel and even taste unreal objects also increases their risk of diabetes.

Researchers know the drugs that best control the psychosis increase the risk. "We know it's the medicine; I'm asking whether it's the disease as well," says Dr. Brian Kirkpatrick, vice chair of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Psychiatry and Health Behavior and principal investigator on the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases-funded study.

Dr. Kirkpatrick and his colleagues at Hospital Clinic at the University of Barcelona in Spain and the University of Maryland note mounting evidence that developmental problems, resulting from significant maternal stress in the second or early third trimester of pregnancy, may cause schizophrenia and related problems.

"The brain has this incredibly complex development where cells are born here and march over here and send communication over here; that goes wrong from the very beginning probably," says Dr. Kirkpatrick of the complex process of laying down normal communication pathways that apparently go awry in about 1 percent of people.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 20, 2006, 9:59 PM CT

Cancer survivors may have suicidal thoughts

Cancer survivors may have suicidal thoughts
A survey of adult survivors of childhood cancers observed that more than one out of eight reported having suicidal thoughts or prior attempts to take their lives a number of years after they were treated, say researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

The suicidal symptoms were reported by more than 12 percent -- a greater proportion than had been expected -- of patients seen at a clinic providing care for adult cancer survivors, the scientists write in the August 20 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The findings should prompt providers at survivor clinics to consider the interaction of physical and emotional factors in their follow-up evaluations of patients, they said.

"Most people are doing fine, but there is a serious concern about the minority of survivors who have thoughts of ending their lives," said Christopher Recklitis, PhD, MPH, a psychology expert and director of research in the Perini Family Survivors' Center at Dana-Farber. He is lead author of the paper.

The senior author is Lisa Diller, MD, chief medical officer of Dana-Farber/Children's Hospital Cancer Care and clinical director of Pediatric Oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Children's Hospital Boston.

Prior studies have noted a temporary rise in suicidal thoughts among patients in the months after a cancer diagnosis. The new study is the first to substantiate a significant level of suicidality a number of years or even decades after therapy for childhood cancers, and to suggest a link with physical functioning in the survivorship period.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 20, 2006, 9:36 PM CT

Exam nerves affects students' immune system

Exam nerves affects students' immune system
It is hardly surprising that one of the medical programmes most important exams is stressful for students. However, research now shows that this mental stress also affects the students immune defence systems, especially amongst those suffering from allergies.

While diseases like asthma and allergies are becoming increasingly common in the West, a number of people think that we are living ever stressful lives. A new study from Karolinska Institutet backs up what a number of people have suspected: that there are important links between mental stress and the complex physical inflammation reactions characteristic of allergies.

In order to understand the link between stress and allergy, the researchers have examined how a major medical exam at Karolinska Institutet affects feelings of stress, stress hormone levels, the immune system and lung function amongst students with and without allergies. The extensive tests were made on two occasions, first with the students during a calm period of study with no exam in sight, and then shortly before a major exam. Twenty two students with hayfever and/or asthma and 19 healthy students took part.

For the first time on record, researchers were able to show that a group of cells that are central to the human immune system known as regulatory T cells appear to increase sharply in number in response to mental stress. A regulatory T cell is a kind of white blood cell that controls the activity of many other types of immune cell. This increase was observed in both groups of students.........

Posted by: Janet      Permalink         Source


August 18, 2006, 6:59 AM CT

MRI Can Predict Developmental Delays

MRI Can Predict Developmental Delays
A Washington University pediatrician at St. Louis Children's Hospital has observed that performing MRI scans on pre-term infants' brains assists dramatically in predicting the babies' future developmental outcomes.

Terrie E. Inder, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics, of radiology and of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and pediatric scientists in New Zealand and Australia observed that the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans were able to determine abnormalities in the white matter and gray matter of the brains of very pre-term infants, those born at 30 weeks or less. Following the infants from birth to age 2, the scientists were able to grade those abnormalities to predict the risk of severe cognitive delays, psychomotor delays, cerebral palsy, or hearing or visual impairments that may be visible by age 2.

The results of the study appear in the Aug. 17 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. The scientists studied 167 preterm infants in New Zealand and Australia and at St. Louis Children's Hospital. Inder said the findings are a breakthrough because prior technology -- cranial ultrasounds -- did not show the abnormalities in the infants' brains.

