mental health in the headlines: Week of January 18, 2010
Mental Health in the Headlines offers summaries of the latest news and views in the mental health field. Coverage of news items in this publication does not represent Mental Health America's support for or opposition to the stories summarized or the views they express.
*DID YOU KNOW?
Men and women handle stress differently and that alters the way their bodies experience chronic diseases...more
*HEALTH REFORM UPDATE
Loss in Massachusetts May Change Route for Passage
With a loss in a special election for the Senate seat held by Senator Edward M. Kennedy looking likely, Democrats are assessing a change in strategy for passage of health reform legislation. A win by Republican Scott Brown would deny Democrats of a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority and prevent passage of a merged bill now being negotiated by House and Senate leaders. One option being discussed would have the House approve the Senate version of the legislation. But a number of House members are unhappy with various aspects of the Senate bill and may not go along with voting for it. (The New York Times, 1/19/10)
Vet Suicides Rose 26 Percent From 2005 to 2007
The suicide rate among veterans rose 26 percent from 2005 to 2007, the government reported last week. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) said that most of the veterans in the group—which include those ages 18 to 29—served in Iraq or Afghanistan. In a change from 2005, those veterans who used VA care were less likely to complete suicide than those who didn’t. Of the more than 30,000 suicides completed each year, 20 percent are veterans. The military has also experienced an increase in suicides, with the Army experiencing a record number last year. (Associated Press, 1/11/10)
Wives of Deployed Soldiers Have Higher Rates of Mental Health Issues
Wives of soldiers deployed to war have higher rates of mental health issues than those whose husbands remained at home, a new study finds. The rates were higher among wives whose husband was deployed longer than 11 months, according to findings published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study looked at more than 250,000 Army wives; two-thirds had husbands who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003 and 2006. The wives of soldiers deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan between one and 11 months had an 18 percent higher rate of diagnosis of depression than those whose husbands weren’t deployed. Wives whose husbands were deployed 11 months or longer had a 24 percent higher rate. (USA Today, 1/14/10)
Limitations of Antidepressant Study Noted
A widely reported study that said antidepressants are no more effective than a placebo for cases of mild depression has limitations that undercut its conclusions. First, the study was really an analysis of previous studies and included only a handful out of several hundred clinical trials. It is difficult to find studies that include large numbers of people with mild or moderate depression because most focus on patients who are severely ill. In addition, the authors excluded a whole class of studies that tried to determine whether drugs are working independent of any placebo response. Another aspect of the study that limits its weight is that its conclusions are based on studies that included only two antidepressants. (The New York Times, 1/12/10)
Over 25 Percent of Girls Involved in Violent Behavior
Almost 27 percent of girls aged 12 to 17 were involved in a serious fights or attacks on other girls within the previous year, according to a new national survey. Just under 19 percent of the girls got into a serious fight at school or work, 14 percent were part of fights involving groups and nearly 6 percent attacked others with an intention to seriously hurt them, according to the survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The girls least likely to get involved in violent behavior are those from families with higher incomes, those who achieved higher grades, and those who don't use drugs or alcohol. (HealthDay News, 1/14/10)
Resiliency Training Helps Kids Fight Depression
A growing body of evidence shows that resilience training, which teaches strategies to young children on combating stress and negative feelings, can help prevent or buffer the onset of depression. Jane Gilham of the Penn Resiliency Program, a behavioral therapy program at the University of Pennsylvania, reviewed 17 published studies on the effects of resilience training. One of those studies evaluated the effectiveness of training on grade school students two years after the program ended. About 22 percent of those who in the resilience training group had symptoms of depressive or negative thinking, which was 50 percent lower than those who didn’t go through the training. (NPR, 1/18/10)
Healthy Diet May Improve Women’s Mental Health: Eating a healthy diet will aid physical health and may improve mental well-being, a new study suggests. Researchers at the University of Melbourne, Australia, assessed diet and psychiatric evaluations gathered over 10 years from 1,046 women representative of the general Australian population. A total of 925 women were free of mood disorders, whereas 121 had depressive and/or anxiety disorders. The researchers, whose findings appear in the American Journal of Psychiatry, report that a diet of processed and sweet foods was associated with more than a 50 percent greater likelihood of depressive disorders. Depression and anxiety disorders appeared about 30 percent less likely among women eating a diet of mostly vegetables, fruit, beef, lamb, fish, and whole-grain foods. (Reuters, 1/13/10)
Migraine Headaches and Depression Linked to Gene: Migraine headaches and depression may share a strong genetic link, a new study finds. A research program that involved 2.652 people found that 25 percent of those with migraines also suffered from depression, compared to 13 percent of people with depression who didn’t have headaches. The authors of the study, published in the journal Neurology, found a shared genetic component in the two disorders. In the future, knowing the genetics of these conditions may lead to better treatment and possibly prevention, the researchers say. (HealthDay News, 1/13/10)
Men, Women Respond to Stress Differently: Men and women handle stress differently and that alters the way their bodies experience chronic diseases such as depression, cardiovascular disease and autoimmune disorders, new research suggests. Scientists monitored the brain activity of healthy men and women, viewing stress-triggering images with a functional MRI. The women underwent brain scans twice, once at the start of their menstrual cycle and once during ovulation. At the start of their menstrual cycle, the women's brain activity in response to stress was similar to men. But the men's response to stress was much higher when compared to women during ovulation. Reporting in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers say that women have a natural hormone capacity to regulate stress response in the brain that differs from men. (HealthDay News, 1/12/10)
Longer Breastfeeding May Lower Risk for Mental Health Problems: Children who are breastfed for longer than six months could be at lower risk of mental health problems later in life, a new study suggests. Researchers, who reported their findings in The Journal of Pediatrics, studied 2,366 children born to women enrolled the Western Australia Pregnancy Cohort (Raine) Study. Each of the children underwent a mental health assessment when they were 2, 5, 8, 10, and 14 years old. Eleven percent were never breastfed, 38 percent were breastfed for less than six months, and just over half were breastfed for six months or longer. Researchers found that children who were breastfed for shorter periods of time had worse behavior. For each additional month a child was breastfed, behavior improved. (Reuters, 1/12/10)
HEADLINES at Mental Health America
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*Mental Health America MEDIA HIGHLIGHTS
Advocates say the passage of mental health parity legislation has helped raise the stature of mental health and substance use issues in health reform. "The passage of the Wellstone-Domenici act elevated the importance of mental health in our overall health care debate," said Steve Vetzner, a spokesman for Mental Health America. Billings Gazette, "Law brings addiction, mental care into parity," January 17, 2010
Depression and alcoholism are some of the most common conditions among America's workforce, according to Mental Health America. The passage of the mental health parity law was one of the last major hurdles in achieving workplace equality. The Arizona Republic, "Mental-health coverage boosted," January 17, 2010
Stay Up to Date With More News, Views and Tools
- New national survey shows economic downturn taking toll on Americans’ mental health
- Survey reveals obstacles to health care for people who have schizophrenia
- New report reveals link between states’ depression status and access to treatment
- Join Mental Health America’s Advocacy Network
- Check out previous issues of Mental Health in the Headlines
Mental Health in the Headlines is produced weekly by Mental Health America. Mental Health America's Mental Health in the Headlines staff: Steve Vetzner, senior director, Media Relations; Robert Redpath, director, Web Technology.
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