BBC News released an article: “Childhood abuse ‘quickens ageing.'”

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

Physical or emotional abuse during childhood could speed up the body’s
ageing process, US research suggests.

A team from Brown University focused on telomeres, the protective caps
on the chromosomes that keep a cell’s DNA stable but shorten with age.

They found the telomeres of 31 people who had reported abuse as children
tended to shorten more rapidly, speeding up cells’ ageing process.

Experts cautioned that the study needed to be replicated on a larger scale.

The study is featured in Biological Psychiatry.

Lead researcher Dr Audrey Tyrka said: “It gives us a hint that early
developmental experiences may have profound effects on biology that can
influence cellular mechanisms at a very basic level.” (more…)

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The *European Journal of Neurology* issued the following news release:
High unexpressed anger in MS patients linked to nervous system damage,
not disease severity
People with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) feel more than twice as much
withheld anger as the general population and this could have an adverse
effect on their relationships and health, according to a study published
in the December issue of the European Journal of Neurology.
Italian researchers assessed 195 patients with MS, using a range of
scales that measure anger, depression and anxiety, and then compared
them with the general population.
They were surprised by the results, which showed that while patients
experienced almost twice the normal level of withheld anger and exerted
low levels of control on their anger, their expressed anger levels were
similar to the general population.
This, together with the fact that the elevated withheld anger levels
were not related to the severity of the patients’ MS, suggests that
these inconsistent changes were caused by nervous system damage, rather
than an emotional reaction to the stress of the disease.
“We believe that the higher levels of withheld anger shown by the study
subjects is due to demyelination, loss of the substance in the white
matter that insulates the nerve endings and helps people receive and
interpret messages from the brain” explains lead researcher Dr Ugo
Nocentini from the IRCCS S Lucia Foundation in Rome.

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

The University of Montreal issued the following news release:

Canadian men reluctant to consult mental health services

University of Montreal study points to prejudice as No. 1 cause

Between 20 and 70 percent of Canadians affected by mental illness shun
medical treatment. Such avoidance of services provided by doctors and
psychologists is particularly acute among men, according to a recent
study published in the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research.

In Canada, less than 10 percent of the population utilizes mental health
services for problems ranging from depression to schizophrenia.

But this number isn’t representative of the real number of people
suffering from mental illness, according study author Aline Drapeau, a
researcher at the Université de Montréal’s Department of Psychiatry and
Centre de recherche Fernand-Seguin of the Louis-H. Lafontaine Hospital.

According to data from the Statistics Canada Canadian Community Health
Survey, women are 1.5 times more likely than men to turn to psychiatric
services, twice as likely to consult a psychologist and 2.5 times more
likely to turn to a general practitioner.

While these numbers might suggest that more women suffer from mental
illness, Drapeau disagrees.

“In comparable circumstances, women consult more often than men,” she says.

The discrepancy, says Drapeau, shows how men and women do not perceive
symptoms in the same way as programmed in their social anchorages.

“Social anchorages is an enculturation mechanism by which a person
learns his or her social roles,” says Drapeau.

“Men and women don’t always have the same cultural reference points
because socially acceptable attitudes and behaviors can vary for both sexes.”

For instance, parental obligations aren’t perceived equally in the
workplace. For women, it is perceived as positive to attend to maternal
duties.

For men, forgoing work to take care of the kids is perceived more negatively.

The same parallels exist in mental health. “If mental disease is seen in
a negative light in the workplace, a man will be more reluctant than a
woman to use the services available to treat their disease,” says Drapeau.

Other factors, such as tight finances or even type of employment, can
influence whether men use mental health services.

But the root of the problem, Drapeau stresses, is that men have greater
difficulty acknowledging and accepting their symptoms.

Ken Pope

The *Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health* issued the following
news release:

People with parents who fight are more likely to have mental health
problems in later life

Exposure to interparental violence and psychosocial maladjustment in the
adult life course: Advocacy for early prevention

People with parents who were violent to each other are more likely to
have mental health problems when they grow up, reveals research
published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

Researchers looked at what impact interparental violence had on people
as children by observing their mental health outcomes in adulthood.

A child being exposed to interparental violence is a form of
maltreatment with consequences for a child’s development, but in some
countries it is only seen as a risk factor for later problems with no
specific outcomes.

The authors studied 3,023 adults in the Paris metropolitan area in 2005
by carrying out at-home face to face interviews.

People who agreed to take part were found from a population based cohort
study in Paris held by the National Institute of Health and Medical Research.

The researchers measured current depression and lifetime suicide
attempts, intimate partner violence, violence against children and
alcohol dependence.

They also asked people about childhood adversities such as parental
separation, divorce, parental death or imprisonment, alcoholism and
physical and/or sexual abuse, as well as asking about social level
stressors including poor parental health, housing problems, prolonged
parental unemployment, and financial troubles.

Among the group of people interviewed, 16% said they had witnessed
interparental violence before the age of 18 and this was far more common
in certain situations. For example, it was up to eight times more likely
in cases where parents had been alcoholics.

Other factors were also relevant and witnessing violence was more common
in families with financial problems, serious parental diseases, housing
problems or unemployment.

After adjusting for family and social level stressors, the researchers
found that people who were exposed to interparental violence had a 1.4
times higher risk of having depression, were more than three times more
likely to be involved in conjugal violence, were almost five times more
likely to mistreat their own child and 1.75 times more likely to have a
dependence on alcohol.

The authors concluded: “Intensification of prevention of and screening
for domestic violence including interparental violence is a public
health issue for the well-being of future generations.”

Courtesy of Ken Pope

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)

Canada warned: We’re far behind on mental health

Hearings in Montreal: Patchwork services, no national policy and too little funding, commission finds

Aaron Derfel, Canwest News Service  Published: Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Canadians living with psychiatric illness are “often confronted with a confusing maze of services” that falls far short of those in other G8 nations, says a member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

In fact, Canada is the only major industrialized country without a national mental health strategy, said Howard Chodos, a professor in the faculty of health sciences at Simon Fraser University.

“We’re behind many [countries] in many respects,” Mr. Chodos said in an interview, as the commission holds hearings in Montreal today.

Mr. Chodos contends mental health services in Canada are underfunded. He noted that in Britain at least 12% of health spending is for psychiatric services. In Canada, it’s around 5%.

What’s more, Canada lacks an anti-stigma policy to fight discrimination against the mentally ill.

“There are countries like New Zealand that have had mental-health plans for well over a decade, where their work on fighting stigma is far ahead of anything we’ve got,” he said.

Part of the problem is that health care in Canada is provincial jurisdiction. The result is a patchwork of services across the country.

In 2005, the Quebec government launched a five-year action plan to improve services for the mentally ill.

Critics have charged, however, that services have deteriorated under the plan, as hospitals have been stripped of mental health teams.

Community mental-health advocates have accused the government of not following through with funding to provide adequate care to deinstitutionalized patients.

Mr. Chodos agreed, saying the “approach to deinstitutionalization was the right one, but it was never matched by sufficient resources to make it possible for people to gain access to the services that they needed in the community.

“What we’ve ended up with is people on the streets or people in the justice system when they should be cared for.”

In one startling statistic, only one out of five children who need mental health services receives them, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The Mental Health Commission, headed by former senator Michael Kirby, was founded in 2007 with funding from the federal government.

Among its initiatives: devising a national mental-health strategy, an anti-stigma policy and projects to help the growing number of homeless people who havepsychiatric disorders.

The hearing today in Montreal, at the Delta Centre-Ville Hotel, is by invitation only.

Montreal Gazette