Articles, Leading Stories

February 1st, 2013

Use of ECT on the rise?

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Practice trends at odds with study results For a treatment that’s existed for nearly a century, the function of electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is still somewhat of a mystery. Researchers are at a loss to explain why sending an electronic current through the brain, causing a convulsion similar to a grand mal epileptic seizure, relieves acute feelings of depression. Once known as “shock therapy” or “electric shock treatment,” ECT began in the 1930s when psychiatrists in Italy noticed that schizophrenic patients improved temporarily after a spontaneous seizure. Early attempts at replicating the effect with patients were partially successful and the [More]

February 1st, 2013

Clinical trial for GAD treatment underway

By Pamela Berard

Researchers at Connecticut’s Hartford Hospital Institute of Living are conducting a clinical trial to investigate the use of neuronavigation in combination with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to treat generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). TMS – an FDA-approved treatment for depression – delivers magnetic pulses to the surface of a patient’s scalp. Typically, a standardized measurement is used to figure out where to place the magnetic coil; but with neuronavigation, the Institute of Living is determining the location to administer treatment by using each person’s unique brain scan. “The neuronavigation uses the patient’s MRI, so we can actually say, ‘Here’s the area [More]

February 1st, 2013

Arts participation linked to higher rates of teen depression

By Janine Weisman

Teens involved in after-school arts activities report more depressive symptoms than those participating in only sports according to a study published last November in the American Psychological Association’s journal “Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts.” Boston College researchers assessed how frequently 15-and 16-year old respondents experienced poor appetite, difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, lack of energy/motivation, poor sleep and sadness. Girls were more likely to take part in the arts after school and reported slightly higher rates of depression. Adolescents involved in the arts had higher verbal IQ and working memory scores than those not involved. Studies have shown a [More]

February 1st, 2013

Pro-ana Web sites pose risks

By Janine Weisman

Type “thinspiration” into Google’s blog search: 320,000 results appear. The phrase appears over images of bone-thin women posted on Pinterest, Tumblr, Youtube and other platforms offering encouragement to be ultra thin. These easily accessible pro-anorexia or pro-ana Web sites pose serious risks to young people with eating disorders, a United Kingdom review finds. “Virtually Anorexic – Where’s the Harm?” examined 126 non-password protected pro-eating disorder Web sites and online communities that promote dangerous advice such as recommending a daily intake of 400-500 calories, and encouraging bullying and competitive behavior to eat less. About 90 percent of sites analyzed contained thinspiration [More]

February 1st, 2013

Practitioners laud benefits of EFT in couples work

By Pamela Berard

A local group is spreading the word about how Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) can benefit practitioners, particularly in couples work. Jill Fischer LICSW says the New England Community for EFT – of which she is assistant director – provides training, resources, connections and opportunities for EFT therapists and those interested in EFT. Fischer began incorporating EFT into her work about three years ago. She had been using the Gottman Method, which she says was effective but could be limited, particularly with couples who have trauma or attachment injuries. She says the Gottman Method and EFT are complementary, but EFT focuses [More]

February 1st, 2013

Pre-surgery treatment and trauma among focuses of work

By Catherine Robertson Souter

Most people do not take going under the knife lightly. Whether it’s a minor or major surgery, there are any number of fears that prey on the mind – from anxiety over being out of control to concern that the doctor will make a mistake to trepidation about the pain that will result. There is evidence, however, that teaching patients coping skills to manage stress and anxiety have extremely positive results – both on the overall experience and on the physical outcomes of the surgery. It’s a professional niche where mental and medical health can, and should, overlap and one [More]

January 1st, 2013

Social aggressors: examining those who engage in bullying behavior

By Phyllis Hanlon

For decades, aggression in schools has presented a challenge to parents, educators, researchers and psychologists and the problem continues to escalate. Much attention has justifiably been given to the victims in hopes of creating programs to effectively address the issue. Lately, researchers have turned their efforts on the perpetrators of socially aggressive behavior, attempting to untangle the mystery that prompts bullying. A recent study out of Brown University suggests that children with mental illness are three times more likely to act in a bullying manner. Steven Barreto, Ph.D., of the Pediatric Partial Hospitalization Program at Bradley Children’s Hospital in Providence, R.I. [More]

January 1st, 2013

Three NE states system of care expansion grants

By Janine Weisman

Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island are among 16 recipients of federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) System of Care Expansion Implementation Grants to improve behavioral health outcomes for children and youth with serious emotional disturbances and their families. SAMHSA defines “system of care” as an organizational framework for a network of effective community-based services using evidence-based practices. Each state receives $1 million annually over four years to build upon their respective strategic planning efforts and roll out new networks of care for children’s mental health and related recovery support services. SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services [More]

January 1st, 2013

St. Vincent Hospital relocates 13 acute beds

By Pamela Berard

Saint Vincent Hospital in Massachusetts is relocating 13 adult acute psychiatric care beds to its main campus in Worcester in the spring. The hospital is relocating the unit from the Vernon Hill psychiatric campus, which it no longer owns. The Vernon Hill facility was the site of the hospital until about a decade ago, when the current Summer Street location was built. Some hospital services remained in the old facility, which has since been sold to Worcester Academy. The old unit has 15 adult acute psychiatric beds and 13 of those will be relocated to the main campus by April, [More]

January 1st, 2013

Conn. broadens veterans’ eligibility for rehabilitation

By Janine Weisman

A new Connecticut law allows veterans charged with low-level, non-violent offenses to participate in diversionary programs and avoid prosecution and jail time. The law that took effect last October 1 allows veterans to use the Accelerated Rehabilitation Program (AR) twice instead of just once. They can also participate in the Supervised Diversionary Program which combines mental health treatment and probation supervision without first receiving a formal diagnosis. “The intervention at an early time is probably the most attractive part about this particular legislation,” says Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz, RN, MSN, DPH, FAAN. “What we’re after is [More]

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