What Causes Addiction?

What causes addiction?

Easy, right? Drugs cause addiction. But maybe it is not that simple.

Again, watched this on the introductory peer support course I am attending, definitely challenges the generally accepted convention of addiction.

This video is adapted from Johann Hari’s New York Times best-selling book ‘Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.’

For more information, and to take a quiz to see what you know about addiction, go to http://www.chasingthescream.com.

New Mental Health Care App for RN Families

Royal Navy families can now access mental health support online.

The Naval Families Federation has launched a 12-month pilot scheme to provide free access to the Headspace app for families of regular and reserve RN personnel.

Working with support from Navy Command and the Royal Navy Family and People Support organisation, 3,000 licences have been bought.

To access the offer, the family member should visit www.nff.org.uk/headspace where they will be guided through the verification process.

Lockdown Loneliness on Rise for Military Community

Services’ charity SSAFA says its helpline for Forces personnel past and present – and their families – has seen an 80% increase in calls during the pandemic.

Its free and confidential Forcesline service saw requests for befriending and support from those feeling isolated by lockdown rise dramatically, with more than 300 people turning to the charity for help.

Forcesline acts as a ‘front door’ to the wider support services offered by the charity and beyond. The helpline can act as a telling indicator for the overall well-being of the military community: currently serving (regulars and reserves), veterans and their families.

The Forcesline team say that the other most pressing issues throughout the pandemic have been:

  • Mental health;
  • Urgent assistance with food;
  • Emergency need for housing;
  • Lack of human contact; and
  • The breakdown of relationships.

If you think the helpline could be useful, it is available 9am-5pm Monday to Friday on freephone 0800 731 4880 or via a live webchat service at ssafa.org.uk/forcesline.

Reference

Navy News. (2020) Lockdown Loneliness on the Rise. Navy News. October 2020, pp.27.

The Stigma of Weakness

The head of the Army’s mental health engagement team has called on the chain of command to better recognise that “vulnerability is not a failure”.

Colonel Tim Boughton said more should be done to tackle the stigma that admitting to difficulties is to show weakness. rguing that physical fitness is indivisible from mental fitness, the officer urged commanders to continue to drive the change in culture.

“Authentic leadership acknowledges that failure is progress if you learn from it,” he said. “Our darkest moments often lead to periods of greatest strength. “As a commander you have a legal and moral duty of care for your subordinates. Think from the perspective of a soldier or junior officer – it can be a lonely place and they may rely on you for confidential advice within the regiment.”

Describing how he believes organisational change can be achieved, Colonel Boughton emphasised that leaders at all levels should allow others to make mistakes and improve, be aware of the emotional environment in their unit and establish shared values by encouraging honest conversations on mental health.

He added: “Resilience starts with a choice – to give in or move forward and become stronger. Self awareness gives you the tools to influence your situation and control it.”

Reference

Soldier. (2020) Strength from Failure. Soldier. November 2020, pp. 10.

What is the Association between PTSD & Cancer?

Research Paper Title

Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms among Lithuanian Parents Raising Children with Cancer.

Background

The study aims to evaluate post-traumatic stress symptom expression among Lithuanian parents raising children with cancer, including social, demographic, and medical factors, and to determine their significance for the risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder.

Methods

The study was carried out in two major Lithuanian hospitals treating children with oncologic diseases. The cross-sectional study included 195 parents, out of which 151 were mothers (77.4%) and 44 were fathers (22.6%). Post-traumatic stress symptoms were assessed using the Impact of Event Scale-Revised. To collect the sociodemographic, childhood cancer, and treatment data, we developed a questionnaire that was completed by the parents. Main study results were obtained using multiple linear regression.

Results

A total of 75.4% of parents caring for children with cancer had pronounced symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The female gender (β = 0.83, p < 0.001) was associated with an increased manifestation of symptoms, whilst higher parental education (β = -0.21, p = 0.034) and the absence of relapse (β = -0.48, p < 0.001) of the child’s disease reduced post-traumatic stress symptom expression.

