Monthly Archives: February 2016

Early Behavior Therapy Found to Aid Children With A.D.H.D., Free Play vs. Competition, 8 Habits That Make Millennials Stressed, Anxious And Unproductive, And more In Case You Missed It– February 22nd, 2016

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Welcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we look at early behavior therapy aiding children with A.D.H.D., free play vs. competition, 8 habits that make millennials stressed, anxious and unproductive, and more.

Early Behavior Therapy Found to Aid Children With A.D.H.D. The New York Times

Experts believe that the efficacy of early behavioral therapy, if replicated in larger studies, could change standard medical practice for children and adolescents in the United States with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or A.D.H.D. New research, published in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, found that children who started with behavioral modification did significantly better than those who began with medication by the end, no matter what treatment combination they ended up with. Beginning treatment for children with A.D.H.D with behavioral treatment and following with medication, if needed, was found to cost an average of $700 less annually per child.

Free Play vs. Competition – The Huffington Post

The current American work culture is riddled with people who use the competitive mindset and immediately thrust themselves into working hard. But this causes burnout and some psychological trauma. The American Psychological Association found the current millennial generation to be the most stressed in record. However, free play may be the new way of doing business, by using our imagination, having no objective, and pursuing whatever comes to mind. Both competitive spirit and innovation are important, but we have become very regimented and competition oriented. When we are in a state of free play, we are able to be more innovative, anyone can put their nose to the grindstone and do arithmetic, but it takes real innovation to take a world-changing concept and turn it into reality.

8 Habits That Make Millennials Stressed, Anxious and Unproductive – Forbes

The American Psychological Association (APA) has found that millennials experience more stress and are less able to manage it than any other generation. The APA reports that 12% of millennials have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, 30% of working millennials have general anxiety, and anxiety regularly afflicts 61% of college students. Sources of millennial anxiety include a tough job market, student debt, ambition addiction, career crises and choice-overload. Chronic anxiety is not sustainable, however by swapping out some daily practices, millennials can improve their moods and their lives one habit at a time.

Let’s Change the Conversation Around Mental Health – The Huffington Post

The stigma around mental health often prevents people who need help from seeking it. First Lady Michelle Obama believes we shouldn’t treat mental health conditions any differently. “Instead, we should make it clear that getting help isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of strength – and we should ensure that people can get the treatment they need”. The Affordable Care Act expanded mental health and substance use disorder benefits and required new plans to cover depression screenings for adults and behavioral assessments for kids. FLOTUS wants us find the courage to reach out and have tough conversations with our friends and family members — and get help. She notes that we need to recognize that mental health is important.

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out? 

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Filed under: In Case You Missed It

Good News for Bilinguals: Knowing Two or More Languages is Good for Your Brain

bilingualbrain

By Sherry A. Beaudreau, PhD, ABPP & Eden Gallanter

Lifestyle plays a huge role in the quality of our memory and other mental abilities, especially as we grow older. Although there is no clear strategy to avoid Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of intellectual losses in old age, there is a great deal you can do to keep your brain functioning at its best. Research suggests that moderate exercise, good nutrition, lifelong learning, social engagement, and maintaining good heart health all help protect your brain against age-related mental decline. Speaking two or more languages may also be an important factor that leads to benefits in memory and decision-making in older adults.

 

What is it about bilingualism that is protective?

The mental skills involved in switching between two or more languages in day-to-day life appear to have a large impact on preserving memory and executive functioning—that is, attention, problem-solving, planning, impulse control. Bilingualism is associated with better conflict resolution skills, easier memory recall, and faster reaction times—all skills that tend to decline with age. In short, speaking two or more languages seems to be a unique factor that supports mental function into old age.

 

Can speaking multiple languages protect against dementia?

Recent research suggests that being bilingual may even protect against dementia. The executive control network—that is, the part of your brain that is responsible for making decisions, directing your attention, and problem solving—tends to naturally decline in normal aging. However, executive functioning is likely to decline slower in bilingual older adults, especially for those who speak different languages on a regular basis.

