What predicts which women will develop PTSD after a potentially traumatic event?

Number of baseline PTSD reexperiencing symptoms, rape history, and history of childhood physical assault were all found to predict PTSD chronicity 2 years later.

Chronic cases were also more likely to experience subsequent exposure to potentially traumatic stressors not involving interpersonal violence.

Contrary to our prediction, binge drinking and poorer perceived health did not predict chronicity.

An analysis of mental health treatment seeking revealed no relationship between remission status and treatment seeking at baseline or any of the follow-up assessments, even when controlling for baseline PTSD symptom severity.

The absence of a relationship between subsequent treatment seeking and remission status suggests that, for many women, symptoms subsided without professional assistance.”

[Comment: That is, I would say, 1/2 got better using their own network and resources, not those of a professional; this probably does not mean that PTSD just evaporates.]

Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy has scheduled an article for publication in a future issue: “Factors Associated With Chronicity in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Prospective Analysis of a National Sample of Women.” The authors are Jesse R. Cougle, Heidi Resnick, and Dean G. Kilpatrick.

A voice said, Look me in the stars

And tell me truly, men of earth,

If all the soul-and-body scars

Were not too much to pay for birth.

The new issue of *Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine* (vol.
163, #6, June) includes an article: "Peace of Mind and Sense of Purpose
as Core Existential Issues Among Parents of Children With Cancer."

The authors are Jennifer W. Mack, MD, MPH; Joanne Wolfe, MD, MPH; E.
Francis Cook, ScD; Holcombe E. Grier, MD; Paul D. Cleary, PhD; & Jane C.
Weeks, MD, MSc.

Here are parts of the abstract:

The objective was to evaluate issues experienced by parents of children with cancer and
factors related to parents' ability to find peace of mind.

One hundred ninety-four parents of children with cancer (response rate,
70%) in the first year of cancer treatment were involved.

The main Outcome Measure was the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy-Spiritual Well-
being sense of meaning subscale. This taps peace of mind and sense of purpose.

Most parents had a strong sense of purpose, but lacked peace of mind 
representing the strongest sense of peace or purpose. Parents had higher 
peace of mind scores when they also reported that
they trusted the oncologist's judgment, that the oncologist had disclosed
detailed prognostic information, and that
the oncologist had provided high-quality information about the cancer.
Peace of mind was not associated with prognosis or time since diagnosis.

Conclusions  

Physicians may be able to facilitate formulation of peace of mind by
giving parents high-quality medical information, including prognostic
information, and facilitating parents' trust.

Courtesy of Ken Pope

This morning *Atlantic Monthly* placed an article from its June issue
online: “What Makes Us Happy?” by Joshua Wolf Shenk.

Here’s the intro: “Is there a formula–some mix of love, work, and
psychological adaptation–for a good life?  For 72 years, researchers at
Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered
college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce,
parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age.

Here’s an excerpt: “Begun in 1937 as a study of healthy, well-adjusted
Harvard sophomores (all male), it has followed its subjects for more
than 70 years.”

Another excerpt: “Bock assembled a team that spanned medicine,
physiology, anthropology, psychiatry, psychology, and social work, and
was advised by such luminaries as the psychiatrist Adolf Meyer and the
psychologist Henry Murray. Combing through health data, academic
records, and recommendations from the Harvard dean, they chose 268
students–mostly from the classes of 1942, ’43, and ’44–and measured them
from every conceivable angle and with every available scientific tool.”

Another excerpt: “What allows people to work, and love, as they grow
old? By the time the Grant Study men had entered retirement, Vaillant,
who had then been following them for a quarter century, had identified
seven major factors that predict healthy aging, both physically and
psychologically.”

Another excerpt: “What factors don’t matter? Vaillant identified some
surprises. Cholesterol levels at age 50 have nothing to do with health
in old age. While social ease correlates highly with good psychosocial
adjustment in college and early adulthood, its significance diminishes
over time. The predictive importance of childhood temperament also
diminishes over time: shy, anxious kids tend to do poorly in young
adulthood, but by age 70, are just as likely as the outgoing kids to be
‘happy-well.’ Vaillant sums up: ‘f you follow lives long enough, the
risk factors for healthy life adjustment change. There is an age to
watch your cholesterol and an age to ignore it.'”

Another excerpt: “The study has yielded some additional subtle
surprises. Regular exercise in college predicted late-life mental health
better than it did physical health. And depression turned out to be a
major drain on physical health: of the men who were diagnosed with
depression by age 50, more than 70 percent had died or were chronically
ill by 63. More broadly, pessimists seemed to suffer physically in
comparison with optimists, perhaps because they’re less likely to
connect with others or care for themselves.”

The article is online at:
<http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200906/happiness&gt;.

courtesy of Ken Pope list

Today’s *Vancouver Sun* includes an article: “Ancient Buddhism and
modern psychology; Both practices are focused on releasing followers
from suffering, and both aim for emotional health” by Douglas Todd.

