December 01, 2014

High-fructose diet in adolescence may exacerbate depressive-like behavior

What do you think of this article? "Animal study shows that diet alters important pathways associated with brain's response to stress The consumption of a diet high in fructose throughout adolescence can worsen depressive- and anxiety-like behavior and alter how the brain responds to stress, according to new animal research scheduled for presentation at Neuroscience 2014, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health. "Our results offer new insights into the ways in which diet can alter brain health and may lead to important implications for adolescent nutrition and development," said lead author Constance Harrell of Emory University in Atlanta. Harrell is presenting her work Saturday, Nov. 15, Halls A-C, 3-4 pm and participating in an "Unhealthy diet, unhealthy mind"-themed press conference on Tuesday, Nov. 18 at 12:30 pm. Harrell is a graduate student working with Gretchen Neigh, PhD, assistant professor of physiology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine. Fructose, a sugar found naturally in fruits and vegetables but also added to many processed foods and beverages, can promote negative cardiovascular effects. It also stimulates neural pathways that affect how the brain responds to stress, which can have important behavioral effects, including the worsening of symptoms related to depression and anxiety. Such effects are of particular concern during the teen years, which is a critical time for the development of the brain's stress response. To determine whether fructose consumption has the potential to create long-term changes in metabolism and behavior during adolescence, Harrell and her colleagues gave both adolescent and adult rats either a standard or a high-fructose diet. After 10 weeks, the adolescent but not adult rats on the high-fructose diet had a different stress hormone response to an acute stressor, which was consistent with their depressed-like behavior. A genetic pathway in the brain that plays a key role in regulating the way the brain responds to stress was also altered. These findings indicate that consuming a diet high in fructose throughout adolescence may exacerbate depressive behaviors and affect the way the body and the brain respond to stress." ### For more mental health topics and Continuing education in 3 easy steps, please visit Online MFT Continuing Education

October 27, 2014

Teens whose parents exert more psychological control have trouble with closeness, independence

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"For teenagers, learning to establish a healthy degree of autonomy and closeness in relationships (rather than easily giving in to peer pressure) is an important task. A new longitudinal study has found one reason adolescents struggle with balancing autonomy and closeness in relationships: parents' psychological control. Teens whose parents exerted more psychological control over them when they were 13 had more problems establishing friendships and romantic relationships that balanced closeness and independence, both in adolescence and into early adulthood. The study, by researchers at the University of Virginia, appears in the journal Child Development. The researchers looked at whether parents' greater use of psychological control in early adolescence can hinder teens' development of autonomy in relationships with peers. Parents' psychological control involved such tactics as using guilt, withdrawing love, fostering anxiety, or other psychologically manipulative tactics aimed at controlling youths' motivations and behaviors. "These tactics might pressure teens to make decisions in line with their parents' needs and motivations rather than their own," explains Barbara A. Oudekerk, a statistician with the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, who led the study while a research associate at the University of Virginia. "Without opportunities to practice self-directed, independent decision making, teens might give in to their friends' and partners' decisions." Oudekerk and her colleagues found that parents' use of psychological control at age 13 placed teens at risk for having problems establishing autonomy and closeness in relationships with friends and romantic partners that persisted eight years later, into early adulthood. Previous studies have shown that adolescents who fail to develop the capacity to establish autonomy and closeness are at risk for using methods that are hostile or that undermine autonomy in their own relationships, as well as for experiencing depression and loneliness in close relationships in adulthood. The study included 184 ethnically and socioeconomically diverse teens. At ages 13 and 18, the youths reported the degree to which their parents used psychological control. For example, some parents used psychological control by saying, "If you really cared for me, you wouldn't do things to worry me," while others acted less friendly toward their teens when the adolescents didn't see things in the same way the parents did. The study also assessed teens' autonomy (their ability to reason, be their own people, and express confidence) and relatedness (their ability to show warmth and connection) in friendships when the adolescents were 13, 18, and 21, and in romantic relationships at ages 18 and 21. Throughout adolescence, teens became increasingly less skilled at establishing autonomy and closeness in friendships and romantic relationships the more psychological control they experienced from their parents. In addition, teens' abilities (or lack thereof) to express autonomy and maintain close relationships with friends and partners at age 18 predicted the degree of autonomy and closeness in future relationships at age 21. Despite romantic relationships being relatively new in adolescence, the better teens were at establishing autonomy and relatedness with partners at age 18, the better they were at establishing autonomy and relatedness with both friends and partners at age 21. "Parents often fear the harmful consequences of peer pressure in adolescence," says Oudekerk. "Our study suggests that parents can promote or undermine teens' ability to assert their own views and needs to close friends and romantic partners. In addition, teens who learn—or fail to learn—how to express independence and closeness with friends and partners during adolescence carry these skills forward into adult relationships." The study illustrates the importance of intervening early and encouraging healthy relationships between parents and their adolescents. It also documents that adolescent relationships with peers and partners offer opportunities for learning and practicing healthy relationship skills that can shape the quality of adult relationships. ### The study was funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute of Mental Health. Summarized from Child Development, The Cascading Development of Autonomy and Relatedness From Adolescence to Adulthood by Oudekerk, BA (now at the Department of Justice, formerly at the University of Virginia), Allen, JP, Hessel, ET, and Molloy, LE (University of Virginia). Copyright 2014 The Society for Research in Child Development, Inc. All rights reserved." For more information on mental health topics, please visit Continuing Education for Counselors

