Sunday, 13 July 2014

Anxiety and depression is rising among teenagers - and girls are suffering most, new study reveals


  • The review looked at 19 studies conducted across 12 countries
  • It found an increase in anxiety and depression in teenagers across Northern Europe, the UK and China
  • The number of older adolescent girls suffering from mental health problems was double that off boys

Older adolescent girls across the world are increasingly experiencing severe anxiety and depression, a new Australian study has found.

The review, which has been published in the in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, looked at 19 extensive studies conducted across 12 countries and found that teenage girls in Northern Europe, the UK and China are specifically experiencing an increase in mental health problems.
The studies leader, Dr William Bor from the University of Queensland, told the Daily Mail Australia that a combination of cultural, schooling and economic factors are most likely to be leading to the growing problem.

The review looked at 19 studies conducted across 12 countries and found that teenage girls in Australia, Northern Europe, the UK and China are experiencing an increase in anxiety and depression
The review looked at 19 studies conducted across 12 countries and found that teenage girls in Australia, Northern Europe, the UK and China are experiencing an increase in anxiety and depression
'There appears to be increasing school distress amongst girls as they negotiate their way through the last parts of their school careers,' Dr Bor said. 
'They face difficult choices and pressures and the modern education system appears to be more problematic for girls – so the issue there is the stress of making future decisions and how they cope with them.'

However culture is also believed to have a significant impact on mental health issues within young women, who are well known to struggle with identity and appearance issues.
'Culture has high expectation on girls in terms of appearance and weight,' Dr Bor said.
'There's a lot of speculation about the pressure on girls in terms of early sexualization and concerns they have about body image.
'However, there is also  a third factor around increasing economic inequality, and that may be increasing pressures at school as well.'

The studies leader, Dr William Bor from the University of Queensland said that a combination of cultural, schooling and economic factors are most likely to be the cause for the growing trend
The studies leader, Dr William Bor from the University of Queensland said that a combination of cultural, schooling and economic factors are most likely to be the cause for the growing trend.

Due to the data coming from an array of countries, Dr Bor said the exact reasons for the difference in results across genders was not entirely clear, but are most likely tied in with education and cultural pressures.
'Boys are also affected but they're not as affected,' he said.
'You can see in the results that the trend in boys and girls is going up, but what is very clear is that girls have almost double the anxiety and worries as boys.
'We don't yet know all the answers here – each country has different pressures on their young people – and one of the odd things is that America isn't showing this increasing trend.
'We also have to account for why we are seeing a rise in China –so it's clearly not just a western phenomenon.'

Dr Bor recommended that parents, peers and medical professionals receive more education about depression and anxiety, including prevention programs being placed in high schools
Dr Bor recommended that parents, peers and medical professionals receive more education about depression and anxiety, including prevention programs being placed in high schools.


'The school factor is the common denominator and the most likely factor across the multiple countries.'
Dr Bor recommended that parents, peers and medical professionals receive more education about depression and anxiety, including prevention programs being placed in high schools, to increase the chances of successful prevention and early intervention.
'One of the greatest issues is that it could lead to higher rates of attempted and successful suicide - that's the greatest risk with anxiety and depression,' Dr Bor said.
'But having severe depression and anxiety in adolescence is also a predictor of having it in future life – about a quarter of kids go on to get the illnesses as adults so it is a risk factor for the future, and it also increases the likelihood of drug and alcohol abuse in adulthood.'
Although the study has no conclusive figures on the number of youth suffering from anxiety and depression in Australia, a population survey will be releases in 2015 with extensive figures.


