Suicides rose 8% among adolescents and young adults in the United States from 2003 to 2004, the largest increase in 15 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports.
The increase followed a 28.5% drop in combined suicide rates for 10- to 24-year-olds from 1990 through 2003, according to the CDC’s September 7 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Suicides increased most sharply among girls ages 10 to 19 and boys 15 to 19. Suicides by hanging/suffocation or poisoning increased significantly among girls ages 10 to 19.
The CDC findings come 1 week after the American Journal of Psychiatry reported a 22% decline in pediatric prescriptions for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors from 2003 to 2005.1 The decrease coincided with the FDA’s 2004 request that all antidepressants display a “black box” warning describing an increased risk of suicide and suicidal thinking among children and adolescents taking the medications.
1. Gibbons RD, Brown CH, Hur K, et al. Early evidence on the effects of regulators’ suicidality warnings on SSRI prescriptions and suicide in children and adolescents. Am J Psychiatry 2007;164:1356-63.
Counseling and emotional support help caregivers of persons with Alzheimer's disease stay healthy, new findings suggest.
Researchers split 406 caregivers of Alzheimer's patients into 2 groups. One group:
• participated in support groups
• attended 6 sessions of individual and family counseling
• and received telephone counseling as needed. Caregivers’ family members also received telephone counseling as needed.
The other group got information and help upon request but did not receive formal counseling.
Based on self-assessments of their health 4 months after the extra services began, caregivers who received enhanced counseling were much healthier than those who did not. These effects remained significant after researchers controlled for effects of patient death, nursing home placement, caregiver depressive symptoms, and satisfaction with social support.
Caregivers who received extra counseling also delayed placing their spouses in a nursing home by 1 1/2 years, compared with controls.
The findings appear in the September American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.
World Trade Center site volunteers with little or no rescue/recovery experience were more likely than trained emergency response personnel to develop posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, new findings indicate.
The findings, published in the September American Journal of Psychiatry, suggest that level of emergency response experience and immediacy and duration of response might predict development of PTSD in emergency workers after a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
Researchers led by Megan Perrin, MPH, former research scientist with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, interviewed 28,692 Ground Zero volunteers between September 2003 and November 2004. Some were highly experienced medical, fire or rescue personnel, while others had little or no experience before 9/11.
Approximately 21% of construction workers and unaffiliated volunteers had developed PTSD 2 to 3 years after the attacks, compared with 6% of police officers, the researchers found. PTSD prevalence also was highest among:
• volunteers who began working at Ground Zero immediately after the terrorist attacks
• those who stayed the longest.
An experimental class of antidepressants that directly enhances serotonin signaling appears to work more quickly than selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), new findings suggest.
Researchers led by Guillaume Lucas, PhD (McGill University), compared two serotonin (5-HT4) agonists with the SSRI citalopram in rats, then evaluated the effects of 3 days of treatment with the experimental agents. Within 3 days, rats given either 5-HT4 agonist showed behaviors and brain changes that resembled antidepressant effects that occur in 2 to 3 weeks with SSRIs.
The researchers stress that it could be years before the FDA considers either 5-HT4 agonist for approval.
The findings appear in the September 6 issue of Neuron.
The University of North Carolina School of Medicine has established a research center to study the causes of bipolar disorder and develop new treatments for the condition.
The center, named the UNC Center of Excellence for Research and Treatment of Bipolar Disorder, will examine the neurobiology of bipolar disorder in adults and children and medications’ mechanisms of action. Future studies will examine the genetic underpinnings of brain function and brain abnormalities and the effectiveness of new drugs to treat bipolar mood disorders.
Three current clinical trials have received National Institutes of Health funding totaling $6 million.