October 20, 2014

Mental Rest and Reflection Boost Learning, Study Suggests

What do you think of this article supported by the NIH and published by University of Texas at Austin?: "The patterns of brain activity recorded in this fMRI scanner revealed how mental rest and reflection on past learning activities can boost future learning. Photo credit: Jeff Luci. AUSTIN, Texas — A new study, which may have implications for approaches to education, finds that brain mechanisms engaged when people allow their minds to rest and reflect on things they've learned before may boost later learning. Scientists have already established that resting the mind, as in daydreaming, helps strengthen memories of events and retention of information. In a new twist, researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have shown that the right kind of mental rest, which strengthens and consolidates memories from recent learning tasks, helps boost future learning. The results appear online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Margaret Schlichting, a graduate student researcher, and Alison Preston, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, gave participants in the study two learning tasks in which participants were asked to memorize different series of associated photo pairs. Between the tasks, participants rested and could think about anything they chose, but brain scans found that the ones who used that time to reflect on what they had learned earlier in the day fared better on tests pertaining to what they learned later, especially where small threads of information between the two tasks overlapped. Participants seemed to be making connections that helped them absorb information later on, even if it was only loosely related to something they learned before. "We've shown for the first time that how the brain processes information during rest can improve future learning," says Preston. "We think replaying memories during rest makes those earlier memories stronger, not just impacting the original content, but impacting the memories to come. Until now, many scientists assumed that prior memories are more likely to interfere with new learning. This new study shows that at least in some situations, the opposite is true. "Nothing happens in isolation," says Preston. "When you are learning something new, you bring to mind all of the things you know that are related to that new information. In doing so, you embed the new information into your existing knowledge." Preston described how this new understanding might help teachers design more effective ways of teaching. Imagine a college professor is teaching students about how neurons communicate in the human brain, a process that shares some common features with an electric power grid. The professor might first cue the students to remember things they learned in a high school physics class about how electricity is conducted by wires. "A professor might first get them thinking about the properties of electricity," says Preston. "Not necessarily in lecture form, but by asking questions to get students to recall what they already know. Then, the professor might begin the lecture on neuronal communication. By prompting them beforehand, the professor might help them reactivate relevant knowledge and make the new material more digestible for them." This research was conducted with adult participants. The researchers will next study whether a similar dynamic is at work with children. This work was supported by the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation (NSF) through the NSF CAREER Award and the Department of Defense through the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program." For more information on mental health topics, please visit CEUs for Counselors