Friday, 11 July 2014

Stress, depression and 'hostility' put older people at greater risk of suffering a stroke, research has revealed

  • Depression and stress associated with 'significantly increased risk' of stroke
  • Factors could increase the risk for older people and middle-aged adults
  • 'Hostility' can more than double the likelihood of having a stroke, say experts
  • The research was carried out at the University of Minnesota in the U.S.
Stress, hostility and depression put older people at much greater risk of suffering a stroke, a new study has warned. 
The three factors are associated with a 'significantly increased risk' of stroke in middle-age and older adults, researchers have found. 
Hostility alone more than doubled the likelihood of having a full-blown or 'mini' stroke, also known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), a study claims.
Chronic stress increased stroke and TIA risk by 59 per cent, and depressive symptoms by 86 per cent.
Scientists used questionnaires to assess chronic stress, depressive symptoms, anger and hostility in 6,700 men and women aged 45 to 84.
Over a period of eight-and-a-half to 11 years, a total of 147 strokes and 48 TIAs occurred within the group.
The only trait not linked to a higher risk of stroke was anger, despite the strong association with hostility.
The researchers defined hostility as a 'negative way of viewing the world' and measured it by assessing participants’ cynicism.
Study leader Dr Susan Everson-Rose, from the University of Minnesota in the U.S., said: 'There’s such a focus on traditional risk factors - cholesterol levels, blood pressure, smoking and so forth - and those are all very important, but studies like this one show that psychological characteristics are equally important.
'Given our ageing population, it’s important to consider these other factors that might play a role in disease risk.

Older people are more likely to have a stroke if they are suffering from depression or stress, research has found (file image)

Older people are more likely to have a stroke if they are suffering from depression or stress, research has found.

'Stroke is a disease of the elderly predominantly, and so learning more about things that can influence risk for stroke as people age is important.'
The findings are published in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
Chronic stress was measured in five different areas relating to personal health, the health problems of close others, work or the ability to do a job, relationships and finances.

Scientists used questionnaires to assess chronic stress, depressive symptoms, anger and hostility in 6,700 men and women aged 45 to 84
Scientists used questionnaires to assess chronic stress, depressive symptoms, anger and hostility in 6,700 men and women aged 45 to 84

Based on participants’ answers, scores were allocated for depressive symptoms and anger levels.
The associations remained significant after accounting for age, race, sex, lifestyle and other factors known to influence stroke risk.
Dr Everson-Rose added: 'One thing we didn’t assess is coping strategies.
'If someone is experiencing depressive symptoms or feeling a lot of stress or hostility, we don’t know how they manage those, so it’s possible that positive coping strategies could ameliorate some of these associations or effects.
'We did not inquire about coping. I would say that’s one of the tasks for future studies.'

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Can staying awake all night help combat depression?

Early research has shown six out of ten patients can get symptom relief
Staying awake for more than 24 hours may be the fastest treatment for moderate to major depression. 
Early research has shown six out of ten patients can get symptom relief within a day of this treatment, compared with the six to eight weeks it can take antidepressants to work. 
Sleep deprivation is thought to work by boosting brain messengers such as serotonin - the same one that antidepressants act on.
Several studies have found 40 to 60 per cent of patients are helped by staying awake for a long time. One researcher described it as 'a remarkable transformation of often deeply depressed, psychotic, suicidal patients in a few hours into their pre-illness selves'.
However, the improvement is short-lived, disappearing after the patient slept.
Now researchers at the Medical University of South Carolina and Rhode Island Hospital are looking at providing longer relief by combining sleep deprivation with two other therapies. Pilot studies have shown that the effects of this treatment, known as triple chronotherapy, are rapid and are long-lasting - nine weeks in one trial.

The U.S. researchers will test the treatment in a larger study involving 80 patients with moderate to severe depression, postnatal depression or bipolar disorder.
Current treatments range from exercise and self-help groups to antidepressants. But medication doesn't work for everyone and some reports suggest it is no better than a placebo. It can also take two months for its effects to kick in.
The triple chronotherapy treatment, which is conducted over three days, combines sleep deprivation with 'bright light therapy' - where patients  are exposed to a special lamp for up to an hour - and 'sleep-phase advancement' - when waking and sleeping times are changed.