While much remains unknown about how knowing multiple languages is connected to long-lasting mental function, researchers believe that the executive control network acts like a “reserve,” helping to compensate for impairments in other areas. The idea, known as “cognitive reserve” is that there are many factors that maintain and protect brain function, such as having higher education, greater financial security, job satisfaction, an active social and intellectual life, and getting regular exercise. All of these factors contribute to cognitive reserve, and bilingualism appears to be among them.

 

So what about adults who learn a second language in later life?

Various studies have found that a wide variety of mentally stimulating activities, such as playing an instrument or learning a new skill, helps to improve and preserve high mental functioning. Similarly, learning a second language can also lead to cognitive benefits. Therefore, even for those who are not currently bilingual, people of all ages may benefit from learning a second language.

Almost everyone can take advantage of the surprising benefits associated with knowing multiple languages. For example, immigrants to the United States benefit from opportunities to both learn and speak more English, as well as continuing to use their native language. Children of immigrant families, people who live abroad or travel often for work or pleasure, high school and college students who have a language requirement to fill, and older adults wishing to pursue lifelong learning, all have a special opportunity to take advantage of the benefits of multilingualism on long-lasting mental ability.

 

References:

The Alzheimer’s Association Maintain Your Brain Campaign

Bilingualism Might Delay Alzheimer’s by More than Four Years

 

Author Biographies:

Sherry A. Beaudreau, PhD, ABPP is a Clinical Associate Professor (affiliated) at Stanford University School of Medicine and an Honorary Associate Professor through the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. She co-directs a national VA Advanced Fellowship Program in Mental Illness Research and Treatment. She is also an investigator in the Sierra Pacific Mental Illness Research Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) at the VA Palo Alto.  Her clinical and research expertise focuses on late-life psychiatric and neurocognitive disorders. She aims to leverage knowledge about the cognitive performance in late-life psychiatric disorders to inform the development of psychiatric behavioral interventions. She has a particular interest in problem-solving therapy for anxiety and depression. She is board certified in geropsychology and currently serves as President of the Society of Clinical Geropsychology (Division 12, Section II) of the American Psychological Association.

Eden Gallanter is a PhD student in Clinical Psychology at Palo Alto University in California, who is specializing in neuropsychology. Her research interests include language cognition, healthy aging, and affective neuroscience. She has studied Japanese, Spanish, French, and Arabic, and is currently studying Swedish. She is a student member of the American Psychological Association.

Image courtesy of Hey Paul Studios via Creative Commons

 


Filed under: Aging, Health and Wellness Tagged: Alzheimer's, bilingual, bilingualism, brain, brain development, brain health

Why Does HIV Impact African American Women Harder Than Everyone Else and What Can You Do to Help?

Professional black woman under cherry blossoms

By Leo Rennie, MPA (Senior Legislative & Federal Affairs Officer, APA Public Interest)

 

February 7th marked the annual observance of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. The day is an opportunity to raise awareness about HIV and AIDS and to promote HIV testing in the Black community.  Sadly, 35 years into the HIV epidemic the need for education and community mobilization remains significant.  Nearly half of the 50,000 people who become newly infected with HIV in the United States each year are Black. HIV-related disparities among Black women are even more striking. In 2014, the rate of HIV diagnosis of Black women was 18 times the rate of white women and 5 times that of Hispanic women.  

 

What puts Black women at higher risk for HIV infection? 

 

Black women make up the majority of women living with HIV in the United States. Most become infected through heterosexual sex. Sometimes they may be unaware of their male partner’s HIV-positive status and/or his risk factors for HIV infections (such as injection drug use or having sex with other men). Lack of access to preventive health screenings, quality mental and physical health care, including reproductive health and substance use services, and other health related factors such as untreated sexually transmitted infections play a role. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is another major risk factor for HIV transmission. It impedes women from seeking, accessing and staying in care or taking their medications. A White House interagency task force studied this problem and issued recommendations that resulted in new grant programs and federal initiatives to address the challenge of sexual violence.

 

What can be done about prevention and treatment?

