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NIMH Survey Says ADHD Not Declining

A survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found lower rates of some mental disorders among American youth than have been reported in other published findings. The one exception was ADHD.

This information was revealed in a Dec. 14 release issued by the National Institutes of Health:
  • Overall, 13 percent of respondents met criteria for having at least one of the six mental disorders within the last year.
  • About 1.8 percent of the respondents had more than one disorder, usually a combination of ADHD and conduct disorder.
  • Among the specific disorders, 8.6 percent had ADHD, with males more likely than females to have the disorder.
  • 3.7 percent had depression, with females more likely than males to have the disorder.
  • 2.1 percent had conduct disorder.
  • 0.7 percent had an anxiety disorder (GAD or panic disorder).
  • 0.1 percent had an eating disorder (anorexia or bulimia).
"With the exception of ADHD, the prevalence rates reported here are generally lower than those reported in other published findings of mental disorders in children, but they are comparable to other studies that employed similar methods and criteria,"lead author Kathleen Merikangas, Ph.D., said in the release.

Labels: research, mental_health

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Premature Babies at Risk for Later-Life Psychiatric Hospitalization

A major study of 545,628 Swedish people born in the 1970s found that premature babies are at increased risk for anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric disorders as teenagers and young adults.

Dr. Karolina Lindstrom of Sachs Children's Hospital in Stockholm found that 3.5 percent of babies born in the late seventh or eighth months of pregnancy had been hospitalized for psychiatric disorders. Among the very prematurely born (sixth or early seventh month of pregnancy), the percentage was 5.2 - 68 percent higher than average.

This study appeared in the journal Pediatrics.

Labels: mental_health, premature-births

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Training Kids in Social Skills May Have Long-Lasting Benefits

A Seattle program for children in high crime districts seems to produce long-lasting benefits, according to a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Dr. David Hawkins of the University of Washington compared 400 children who participated in the Seattle Social Development Project during elementary school to 298 who did not. The project provided parents with educational materials and tutored children in social skills and self-control.

By age 27, those who took part in the project were more likely to have earned an associate's degree and less likely to suffer from a mental disorder. However, participating in the project did not affect the incidence of substance abuse.

Labels: social_skills, mental_health, self-control

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Bipolar Disorder Among Children Increasing in USA, Australia

More children in Australia are being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, according to a report in the Queensland Courier-Mail. "We are seeing more students with the light gone out of their eyes," said psychiatrist Gordon Parker, "and more students who are behaving erratically."

Professor Parker said that bipolar disorder seems to be increasing in both Australia and the United States. He links the increase to parents who are older when they have their first child and to changes in children's diets.

Bipolar disorder involves periods of mania alternating with severe depression. Symptoms usually begin between ages 15 and 18 years old, although more American children are being diagnosed as young as age two.

It can be extremely difficult to diagnose mental illnesses in children. Dr. Janet Wozniak, director of the pediatric bipolar disorder program at Massachusetts General Hospital, notes that three of the seven symptoms for bipolar disorder are also signs of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Many children have several diagnoses and are prescribed multiple medications by the time they are in their teens.

Some experts believe that bipolar disorder is over-diagnosed and is actually uncommon in children under 10 years old. Dr. Gabrielle Carlson, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine, said that many explosive and aggressive children who are labeled bipolar are truly "diagnostically homeless."

The number of doctor visits for children and teens with bipolar disease increased by forty times between 1994 and 2003 in the United States. One international survey of school principals indicates that one in five students needs mental health services or emotional support.

Labels: mental_health, diagnosis, bipolar_disorder

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Parents of Autistic Kids More Likely to Have Psychiatric Problems

A new study from the University of North Carolina links psychiatric problems to having children with autism.

Mothers with histories of depression and personality disorders, and parents of both sexes who had been hospitalized for psychiatric disorders or who had schizophrenia, had twice the risk of having a child with autism.

Researchers used the records of 1,237 children diagnosed with autism before age 10, along with the records of 31,000 children as their controls. This study appears in Pediatrics.

