Recent News Items

Teens Who Skimp On Sleep Now Have More Drinking Problems Later, by Maanvi Singh. NPR, January 16, 2015.  “Sleep-deprived teenagers find it difficult to focus in class, and they're more likely get sick. They are also more likely to develop problems with alcohol later on, according to a study published Friday in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. The study included teens who suffered from conditions like insomnia as well as those who simply weren't getting enough sleep. Teenagers ages 14 through 16 who had trouble falling or staying asleep were 47 percent more likely to binge drink than their well-rested peers. Sleep problems were linked to even more issues with alcohol later on.”

Stress is 'barrier to feeling empathy for strangers' BBC, January 15, 2015.  “In this study, researchers treated mice with a stress-blocking drug and watched their response when confronted with other mice in pain. They found that the mice became more empathetic and more compassionate to strangers, reacting in a way they would normally react to familiar mice. When the mice were put under stress, they showed less empathy towards other mice in pain. Tests in undergraduate students using the same drug showed exactly the same effect, the study said.”

New Apps Give Teens Easier, Persistent Access To Mental Help, by Lorraine Sanders. NPR, January 13, 2015.  “A growing technology sector is creating coaching, counseling and monitoring services for teens and young adults fighting eating disorders, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. The programs promise to open new avenues for those who want or need more mental health care but — because of high service costs, logistical hassles, struggles with stigma or other obstacles — would not otherwise get it. Many focus on crisis intervention — including's Crisis Text Line, which provides teens free, round-the-clock access to trained counseling and referrals — as well as Mood 24/7, which lets people send a daily text message about how they feel to a doctor, therapist or loved one.”

When Campus Rapists Don’t Think They’re Rapists, by Victoria Bekiempis. Newsweek, January 09, 2015.  “Nearly one-third of college men admit they might rape a woman if they could get away with it, a new study on campus sexual assault claims. Of those men, however, far fewer will admit this if the word rape is actually used during the course of questioning. Approximately 32 percent of study participants said that they would have “intentions to force a woman to sexual intercourse” if ‘‘nobody would ever know and there wouldn’t be any consequences.’’ Yet only 13.6 percent admit to having “any intentions to rape a woman” under these same circumstances. With the exception of one survey that was not counted because of inconclusive answers, all of the men who admitted to rape intentions also admitted to forced intercourse intentions. (Worth noting: Though the legal definition of rape varies from state to state, these researchers are using the widely agreed upon definition of the word as “intercourse by use of force or threat of force against a victim’s wishes.”)”

Alcohol poisoning kills 6 people a day, by Jen Christensen. CNN, January 07, 2015.  “By the end of today, an average of six people will have died from alcohol poisoning, and it's a "surprising group" that's dying more than any other, according to new research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That adds up to an average of 2,221 people in the United States -- a conservative estimate, according to the CDC — dying annually, making it one of the leading preventable causes of death. The numbers come from death certificate data collected from 2010 to 2012.”

Myths and Facts About Self-Injury, by Kirstin Fawcett. U.S. News, December 26, 2014.  “Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) is “the direct, deliberate damage of one’s body without the intention of suicide, and for purposes that aren’t socially sanctioned,” such as tattoos or piercings, says Peggy Andover, a professor of psychology at Fordham University and president of the International Society for the Study of Self-Injury. There's not one underlying reason why people engage in NSSI. But psychologists generally agree it serves as a method of emotional regulation: People use it to cope with sadness, distress, anxiety, anger and other intense feelings or, on the flipside, emotional numbness.”

Music Training May Improve Attention, Cut Kids’ Anxiety, by Traci Pedersen. Psych Central, December 25, 2014.  “Musical training may help children focus their attention, control their emotions, and lower their anxiety, according to a new study by psychiatrists at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. The findings are published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. The study is the largest investigation of the link between playing a musical instrument and brain development, according to the authors. Using a database from the National Institutes of Health Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Study of Normal Brain Development, the team was able to analyze the brain scans of 232 children aged six to 18.”

7 Mental Health Resolutions for 2015, by Alexandra Sifferlin. Time, December 25, 2014.  “When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, our self-improvement efforts often focus on getting a better body. And we ignore that other, equally important part of our wellbeing: our mental health. MORE 'The Finest': Thousands Mourn Slain NYPD Officer Ramos NBC News Outage Outrage: North Korea Internet 'Paralyzed' Again NBC News 2014's Most Awesome (and Awful) Space Pictures NBC News Eminem Comes Out As Gay In 'The Interview' (VIDEO) Huffington Post Chris Freytag: 55 Tips to Lose Weight for Good Huffington Post Certain health hazards come with warnings, like cigarettes or alcohol, but less obvious ones, like loneliness and rejection, can take just as great toll, says psychologist Guy Winch, author of Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure and Other Everyday Hurts. Research shows social isolation is linked to shorter lifespans, yet we often ignore our emotional hygiene. “If our dental hygiene were as poor as our emotional hygiene, we’d be all gums and no teeth,” says Winch.”

