How A Messed Up Childhood Affects You In Adulthood

It’s a humbling situation, but much about who we are as adults can be traced back to things that happened to us before our 12th birthday. Part of learning to be an adulthood means making sense of the events of our childhood. We need to spot how our past might be trying to interfere with our chances in the present. For gifts and more from The School of Life, visit our online shop:
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“We are, all of us, beautifully crazy or, to put it in gentler terms, fascinatingly unbalanced. Our childhoods, even the apparently benign ones, leave us no option but to be anything else.
As a result of these childhoods, we tend, over most issues, to list – like a sailing yacht in high wind – far too much in one direction or another. We are too timid, or too assertive; too rigid or too accommodating; too focused on material success or excessively lackadaisical. We are obsessively eager around sex or painfully wary and nervous in the face of our own erotic impulses. We are dreamily naive or sourly down to earth; we recoil from risk or embrace it recklessly; we have emerged into adult life determined never to rely on anyone or as desperate for another to complete us; we are overly intellectual or unduly resistant to ideas. The encyclopedia of emotional imbalances is a volume without end. What is certain is that these imbalances come at a huge cost, rendering us less able to exploit our talents and opportunities, less able to lead satisfying lives and a great deal less fun to be around…”

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Family Behavioral Therapy for Obesity May Work Best for Impulsive Kids

Although impulsivity may increase the risk for obesity in children, the trait appears to be linked to better outcomes during family-based behavioral treatment (FBT) for weight loss.

FBT is designed to change parent and child behaviors and is currently the recommended intervention for children with obesity. The new study was presented, at ENDO 2018, the 100th annual meeting of the Endocrine Society in Chicago, Ill.

“Our novel results indicate that impulsivity may be a risk factor for uncontrolled eating and excessive weight gain,” said lead study author Christian L. Roth, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the Seattle Children’s Research Institute in Washington.

“Children who rated high in impulsivity had higher body mass index (BMI) measures and greater body fat mass compared to those who rated lower in impulsivity.”

“However, we found that children with obesity who were rated as more impulsive prior to starting FBT had greater weight-loss success in the program compared to children with obesity who were rated as less impulsive,” added co-author Kelley Scholz, M.S.W., research supervisor at Seattle Children’s Research Institute.

Researchers assessed the impact of a six-month long FBT obesity intervention delivered to 54 children with obesity and 22 healthy-weight children, all between 9 and 11 years of age.

The authors rated the children for impulsivity using attention and inhibition tasks from a standardized test — the Developmental NEuroPSYchological Assessment — NEPSY-II.

The healthy-weight children did not take part in the FBT program but were tested at the beginning and end of the study along with the participants who had obesity.

At baseline, a larger proportion of children with obesity scored as high-impulsivity compared with healthy-weight children. Among children with obesity, those who scored high in impulsivity had higher BMI and greater fat mass.

The children with obesity and their families took part in 24 weekly FBT session that involved a meeting between the family and a staff member in a private room for about 30 minutes with discussion of issues specifically related to that family. Also, 45-minute parent and child group sessions were held in a large conference room.

Therapy meetings focused on food, physical activity education and behavioral skills such as self-monitoring and environmental control, using praise and rewards to reinforce positive eating and physical activity.

The NEPSY-II inhibition test results predicted weight loss. Of the 40 children with obesity who completed the study, the 18 who were rated high-impulsivity had a greater drop in BMI than the lower-impulsivity obese children.

Inhibition scores improved at the end of the FBT program, and the children whose inhibition scores improved most had greater drops in BMI and fat mass.

Although the results look promising, the researchers recommend further related research.

Source: The Endocrine Society/EurekAlert

Study: Suicide Risk for Youth Spikes in Months After Self-Harm

Study: Suicide Risk for Youth Spikes in Months After Self-Harm

Young people face a sharply higher risk of suicide in the months following a deliberate self-harm attempt, according to a new study led by Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC). After a nonfatal self-harm event, males are four times more likely to die of suicide than females and Native Americans are five times more likely than white non-Hispanics.

The findings, published in the journal Pediatrics, highlight the need to have clinical interventions during this critical period for youth who survive such attempts.

“Our latest study shows that time is of the essence in preventing a nonfatal self-harm event from leading to a fatality,” said Mark Olfson, M.D., M.P.H., professor of psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and lead author of the study.

“Although young adults compared to adolescents had a higher risk of suicide over the year after self-harm, adolescents had a particularly high risk during the first few weeks.”

