April 20, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Researchers of the Layton Aging & Alzheimer's Disease Center at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) in Portland have discovered that brain volume is linked to mental decline in people with Alzheimer's.

This linkage was discovered while performing autopsies on deceased elderly patients. The entire brain was found to be larger in patients who had not experienced any cognitive impairment. In particular, the hippocampus, a part of the forebrain in the medial temporal lobe that plays a major role in long term memory, has been discovered to be larger in size for those patients with no cognitive impairments. Most surprising, those in both categories had plaques and tangles in the brain as found in typical Alzheimer patients.

The study consisted of 12 patients who did not have Alzheimer's symptoms before death and 24 who had experienced symptoms of the disease. As per Dr. Deniz Erten-Lyons, the brains of those without symptoms of Alzheimer’s were found to be on average 10% larger.

Dr Jeffrey Kaye, director of the Layton Aging and Alzheimer's Disease Center and a professor of neurology in the OHSU School of Medicine stated: "We are hopeful that this research will help us further understand the structural and genetic ties to Alzheimer's disease and perhaps offer clues that may help us develop new drugs or therapies."

This study could help lead the way to developing better tools for earlier detection rather than relying heavily on evaluations of thought process through mental tests. All studies seem completely worthwhile when up against a degenerative and terminal disease that has no cure and affects millions worldwide every year.


© www.mentalhealthblog.com

April 13, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008
The British Journal of Psychiatry presented a study conducted by Yale School of Medicine regarding the tendency to extract a meaningful message from meaningless noise. The study implies that, over time, this ability could produce a 'matrix of unreality' that triggers the initial psychotic phase of schizophrenia-spectrum disorders. The study implies that this ability could be an early sign of schizophrenia.

The study consisted of a measly 43 participants who had already been diagnosed with prodromal symptoms such as social withdrawal, mild perceptual alterations or misinterpretation of social cues.

A medication called olanzapine was used in this study. It is also known as zyprexa, an atypical antipsychotic used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Participants were assessed for up to two years after being randomly assigned to either this medication or a placebo.

The participants listened to a reading of a text through headphones, but this text was read by six different people at the same time. The overlap of the words made comprehension virtually impossible. The only words detected with any kind of consistency were increase, children, A-OK, and Republican.

"Eighty percent of the participants who 'heard' phrases of four or more words in length went on to develop a schizophrenia-related illness during times that they were not taking olanzapine, said the lead author, Ralph Hoffman, M.D., associate professor of psychiatry. In contrast, only six percent of those in the study converted to schizophrenia-related illness if the phrases 'heard' were less than three words in length." – Article

Clearly this is not sufficient research to conclusively report the effectiveness of this type of screening tool, but it’s an interesting attempt. How long could it be until we are using simple white noise to render a diagnosis.

Detect anything meaningful?

© www.mentalhealthblog.com

April 11, 2008

Friday, April 11, 2008
As promised, here are some brief excerpts from my paper regarding the treatment of trichotillomania. This is simply a follow-up to the previous post: Assessment of Trichotillomania.

"Trichotillomania typically presents many challenges to effective treatment. The extant literature suggests that a minority of patients respond to a single intervention, for example, habit reversal or a specific pharmacological agent" (Christenson, Hollander & Stein, 1999, p. 93). Following careful investigation of data pertaining to treatment, findings point toward a high need for long-term controlled studies in order to determine the most appropriate methods for treating trichotillomania. The current research implies that there is no explicit procedure designed to be effective in all cases, rather because individuals have responded differently to various treatments and since studies have produced varied results, the ideal treatment could be some combination of techniques dependent on the individual. Because of this lack in concrete evidence to support the most successful method; this paper will explore the most effective treatment modalities currently in place. Accordingly, the existing appropriate methods are behavioural and pharmacotherapy or some combination of the two. There have been numerous techniques employed over the years; therefore a short review of these other methods will also be presented. [...]

Basically, in some form or another, HRT models consist of the following components: competing reaction training, awareness training, identifying response precursors, identifying habit prone situations, relaxation training, prevention training, habit interruption, positive attention (overcorrection), competing reaction, self-recording, display of improvement, social support and annoyance review (Christenson et al., 1999, p. 156). "Habit reversal training remains the most widely accepted treatment with the most convincing documentation of its efficacy" (Christenson et al., 1999, p. 161). [...]

Similar to behavioural treatment, pharmacotherapy has very little research to confidently support the most useful medications (Christenson et al., 1999, p. 171). Consequently, there has been a great deal of disagreement regarding the most effective medication to treat trichotillomania (Kelly et al., 2004, p. 5). That being said, there have been a multitude of medications prescribed over the years in an attempt to uncover the most effective drug. There is significant variability among medications due to the wide range of the disorder’s symptoms and the lack of long-term studies (Christenson et al., 1999, p. 96). [...]

"Treatment studies are plagued with conflicting results, a lack of large-scale controlled treatment trials, and limited long-term follow-up of patients" (Baer et al., 1998, p. 561). Because of this deficiency in terms of concrete support for the most effective method to treat trichotillomania; this paper has focused on exploring the most successful modalities presently in place. Therefore, behavioural and pharmacotherapy or some combination of the two have been considered as the most appropriate methods of treatment. Specifically, habit reversal treatment has proven to be the most successful form of behavioural treatment, while anti-depressants have been considered the most reliable medications currently being prescribed. In summary, thorough investigation has revealed a critical need for additional research of treatment modalities in order to ensure that the most effective methods are being applied in treating trichotillomania.

© www.mentalhealthblog.com

April 1, 2008

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A new study reveals that sex doesn’t have to last hours to be satisfactory. In fact, according to a recent survey, sexual intercourse need only last somewhere along a reasonable continuum of 3 to 13 minutes.

The survey was conducted by researchers Eric Corty and Jenay Guardiani of Penn State Erie. Fifty full members of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research offered their input regarding sexual intercourse satisfaction. Sixty-eight percent of the group responded to the survey. These members consisted of psychologists, physicians, social workers, marriage/family therapists and nurses.

The respondents established adequate sexual intercourse as lasting somewhere between 3 and 7 minutes and desirable intercourse lasted about 7 to 13 minutes. Sexual intercourse was seen as too short when it lasted from 1 to 2 minutes and 10 to 30 minutes was determined to be too long.

Previous research suggests that both men and women perceive sexual satisfaction as long-lasting sex sessions. Therefore, when sex lasts less time than anticipated each party suffers a let down. If only we could re-train our brains to believe that the best sex lasts only a short period of time, we might actually allow ourselves to feel more satisfied with our sex lives.


© www.mentalhealthblog.com

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