High socioeconomic status increases discrimination, depression risk in black young adults, by Massachusetts General Hospital. ScienceDaily, December 18, 2014.  “An investigation into factors related to disparities of depression in young adults has found that higher parental education -- which has a protective effect for white youth -- can also increase the risk of depression for black youth. The MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) study published online in the Journal of Pediatrics also found that, among high-socioeconomic-status black youth, greater perceptions of being discriminated against cancelled out the protective effects of parental education”

On-Line Intervention Reduces Suicide Risk in Veterans, by Rick Nauert. Psych Central, December 05, 2014.  “A new study suggests a brief online intervention may help veterans reduce the risk of suicide. In their research, psychologist from Florida State University developed a simple computer-based approach to treating anxiety sensitivity. They believe the software may provide significant benefit for veterans and other groups who are considered at risk for suicide.”

How the West is cutting teen pregnancy, by Keith Moore. BBC, December 03, 2014.  “Teenage pregnancy is a problem developed Western nations have been battling for decades - and though it sometimes goes unnoticed they have made huge progress. "Here's a story of utter irresponsibility: About one-third of American girls become pregnant as teenagers," wrote columnist Nicholas Kristof in the New York Times recently. It seems like a shockingly high number. And eight years ago it was accurate. In 2006, this was the cumulative risk of a teenager becoming pregnant once between the ages of 13 and 19. It was calculated by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, a non-profit organisation, using data for births and abortions and an estimate for the number of miscarriages. Continue reading the main story “ Start Quote Truly one of the US's great success stories over the past two decades” Bill Albert National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy But when the same formula is used with the most recent figures, from 2010, it indicates that the number of teenage American girls becoming pregnant is now less than one in four, a reduction on track with changes over the past two decades.”

Study finds Depression in Pregnancy, Postpartum is Overlooked and Undertreated, by David Jacobson. UCSF School of Pharmacy, December 01, 2014.  “About 10 to 20 percent of women suffer from new-onset depression during pregnancy or after giving birth. Untreated, the impact of such illness can be profound, ranging from substance abuse, poor prenatal care, and miscarriages to impaired infant bonding and developmental delays. But a new study comparing the medical records of more than 6,000 such perinatal women—both during their pregnancies and postpartum—to those of about 57,000 non-pregnant women of the same ages (18 to 39 years) has found the perinatal group was significantly less likely to be diagnosed with depression.”

How Do Teenage Boys Perceive Their Weight? ScienceDaily, November 20, 2014.

Does Laughing Have Real Health Benefits?, by Markham Heid. Time, November 19, 2014.  “It may not be the best medicine. But laughter’s great for you, and it may even compare to a proper diet and exercise when it comes to keeping you healthy and disease free. Berk says your mind, hormone system and immune system are constantly communicating with one another in ways that impact everything from your mood to your ability to fend off sickness and disease. Take grief: “Grief induces stress hormones, which suppress your immune function, which can lead to sickness,” he says. Hardly a week goes by without new research tying stress to another major ailment.”

Is violence more common in same-sex relationships?, by Joanna Jolly. BBC, November 18, 2014.  “Last year, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released figures showing people in same-sex relationships experience levels of domestic violence just as often as those in heterosexual relationships. But the conclusions of another study this year by the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago - a review of data from four earlier studies, involving 30,000 participants - go further. "One of our startling findings was that rates of domestic violence among same-sex couples is pretty consistently higher than for opposite sex couples," says Richard Carroll, a psychologist and co-author of the report.”

Growing Up with ADHD, by Denise Foley. Time, November 12, 2014.  “Being fidgety and easily distracted are two of the most common and recognized symptoms of ADHD, often leading to poor performance in school, the most recognized fallout of the condition. But the 5% to 11% of American children 4 to 17 years of age who are diagnosed with the disorder—the numbers are up for debate depending on whom you talk to—also face a lifetime of increased risk for accidents, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, and even dying prematurely. Overall, boys (13.2%) are more likely than girls (5.6%) to be given an ADHD diagnosis.”

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