October 17, 2014

Public feels more negative toward drug addicts than mentally ill

What do you think about this article from NIH? "While both are treatable health conditions, stigma of drug addiction much more pronounced, seen as 'moral failing' People are significantly more likely to have negative attitudes toward those suffering from drug addiction than those with mental illness, and don't support insurance, housing, and employment policies that benefit those dependent on drugs, new Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health research suggests. A report on the findings, which appears in the October issue of the journal Psychiatric Services, suggests that society seems not to know whether to regard substance abuse as a treatable medical condition akin to diabetes or heart disease, or as a personal failing to be overcome. "While drug addiction and mental illness are both chronic, treatable health conditions, the American public is more likely to think of addiction as a moral failing than a medical condition," says study leader Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "In recent years, it has become more socially acceptable to talk publicly about one's struggles with mental illness. But with addiction, the feeling is that the addict is a bad or weak person, especially because much drug use is illegal." Between Oct. 30 and Dec. 2, 2013, Barry and her colleagues surveyed a nationally representative sample of 709 participants about their attitudes toward either mental illness or drug addition. The questions centered on stigma, discrimination, treatment and public policy. Not only did they find that respondents had significantly more negative opinions about those with drug addiction than those with mental illness, the researchers found much higher levels of public opposition to policies that might help drug addicts in their recovery. Only 22 percent of respondents said they would be willing to work closely on a job with a person with drug addiction compared to 62 percent who said they would be willing to work with someone with mental illness. Sixty-four percent said that employers should be able to deny employment to people with a drug addiction compared to 25 percent with a mental illness. Forty-three percent were opposed to giving individuals addicted to drugs equivalent health insurance benefits to the public at-large, while only 21 percent were opposed to giving the same benefits to those with mental illness. Respondents agreed on one question: Roughly three in 10 believe that recovery from either mental illness or drug addiction is impossible. The researchers say that the stories of drug addiction portrayed in the media are often of street drug users in bad economic conditions rather than of those in the suburbs who have become addicted to prescription painkillers after struggling with chronic pain. Drug addicts who fail treatment are seen as "falling off the wagon," as opposed to people grappling with a chronic health condition that is hard to bring under control, they say. Missing, they say, are inspiring stories of people who, with effective treatment, are able to overcome addiction and live drug-free for many years. Barry says once it would have been taboo for people to casually discuss the antidepressants they are taking, which is often the norm today. That kind of frank talk can do wonders in shaping public opinion, she says. "The more shame associated with drug addiction, the less likely we as a community will be in a position to change attitudes and get people the help they need," says another study author, Beth McGinty, PhD, MS, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "If you can educate the public that these are treatable conditions, we will see higher levels of support for policy changes that benefit people with mental illness and drug addiction." ### "Stigma, Discrimination, Treatment Effectiveness, and Policy: Public Views About Drug Addiction and Mental Illness," was written by Colleen L. Barry, PhD, MPP; Emma E. McGinty, PHD, MS; Bernice A. Pescosolido, PhD; and Howard H. Goldman, MD, PhD. The study was supported by grants from AIG Inc.; the National Institutes of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA026414); the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (1R01MH093414-01A1); the National Science Foundation and the College of Arts and Sciences, Indiana University." For more information on mental health topics, please visit Continuing Education for Counselors