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Labels: autism, mental_health, genetics

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Alternative Treatment for Children with Fragile X Syndrome

Fragile X Syndrome (FXS) is a hereditary form of mental retardation that often includes an ADHD disorder. Previously, stimulant medications like Ritalin were found to produce side effects like increased irritability. Now, a new study has found that a certain amino acid (called L-acetyl carnitine or LAC) can reduce ADHD symptoms without side effects.
"Those treated with LAC demonstrated reduced hyperactive behavior and increased attention. No side effects were exhibited, confirming that LAC is a safe alternative to stimulants... The patients treated with LAC also had significantly improved social ability compared to the placebo-treated group."
The authors of the study concluded that LAC should be proposed as a viable alternative treatment for children with FXS who also display ADHD symptoms. Read more at MedicalNewsToday.com.

Labels: mental_health, genetics, symtoms

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Parents of Kids with Disabilities Shut Down Ad Campaign in NY

A controversial public service advertising campaign ended because of objections from parents of children and teens with mental disorders.

The ads, which appeared only in New York City, were supposed to incite parents to have their children evaluated for autism, ADHD and other disorders.

A typical ad looked like a ransom note that read:
"We have your son. We will make sure he will no longer be able to care for himself or interact socially as long as he lives. Autism."
Air N'eman, president of the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, wrote, "You have inadvertently reinforced many of the worst stereotypes that have prevented children and adults with disabilities from gaining inclusion, equality and full access to the services and supports they require."

The New York University Child Study Center pulled their ads and apologized to that group and others.
"We meant well," said Dr. Harold Koplewicz of the Child Study Center, "but we unintentionally hurt and offended some people."
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Labels: mental_health, advocacy, advertising

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Controversial ADHD Ads Pulled

The Child Study Center at New York University has pulled a set of controversial ads intended to raise awareness about childhood mental health issues. The ads featured "ransom notes" addressed to parents indicating that their kids will "pay" if mental health issues aren't addressed.
"An introductory press release from the Child Study Center attempts to explain the goal of the campaign, which is to raise awareness of childhood mental illness and urge treatment as early as possible."
Critics of the campaign have said that it gives the impression that there's a "criminal element" to childhood mental health issues and that kids with these issues are doomed to a life of total dysfunction. Just two weeks after the campaign began, the Child Study Center released a statement of apology and has pulled all related ads.

Students with learning disabilities have rights to a good education. Visit LearningDisabilitiesInfo.com for more information.

Labels: awareness, mental_health, advertising

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Portsmouth School Board Considers ADHD Memo

In September, the School Board of Portsmouth, Virginia issued a memo warning parents of the "dangers" of ADHD medication. The memo went on to say that parents who accept their children have ADHD are admitting that their children are mentally ill.
"The School Board will consider sending parents new information about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder that would be drastically different from... [the] controversial memo it issued in September."
The new memo comes in the wake of a litany of comments from national ADHD organizations calling for the School Board to address the medical facts of ADHD in children and adolescents.

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Labels: medications, dangers, mental_health

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Treatment of Children with Mental Disorders

The medical community's understanding of mental disorders has advanced significantly in the last several years. This Q & A article from PsychCentral addresses some of the more common concerns that parents have about getting their children diagnosed.
"Talk to your child's doctor. Ask questions and find out everything you can about the behavior or symptoms that worry you. Every child is different and even normal development varies from child to child."
The article goes on to suggest that parents may want to consult a psychologist or psychiatrist if the child's doctor believes he or she may have a mental disorder. Read more at PsychCentral.com.

Labels: treatment, mental_health, diagnosis

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Study Asks How ADHD Teens Cope

Ten years ago, Johnston County, North Carolina was the subject of a study on teens and ADHD. Now, researchers from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University have returned to do a follow-up study.
"Most of what is known about ADHD stems from smaller clinical studies, predominantly of Caucasian boys with the hyperactive form of the disorder. Much less is known about ADHD in young adults, especially females, African-Americans and children with the inattentive type of ADHD."
The original study revealed that about 10% of first- through fifth-graders in Johnston County had been diagnosed with ADHD; a far cry from the 3-5% cited in other studies. The follow-up study is focused on determining long-term effects of ADHD medication, and some of the potential myths surrounding ADHD  like the belief that it leads to riskier behavior (drinking, substance abuse, etc...). Read more at NewsObserver.com.