Nonfatal self-harm, such as cutting or poisoning oneself with or without suicidal intent, is common among young people. Research has shown that approximately one-third of young people who die of suicide engage in nonfatal self-harm events in the last three months of life; however, it has remained unclear which young people with self-harm are at the highest short-term risk of suicide.

The researchers looked at Medicaid data from 45 states to determine the 1-year suicide risk in 32,395 adolescents and young adults (age 12 to 24 years) who had been clinically diagnosed with deliberate self-harm. The information was linked to the U.S. National Death Index to confirm dates and cause of death.

The researchers analyzed several risk factors, including demographic characteristics, recent treatment for a psychiatric disorder, and method of self-harm. Among young people with self-harm, the researchers compared the risk of repeated nonfatal self-harm and suicide. They also compared the risk of suicide in the self-harm group to the general population of similar age and demographic characteristics.

The findings show that about 17 percent had a repeated nonfatal self-harm episode in the first year, and 0.15 percent percent died of suicide. Adolescents in the self-harm group were 46 times more likely than the controls to die of suicide in the 12 months after a nonfatal self-harm attempt. The risk of suicide was especially high after self-harm events using violent methods such as firearms or hanging.

Although only around 4 percent of young people in the self-harm group used violent methods, they accounted for approximately 40 percent of the suicide deaths. In previous research, Olfson found that adults also had a greater risk of suicide in the year after a self-harm episode, particularly after a self-harm incident involving violent methods.

“For many people, young and old, the same problems that led them to harm themselves in the first place — such as depression, substance use, and anxiety disorders — may continue to put them at risk of suicide,” said Olfson.

Following nonfatal self-harm, males were four times more likely to die of suicide than females, and Native Americans were five times more likely than white non-Hispanic individuals.

“We suspect that lower use of mental health services among males and Native Americans may partially explain the higher suicide rates in these groups,” said Olfson.

The study suggests that clinical priority should be given to ensuring the safety of young people after a self-harm event. This may include treating underlying psychiatric disorders, restricting access to lethal means of self-harm, strengthening supportive relationships, and close monitoring for emerging suicidal symptoms.

Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman, chair of Columbia Psychiatry and former president of the American Psychiatric Association, added that “this report is a wake-up call to a public mental health problem that has been neglected for too long. It’s time to act on these results to provide services that can prevent self-inflicted harm to mentally distressed youth.”

Source: Columbia University Irving Medical Center

When help isn’t helpful: Overfunctioning for clients

“Erin” came to counseling with all the signs of depression. She was unhappy with her career, her health and her family. Her mother was distressed, her father was distant and her disabled brother was sick. Erin spent a lot of energy calming and directing her family, and she complained about how little her family supported...continue reading

The post When help isn’t helpful: Overfunctioning for clients appeared first on Counseling Today.

Kids’ Personality Traits Tied to Later Political Leanings

Kids' Aggression May Be Rooted in Genetics, But Tempered by EnvironmentNew research finds that adults’ political tendencies can be traced back to early childhood temperament, those aspects of personality that are thought to be biologically based, or innate, rather than learned.

Researchers in the U.K. looked at data from more than 16,000 participants in two longitudinal studies. Their analysis revealed links between conduct problems at ages 5 and 7 and economic and political discontent 25 years later.

The findings are published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Findings from both studies indicate that children who showed higher levels of conduct problems – that is, aggression, fighting, stealing from peers – were more likely to be economically left leaning and distrustful of the political system as adults,” said study author Dr. Gary J. Lewis of Royal Holloway, University of London. “Some, but not all, of this link was explained by educational attainment and socioeconomic status in adulthood.”

The findings shed light on the relationship between personality traits and political sentiment, suggesting a link that spans more than two decades.

Lewis investigated this link by analyzing data from the British Cohort Study and the National Child Development Study, two longitudinal cohort studies following individuals in the United Kingdom.

Participants’ parents completed an assessment of their children’s behavior when the children were either 5 or 7 years old, reporting on behaviors related to anxiety, conduct problems and hyperactivity.

At age 30 or 33, the participants completed measures that gauged their economic conservatism, political cynicism, racism, authoritarianism and attitudes about gender inequality. These measures cohered into two broad factors: economic/political discontent and social conservatism.

The studies also included data about the parents’ social class and the participants’ childhood intelligence, educational attainment and social class in adulthood.

Modeling the relationships among these variables, Lewis found that childhood conduct problems were associated with economic/political discontent in adulthood, even after parental social class and childhood intelligence were taken into account. It is possible, Lewis noted, that conduct problems in childhood may reflect difficulty with self-control and long-term planning or early rejection of authority, either of which could lead to economic/political discontent.