 

Few female-controlled HIV prevention options are available. That is why organizations dedicated to promoting Black women’s health are raising awareness about pre-exposure prophylaxis or PrEP. PrEP is the daily use of anti-retroviral HIV drugs to prevent HIV transmission. While PrEP can be up to 99 percent effective when taken as prescribed, in clinical research women have encountered challenges to taking the drug every day as required. Community perceptions about PrEP and stigma impacted women’s adherence to PrEP in studies.  As health care providers and advocates promote PrEP to women, messages must emphasize that adherence is critical.  Women must receive supports, if needed, once they make the decision to start PrEP. This may mean providing them with regular counseling or mental health treatment, or even day care and transportation services so that they can get to doctors’ appointments.

 

When people living with HIV reach viral suppression, they have very low levels of HIV in their bodies. They can live normal life spans and are less likely to transmit HIV to others. But only 28 percent of HIV-positive Black Americans are virally suppressed. Effective medical intervention to prevent and treat HIV depends on behavioral, social, economic, and political factors. Integrated mental and physical health care tailored for Black women, coupled with essential social services and support, not only are necessary for biomedical tools like PrEP to be effective, but are also required if women are to learn their HIV status through HIV testing, seek and stay in medical treatment, and adhere to antiretroviral treatment (ART).

 

What can you do to help?

 

  • Learn more by visiting the APA Office on AIDS . The office provides useful information you can share with friends, relatives, and loved ones.
  • Sign-up for our Federal Action Network to receive updates on APA’s important public policy advocacy efforts in Congress and with federal agencies to expand HIV prevention and care options for women.  Psychologists and other mental health professions are well suited to destigmatize  HIV infection at individual, community, and societal levels, thereby making prevention and treatment of HIV safe and  routine.
  • But most importantly get tested for HIV. Knowing your status is the first step to keeping you and your partner healthy. To find a testing site near you, visit Get Tested, text your ZIP code to KNOWIT (566948), or call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636).

 

For  more information visit:

 

AIDS.gov

CDC – National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day

 

 


Filed under: AIDS, Health Disparities, Women and Girls Tagged: african american, african american women, aids, Black, Black women, HIV, intimate partner violence, National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, NBHAAD, PrEP, public health, public policy

Depression Screening Works and Now It Can Work for Pregnant and Postpartum Women

uspstf depression

By Amalia Corby-Edwards, MS (Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer, APA Public Interest Directorate)

You may not have heard much about this, but something just happened that could positively impact millions of women and their families. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) just included pregnant and postpartum women in the new depression screening guidelines. 

Psychologists know that depression is common during pregnancy and after birth. Approximately one in seven women experience depression in the year after their child is born, and many of the symptoms begin during pregnancy. In addition to its psychological harms, perinatal depression is linked with pregnancy risks such as preeclampsia, preterm birth, and low birth weight. It is also linked to outcomes which can negatively affect children, including stopping of breastfeeding, family discord, and child abuse and neglect (AAP 2010).

Depression screening works. While health care providers may not always be able to prevent the onset of depressive symptoms, they can reduce the risks of perinatal depression by screening pregnant and postpartum women and referring them to an appropriate treatment provider. Thanks to the new guidelines issued in January 2016, screening for these women will begin to be incorporated into routine medical care.

The USPSTF is an independent panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine. The Task Force makes evidence-based recommendations on clinical preventive services, including screenings. Surprisingly, previous 2002 and 2009 USPSTF depression screening guidelines applied to all adults with the exception of pregnant women, citing a lack of evidence for this population.

The Task Force chose to revisit the body of evidence again in 2014, and made their research plan available for public comment. APA weighed in, emphasizing the need for a fresh look at the balance of the harms and benefits of screening pregnant and postpartum women. APA and other supporters of women’s reproductive health enthusiastically welcomed the inclusion of pregnant and postpartum women in the revised 2016 USPSTF depression screening guidelines.

Yet, much work remains. Meeting the mental health needs of parents is essential, because it is so closely linked to the well-being of their children.  Congress and the federal government should take a leading role. For example, the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, which authorized support and education on postpartum depression and psychosis, was included in the 2010 health reform law (PL 111-148), but it has never been funded. Again in 2015, Congress introduced a number of bills focused on maternal mental health and substance use disorders, and even passed the Protecting our Infants Act of 2015 (PL 114-91), which addresses prenatal opioid exposure. Yet there has been no additional funding allocated for these issues, rendering the laws toothless.

