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Psychological and Neurodevelopmental Disorders

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Five Disorders Share Genetic Risk Factors, Study Finds

Mental Disorders as Brain Disorders: Thomas Insel at TEDxCalTech

Personality Disorders: Treatment for the 'Untreatable'

The Distinction between Personality Disorder and Mental Illness

Can Proper Nutrition Regulate Mood Swings in Bipolar Depression?

Can Faulty Wiring Lead to Impulsive Violence?

Alone: The Mental Health Effects of Solitary Confinement

Facts About Mental Health Issues and Violence

Violent Crime Doesn't Fit in the Autism Puzzle

 

How common are obsessive and intrusive thoughts?

 

 

 

The Surprising Truth about Obsessive-Compulsive Thinking


International study finds that 94 percent of people experience unwanted, intrusive thoughts

Montreal, April 8, 2014—People who check whether their hands are clean or imagine their house might be on fire are not alone. New research from Concordia University and 15 other universities worldwide shows that 94 per cent of people experience unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images and/or impulses.

The international study, which was co-authored by Concordia psychology professor Adam Radomsky and published in the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, examined people on six continents.
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DNA Changes Found in Blood That Are Directly Related to Changes in the Brain

 

Research linked to stress in mice confirms blood-brain comparison is valid

April 8, 2014—Johns Hopkins researchers say they have confirmed suspicions that DNA modifications found in the blood of mice exposed to high levels of stress hormone—and showing signs of anxiety—are directly related to changes found in their brain tissues.
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Study Identifies Most Common, Costly Reasons for Mental Health Hospitalizations for Kids

March 17, 2014—Nearly one in 10 children are hospitalized with a primary diagnosis of a mental health condition, and depression alone accounts for $1.33 billion in hospital charges annually, according to a new analysis led by the University of California, San Francisco, Benioff Children's Hospital.
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Brain Mapping Confirms Patients with Schizophrenia Have Impaired Ability to Imitate

March 14, 2014—According to George Bernard Shaw, "Imitation is not just the sincerest form of flattery – it's the sincerest form of learning." According to psychologists, imitation is something that we all do whenever we learn a new skill, whether it is dancing or how to behave in specific social situations.
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'Love Hormone' Could Provide New Treatment for Anorexia

March 12, 2014—Oxytocin, also known as the 'love hormone', could provide a new treatment for anorexia nervosa, according to new research by a team of British and Korean scientists.
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Frequent Childhood Nightmares May Indicate an Increased Risk of Psychotic Traits

February 28, 2014—Children who suffer from frequent nightmares or bouts of night terrors may be at an increased risk of psychotic experiences in adolescence, according to new research from the University of Warwick.
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Researchers Pinpoint Brain Region Essential for Social Memory

 

Potential target for treating autism, schizophrenia, and other brain disorders

NEW YORK, NY; February 23, 2014—Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) researchers have determined that a small region of the hippocampus known as CA2 is essential for social memory, the ability of an animal to recognize another of the same species. A better grasp of the function of CA2 could prove useful in understanding and treating disorders characterized by altered social behaviors, such as autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder. The findings, made in mice, were published today in the online edition of Nature.
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Psychological Side-Effects of Anti-Depressants Worse than Thought

LIVERPOOL, UK; February 26, 2014—A University of Liverpool researcher has shown that thoughts of suicide, sexual difficulties and emotional numbness as a result of anti-depressants may be more widespread than previously thought.
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Understanding the Basic Biology of Bipolar Disorder

 

Scientists from UCLA, UC San Francisco, Costa Rica and Colombia take steps to identify genetic component to mental illness

February 12, 2014—Scientists know there is a strong genetic component to bipolar disorder, but they have had an extremely difficult time identifying the genes that cause it. So, in an effort to better understand the illness's genetic causes, researchers at UCLA tried a new approach.
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Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Benefits Patients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder

 

