Chapter 16. Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders

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Juli Fraga Becoming a mother is often portrayed as a magical and glorious life event. But many women don't feel joyful after giving birth. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, almost 15 percent of moms suffer from a postpartum mood disorder like anxiety or depression, making maternal mental health concerns the most common complication of childbirth in the U.S. And even though these mental illnesses affect millions of women each year, new research shows 20 percent of mothers don't disclose their symptoms to healthcare providers. "Many women feel hesitant discussing their emotional difficulties, especially when they're experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety," says Sarah Checcone, founder and director of The Postpartum Society of Florida. The Sarasota-based non-profit organization is testing out a new way to support struggling mothers and their families by offering a mother-to-mother mentorship program known as SISTER (Self-Image Support Team and Emotional Resource). Volunteers are mothers who've recovered from a maternal mental illness, as well as those impacted by a friend or family member's postpartum challenges. Sister moms seek to build community, creating a safe space. And that just might help women to open up about their difficulties. "Many women falsely believe that admitting they're anxious or depressed is the same as admitting weakness. They may even fear that speaking about their feelings may make them more real. We need to do a better job explaining to patients that anxiety and depression have nothing to do with being a 'bad mom,' " says Dr. Alexandra Sacks, a psychiatrist in New York City, specializing in maternal mental health and reproductive psychiatry. © 2017 npr

Keyword: Depression; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24126 - Posted: 09.30.2017

By Amanda Onion Belly fat can be deadly, and is linked to a host of chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But as many of us probably know, it can be hard to lose weight in this area. Now it seems that inflammation of immune cells may be to blame, and we may be able to use drugs to help us burn off our belly flab. Christina Cammel, of the Yale School of Medicine, and her colleagues have been investigating macrophages – immune cells that normally track down and gobble up pathogens in the body. But as we age, there’s evidence that the macrophages in belly fat become inflamed. To see what effect this might have, Cammel’s team isolated macrophages from the fat tissue of young and old mice, and sequenced the DNA from these cells. They found that the genomes of the aged macrophages expressed more genes that hinder a group of molecules that spread signals between nerve cells, called catecholamines. The genes do this by activating an enzyme that suppresses these neurotransmitters. The boosted activity of this enzyme in aged immune cells in the belly fat of older mice effectively block signals telling the body that there is fat there that is available to burn for energy. “We found [that] macrophages in belly fat interfere with signals in a way that’s new to us,” says Cammel. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Obesity; Depression
Link ID: 24120 - Posted: 09.28.2017

By ERICA CROMPTON I’ve been fired more times than I care to admit. I have even more resignation letters to my name. Work and paranoid schizophrenia aren’t exactly a recipe for success. At one job I had, on the ground floor of a city office, there were bars on the windows. The bars were no doubt put in for security reasons, like all the other shops and offices on the street. But I grew increasingly convinced that they were placed there just for me as part of a grand conspiracy. I have always felt that people are setting me up for heinous crimes or that I’ve committed one that I can’t remember and that the police are spying on me to gather evidence. With the windows I felt they’d been fitted by a stranger who knew of me, sometime before I started work, to send me the message that I would soon “be behind bars.” Seeing a policeman on the street outside the office or hearing a helicopter fly by would set my heart racing. I was convinced they’d finally come for me. I didn’t last long in that office. The sedative effects of my medications also mean I often oversleep and get into the office late. Really late. Sometimes 90 minutes late. The head of my department at another job I had didn’t seem to mind, as I always made the time up in the evening. But colleagues did mind, others in the office told me, including the girl who sat next to me. Back then, I wasn’t open about having schizophrenia. I didn’t want to stigmatize myself by giving reasons for my tardiness. So I assume people just thought I was lazy. Far too often, I would regard an off-the-cuff remark by a work colleague, a roll of the eyes when I offered an idea at a meeting, or a sigh when I arrived late, as aggressive and threatening, an insult directed toward me. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Schizophrenia
Link ID: 24113 - Posted: 09.26.2017

