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Friday Roundup – Anxiety Support, Risk Factors for Violence in Mentally Ill, Fighting Ebola Hysteria, and Much More!

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Attention lovely readers! We at Healthshire will be providing you with a weekly Friday roundup of the latest in mental health news. Let us do all the work and be your one-stop-shop for all things current!

Friday Roundup – The Latest in Mental Health News

(and other stuff)

How You Can Support People with Anxiety

Almost 40 million people are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder in a given year. Chances are pretty high someone you know struggles with the symptoms that accompany anxiety disorders. It can sometimes be very difficult to comfort someone with anxiety. Many people are unsure what to say, how to diffuse the situation, or worry about saying something that might make the anxiety worse.

The Huffington Post reports on ways you can support the individuals with anxiety in your life. Todd Farchione, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University, offers 5 statements you can make to support a loved one with anxiety.

  1. “Can you tell me more about your experience?” (Make people feel comfortable opening up to you.)
  2. “I’m sorry you’re going through that.” (Offer sympathy and a shoulder to lean on.)
  3. “This is not your fault.” (Be supportive and understanding.)
  4. “That must be really hard for you.” (Validate their experience).
  5. Silence (It’s golden.)

Risk Factors for Violence

One of the most common misconceptions about people with mental illness is that they are violent and dangerous. While there is a risk for violence in a very small percentage of people with a mental health condition, the majority of people with a mental disorder – just as in the general population – are nonviolent.

Predicting risk of violence in people with mental health issues is not an easy task. However, Charles Scott, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Davis, and Philip Resnick, M.D., professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, took on the challenge in a report recently published in CNS Spectrums.

According to Scott and Resnick, particular factors heighten the risk for violence in people with mood or psychotic disorders.

Risk factors include:

  • Persecutory delusions and negative affect
  • Angry affect
  • Feelings of being spied upon, plotted against, or being under the control of someone/something else
  • Depression, when accompanied by a recent history of violence and/or alcohol use
  • Active manic symptoms, mostly associated with comorbid substance abuse

The authors propose utilizing risk assessment tools as part of data collection, along with keeping current on research related to identifying risk factors for violence with people exhibiting psychotic or mood disorder symptoms. The researchers conclude, “Like a good weather forecaster, the clinician does not state with certainty that an event will occur. Instead, he or she estimates the likelihood that a future event will occur.”

Life Expectancy in the U.S.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report on mortality rates in the United States, using the most recent data they have from 2012. According tot he CDC, “information on mortality patterns is key to understanding changes in the health and well-being of the U.S. population.”

Some of the key findings include:

  • The average lifespan for someone living in the U.S. increased to 78.8 years for a person born in 2012, a 0.1 year  rise from 78.7 years in 2011. In 2012, an average lifespan for females was 81.2 years and 76.4 for males.
  • The age-adjusted death rate for the United States decreased 1.1% from 2011 to 2012 to a record low of 732.8 per 100,000.
    • The 10 leading causes of death in 2012 remained the same as in 2011. Age-adjusted death rates decreased significantly from 2011 to 2012 for 8 of the 10 leading causes, with one cause remaining the same (unintentional injuries) and a significant increase for one leading cause (suicide).
  • The 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. are: heart disease, cancer, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke, unintentional injuries, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide.
  • Of the leading causes of death, suicide is the only cause that saw a significant increase, from 12.3% in 2011 to 12.6% in 2012.
  • The infant mortality rate decreased 1.5% from 2011 to 2012 to a low of almost 600 infant deaths for every 100,000 births. The 10 leading causes of infant death in 2012 remained the same as in 2011.
    • The 10 leading causes of infant death in the U.S. are: congenital malformations, low birth weight, sudden infant death syndrome, maternal complications, unintentional injuries, cord and placental complications, bacterial sepsis of newborn, respiratory distress of newborn, diseases of the circulatory system, and neonatal hemorrhage.

Resisting Fears of National Ebola Outbreak

Ever since the first diagnosed case of Ebola in the United States, media attention has garnered heightened fear from the masses of a national Ebola epidemic. The Washington Post reports on the realistic properties of the virus. The only way to contract Ebola is to come into direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone with the virus and already symptomatic. The article cites a quote from another paper that Ebola is not only a biological plague but a psychological one as well. Fear, especially driven by persistent coverage and exaggeration, can travel than the virus itself.

Dr. David Kaplan, Chief Professional Officer of the American Counseling Association, talked to the Washington Post about the epidemic of fear plaguing the U.S.  Kaplan believes that despite of threat of something like Ebola being very minute, hysterical media coverage can influence people to “develop a cognitive bias that things occur more frequently than they actually do. That’s why people are often much more afraid of flying than of driving, even though it is much safer.”

If anxiety about Ebola or other infectious diseases begins to impair daily functioning, seeking out a professional counselor may help.

Stopping Schizophrenia

NPR reports on a new program starting up in California that aims to intervene earlier in treating schizophrenia. These programs base their treatment methods on a model developed by psychiatrist, Dr. Bill MacFarlane. Proponents of the program believe that schizophrenia develops much more slowly than people commonly believe. Symptoms of schizophrenia commonly present themselves prior to full-blown delusions or hallucinations. Early on in schizophrenia’s development, many individuals have insight into the conflicting evidence revolving around symptoms. Slight behavioral shifts become evident: decline in academic achievements, isolation from friends, etc. Surreal experiences begin to accompany these shifts: flashes of light or hearing faint sounds of hissing, etc. At this point, individuals lack conviction in what they are seeing or hearing. They’re not sure about what’s happening.

McFarlane maintains that a variety of low-tech interventions can prevent psychosis. These interventions are developed to decrease levels of stress in the families of individuals showing symptoms.  McFarlane points to research conducted at UCLA proposing particular family dynamics, such as those with poor communication or excessive criticism can worsen the situation for young people at risk for developing schizophrenia.

According to McFarlane, “Our theory was that if you could identify these young people early enough, you could alter some of those family patterns. Then you could work with the family to start behaving not just normally, but in a way that was smarter.”

Telling Our Stories

It’s important to share your journey with others. In an effort to bring mental illness out of the shadows and reduce stigma, we are especially interested in hearing about you and your stories related to mental health. Be sure to visit Healthshire’s “Telling Our Stories” section. Spend some time reading the stories or submit your own!

This week’s roundup is dedicated to Domestic Violence Awareness. Reach out to help someone today.

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