Indicators of despair rising among Gen X-ers entering middle age

Indicators of despair — depression, suicidal ideation, drug use and alcohol abuse — are rising among Americans in their late 30s and early 40s across most demographic groups, according to new research led by Lauren Gaydosh, assistant professor of Medicine, Health and Society and Public Policy Studies at Vanderbilt University. These findings suggest that the increase in “deaths of despair” observed among low-educated middle-aged white Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) in recent studies may begin to impact the youngest members of Generation X (born 1974-1983) more broadly in the years to come.

The study, The Depths of Despair Among U.S. Adults Entering Midlife, appears in the American Journal of Public Health. Gaydosh’s co-authors are Kathleen Mullan Harris, Robert A. Hummer, Taylor W. Hargrove, Carolyn T. Halpern, Jon M. Hussey, Eric A. Whitsel, and Nancy Dole, all at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

In 2016, U.S. life expectancy began to decline for the first time in nearly a quarter-century, and researchers theorized that this was driven by a marked increase in deaths due to drug overdose, alcoholic cirrhosis and suicide among middle-aged whites with low education or in rural areas. At the time, this was explained by a unique triple-punch of worsening employment prospects accompanied by a declining perception of socioeconomic status and an erosion of social supports for this group. But studies to better understand those mortality trends did not definitively show that low-income rural whites were actually experiencing more despair than other groups.

Full story at Science Daily

Experimental drug may ease opioid withdrawal symptoms

A drug that scientists originally developed to treat depression may have promise for the treatment of opioid withdrawal, researchers say.

Opioid withdrawal is a challenging experience, and although there are medications already on the market that can help curb the symptoms of withdrawal, these drugs cause negative side effects.

Current withdrawal medications also often require people to take them for a prolonged period, which is not ideal and could lead to a relapse.

Full story at Medical News Today

Alcohol use disorder: Brain damage may progress despite sobriety

A new study goes against the grain of previous research by suggesting that alcohol-induced brain damage does not stop when alcohol use ends. Instead, the harmful effects of alcohol may continue during abstinence. The findings have important implications for the process of recovery from alcohol dependence.

Most of us are familiar with the immediate effects that alcohol consumption has on the brain. Euphoria, depression, memory loss, blurred vision, slurred speech, and a general state of confusion are only some of these effects.

However, for those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol over extended periods, this repeated brain damage can have a long-lasting effect on neuronal and mental health.

Full story at Medical News Today

Severe psychological distress and daily cannabis use: Implications for mental health?

Daily cannabis use increased significantly from 2008 to 2016 among those with and without past-month serious psychological distress (SPD) and use among those with SPD was persistently higher compared to those without SPD. Research at Columbia Mailman School and CUNY shows that in 2016, past-month daily cannabis use was about three times higher for SPD (8%) compared to those without SPD (2.7%). The findings are online in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

“Our research found that persons with SPD reported higher daily cannabis prevalence each study year,” said senior author Renee Goodwin, PhD, Department of Epidemiology. “Therefore, it is important to consider potential consequences of this increased use for those with mental health vulnerabilities.”

Data were drawn from adults age 18 and older in the 2008-2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, a sample of 356,413 and measured by the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale.

Full story at Science Daily

The ‘burden of disease’ in those who recover from addiction

Recent research shows that more than one-third of people who are recovering from addiction continue to experience chronic physical disease.

Excessive use of alcohol and drugs can lead to mental and physical health issues, some of which include anxiety, depression, diabetes, liver disease, and heart disease.

Many of these conditions may improve after recovery, but some may linger and diminish the quality of life.

Full story at Medical News Today