By Nathaniel Morris If you were at risk for developing depression, would you take a pill to prevent it? For years, physicians have prescribed antidepressants to treat people grappling with depression. Some people can benefit from taking these medications during an acute episode. Others with a history of recurrent depression may take antidepressants to help prevent relapses. But researchers are studying a new use for these medications: to prevent depression in people who may have never had it before. It has long been known that people with head and neck cancer are vulnerable to becoming depressed. These types of cancers can impair functionality at the most basic levels, like speaking or swallowing. Treatments, such as surgery and radiation, for these diseases can be debilitating. Some studies have estimated that up to half of patients with head and neck cancers may experience depression. A group of researchers in Nebraska examined what would happen if non-depressed patients were given antidepressants before receiving treatment for head and neck cancer. Published in 2013, the results of the randomized, placebo-controlled trial were startling: Patients taking an antidepressant were 60 percent less likely to experience depression compared with peers who were given a placebo. In medicine, this approach is often referred to as prophylaxis, or a treatment used to prevent disease. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 24071 - Posted: 09.18.2017

Allison Aubrey Earlier this year, when Emily Chodos was about 25 weeks into her pregnancy, she woke up one night feeling horrible. "My hands were tremoring, my heart racing, " recalls Chodos, who lives near New Haven, Conn. She couldn't take a deep breath. "I'd never felt so out of control of my body." She ended up paging her obstetrician's office at 4 a.m., and one of the midwives in the practice, after listening to her symptoms, said, "It sounds like you're having a panic attack." Chodos was advised to take an antianxiety medication — Xanax. "I was afraid to take it, as a pregnant woman," Chodos says. But she was miserable, so eventually decided to take the medicine that night. Chodos, who is a nurse, knew that there are concerns about drugs like Xanax and other medications its class— benzodiazepines. Studies completed decades ago suggested a risk of birth defects from these drugs, but data from more recent studies have shown no clear evidence of an increase. There are remaining questions, researchers say, about whether prenatal exposure to the drugs can influence behavior. "I felt very trapped," Chodos says. It felt as if there was probably no safe medication — "that I'd probably just have to suffer and feel awful." At her doctor's suggestion, Chodos went to see Dr. Kimberly Yonkers, a psychiatrist and professor at Yale University. Yonkers has been studying the effects of benzodiazepines and SSRI antidepressants on the pregnancies of women who have anxiety, depression or panic disorders. Yonkers told us she understands why women can feel torn about using these drugs when they're expecting.

Keyword: Depression; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 24070 - Posted: 09.18.2017

By Nathaniel P. Morris A growing trend in medicine has doctors prescribing visits to parks for their patients. A pediatrician named Robert Zarr at Unity Health Care in Washington, D.C., has worked with the National Park Service and other institutions to create DC Park Rx, an initiative that helps health care providers prescribe activity in outdoor spaces to patients. And National Geographic recently highlighted the rise of this practice in Vermont, where doctors are now prescribing thousands of visits to state parks. In the last several years park prescription programs have spread nationwide, from Maine to California, South Dakota to New Mexico. Proponents of these programs promote outdoor activity as a means of tackling chronic medical conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. But park prescriptions also hold considerable promise for patients suffering from mental health issues. A large body of evidence suggests that exposure to nature may promote mental well-being. A 2010 meta-analysis of 10 studies including over 1,200 participants found people who exercised in green environments demonstrated significant improvements in mood and self-esteem. A 2011 systematic review looked at 11 trials that compared indoor and outdoor activity, finding that exercise in natural settings was “associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression, and increased energy.” Another recent review of studies found activity in natural environments correlated with reductions in negative emotions like sadness, anger and fatigue. © 2017 Scientific American,

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 24065 - Posted: 09.15.2017

By Diana Kwon Lying in a room at Imperial College London, surrounded by low lighting and music, Kirk experienced a vivid recollection of visiting his sick mother before she passed away. “I used to go and see my mum in the hospital quite a lot,” recalls Kirk, a middle-aged computer technician who lives in London (he requested we use only his first name). “And a lot of the time she’d be asleep . . . [but] she’d always sense I was there, and after about five minutes she’d wake up, and we’d interact. I kind of went through that again—but it was a kind of letting go.” Kirk choked up slightly while retelling his experience. “It’s still a little bit emotional,” he says. “The thing I realized [was that] I didn’t want to let go. I wanted to hold on to the grief, because that was the only connection I had with my mum.” While this may sound like an ordinary therapy session, it was not what you would typically expect. Kirk was experiencing the effects of a 25-mg dose of psilocybin—the active ingredient in psychedelic “magic” mushrooms—which he had ingested as part of a 2015 clinical trial investigating the drug’s therapeutic potential. After his mother died, Kirk says, he fell into a “deep, dark pit of grief.” Despite antidepressants and regular sessions with a therapist, his condition was not improving. “I was stuck in it for years,” he recalls. So when he heard Imperial College London was recruiting participants for an upcoming trial studying the impact of psilocybin on depression, Kirk decided to sign up. © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24064 - Posted: 09.14.2017

