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Showing posts from December, 2012

Happy New Year!

Research Roundup: Hat Tip to 2012 Edition

As we steadily march toward 2013, I'd like to take a few minutes to highlight some of the best studies of 2012 that advanced our knowledge of psychosocial issues for those living with chronic medical illness.  I might even include a few shameless self-plugs for my own research, but I promise to keep it under control.

Bullying experiences of obese children.  A great study in the journal Pediatrics highlights the struggles of overweight and obese children with bullying, with some startling statistics.  78% reported being bullied for at least 1 year, while 36% were bullied for 5 years.  Peers and friends were the most likely people to bully, but several adults were also identified including gym teachers/sports coaches (42%), parents (37%) and teachers (27%).  Yikes.

Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is effective in treating depression in teens with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.  The PASCET-PI study out of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh found that adolescents who underwent CBT for…

Everyone Alive?

Another Hanukkah and Christmas season have passed us by.  So much preparation for what seems like a day that goes by in about 12 minutes.  I spent most of yesterday cooking, including a turkey marked by the 3 Bs:  Brine, Butter, and Bacon - because in this house, we're all about healthy eating at Christmas.

The holidays are a stressful time of year for many.  Running to crowded malls for last minute gifts, cooking extensive meals for 14 of your closest relatives, and mentally preparing for that one uncle who starts the political/religious/moral arguments while passing the stuffing.  It's no wonder that December has one of the highest suicide rates of the year.  Or does it?

I'm guessing that you've heard this factoid:  people are more likely to commit suicide around the holidays.  Well, researchers have studied this trend and found that this simply isn't true.  According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), suicide rates do not increase November-January but ten…

Vicarious Trauma

A lot has been said, and will continue to be said, about the tragic events in Newtown, CT on Friday.  The debate about gun control, mental health, violence, and the general pathology of our current society will hopefully rage for some time and lead to some meaningful changes in all of these areas.

Something needs to change.  I don't claim to have all of the answers.

This national tragedy has been particularly hard on me.  I'm not saying that previous mass shootings were any less ghastly, but they didn't penetrate my psyche like this one has.  Maybe it's because of the ages of the victims, and that I have a young daughter.  I really don't know.  But as has been said on the news, something's different about this one.

When I went through training to become a psychologist, we learn about something called vicarious trauma.  Basically hearing horrific stories from your clients wears on you, and it's vital to being a good therapist that you're aware of this …

There's Nothing To Say

20 children.  Kindergarteners.  At least 6 adults.  Gone.

Moving in the Wrong Direction

It's been in the news recently, the upcoming 5 version to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders - or DSM 5.  The DSM, published by the American Psychiatric Association, is the guidebook that every mental health professional is supposed to use to make a mental health diagnosis.  It contains the symptoms, timeframes, and exclusions for every condition from acute stress disorder to voyeurism.

Version 5 has been worked on for years and is due out in 2013.  Much of the news reports about this version have to do with the elimination of Asperger's in lieu of creating an Autism spectrum on which people with Asperger's will now fall on the mild end.  Other concerns are that normal bereavement will now be considered major depression due to loosening of the depression diagnostic criteria.  But my concern lies with the changes to an existing diagnostic category - Somatoform Disorders.

Rather than repeating what's in store in DSM 5, this article provides an exc…

IBD Awareness Week: IBD and BCP

I came across this question this morning on Crohnology:

Has anyone had difficulty with any types of birth control during a flare?
It got me thinking about if there's a relationship between IBD and birth control pills.  I've read research articles on how female hormones and monthly menstrual cycles can affect digestive symptoms, but that was mostly in people with IBS.  Before I continue, I want to preface my post that I'm not trying to cause any alarm, rather discuss my personal experience in this area and go over a few research studies on the topic.

I've been living a bit of a confused life as a person with Crohn's disease the past year and a half or so.  See, I had my first child in April of 2011.  Before getting pregnant I was in a minor flare up and got back together with my old friends "the biologics," this time in the form of Cimzia.  
I stayed on Cimzia until week 30 of my pregnancy, when I and my GI doc decided it was worth the risk of a flare to e…

IBD Awareness Week: The Role of Stress, Part 2

Today I'm going to talk about the brain-gut connection and how it may play a role in IBD symptoms.  Yesterday I gave an overview of the HPA Axis, which recent research is implicating in the presence of inflammation and other changes in the digestive tract.  The brain-gut connection has some overlap to what I went over, so I'll try not to be repetitive.

Historically, the brain-gut connection has been connected with more "functional" conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or Functional Dyspepsia.  Functional conditions are a class of disorders that are caused by problems with how the digestion system functions (see, medicine isn't all convoluted all the time), typically at the neurological or muscular level.

When a person with IBS has a colonoscopy, there is no evidence of inflammation either visibly or under the microscope when biopsies are taken and analyzed.  Their colon looks like that of a healthy person, even though they may have chronic abdominal pain…

IBD Awareness Week: The Role of Stress, Part 1

Yesterday I tweeted the statistic that 75% of people with IBD report that they believe stress was a contributing factor to their developing Crohn's disease or Ulcerative Colitis.  That stat came from a 2012 review article of psychological issues in IBD, published in the journal Gastroenterology Research & Practice.  It prompted an exchange with one of our followers about a common misconception that stress causes IBD, and how this belief can lead to stigma in that the person with IBD has done something to bring the disease on themselves.

This is a tricky topic because, as I tell every person that I see, stress doesn't necessarily cause your condition but stress isn't good for any chronic illness - whether it's hypertension, ulcerative colitis, lupus, or migraine headaches.  Some people readily endorse the connection between stress and symptoms, while others deny any connection whatsoever.  So what's the deal?

First off, we ALL experience stress.  Every day.  Unl…