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

Insomniacs Suffer Depression, Heart Woes After Years of Little Sleep (VIDEO)

By Carrie Gann

Insomnia DepressionRyan Holiday was so busy working three jobs that he barely had time to sleep. But when he finally found the time, he couldn’t sleep.

“At first the insomnia was a bonus because I could work more,” Holiday, 24, said. “I was working 18 hour days.”

Then, the panic attacks began.

“It was probably a combination of the stress from work and the insomnia,” he said. “One night I had three concurrent attacks. I couldn’t leave my bed. It was 4 a.m. I was wide awake.”

His doctor prescribed Zoloft and Xanax for his anxiety, and still unable to sleep, he started taking Ambien.

“It’s one of those things where you can’t tell if it’s working,” he said. “I do sleep, but I don’t feel rested. It’s kind of a strange kind of existence.”

Insomnia is the most common sleep disorder, according to an article published Thursday in the journal Lancet. But it often goes unrecognized and untreated. Doctors say it’s an alarming trend because of increasing evidence that untreated insomnia causes other health problems and can lead people to rely on sleep aids that don’t work.

ABC News

How Binge Drinking Affects Mental Health

By Rheyanne Weaver

Binge Drinking Affects Mental HealthDid you know that drinking four or more alcoholic drinks during one sitting is considered binge drinking? According to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is becoming more of an issue for adults in the United States.

In fact, “more than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink an average of four times a month and the most drinks they consume on average is eight,” according to the report.

Binge drinking can lead to death in some cases, and can put people at risk for health issues like liver disease and cancer, as well as car crashes and violence, the report states. The physical consequences are documented, but how is mental health impacted by binge drinking? Experts weigh in on the situation.

Jeff Wolfsberg, a drug education specialist who has been interviewed for FOX News and other news outlets, said in an email that first of all binge drinking as a term isn’t so clear-cut as it appears.

Full story at EmpowHER

Volunteering can boost physical and mental health

By Christine S. Moyer

Volunteering Boosts Mental HealthAt a time when financial hardships and unemployment are causing stress among many Americans, primary care physicians should discuss with patients the physical and mental health benefits of volunteering, says the author of a recent report.

The report, which was published in the December 2011 issue of The International Journal of Person Centered Medicine, found that people who give back to others lead more happy and healthy lives than those who do not volunteer.

“People in general are happier and healthier, and may even live a little longer, when they’re contributing” to their community or an organization they are passionate about, said study author Stephen G. Post, PhD. He is director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York. “The research on the benefits of giving is extremely powerful, to the point that suggests health care professionals should consider recommending such activities to patients.”

Post encourages primary care physicians to ask patients 12 and older during office visits if they volunteer in their communities. For those who do not volunteer, doctors should suggest they consider doing so, he said.

Full story at