October 15, 2014

Teenage Girls Are Exposed to More Stressors that Increase Depression Risk

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"Adolescence is often a turbulent time, and it is marked by substantially increased rates of depressive symptoms, especially among girls. New research indicates that this gender difference may be the result of girls’ greater exposure to stressful interpersonal events, making them more likely to ruminate, and contributing to their risk of depression. The findings are published in Clinical Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. This is a photo of a pensive looking girl sitting on steps.“These findings draw our focus to the important role of stress as a potential causal factor in the development of vulnerabilities to depression, particularly among girls, and could change the way that we target risk for adolescent depression,” says psychology researcher and lead author on the study, Jessica Hamilton of Temple University. “Although there is a range of other vulnerabilities that contribute to the emergence of girls’ higher rates of depression during adolescence, our study highlights an important malleable pathway that explains girls’ greater risk of depression.” Research has shown that cognitive vulnerabilities associated with depression, such as negative cognitive style and rumination, emerge during adolescence. Teens who tend to interpret events in negative ways (negative cognitive style) and who tend to focus on their depressed mood following such events (rumination) are at greater risk of depression. Hamilton, a doctoral student in the Mood and Cognition Laboratory of Lauren Alloy at Temple University, hypothesized that life stressors, especially those related to adolescents’ interpersonal relationships and that adolescents themselves contribute to (such as a fight with a family member or friend), would facilitate these vulnerabilities and, ultimately, increase teens’ risk of depression. The researchers examined data from 382 Caucasian and African American adolescents participating in an ongoing longitudinal study. The adolescents completed self-report measures evaluating cognitive vulnerabilities and depressive symptoms at an initial assessment, and then completed three follow-up assessments, each spaced about 7 months apart. As expected, teens who reported higher levels of interpersonal dependent stress showed higher levels of negative cognitive style and rumination at later assessments, even after the researchers took initial levels of the cognitive vulnerabilities, depressive symptoms, and sex into account. Girls tended to show more depressive symptoms at follow-up assessments than did boys — while boys’ symptoms seemed to decline from the initial assessment to follow-up, girls’ symptoms did not. Girls also were exposed to a greater number of interpersonal dependent stressors during that time, and analyses suggest that it is this exposure to stressors that maintained girls’ higher levels of rumination and, thus, their risk for depression over time. The researchers emphasize that the link is not driven by reactivity to stress — girls were not any more reactive to the stressors that they experienced than were boys. “Simply put, if boys and girls had been exposed to the same number of stressors, both would have been likely to develop rumination and negative cognitive styles,” Hamilton explains. Importantly, other types of stress — including interpersonal stress that is not dependent on the teen (such as a death in the family) and achievement-related stress — were not associated with later levels of rumination or negative cognitive style. “Parents, educators, and clinicians should understand that girls’ greater exposure to interpersonal stressors places them at risk for vulnerability to depression and ultimately, depression itself,” says Hamilton. “Thus, finding ways to reduce exposure to these stressors or developing more effective ways of responding to these stressors may be beneficial for adolescents, especially girls.” According to Hamilton, the next step will be to figure out why girls are exposed to more interpersonal stressors: “Is it something specific to adolescent female relationships? Is it the societal expectations for young adolescent girls or the way in which young girls are socialized that places them at risk for interpersonal stressors? These are questions to which we need to find answers!” Co-authors on the study include Jonathan P. Stange and Lauren B. Alloy of Temple University and Lyn Y. Abramson of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This work was supported by NIMH Grants MH79369 and MH101168 to Lauren B. Alloy. Jonathan P. Stange was supported by National Research Service Award F31MH099761 from NIMH." For more information on mental health topics, please visit CEUs for MFTs

September 30, 2014

How Career Dreams are Born: Study shows how to convince those with low self-confidence to pursue their career choice

