Shannon, a 14-year-old who lives in Massachusetts, has amblyopia, a condition sometimes referred to as “lazy eye.”
You can’t tell by looking at her, though. Unlike some amblyopic patients, whose eyes visibly wander, Shannon simply has extremely poor eyesight.
Patients’ best hope for correcting amblyopia is before they turn about 8 years old. Those who don’t get treatment early enough—or for whom treatment doesn’t work—usually end up living with the problem forever.
Shannon is one of those people. Her entire life, she’s worn glasses with a thin non-prescription lens on one side, and a thick corrective lens on the other. As a toddler, her parents tried to make her wear therapeutic eye patches, but she would fling them off.
A few months ago, Shannon enrolled in a clinical study at Boston Children’s Hospital for which she’s taking donepezil, a drug that’s typically used to treat Alzheimer’s. Donepezil is a cholinesterase inhibitor, meaning it increases the amount of acetylcholine circulating around nerve endings. It’s been shown to improve memory function in some patients with dementia.
But of course, Shannon doesn’t have memory problems. Her team of doctors is instead using the donepezil to encourage her brain to learn new skills as quickly and nimbly as an infant’s would. Shannon’s vision has improved markedly over the past four months, her mother told me by phone. Continue reading “Brain fountain of youth”
A report published today in JAMA Pediatrics reveals that nearly one in 10 teenagers and young adults has coerced or forced a peer to engage in some form of sexual activity. As summarized in WebMD,
“The study of more than 1,000 young people aged 14 to 21 found that 9 percent reported forcing or pressuring a peer to engage in sexual activity. They admitted to coercive sex, sexual assault and rape, most often involving a romantic partner.
“Perpetrators were five times more likely to have been exposed to X-rated media that showed a person being physically hurt during sex, the study found.
“From a public health perspective, the violent pornography is something we need to be concerned about in terms of our young people,” said study co-author Michele Ybarra, president and research director of the Center for Innovative Public Health Research in San Clemente, Calif.
“The young people also recounted a disturbing lack of consequences for their actions.“Two out of three of our perpetrators said no one found out, so they didn’t get in trouble,” Ybarra said.
“Further, nearly nine out of 10 perpetrators said they felt the victim bore full or partial responsibility. The study involved a national sample of nearly 1,100 young people and focused specifically on perpetration of coercive and forced sexual behavior.”We know a bit about youth who are victims of sexual violence, but we don’t know much at all about youth as perpetrators,” Ybarra said. “It’s important we know more if we’re going to reduce the sexual-violence rate.”
A girl with ADHD may be labeled Chatty Cathy — the enthusiastic school-aged girl who is always telling stories to friends. Or she could be the daydreamer — the smart, shy teenager with the disorganized locker, repots WebMD:
“But what happens when she grows up? Or when her ADHD isn’t diagnosed until she’s a woman? Is her experience different from what men with ADHD go through?
“In some people, the signs of ADHD seem obvious — fidgeting constantly, difficulty paying attention in school or at work, and leaving tasks unfinished. For others, particularly those without behaviors problems, ADHD may be more difficult to diagnose. The symptoms of ADHD may mimic those of other conditions, and sometimes the signs are subtler and harder to distinguish. One psychiatrist, Daniel Amen, MD, believes that to get a truly accurate diagnosis of ADHD, it is necessary to look inside the…
“The issues adults with ADHD have mirror those in the population as a whole, says Stephanie Sarkis, PhD, a psychotherapist in Boca Raton, Fla. For example, she says men with ADHD tend to have more car accidents, suspensions in school, substance abuse, and anger and behavioral issues, compared to women with ADHD. But men are more prone to these kinds of issues in general, regardless of ADHD. Women with ADHD are more prone to eating disorders, obesity, low self-esteem,depression, and anxiety. But they do in the general population, as well.
” These challenges also often play out in different areas of their lives. Men with ADHD may have problems at work, unable to complete their tasks or getting mad too easily at subordinates, says Anthony Rostain, MD, professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. Women, on the other hand, are more likely to see conflicts at home. Kathleen Nadeau, PhD, a clinical psychologist and director of the Chesapeake ADHD Center of Maryland in Silver Spring, says her female ADHD patients, especially mothers, come to her in a “constant state of overwhelm.” Continue reading “ADHD labels and gender”
OK2TALK is a media campaign to reduce mental health stigma among teens and young adults.
A new survey from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) reveals that two-thirds of young adults have personal experience with mental health problems, states OK2TALK.org
“Although the overwhelming majority of parents and young adults are supportive of discussing mental illness more openly, more than one-fourth
of young adults (28 percent) and one in six parents (16 percent) admit they avoid talking about it.
“To encourage these critical conversations and let people know that help is available and effective, NAB today unveiled a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign featuring teens and young adults opening up about their experiences with mental illness. The “OK2TALK” campaign includes television and radio ads in English and Spanish, and uses social media to invite teens and young adults to create the conversation about mental health.
“With unrivaled reach into homes across America, broadcasters have a powerful platform to encourage young people to start talking about mental health and get the help they need,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon H. Smith. Smith’s own family has been profoundly affected by mental illness. His 22-year-old son, Garrett, took his own life in 2003, after a long struggle with depression. He and his wife, Sharon, hope that encouraging conversation about mental illness helps keep other families from meeting the same fate: “I believe that had we known better the signs of suicidal tendency, and sought help and treatment earlier for Garrett, our son would still be alive today.” Continue reading “OK2TALK vs. mental health stigma”
People with mental illness are 70 percent more likely to smoke cigarettes than people without mental illness.
“New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration show that one of every three adults with mental illness smokes, compared with one in five adults without mental illness,” reports today’s New York Times
“Adults with mental illness smoke about a third of all the cigarettes in the United States, and they smoke more cigarettes per month and are significantly less likely to quit than people without mental illness, the report said. There are nearly 46 million adults with mental illness in the United States, about a fifth of the population.
‘Many people with mental illness are at greater risk of dying early from smoking than of dying from their mental health conditions,’ said Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control, during a press briefing.
A study found being prone to distress at the age of seven was associated with a significantly higher risk of cardiovascular disease in later life.
Conversely children who were better at paying attention and staying focused had reduced heart risk when older, reports the BBC. “The US researchers said more work was needed to understand the link.
“Their study looked at 377 adults who had taken part in research as children. At seven they had undergone several tests to look at emotional behaviour.They compared the results from this with a commonly used risk score for cardiovascular disease of participants now in their early 40s.