Patients reported considerable improvements in symptoms and disability

PROVIDENCE, RI; February 11, 2014—In a recent study, researchers at Rhode Island Hospital found significant benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy as a treatment modality for patients with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).
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Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Use Far Higher in Severely Mentally Ill

St. Louis, MO; January 1, 2014—In the largest ever assessment of substance use among people with severe psychiatric illness, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of Southern California have found that rates of smoking, drinking and drug use are significantly higher among those who have psychotic disorders than among those in the general population.
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Toward a Molecular Explanation for Schizophrenia

Researchers find inhibition of a basic cellular process may contribute to the mysterious disease

December 30, 2013—Surprisingly little is known about schizophrenia. It was only recognized as a medical condition in the past few decades, and its exact causes remain unclear. Since there is no objective test for schizophrenia, its diagnosis is based on an assortment of reported symptoms. The standard treatment, antipsychotic medication, works less than half the time and becomes increasingly ineffective over time. Now, researchers have discovered that an important cell-maintenance process called autophagy is reduced in the brains of schizophrenic patients.
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Eating Disorders More Common in Males than Realized

 

Broader diagnostic criteria could help identify illness in boys

BOSTON, MA; November 4, 2013—Parents and doctors assume eating disorders very rarely affect males. However, a study of 5,527 teenage males from across the U.S., published Nov.4 in JAMA Pediatrics, challenges this belief. Boston Children's Hospital researchers found 17.9 percent of adolescent boys were extremely concerned about their weight and physique. These boys were more likely to start engaging in risky behaviors, including drug use and frequent binge drinking.
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Lefties More Likely to Have Psychotic Disorders Such as Schizophrenia

October 31, 2013—Being left-handed has been linked to many mental disorders, but Yale researcher Jadon Webb and his colleagues have found that among those with mental illnesses, people with psychotic disorders like schizophrenia are much more likely to be left-handed than those with mood disorders like depression or bipolar syndrome.
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Exposure to Cortisol-Like Medications Before Birth May Contribute to Emotional Problems and Brain Changes

October 31, 2013—Cortisol-like drugs called glucocorticoids are administered frequently to women in preterm labor to accelerate their babies' lung maturation prior to birth. In this study, children with fetal glucocorticoid exposure showed significant cortical thinning, and a thinner cortex also predicted more emotional problems. In one particularly affected part of the brain, the rostral anterior cingulate cortex, it was 8–9 percent thinner among children exposed to glucocorticoids. Interestingly, other studies have shown that this region of the brain is affected in individuals diagnosed with mood and anxiety disorders.
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Schizophrenia Linked to Abnormal Brain Waves

CAMBRIDGE, MA; October 17, 2013—Schizophrenia patients usually suffer from a breakdown of organized thought, often accompanied by delusions or hallucinations. For the first time, neuroscientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have observed the neural activity that appears to produce this disordered thinking.
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Exposure/Ritual Prevention Therapy Boosts Antidepressant Treatment of OCD

 

Trumps antipsychotic, amending current guidelines

September 12, 2013—Grantees at the National Institute of Mental Health have demonstrated that a form of behavioral therapy can augment antidepressant treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) better than an antipsychotic. The researchers recommend that this specific form of cognitive behavior therapy (CBT)—exposure and ritual prevention (ERT) —be offered to OCD patients who don't respond adequately to treatment with an antidepressant alone, which is often the case. Current guidelines favor augmentation with antipsychotics.
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Psychotherapy Lags as Evidence Goes Unheeded

PROVIDENCE, RI; August 20, 2013—Psychotherapy has issues. Evidence shows that some psychosocial treatments work well for common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression and that consumers often prefer them to medication. Yet the use of psychotherapy is on a clear decline in the United States. In a set of research review papers in the November issue of the journal Clinical Psychology Review, psychologists put psychotherapy on the proverbial couch to examine why it’s foundering.
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How a Cancer Drug Unties Knots in the Chromosome That Causes Angelman and Prader-Willi Syndromes

