Thursday March 6, 2014
According to a new study from some Bowling Green State University researchers, teens and young adults who either fall victim to or commit what they term as "intimate partner violence" are more likely to experience increased depression symptoms.
To carry out the study into how violence within relationships might influence depression, the team examined data from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study.
Altogether four interviews were done, with the first being conducted in 2001. In this first interview, the participants were aged 12 to 19. The followup interviews were done every two years. And, at the time of the final interview, the study participants were aged 17 to 24.
To learn about the patterns of violence in the participant's relationships, the researchers asked the participants for their own reports, including whether they were the victim or the instigator of the violence or it was mutual. They were also asked about whether they were the victim of any earlier violence by family members or their peers.
One of the things that the researchers found during their interviews was that most did not report having a continual pattern of violence across all relationships. It tended to be only present in one or two relationships.
The team further found that being involved in intimate partner violence, no matter whether the person was the victim or the perpetrator, was associated with increased depression symptoms.
Both men and women were affected by this depression, according to the authors. Although generally women tend to experience more depression symptoms, intimate partner violence seems to have just as much effect on both genders.
The study authors note that while it might seem intuitive that being a victim of violence would be connected to depression, being a perpetrator of violence is also linked to worsening mental health. The researchers suggest that this may be because the relationship has greater conflict and negativity in general.
The study authors suggest that the effects of intimate partner violence can be long-term, affecting how well people make the transition into adulthood. It can break down a person's self-confidence and sense of self-worth, they note, affecting the life choices that they make.
They also note that repeated exposure to intimate partner violence with different partners does not appear to make depression symptoms worse. These symptoms seems to be dependent upon the current relationship only.
The study was published in the March issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior (JHSB).
Thursday March 6, 2014
A new report reveals that an anti-poverty program called "Moving to Opportunity" has yielded mixed results as far as the mental health of the children who were involved in the program. When families were moved out of poor neighborhoods, the girls subsequently had lower rates of depression and conduct disorder. Boys, on the other hand, had greater rates of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and conduct disorder.
According to the study's author, Jens Ludwig, this study was a followup long-term analysis of families who participated in Moving to Opportunity. Moving to Opportunity was a residential-mobility program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was designed to allow families to use housing vouchers in order to move out of poor areas into those with less poverty and crime. The goal of the program was to improve both educational opportunities and economic self-sufficiency. Altogether, HUD enrolled 4,604 low-income families from Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York into the program, randomly assigning half of the participants to receive the vouchers. The program was carried out between 1994 and 1998.
Ten and 15 years later, followups were conducted, making those participants who were children when the project began teenagers at the time of the followups. The children were assessed to see how their mental health was impacted by being in the program.
The research team found that the girls who were in the program had much lower rates of depression (6.5 percent compared to 10.9 percent) and conduct disorder (0.3 percent compared to 2.9 percent) compared to the control group who had not been given housing vouchers. The boys appeared to be affected quite differently, however. Their rates of depression were significantly higher than the control group (7.1 percent versus 3.5 percent). In addition, their rates of PTSD and conduct disorder were much higher (6.2 percent versus 1.9 percent and 6.4 percent versus 2.1 percent, respectively).
Ludwig says that the most surprising thing that they discovered was the size of their findings. Not only did the move out of a high-poverty area affect girls and boys in a very different way, but the effects on the children were quite large. He compared the effect on the boys to the type of increase in PTSD that one might see among combat veterans. However, the decrease in depression among the girls was just as great.
"Qualitative evidence suggested these differences were due to girls profiting more than boys from moving to better neighborhoods because of sex differences in both neighborhood experiences and in the social skills needed to capitalize on new opportunities presented by their improved neighborhoods," the authors write in their report.
Ludwig believes that this study shores up the idea that scientific research is necessary in order to make informed public policy decisions. "This work demonstrates that the effects of housing mobility interventions are more complicated than one might expect," he notes.
