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Friday Roundup – The Latest in Mental Health News
(and other stuff)
Aggressive Behaviors in Boys vs. Girls
TIME.com reports on a study recently published in the journal Aggressive Behavior that finds boys may be meaner than girls when it comes to interactions with peers. Conjecture consistently shows people believe that while boys are more often physically aggressive, girls are more relationally aggressive. Characteristics of relational aggression include spreading hurtful rumors, ostracizing others socially, and rejection. This new research, however, shows that boys are just as relationally aggressive, if not more so, than girls.
Researchers from the University of Georgia followed a group of just over 600 boys and girls from middle school to high school (grade 6 to grade 12). Students were given yearly surveys, the results of which helped researchers to recognize and group individuals into different groups based on trajectories for aggression and victimization.
In an interview with TIME, a professor of health promotion and behavior in the College of Public Health at University of Georgia and lead author, Pamela Orpinas, commented: “Overall, we found relational aggression to be a very common behavior. Almost all of the students surveyed, 96%, had passed a rumor or made a nasty comment about someone over the course of the seven-year study.”
The study also found that a majority (54%) of the students were not likely to be relationally aggressive, with just over 6% were classified as “high” to be relationally aggressive. Among students shown to be violent, the results found boys were more likely to be both moderate perpetrators (boys 55%, girls 45%) and high perpetrators (boys 66.7%, girls 33.3%) of relationally aggressive behavior.
Lack of Seeking Mental Health Treatment for Depression
The L.A. Times highlights the results of a report, recently released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that finds a minority of people with depression actually seek help for their issues.
Almost 8% of Americans struggle with depression in a given year. That translates to over 25 million people every year. The CDC report found that only 20% of those with moderate depression and 35% of those with severe depression actually sought help from a mental health provider.
The statistic is troubling, particularly to the report authors, as research shows therapy combined with medication is the most effective treatment for depressive symptoms.
The report also found that almost 3% of participants experienced “severe depressive symptoms” in the two weeks before being interviewed, with almost 5% experiencing “moderate depressive symptoms.” Individuals in their 40s and 50s were most likely to be depressed, with almost 10% reporting moderate or severe depression. African Americans (9.7%) and Latinos (9.4%) reported increased rates of depression than whites (6.9%). After researchers modified their findings to account for socioeconomic status, they found no significant differences based on race or ethnicity.
According to the report, gender plays a significant role. The findings showed that females experience depression more than men across all age groups, with the largest gap among people in their 40s and 50s, with just over 12% of women reporting moderate or severe depression compared to 7% of males. Overall, almost 10% of women reported being depressed compared to almost 6% of men.
Creating Emotional Connections Despite Dementia
Over 5 million Americans are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, the most common type of dementia, that is characterized by memory loss, challenges with daily functioning, confusion with place and time, problems with language, poor judgment, social withdrawal, mood and personality changes, apathy, and depression.
Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia can wreak havoc on someone’s life as well as on the lives of loved ones and caregivers.
USA Today reports on ways that you can remain connected to a loved one struggling with dementia.
1. Mourn the loss of the loved one you once knew.
2. Follow the lead of your loved one.
3. Try new activities.
4. Activate the senses.
5. Bond with animals.
6. Pay attention to depression.
When Winter Blues Become Seasonal Affective Disorder
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) was coined 30 years ago by psychiatrist, Norman Rosenthal. Many people (outside of the mental health field) have included SAD into their daily conversations when referring to any mood changes during seasonal changes, particularly with the onset of winter.
BBC News reports on the danger of ignoring more serious symptoms of depression that may be unnoticed under the umbrella of SAD.
Seasonal affective disorder is best described as depression with a pattern matching seasonal changes, with most episodes happening during winter. The lack of sunlight during the winter months is proposed to alter brain regions associated with mood, activity levels, sleep, appetite, and sex drive.
Many people’s moods are affected seasonal changes and mislabel their mood changes as SAD when professionals would be more conservative and say they are experiencing “winter blues.”
To have authentic SAD, people must have experienced depression for at least two years. Between 3% and 5% of the population might have SAD, with about 12% experiencing the less severe “winter blues.”
Legislation to Reduce Number of Mental Illness in Jail System
Rates of serious mental illness are three to six times higher in jail populations than in the general population. APA’s Psychiatric News reports on legislation that would reduce the number of incarcerating people with mental illnesses being supported by various state representatives across the nation.
The legislation would, among other factors, back crisis intervention training for law enforcement personnel and diversion programs for offenders.
At a recent Capitol Hill briefing, Senator Al Franken (D-Minn) said, “Something is wrong when we use the criminal justice system as a mental health system.”
Governments across the nation agree. Florida representative Richard Nugent (R) stated: “I don’t always agree with Al Franken, but we do agree on this issue. I’m optimistic we’ll get this done.”
This week’s roundup is dedicated to equality, justice, and peace.