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Do (Even) Depressed Individuals Believe That Life Gets Better and Better? The Link Between Depression and Subjective Trajectories for Life Satisfaction

October 24, 2014 Comments off

Do (Even) Depressed Individuals Believe That Life Gets Better and Better? The Link Between Depression and Subjective Trajectories for Life Satisfaction
Source: Clinical Psychological Science

We investigated the widespread belief that life gets better and better over time—as revealed in individuals’ “subjective trajectories” for life satisfaction (LS) derived from their ratings of recollected past, current, and anticipated future LS—among depressed (i.e., current major depressive disorder, fully remitted, partially remitted) and nondepressed groups using a two-wave longitudinal sample of American adults. Linear and inclining subjective trajectories (past LS < current LS < future LS) were normative among nondepressed individuals, as were nonlinear but inclining subjective trajectories (past LS ~ current LS < future LS) among depressed individuals. Furthermore, Wave 1 temporal-perspective LS ratings uniquely predicted risk of depression 10 years later (Wave 2), even after we controlled for baseline depression status. Thus, the use of a novel temporally expanded perspective revealed that even depressed individuals view their lives as improving over time and that such beliefs predict heightened (rather than less) risk of future depression.

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Web-Based Intervention Programs for Depression: A Scoping Review and Evaluation

October 22, 2014 Comments off

Web-Based Intervention Programs for Depression: A Scoping Review and Evaluation
Source: Journal of Medical Internet Research

Background:
Although depression is known to affect millions of people worldwide, individuals seeking aid from qualified health care professionals are faced with a number of barriers to treatment including a lack of treatment resources, limited number of qualified service providers, stigma associated with diagnosis and treatment, prolonged wait times, cost, and barriers to accessibility such as transportation and clinic locations. The delivery of depression interventions through the Internet may provide a practical solution to addressing some of these barriers.

Objective:
The purpose of this scoping review was to answer the following questions: (1) What Web-delivered programs are currently available that offer an interactive treatment component for depression?, (2) What are the contents, accessibility, and usability of each identified program?, and (3) What tools, supports, and research evidence are available for each identified program?

Methods:
Using the popular search engines Google, Yahoo, and Bing (Canadian platforms), two reviewers independently searched for interactive Web-based interventions targeting the treatment of depression. The Beacon website, an information portal for online health applications, was also consulted. For each identified program, accessibility, usability, tools, support, and research evidence were evaluated and programs were categorized as evidence-based versus non-evidence-based if they had been the subject of at least one randomized controlled trial. Programs were scored using a 28-point rating system, and evidence- versus non-evidence-based programs were compared and contrasted. Although this review included all programs meeting exclusion and inclusion criteria found using the described search method, only English language Web-delivered depression programs were awarded an evaluation score.

Results:
The review identified 32 programs meeting inclusion criteria. There was a great deal of variability among the programs captured in this evaluation. Many of the programs were developed for general adolescent or adult audiences, with few (n=2) focusing on special populations (eg, military personnel, older adults). Cognitive behavioral therapy was the most common therapeutic approach used in the programs described. Program interactive components included mood assessments and supplementary homework sheets such as activity planning and goal setting. Only 12 of the programs had published evidence in support of their efficacy and treatment of depressive symptoms.

Conclusions:
There are a number of interactive depression interventions available through the Internet. Recommendations for future programs, or the adaptation of existing programs include offering a greater selection of alternative languages, removing registration restrictions, free trial periods for programs requiring user fees, and amending programs to meet the needs of special populations (eg, those with cognitive and/or visual impairments). Furthermore, discussion of specific and relevant topics to the target audience while also enhancing overall user control would contribute to a more accessible intervention tool.

