Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Psychiatry’ Category

armyFollowing a New York Times(http://tinyurl.com/army-psychiatrists) story, the CBS Evening News (11/9, story 3, 2:00, Couric) reported that Army psychiatry Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan “was about to be deployed to Afghanistan to help counsel soldiers,” and “nine of the Ft. Hood victims were also therapists — part of a unit that the military fears is already stretched entirely too thin.” CBS correspondent Don Teague explained, “Eight years of war has taken its toll across the military. Some 300,000 service members, nearly one out of five returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, report symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder,” while to date, “the Army has just over 400 psychiatrists to treat nearly 550,000 active duty soldiers.”

Read Full Post »

Following a CQ HealthBeat story, Shirley S. Wang wrote in the Wall Street Journal (4/14) Health Blog that “two-thirds of primary-care physicians in a nationwide survey said they had trouble finding high-quality mental-health treatment for their patients, while only a third had difficulty getting patients a referral to specialists for other types of medical services, according to a study published in Health Affairs” on Apr. 14. The physicians attributed “absent or inadequate insurance coverage and a lack of mental-health providers” as some of the “top reasons” for “the difficulty in getting high-quality mental-health referrals for patients.” Study author Paul Cunningham, of the Center for Studying Health System Change, said that “from the perspective of primary-care physicians, ‘the findings from this study strong suggest that lack of access to mental health services is a serious problem — much more serious than for other commonly used medical services.'”
        Focusing on the study’s methodology, Modern Healthcare (4/15, Zigmond) explains, “Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the study included a nationally representative sample of about 6,600 nonfederal physicians who spend at least 20 hours per week in patient care.” The “interviews were conducted by telephone, and the final response rate was 52 percent for a total of about 2,900 primary-care physicians in family medicine, general internal medicine, and pediatrics.”

Read Full Post »

CQ Healthbeat (4/14, Adams) reports that, according to a study conducted by the Center for Studying Health System Change and published in the journal Health Affairs, “two-thirds of primary-care physicians told researchers they could not get mental healthcare for their patients.” Specifically, “patients had far more problems getting mental-health services than they did getting other kinds of medical care, including specialty care.” Reasons for that finding include “inadequate health coverage, insurance barriers, or an ability to find a provider that would care for the patients, according to the survey of 6,600 physicians in 60 communities, conducted in 2004 and 2005.” In the case of children, “pediatricians were more likely to report problems,” with the “main obstacles in getting mental healthcare for children” being “a shortage of providers and health plan barriers.” The study authors also said that “physicians might be experiencing more problems now than when the survey was conducted in 2004 and 2005,” possibly due to the recession, which is pressuring “localities and states…to reduce expenditures on mental-health programs.”

Read Full Post »

The AP (1/20, Schmid) reports, “Faced with their favorite foods, women are less able than men to suppress their hunger, a discovery that may help explain the higher obesity rate for females,” according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. In an effort to determine “why some people overeat and gain weight while others don’t,” Gene-Jack Wang, M.D., of Brookhaven National Laboratory, and colleagues, “performed brain scans on 13 women and 10 men, who had fasted overnight, to determine how their brains responded to the sight of their favorite foods.”
        The food was “warmed up so it would smell appealing,” and the subjects “were told to suppress their hunger,” Bloomberg News (1/20, Lopatto) adds. Participants were taught “how to use a method called cognitive inhibition, in which” they “either ignored thoughts of the food, or tried to think of something else.”
        CNN (1/20, Harding) reports that “volunteers had three brain scans: once with no instruction on how to react to the food, once after being told to suppress their desire for the food, and once with no food in front of them.” The researchers found that, among “women, brain activity was about the same whether or not they had been asked to suppress their desire.” In contrast, men “showed a distinctively different brain activity when they tried to suppress their urge. They showed less activation in regions involved in ’emotional regulation, conditioning, and motivation’…specifically the amygdala, hippocampus, insula, orbitofrontal cortex, and striatum.”
        These regions of the brain “have been linked by other studies to ’emotional regulation’ and memory activation — suggesting that the men were retrieving their memories of the desired food less — perhaps making them less affected by the thought of it,” BBC News (1/20) explains on its website. Therefore, the authors hypothesized that “lower cognitive control of brain responses to food stimulation in women compared to men may contribute to gender differences in the prevalence rates of obesity and other eating disorders.”
        Time (1/19, Kluger) noted that the researchers are “not certain what’s behind the differences,” although they suspect “hormones may play a significant role.” Use of “a long-running PET scan” allowed them to have “a good look at the amygdala, the deepest and most primitive of the brain structures involved. When the amygdala acts up, it’s exceedingly hard to bring it to heel, as anyone suffering from anxiety conditions like phobias or obsessive-compulsive disorder could attest.” They pointed out that, while the male subjects’ success in “disciplining their amygdalas was an undeniable accomplishment…it was one that required enormous effort.”
        The Minneapolis Star Tribune (1/20), the Long Island Newsday (1/20, Dowdy), CTV (1/20), and the U.K.’s Daily Mail (1/20, Derbyshire) and Independent (1/20, Green) also cover the story.