Conclusions

Obtained results confirmed that experiencing a child’s cancer diagnosis and treatment is extremely stressful for many parents. This event may lead to impaired mental health and increased post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) risk; hence, it is necessary to provide better support and assistance to parents of children with cancer.

Reference

Baniene, I. & Zemaitiene, N. (2020) Post-Traumatic Stress Symptoms among Lithuanian Parents Raising Children with Cancer. Children (Basel, Switzerland). 7(9), pp.116. doi: 10.3390/children7090116.

What is the Association of Urbanicity with Schizophrenia & Related Mortality in China?

Research Paper Title

Association of Urbanicity with Schizophrenia and Related Mortality in China: Association de l’urbanicité avec la schizophrénie et la mortalité qui y est reliée en Chine.

Background

Although higher prevalence of schizophrenia in Chinese urban areas was observed, studies focused on the association between schizophrenia and urbanicity were less in China. Using a national representative population-based data set, this study aimed to investigate the relationship between urbanicity and schizophrenia and its related mortality among adults aged 18 years old and above in China.

Methods

Data were obtained from the Second China National Sample Survey on Disability in 2006 and follow-up studies from 2007 to 2010 each year. We restricted our analysis to 1,909,205 participants aged 18 years or older and the 2,071 schizophrenia patients with information of survival and all-caused mortality of the follow-up surveys from 2007 to 2010.

Schizophrenia was ascertained according to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision. The degree of urbanicity and the region of residence were used to be the proxies of urbanicity. Of these, the degree of urbanicity measured by the ratio of non-agricultural population to total population and the region of residence measured by six categorical variables (first-tier cities, first-tier city suburbs, second-tier cities, second-tier city suburbs, other city areas, and rural areas).

Logistics regression models and restricted polynomial splines were used to examine the linear/nonlinear relationship between urbanicity and the risk of schizophrenia. Cox proportional hazards regression models were used to test the role of urbanicity on mortality risk of schizophrenia patients.

Results

10% increase in the degree of urbanicity was associated with increased risk of schizophrenia (OR = 1.44; 95% CI, 1.32 to 1.57). The nonlinear model further confirmed the association between the degree of urbanicity and the risk of schizophrenia. This association existed sex difference, as the level of urbanicity increased, schizophrenia risk of males grew faster than the risk of females. The hazard ratio (HR) of mortality in schizophrenia patients decreased with the elevated of urbanicity level, with a HR of 0.42 (95% CI, 0.21 to 0.84).

Conclusions

This research suggested that incremental changes in the degree of urbanicity linked to higher risk of schizophrenia, and as the degree of urbanicity elevated, the risk of schizophrenia increased more for men than for women. Additionally, the researchers found that schizophrenia patients in higher degree of urbanicity areas had lower risk of mortality.

These findings contributed to the literature on schizophrenia in developing nations under a non-Western context and indicates that strategies to improve mental health conditions are needed in the progress of urbanicity.

Reference

Luo, Y., Pang, L., Guo, C., Zhang, L. & Zheng, X. (2020) Association of Urbanicity with Schizophrenia and Related Mortality in China: Association de l’urbanicité avec la schizophrénie et la mortalité qui y est reliée en Chine. Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. doi: 10.1177/0706743720954059. Online ahead of print.

Major Depressive Disorder & Childhood Trauma

Research Paper Title

Major depressive disorder with childhood trauma: Clinical characteristics, biological mechanism, and therapeutic implications.

Background

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is a main type of mood disorder, characterised by significant and lasting depressed mood.

Until now, the pathogenesis of MDD is not clear, but it is certain that biological, psychological, and social factors are involved.

Childhood trauma is considered to be an important factor in the development of this disease.

Previous studies have found that nearly half of the patients with MDD have experienced childhood trauma, and different types of childhood trauma, gender, and age show different effects on this disease.

In addition, the clinical characteristics of MDD patients with childhood trauma are also different, which often have more severe depressive symptoms, higher risk of suicide, and more severe cognitive impairment.

