Archive for August, 2011

Parents of every student-athlete ABSOLUTELY MUST READ!

Because the medical treatment of concussions and other sports-related brain injuries is still developing, here’s an article parents of every student-athlete ABSOLUTELY MUST READ!

It’s especially important for parents because a young person’s brain is not fully developed or mature until his early to mid-20s and a trauma that may be less significant – “getting your bell rung” – may be potentially far more devastating for a 7, 10, or 18 year iold.

We won’t summarize it or minimize it. We’ll only say that all youth sports carry a risk of traumatic brain injuries – well, maybe with the exception of crocket, tiddlywinks and marbles. In fact, Americans sustain as many as 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions, 235,000 hospitalizations and 50,000 deaths each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And, “Ninety percent of concussions went undiagnosed. In fact, today you can talk to an athlete and ask the amount of concussion they’ve had and give them an actual definition, and that number will increase,” Chris Nowinski of the Boston-based Sports Legacy Institute told Village Voice Media

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Posted in: Headline, Health & Exercise

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Testosterone may cause increased probability of dying among teenagers

Testosterone. It makes 18 the old 22 – at least physically.

It’s the male hormone that, from conception to old age, controls the lives of men and boys; and, now there’s evidence that it may be causing an “accident hump” – associated with an increased probability of dying among teenage boys.

The age of sexual maturity has been on a decline – about 2.5months each decade or more than two years per century – at least since the mid-18th Century but, the research has focused primarily on girls and used data analysis documented by medical records.

Testosterone may cause risky behaviour in teenagers“The reason for earlier maturity for boys, as with girls, is probably because nutrition and disease environments are getting favorable for it,” reports demographer Joshua Goldstein, director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock (Germany). Goldstein uncovered the male statistics by studying demographic data related to mortality. When male hormone production during puberty reaches a maximum level, the probability of dying increases – an “accident hump.” And the hump, which is statistically well-documented, is consistent in almost all societies.

Reviewing data for Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Great Britain and Italy since 1950, Goldstein discovered that the “accident hump” is getting earlier and earlier. It occurs in the late phase of puberty, after males reach reproductive capability and their voices change. It is attributed to the fact that young men participate in particularly risky behaviors when the release of testosterone reaches its maximum .  (However, it should be noted, that since 1950 the data is not clear but indicates stagnation.)

It is well-known that dangerous and reckless shows of strength, negligence, and a high propensity to violence lead to an increased number of fatal accidents. While the probability of a fatality remains low, the rate jumps considerably.

“Being 18 today is like being 22 in 1800,” reports Goldstein, who attributes the changes to better nutrition and an improved resilience against diseases. Moreover, it appears that the shift in age of maturity is biological and not related to technological advancements or social activities. “Researchers see for the first time how females and males have been equally responsive to changes in the environment,” notes Goldstein.

“The biological and social phases in the lives of young people are drifting apart ever stronger. While adolescents become adults earlier in a biological sense, they reach adulthood later regarding their social and economic roles.”

Sociological and life-cycle research show that for more than half a century the age at which people marry, have children, start their careers and become financially independent from their parents continue to rise.

Goldstein points out that this doesn’t only extend the period of physical adulthood during which young people do not yet have children. “Important decisions in life are being made with an increasing distance from the recklessness of youth.”  He points out that it remains unclear whether the “high-risk phase” of adolescence becomes more dangerous because it starts earlier. Although young men are less mentally and socially mature, their parents tend to supervise their children more closely when they are younger.

Goldstein points out that this doesn’t only extend the period of physical adulthood during which young people do not yet have children. “Important decisions in life are being made with an increasing distance from the recklessness of youth.”  He points out that it remains unclear whether the “high-risk phase” of adolescence becomes more dangerous because it starts earlier. Although young men are less mentally and socially mature, their parents tend to supervise their children more closely when they are younger.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

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30 minutes a day of exercise adds four years to life expectancy

It’s a promised “return on investment” that, if it involved money, would get folks arrested for running a Ponzi scheme. But, here’s the newest science-based facts: 15 minutes a day or 92 minutes per week of mild to moderate exercise extended lifespan by three years compared to inactivity.

Those were the results of a twelve year study of 416,175 Taiwanese and reported by senior author Xifeng Wu, MD, PhD, professor and chair of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Department of Epidemiology. “Exercising at very light levels reduce deaths from any cause by 14 percent,” reported Dr. Xifeng. “The benefits of exercise appear to be significant even without reacting the recommended 150 minutes per week based on results of previous research.”

