This morning’s *USA Today* includes an article: “Why the holiday suicide
myth persists” by Kim Painter.
Here are some excerpts:
[begin excerpts]
For the past decade, Dan Romer, a researcher at the Annenberg Public
Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, has been tracking
mentions of suicide and the holiday season in stories published in U.S.
newspapers from mid-November to mid-January.
His first study, covering the 1999 holiday season, found that just 23%
of stories debunked the myth and the rest reinforced it.
By 2006, 91% of stories debunked the myth, and Romer took some credit:
Publicizing the facts had nearly killed the myth, he thought.
He was wrong.
In the 2007 season, the myth was back in half of stories, he says.
And Romer just completed his analysis of 2008 holiday coverage.
He found that 38% of stories supported the myth and 62% debunked it – an
improvement he attributes partly to a myth-busting report published last
December in the British Medical Journal.
<snip>
But the myth may harm people instead.
“It might unnecessarily put people on their guard or increase their
anxiety,” says Ronald Pies, a psychiatrist at Tufts University School of
Medicine, via e-mail.
Worse, he says, some people “on the brink” of self-harm might feel
encouraged to follow through when they read or hear that holiday
suicides are common.
The myth might become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Romer agrees: “You don’t want to convey the message that this is
acceptable or that there’s a good reason to do it.”
<snip>
But, experts say, suicide is almost always the act of someone who has
endured deep depression or another mental illness for months or years –
not someone with a passing case of the blues.
<snip>
Meanwhile, researchers continue to look for the real patterns in
suicidal behavior, says Alexander Crosby, a CDC researcher. “That can
help us in terms of finding protective factors,” he says.
And one protective factor, he says, is “connectiveness” – that is, how
connected people are to friends, families and communities.
[end excerpts]
The article is online at:
clipping courtesy of Ken Pope
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The new issue of *Archives of General Psychiatry* (Vol. 66 No. 10)
includes an article: “Association of the Mediterranean Dietary Pattern
With the Incidence of Depression.”
The authors are Almudena Sánchez-Villegas, BPharm, PhD; Miguel Delgado-
Rodríguez, MD, PhD, MPH; Alvaro Alonso, MD, PhD; Javier Schlatter, MD,
PhD; Francisca Lahortiga, BA, PhD; Lluis Serra Majem, MD, PhD; & Miguel
Angel Martínez-González, MD, PhD, MPH.
Here’s the abstract:
Context
Adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pattern (MDP) is thought to
reduce inflammatory, vascular, and metabolic processes that may be
involved in the risk of clinical depression.

The Mayo Clinic just issued the following news release:

Mayo Clinic Researchers Examine the Psychological Impact of Child Abuse

SAN FRANCISCO, May 21 — According to a new Mayo Clinic study, a history
of child abuse significantly impacts the wide range of challenges facing
depressed inpatients.

Included are an increase in suicide attempts, prevalence of substance
use disorder, and a higher incidence rate of personality disorder.

Additionally, these victims also had an earlier onset of mental illness
and an increase in psychiatric hospitalizations for psychiatric issues.

The study was presented at the American Psychiatric Association 2009
Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The impact of child abuse already is known to increase the risk of
suicide; however, the literature about other characteristics of
depressed victims of child abuse is scarce.

Although the findings of the Mayo study do not confirm causality, the
information stresses the importance of more aggressive approaches from
the public health perspective to prevent child abuse.

“A history of child abuse makes most psychiatric illnesses worse,”
according to Magdalena Romanowicz, M.D., lead author of the study.

“We found that it significantly impacts the wide range of
characteristics of depressed inpatients, including increased risk of
suicide attempt, substance abuse, as well as earlier onset of mental
illness and more psychiatric hospitalizations.

This new information serves as a reminder of the importance of child
abuse prevention from a public health perspective.”

Dr. Romanowicz says plans are under way to further examine the
association between child abuse and metal illness in a larger study of
patients.

Other authors of this Mayo Clinic study include: Gen Shinozaki, M.D.;
Victoria Passov, M.D.; Simon Kung, M.D.; Renato Alarcon, M.D.; and David
Mrazek, M.D.

Courtesy of Ken Pope

Rush University Medical Center issued the following news release:

Depression linked with accumulation of visceral fat

Study explains association between depression and cardiovascular disease

Numerous studies have shown that depression is associated with an
increased risk of heart disease, but exactly how has never been clear.