The response to antidepressants is also worse.

In terms of biological mechanisms and marker characteristics, the serotonin transporter gene and the FKBP prolyl isomerase 5 have been shown to play an important role in MDD and childhood trauma.

Moreover, some brain imaging and biomarkers showed specific features, such as changes in gray matter in the dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, and abnormal changes in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis function.

Reference

Guo, W., Liu, J. & Li, L. (2020) Major depressive disorder with childhood trauma: Clinical characteristics, biological mechanism, and therapeutic implications. Journal of South Central University. 45(4), pp.462-468. doi: 10.11817/j.issn.1672-7347.2020.190699.

On This Day … 22 October

Events

  • Fechner Day (International observance).

People (Deaths)

  • 1979 – Mieko Kamiya, Japanese psychiatrist and author (b. 1914).

Fechner Day

Gustav Theodor Fechner (19 April 1801 to 18 November 1887) was a German experimental psychologist, philosopher, and physicist.

An early pioneer in experimental psychology and founder of psychophysics, he inspired many 20th-century scientists and philosophers.

Psychophysics quantitatively investigates the relationship between physical stimuli and the sensations and perceptions they produce.

He is also credited with demonstrating the non-linear relationship between psychological sensation and the physical intensity of a stimulus via the formula: S = K 1n I, which became known as the Weber–Fechner law.

Honours

  • Fechner Crater:
    • In 1970, the International Astronomical Union named a crater on the far side of the moon after Fechner.
  • Fechner Day:
    • In 1985 the International Society for Psychophysics called its annual conference Fechner Day.
    • The conference is now scheduled to include 22 October to allow psychophysicists to celebrate the anniversary of Fechner’s waking up on that day in 1850 with a new approach into how to study the mind.
    • Fechner Day runs annually with the 2018 Fechner Day being the 34th.
    • It is organised annually, by a different academic host each year.

Mieko Kamiya

Mieko Kamiya (神谷 美恵子, Kamiya Mieko, 12 January 1914 to 22 October 1979) was a Japanese psychiatrist who treated leprosy patients at Nagashima Aiseien Sanatorium.

She was known for translating books on philosophy.

She worked as a medical doctor in the Department of Psychiatry at Tokyo University following World War II. She was said to have greatly helped the Ministry of Education and the General Headquarters, where the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers stayed, in her role as an English-speaking secretary, and served as an adviser to Empress Michiko.

She wrote many books as a highly educated, multi-lingual person; one of her books, titled On the Meaning of Life (Ikigai Ni Tsuite in Japanese), based on her experiences with leprosy patients, attracted many readers.

Can Conditional Cash Transfers Improve Mental Health?

Research Paper Title

The worse the better? Quantile treatment effects of a conditional cash transfer programme on mental health.

Background

Poor mental health is a pressing global health problem, with high prevalence among poor populations from low-income countries.

Existing studies of conditional cash transfer (CCT) effects on mental health have found positive effects. However, there is a gap in the literature on population-wide effects of cash transfers on mental health and if and how these vary by the severity of mental illness.

Methods

The researchers use the Malawian Longitudinal Study of Family and Health containing 790 adult participants in the Malawi Incentive Programme, a year-long randomised controlled trial.

They estimate average and distributional quantile treatment effects and we examine how these effects vary by gender, HIV status and usage of the cash transfer.

Results

The researchers find that the cash transfer improves mental health on average by 0.1 of a standard deviation.

The effect varies strongly along the mental health distribution, with a positive effect for individuals with worst mental health of about four times the size of the average effect.

These improvements in mental health are associated with increases in consumption expenditures and expenditures related to economic productivity.

Conclusions

The results show that CCTs can improve adult mental health for the poor living in low-income countries, particularly those with the worst mental health.

Reference

Ohrnberger, J., Fichera, E., Sutton, M. & Anselmi, L. (2020) The worse the better? Quantile treatment effects of a conditional cash transfer programme on mental health. Health Policy and Planning. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czaa079. Online ahead of print.