Laura Sanders Words can’t describe the pandemonium that follows a child’s birth, but I’ll try anyway. After my first daughter was born, I felt like a giant had picked up my life, shaken it hard, martini-style, and returned it to the ground. The familiar objects in my life were all still there, but nothing seemed to be the same. The day we came home from the hospital as a family of three, my husband and I plunged headfirst into profound elation and profound exhaustion, often changing by the minute. We worried. We snipped at each other. We marveled at this new, beautiful person. The experience, as new parents the world over know, was intense. The first week home, my body took a bruising. I was recovering from the wildness that is childbirth. I was insanely thirsty and hungry. I was struggling to both breastfeed and pump every two hours, in an effort to boost my milk supply. And against this backdrop, my levels of estrogen and progesterone, after climbing to great heights during pregnancy, had fallen off a cliff. Massive reconfigurations were taking place, both in life and in my body. And at times, I felt like the whole thing could go south at any point. After talking to other new mothers, I now realize that almost everyone has a version of this same story. Childbirth and caring for a newborn is really, really hard, in many different ways. © Society for Science and the Public

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 24063 - Posted: 09.14.2017

Sarah Knapton, Science Editor Depression could be treated using anti-inflammatory drugs, scientists now believe, after determining that it is a physical illness caused by a faulty immune system. Around one in 13 people in Britain suffers from anxiety or depression and last year the NHS issued 64.7 million prescriptions for antidepressants, double the amount given out a decade ago. Current treatment is largely centred around restoring mood-boosting chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, but experts now think an overactive immune system triggers inflammation throughout the entire body, sparking feelings of hopelessness, unhappiness and fatigue. It may be a symptom of the immune system failing to switch off after a trauma or illness, and is a similar to the low mood people often experience when they are fighting a virus, like flu. A raft of recent papers, and unexpected results from clinical trials, have shown that treating inflammation seems to alleviate depression. Likewise when doctors give drugs to boost the immune system to fight illness it is often accompanied by depressive mood - in the same way as how many people feel down after a vaccination. Professor Ed Bullmore, Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, believes a new field of ‘immuno-neurology’ is on the horizon. © Telegraph Media Group Limited 2017

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 24055 - Posted: 09.11.2017

Nicola Davis A pioneering approach to tackling a host of diseases using an electrical implant could eventually reduce or even end pill-taking for some patients, researchers have claimed. The technology relies on electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve – a bundle of nerve fibres that runs from the brain to the abdomen, branching off to organs including the heart, spleen, lungs and gut, and which relays signals from the body’s organs to the brain and vice versa. The pacemaker-like device is typically implanted below the left collarbone with wires running to the vagus nerve in the neck and is already used to tackle treatment-resistant epilepsy and depression. But a growing body of researchers say that such “hacking” of the body’s neural circuits could alleviate the symptoms of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease by tapping into a recently discovered link between the brain and the immune system. That, they say, could bring hope for those with currently untreatable conditions while raising the possibility for others of dramatically reducing medication, or even cutting it out altogether. “In your lifetime and mine we are going to see millions of people with devices so they don’t have to take drugs,” said Kevin Tracey, president of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and co-founder of bioelectronics company, SetPoint Medical.