What do you think of this article by Jeff Grabmeier? Published on September 29, 2014 "COLUMBUS, Ohio – A new study shows just what it takes to convince a person that she is qualified to achieve the career of her dreams. Researchers found that it’s not enough to tell people they have the skills or the grades to make their goal a reality. Instead, many people need a more vivid and detailed description of just how pursuing their dream career will help make them successful. This is especially important for people who have the skills and potential to pursue a particular career, but lack the self-confidence, said Patrick Carroll, author of the study and associate professor of psychology at The Ohio State University’s Lima campus. Students who have chronic self-doubt may need an extra boost to pursue the dreams they are certainly able to achieve,” Carroll said. Dr. Patrick J. Carroll Patrick Carroll “This study finds that what they really need is a vivid picture of what will happen if they succeed.” The study was published online this week in the journal Basic and Applied Social Psychology. The study involved 67 undergraduate business and psychology students at Ohio State. The students signed up to meet with a career adviser to learn about a supposedly new master’s degree program in business psychology that would train them for “high-paying consulting positions as business psychologists.” However, the program didn’t actually exist. The goal was to get the students interested in the program, and see how they reacted when faced with varying levels of validation to their new dreams of becoming a business psychologist. (The researchers followed a protocol to help students who may have been disappointed that there wasn’t a real program. More on that below.) All the students read a brochure about the program and then filled out several questionnaires. They were asked to rate their self-confidence that they could become a business psychologist, whether they were excited about the possibility of becoming a business psychologist, whether they thought they could be admitted to the business psychology program and whether they intended to apply. They also reported their overall GPA. The students were then separated into four groups. Students in the control group were given an information sheet indicating no GPA requirement for the program. The other three groups were given sheets indicating the GPA requirement was .10 below whatever they had listed as their own GPA. In one of these groups, the “career adviser” –- who actually worked with the researchers -- simply pointed out that the students’ GPA was higher than the requirement. In another group, the validation was raised slightly: The adviser told the participants that they were exactly what the program was looking for and that it was unlikely they would be rejected if they applied. The last group received the strongest validation to their hopes of becoming a business psychologist: They were also told they were qualified and were unlikely to be rejected if they applied. But the adviser added that it was likely that the student would be accepted with full funding and excel in the program and would graduate with numerous job offers in business psychology. Afterward, the participants once again filled out forms asking how confident and excited they were about becoming a business psychologist and whether they expected they would be admitted. In addition, the students were given the opportunity to actually apply to the program. The results were striking. The students in the control group and those who were simply told their GPA exceeded the program requirements didn’t embrace the possible new goal of becoming a business psychologist. These participants did not show any elevations in self-confidence related to becoming a business psychologist and were unlikely to apply to the program or even ask for more information. Even when students learn that they exceed some external admissions requirement to become a business psychologist, they still have to decide whether that means they should pursue that career dream instead of any others,” Carroll said. “They may need more validation than that to pursue this career goal.” However, when the adviser clearly detailed the vivid prospect of success, the students were willing to embrace the pursuit of that new business psychology goal. Specifically, students given the most vivid validation had higher levels of self-confidence immediately after meeting with the adviser and were more likely to actually apply to the business psychology program. “Self-confidence played a key role here. Students felt more confident that they could really be successful as a business psychologist when they received a detailed picture from their adviser,” Carroll said. Following the study, the researchers thoroughly debriefed all participants on why it was necessary to use deception to study how students, like them, naturally respond to social validation to pursue new career goals. In addition, researchers provided all participants with detailed information on career counseling services that they could utilize on campus for help in making future career choices. This extensive debriefing was designed to remove any adverse influence of the study feedback on participants before they left, Carroll said. After the purpose of the study was explained to them, many participants were enthusiastic about the research and its relevance in revealing how others can shape their own career decisions, he said. Carroll said he sees the relevance of this research nearly every day, as students seek his input about career plans or the possibility of graduate school. “Sometimes students have the grades, the motivation and the ability but simply lack the necessary self-confidence to whole-heartedly invest in the pursuit of a realistic new goal,” he said. “This work shows how parents, teachers and counselors can steer students into the right direction to achieve their dreams.” The findings are especially relevant now as students prepare for an uncertain job market and they, along with their teachers and guidance counselors, try to find the best career choices for them. “Educators are trying to lead students to the most realistic career options,” Carroll said. “This research is important to understanding how students make revisions in their career goals and decide which career possibilities they should embrace.” This research was supported by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health." For more informatio0n on mental health and social work topics, please visit Aspira Continuing Education and LPC Continuing Education

September 24, 2014

To curb violent tendencies, start young Working with aggressive children prevents some from becoming violent, criminal adults

