Anxiety Youth vs Healthy Youth: Threat-Anticipatory Psychophysiological Response Differences

Research Paper Title

Threat-anticipatory psychophysiological response is enhanced in youth with anxiety disorders and correlates with prefrontal cortex neuroanatomy.

Background

Threat anticipation engages neural circuitry that has evolved to promote defensive behaviours; perturbations in this circuitry could generate excessive threat-anticipation response, a key characteristic of pathological anxiety. Research into such mechanisms in youth faces ethical and practical limitations. Here, the researchers use thermal stimulation to elicit pain-anticipatory psychophysiological response and map its correlates to brain structure among youth with anxiety and healthy youth.

Methods

Youth with anxiety (n = 25) and healthy youth (n = 25) completed an instructed threat-anticipation task in which cues predicted nonpainful or painful thermal stimulation; the researchers indexed psychophysiological response during the anticipation and experience of pain using skin conductance response. High-resolution brain-structure imaging data collected in another visit were available for 41 participants. Analyses tested whether the 2 groups differed in their psychophysiological cue-based pain-anticipatory and pain-experience responses. Analyses then mapped psychophysiological response magnitude to brain structure.

Results

Youth with anxiety showed enhanced psychophysiological response specifically during anticipation of painful stimulation (b = 0.52, p = 0.003). Across the sample, the magnitude of psychophysiological anticipatory response correlated negatively with the thickness of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (pFWE < 0.05); psychophysiological response to the thermal stimulation correlated positively with the thickness of the posterior insula (pFWE < 0.05).

Limitations: Limitations included the modest sample size and the cross-sectional design.

Conclusions

These findings show that threat-anticipatory psychophysiological response differentiates youth with anxiety from healthy youth, and they link brain structure to psychophysiological response during pain anticipation and experience. A focus on threat anticipation in research on anxiety could delineate relevant neural circuitry.

Reference

Abend, R., Bajaj, M.A., Harrwijn, A., Matsumoto, C., Michalska, K.J., Necka, E., Palacios-Barrios, E.E., Leibenluft, E., Atlas, L.Y. & Pine, D.S. (2021) Threat-anticipatory psychophysiological response is enhanced in youth with anxiety disorders and correlates with prefrontal cortex neuroanatomy. Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience. 46(2):E212-E221. doi: 10.1503/jpn.200110.

What is the Incidence of Mental Health in New York?

Research Paper Title

Rising Mental Health Incidence Among Adolescents in Westchester, NY.

Background

Many governments have publicly released healthcare data, which can be mined for insights about disease conditions, and their impact on society.

Methods

The researchers present a big-data analytics approach to investigate data in the New York Statewide Planning and Research Cooperative System (SPARCS) consisting of 20 million patient records.

Results

Whereas the age group 30-48 years exhibited an 18% decline in mental health (MH) disorders from 2009 to 2016, the age group 0-17 years showed a 5.4% increase. MH issues amongst the age group 0-17 years comprise a significant expenditure in New York State. Within this age group, we find a higher prevalence of MH disorders in females and minority populations. Westchester County has seen a 32% increase in incidences and a 41% increase in costs.

Conclusions

The approach is scalable to data from multiple government agencies and provides an independent perspective on health care issues, which can prove valuable to policy and decision-makers.

Reference

Rao, A.R., Rao, S. & Chhabra, R. (2021) Rising Mental Health Incidence Among Adolescents in Westchester, NY. Community Mental health Journal. doi: 10.1007/s10597-021-00788-8. Online ahead of print.

Refugee Children & Adolescents and PTSD

Research Paper Title

Traumatic experiences of conditional refugee children and adolescents and predictors of post-traumatic stress disorder: data from Turkey.

Background

The researchers aimed to determine traumatic events, mental health problems and predictors of PTSD in a sample of conditional refugee children.

Methods

The sociodemographic features, chief complaints, traumatic experiences and psychiatric diagnoses according to DSM-5 were evaluated retrospectively.

Results

20.7% (n = 70) of children experienced the armed conflict or exposed to firefights at their country of origin. Most common diagnoses were anxiety disorders (n = 82, 24.3%), major depressive disorder (n = 52, 15.4%) and PTSD (n = 43, 12.7%). Age, number of traumatic experiences, explosion and sexual violence are the most important predictors for PTSD.