Keyword: Stress; Depression
Link ID: 24051 - Posted: 09.09.2017

By Andy Coghlan A type of therapy originally designed for insomnia has been found to also help a range of mental health issues, including negative thoughts, anxiety, depression and psychosis. Daniel Freeman, at the University of Oxford, and his colleagues have been testing Sleepio, a type of cognitive behavioural therapy available online. The ten-week course is intended to restore healthy sleep patterns in people with insomnia, and Freeman wanted to see if it could also relieve other problems. Learn more about the science of sleep: In our expert talk at New Scientist Live in London His team asked nearly 1900 students who have difficulty sleeping to try using Sleepio, and nearly 1870 others to try following standard advice for insomnia. Both groups filled in questionnaires beforehand that assessed their sleep patterns, as well as tendencies to experience paranoia and hallucinations. They repeated these questionnaires at three, ten and 22 weeks into the experiment. Overall, those using Sleepio slept 50 per cent better than the control group, says Freeman. Compared to this group, the Sleepio users also had a 30 per cent reduction in hallucinations, 25 per cent reduction in paranoia, and their anxiety and depression levels were 20 per cent lower. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Sleep; Depression
Link ID: 24044 - Posted: 09.07.2017

By Susan Noakes, CBC News Researchers studying fish from the Niagara River have found that human antidepressants and remnants of these drugs are building up in their brains. The concentration of human drugs was discovered by scientists from University at Buffalo, Buffalo State and two Thai universities, Ramkhamhaeng University and Khon Kaen University. Active ingredients and metabolized remnants of Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac and Sarafem — drugs that have seen a sharp spike in prescriptions in North America — were found in 10 fish species. Diana Aga, professor of chemistry at University at Buffalo, says these drugs are found in human urine and are not stripped out by wastewater treatment. Could affect fish behaviour "It is a threat to biodiversity, and we should be very concerned," Aga said in a release from the university. Fish in the Niagara River show concentrations of antidepressants in their brains higher than levels in the river itself. (David Duprey/The Associated Press) "These drugs could affect fish behaviour. We didn't look at behaviour in our study, but other research teams have shown that antidepressants can affect the feeding behaviour of fish or their survival instincts. Some fish won't acknowledge the presence of predators as much." The Niagara River, which carries water from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, is already under stress, with reports this summer of untreated wastewater released into the river. The research, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found levels of antidepressants in fish brains that were several times higher than levels in the river itself, indicating that the chemicals are accumulating over time. ©2017 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 24036 - Posted: 09.05.2017

Jud Esty-Kendall Josh Hanagarne, 39, and his son Max, 9, recently sat down at StoryCorps to talk about Tourette's syndrome. Josh has dealt with Tourette's since he was Max's age and while Max hasn't been officially diagnosed, he has started to show symptoms, too. Courtesy of StoryCorps Josh Hanagarne is a dad, a librarian and an author, who also has an extreme form of Tourette's syndrome. But he doesn't let it and his tics — his involuntary movements and sounds — stop him from living his life. He says he actually chose to work in a library because it was the quietest place he knew of. Josh first started showing symptoms of Tourette's syndrome when he was in elementary school, about the same age that his son Max is now. Not everyone with Tourette's syndrome has the same tics. Max, 9, describes his dad's as "you hitting yourself and making a lot of noise." "You've seen me hit myself hard enough to almost knock myself out," Josh, 39, says. "I also do all of the blinking and the face things and the little ahem noises." Josh's form of Tourette's is so extreme that his tics have been severe enough that they've put him in the hospital before. "To me, it feels like when you have that urge to sneeze so bad that you just feel like you'll just go insane if you don't let the sneeze out," Josh says. But he says that's not the most difficult part of living with Tourette's. "The hardest thing I do every day is decide to go outside or not, because I know when I walk into a group of strangers, I will yell or I will do something weird and they will all look at me," Josh says. © 2017 npr

Keyword: Tourettes
Link ID: 24020 - Posted: 09.01.2017

By Colin Hendrie and Alisdair Pickles The current global crisis of depressive illness has a simple root cause: a failure of treatment. This is the result of a broken scientific process that has for nearly 70 years fallen short in delivering the drug therapies it was set up to provide. Given existing antidepressants don’t work for many people, the excitement surrounding the development of a new class of treatments from recreational drugs such as magic mushrooms is understandable. But there are strong reasons to doubt they will have the kind of impact hoped for. Instead, we are more likely to be seeing the latest episode in a long-running saga of repeated disappointment. This saga began when antidepressant use became widespread in the 1950s and 1960s. It was hoped they would have the same transformative effect on mental illness that antibiotics had on non-viral infectious diseases. As it turned out, antidepressants were only of value to some people with depression. Studies involving thousands of people with the condition reveal that the proportion seeing a clinically significant response to antidepressants is often very similar to that seen with a placebo, which is about 40 per cent. In double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, antidepressants don’t fare well. This helps to explain why, by the end of the 20th century, Big Pharma was floundering over the development of new drugs for depression. In 2010, many companies stopped such work. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24017 - Posted: 08.31.2017