Here are some excerpts:

[begin excerpts]

‘Everybody’s a Buddhist now.”  That’s what a Vancouver yoga studio owner
recently said, a wry twinkle in her eye.

She was noticing how many of her yoga students were joining western
nature lovers, spiritual seekers and global pacifists in describing
themselves as followers of the 2,500-year-old Asian tradition.

Most of them were finding their entrée into Buddhism through meditation
and the healing arts….

There are many natural links between Buddhism and psychology.

(more…)

The Society for Research in Child Development issued the following news
release:

Why are some young victims of domestic violence resilient?

More than 10 million U.S. children witness domestic violence yearly,
resulting in a range of emotional and behavioral problems.

A new study suggests that the reason some of these children are
resilient is because of their easy temperaments and because they have
mentally healthy moms.

The longitudinal study, conducted by researchers at Michigan State
University, is published in the March/April 2009 issue of the journal
Child Development.

The researchers looked at more than 100 American children who had
witnessed violent acts against their mothers when the children were 2,
3, and 4 years old. They also looked at more than 70 children who hadn’t
witnessed violence against their mothers.

Children exposed to violence were almost four times more likely than
others to develop emotional or behavioral problems.

(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. “

Boston University issued the following news release:

Researchers identify personality traits

Researchers from Boston University School of Medicine’s (BUSM) New
England Centenarian Study have noted specific personality traits
associated with healthy aging and longevity amongst the children of
centenarians. The work was conducted in collaboration with scientists
from the National Institute on Aging. These findings currently appear on-
line in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Previous research on siblings and offspring of centenarians have
documented that exceptional longevity runs strongly in families. Studies
of the offspring of centenarians showed that their mortality is 120
percent lower than other members of their birth cohort and that they
also have markedly lower prevalence rates and delayed onsets of
cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus. Because
personality traits have been shown to have substantial heritable
components, the researchers hypothesized that certain personality
features may be important to the healthy aging observed in the offspring
of centenarians.

Using the NEO-Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) questionnaire, measures of
the personality traits for neuroticism, extraversion, openness,
agreeableness, and conscientiousness were obtained from 246 (125 women
and 121 men) unrelated offspring of centenarians with an average age of 75.

Both the male and female offspring of centenarians scored in the low
range of published norms for neuroticism and in the high range for
extraversion. The women also scored comparatively high in agreeableness.
Otherwise, both sexes scored within normal range for conscientiousness
and openness, and the men scored within normal range for agreeableness.

According to the researchers, personality traits in the offspring of
centenarians appear to have distinctive characteristics that may have
important implications for their longevity. “Interestingly, whereas men
and women generally differ substantially in their personality
characteristics, the male and female offspring tended to be similar,
which speaks to the importance of these traits, irrespective of gender,
for health aging and longevity.

It’s likely that the low neuroticism and higher extraversion will confer
health benefits for these subjects,” said senior author Thomas Perls,
MD, MPH, director of the New England Centenarian Study. “For example,
people who are lower in neuroticism are able to manage or regulate
stressful situations more effectively than those with higher neuroticism
levels. Similarly, high extraversion levels have been associated with
establishing friendships and looking after yourself,” he said.

Perl’s added, “These findings suggest that personality is an important
characteristic to include in studies that assess genetic and
environmental determinants of longevity. Such studies are currently underway.”

This study was supported in part by grants from the National Institute
on Aging (NIA): K-24, AG025727 (TP), K23 AG026754 (Paul Beeson Physician
Faculty Scholar in Aging Award, DT), and the Intramural Research Program
of the NIA.

—————

Of course, this makes one wonder how much we can either a) modify extraversion and neuroticism, or b) find other ways to get the benefits that these traits bring us. Maybe introverts can further develop close and abiding friendships and the joy and fun that comes with these whether you are extravert or not. And people who are prone to anxiety and distress (neuroticism) can learn to find their center?    BG

“If you live the life you love, you will receive shelter and blessings. Sometimes the great famine of blessings in and around us derives from the fact that we are not living the life we love; rather, we are living the life that is expected of us. We have fallen out of rhythm with the secret signature and light of our own nature.” John O’Donohue

Adolescents are not monsters. They are just people trying to learn how to make it among the adults in the world, who are probably not so sure themselves.

Every word, facial expression, gesture, or action on the part of a parent gives the child some message about self-worth. It is sad that so many parents don’t realize what messages they are sending.

Feelings of worth can flourish only in an atmosphere where individual differences are appreciated, mistakes are tolerated, communication is open, and rules are flexible – the kind of atmosphere that is found in a nurturing family.

Life is not what it’s supposed to be. It’s what it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.

Problems are not the problem; coping is the problem.

So much is asked of parents, and so little is given.

The recommended daily requirement for hugs is: four per day for survival, eight per day for maintenance, and twelve per day for growth.

We can learn something new anytime we believe we can.

We must not allow other people’s limited perceptions to define us.

What lingers from the parent’s individual past, unresolved or incomplete, often becomes part of her or his irrational parenting.

– quotes from Virginia Satir –