Conclusions

The results suggest that the number of traumas exposed as well as their nature predicted PTSD diagnosis. Refugee children have increased risk for psychiatric problems after migration and resettlement underlining the importance of an adequate follow-up for mental health and ensuring social support networks.

Reference

Yektas, C., Erman, H. & Tufan, A.E. (2021) Traumatic experiences of conditional refugee children and adolescents and predictors of post-traumatic stress disorder: data from Turkey. doi: 10.1080/08039488.2021.1880634. Online ahead of print.

Book: A New Understanding of ADHD in Children and Adults

Book Title:

A New Understanding of ADHD in Children and Adults – Executive Function Impairments

Author(s): Thomas E. Brown.

Year: 2013.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Routledge.

Type(s): Hardcover, Paperback, and eBook/Kindle.

Synopsis:

For over 100 years, ADHD has been seen as essentially a behaviour disorder. Recent scientific research has developed a new paradigm which recognizes ADHD as a developmental disorder of the cognitive management system of the brain, its executive functions. This cutting-edge book pulls together key ideas of this new understanding of ADHD, explaining them and describing in understandable language scientific research that supports this new model. It addresses questions like:

  • Why can those with ADHD focus very well on some tasks while having great difficulty in focusing on other tasks they recognize as important?
  • How does brain development and functioning of persons with ADHD differ from others?
  • How do impairments of ADHD change from childhood through adolescence and in adulthood?
  • What treatments help to improve ADHD impairments? How do they work? Are they safe?
  • Why do those with ADHD have additional emotional, cognitive, and learning disorders more often than most others?
  • What commonly-held assumptions about ADHD have now been proven wrong by scientific research?

Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and other medical and mental health professionals, as well as those affected by ADHD and their families, will find this to be am insightful and invaluable resource.

Book: Understanding, Diagnosing, and Treating ADHD in Children and Adolescents – An Integrative Approach

Book Title:

Understanding, Diagnosing, and Treating ADHD in Children and Adolescents – An Integrative Approach.

Author(s): James A. Incorvaia, Bonnie S. Mark-Goldstein, and Donald Tessmer (Editors).

Year: 1999.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Jason Aronson, Inc.

Type(s): Hardcover and eBook.

Synopsis:

When it comes to Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, which is too often a cavalier diagnosis of first resort, clinicians can benefit from the range of responsible views on assessment and treatment proffered here. If doctors, therapists, and school personnel were to have only one resource to consult to fully understand AD/HD the problems and the solutions this collection of authoritative perspectives assembled by Doctors Incorvaia, Mark-Goldstein, and Tessmer should be it.

Book: The ADHD Parenting Handbook

Book Title:

The ADHD Parenting Handbook – Practical Advice for Parents from Parents.

Author(s): Colleen Alexander-Roberts.

Year: 2006.

Edition: Second (2nd).

Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing.

Type(s): eBook/Kindle.

Synopsis:

Practical advice for parents from parents, and proven techniques for raising hyperactive children without losing your temper.

Book: ADHD & Teens: A Parent’s Guide to Making it through the Tough Years

Book Title:

ADHD & Teens: A Parent’s Guide to Making it through the Tough Years.

Author(s): Colleen Alexander-Roberts.

Year: 1995.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: Taylor Trade Publishing.

Type(s): Paperback and eBook.

Synopsis:

ADHD and Teens is a manual of practical advice to help parents cope with the problems that can arise during these years. A crash course is offered on parenting styles that really work with teens with ADHD and how these styles allow the teen to safely move from dependence to independence.

Linking Depressive Symptoms & Academic Achievement in UK Adolescents

Research Paper Title

Depressive symptoms and academic achievement in UK adolescents: a cross-lagged analysis with genetic covariates.

Background

The relationship between adolescent depressive symptoms and academic achievement remains poorly understood. The aim of this study was to help clarify the nature and directionality of this association.