Read Full Post »

The U.K.’s Telegraph (1/14, Devlin) reports that, according to a study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, “drinking just three cups of brewed coffee a day can triple the chances of suffering from hallucinations,” and “even moderate amounts of the stimulant” caffeine “can lead people to hear voices and see things that are not there.” Researchers from the U.K.’s Durham University “warn that ‘high caffeine users'” may be at “increased risk.”
        For the study, the investigators “asked 219 students to document their caffeine intake, working on the principle that a cup of instant coffee contains 45 mg of caffeine,” the U.K.’s Daily Mail (1/14) adds. “Healthy young men and women who had more than seven cups of instant coffee a day were three times more likely to hear or see things that were not there than those who limited their intake to less than a cup.” In fact, “large amounts of caffeine also made people more likely to think they could sense the presence of ghosts.” The team theorized that “caffeine boosts levels of cortisol, a stress hormone,” and suggested that “confirming the link could lead to new treatments for those who suffer severe hallucinations, including” people with schizophrenia, “some victims of child abuse, and the recently bereaved.” Bloomberg News (1/14, Kresge), Canada’s CTV (1/14), and the U.K.’s Press Association (1/14) also cover the story.

Read Full Post »

On its front page, the New York Times (1/8, A1, Alvarez, Eckholm) reports that the Department of Defense (DOD) “has decided that it will not award the Purple Heart, the hallowed medal given to those wounded or killed by enemy action, to war veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because it is not a physical wound.” The decision, which was “made public on Tuesday, for now ends the hope of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans” suffering from PTSD who “believed that the Purple Hearts could honor their sacrifice,” as well as “help remove some of the stigma associated with the condition.” A Department of Defense “advisory group decided against the award because, it said, the condition had not been intentionally caused by enemy action, like a bomb or bullet, and because it remained difficult to diagnose and quantify.”
        In its statement announcing the decision, the DOD said that “the Purple Heart has never been awarded for mental disorders or psychological conditions,” the AP (jan 8th) explains. According to DOD spokeswoman Eileen Lainez, “PTSD is an anxiety disorder caused by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event,” and “not ‘a wound intentionally caused by the enemy from an outside force or agent.'” She added that “veterans diagnosed with PTSD ‘still warrant appropriate medical care and disability compensation,” and the Pentagon “is working hard to encourage service members and their families to seek care for PTSD by reducing the stigma, and urging them to seek professional care.” CNN (1/7, 1:18 p.m. ET) also broadcasted the story

Read Full Post »

The Chicago Tribune (12/3, Shelton) reports, “Researchers evaluating a new technique for locating and removing objects accidentally embedded in the body say they may have uncovered a new form of self-mutilating behavior in which teenagers intentionally insert objects into their flesh.” According to personnel at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, they have extracted “52 foreign objects that 10 teenage girls deliberately embedded in their arms, hands, feet, ankles, and necks over the last three years, including needles, staples, wood, stone, glass, pencil lead, and a crayon.” In fact, “one patient had inserted 11 objects, including an unfolded metal paper clip more than six inches long.” These findings were presented at a radiology meeting, and the researchers said that this is the first study “on this type of self-inflicted injury among teenagers.”
        WebMD (12/3, Laino) points out that “more common forms of self-injury include cutting the skin, burning or bruising the body, pulling hair, breaking bones, and swallowing toxic substances. In self-embedding disorder, objects are used to puncture the skin or are embedded into a wound after cutting, often causing swelling and inflammation.” Currently, it is not known “how many teens engage in self-mutilation, but it’s clear that the practice is common, especially among adolescent girls.”

Read Full Post »

In the Washington Post (12/9, HE2) Checkup column, Rob Stein asked, “Can abortion cause a syndrome similar to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?” Stein noted that the “question has been the focus of a long, bitter debate.” But, in a new study published in the December issue of the journal Contraception, Robert Blum, of Johns Hopkins University, and colleagues, concluded that “research exploring the issue remains unreliable and politically slanted.” The investigators reached this conclusion after analyzing over 700 articles on the subject.

Read Full Post »

Newsweek (12/29, Bennett) reported that “for the millions…who hurt themselves intentionally,” what starts as an impulse and “a moment of relief becomes a secret habit — a need for pain that medical science doesn’t fully understand and can treat with only mixed success.”  Currently, “self-injury of any kind does not appear in the” American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) “as a diagnosable disorder,” but is instead “a symptom of a larger problem.”  According to clinical psychologist Wendy Lader, “people who harm themselves almost always suffer from larger mental conditions, often the result of emotional trauma.”  Mental-health professionals, “who treat people who harm themselves, say that getting to the root of the problem — the emotion that’s causing the urge to injure — is at the heart of any recovery process.”  The article focused primarily on the experiences of Becki Begnato, who began cutting at age 13.  Now in college, Begnato is recovering after “years of treatment.”

Read Full Post »

In an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times (12/14), Laurel L. Williams, D.O., program director of the Menninger Clinic’s adolescent treatment program and assistant director of residency training, child, and adolescent psychiatry, and assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine, wrote that, “for a variety of reasons, bipolar diagnoses have become extremely popular. A Columbia University analysis of a National Center for Health Statistics survey found that the number of office visits for children diagnosed with bipolar disorder rose 40-fold between 1994 and 2003.” She noted that the “reasons for the surge in bipolar diagnoses are complex.” Dr. Williams cited an increase in pharmaceutical companies advertising to consumers, a shortage of board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists, and insurance companies, which, “via their reimbursement plans, discourage healthcare providers from spending the time necessary to assess and treat childhood mental-health problems,” as a few of the reasons. “Psychiatric assessment and treatment of a child can be hard,” Dr. Williams argued, concluding that, “unfortunately, families often put more faith in what they see and hear in advertising than they do in physicians. As physicians, we need to win them back.”

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »