Teens hope their videos will prompt dialogue about mental health

Woodside High School senior Valentina Lovazzano joined the student advisory board at Menlo Park’s youth mental health advocacy organization SafeSpace midway through her junior year, after she finally found help for debilitating anxiety problems that had at times made it hard for her to leave the house.

Once Lovazzano got the help she needed, “the first thing I wanted to do was reach out to other people,” she says. “I wanted everyone to feel it’s a normal thing, you’re not alone. We’re all teenagers, we’re going to go through stuff. It’s going to be OK,” she says.

Now Lovazzano and a group of other students who serve on SafeSpace’s student advisory board are sharing those messages in five short videos SafeSpace is releasing this week to coincide with National Suicide Prevention Week.

Full story at Palo Alto Online

How our brain and personality provide protection against emotional distress

If you feel anxious prior to exams, take note: studies suggest that you can learn how to be resilient and manage your stress and anxiety.

Researchers at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Illinois recently examined a sample of 85 healthy college students to see how a number of personality traits can protect an individual’s brain against symptoms of emotional distress, namely depression and anxiety.

“In this study, we wanted to look at commonalities across brain regions and across personality traits that contribute to protective factors,” said Matt Moore, a Beckman Institute Graduate Fellow and co-author of the study. “We targeted a number of regions in the prefrontal cortex, looking specifically at the volume of those regions using structural magnetic resonance imaging. We did a confirmatory factor analysis, which is basically a statistical approach for testing whether there is a common factor underlying the observed measurements.”

Full story at Science Daily

Stress during pregnancy increases risk of mood disorders for female offspring

High maternal levels of the stress hormone cortisol during pregnancy increase anxious and depressive-like behaviors in female offspring at the age of 2, reports a new study in Biological Psychiatry. The effect of elevated maternal cortisol on the negative offspring behavior appeared to result from patterns of stronger communication between brain regions important for sensory and emotion processing. The findings emphasize the importance of prenatal conditions for susceptibility of later mental health problems in offspring.

Interestingly, male offspring of mothers with high cortisol during pregnancy did not demonstrate the stronger brain connectivity, or an association between maternal cortisol and mood symptoms.

“Many mood and anxiety disorders are approximately twice as common in females as in males. This paper highlights one unexpected sex-specific risk factor for mood and anxiety disorders in females,” said John Krystal, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. “High maternal levels of cortisol during pregnancy appear to contribute to risk in females, but not males.”

Full story at Science Daily

Mental health at university: know where to find support

At the beginning of his second year at Loughborough University, Rahul Mathasing started struggling. His moods were becoming darker, his motivation disappeared and he started missing lectures. He approached the university medical centre, which referred him to the local NHS community mental health team. His pattern of behaviour – manic episodes in which he couldn’t concentrate or sleep, as well as episodes of very low moods – led to a diagnosis, in February 2015, of bipolar disorder.

The systems engineering student, who continues to see a psychiatrist and is on medication to treat his disorder, has had help from the students’ union, the medical centre, and his department, which gave him a leave of absence: “They’ve done every thing they can to help me get to a level I’m happy with.”

Students can be more stressed and anxious than other young people. “You don’t have family around you, necessarily, and you are probably having a massive shift in your support systems,” says Micha Frazer-Carroll, welfare and rights officer at the University of Cambridge students’ union.

Full story at The Guardian

Getting Honest About Mental Health In The World Of Tech Startups

The tech sector is built on bright minds developing new solutions to create economic or social impact. This fast-paced industry has high stakes, which require people to meet even higher expectations. Many individuals within the sector — especially startup founders — have small teams (meaning each person serves in multiple roles), work long hours, second jobs or are still in school and constantly worry about “making it.”

At the DMZ, we see that many entrepreneurs are still not talking openly about their mental well-being. And these challenges aren’t special to our organization. Mental health concerns in tech entrepreneurship are often referred to as “founder’s blues.” Between 2011 and 2017, founder’s blues has contributed to a number of high-profile suicides in the startup world, including Aaron Swartz, co-founder of Reddit.

Researchers from the University of California found that 72% of entrepreneurs surveyed self-reported mental health concerns. And about 49% disclosed they deal with ADD, ADHD, bipolar disorder, addiction, depression or anxiety. These figures were described as “significantly higher” than non-entrepreneurs.

Full story at Forbes

What are some foods to ease your anxiety?