Benefits Of ExerciseLead author Chi-Pang Wen, MD of the National Health Research Institutes of Taiwan, and colleagues found that a person’s risk of death from any cause decreased by four percent for every additional 15 minutes of exercise up to 100 minutes a day over the course of the study and exercising for 30 minutes a day added about four years to life expectancy – regardless of age group, gender or risk of cardiovascular disease.
At onset, study participants completed a questionnaire covering their medical history of lifestyle information. They characterized their weekly physical activity for the previous month by intensity  – light (walking), moderate (brisk walking), vigorous (jogging) or high vigorous (running) – and time. Participants also characterized their physical activity at work – sedentary to hard physical labor. Those who reported less than one hour a week of leisure time physical activity – 54 percent – were classified in as inactive, while others received ratings of low, medium, high or very high based on duration and intensity of their exercise.

The researchers also analyzed thirteen other variables: age, sex, education level, physical labor at work, smoking, alcohol use, fasting blood sugar, systolic blood pressure, total cholesterol, body mass index, diabetes, hypertension and history of cancer. Those who engaged in low-volume exercise had lower death rates than inactive people – regardless of age, gender, health status, tobacco use, alcohol consumption or cardiovascular disease risk.

At present, the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week – a guideline met by only one-third of U.S. adults. While the study considered only Taiwanese participants, the findings of reduced mortality through even moderately intense exercise are likely to hold true for other populations, said Wu, even though the amount of time spent or workout intensity required for a health benefit might differ. “These findings can stimulate people to exercise as much as they can and to not be frustrated that they can’t reach the 30 minutes per day guideline,” said Wu.
The exercise project was funded by the Taiwan Department of Health Clinical Trial and Research Center of Excellence and the Taiwan National Health Research Institutes.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Posted in: Fatigue, Headline, Health & Exercise

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If you want to stop learn HALT!

It’s one of the most basic principles taught in any drug/alcohol/gambling/compulsive eating treatment program: If you want to stop, learn HALT.

The acronym stands for Hungry-angry-Lonely-Tired. They’re four mental/emotional/leading to relapse.

Now, a study that will be published in the November 2011 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research adds to what physicians and mental health professionals have known for generations: “Drinking alcohol may reduce maintaining a healthy diet, leading to adverse metabolic effects which in turn add to those directly produced by alcohol.” In short, excessive drinking and an unbalanced diet are two preventable contributors to health problems.

← Parental conflict may find its expression in infants sleep difficulties Posted on August 23, 2011 by Brain Training Centers Of Florida  It’s one of the most basic principles taught in any drug/alcohol/gambling/compulsive eating treatment program: If you want to stop, learn HALT.“On average, people who drink excessive alcohol are more likely to be careless in their dietary habits,” noted Miguel A. Martinez-Gonzalez, chair of the department of preventive medicine and public health at the University of Navarra (Spain) and co-author of the report. “A high alcohol intake is especially unhealthy with respect to liver disease. A high-energy food pattern rich in trans fats – such as ‘fast-foods’ or items from a commercial bakery — is also likely to be related to liver disease. In this sense, if both unhealthy lifestyles cluster together, they can act synergistically to produce very adverse effects.”

“The specific influence of alcohol on diet may depend upon the overall quantity of alcohol ingested, frequency of consumption, beverage preference, and whether alcohol intake takes place during meals,” said Jose Lorenzo Valencia-Martin, a doctor at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and corresponding author for the study. “Alcohol may indirectly contribute to several chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease, or cancer.”

The researchers found “drinking at mealtimes is associated with insufficient intake of healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and with excessive intake of animal protein,” according to Valencia-Martin.

The researchers conducted 12,037 telephone surveys between 2000 and 2005, among other issues, looked at binge drinking. In the end, “Excessive drinkers, either with or without binge drinking, showed a poor adherence to dietary recommendations,” said Valencia-Martin. “Although drinking at mealtimes has traditionally been considered a safe or even a healthy behavior, our results point to some unintended consequences that the general population should be aware of. In particular, drinking at mealtimes is associated with poor adherence to most of the food consumption guidelines.”

