December 1st, 2015

Study boosts belief that anorexia is brain-based illness

By Pamela Berard

A new study may help explain why anorexia nervosa is so hard to treat: those who struggle with it activate a different part of the brain when making food choices than those who don’t. The study, “Neural mechanisms supporting maladaptive food choices in anorexia nervosa,” which was published in Nature Neuroscience, demonstrated that when making decisions on what to eat – women with anorexia nervosa showed increased activity in the dorsal striatum area of the brain compared to women without anorexia. The dorsal striatum has a critical role in the establishment and expression of action control and learned automatic behaviors. [More]

December 1st, 2015

Early interventions crucial in schizophrenia treatment

By Janine Weisman

“Family psycho education,” “resilience-focused individual therapy,” and “supported employment and education.” All are interventions a team of clinicians provided participants enrolled in a major National Institute of Mental Health funded study of treatment approaches for patients soon after their first schizophrenic episode. Receiving such coordinated and sustained treatments along with personalized medication management dramatically increased quality of life for the study’s participants over a two-year period compared to usual care emphasizing strong doses of antipsychotic drugs. And the earlier patients are treated after their first break from reality, the better the outcomes, according to the results of the Recovery After [More]

December 1st, 2015

Professor: Violence has decreased

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Ask the person sitting next to you on the subway if the world is less safe than when they were younger. Most likely he will say yes and start railing about terrorist acts, gun deaths, car accidents, domestic abuse cases and random acts of violence that we are bombarded with on the nightly news. The woman on the other side will tell you how kids can’t even play outside anymore with the risk of kidnappings and molestation. But, is the world really more dangerous? Is violence on the increase? The answer, according to Steven Pinker, Ph.D., a Johnstone professor of [More]

December 1st, 2015

Constructing the world together

By Alan Bodnar Ph.D.

The first time I realized that none of us sees the world in quite the same way I was just a kid riding in the back of the car with my aunt driving and my mother sitting in the passenger seat. In the way of small children before the days of seat belts, bored with adult company and itching to be out playing, I was lying on my back with my feet up against the front seat, watching the tops of telephone poles gliding by the side window. Suddenly it occurred to me that I was the only one in [More]

November 1st, 2015

Examining psychosomatic illness

By Phyllis Hanlon

The National Institutes of Health reported that prior to the 19th century, many in the medical field believed emotions were connected to physical illness. That way of thinking subsided in the ensuing years, but recent studies have shown psychological factors may be a factor in some physical conditions. Kristie Puster, Ph.D., director, Psychological and Behavioral Interventions at Hasbro Medical Psychiatric Program in Providence, Rhode Island, said, “Psychosomatic illness is when a psychological state affects our physical functioning beyond what is normal and to the point that we become impaired in some way. For example, a person can experience paralysis unrelated to [More]

November 1st, 2015

Colleges strive to improve psychological services

By Janine Weisman

The number one problem Connecticut College students come to Student Counseling Services seeking help for is anxiety followed by depression, according to its director, psychologist Janet D. Spoltore, Ph.D. That is consistent with the top two presenting concerns of students nationally as reported by the Center for Collegiate Mental Health at Penn State. So students at the private liberal arts college in New London, Conn., are not any different from their peers elsewhere. But Connecticut’s efforts to make mental health services accessible and de-stigmatize help-seeking have earned national attention. Connecticut College was the only New England higher education institution honored [More]

November 1st, 2015

Audits rule affects requested records

By Catherine Robertson Souter

As the Affordable Care Act continues to unfold, a new regulation that requires that insurance companies conduct risk adjustment data validation audits on providers has caused some debate about how best to respond to requests for patient records. The audits, also known as RADV audits, were designed to ensure that insurance companies remain competitive regarding the relative health of their served populations. Risk adjustment funds are distributed as a way to support companies that serve less healthy clientele. The audit regulation should, in theory, apply only to insurance companies and providers working with plans sold through health insurance exchanges. Some [More]

November 1st, 2015

Beacon eliminates prior authorization requirement

By Phyllis Hanlon

On August 6, 2014, then-Gov. Deval Patrick signed into law Senate Bill 2341 to “establish a continuing program of investigation and study of mental health and substance use disorders in the Commonwealth.” In response to a section of that bill, Massachusetts Chapter 258, “An Act to Increase Opportunities for Long-Term Substance Abuse Recovery,” insurers no longer require prior authorization for substance use treatment services for Medicaid, Medicare and commercial insurers as of Oct. 1, 2015. Chapter 258 also mandates that the largest insurance carriers in Massachusetts provide coverage for abuse-deterrent opioid products; additionally, under the mental health parity law, the [More]

November 1st, 2015

CEDC opens satellite campus in N.H.

By Pamela Berard

The Cambridge (Mass.) Eating Disorder Center (CEDC) recently opened its first satellite location in Concord, N.H., to help fill a gap in services for families in the northern New England area. CEDC Director Seda Ebrahimi, Ph.D., who founded the center 15 years ago, said the Cambridge location’s residential units serve clients from throughout New England and all over the country. Over the years, she noticed a distinct gap in services in the northern New England area. “We have many patients from the Northeast, including New Hampshire,” she said. “It was always a challenge when we were thinking about after-care and getting [More]

November 1st, 2015

New analysis discredits Paxil study

By Janine Weisman

A 2001 clinical trial that concluded Paxil was “well tolerated and effective” for treating major depression in adolescents helped clear the way for the drug to become the best-selling antidepressant in the world the following year. But that clinical trial led by Brown University Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Human Behavior Martin Keller, M.D. got it all wrong, according to a new re-analysis published Sept. 16 in the BMJ (formerly the British Medical Journal). The new paper found that paroxetine – the generic name for Paxil which is classified as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor – is neither safe nor effective [More]

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