The theory is that sleep deprivation has an anti-depressive effect; the bright light and sleep time changes then help reset the body clock, in turn helping the anti-depressive effect of sleep deprivation last longer.  On day one, patients stay awake from 10.30pm, through the night and the whole of the next day. They then sleep from 6pm to 1am the following morning when the process is repeated, but sleeping and waking at different times. 
Bright light therapy is given in the early morning of each of the three days - light is thought to stimulate the brain's hypothalamus, which controls mood, sleep and appetite, and to boost brain chemicals such as melatonin and serotonin. 
On the second day, the patient sleeps from 8pm to 3am; on the last day, sleep starts at 10pm and finishes at 5am. From then on, patients continue with this 10pm to 5am sleep pattern.

Bright light and sleep time changes help reset the body clock, in turn helping anti-depressive effect last
Bright light and sleep time changes help reset the body clock, in turn helping anti-depressive effect last
A previous study at the University of California found significant improvements remained in 63 per cent of depressed patients seven weeks later.
New research at Tufts University has shed some light on what might be happening. It identified a protein called adenosine which is released when you're awake. Sleep deprivation increases levels of adenosine, which alters electrical signals in the brain, causing immediate improvement in mood.
'Triple chronotherapy typically reduces depressive symptoms within one to two days,' says psychiatrist Dr John Gottlieb, of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago and a leading expert in chronotherapy. 'It's as biologically active as antidepressants, inexpensive and has minimal side-effects.'
Carmine Pariante, professor of biological psychiatry at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, adds: 'By putting sleep deprivation with other sleep-related therapies that have shown some effectiveness in depression, there is a reasonable expectation the antidepressant action will be stronger and more sustained. 
'If this proves true, it will be an important step forward, both to understand mechanisms that cause depression and to find a new treatment for the one in four patients who don't improve with available treatments.'

Monday, 7 July 2014

Mothers with postnatal depression 'failed by the NHS'

A parenting charity found only three per cent of clinical commissioning groups provided new mothers with mental health support

Teenage mother with post-natal depression
The National Childbirth Trust found a disturbing number of situations where there is no care or very little care for mothers with post-natal depression
Mothers with postnatal depression are being failed by the NHS because only 3 per cent of health organisations offer help with the condition.
The figures from the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) found 97 per cent of clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) had no mental health strategy for new mothers and 60 per cent said they did not have plans to put one in place.
The parenting charity sent freedom of information (FOI) requests to 194 CCGs, of which 15 per cent directed the parenting charity to local NHS trusts or NHS England. The NCT said this suggested a lack of clarity regarding who is responsible for commissioning and providing services across England.
The charity called for more staff and resources “urgently” to tackle the “huge gaps” in support and care provided to mothers experiencing postnatal depression.
NCT chief executive Belinda Phipps said: "One in ten mothers experience some form of postnatal depression, but there are clearly huge gaps in the support and care being provided to them across England.

"While we found some areas with excellent care, too often we have found situations where there is no care, or very little care. If there are whole areas where GPs, midwives and health visitors have no training or time to dedicate to this vital service then women will not get the help and support they need.
"For many parents this will result in months of misery, damaging both family relations and children's wellbeing. And, in the most extreme circumstances, it will result in tragedy and loss of life.
"We need to see properly staffed and resourced services with clear lines of responsibility and clear targets for delivery. And we need to see that happening urgently. "
The charity also contacted NHS trusts to ask if they were able to provide a perinatal mental health service with trained specialists.
Of the 193 contacted, only 26 per cent of the trusts provided a dedicated service while just 13 per cent had a full team in place.
54 per cent said they did not provide mothers with the service, but 33 trusts did not respond to the FOI request.
The charity found only 14 per cent of trusts are employing one specialist perinatal mental health midwife or doctor, usually on a part-time basis.
NCT is a member of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance (MMHA), a coalition of organisations committed to improving the mental health and wellbeing of women and their children in pregnancy and the first postnatal year.
The MMHA will launch the campaign #everyonesbusiness to highlight the gaps in provision of maternal mental health services on Tuesday.