A quarter of problematic pot users have anxiety disorders, many since childhood

DURHAM, N.C. — About a quarter of adults whose marijuana use is problematic in early adulthood have anxiety disorders in childhood and late adolescence, according to new data from Duke Health researchers.

The findings, publishing this week in the November issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, also shed light on an estimated 4 percent of adults who endured childhood maltreatment and peer bullying without resorting to chronic marijuana abuse, only to develop problems with the drug between the ages of 26 and 30.

“Given that more states may be moving towards legalization of cannabis for medicinal and recreational purposes, this study raises attention about what we anticipate will be the fastest growing demographic of users — adults,” said lead author Sherika Hill, Ph.D., an adjunct faculty associate at the Duke University School of Medicine. “A lot of current interventions and policies in the U.S. are aimed at early adolescent users. We have to start thinking about how we are going to address problematic use that may arise in a growing population of older users.”

Full story at eurekalert.org

Transgender and gender-fluid teens left with few safe harbors

Transgender and gender-fluid teens, particularly those born male, face up to three times more mental and physical abuse at school and at home than their gender-conforming peers, according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley.

The study is one of the largest national surveys to date of sexual and gender minority adolescents who have suffered multiple forms of victimization, including child abuse, physical and sexual assault and bullying, raising their risk of depression, post-traumatic stress, self-harm and suicide.

“Our results show that approximately 50 to 70 percent of trans and gender-fluid teens reported being exposed to 10 or more different types of aggression,” said study lead author Paul Sterzing, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of social welfare. “For these young people, victimization is happening in the home. It’s happening at school. It’s happening online. There often isn’t a safe harbor for them.”

Full story of safe harbors for transgender teens at Science Daily

Negative experiences on Facebook linked to increased depression risk in young adults

In the first study of its kind, public health researchers show that young adults who reported having negative experiences on Facebook — including bullying, meanness, misunderstandings or unwanted contacts — were at significantly higher risk of depression, even accounting for many possible confounding factors.

“I think it’s important that people take interactions on social media seriously and don’t think of it as somehow less impactful because it’s a virtual experience as opposed to an in-person experience,” said lead author Samantha Rosenthal, an epidemiology research associate in the Brown University School of Public Health who performed the research as part of her doctoral thesis at Brown. “It’s a different forum that has real emotional consequences.”

Full story of Facebook experiences and depression at Science Daily

Support from family, friends important to helping prevent depression in teenagers

The importance of friendships and family support in helping prevent depression among teenagers has been highlighted in research from the University of Cambridge. The study, published in the open access journal PLOS ONE, also found that teenagers who had grown up in a difficult family environment were more likely than their peers to be bullied at school.

Adolescence is a key time in an individual’s development, and is a period where some teenagers begin to show signs of major depression. One of the major risk factors for depression in adolescence is childhood family adversity, such as poor parenting and lack of affection, emotional, physical or sexual abuse, family financial problems or the loss of a family member. Another major risk factor for depression is bullying by peers — and the combined experience of childhood family adversity and peer bullying is associated with increased severity of depression symptoms.

Studies suggest that friendships and supportive family environments may help protect adolescents from depression if they have experienced peer bullying and childhood family adversity. However, no study has simultaneously examined the complex interplay of early life adversity, bullying, family support and friendships on later adolescent depression.

Full story of family support to prevent depression in teenagers at Science Daily

Bullied preemies may develop mental illness as adults, study shows

Babies born at an extremely low birth weight (ELBW) are miracles, but they are more likely to be bullied as children, and this can significantly increase their risk for mental health problems as adults.

Not only that, but the more they were bullied as children, the more likely they are to develop problems such as depression, anxiety, antisocial behavior or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as adults, says a new study from McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

“Being bullied has a significant and lasting impact for those preemies, even into their 30s,” said Kimberly Day, lead author of the study and Lawson Postdoctoral Fellow at the Offord Centre for Child Studies at McMaster. “This has important implications for parents, teachers, and clinicians who need to be aware of the long-term effects of peer victimization on mental health. They need to watch out for bullying and intervene when possible.”

Full story of bullying and mental illness at Science Daily

Family dinners good for teens’ mental health, could protect from cyberbullying

Cyberbullying was associated with mental health and substance use problems in adolescents but family dinners may help protect teens from the consequences of cyberbullying and also be beneficial for their mental health.

About 1 in 5 adolescents has experienced recent online bullying and cyberbullying, like traditional bullying, can increase the risk of mental health problems in teens as well as the misuse of drugs and alcohol. It is important to understand whether cyberbullying contributes uniquely to mental health and substance use problems independent of its overlap with traditional face-to-face bullying. Family dinners are an outlet of support for adolescents.

The authors examined the association between cyberbullying and mental health and substance use problems, as well any moderation of the effects by family contact and communication through family dinners. The study included survey data on 18,834 students (ages 12-18) from 49 schools in a Midwestern state. The authors measured five internalizing problems (anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide ideation and suicide attempt), two externalizing problems (fighting and vandalism) and four substance use problems (frequent alcohol use, frequent binge drinking, prescription drug misuse and over-the-counter drug misuse).

Full story of family dinners good for mental health at Science Daily