A Hug a Day

Social support through physical touch helps us cope with stress

HugFrom Friends of the Semel Institute: Scientific American reported on a recent study that found that hugs make us feel connected and may also help prevent illness. The magazine also cited research by Dr. Naomi Eisenberger, a Professor in UCLA’s Social Psychology Program and Director of the Social and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. She found that when people held the hand of a romantic partner undergoing stress, both partners felt better. Read the Scientific American story here.

Photo Credit: DPC | olly

CBT For Children With Anxiety May Confer Long-Term Suicide Prevention Benefit, Study Suggests

CBT for childhood anxiety disorder may confer long-term suicide prevention benefits. Credit: nenetus | DPC

CBT for childhood anxiety disorder may confer long-term suicide prevention benefits. Credit: nenetus | DPC

Successful cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for childhood anxiety disorder may confer long-term benefits for suicide prevention, according to a report in the Journal of the Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Evidence for an independent relationship between anxiety and suicidality has been mixed. Researchers from the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine examined the relationship between response to treatment for an anxiety disorder in childhood and suicidal ideation, plans, and attempts at a follow-up interval of seven to 19 years. In the study, 66 adults were assessed, having completed CBT treatment for anxiety as children. Information regarding suicidality at follow-up was obtained via the World Mental Health Survey Initiative Version of the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview and the Beck Depression Inventory.

The follow-up data indicated that participants who responded favorably to CBT during childhood were less likely to endorse lifetime, past-month, and past-two-week suicidal ideation than were treatment nonresponders. This was consistent across self-report and interview-report of suicidal ideation.

“Results suggest more chronic and enduring patterns of suicidal ideation among those with anxiety in childhood that is not successfully treated,” the researchers stated. “This study adds to the literature that suggests successful CBT for childhood anxiety confers long-term benefits and underscores the importance of the identification and evidence-based treatment of youth anxiety.”

For more on research into suicide prevention, see the Psychiatric News article, “Novel Suicide-Prevention Treatment Targets Poor Sleep.”

Antidepressants Have Positive Effect on both Positive and Negative Stimuli

Antidepressant medicines, combined with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) may produce optimal therapeutic effect, according to  Yina Ma, Ph.D., a research scientist at Johns Hopkins’ Lieber Institute for Brain Development. In Molecular Psychiatry she reports: “Antidepressants act to normalize abnormal neural responses in depressed patients by increasing brain activity to positive stimuli and decreasing activity to negative stimuli in the emotional network and [by] increasing engagement of the regulatory mechanisms in” the key region in mediating the regulation of both positive and negative emotions, she explained.

Although both antidepressant and cognitive-behavioral treatments:

“Affect emotion-related and prefrontal circuits to a similar end state of normalized emotional network and prefrontal activity, the mechanisms by which each treatment acts may differ. Although it has been proposed that CBT targets prefrontal function as it focuses on increasing inhibitory executive control, the current findings raise the possibility that antidepressants may act more directly on the emotional network. Taken together, a combination of an early antidepressant medication and follow-up CBT may therefore result in a better therapeutic effect, a possibility that needs to be directly addressed in future research.”

English: 2D structure of antidepressant nefazodone

English: 2D structure of antidepressant nefazodone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To read more about how antidepressants work in the brain, see the Psychiatric Newsarticles, “What Is the Link Between SSRIs and Fear Extinction?” and “Study Uncovers More Clues About Antidepressants’ Action.” 

 

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Special Torrance Appearance by Ron Coleman of Working to Recover Regarding Hearing Voices

Ron Coleman 4Ron Coleman made a special appearance last week to discuss his experience with hearing voices and the Hearing Voices Network, a group of organizations worldwide joined by shared goals and values, incorporating a fundamental belief that there are many ways to understand the experience of hearing voices and other unusual or extreme experiences.

Ron Coleman is a Director of Working to Recovery, Ltd., an innovative mental health training, consultancy & publishing business. He is also a director of the Hearing Voices Network USA’s online recovery training Ron Coleman 2& practice site. At his special appearance for NAMI South Bay he described his training sessions and training packages to enable voice hearers to overcome the negative cultural stigma against the voice hearing experience. His own route to recovery, after spending 13 years in and out of the psychiatric system came from being a founder, member, and then national coordinator of the then UK hearing voices movement. He described some of his many insights into the difficult issues facing today’s mental health services, and his desire to help others gain autonomy and respect.

Presently, the goals of the Hearing Voices Network USA Include:

Ron Coleman 5Raising awareness about voice hearing, visions and other unusual or extreme experiences

Supporting anyone who has had these experiences by providing opportunities to talk about them freely and without judgment amongst peers

Supporting anyone who has had these experiences to explore, understand, learn and grow from them in their own way

Supporting individuals providing treatment, family, friends and the general community to broaden their understanding and ability to support individuals who have had these experiences

Below is an interview of Ron Coleman and his wife, Karen Taylor, discussing Working to Recovery and the Hearing Voices Network.

