How stimulant treatment prevents serious outcomes of ADHD

An analysis of three previous studies of children and young adults with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) quantifies for the first time the extent to which stimulant treatment reduces the development of mood disorders, school problems, conduct disorders, substance use disorders and other problems. The study led by Massachusetts General Hospital investigators is being published online in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“Our study documents that early treatment with stimulant medication has very strong protective effects against the development of serious, ADHD-associated functional complications like mood and anxiety disorders, conduct and oppositional defiant disorder, addictions, driving impairments and academic failure,” says Joseph Biederman, MD, chief of the Pediatric Psychopharmacology and Adult ADHD Program at MGH and MassGeneral Hospital for Children. “In quantifying the improvement seen with stimulant treatment, it measures its potency in mitigating specific functional outcomes.”

Previous studies of stimulant treatment for ADHD have had limitations, such as only investigating outcomes in boys or not calculating the magnitude of the protective effects of treatment. The current study determined the number needed to treat (NNT) statistic, often used to show the effectiveness of an intervention. As the title indicates, NNT reflects the number of individuals receiving a medication or other treatment needed to prevent a specific unwanted outcome — the lower the NNT, the more effective the treatment.

Full story at Science Daily

From Insomnia To Sexsomnia, Unlocking The ‘Secret World’ Of Sleep

We tend to think of being asleep or awake as an either-or prospect: If you’re not asleep, then you must be awake. But sleep disorder specialist and neurologist Guy Leschziner says it’s not that simple.

“If one looks at the brain during sleep, we now know that actually sleep is not a static state,” Leschziner says. “There are a number of different brain states that occur while we sleep.”

As head of the sleep disorders center at Guy’s Hospital in London, Leschziner has treated patients with a host of nocturnal problems, including insomnia, night terrors, narcolepsy, sleep walking, sleep eating and sexsomnia, a condition in which a person pursues sexual acts while asleep. He writes about his experiences in his book The Nocturnal Brain.

Full story at npr.org

Can we blame procrastination on our genes?

People often assume that procrastination is a choice and that the personality trait — which sees people delay necessary tasks — is a sign of laziness. However, new research suggests that genes may play a role.

Previous research has associated both biological and psychological factors with procrastination. The results of a 2018 study showed that people with a tendency to procrastinate had a bigger amygdala — the section of the brain that processes emotions.

The same research team has now studied whether there is an association between the trait and genetics.

After examining identical and fraternal twins, the authors of a previous study, which featured in Psychological Science, concluded that 46% of the tendency to procrastinate might be down to genes. However, researchers still do not know the specific genetic difference that could result in this trait.

Full story at Medical News Today

Apathy: The forgotten symptom of dementia

Apathy is the most common neuropsychiatric symptom of dementia, with a bigger impact on function than memory loss — yet it is under-researched and often forgotten in care. A new study has found that apathy is present nearly half of all people with dementia, with researchers finding it is often distinct from depression.

Although common, apathy is often ignored as it is less disruptive in settings such as care homes than symptoms like aggression. Defined by a loss of interest and emotions, it is extremely distressing for families and it is linked with more severe dementia and worse clinical symptoms.

Now, research led by the University of Exeter and presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in LA has analysed 4,320 people with Alzheimer’s disease from 20 cohort studies, to look at the prevalence of apathy over time.

Full story at Science Daily

Microdosing psychedelics: Does the evidence live up to the hype?

New research reviews the evidence behind the benefits of drug ‘microdosing’ and suggests that more “rigorous, placebo-controlled clinical studies” are necessary.

The practice of microdosing — that is, taking small doses of psychedelic drugs, such as psilocybin or N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), to improve mental health, well-being, or productivity — has garnered more and more attention in recent years.

Medical News Today have reported on studies that revealed benefits of magic mushrooms and Ayahuasca for treating mental health disorders, often while avoiding the side effects of more conventional treatments.

Full story at Medical News Today

Can a Budget Make You Happier?

Clever websites and smartphone apps have made creating a household budget easier, though it’s still an unappealing chore for some. But what if using a tool that makes you smarter about money could also make you happier? That would make budgeting a lot more attractive.

What’s the connection? Budgeting causes you to rethink spending decisions, and by cutting back on some expenses that are less meaningful to you, you’ll have money to put toward things that give you pleasure.

Most budgets start with a list of monthly expenses. Some are necessities, like rent or a mortgage, food, utility bills and insurance. At first glance you might think other expenses, like entertainment and clothing, are more easily chopped. But put every item on the list through a happiness prism.

Full story at Health Day

What to know about amitriptyline

Amitriptyline is an antidepressant drug that doctors prescribe to treat depression. It also has off-label uses for other mental and physical health conditions.

Amitriptyline is a drug in the tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) family.

TCAs were introduced in the late 1950s as a treatment for depression. Since then, other less toxic drugs have become available. Among them are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, better known as SSRIs.

Doctors prescribe amitriptyline to people with depression who have not responded to other antidepressants. There are additional uses for amitriptyline that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved.

Full story at Medical News Today

Novel Method Identifies Patients at Risk for HIV Who May Benefit From Prevention Strategies

Researchers have demonstrated the effectiveness of using algorithms that analyze electronic health records (EHRs) to help physicians identify patients at risk for HIV who may benefit from preexposure prophylaxis (PrEP), which significantly reduces the risk of getting HIV. The studies, which were supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, advance a novel method that can help clinicians identify individuals most in need of PrEP. The two studies were published Friday, July 5, in The Lancet HIV.

“The development of innovative tools to increase PrEP use and adherence in the United States is crucial to our efforts to end the HIV epidemic,” stated Dianne Rausch, Ph.D., director of the NIMH Division of AIDS Research. “Identifying individuals who may benefit from PrEP is a major challenge for clinicians, and this is an important advance that could help improve PrEP delivery and use.”

Full story at NIMH

Facebook may actually benefit adult mental health

It is a common belief that using social media platforms can adversely affect people’s mental health, but new research has shown that using these networking sites can reduce an adult’s risk of experiencing depression or anxiety.

Facebook’s reputation has sunk in recent years for a variety of reasons, including its role in the 2016 elections and the recent data breach.

In addition, studies have suggested that social media can cause psychological distress, loneliness, and depression. For example, research from 2019 suggested that quitting Facebook may improve overall well-being.

Full story at Medical News Today

From Schizophrenia to Megalomania, Three New Books on Mental Illness

According to her mother, Sardy’s father was swept away in a tsunami in Hawaii in the mid-80s. He drowned and a stranger took his place. This man was very helpful and began taking care of the family, and after a while nobody noticed anymore that he wasn’t their real dad. Sardy’s mother knew the truth, though. He was a replacement. She called him Mr. Ree.

Mr. Ree is one of many altered realities created by Sardy’s mother — a product of the paranoia, hallucinations and delusions that characterize schizophrenia. Mental illness runs through four generations of Sardy’s family, and this memoir is a dizzying reflection on her unwanted inheritance. While the story initially focuses on her mother and her struggles with the disease, it quickly shifts to the author’s brother and the mental demons that transform their relationship.

Sardy often refers to her own struggles with depression, but occasionally hints at something more. “I kept having moments in which I would look around and feel that nothing I saw was actually there. Or conversely, that all was as usual and I myself did not exist,” she writes. It is unclear whether these are literal insights into her mind, vivid metaphors or merely an expression of fear that her own brain may, as a result of genes and shared environment, be showing signs of mental disruption.

Full story at the New York Times