SACRAMENTO, CA; August 5, 2013— UC Davis researchers have identified how and where in the genome a cancer chemotherapy agent acts on and 'un-silences' the epigenetically silenced gene that causes Angelman syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by severe intellectual disability, seizures, motor impairments, and laughing and smiling.
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Neuroscientists Find Protein Linked to Cognitive Deficits in Angelman Syndrome

August 1, 2013—A team of neuroscientists has identified a protein in laboratory mice linked to impairments similar to those afflicted with Angelman syndrome (AS)—a condition associated with symptoms that include autism, intellectual disability, and motor abnormalities.
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Psychotherapy via Internet as Good Or Better than Face-to-Face Consultations

July 30, 2013—Online psychotherapy is just as efficient as conventional therapy. Three months after the end of the therapy, patients given online treatment even displayed fewer symptoms. For the first time, clinical researchers from the University of Zurich (UZH) provide scientific evidence of the equal value of internet-based psychotherapy.

Does psychotherapy via the Internet work? For the first time, clinical researchers from UZH have studied whether online psychotherapy and conventional face-to-face therapy are equally effective in an experiment. Based on earlier studies, the Zurich team assumed that the two forms of therapy were on a par. Not only was their theory confirmed, the results for online therapy even exceeded their expectations.
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Infections Increase Risk of Mood Disorders

June 17, 2013—New research shows that every third person who is diagnosed for the first time with a mood disorder has been admitted to hospital with an infection prior to the diagnosis. The study is the largest of its kind to date to show a clear correlation between infection levels and the risk of developing mood disorders.
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Lead Acts to Trigger Schizophrenia

NEW YORK; May 31, 2013—Mice engineered with a human gene for schizophrenia and exposed to lead during early life exhibited behaviors and structural changes in their brains consistent with schizophrenia. Scientists at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine say their findings suggest a synergistic effect between lead exposure and a genetic risk factor, and open an avenue to better understanding the complex gene-environment interactions that put people at risk for schizophrenia and other mental disorders.
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Study Finds Genetic Prediction of Postpartum Depression

Baltimore, MD; May 21, 2013—The epigenetic modifications, which alter the way genes function without changing the underlying DNA sequence, can apparently be detected in the blood of pregnant women during any trimester, potentially providing a simple way to foretell depression in the weeks after giving birth, and an opportunity to intervene before symptoms become debilitating.

"Postpartum depression can be harmful to both mother and child," says study leader Zachary Kaminsky, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. "But we don't have a reliable way to screen for the condition before it causes harm, and a test like this could be that way."
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Psychopaths Are Not Neurally Equipped to Have Concern for Others

Chicago, April 24, 2013—Prisoners who are psychopaths lack the basic neurophysiological “hardwiring” that enables them to care for others, according to a new study by neuroscientists at the University of Chicago and the University of New Mexico.

“A marked lack of empathy is a hallmark characteristic of individuals with psychopathy,” said the lead author of the study, Jean Decety, the Irving B. Harris Professor in Psychology and Psychiatry at UChicago. Psychopathy affects approximately 1 percent of the United States general population and 20 percent to 30 percent of the male and female U.S. prison population. Relative to non-psychopathic criminals, psychopaths are responsible for a disproportionate amount of repetitive crime and violence in society.
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Google Searches about Mental Illness Follow Seasonal Patterns

San Diego, CA, April 9, 2013—A new study published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that Google searches for information across all major mental illnesses and problems followed seasonal patterns, suggesting mental illness may be more strongly linked with seasonal patterns than previously thought.

"The Internet is a game changer," said lead investigator John W. Ayers, PhD, MA, of the Graduate School of Public Health at San Diego State University. "By passively monitoring how individuals search online we can figuratively look inside the heads of searchers to understand population mental health patterns."
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Differences in Brain Activity in Children at Risk of Schizophrenia Predate Onset of Symptoms

CHAPEL HILL, NC; March 22, 2013—Research from the University of North Carolina has shown that children at risk of developing schizophrenia have brains that function differently than those not at risk.

