How teens deal with stress may affect their blood pressure, immune system

Most teens get stressed out by their families from time to time, but whether they bottle those emotions up or put a positive spin on things may affect certain processes in the body, including blood pressure and how immune cells respond to bacterial invaders, according to Penn State researchers.

The researchers explored whether the strategies adolescents used to deal with chronic family stress affected various metabolic and immune processes in the body. Strategies could include cognitive reappraisal — trying to think of the stressor in a more positive way — and suppression, or inhibiting the expression of emotions in reaction to a stressor.

The team found that when faced with greater chronic family stress, teens who used cognitive reappraisal had better metabolic measures, like blood pressure and waist-to-hip ratio. Teens who were more likely to use suppression tended to have more inflammation when their immune cells were exposed to a bacterial stimulus in the lab, even in the presence of anti-inflammatory signals.

Full story at Science Daily

Studies Support Use of Team-Based Care for Early Psychosis

Researchers continue to build on findings from NIMH’s Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) program, which investigated the effectiveness of early intervention services for people experiencing first episode psychosis. Two recent studies add to the evidence that team-based early intervention services are feasible in real-world health care settings and result in improved outcomes for patients.

Christoph Correll, M.D., of the Center for Psychiatric Neuroscience at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research in Manhasset, NY, led a team of researchers from eight countries conducting a meta-analysis of studies of early intervention services for psychosis. The meta-analysis combined data from ten randomized clinical trials, including the RAISE Early Treatment Program and the Specialized Treatment for Early Psychosis (STEP) Program. The early intervention services in every study had to be aimed specifically at early psychosis and comprise different elements of treatment (psychosocial and pharmacologic) and supportive services, such as for employment and education. In each study, a control group received treatment as usual for comparison. The combined trials included 2,176 participants with studies lasting from 6 to 24 months.

Full story at NIMH

Targeted cognitive training benefits patients with severe schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is among the most difficult mental illnesses to treat, in part because it is characterized by a wide range of dysfunction, from hallucinations and mood disorders to cognitive impairment, especially verbal and working memory, which can be explained in part by abnormalities in early auditory information processing.

In recent years, targeted cognitive training (TCT) has emerged as a promising therapeutic intervention. TCT uses computerized training, such as sophisticated brain games, to target specific neural pathways, such as memory, learning and auditory-based senses, to beneficially alter the way they process information.

But while TCT has proven effective for mild to moderate forms of schizophrenia under carefully controlled conditions, it remains unclear whether the approach might benefit patients with chronic, refractory schizophrenia treated in non-academic settings, such as those cared for in locked residential rehabilitation centers.

Full story at Science Daily

Infections during childhood increase the risk of mental disorders

A new study from iPSYCH shows that the infections children contract during their childhood are linked to an increase in the risk of mental disorders during childhood and adolescence. This knowledge expands our understanding of the role of the immune system in the development of mental disorders.

High temperatures, sore throats and infections during childhood can increase the risk of also suffering from a mental disorder as a child or adolescent. This is shown by the first study of its kind to follow all children born in Denmark between 1 January 1995 and 30 June 2012. The researchers have looked at all infections that have been treated from birth and also at the subsequent risk of childhood and adolescent psychiatric disorders.

“Hospital admissions with infections are particularly associated with an increased risk of mental disorders, but so too are less severe infections that are treated with medicine from the patient’s own general practitioner,” says Ole Köhler-Forsberg from Aarhus University and Aarhus University Hospital’s ?Psychoses Research Unit. He is one of the researchers behind the study.

Full story at Science Daily

Hyperconnectivity in a brain circuit may predict psychosis

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-funded scientists have discovered a pattern in the way a brain circuit works that may help predict the onset of psychosis. High levels of chatter, or “hyperconnectivity,” in a circuit involving the cerebellum, thalamus, and cortex emerged as a potential “neural signature” in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study by Tyrone Cannon, Ph.D.of Yale University and colleagues.