“’What do I have to change?’ is a standard question from men and women new to recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse. Most of the time, the answer is ‘Everything,’” noted Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy.D., CAP  director of clinical services of the Brain Training Centers of Florida and an addictions counselor. “And we always caution them about HALT. If you’re hungry, alcohol is quick and easy calories. Angry? Have a drink or two and you won’t be angry – until you are again. Lonely? Substance abusers have a relationship with their drugs of choice; alcohol or drugs are often their closest friends. And tired? The extra calories can be a quick picker-upper until it slams you,” said Flynn. “This new research takes the conventional wisdom about recovery one step further and applies it to many men and women who are not yet in trouble because of their alcohol use.”

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Posted in: Addiction, Featured

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Parental conflict may find its expression in infants sleep difficulties

It’s one of the great self-deluding myths of marital conflict: “We don’t argue in front of the children; we protect the kids from everything that is happening; the kids don’t know that we’re having trouble.”

Parental conflict may find its expression in infants’ sleep difficulties, according to a new report in the July/August 2011 edition of the journal Child Development.

Brain Training & Sleep IssuesPoor sleep patterns in children from nine to eighteen months are likely influenced by conflict in their parents’ marriage, notes Penn State professor of psychology Jenae M. Neiderhiser. While past research has shown a connection between marital distress and child sleeping habits, this study looked specifically at adopted infants and their parents. Studying adopted parents and their infants allowed researchers to focus on environmental issues and eliminate genetic factors that might affect children’s sleep problems.

“It is important to understand how parenting comes in to play here,” said Neiderhiser. “Looking at the marital relationship is not direct parent-child interaction, but it is an index of stress in the family.”

The research team interviewed 357 sets of adoptive parents – together and separately and assessed their habits and emotions as well as their children’s behaviors. Parents where interviewed twice – when children were nine and 18 months old.

Parents were asked a series of questions, including “Have you or your partner suggested the idea of a divorce?” They were also asked to describe their children’s bedtime behavior by rating several behaviors including “Child needs parents in room to fall asleep” or “child struggles at bedtime.”

The researchers found that marital conflict in the first survey at nine months predicted that the child would be more likely to have sleep problems at the time of the second survey. However, if the child had sleep problems at nine months, the parents were not more likely to have marital stress at eighteen months.

According to Neiderhiser, “Research indicates that stress can negatively impact sleep. We also know that infancy is an important time for the development of sleep patterns. Our study suggests that marital instability is impacting change in the child’s sleep patterns over time, and it could be that this is setting the child up for a pattern of problematic sleep.”

“The implications of the Penn State study is especially important for many contemporary adults with sleep patterns,” notes Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy.D., clinical director of the Brain Training Centers of Florida. “Too often we see clients who have never – almost since infancy – experienced a good night’s sleep and awakened refreshed.

“Our experience indicates that clients frequently have brain wave patterns that were adversely affected by early-life experience and have never allowed them to experience healthy, refreshing sleep. By allowing them to achieve a new appropriate balance of their brain wave activity, we allow them to experience refreshing and restorative sleep – often for the first times in their lives,” reported Flynn.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Posted in: Sleep Issues

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Factors that may contribute to long-term and recurring depressions

New scientific research from London may provide a key into the recent success of a South Florida firm assisting individuals with long-term and previously intractable depressions.

Individuals with histories of childhood abuse or mistreatment are twice as likely to develop multiple and long-lasting depressive episodes as those without such experiences, according to a new report by a Psychiatry team from King’s College London Institute of Psychiatry and published in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The British researchers studied 16 epidemiological studies involving more than 20,000 participants and 10 clinical trials involving more than 3,000 participants. At present, one in ten children exposed to maltreatment – psychological, physical or sexual abuse or neglect – and the World Health Organization predicts that by 2020 depression will be the second leading contributor to the cost of disease across all ages. Significantly, individuals with multiple and long-lasting depressive episodes represent the largest societal impact of depression.

While previous studies have shown that maltreated individuals are more likely to show abnormalities in biological systems sensitive to psychological stress – the brain, the endocrine, and the immune systems – both in childhood and adult life, and they may have important clinical implications.

Helping Child Abuse Victims - Brain Training Centers “Identifying those at risk of multiple and long lasting depressive episodes is crucial from a public health perspective,” notes Dr. Andrea Danese, senior investigator of the King’s study. “The results indicate that childhood maltreatment is associated both with an increased risk of developing recurrent and persistent episodes of depression, and with an increased risk of responding poorly to treatment. Therefore prevention and early therapeutic interventions targeting childhood maltreatment could prove vital in helping prevent the major health burden owing to depression. Knowing that individuals with a history of maltreatment won’t respond as well to treatment may also be valuable for clinicians in determining patient’s prognosis,” she added.