Labels: mental_health, studies, follow-up

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Meditation Sharpens the Mind

Though it's still in the most infant stage of study, some scientists believe that meditation can help reduce the symptoms of attention-related disorders like ADHD. Studies have found that people who meditate regularly can focus longer, and that the area of the brain linked with attention actually becomes thicker.
"'One of the fundamental mysteries that is now becoming better understood as we go along but which is still a breakthrough area of research is neuroplasticity, the idea that we can literally change our brains through mental training,' [Richard] Davidson said."
Davidson's initial study used an ancient Buddhist meditation technique called Vipassana. Seventeen volunteers went through three months of rigorous training on this technique, and after three months were able to spot details more quickly in laboratory testing. Read more at LiveScience.com.

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Labels: alternative_medicine, focus, mental_health

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The Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health

What is most important to reiterate is that the causes of health and disease are generally viewed as a product of the interplay or interaction between biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors. This is true for all health and illness, including mental health and mental illness. Read more online.

Labels: mental_health, biological, surgeon_general

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Psychiatric Meds Eyed After Girl's Death

A 4-year-old diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity and bipolar disorder died Dec. 13 of an overdose of prescribed drugs. Her parents have been arrested on murder charges, accused of intentionally overmedicating their daughter to keep her quiet and out of their hair. Read more online.

Labels: medications, parenting, mental_health

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Parents Mental Health May Influence Child's ADHD

Researchers at the University of Maryland have found a connection between a parent's mental health and behavior problems of children with ADHD.
"The study... found that early positive parenting during the preschool years predicted fewer conduct problems as the children grew into early adolescence. The strength of the findings led researchers to conclude that maternal depression may be a risk factor, whereas positive parenting may be a protective factor."
Having this research information means that early intervention programs can be developed which are aimed specifically at the children who are most at risk. Read more at PsychCentral.com.

Labels: behavior, mental_health, prenatal

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Canadian Study Links ADHD with Personality Disorders

A study out of the University of Windsor found that teenagers with ADHD have a greater chance of being neurotic than their non-ADHD counterparts. Carlin Miller, a psychology professor, studied 90 teenagers in New York City who had been diagnosed with ADHD.

“She found that teens with ADHD tended to be more neurotic and inflexible than their peers, and lack conscientiousness… ‘Behaviour [sic] treatments, parent training, cognitive work and coaching are all very helpful,’ said Dr. Sharon Burey, a Windsor pediatrician who specializes in psychological disorders.” [Source: The Windsor Star]

Their lack of empathy and inflexibility can add to the challenges ADHD students have with relationships, but the problems are not insurmountable.


Labels: mental_health

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 1 Comment

ADHD Increases Likelihood of Mental Disorders in Girls

A study being reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry has found that girls with ADHD are more likely to develop other mental health issues than their non-ADHD counterparts. The study tracked 187 girls (96 with ADHD, 91 without) for 11 years, having them answer standard psychiatric diagnostic questions.

“The researchers found that by the age of 30, more than three-quarters of the ADHD group had suffered depression at some point in their lives, versus less than one-quarter of the comparison group. Similar differences emerged for other types of disorders.” [Source: Reuters]

Dr. Daniel Carlat, a psychiatrist not involved in the study, urged parents and other caregivers not to be overly-alarmed or assume that medication is the solution. The connection between ADHD and other mental disorders is still unknown, and the causes may be treatable via non-medication methods such as getting a tutor to help with school work or having the child participate in behavioral therapy.

Labels: mental_health, girls

Posted By: Stefanie Hamilton 1 Comment

ADHD Linked to Increased Risk of Depression, Suicide

A long-term study of children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) that began when they were four years old, found that they were at greater risk for depression and suicide attempts by the time they were 18 years old.

  • Dr. Andrea Chronis-Tuscano of the University of Maryland, and her colleagues matched 125 children ages four to six years old who had been diagnosed with ADHD with 123 children without the disorder who have similar demographics.
  • The research team reassessed both groups several times during the next 13 years.
  • The children who had been diagnosed with ADHD were more likely to be depressed as young adults. Eighteen percent had tried suicide compared to six percent in the control group. Girls were more likely to experience depression than boys.

This study appears in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Labels: depression, mental_health

Posted By: Jane St. Clair 1 Comment