The models also indicated indirect pathways in both cohorts, by which conduct problems were associated with lower educational attainment and adult social class and, ultimately, greater economic/political discontent.

These associations may be modest in strength, said Lewis, but they are stable over a 25-year span, suggesting early foundations of later political attitudes. Future research with more detailed and frequent assessments will help to illuminate the exact nature of these long-term associations.

“We all wonder from time to time why it is that those on the other side of the fence came to be that way,” Lewis said. “These findings take us a little further down the road to answering that question.”

Source: Association for Psychological Science

Mediterranean Diet Tied to Stronger Bones, Muscles After Menopause

Mediterranean Diet Tied to Stronger Bones, Muscles After Menopause

The Mediterranean diet has been linked to several mental and physical benefits, including a lower risk for depression, heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Now a new Brazilian study finds that postmenopausal women who adhere to this diet tend to have greater bone and muscle mass compared to those who don’t. The findings are being presented at ENDO 2018 in Chicago, the Endocrine Society’s 100th annual meeting. The society is one of the foremost groups devoted to hormone research and clinical endocrinology.

The Mediterranean diet involves a high intake of fruits and vegetables, grains, potatoes, olive oil and seeds; moderately high fish intake; low saturated fat, dairy and red meat consumption; and regular but moderate drinking of red wine.

Few studies are available about the Mediterranean diet and its impact on body composition after menopause, said the study’s lead investigator, Thais Rasia Silva, Ph.D., a postdoctoral student at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.

The findings are important, she said, because menopause, with its decline in estrogen, increases a woman’s loss of bone mass, raising her risk of the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis and broken bones.

Menopause and aging also reduce muscle mass. Declines in skeletal muscle mass and strength in older people are major contributors to increased illness, poorer quality of life and higher death rates, said Silva.

The study involved 103 healthy women from southern Brazil, who had an average age of 55 and who had gone through menopause 5.5 years earlier, on average. All participants were given bone scans to measure their bone mineral density, total body fat and appendicular lean mass, which was used to estimate skeletal muscle mass. They also filled out a food questionnaire asking what they ate in the past month.

A higher Mediterranean diet score (MDS), meaning better adherence to the diet, was significantly tied to higher bone mineral density measured at the lumbar spine and with greater muscle mass, Silva reported. This link was independent of previous hormone therapy, prior smoking behavior or their current level of physical activity, as measured by wearing a pedometer for six days.

“We found that the Mediterranean diet could be a useful nonmedical strategy for the prevention of osteoporosis and fractures in postmenopausal women,” Silva said.

Given the many health benefits of the Mediterranean diet, Silva added, “Postmenopausal women, especially those with low bone mass, should ask their doctor whether they might benefit from consuming this dietary pattern.”

Source: The Endocrine Society

Study Finds Delay in Initial Dementia Diagnosis

Study Finds Delay in Initial Dementia Diagnosis

A new study has found that dementia patients are not undergoing evaluation at the onset of the dementia process, a delay that prevents early, beneficial treatment.

The study, conducted by a multidisciplinary Spectrum Health neurology team, also found that home-based, patient-centered care may improve early screening and detection of dementia.

For the new study, researchers reviewed 110 randomly-chosen initial evaluations from the Spectrum Health Medical Group Neurocognitive Clinic in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from 2008 to 2015.

They discovered that 78.9 percent of the patients evaluated already had moderate or severe dementia at the time of diagnosis.

“The findings indicate that people are living with dementia for significant periods of time before seeking diagnosis and treatment,” said Timothy Thoits, M.D., lead author and neurology division chief, Spectrum Health Medical Group. “The earlier the diagnosis, the earlier treatment can begin and the earlier the benefit to the patient and his or her family and caregivers.”

The researchers reviewed the initial diagnostic patient evaluations, which included a neurological examination, Montreal Cognitive Assessment, and a battery of neuropsychological testing. They determined dementia stage and severity by correlating it with the number of lifestyle changes recommended at the time of diagnosis, which they say is a novel study method that has not previously been used.

Lifestyle changes included medication assistance, financial assistance, driving restrictions, and institutional care. At the time of diagnosis, providers recommended lifestyle changes in 75.8 percent of patients with dementia.

The study concludes that “an increase in home-based, patient-centered medical care, regardless of the patient’s living status, may be one way to improve recognition of cognitive deficits and increase the frequency of important and necessary early cognitive evaluations.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines home-based care as “any form of assistance provided to a sick person referred to as the patient directly in the home by family, friends, and members of the local community, cooperating with the advice and support from the trained health workers.”