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DURHAM, N.C. -- Aggressive children are less likely to become violent criminals or psychiatrically troubled adults if they receive early intervention, says a new study based on more than two decades of research. "These findings from researchers at Duke, Pennsylvania State and Vanderbilt universities and the University of Washington are based on the Fast Track Project, a multi-faceted program that is one of the largest violence-prevention trials ever funded by the federal government. Beginning in 1991, the researchers screened nearly 10,000 5-year-old children in Durham, Nashville, Seattle and rural Pennsylvania for aggressive behavior problems, identifying those who were at highest risk of growing up to become violent, antisocial adults. Nearly 900 children were deemed at high risk, and of those, half were randomly assigned to receive the Fast Track intervention, while the other half were assigned to a control group. Participating children and their families received an array of interventions at school and at home. Nineteen years later, the authors found that Fast Track participants at age 25 had fewer convictions for violent and drug-related crimes, lower rates of serious substance abuse, lower rates of risky sexual behavior and fewer psychiatric problems than the control group. "We can prevent serious violence and psychopathology among the group of children who are highest-risk," said Duke's Kenneth Dodge. "That's the essential finding from this study. It provides the strongest evidence yet that, far from being doomed from an early age, at-risk children can be helped to live productive lives." Dodge directs the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy and is the William McDougall Professor of Public Policy at Duke's Sanford School of Public Policy. The program's positive effects held true across four different sites around the country, among both males and females and among both white and African-American children. The study appears online Sept. 15 in the American Journal of Psychiatry. From first through 10th grade, the Fast Track children received reading tutoring and specialized intervention aimed at improving self-control and social-cognitive skills. Parents learned problem-solving skills through home visits and parent training groups. When program participants turned 25, researchers reviewed court records and conducted interviews with participants and control group members, as well as individuals who knew the participants well. Along with fewer criminal convictions, Fast Track participants had lower rates of antisocial personality disorder and avoidant personality disorder, lower rates of risky sexual behavior and lower rates of harsh parenting. The latter finding suggests that the intervention may interrupt the inter-generational cycle of problem behavior. Fast Track is among very few studies to test the long-term effect of environment on children's development through a clinical trial. It provides strong evidence for the critical role environment plays in shaping a child's development. "This study adds to the experimental evidence for the important role that environment plays," Dodge said. "Genes do not write an inalterable script for a child's life. And not only does the environment matter greatly in a child's development, we've shown that you can intervene and help that child succeed in life." Fast Track's positive effects do not come cheap. The 10-year intervention costs $58,000 per child. However, that cost should be weighed against the millions of dollars that each chronic criminal costs society in imprisonment and harm to others, Dodge said. "Prevention takes a considerable investment, but that investment is worth it," Dodge said. "Our policies and practices should reflect the fact that these children can have productive lives." In future studies, Dodge and his colleagues plan to examine the cost-benefit question more closely. ### The research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH R18 MH48043, R18 MH50951, R18 MH50952, R18 MH50953, K05MH00797 and K05MH01027), the Department of Education (grant S184U30002) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA grants DA16903, DA017589, K05DA015226, and P30DA023026). The Center for Substance Abuse Prevention and the National Institute on Drug Abuse also provided support through a memorandum of agreement with the NIMH. Financial disclosure: Study authors Kenneth Dodge, Karen Bierman, John Coie, Mark Greenberg, John Lochman and Robert McMahon are the developers of the Fast Track curriculum and have a publishing agreement with Guilford Press. Greenberg is also an author of the PATHS curriculum, which is used in the Fast Track program. McMahon is a co-author of Helping the Noncompliant Child and has a royalty agreement with Guilford Publications. He is also a member of the Treatments that Work Scientific Advisory Board with Oxford University Press. The other authors have no financial relationships to disclose." CITATION: "Impact of Early Intervention on Psychopathology, Crime and Well-Being at Age 25," Kenneth A. Dodge and the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group. American Journal of Psychiatry, September 15, 2014. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.13060786. For more information on mental health topis, please visit CEUs for Counselors