Brain scans of children who have parents or siblings with the illness reveal a neural circuitry that is hyperactivated or stressed by tasks that peers with no family history of the illness seem to handle with ease. Because these differences in brain functioning appear before neuropsychiatric symptoms such as trouble focusing, paranoid beliefs, or hallucinations, the scientists believe that the finding could point to early warning signs or “vulnerability markers” for schizophrenia.
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Persistent Negative Attitude Can Undo Effectiveness of Exposure Therapy for Phobias

COLUMBUS, February 26, 2013—Because confronting fear won’t always make it go away, researchers suggest that people with phobias must alter memory-driven negative attitudes about feared objects or events to achieve a more lasting recovery from what scares them the most.

Ohio State University psychology researchers determined that people who retained negative attitudes about public speaking after exposure therapy were more likely to experience a return of their fear a month later than were people whose attitudes were less negative. The fear returned among those with unchanged attitudes even if they showed improvement during the treatment.

The scientists also developed a way to evaluate attitudes immediately after the completion of exposure therapy. The tool both confirms their argument that persistent negative attitudes can undo therapy’s effects and offers clinicians a way to assess whether a few more sessions of treatment might be in order.
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Excessive TV in Childhood Linked to Long-Term Antisocial Behaviour

February 18, 2013—Children and adolescents who watch a lot of television are more likely to manifest antisocial and criminal behaviour when they become adults, according to a new University of Otago, New Zealand, study published online in the U.S. journal Pediatrics.

Study co-author Associate Professor Bob Hancox of the University's Department of Preventive and Social Medicine says he and colleagues found that the risk of having a criminal conviction by early adulthood increased by about 30% with every hour that children spent watching TV on an average weeknight.

The study also found that watching more television in childhood was associated, in adulthood, with aggressive personality traits, an increased tendency to experience negative emotions, and an increased risk of antisocial personality disorder; a psychiatric disorder characterised by persistent patterns of aggressive and antisocial behaviour.

The researchers found that the relationship between TV viewing and antisocial behaviour was not explained by socio-economic status, aggressive or antisocial behaviour in early childhood, or parenting factors.
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Connection Error” in the Brains of Anorexics

January 24, 2013—Researchers at Germany's Ruhr Universität-Bochum (RUB) have found that anorexics have altered connectivity in two brain regions crucial for the perception of body image. The stronger this “connection error” was, the more overweight the respondents considered themselves. “These alterations in the brain could explain why women with anorexia perceive themselves as fatter, even though they are objectively underweight” says Prof. Dr. Boris Suchan of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Ruhr-Universität. The research appears in the journal Behavioural Brain Research.
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Mistaking OCD for ADHD Has Serious Consequences

December 18, 2012, AFTAU —On the surface, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appear very similar, with impaired attention, memory, or behavioral control. But Professor Reuven Dar of Tel Aviv University's School of Psychological Sciences argues that these two neuropsychological disorders have very different roots—and there are enormous consequences if they are mistaken for each other.

Dar and fellow researcher Amitai Abramovitch, who completed his Ph.D. under Dar's supervision, have determined that despite appearances, OCD and ACHD are far more different than alike. While groups of both OCD and ADHD patients were found to have difficulty controlling their abnormal impulses in a laboratory setting, only the ADHD group had significant problems with these impulses in the real world.
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Mouse Research Links Adolescent Stress to Severe Adult Mental Illness

Baltimore, MD; January 17, 2013—Working with mice, Johns Hopkins researchers have established a link between elevated levels of a stress hormone in adolescence - a critical time for brain development - and genetic changes that, in young adulthood, cause severe mental illness in those predisposed to it.

The findings, reported in the journal Science, could have wide-reaching implications in both the prevention and treatment of schizophrenia, severe depression and other mental illnesses.
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Making Sense of the Insanity Defense

Some of the persistent misconceptions people hold about the insanity plea is that it is overused, that it is a defense "tactic," that most people who use it are faking, that it is often successful, and that those who succeed get off "scot-free" and back on the streets. Are these impressions accurate?
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