"With the MRI, now we can understand what's going wrong in the developing brain when the baby is born early," Inder said. "We can use the MRI when the baby reaches full-term (40 weeks) to predict neurodevelopmental outcomes." More than 2 percent of all live births are infants born before 32 weeks of gestation. Nationwide, the rate of premature births jumped 13 percent between 1992 and 2002, as per the March of Dimes. Recent data show that 50 percent of children born prematurely suffer some neurodevelopmental challenges, such as crawling, walking upright, running, swinging arms, and other activities that require coordination and balance. Among pre-term infants who survive, 5 percent to 15 percent have cerebral palsy, severe vision or hearing impairment or both, and 25 percent to 50 percent have cognitive, behavioral and social difficulties that require special educational resources.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 14, 2006, 11:47 PM CT

Cohabiters Are Traditional

Cohabiters Are Traditional
Eventhough cohabitation outside of marriage is still considered to be an alternative lifestyle, working-class cohabiters are quite conventional when it comes to advancing their relationship, pursuing careers and doing housework, says Cornell sociologist Sharon Sassler.

Most of the 30 cohabiting working-class couples interviewed for the study still comply with traditional patterns throughout their relationships, including the initiation of the first date, moving in together and discussing marriage, Sassler said. They also are not egalitarian in pursuing careers or doing housework.

"Our results indicate that the institution of gender is so pervasive and entrenched that it shapes even the behaviors of individuals in such alternative living arrangements as cohabitation," said Sassler, associate professor of policy analysis and management in the College of Human Ecology.

Eventhough the findings are based on working-class couples, Sassler said that there is reason to think that middle-class cohabiting couples follow similar patterns, but more studies are needed to confirm this.........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 14, 2006, 10:15 PM CT

Kids with OCD bullied

Kids with OCD bullied
Children with obsessive-compulsive disorder are three times more likely to be bullied than other children, and the name-slinging could cause symptoms of OCD to worsen, University of Florida scientists have found.

"One of the things we have noticed working with a number of kids with OCD is that peer relations are extremely impaired," said Eric Storch, Ph.D, a UF assistant professor of psychiatry and pediatrics and lead author of the study. "Kids target kids who are different. Kids with OCD sometimes exhibit behaviors that peers simply don't understand".

More than one-quarter of the children with OCD who scientists studied reported chronic bullying as a problem, as per findings described in the recent issue of the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

By comparison, only 9 percent of kids in the two other groups scientists studied - healthy kids without medical or mental conditions and children with type 1 diabetes - reported serious problems with bullies.

Nearly all children are bullied at least once in their lives. But chronic bullying equates to about one taunt per day, ranging from kicking or hitting to name-calling or excluding children from activities in school.

"The kids with OCD are really experiencing higher rates of peer problems than other kids," Storch said. "We're not saying one causes the other, but there is a positive relationship between (OCD and bullying)".........

Posted by: JoAnn      Permalink         Source


August 14, 2006, 9:56 PM CT

Insights To High-maintenance Dynamics

Insights To High-maintenance Dynamics
Do you have a co-worker with whom you have trouble working? If you have a co-worker with whom you always seem to be somewhat out of sync so much of your psychic energy is consumed trying to get on the same page with him that by the time you get home you are too drained to do much of anything, never mind read any of those books you were compelled to buy on office politics.

Or imagine Bob, an experienced cook, who shows up at a soup kitchen for the first time enthusiastic about sharing responsibilities with another accomplished cook. The problem is that the styles of Bob and his fellow cook clash so much that later that evening, when Bob is at home, both his concentration and manuscript writing suffer greatly.

Confirming what many of us have suspected anecdotally, new research from Northwestern University shows that high-maintenance or difficult interactions indeed drain us. Most importantly, the study demonstrates how those draining social dynamics, in which an individual is trying so hard to regulate his or her behavior, can impair success on subsequent unrelated tasks.

"Luckily, humans are exceptionally social beings equipped with remarkable behavioral repertoires for engaging in effective interpersonal relationships," said Eli Finkel, assistant professor of psychology at Northwestern and the study's main investigator. "But there are plenty of inefficient interpersonal interactions that we engage in every day, and those draining dynamics have significant consequences".........

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.

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