Ron Coleman and Karen Taylor are presently on a tour with the following scheduled dates remaining. NAMI South Bay appreciates and thanks them for agreeing to add last week’s presentation to their very busy schedule.

 

  • Working with Voices: An Introduction to the Hearing Voices Approach on April 15th from 9am to 4pm in Eagleville, Pennsylvania (Open ONLY to people in the local county. Click HERE for more details.
  • A Conversation with Ron Coleman & Karen Taylor on Wednesday, April 16th from 7pm to 9pm @ Montgomery County Community College, Science Center, Room 214 (Auditorium), Pottstown, Click HERE for more details.
  • A Voice Dialogue Workshop (Accepting, Liberating and Sharing the Voice Hearing Experience) on April 23rd from 10am to 4pm @ The Association for Research and Enlightenment of New York, 241 West 30th Street (between 7th and 8th Avenues), 2nd Floor. Click HERE for details.

 

 

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Two Continuation Treatments Found Effective for Depression

From Psychiatric News Alert: Continuing treatment of patients with major depressive disorder following acute-phase cognitive therapy works equally well regardless of whether patients are given fluoxetine or additional cognitive therapy, according to a study released today inJAMA Psychiatry.

The researchers randomized 241 adult responders out of a total of 523 who began treatment—86 to receive another eight months of cognitive therapy, 86 to receive fluoxetine, and 69 to receive a placebo.

Relapse or recurrence rates were almost the same for the continued cognitive-therapy and fluoxetine groups during the eight months of treatment, said the researchers. However, the cognitive-therapy patients were more likely to accept randomization, stay in treatment longer, and attend more treatment sessions than those in the other two cohorts.

While both forms of treatment demonstrated benefit over the course of the trial, the researchers cautioned that some patients may need further help. “After active therapies were discontinued, the preventive effects of both treatments dissipated, suggesting that some higher-risk patients may benefit from additional continuation/maintenance therapies,” concluded Robin Jarrett, Ph.D., of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, and colleagues.

For more information in Psychiatric News about treatments for depression, see “Brain-Area Activity Might Predict Depression Treatment Response.”

(Image: Wavebreak Media/Shutterstock/com)

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is a blend of two therapies: cognitive therapy (CT) and behavioral therapy. CT was developed by psychotherapist Aaron Beck, M.D. in the 1960’s. CT focuses on a person’s thoughts and beliefs, and how they influence a person’s mood and actions, and aims to change a person’s thinking to be more adaptive and healthy. Behavioral therapy focused on a person’s actions and aims to change unhealthy behavior patterns.

CBT helps a person focus on his or her current problems and how to solve them. Both patient and therapist need to be actively involved in this process. The therapist helps the patient learn how to identify distorted or unhelpful thinking patterns recognize and change inaccurate beliefs, related to others in more positive ways, and change behaviors accordingly.

CBT can be applied and adapted to many conditions, including depression, bipolar disorder, Anxiety disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder. For instance, people with bipolar disorder usually need to take medication, such as a mood stabilizer. But CBT is often used as an added treatment. The medication can help stabilize a person’s mood so that he or she is receptive to psychotherapy and can get the most out of it. CBT can help a person cope with bipolar symptoms and learn to recognize when a mood shift is about to occur. CBT also helps a person with bipolar disorder stick with a treatment plan to reduce the chances of relapse (e.g., when symptoms return).

With schizophrenia, the disorder generally requires medication first. But research has shown that CBT, as an add-on to medication, can help a patient cope with schizophrenia, helping patients learn more adaptive and realistic interpretations of events. Patients are also taught various coping techniques for dealing with “voices” or other hallucinations. They learn how to identify what triggers episodes of the illness, which can prevent or reduce the chances of relapse. CBT for schizophrenia also stresses skill-oriented therapies. Patients learn skills to cope with life’s challenges. The therapist teaches social, daily functioning, and problem-solving skills. This can help patients with schizophrenia minimize the types of stress that can lead to outbursts and hospitalizations.

CBT for schizoaffective treatment shares elements of each of the foregoing. Over the past two decades, CBT for schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder has received considerable attention in the United Kingdom and elsewhere abroad. While this treatment continues to develop in the United States, the results from studies in the United Kingdom and other countries have encouraged therapists in the U.S. to incorporate this treatment into their own practices. In this treatment, often referred to as cognitive behavioral therapy for psychosis (CBT-P).

For more information, see the National Institute for Mental Health Site and NAMI.

From: National Institute of Mental Health and NAMI National.