The study appears in the March 5, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Tuesday February 25, 2014
One of the most important things that people with diabetes need to do is to keep their blood sugar in good control. Unfortunately, the symptoms of depression often make it difficult for them to comply with their doctor's recommendations. To help these patients, a group of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital decided to investigate the use of a cognitive behavioral therapy intervention to help with both depression as well as diabetes self-care compliance to see if it would help those with poorly-controlled diabetes.
The research team enrolled 87 adults with poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes in the study who were also suffering from clinical depression. At the beginning of the study, these individuals met with a nurse educator to talk about goals for blood sugar monitoring. They also met with a dietitian to discuss a plan for diet and exercise. Finally, the spoke with a counselor to create strategies for meeting these goals.
Out of this group, 45 people were randomly selected to receive an additional intervention involving nine to 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy where they worked on problem solving and mood tracking as well as discussing how well they had been meeting their treatment goals. These sessions were tailored to the patients' needs as far as their illness.
During the year that the study was going on, all participants continue with any existing depression treatment. If their symptoms became worse, they received a referral for additional therapy or changes in their medication regimen.
In order to track how well participants were following their diabetes treatment plan, an electronic monitoring system was used to detect when their pill bottle was opened as well as their compliance with their glucose monitoring.
Four months into the study, it was found that those receiving cognitive behavioral therapy were more successful at meeting their diabetes treatment goals. They also exhibited better blood sugar control. Similar success was seen at the eight- and 12-month points.
The cognitive behavioral therapy group also had faster improvement of their depression. While both groups had similar improvement at the eight- and 12-month points, the therapy group had greater improvement in symptoms early on at the four-month assessment.
Study author Dr. Steven Safren says he is hopeful that this approach will help in other illnesses with co-existing depression as well. He notes that it is also important to determine whether the improved blood sugar control to be gained by such an approach will bring about long-run cost savings.
Safren says that previous studies attempting to combine depression and diabetes management have had mixed results. This particular study was an attempt to adapt an approach which had had good results in HIV/AIDS patients as far as improvement of the patients' self-management of their illness.
The study was published in the March issue of Diabetes Care.
Tuesday February 25, 2014
A new study indicates that certain antidepressant side effects - such as suicidal thoughts, sexual dysfunction and emotional numbness - could actually be much more common than was once realized.
For the study, University of Liverpool researcher named John Read, surveyed 1,829 people in New Zealand who had antidepressants to treat their depression within the past five years. Each survey participant filled out a questionnaire dealing with about twenty different antidepressant side effects. They survey also collected information about their current level of depression and asked them to discuss how they felt while using an antidepressant.
What he found was that over half of survey takers who were between the ages of 18 and 25 reported having had suicidal urges. In addition, out of the entire sampling of people, there were a large number who reported having sexual problems (62 percent) and feeling emotionally numb (60 percent). Other psychological effects that were commonly reported included: "feeling not like myself" (52 percent), "reduction in positive feelings" (42 percent), "caring less about others" (39 percent) and "withdrawal effects" (55 percent).
Despite all of these negative effects, 82 percent of survey respondents did feel that the medication can helped with their depression.
Percentages for other effects included: 'feeling not like myself' (52%), 'reduction in positive feelings' (42%), 'caring less about others' (39%) and 'withdrawal effects' (55%). However, 82% reported that the drugs had helped alleviate their depression.
Read notes that while many side effects of antidepressants - like weight gain and nausea - are well-documented, the psychological effects often get ignored. Unfortunately, they may be even more common than has previously been thought.
Read says that he feels that the medicalization of sadness has reached "bizarre levels," noting that one out of every ten people in some countries are being prescribing antidepressants each year.
Read concluded by saying that these type of psychological effects are "of major concern." He also noted that many people are not being told about these side effects. In addition, he said, about a third of the people taking the survey reported feel suicidal, a finding which suggests that other studies have underestimated this problem.