Methods

The researchers used a sample of 13,599 British adolescents (main sample of N=3,809 participants). They fitted cross-lagged panel models using four repeated measures of self-reported depressive symptoms and four measures of academic achievement based on British national records between 11-18 years, separately for male and female adolescents and considering polygenic risk scores (PRS) for educational attainment and depression, alongside other child and parental covariates.

Observational design, variation around measurement times, missing data.

Results

The researchers found evidence of an overall negative association that was stronger in boys (R=-0.21, 95% CI -0.31 to -0.11) than in girls (-0.13, -0.31 to 0.05). Higher depressive symptoms were associated with lower academic achievement at a later stage up to the end of compulsory education (16 years), when the direction of the association reversed, although girls with lower achievement also appeared vulnerable to depressive symptoms at previous stages. The genetic variables derived for this study showed stronger associations for academic achievement, but the PRS for depression also showed a negative association with academic achievement in girls. Child intelligence quotient and peer victimisation also showed relevant associations.

Conclusions

Depressive symptoms and academic achievement should be considered jointly when designing school-based programmes for children and adolescents, alongside gender, child ability and school experience. Including genetic information in research can help to disentangle average from time-varying effects.

Reference

Lopez-Lopez, J.A., Kwong, A.S.F., Washbrook, L., Tilling, K., Fazel, M.S. & Pearson, R.M. (2021) Depressive symptoms and academic achievement in UK adolescents: a cross-lagged analysis with genetic covariates. Journal of Affective Disorders. 284, pp.104-113. doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2021.01.091. Online ahead of print.

Are There Sex Differences in Comorbidity Between Substance Use & Mental Health in Adolescents?

Research Paper Title

Sex Differences in Comorbidity Between Substance Use and Mental Health in Adolescents: Two Sides of the Same Coin.

Background

This study aims to evaluate sex differences in alcohol and cannabis use and mental health disorders (MHD) in adolescents, and to evaluate the predictive role of mental health disorders for alcohol and cannabis use disorders (AUD and CUD respectively).

Method

A sample of 863 adolescents from the general population (53.7% girls, Mage = 16.62, SD = 0.85) completed a computerised battery including questions on substance use frequency, the Brief Symptom Inventory, the Cannabis Problems Questionnaire for Adolescents – Short version, the Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index and the DSM-IV-TR criteria for AUD and CUD. Bivariate analyses and binary logistic regressions were performed.

Results

Girls presented significantly more mental health problems and a higher prevalence of comorbidity between SUD and MHD. Obsessive-compulsive symptoms and phobic anxiety indicated a higher risk of AUD, whereas depression and interaction between hostility and obsessive-compulsive disorder indicated a higher risk of CUD.

Conclusions

Comorbidity between SUD and MHD is high among adolescents, and significantly higher among girls.

Reference

Fernandez-Artamendi, S. Martinez-Loredo, V. & Lopez-Nunez, C. (2021) Sex Differences in Comorbidity Between Substance Use and Mental Health in Adolescents: Two Sides of the Same Coin. Psicotherma. 33(1), pp.36-43. doi: 10.7334/psicothema2020.297.

Book: Neurobiologically Informed Trauma Therapy with Children & Adolescent

Book Title:

Neurobiologically Informed Trauma Therapy with Children and Adolescents: Understanding Mechanisms of Change (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology).

Author(s): Linda Chapman.

Year: 2014.

Edition: First (1st).

Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company.

Type(s): Paperback and Kindle.

Synopsis:

The model of treatment developed here is grounded in the physical, psychological, and cognitive reactions children have to traumatic experiences and the consequences of those experiences. The approach to treatment utilises the integrative capacity of the brain to create a self, foster insight, and produce change. Treatment strategies are based on cutting-edge understanding of neurobiology, the development of the brain, and the storage and retrieval of traumatic memory. Case vignettes illustrate specific examples of the reactions of children, families, and teens to acute and repeated exposure to traumatic events.

Also presented is the most recent knowledge of the role of the right hemisphere (RH) in development and therapy. Right brain communication, and how to recognise the non-verbal symbolic and unconscious, affective processes will be explained, along with examples of how the therapist can utilise art making, media, tools, and self to engage in a two-person biology. 30 illustrations; 8 pages of colour.