Veteranness : Representations of Combat-related PTSD in U.S. Popular Visual Media

October 20, 2014 Comments off

Veteranness : Representations of Combat-related PTSD in U.S. Popular Visual Media (PDF)
Source: Michigan Technological University (Keranen)

Posttraumatic stress and PTSD are becoming familiar terms to refer to what we often call the invisible wounds of war, yet these are recent additions to a popular discourse in which images of and ideas about combat-affected veterans have long circulated. A legacy of ideas about combat veterans and war trauma thus intersects with more recent clinical information about PTSD to become part of a discourse of visual media that has defined and continues to redefine veteran for popular audiences.

In this dissertation I examine realist combat veteran representations in selected films and other visual media from three periods: during and after World Wars I and II (James Allen from I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang, Fred Derry and Al Stephenson from The Best Years of Our Lives); after the Vietnam War (Michael from The Deer Hunter, Eriksson from Casualties of War), and post 9/11 (Will James from The Hurt Locker, a collection of veterans from Wartorn: 1861-2010.) Employing a theoretical framework informed by visual media studies, Barthes’ concept of myth, and Foucault’s concept ofdiscursive unity, I analyze how these veteran representations are endowed with PTSD symptom-like behaviors and responses that seem reasonable and natural within the narrative arc. I contend that veteran myths appear through each veteran representation as the narrative develops and resolves. I argue that these veteran myths are many and varied but that they crystallize in a dominant veteran discourse, a discursive unity that I term veteranness. I further argue that veteranness entangles discrete categories such as veteran, combat veteran, and PTSD with veteran myths, often tying dominant discourse about combat-related PTSD to outdated or outmoded notions that significantly affect our attitudes about and treatment of veterans.

A basic premise of my research is that unless and until we learn about the lasting effects of the trauma inherent to combat, we hinder our ability to fulfill our responsibilities to war veterans. A society that limits its understanding of posttraumatic stress, PTSD and post-war experiences of actual veterans affected by war trauma to veteranness or veteran myths risks normalizing or naturalizing an unexamined set of sociocultural expectations of all veterans, rendering them voice-less, invisible, and, ultimately disposable.

Combined impact of healthy lifestyle factors on colorectal cancer: a large European cohort study

October 16, 2014 Comments off

Combined impact of healthy lifestyle factors on colorectal cancer: a large European cohort study
Source: BMC Medicine

Background
Excess body weight, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption and certain dietary factors are individually related to colorectal cancer (CRC) risk; however, little is known about their joint effects. The aim of this study was to develop a healthy lifestyle index (HLI) composed of five potentially modifiable lifestyle factors – healthy weight, physical activity, non-smoking, limited alcohol consumption and a healthy diet, and to explore the association of this index with CRC incidence using data collected within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) cohort.

Methods
In the EPIC cohort, a total of 347,237 men and women, 25- to 70-years old, provided dietary and lifestyle information at study baseline (1992 to 2000). Over a median follow-up time of 12 years, 3,759 incident CRC cases were identified. The association between a HLI and CRC risk was evaluated using Cox proportional hazards regression models and population attributable risks (PARs) have been calculated.

Results
After accounting for study centre, age, sex and education, compared with 0 or 1 healthy lifestyle factors, the hazard ratio (HR) for CRC was 0.87 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.44 to 0.77) for two factors, 0.79 (95% CI: 0.70 to 0.89) for three factors, 0.66 (95% CI: 0.58 to 0.75) for four factors and 0.63 (95% CI: 0.54 to 0.74) for five factors; P-trend <0.0001. The associations were present for both colon and rectal cancers, HRs, 0.61 (95% CI: 0.50 to 0.74; P for trend <0.0001) for colon cancer and 0.68 (95% CI: 0.53 to 0.88; P-trend <0.0001) for rectal cancer, respectively (P-difference by cancer sub-site = 0.10). Overall, 16% of the new CRC cases (22% in men and 11% in women) were attributable to not adhering to a combination of all five healthy lifestyle behaviours included in the index.

Conclusions
Combined lifestyle factors are associated with a lower incidence of CRC in European populations characterized by western lifestyles. Prevention strategies considering complex targeting of multiple lifestyle factors may provide practical means for improved CRC prevention.

Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation 2015-2018

October 15, 2014 Comments off

Leading Change 2.0: Advancing the Behavioral Health of the Nation 2015-2018
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

Introduces six Strategic Initiatives that will guide SAMHSA through 2018 in leading change to increase awareness and understanding of mental illness and substance use disorders, promote wellness, increase access to effective treatment, and support recovery.

Sleep Quality during Exam Stress: The Role of Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotine

October 14, 2014 Comments off

Sleep Quality during Exam Stress: The Role of Alcohol, Caffeine and Nicotine
Source: PLoS ONE

Academic exam stress is known to compromise sleep quality and alter drug consumption in university students. Here we evaluated if sleeping problems and changes in legal drug consumption during exam stress are interrelated. We used the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) to survey sleep quality before, during, and after an academic exam period in 150 university students in a longitudinal questionnaire study. Self-reports of alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine consumption were obtained. The Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ-20) was used as a measure of stress. Sleep quality and alcohol consumption significantly decreased, while perceived stress and caffeine consumption significantly increased during the exam period. No significant change in nicotine consumption was observed. In particular, students shortened their time in bed and showed symptoms of insomnia. Mixed model analysis indicated that sex, age, health status, as well as the amounts of alcohol and caffeine consumed had no significant influence on global sleep quality. The amount of nicotine consumed and perceived stress were identified as significant predictors of diminished sleep quality. Nicotine consumption had a small-to-very-small effect on sleep quality; perceived stress had a small-to-moderate effect. In conclusion, diminished sleep quality during exam periods was mainly predicted by perceived stress, while legal drug consumption played a minor role. Exam periods may pose an interesting model for the study of stress-induced sleeping problems and their mechanisms.

Impact of socioeconomic deprivation on rate and cause of death in severe mental illness

October 13, 2014 Comments off

Impact of socioeconomic deprivation on rate and cause of death in severe mental illness
Source: BMC Psychiatry

Background
Socioeconomic status has important associations with disease-specific mortality in the general population. Although individuals with Severe Mental Illnesses (SMI) experience significant premature mortality, the relationship between socioeconomic status and mortality in this group remains under investigated. We aimed to assess the impact of socioeconomic status on rate and cause of death in individuals with SMI (schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) relative to the local (Glasgow) and wider (Scottish) populations.

Methods
Cause and age of death during 2006-2010 inclusive for individuals with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder registered on the Glasgow Psychosis Clinical Information System (PsyCIS) were obtained by linkage to the Scottish General Register Office (GRO). Rate and cause of death by socioeconomic status, measured by Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation (SIMD), were compared to the Glasgow and Scottish populations.

Results
Death rates were higher in people with SMI across all socioeconomic quintiles compared to the Glasgow and Scottish populations, and persisted when suicide was excluded. Differences were largest in the most deprived quintile (794.6 per 10,000 population vs. 274.7 and 252.4 for Glasgow and Scotland respectively). Cause of death varied by socioeconomic status. For those living in the most deprived quintile, higher drug-related deaths occurred in those with SMI compared to local Glasgow and wider Scottish population rates (12.3% vs. 5.9%, p?=?<0.001 and 5.1% p?=?0.002 respectively). A lower proportion of deaths due to cancer in those with SMI living in the most deprived quintile were also observed, relative to the local Glasgow and wider Scottish populations (12.3% vs. 25.1% p?=?0.013 and 26.3% p?=?<0.001). The proportion of suicides was significantly higher in those with SMI living in the more affluent quintiles relative to Glasgow and Scotland (54.6% vs. 5.8%, p?=?<0.001 and 5.5%, p?=?<0.001).

Conclusions
Excess mortality in those with SMI occurred across all socioeconomic quintiles compared to the Glasgow and Scottish populations but was most marked in the most deprived quintiles when suicide was excluded as a cause of death. Further work assessing the impact of socioeconomic status on specific causes of premature mortality in SMI is needed.

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