Pregnant and Displaced: Double the Danger

By Sarah Costa

Pregnancy and Displaced“There were no means of transport, so they prepared a bicycle. She lost a lot of blood and when she arrived at the district hospital, she wasn’t paid much attention. Around 6 a.m., both the mother and baby died. I witnessed it. The woman was 38 years-old.” These are the words of a man from the Kisumu district in Kenya, describing a pregnant woman in his community who had died while giving birth during the post-election violence that rocked the country in early 2008.

This kind of scenario plays out every day, around the world; more than 350,000 women die during pregnancy and childbirth every year. Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur in developing countries, where the lack of access to quality health care and information results in high fertility rates and closely spaced births, increasing women’s and girls’ risk of death and disability. Indeed, pregnancy can be a matter of life or death for women and girls in these places; and, their infants’ lives are in jeopardy as well.

Full story at Huffington Post

Mental illness: Finding a way out of the darkness

By Lisa Larson

Mental Illness With Josh BarkerWhen Brandi Braegger, of Cedar City, was 13 years old she had a major depressive episode that served as the beginning of a rollercoaster ride that would eventually include self medication, binge drinking, nine hospitalizations, post-partum hallucinations and four suicide attempts.

“When I’d wake up it would be a huge despair (thinking) ‘I’m still here,'” Braegger says of the attempts that involved taking excessive amounts of pills.

It’s a situation to which Josh Barker, of St. George, can relate. For years this 34-year-old experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, combined with certain obsessions and compulsions that often dictated his actions, yet he never really knew that his behavior wasn’t normal.

“For a while I thought this was how everybody operated,” Barker says.

It’s taken therapy and proper medication to help him realize that isn’t the case.

Full story at The Spectrum

Men at higher risk for mental decline

By Lisa Esposito

Mens Mental Health Higher RiskSubtle problems with memory and thinking skills — known as mild cognitive impairment — often precede Alzheimer’s disease, and a new study finds that men are at higher risk for these troubles than women.

Lead researcher Rosebud Roberts and her colleagues looked at 1,450 people from Olmsted County, Minn., who were between 70 and 89 years old and free of dementia in October 2004. Some three and a half years later, 296 had become mildly impaired.

New cases of mild cognitive impairment were consistently higher among men, except in the 85 to 89 age group. Overall, the risk was 40 percent higher for men.

Having a high school or less education was also linked to greater risk, and the study found that the combination of being male without college education brought an “unexpectedly high risk” of impairment that did not involve memory loss.

Full story at USA Today

Grief Could Join List of Disorders

By Benedict Carey

Grief A DisorderWhen does a broken heart become a diagnosis?

In a bitter skirmish over the definition of depression, a new report contends that a proposed change to the diagnosis would characterize grieving as a disorder and greatly increase the number of people treated for it. 

The criteria for depression are being reviewed by the American Psychiatric Association, which is finishing work on the fifth edition of its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or D.S.M., the first since 1994. The manual is the standard reference for the field, shaping treatment and insurance decisions, and its revisions will affect the lives of millions of people for years to come.

In coming months, as the manual is finalized, outside experts will intensify scrutiny of its finer points, many of which are deeply contentious in the field. A controversy erupted last week over the proposed tightening of the definition of autism, possibly sharply reducing the number of people who receive the diagnosis. Psychiatrists say current efforts to revise the manual are shaping up as the most contentious ever.

Full story at The New York Times

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