Dr. Danese noted, “The biological abnormalities associated with childhood maltreatment could potentially explain why individuals with a history of maltreatment respond poorly to treatment for depression.”

“Our study has shown that antidepressant medication, psychological treatment and the combination of these two are less effective in those who have a history of childhood maltreatment,” noted Dr. Rudolf Uher, co-author of the article “Childhood Maltreatment Predicts Unfavorable Course of Illness and Treatment Outcome in Depression: A Meta-Analysis,” appearing in the August 14, 2011 edition of The American Journal of Psychiatry.

“Research on the brain is only now beginning to recognize the myriad of factors that may contribute to long-term and recurring depressions,” observed Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy.D., director of clinical services of the Brain Training Centers of Florida. “So many of our clients with histories of long-term and recurring depressions report physical, emotional and sexual abuse in childhood or the fear that occurs when one grows up in a family with an alcohol or addicted or violent pattern that our experience reflects the British findings.

“More importantly, however, we’ve also found that using the tools of neurobiofeedback and individual counseling we are frequently able to assist clients in overcoming depression, sleeping better, and living without the stress of being perpetually hyper-vigilant,” said Flynn.

Flynn is careful to avoid making promises regarding individual clients, again noting the “multitude of factors – including childhood trauma – that may result in adult depression.

“Our experience, assisting dozens of clients with histories of chronic depression, appears to indicate that early life trauma affects the balance of brainwave activity throughout the brain,” notes Flynn. “By helping clients achieve a healthier balance of this activity, we have been able to assist many adults find significant and long-term relief from otherwise unresponsive depressions.”

Dr. Flynn is quick to emphasize that future research should emphasize biological and neurological changes associated with childhood abuse in all its forms.

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Posted in: Depression, Neurofeedback

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Importance of setting boundaries around your use of technology

If ever there were a “perfect story” of reasons for the parents of college students to lose sleep, here it  is: Nearly half of all college students have received sexually suggestive images through text messages – sexting – and nearly 80 percent have received suggestiver messages and, depending on the state, minors and adults who possess or forward such images of anyone younger than 18 may be charged with violating child pornography laws.

The importance of setting boundaries with your technologyUniversity of Rhode Island assistant professors Sue K. Adams and Tiffani S. Kisler examined the impact of technology use on physical and mental health, as well as interpersonal relationships with college students.  In their study of 204 students conducted during the Spring 2011, they found that 56 percent had received sexually suggestive images, and 78 percent had received sexually suggestive messages.  Potentially more criminally dangerous, two-thirds of the group had sent suggestive messages. Granted almost three-quarters – 73 percent – were sent to a relationship partner, 10 percent were forwarded without consent of the original sexter.

“It is important to help everyone, especially students, understand the importance of setting boundaries around their use of technology,” notes Kisler.

In August, Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee signed a bill outlawing sexting by minors. It provides that minors who create and send sexually explicit images of themselves may be charged with a “status offense” and referred to family court. Minors and adults who possess or forward sexual images of anyone younger than 18 may be charged under the state’s child pornography law.

“College freshmen are right at that 17- and 18-year old threshold,” observed Professor Adams.  “Whether it is classmates in college or friends from high school, we have to wonder how many students are thinking about the ages of the people they are communicating with.” And Kisler pointed out that many students don’t recognize the lack of control they have over who is seeing their messages.

“At the young age of most college students, people are filtering through relationships at a faster rate. People want to feel a sense of belonging, so they are sharing more of themselves with people they are still getting to know. Once they click that ‘send’ button, they don’t know where else a message will end up,” said Kisler.

In an earlier study, Kisler and Adams found that texting and cell phone use affect important aspects of students’ physical health. Forty-seven percent of the 236 college juniors and seniors in their study reported being awakened by text messages and then responding before falling back to sleep. Forty percent of student answered phone calls during sleep; students who use technology throughout the night were losing an average of 44 minutes of sleep per week due to text messages and calls. And, this pattern of loss sleep was also associated with particularly poor sleep quality, depression and anxiety.

“At first glance 44 minutes doesn’t seem like much, but combined with the fact that college students are the most sleep deprived population across all age groups, the implications are significant,” notes Adams. “More often than not, the interruptions caused by texting come with the first few hours of sleep, which is the most important time for restorative sleep. If students are constantly interrupting their sleep cycle, they place themselves at risk for sleep debt, which can impact multiple areas of their life, including academic performance. “

Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.

Posted in: Depression, Health & Exercise

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