By Michael Nedelman, CNN (CNN)Emily Gavigan was convinced that a nearby truck was following her. Someone was after her. She was a sophomore at the University of Scranton in January 2009 when the "bizarre" behavior began, said her father, Bill. Her parents noticed that she had been rambling, not making any sense. At one point, she called her family and friends to warn them: Something terrible was going to happen to all of them. "Emily was like a different person. We didn't know who she was," Bill Gavigan said. "We had gone from having this daughter who was perfectly normal, happy, vibrant ... with a bright future ahead. "All of a sudden, this all came crashing down." Then, one day, Gavigan disappeared. "We didn't know where she was for more than 24 hours," her father said. She had gotten in her car and driven from Pennsylvania to New Jersey with no money. She went right through toll booths without paying. But she eventually found her way back to her grandparents' house, still convinced that she was being followed. Her grandfather peered out the window, looking for something suspicious. But they soon realized there was no one after her. "I get emotional when I think about it," said Gavigan's grandfather Joseph Chiumento. Her parents showed up and took her to the hospital. Emily Gavigan began exhibiting odd behavior when she was 19, which doctors mistook for a mental illness. Emily Gavigan began exhibiting odd behavior when she was 19, which doctors mistook for a mental illness. Say, 'I love you, dad' Doctors initially thought Gavigan had a mental illness. She spent time in different psychiatric facilities, which made her family uneasy. One in particular reminded her father of the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." "They just kept trying medication after medication after medication, and none of it worked," Bill Gavigan said. Things kept getting worse. There was some numbness in her face and hands, and she would develop seizures. © 2016 Cable News Network.

Keyword: Schizophrenia; Neuroimmunology
Link ID: 24011 - Posted: 08.30.2017

By Diana Kwon Sometimes our brains are on acid—literally. A main source of these temporary surges is the carbon dioxide that is constantly released as the brain breaks down sugar to generate energy, which subsequently turns into acid. Yet the chemistry in a healthy human brain tends to be relatively neutral, because standard processes including respiration—which expels carbon dioxide—help maintain the status quo. Any fleeting acidity spikes usually go unnoticed. But a growing body of work has suggested that for some people, even slight changes in this balance may be linked with certain psychiatric conditions including panic disorders. New findings this month provide additional evidence that such links are real—and suggest they may extend to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. There were earlier hints that this was the case: Post-mortem studies of dozens of human brains revealed lower pH (higher acidity levels) in patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Multiple studies in the past few decades have found that when people with panic disorders are exposed to air with a higher-than-normal concentration of carbon dioxide—which can combine with water in the body to form carbonic acid—they are more likely to experience panic attacks than healthy individuals are. Other research has revealed that the brains of people with panic disorders produce elevated levels of lactate—an acidic source of fuel that is constantly produced and consumed in the energy-hungry brain. © 2017 Scientific American

Keyword: Schizophrenia
Link ID: 24008 - Posted: 08.29.2017

By Kai Kupferschmidt One of the main targets in the war on drugs could well become a drug to treat the scars of war. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), better known as the illegal drug ecstasy, a "breakthrough therapy" for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a status that may lead to faster approval. The agency has also approved the design for two phase III studies of MDMA for PTSD that would be funded by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), a nonprofit in Santa Cruz, California. MAPS announced the "breakthrough therapy" designation, made by FDA on 16 August, on its website today; if the group can find the money for the trials, which together could cost an estimated $25 million, they may start next spring and finish by 2021. That an illegal dancefloor drug could become a promising pharmaceutical is another indication that the efforts of a dedicated group of researchers interested in the medicinal properties of mind-altering drugs is paying dividends. Stringent drug laws have stymied research on these compounds for decades. "This is not a big scientific step," says David Nutt, a neuropsychopharmacologist at Imperial College London. "It’s been obvious for 40 years that these drugs are medicines. But it’s a huge step in acceptance." Since 2012, FDA has designated close to 200 drugs as breakthrough therapies, a status that indicates there’s preliminary evidence that an intervention offers a substantial improvement over other options for a serious health condition. The agency aims to help develop and review these treatments faster than other candidate drugs. © 2017 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Keyword: Stress; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24006 - Posted: 08.28.2017

