The Child Mind BlogBrainstorm
In Fighting Anorexia, Recovery Is Elusive
April 26, 2011 New York Times
For many people struggling to overcome anorexia, it can often be unclear what constitutes a true recovery. Some consider a patient recovered when she reaches a normal weight (which is defined as 85 or 95 percent of a person's ideal weight) and resumes menstruation. But this definition doesn't take into account the mental dimensions of the disorder, and although the damaging behaviors associated with anorexia may have stopped, the self-criticism, perfectionism, and self-abuse that accompany the disorder often continue. According to Dr. Katharine Halmi, "About 50 percent of people with anorexia will be able to reach and maintain a normal weight, but most of them are very preoccupied with the calorie content of food." Aimee Liu, the author of "Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives" calls this anorexia's “half life,” and says it can last for years without good treatment. Like many alcoholics, some with anorexia prefer to consider themselves in a perpetual state of recovery.
Kathleen MacDonald, a policy assistant at the Eating Disorders Coalition, is more optimistic. MacDonald struggled with anorexia and bulimia for 16 years, but now considers herself entirely recovered. "People always said once you have an eating disorder, you're always going to have an eating disorder," she says. "I tell people, 'There was a time in your life when you didn't have an eating disorder, and if that's possible, anything is.' "View Comments | Add Comment
Predicting Bipolar Mood Swings
April 26, 2011 US News & World Report
New research suggests that it may be possible to predict mood swings in people who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. According to the study's lead author, Warren Mansell, "Individuals who believed extreme things about their moods—for example, that their moods were completely out of their own control or that they had to keep active all the time to prevent becoming a failure—developed more mood problems in a month's time." In contrast, people who were able to moderate their moods had far fewer mood problems in the next month. Says Mansell, "These findings are encouraging for talking therapies—such as CBT—that aim to help patients to talk about their moods and change their thinking about them."View Comments | Add Comment
Autism Now: How Should We Address the Deepening 'National Health Emergency'?
April 25, 2011 PBS NewsHour
The final episode of NewsHour's report on autism in America airs tonight on PBS, this time featuring a roundtable discussion on the future of autism care and research. CMI Scientific Research Council member Dr. Catherine Lord joins the expert panel of doctors and autism advocates to discuss solutions for the national health emergency. You can see the report on PBS tonight, or watch the entire series online at the NewsHour website.
Know More: Dr. Catherine Lord on Breakthroughs in Treatment for AutismView Comments | Add Comment
The Anxiety Gender Gap: Are Women Really More Anxious?
April 22, 2011 Slate
Women are diagnosed with anxiety disorders twice as often as men. In an essay for Slate, Taylor Clark argues that this prevalence isn't due to bioengineering so much as the "cultural setup" which turns girls into nervous women who have poor coping strategies. Clark calls his theory the "skinned knee effect:"
"Parents coddle girls who cry after a painful scrape but tell boys to suck it up, and this formative link between emotional outbursts and kisses from mom predisposes girls to react to unpleasant situations with 'negative' feelings like anxiety later in life. On top of this, cultural biases about boys being more capable than girls also lead parents to push sons to show courage and confront their fears, while daughters are far more likely to be sheltered from life's challenges. If little Olivia shows fear, she gets a hug; if little Oliver shows fear, he gets urged to overcome it."
The women's blog Jezebel took issue with some of Clark's generalizations on female behavior, but agreed that society does treat little girls differently, citing the popular book The Dangerous Book for Boys and its female counterpart, The Great Big Glorious Book for Girls, as clear examples of gender bias.
In his essay Clark also points out that women may receive more anxiety disorder diagnoses simply because they are more likely to see a therapist.View Comments | Add Comment
Pabst's New "Binge in a Can"
April 22, 2011 Wall Street Journal
Earlier this month Pabst Brewing Co. released an updated version of the Colt 45 called "Blast." The new malt beverage comes with twice the alcohol content of the original Colt 45 and flavors such as strawberry lemonade and raspberry watermelon. Attorneys general from several states are already protesting the drink, which they call a "binge in a can," and have expressed concern that Blast is targeted to underage drinkers who will be attracted by the fruit flavors and by the drink's promoter, Snoop Dogg. In a letter to the chairman of Pabst, C. Dean Metropoulos, the attorneys general claimed the product "poses a grave public safety threat," and requested that Pabst immediately reduce the number of servings of alcohol contained in one single-serving container.
Know More: Is My Teenager a Substance Abuser?View Comments | Add Comment
Half of All Children With Autism Wander from Safe Places
April 21, 2011 Science Daily
The Interactve Autism Network (IAN) has announced the preliminary results from their landmark survey on the prevalance of wandering among people on the autism spectrum. Approximately half of the parents taking the survey reported that their child wanders or bolts from safe locations. Of the children who wandered, nearly 50 percent went missing "long enough to cause significant concern about safety."
The director of the Ian Project, Dr. Paul Law, says, "We hope that advocates and policy makers use this research to implement key safety measures to support these families and keep these children safe."
Know More: The movie Wretches & Jabberers takes autism advocacy on the road.View Comments | Add Comment
Demi Lovato: I Have Bipolar Disorder
April 21, 2011 People
Disney star Demi Lovato told People magazine that she was recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Lovato says she didn't know she had the disorder until she sought treatment for her anorexia, bulimia and cutting last November. "Looking back it makes sense," she says. "There were times when I was so manic, I was writing seven songs in one night and I'd be up until 5:30 in the morning." Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones made a similar announcement about her bipolar II disorder on April 19th, and Lovato was quick to offer her support, tweeting that Zeta-Jones was "SO brave."
Lovato recently quit starring in the popular Disney show Sonny with a Chance. Lovato says she plans to focus on her treatment and on her singing career instead. "Being in front of a camera would make me nervous," the teen said.View Comments | Add Comment
Autism Now: Exploring the 'Phenomenal' Increase in U.S. Prevalence
April 20, 2011 PBS NewsHour
The second installment of NewsHour's Autism Now series aired last night, this time focusing on the seemingly phenomenal increase of autism in America. You can watch the report online at the NewsHour website.
Know More: Autism, Vaccines, and the Wakefield FraudView Comments | Add Comment
Teens Aren't Sleeping Enough
April 19, 2011 MSNBC
A new poll shows that American teens are sleeping at least two hours less than they should be, and experts are worried about the consequences. "We know that sleep has a fundamental role in protecting and growing and strengthening the brain," says Dr. Mary Carskadon, a professor at Brown University. Because the frontal lobe is developing more at 18, the newest thinking is that older adolescents might need even more sleep than the younger ones.View Comments | Add Comment
Sleep deprivation has also been linked to the development of ADHD, obesity, and depression.