Suicide Among Military Veterans Especially High In The Western US And Rural Areas

The AP (9/16, Yen) reported, “Suicide among military veterans is especially high in the western US and rural areas,” researchers from the Department of Veterans Affairs found. The data reveal that “wide state-by-state disparities and suggest social isolation, gun ownership and access to health care may be factors.” The article also cited statistics on suicide rates for veterans versus non-veterans, and quotes a RAND epidemiologist who said the data begs “closer investigation into why suicide rates by veteran status are higher, including the role that opiates play.” The Hill (9/16, Delk) and the Fox News (9/17) website also covered the story.

Related Links:

— “Suicide among veterans highest in western US, rural areas,” HOPE YEN, AP via The Brunswick News, September 16, 2017.

Problem Drinking Rising Fast Among Older Americans

In the New York Times (9/14, Span, Subscription Publication) “The New Old Age” blog, Paula Span writes, “Epidemiologists at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism…reported” that “problem drinking is rising fast among older Americans.”

Researchers arrived at that conclusion after comparing “data from a national survey taken in 2001 and 2002 and again in 2012 and 2013, each time with about 40,000 adults.” The findings were published in the September issue of JAMA Psychiatry. The author of an accompanying editorial observed, “The trajectory over time is remarkable.”

Lead study author and NIAAA epidemiologist Bridget Grant, PhD, and her “team didn’t investigate causes” for late-life drinking, “but she speculates that anxiety caused by the recession, which hit right between the two surveys, may have played a part.”

Related Links:

— “Alcohol Abuse Is Rising Among Older Adults,” Paula Span, New York Times, September 14, 2017.

Experts Offer Advice On Coping With Mental Stress Caused By Hurricanes Irma And Harvey

HealthDay (9/14, Preidt) reports, “Even after the devastation caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma disappears, survivors could still suffer from mental stress caused by the massive storms, experts” contend. In a news release, crisis psychiatrist Carol North, MD, of the UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, “outlined some coping techniques for people with short-term symptoms of mental stress after a disaster.”

Meanwhile, pediatric psychiatrist James Norcross, MD, also of the UT Southwestern Medical Center, “said that parents can help children recover after a natural disaster by remaining calm and reassuring” and by limiting “children’s exposure to news reports on television or social media.”

Meanwhile, Healio (9/14, Oldt) reports that James M. Shultz, MS, PhD, of the University of Miami School of Medicine, and Sandro Galea, MD, DrPH, of Boston University, who together authored a viewpoint published online Sept. 11 in the Journal of the American Medical Association, “explored how mental health consequences of Hurricane Harvey can be mitigated.”

Related Links:

— “Hurricanes’ Toll on Mental Health Will Linger,” Robert Preidt, HealthDay, September 14, 2017.

Risk For Health Anxiety May Be Increased In Older Adults

MD Magazine (9/14, Warren) reports, “The risk for health anxiety…a disorder characterized by a preoccupation with physical health and/or somatic/body symptoms, is increased in older adults,” researchers found after assessing “538 primary care patients” ranging in age from 18 to 90. The findings were published online June 24 in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders.

Related Links:

— “Older Adults Have Increased Risk for Health Anxiety,” Amanda Warren, MD Magazine, September 14, 2017.

Serious Emotional Disturbance May Affect One In Ten US Children

Medscape (9/13, Brooks) reports, “One in 10 children in the United States suffer from serious emotional disturbance (SED) and are likely to require treatment or referral to appropriate mental health services,” researchers concluded after reviewing data from “12 population-based US studies that estimated the prevalence of youths with SED.” The findings of the meta-analysis were published online Sept. 1 in Psychiatric Services, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association.

Related Links:

Medscape (requires login and subscription)

Certain Common Mental Health Disorders May Not Pose A Serious Threat To Pregnant Women, Health Of Their Babies

HealthDay (9/13, Preidt) reports, “Three common mental health disorders – depression, panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder – pose no serious threat to pregnant women or the health of their” infants, researchers found after following some “2,600 pregnant women at 137 clinical practices in Connecticut and Massachusetts.” The findings were published online Sept. 13 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Related Links:

— “Does Mother’s Mental Health Affect Pregnancy?,” Robert Preidt, HealthDay, September 13, 2017.

Suicide Attempts By Younger Adults Now On The Rise, Data Indicate

Reuters (9/13, Seaman) reports, “Young adults with low levels of education and people with mental health disorders bore the greatest burden of a recent increase in suicide attempts in the US,” researchers concluded.

HealthDay (9/13, Dotinga) reports that after examining “surveys of over 69,000 US adults taken from 2004-2005 and 2012-2013,” then adjusting the data for confounding factors, investigators found that “the risk of suicide attempts was ‘significantly higher’ among certain groups, including: those aged 21 to 34 (compared to those 65 and up); those with only a high school education (compared to college grads); and those with antisocial, anxiety and depressive disorders (compared to others).” The findings were published online Sept. 13 in JAMA Psychiatry.

Healio (9/13, Oldt) reports the author of an accompanying editorial “reflected on the public health impact” of the study’s findings, writing, “Given the cumulative frequency of family, legal and financial problems, it behooves us to look beyond the walls of our clinics and offices to engage vulnerable individuals and families in diverse settings such as courts and jails, social service agencies, and perhaps the streets long before they have become ‘suicidal.’” Also covering the story are Medscape (9/13, Brooks) and Psychiatric News (9/13).

Related Links:

— “U.S. suicide attempts up most among younger adults, less educated,” Andrew M. Seaman, Reuters, September 13, 2017.

An easy opportunity to screen moms for postpartum depression

In continuing coverage, CNN (9/12, Scutti) reports, “Screening mothers for depression during early well-child visits led to significantly fewer reports of depression at nine months postpartum,” researchers found after studying some 3,000 women in the Netherlands. The study revealed that only “3% of the screened mothers experienced minor or major depression at nine months postpartum, compared with 8.4% of the mothers who weren’t screened during the visits.” The findings were published online Sept. 12 in Pediatrics. Psychiatric News (9/11) also covered the story.

Related Links:

— “An easy opportunity to screen moms for postpartum depression,” Susan Scutti, CNN, September 12, 2017.

More Than A Third Of Transgender High School Students In California Reported Having Suicidal Thoughts In The Past Year

Healio (9/12, Leitenberger) reports, “More than a third of transgender high school students in California reported having suicidal thoughts in the past year, almost twice that of their cisgender peers,” researchers found after evaluating “data on more than 910,000 high school students who participated in the 2013 to 2015 California Healthy Kids Survey, and a weighted subsample of almost 36,000 students representative of the state’s student population.” The findings were published in the September issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

Related Links:

— “Transgender youth nearly twice as likely to report suicidal thoughts,” Perez-Brumer A, et al., Healio, September 12, 2017.

Folic Acid Taken By Mother Around Time Of Conception May Reduce Child’s Risk Of Pesticide-Related Autism

HealthDay (9/8, Preidt) reported, “By taking folic acid around the time of conception, mothers-to-be may reduce their child’s risk of pesticide-related autism,” researchers found after examining data on “300 children aged 2 to 5 with autism and 220 without the developmental disorder.” The findings were published online Sept. 8 in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Related Links:

— “Could Folic Acid Fight a Cause of Autism?,” Robert Preidt, HealthDay, September 8, 2017.