Darby Saxbe Postpartum depression has become more visible as celebrity moms including Brooke Shields, Drew Barrymore and Chrissy Teigen have publicly shared their struggles with feeling sad and hopeless after birth. But when a father – Adam Busby, from reality TV show “OutDaughtered” – recently opened up about his own postpartum depression, he received instant backlash, including comments telling him to “man up.” Despite the skepticism, postpartum depression in fathers is very real, with estimates that around 10 percent of men report symptoms of depression following the birth of a child, about double the typical rate of depression in males. Postpartum depression in women has been linked with hormonal shifts, but the role of hormones in men’s postpartum depression has been unknown. In an attempt to solve this mystery, my colleagues and I recently tested whether men’s levels of the hormone testosterone are related to their postpartum depression risk during early parenthood. We found that men’s testosterone levels might predict not only their own postpartum depression risk, but their partner’s depression risk as well. Testosterone is an androgen hormone, responsible for the development and maintenance of male secondary sex characteristics. It promotes muscle mass and body hair growth, and motivates sexual arousal and competitive behavior. Many studies have found that testosterone dips in new fathers across the animal kingdom. Among animals that engage in the biparental care of offspring – Mongolian gerbils, Djungarian hamsters, California mice and cotton-top tamarins – males show lower testosterone levels following the birth of pups. © 2010–2017, The Conversation US, Inc.

Keyword: Depression; Hormones & Behavior
Link ID: 24001 - Posted: 08.26.2017

By Frank Swain When you search for a medical condition online, would you also want to take a test for it then and there? Google has announced plans to offer people in the US searching for “depression” a clinically validated questionnaire so they can find out if they may have the condition. But then what? “This sounds like a really good idea that can quickly help people work out whether they are having low moods or feeling blue, [or if they] may have more serious and enduring problems that could be alleviated by seeking help,” says Marjorie Wallace, of the UK mental health charity SANE. “Our concern [however] is that raising expectations of help can be disappointing.” In places where access to therapy is hard to come by, a questionnaire may offer little comfort. Google has partnered with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – a US advocacy group for those affected by mental illness – to provide a link to a depression questionnaire at the top of the search results for terms related to depression. In an announcement posted on Google’s blog, NAMI states that the results of the self-assessment can form the first step towards a diagnosis, and help people have a more informed conversation with their doctor. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 23995 - Posted: 08.25.2017

By Madhumita Murgia CINCINNATI — Just before Christmas 2015, child psychiatrist Daniel Nelson noticed an unusual number of suicidal kids in the hospital emergency room. A 14-year-old girl with a parent addicted to opioids tried to choke herself with a seat belt. A 12-year-old transgender child hurt himself after being bullied. And a steady stream of kids arrived from the city’s west side, telling him they knew other kids — at school, in their neighborhoods — who had also tried to die. “I think there’s an increase in suicidal kids in Cincinnati,” Nelson told a colleague. “We need to start mapping this out.” So Nelson and his colleagues collected the addresses of 300 children admitted to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with suicidal behavior over three months in early 2016, looking for patterns. Almost instantly, a disturbing one emerged: Price Hill, a poor community with a high rate of opioid overdoses, was home to a startling number of suicidal kids. “This is who is dying from opiates — people in their 20s and 30s. Think about what that population is,” Nelson said. “It’s parents.” Nelson says there may be a connection between the opioid epidemic and the increased risk of suicide in teenagers and children. (Luke Sharrett for The Washington Post) Now Nelson is working with county coroners across the nation to try to corroborate his theory, that trauma from the nation’s opioid epidemic could help explain an extraordinary increase in suicide among American children. Since 2007, the rate of suicide has doubled among children 10 to 14, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death between the ages of 10 and 24. The suicide rate among older teenage girls hit a 40-year high in 2015, according to newly released data from the National Center for Health Statistics. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 23985 - Posted: 08.23.2017