Now, researchers at Rush University Medical Center have shown that
depression is linked with the accumulation of visceral fat, the kind of
fat packed between internal organs at the waistline, which has long been
known to increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

(more…)

The University of Washington issued a news release about
research to be presented later this week at the annual meeting of the
American Association of Suicidology.  Some excerpts:

Adolescents and young adults typically consider peer relationships to be
all important. However, it appears that strong family support, not peer support, is
protective in reducing future suicidal behavior among young adults when
they have experienced depression or have attempted suicide.

New research that will be presented here April 17 at the annual meeting
of the American Association of Suicidology shows that high school
depression and a previous suicide attempt were significant predictors of
thinking about suicide one or two years later. But, those individuals
who had high levels of depression or had attempted suicide in high
school were less likely to engage in suicidal thinking if they had
strong family support and bonds.

In addition, having a current romantic partner also reduced suicidal thoughts.

By bonding, the researchers are referring to a person’s closeness with
his or her family, or a partner, enjoying spending time with them, and
the ability to talk with them about important issues.

“Our findings suggest that the protective quality of family support and
bonding, or having an intimate partner, are not replaced by peer support
and bonding in emerging adulthood. “

King’s College London issued the following news release:

Childhood abuse associated with onset of psychosis in women

Researchers at the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London have
published new research which indicates that women with severe mental
illness are more likely to have been abused in childhood that the
general population.

But the same association has not been found in men.

The researchers believe their findings point to differences in the way
boys and girls respond to traumatic and upsetting experiences.

The paper which is published in the April issue of the British Journal
of Psychiatry compared two groups of adults with all the participants
were aged between 16 and 64, and lived in either south-east London or
Nottingham.

Those in the first group had experienced psychotic symptoms, such as
hallucinations or delusions and received treatment for depression, mania
or schizophrenia. Those in the second group had no mental health
problems, and acted as a control sample. Both groups were asked whether
they experienced physical or sexual abuse during their childhood.

Women with psychosis were twice as likely to report either physical or
sexual abuse compared to healthy women. But no such association was
found in men.

The researchers suggest that one explanation for this is that girls are
more likely to ‘internalise’ difficulties than boys. In other words,
girls who are abused may distance themselves from other people, and
become overly suspicious of other people’s behaviour. This may put them
at greater risk of psychotic symptoms in the future, such as paranoid
delusions.

In contrast, boys may be more likely to ‘act out’ following physical
abuse and potentially be at greater risk for antisocial behaviour.

The lead author on this paper, Helen Fisher, Researcher in Psychosis at
the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s said: “These findings do not mean
that if a child is abused they will develop psychosis; but women with
such disorders are more likely to reveal a background which included
childhood abuse.

“These findings point to the need for gender-specific interventions for
abused children to prevent later mental health and behavioural problems.”

“We also know that there are psychological, biological and genetic
factors that may contribute to this condition in women and more
attention needs to be given to understanding how adult psychosis
develops. Excitingly we have just been awarded a Wellcome Trust grant to
repeat this original study on a larger scale to enable us to investigate
the factors involved in this link between childhood abuse and psychotic
disorders.”

The paper entitled: “Gender differences in the association between
childhood abuse and psychosis” is published in the British Journal of
Psychiatry, 194: 319-325.

The authors were: Fisher H, Morgan C, Dazzan P, Craig TK, Morgan K,
Hutchinson G, Jones PB, Doody GA, Pariante C, McGuffin P, Murray RM,
Leff J and Fearon P (2009)

Healthy Boundaries

What are boundaries?

The word boundary in the American Heritage Dictionary is defined as “an indicated border or limit.” In relationships boundaries are often defined as the line that indicates where one person ends and the other begins. People with healthy boundaries have developed an identity separate and distinct from others and are not dependent upon others to nurture their personal and spiritual growth. Consider the following illustrations below:

boundaries1

Figure 1 illustrates healthy boundaries. In this relationship, the line between partners is easily identifiable. They are independent beings, yet they are close enough to be connected and to have an impact on each other’s life. In healthy relationships boundaries are flexible. They grow and change. Boundaries can be lowered to promote intimacy or extended to promote safety.