The study was published in The American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias.

Source: Spectrum Health

Photo: Timothy Thoits, M.D., lead author and neurology division chief, Spectrum Health Medical Group. Credit: Spectrum Health.

Age-Related Focusing Issues Harnessed to Recall Strangers’ Names

Age-Related Focusing Issues Harnessed to Recall Strangers' Names

As we age, our brains become less efficient at ignoring distraction, and we tend to pick up unnecessary information from our surroundings. In a new Canadian study, researchers tapped into this natural memory change in order to help older adults remember the names of strangers, an ability that also tends to diminish as we get older.

“This strategy harnessed a natural change that occurs as we get older and used it to boost memory for information that is meaningful to older adults,” said Dr. Kelly Murphy, senior author on the study, a clinical neuropsychologist at Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care and psychology professor at the University of Toronto.

The new findings are published in the journal Psychology and Aging.

The study involved a group of 57 participants, including both younger adults aged 17 to 23 and older adults aged 60 to 86. Participants were tested on their memory right after being shown the faces and names of 24 different people.

They were then shown another series of faces with text on their foreheads. However, they were told to ignore the written information and push a button when they saw the same face appear twice in a row. Some of the same faces and names from the first task were shown again. Upon completion, everyone was tested on their memory again.

The results reveal that older adults had better accuracy for the faces and names shown twice during both tasks, despite being told to ignore the text. When the name was shown as a distraction the second time, older adults used this to spontaneously rehearse the information learned previously. Younger adults did not see the same improvements, which is consistent with previous research.

“Our findings show that this method could be used as an effective memory strategy to help older adults remember the names of people they meet,” said Dr. Lynn Hasher, second senior investigator on the study, a senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute and psychology professor at the University of Toronto.

“Through our work, we could develop more successful interventions for this population because it builds on their natural processing abilities rather than trying to use skills employed by younger adults.”

Over the years, Hasher’s lab has been involved in several discoveries showing that older adults can use distraction to help them learn. Next, they plan to create a training program that could help older adults learn the faces and names of people they meet and help them feel more comfortable with new social interactions.

This work is very important, because having trouble remembering people’s names can be quite upsetting and stressful in social situations, potentially causing an older adult to withdraw from socializing, said Dr. Renee Biss, who conducted the study.

In addition, the study could yield even greater results beyond boosting memory for faces and names. In light of the fact that older adults often have a difficult time remembering the associations between unrelated items, further testing with these tools could improve this type of memory as well, said Biss, a former postdoctoral fellow at Baycrest’s Neuropsychology and Cognitive Health program.

The team will also be exploring whether older adults who have mild cognitive impairment — a condition that can develop into Alzheimer’s — could also benefit from this strategy.

The results of this research could also be incorporated into a smartphone application as an accessible memory training tool.

Source: Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care

Photo: This is Dr. Lynn Hasher, second senior investigator on the study, a senior scientist at Baycrest’s Rotman Research Institute and a psychology professor at the University of Toronto. Credit: Baycrest Health Sciences.

Many OCD Patients Tend to Use Poor Coping Strategies

Many OCD Patients Tend to Use Poor Coping Strategies

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) tend to fall back on maladaptive coping strategies such as rumination and thought suppression, according to new research; this even though adaptive coping skills such as acceptance and problem-solving could improve their quality of life .

Unfortunately, many OCD patients tend to lack those adaptive coping skills while in the throes of the disorder, according to a new German study published in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research.

OCD is a complex psychological condition in which the patient suffers from persistent unwanted thoughts and high levels of anxiety. The disorder can lead to a severe reduction in one’s quality of life.

For the study, the researchers compared the behavior of 60 patients with OCD to a group of 110 people with depression as well as a control group of 1,050 adults. All participants completed anonymous online surveys in which they reported their medical and psychological histories, along with their levels of compulsivity and abilities to cope in specific situations.

Participants also answered a questionnaire that covered different adaptive and maladaptive coping styles that one might use to deal with difficult situations.

The participants also completed the Maladaptive and Adaptive Coping Styles Questionnaire (MAX) that had been recently developed by the researchers. This questionnaire measures coping styles using three dimensions: maladaptive coping (thought suppression, rumination), adaptive coping (problem-solving, acceptance), and avoidance.