The degree of hyperconnectivity within this circuit predicted the length of time it took for an individual to convert from a state of risk to full psychosis – hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thought and behavior. The researchers also found this same pattern of hyperactivity in a separate group of individuals with schizophrenia.

Full story at NIMH

Letter from the Editor: Love your mind

Fairy lights are gracing the shop windows and Michael Bublé is dominating the airwaves with his rendition of “Winter Wonderland.” The holiday season is well and truly in full swing.

“Are you all set for the holidays?”

I’ve been asked this question three times this week — a classic example of festive chitchat in the United Kingdom. The short answer? No.

With fewer than 4 weeks to go, I’ve purchased a total of three gifts, including one box of candy that will undoubtedly be opened prior to its intended date of consumption and will need to be replaced.

Full story at Medical News Today

Why your neighbor’s holiday decorations bring out the Grinch in you

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Colorful lights line rooftops and windows. Bristly wreaths hang on front doors, and you may spot a glow up Santa and his fleet of perfectly arched reindeer on your neighbors’ lawn.

You might be thinking, “Now? Already? It’s not even December!”

There’s ample debate about how soon is too soon to put up this seasonal décor. A poll by Home Depot found that the best date to begin sprucing your home with the holiday spirit is November 24. One study suggests that people who deck the halls earlier are doing a type of community service by communicating “friendliness and cohesiveness with neighbors.”

Regardless of timing though, holiday decorations don’t always have such a happy-making effect on us. As so many cynical memes (like this one) reflect, these neighborly gestures displaying festivity and joy can trigger judgmental reactions from those of us in a more bah-humbug frame of mind.

Full story at NBC News

Team-based Care Optimizes Medication Treatment for First Episode Psychosis

Team-based coordinated specialty care (CSC) for first episode psychosis (FEP) resulted in more optimal prescribing of antipsychotics and fewer side effects when compared with typical community care, according to findings from NIMH’s Recovery After an Initial Schizophrenia Episode (RAISE) project. These findings add detail about this component of treatment to findings from the original RAISE Early Treatment Program (RAISE-ETP) study, which found improved treatment outcomes with CSC versus typical care.

Psychosis is used to describe conditions that affect the mind, where there has been some loss of contact with reality. Symptoms of psychosis include delusions (false beliefs) and hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not see or hear). Untreated, psychotic symptoms can lead to disruptions in school and work, strained family relations, and separation from friends. In a series of reports, the RAISE project has provided information on the feasibility and benefits of individualized, timely care for young people with early psychosis.

Full story at NIMH

Over half of former ICU patients in the UK report symptoms of psychological disorders

Patients in the UK who have survived critical illnesses requiring care in an intensive care unit (ICU) frequently report symptoms of anxiety, PTSD and/or depression, according to a study published in open access journal Critical Care. Those reporting symptoms of depression after critical illness appear to be at a greater risk of death.

Researchers at the University of Oxford investigated psychological disorders in a cohort of 4,943 of former ICU patients. They found that 46% of patients reported symptoms of anxiety, 40% reported symptoms of depression and 22% reported symptoms of PTSD, while 18% of patients in the study reported symptoms of all three psychological conditions.

Dr Peter Watkinson, the corresponding author said: “Psychological problems after being treated for a critical illness in the ICU are very common and often complex when they occur. When symptoms of one psychological disorder are present, there is a 65% chance they will co-occur with symptoms of another psychological disorder.”

Full story at Science Daily

Talent. A Football Scholarship. Then Crushing Depression.

Something was wrong. He could sense it.

The feeling had been stalking him for months. The lights were off in his bedroom, and the darkness closed in on him.

Isaiah Renfro, a top freshman wide receiver at the University of Washington, was at his home in South Los Angeles. He had to leave in the morning for spring practice, which was about to start in Seattle. But he could tell: Another storm was coming, a gale of anxiety and depression.

He slammed his suitcase shut and stood near his bed, steeling for a struggle that he was never sure he could win. He breathed hard, and tried to stay on his feet. Now the tempest was upon him. All the pressure. The worries. Football. Family. The feeling that he could never measure up.

Full story at The New York Times