Students’ Psychological Health Improves After Yoga
Yoga classes have positive psychological effects for high-school students, according to a pilot study in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. Fifty-one 11th- and 12th-grade students registered for physical education (PE) at a Massachusetts high school were randomly assigned to yoga or regular PE classes—two thirds were assigned to yoga. Based on Kripalu yoga, the classes consisted of physical yoga postures together with breathing exercises, relaxation, and meditation. Students in the comparison group received regular PE classes.
Students completed a battery of psychosocial tests before and after the 10-week yoga program. In addition to tests of mood and tension/anxiety, both groups completed tests assessing the development of self-regulatory skills—such as resilience, control of anger expression, and mindfulness—thought to protect against the development of mental health problems.
Teens taking yoga classes had better scores on several of the psychological tests. Specifically, while students in regular PE classes tended to have increased scores for mood problems and anxiety, those taking yoga classes stayed the same or showed improvement. Negative emotions also worsened in students taking regular PE, while improving in those taking yoga. There was no difference in a test of positive emotions.
However, the tests of self-regulatory skills were not significantly different between groups. Although attendance was only moderate, the students rated yoga fairly high—nearly three fourths said they would like to continue taking yoga classes.
Source.“Yoga Shows Psychological Benefits for High-School Students.” (2012, April 4). Retrieved April 27, 2012, from http://www.newswise.com/articles/yoga-shows-psychological-benefits-for-high-school-students.
Texting Prevents Potential Bullying
e2Campus® has launched a revolutionary new “bully deterrent system” called uTip—The Bully Buster. Already in place at schools around the country, the uTip service evolved into a first-of-its-kind approach from its previous release last year. It now offers schools a combination of technology to instantly report bullying along with free promotional materials to psychologically deter would-be bullies.
Because it is cloud-based and uses standard text messaging, uTip can be implemented in less than 5 minutes and puts power in the palm of students’ hands, enabling them to discreetly and anonymously report a situation immediately, so schools can respond quickly. The company is offering free 1-year pilot programs to schools that sign up for uTip before August 31, 2012.
Displaying the eye-catching uTip posters in high-traffic areas acts as a reminder to would-be bullies that any of the hundreds of eyes watching could be an anonymous tipster. The news from e2Campus comes on the heels of an announcement from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services about the re-launch of their website http://www.StopBullying.gov.
Source.“New Bully Deterrent System Free to Schools.” (2012, April 12). Retrieved April 27, 2012, from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-bully-deterrent-system-free-to-schools-147164065.html.
Lower IQ Results from Exposure to Family Violence
Children exposed early in life to interpersonal trauma (maltreatment or witnessing partner violence against their mothers) have lower IQ-related scores at ages 2, 5, and 8, according to research published online by the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. This deficit was highly significant after controlling for other strong predictors such as socioeconomic status, the mother’s IQ, birth weight, birth complications, and the amount of cognitive stimulation received at home.
On average, children with such trauma exposure had cognitive scores that were approximately half a standard deviation lower than those not exposed—the equivalent of 7 IQ points. The most significant and enduring cognitive deficits were in children exposed to trauma between birth and age 2.
In the study, the first to examine the effects of trauma prospectively, starting from birth and assessing the same children repeatedly over time, researchers followed 206 children in low-income families whose mothers were enrolled while receiving pre-natal care for a first baby, as part of the long-term Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. After birth, their children were monitored for maltreatment (physical, psychological or sexual abuse, or neglect) and exposure to domestic violence. Trained researchers observed the mothers and children at home at ages 7 to 10 days and ages 3, 6, 9, and 12 months, and observed and videorecorded them in a laboratory at ages 9, 12, 18, 24, and 42 months. Researchers also conducted multiple interviews with mothers throughout and reviewed medical and child protection records at ages 24 and 64 months.
IQ measures were assessed via the Bayley Mental Development Scale at 2 years and short-form versions of the Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence at age 5, and at age 8 via the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Revised.
By age 5, 37% of children had experienced some form of interpersonal trauma, with 5% exposed only in infancy (0 to 24 months), 13% only in preschool (24 to 64 months), and 19% in both infancy and preschool.
Children exposed in infancy had cognitive scores that were lower at all ages tested. Other statistically significant predictors of lower cognitive scores were male sex, lower birth weight, lower maternal IQ, lower socioeconomic status, and less cognitive stimulation in the home, but when these factors were controlled for, exposure to interpersonal trauma from birth to age 24 months was still associated with an IQ score that was, on average, 7.25 points lower across all ages of testing.
Source.“Maltreatment or Witnessing Family Violence Can Lower a Child’s IQ.” (2012, April 3). Retrieved April 27, 2012, from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/maltreatment-or-witnessing-family-violence-can-lower-a-childs-iq-145913945.html.
Interactive Art Used in Psychiatric Unit to Adjust Patients’ Circadian Rhythms
Health care facilities are finding that certain colors and imagery have a positive effect on a patient’s overall well-being, reduce stress, and provide a welcome distraction as a first step in the healing process. H. Marion Art Consultants teamed up with Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) to explore this possibility. As part of the recent renovation of NMH, the locked psychiatric unit was completely re-envisioned. Now, the new Stone Institute of Psychiatry includes artworks that the team believes could potentially have a therapeutic effect on the unit’s patients.
Sometimes psychiatric patients don’t know the time of day; by adjusting their circadian rhythms, this enhanced sense of time can provide an additional therapeutic layer to the treatment protocol. Working together, the psychiatric team and H. Marion came up with a stunning, interactive art installation combining landscape imagery with technology—in this instance, light boxes that can be controlled to imitate the light at different times of day—that actively uses art as part of the healing process.
The images were printed on large-scale polycarbonate panels and then illuminated from behind using a dimmable light source. Light boxes recessed into the wall, so that the face of the acrylic panels are flush with the dry wall, create a safe installation and living environment for the patients. This ensured that the mounting and installations of artworks were entirely safe for patients of the locked unit. Since safety is key, two different types of adhesives were used, which when dried, make it impossible to pull the art off the wall without taking the wall with it.
The psychiatric team of physicians and nurses carefully vetted all of the artworks on the floor. Vetting was facilitated by the propriety online art portal developed by H. Marion, which enables the download of hundreds of images made accessible to the client online. This facilitated the participants’ ability to review and comment on each potential image in relation to the selection criteria.
The criteria for artwork selected for the psychiatric unit were somewhat different from other units at the hospital. Artworks would be eliminated if the colors were too gray or misty because depressed patients need vibrant colors and warmth. For the same reason, landscapes that are arid or without signs of life were considered too desolate. Manic patients can be hypersexual, so some images, such as close-ups of flowers, were considered overly suggestive. Psychotic patients can see images in the most benign piece and be hyper-religious, so any image that could feed into a delusion—even sunlight streaming strongly through trees—was rejected. Some of the specified art are original oils; others are framed and matted photographs of Chicago, creating a connection with home.
Source.Falk Associates. (2012, April 4). Pioneering Pairing of Technology, Imagery Bolsters Healing in Psych Unit [Press release]. Lincolnwood, IL: Author.
More Women Than Men Use Psychotropic Medications
Women far outpace their male counterparts when it comes to the consumption of mental health medications, with 25% taking at least one psychotropic drug, as compared with 15% of men. These findings were presented at the 2012 Women’s Health Congress.
The study reviewed the pharmacy claims of more than 2 million insured Americans and assessed the use of antidepressant, antipsychotic, and anti-anxiety medications, and drugs to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) between 2001 and 2010.
The research shows that antidepressant agents are by far the most commonly used psychotropic medication, with 21% of women taking one of these drugs in 2010. Both men and women’s use increased approximately 29% from the start of the decade, but the number of men taking antidepressant agents remained approximately half that of women at 11%.
Women also trump men in use of anti-anxiety medications. Eleven percent of women ages 45 to 64 were taking an anti-anxiety medication—nearly twice the rate (5.7%) of their male counterparts.
While far more boys than girls take ADHD medications, a higher number of women than men are taking them as adults. Women ages 20 to 44 had the highest use among adults as their use rose 264% over the decade, as compared with a 188% increase for men the same age.
A similar pattern was seen for those taking atypical antipsychotic drugs; while men had the highest use in childhood, women were more likely to be prescribed these drugs in adulthood. However, the rate of growth increased more rapidly for men than women over the decade.
Source.“The Mental Health Gender Gap: Women Far Exceed Men in their Use of Psychotropic Medications as Utilization Increases Among Both Sexes.” (2012, March 19). Retrieved April 27, 2012, from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/the-mental-health-gender-gap-women-far-exceed-men-in-their-use-of-psychotropic-medications-as-utilization-increases-among-both-sexes-143297886.html.
Analysis Finds Military Illegally Discharged on Basis of Personality Disorders
Since 2008, the Department of Defense (DoD) has illegally discharged hundreds of veterans on the alleged basis of personality disorder (PD), denying them veterans’ benefits, according to a Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) analysis of newly disclosed records. The analysis further concludes that since fiscal year (FY) 2002, the Navy has discharged the most service members on this basis in absolute terms (7,735), and in FY 2006 the Air Force set a military record for the Afghanistan and Iraq era when PD discharges accounted for 3.7% of all airmen being discharged (1,114 of 29,498 service members).
The VVA report, “Casting Troops Aside: The United States Military’s Illegal Personality Disorder Discharge Problem,” is based on records obtained by VVA in federal Freedom of Information Act litigation. The report found that since 2008, internal DoD reviews discovered hundreds of illegal PD discharges, and since FY 2001, the military has discharged more than 31,000 service members on the alleged basis of PD.
PD can be used as the illegal basis for incorrectly discharging veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. The DoD considers PD a preexisting condition, and a PD diagnosis renders veterans ineligible for several benefits and is one of the first things prospective employers see.
In 2008, Congress directed the Government Accountability Office to investigate illegal personality discharges. The Congressional pressure prompted new DoD regulations, but VVA has found that illegal PD discharges continued through FY 2010, and that since 2007, the total number of PD discharges has increased at least 20%, according to documents released under one of two pending VVA Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.
Additionally, VVA analysis of DoD documents uncovered a twofold rise in adjustment disorder (AD) discharges in the United States Air Force from FY 2008-2010, which may signal that AD discharges have now become a surrogate for PD discharges.
Source.“Newly Disclosed Records Reveal Hundreds More Illegal Personality Disorder Discharges; VVA Finds Navy and Air Force Worst Offenders.” (2012, March 22). Retrieved April 27, 2012, from http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/newly-disclosed-records-reveal-hundreds-more-illegal-personality-disorder-discharges-vva-finds-navy-and-air-force-worst-offenders-143838786.html.