Participants gave information about the coping strategies they use against their OCD symptoms such as problem-solving and rumination, as well as other coping styles that have recently been adopted in therapy, such as acceptance and suppression.

People with OCD were found to possess more maladaptive coping skills than all of the other participants, including those suffering from depression. They also possessed fewer functional skills to help them cope and adapt. Those who lacked adaptive coping skills were more likely to have poor insight into their condition and a resistance to symptoms.

“Patients with OCD are characterized by both more maladaptive coping and less adaptive coping relative to controls,” said study leader Dr. Steffen Moritz from the University Hospital Hamburg in Germany.

“Coping skills are important for many aspects of daily life beyond mental health,” he said. “Teaching children skills such as how to cope with bullying at school, poor performance or problems with their parents, for example, in the framework of general cognitive preventative treatment and resilience training in school, may help children to better deal with emotional turmoil and challenging situations during adolescence.”

“It may also prevent the progression of a vulnerability to later obsessive-compulsive disorder or depression as well as other disorders,” said Moritz.

Although the findings highlight some of the skills that patients with OCD lack, Moritz says further research is needed to find out to what extent improving such coping skills during childhood and adolescence through cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or similar interventions may indeed improve an OCD patient’s quality of life.

Source: Springer

New Clues on Why Sense of Direction Fades With Age

New Clues on Why Sense of Direction Fades With Age

A new study has found a possible explanation for the difficulty in spatial orientation sometimes experienced by elderly people.

During the study, researchers detected unstable activity in the brains of older adults in an area that is central for spatial navigation.

In the long term, these findings might open up new ways for detecting Alzheimer’s disease, according to researchers at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE).

To guide us through space in a goal-directed manner, the brain has to process a flood of information, ranging from visual stimuli to cues provided by the muscular system and our sense of balance. This means spatial orientation and navigation are among the most complex abilities of the human mind, researchers note.

Unfortunately, these skills often deteriorate as we grow older, which can severely compromise independence and quality of life.

“When you move around an unfamiliar environment, it is perfectly normal to get lost. Yet, this tends to happen more often to older people. So far, we know very little about the underlying neuronal mechanisms of these navigation problems,” said Matthias Stangl, a researcher at the DZNE’s Magdeburg site and first author of the study.

“We had the hypothesis that so-called grid cells might be implicated. A major part of the navigational processing is done by these cells. They are specialized neurons located in the brain’s entorhinal cortex. Therefore, we guessed that deficits in grid cell function might be a cause for problems in navigation.”

To test this assumption, Stangl and his colleagues performed experiments with 41 healthy young and older adults, who were split in two groups. The group of “young adults” consisted of 20 participants between the ages of 19 and 30, while the group of older adults was made up of 21 individuals between the ages of 63 and 81. Both groups included men and women.

One of the experiments combined functional brain imaging (fMRI) and virtual reality, according to the researchers. Participants had to navigate through a computer-generated scenery while their brain activity patterns were monitored.

A second experiment tested the ability for “path integration.” In this experiment, participants moved along predefined curved paths. At intermediate stops, they had to estimate their distance and orientation relative to their starting point, but without being able to see or pinpoint its location. Since this test was carried out in two versions, it took place both in real space and in a virtual environment, researchers explained.

“All things considered, young participants did better in navigation, which is in line with previous studies. However, we found an association between decreased navigational performance and deficits in grid cell activity,” said Professor Thomas Wolbers, a DZNE senior scientist and supervisor of the study.

“Grid cells fired differently when comparing young and old adults. Specifically, firing patterns were less stable over time in older individuals, which indicates that these brain circuits are compromised in old age. This might be a cause of why many senior people tend to have troubles with spatial navigation.”

“Grid cells play a central role not just in navigation but also in other cognitive functions,” Wolbers added. “Therefore, our findings might indicate a key mechanism underlying cognitive deficits in old age. Not only does this provide insights into neurophysiological changes due to aging, it may also help in designing therapies against age-related cognitive decline.”

While weakening navigational skills might occur in healthy adults, such a decline is also considered as one of the earliest symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

“Assessing navigation performance and grid cell function could possibly facilitate early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative disorders,” Wolbers said.

“To this end, it would be necessary to develop diagnostic methods that distinguish between an age-related decline in navigational ability and a decline caused by disease. This might be a challenging task. However, our findings lay the foundation for future studies on such topics.”

The study was published in the journal Current Biology.

Source: German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases

Photo: Soil patterns, as used in one of the experiments: a virtual, computer-generated scene was used to test the ability of young and older adults to orient themselves spatially. Credited to DZNE.