May 1st, 2016

Pruning our lives

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

It is a warm Friday morning in April and my wife is out to an estate sale. If she sees anything interesting, she will buy it or, if it is something big or expensive, she will call me for a second opinion. This is our usual arrangement and it has worked well over the years to keep our accumulation of treasures within reasonable limits. These days we are buying less and discarding more or at least that is our intention. I used to think that this kind of downsizing was an annoying habit of old people too focused on preparing [More]

April 1st, 2016

Psychologists call treatment of narcissism a ‘Herculean task’

By Phyllis Hanlon

It’s not unusual to seek attention on occasion. From celebrities who walk the red carpet during special Hollywood events to the three-year old who begs his mother to “Watch me, Mommy,” we all require responsiveness from others at times. But when does attention seeking cross the line from normal to problematic? Rhea Antonio, Psy.D., founder and owner of Back Bay Psychology & Consulting LLC and adjunct faculty member at William James College, explained that individuals who demonstrate an “inflated sense of importance, an excessive need for admiration and lack of empathy for others,” and have difficulty regulating their emotions fit [More]

April 1st, 2016

Insurance department examines handling of claims

By Rivkela Brodsky

To address the opioid addiction issue in New Hampshire and barriers to care, the state’s insurance department began “a targeted examination” in November 2015 of how insurance companies handle claims related to substance use disorders. A preliminary look at claims from January to September 2015 by an independent review organization found that eight of 64 medical necessity denials were challengeable, according to the department. That was out of 11,650 total claims for substance used disorder services. Of the eight denials, five involved disagreement on the level of care needed, such as inpatient or intensive outpatient. “This could indicate a potential [More]

April 1st, 2016

Tufts reaches settlement with AG office

By Phyllis Hanlon

The passage of mental health parity was intended to mandate equality in the care of behavioral issues with that given to physical conditions. In spite of the requirements, some insurers have been found to limit access to certain mental health services. The Massachusetts attorney general’s office recently resolved allegations that Tufts Associated Health Plans restricted member access to Applied Behavioral Analysis therapy, a standard treatment for individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. The AG’s office alleged that Tufts set a policy that required parents to be present during every ABA session in order for the service to be covered. Additionally, [More]

April 1st, 2016

Legislation in response to hike in female veterans’ suicide rate

By Pamela Berard

Proposed legislation would require the Department of Veterans Affairs to develop gender-specific suicide prevention programs. The “Female Veteran Suicide Prevention Act” (H.R. 2915) directs the VA to identify mental health care and suicide prevention programs and metrics that are most effective in treating women veterans. The legislation, passed by the House of Representatives in early February, was in response to an increase in suicide in female veterans detailed in a recent VA study. Researchers tracked more than 174,000 veteran and non-veteran suicides from 2000 to 2010 and found that the rate of suicide among female veterans increased 40 percent during [More]

April 1st, 2016

PREP program for early psychosis receives funding boost

By Pamela Berard

The Prevention and Recovery in Early Psychosis (PREP) program in Massachusetts has expanded its work to help diagnose and treat young adults grappling with the early stages of psychotic illness. PREP, which provides intensive, comprehensive, evidence-based outpatient treatment for young adults 18-30 who are experiencing an early episode of psychosis, is a joint venture of the Outpatient Department at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center (MMHC) and the Commonwealth Research Center, affiliated with Harvard Medical School, and housed at MMHC. The program, in operation for more than 10 years, is funded by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health and has been [More]

April 1st, 2016

Legislation aims to address N.H. opioid crisis

By Rivkela Brodsky

New Hampshire is receiving a lot of attention for its “opioid crisis” – but it’s not just a campaign issue. The state has seen a huge increase in opioid overdose deaths in the past five years – the numbers have more than doubled since 2011. There were 201 drug overdose deaths in 2011, according to statistics from the New Hampshire Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. That dropped to 163 in 2012 and rose to 192 in 2013 before jumping to 326 in 2014 and to 420 in 2015, with at least 14 cases pending toxicology results. This data is [More]

April 1st, 2016

Ketamine: long on hype, short on answers

By Janine Weisman

Boston psychiatrist Cristina Cusin, M.D. can’t ignore the dramatic results from treating severely depressed patients with ketamine when traditional antidepressants couldn’t help. She can see it on their faces. “When it happens, it’s really impressive,” said Cusin, a staff psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Depression Clinical and Research Program. “They look like totally different people. The problem is it doesn’t last very long and the depression goes back to exactly where it started in another few days.” A fast-acting anesthetic approved more than 40 years ago to treat soldiers during the Vietnam War, ketamine has been shown to relieve depression [More]

April 1st, 2016

Research looks at men’s reluctance to seek help

By Susan Gonsalves

The popular stereotype of men driving around lost because they are not willing to ask for directions is actually more accurate than not. That reluctance to seek help holds true in the lives of men having mental health issues as well. A body of empirical research supports the belief that men are less likely than women to get assistance from professionals for problems such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, physical disabilities and stress. Michael Addis, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. is director of a research group on men’s well being and has [More]

April 1st, 2016

Task force recommends early autism screening

By Phyllis Hanlon

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that one in 68 children born in the U.S. was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and the London School of Economics and Political Science estimate that more than 3.5 million Americans have ASD. They also report that cost of care may be as high as $2 million over the course of the individual’s lifetime. That figure is in addition to the estimated $250,000 it takes to raise a child these days. Additionally, between 2000 and 2010, rates of ASD increased 119.4 percent, according to [More]

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