In Figure 2, it is difficult to distinguish one partner from the other. This is called enmeshment or collapsed boundaries. Partners in an enmeshed relationship generally try to merge with the other in order to avoid the emptiness they feel when alone. This is troublesome, because partners either seek to lose themselves in the other or expect their partner to become lost in them.

Figure 3 illustrates a relationship where each partner is completely self-contained, having very little impact on the other and very little emotional connection. This is called an emotionally detached relationship or rigid boundaries. The boundaries in this relationship tend to be more like walls and prevent intimacy.

What kind of boundaries do you have?

Look at the following characteristics to determine what kinds of boundaries you have:

HEALTHY BOUNDARIES

  • You can say no or yes, and you are ok when others say no to you.
  • You have a strong sense of identity. You respect yourself.
  • You expect reciprocity in a relationship-you share responsibility and power.
  • You know when the problem is yours and when it belongs to someone else.
  • You share personal information gradually in a mutually sharing/trusting relationship.
  • You don’t tolerate abuse or disrespect.
  • You know your own wants, needs and feelings. You communicate them clearly in your relationships.
  • You are committed to and responsible for exploring and nurturing your full potential.
  • You are responsible for your own happiness and fulfillment. You allow others to be responsible for their own happiness and fulfillment.
  • You value your opinions and feelings as much as others.
  • You know your limits. You allow others to define their limits.
  • You are able to ask for help when you need it.
  • You don’t compromise your values or integrity to avoid rejection.

COLLAPSED BOUNDARIES

  • You can’t say no, because you are afraid of rejection or abandonment.
  • Your identity consists of what you think others want you to be. You are a chameleon.
  • You have no balance of power or responsibility in your relationships. You tend to be either overly responsible and controlling or passive and dependent.
  • You take on other’s problems as your own.
  • You share personal information too soon. . .before establishing mutual trust/sharing.
  • You have a high tolerance for abuse or being treated with disrespect.
  • Your wants needs and feelings are secondary to others’ and are sometimes determined by others.
  • You ignore your inner voice and allow others expectations to define your potential.
  • You feel responsible for other’s happiness and fulfillment and sometimes rely on your relationships to create that for you.
  • You tend to absorb the feelings of others.
  • You rely on others opinions, feelings and ideas more than you do your own.
  • You allow others to define your limits or try to define limits for others.
  • You compromise your values and beliefs in order to please others or to avoid conflict.

RIGID BOUNDARIES

  • You are likely to say no if the request involves close interaction.
  • You avoid intimacy (pick fights, stay too busy, etc.)
  • You fear abandonment OR engulfment, so you avoid closeness.
  • You rarely share personal information.
  • You have difficulty identifying wants, needs, feelings.
  • You have few or no close relationships. If you have a partner, you have very separate lives and virtually no shared social life.
  • You rarely ask for help.
  • You do not allow yourself to connect with other people and their problems.

How do I change?

Understand that developing healthier boundaries (as with any life change) is a process, not an event. Thus, it will take time and practice. There are no quick fixes. However, healthy boundaries will lead to improved self-esteem and increased intimacy in your relationships. So the payoff is big, if you are persistent! Below are a few suggestions to help you stay on track in the process:

1. Identify the ways in which your boundaries are unhealthy. Make a list of how they express themselves in your life.

2. Write letters to yourself encouraging change and addressing the fears that work to prevent change. Nurture your right to have boundaries!

3. Make a list of personal rights (i. e. boundaries) in your relationships and paste it where you can read it often.

4. Keep a journal and record the pain associated with not maintaining healthy boundaries in your relationships. (Sometimes pain is a great motivator.)

5. Write an entry in your journal answering the question “Who Am I?” Do this periodically.

6. Look for role models of healthy boundaries in your life or in the media. When confronting a boundary challenging situation ask yourself “What would my role model do?” Better yet, if your role model is a part of your life, ask them!

7. Build in time for yourself away from your relationship on a regular basis. This will include alone time, time with your close friends, time for spiritual growth, and time to attend to life’s little responsibilities.

8. If you have difficulty saying ‘No,” look for opportunities to practice. If you have difficulty saying “Yes” to any activity that involves interacting with others, look for opportunities to practice.

9. Seek counseling to examine the roots of your unhealthy boundaries.

– author unknown at this time –