APA’s Public Interest Directorate continues to educate congressional and federal agency staff on the importance of these issues. You can help us! Contact your Senators and Representatives to advocate for funding for these and other programs that address maternal mental health through APA’s Federal Action Network.

 

References

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). (2010). Incorporating recognition and management of perinatal and postpartum depression into pediatric practice. Pediatrics, 126(5), 1032-1039.

 

Image courtesy of Flickr user Frank de Kleine via Creative Commons


Filed under: Health and Wellness, Public Policy, Women and Girls Tagged: depression, depression prevention, depression screening, perinatal depression, postpartum, postpartum depression, pregnancy, pregnant women, public policy, U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

We’re Lucky If We Get to Be Old, Scientists Move Closer to Understanding Schizophrenia’s Cause, For Older Adults Serious Depression Symptoms Increase Risk for Stroke and Heart Disease, and more – In Case You Missed It – February 5th, 2016

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Welcome back to In Case You Missed It (our weekly roundup of articles touching on psychology, health, mental health and social justice issues from multiple news and commentary websites). This week, we look at why we may be lucky if we get to be old, scientists getting closer to understanding schizophrenia’s cause, for older adults serious depression symptoms increase risk for stroke and heart disease and more.

We’re lucky if we get to be old, physician and professor believes The Washington Post

Dr. Bill Thomas, a geriatrician and theater performer is traveling the country trying to change people’s attitudes about aging. In an age of Botox and celebrity teenagers, old age is not an easy sell and something to be feared. Dr. Thomas believes the correct message is that we are lucky if we get to grow old, this “third” phase of life beyond adulthood that can be as rich and rewarding. He argues, the goal is “normalizing the entire lifespan instead of separating and stigmatizing one part as something different.” Research has shown that people with negative conceptions of aging are more likely to experience dementia later in life. Dr. Thomas argues that maybe it is time to challenge the status quo.

Scientists Move Closer to Understanding Schizophrenia’s Cause – The New York Times

Scientists have taken a significant step toward understanding the cause of schizophrenia; a new study provides the first rigorously tested insight into the biology behind any common psychiatric disorder. The findings, published in the journal Nature, provide researchers with their first biological handle on schizophrenia. The findings also help to explain some other mysteries, including why the disorder often begins in adolescence or young adulthood. Eric S. Lander, the director of the Broad Institute said “We’re all very excited and proud of this work, but I’m not ready to call it a victory until we have something that can help patients.”

American Geriatrics Society Exclusive – For older adults, serious depression symptoms increase risk for stroke and heart disease

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society sheds light on whether depression or its symptoms affect heart disease and stroke in older adults. The researchers discovered that adults 65 years and older who had high levels of depressive symptoms during the study were at greater risk of experiencing heart disease or stroke events over the course of the study. This supported the researchers’ hypothesis that depression could be a risk factor for heart disease or stroke.

Middle school: The new high school for moms – CNN

A new study published in the journal, Developmental Psychology, by Arizona State University researchers, shows the most stressful time for moms is middle school. Results showed that across the board, mothers of only middle-school-age children reported the highest levels of stress, loneliness, emptiness, and the lowest levels of life satisfaction and fulfillment. Cynthia Tobias, co-author of the book “Middle School: The Inside Story: What Kids Tell Us, But Don’t Tell You” believes the biggest conflicts come when parents don’t realize their children are starting to see themselves as young adults and don’t respond accordingly. Suniya Luthar, professor of psychology at Arizona State University and lead researcher, urges mothers to reach out to other moms of middle-schoolers for support, she says “It’s not ‘it takes a village to raise a child.’ It takes a village to raise a preteen.”

What do you think of these stories? What did we leave out?

Leave us a comment.

For more In Case, You Missed It,  go to our homepage and subscribe to our blog via RSS or email.

 Moreover, don’t forget to follow us on social media:

You can follow APA Public Interest on Twitter – @APAPublicInt and Instagram – APAPubInt.

You can also follow APA on Twitter (@APA) and Facebook.

Make sure to also check out these APA publications:

Copyright 2015 American Psychological Association


Filed under: In Case You Missed It Tagged: aging, mental health, parenting