People can make a variety of lifestyle changes to help manage their anxiety. Eating a diet high in vegetables, fruit, legumes, whole grains, and lean protein can be helpful.

Anxiety is a widespread condition, affecting millions of people globally. Symptoms vary, and some people only experience them now and then. However, someone who experiences symptoms for 6 months or longer may have a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

The symptoms of GAD include psychological and physical symptoms, such as:

  • fear
  • tension
  • excessive worry about everyday events and problems
  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating

Full story at Medical News Today

The tipping point: Service sector employees are more susceptible to mental health issues

Approximately 102 million Americans work in the service industry, according to the Pew Research Center, filling critical positions in restaurants, salons and transportation. In many cases, these jobs offer base pay at rates up to 71 percent lower than federal minimum wage, with the expectation that tips, which are highly unpredictable, will make up the difference.

However, service workers who rely on tips are at greater risk for depression, sleep problems and stress compared with employees who work in non-tipped positions, according to a study published today in the American Journal of Epidemiology. The analysis is based on data from a nationwide health study that followed thousands of participants from adolescence into adulthood.

“The higher prevalence of mental health problems may be linked to the precarious nature of service work, including lower and unpredictable wages, insufficient benefits, and a lack of control over work hours and assigned shifts,” said lead author Sarah Andrea, M.P.H., a Ph.D. candidate in epidemiology at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. “On average, tipped workers are nearly twice as likely to live in poverty relative to untipped workers.”

Full story at Science Daily

80% of teenage girls suffer serious mental illness after sexual assault

Four out of five teenage girls who have been sexually assaulted are suffering from crippling mental health problems months after their attack, new research has found.

Victims were found to have anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and other serious conditions four to five months after being assaulted.

Experts said the findings confirmed that becoming a victim of abuse in childhood can lead to mental health issues that can persist into adulthood and last a lifetime.

The study involved 137 girls aged between 13 and 17 – average age 15.6 years – who were assaulted between April 2013 and April 2015. It was undertaken by academics from University College London (UCL) and specialist staff from King’s College hospital NHS trust who work in three sexual assault referral centres around the capital, where the victims were treated.

Full story at The Guardian

Anger overlooked as feature of postnatal mood disorders

Women in the postpartum period should be screened for anger in addition to depression and anxiety, new research from the University of British Columbia suggests.

Although anger has been recognized as an element of postpartum mood problems for some women, it has not been well studied and is not included in the widely used Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale screening tool. In a review of existing research, UBC nursing PhD student Christine Ou found anger to be a significant feature in postpartum mood disturbances.

“We know that mothers can be depressed and anxious in the postpartum period, but researchers haven’t really paid attention to anger,” said Ou. “There’s some evidence that indicates that being both angry and depressed worsens the intensity and length of depression. That can have many negative effects on the mother, child and family, and on the relationship between parents.”

Full story at Science Daily

New hope for patients with depression and anxiety

There is a strong link between depression and anxiety disorders and autoimmune thyroiditis (AIT), a chronic thyroid condition affecting approximately 10 percent of the population. Scientists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now proven that special treatment could help many sufferers, especially women.

Depression and anxiety are among the most common psychiatric disorders across the globe. In 2016 more than 260,000 patients were admitted to hospital for treatment in Germany alone, according to statistics from the Federal Statistics Office.

Together with Prof. Dr. Johannes Kornhuber, Chair of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at FAU, and scientists from the Psychiatric Clinic at the University of Bonn, Dr. Teja Wolfgang Grömer, medical practitioner in Bamberg and lecturer at the Chair of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, has now proven a strong link between depression and anxiety disorders and autoimmune thyroiditis. ‘Over the years, I must have been consulted by several hundred people suffering from depression and anxiety,’ reports the psychiatrist and former Max-Planck researcher. ‘At the end of 2015 I noticed a marked connection between AIT and the other two conditions, especially in patients suffering from both. After realising that more than one in two people diagnosed with anxiety and depression — and only in these cases, not other conditions — also tested positive for antibodies I decided to investigate the issue in more detail.’ With the help of the co-authors and a student of psychology at the University of Bamberg, Eva-Maria Siegmann, Dr. Grömer drew up a systematic overview of the current state of research and calculated the strength of the connection on the basis of statistics. For his metastudy, Dr. Grömer combined 21 independent studies based on a total of 36,174 participants. 35,168 of the participants suffered from depression and 34,094 from anxiety.

Full story at Science Daily