Mental Health

All Articles in the Category ‘Mental Health’

iPads may be good for babies

Child and mother using a digital tablet. Close-up.It is fascinating to watch an infant, who cannot yet talk or walk, play games on a tablet computer. But many parents wonder, should children so young be playing with these devices? Despite previous recommendations that children under age 2 should not use any media, a Seattle Children’s Research Institute expert now says children may benefit from playing with age-appropriate apps for 30 to 60 minutes each day.

In 2011, Dimitri Christakis, MD, MPH, was part of a panel of experts who supported a statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) discouraging the use of media by children under 2 years old. But in a new opinion essay, Christakis says that statement should be updated to address new technologies – specifically, the iPad and other tablet computers.

“The AAP statement was in press before iPads existed,” Christakis says. “It treats all screens the same, but there are a lot of theoretical reasons to believe tablet computers are quite different and prior research on traditional media doesn’t apply.”

While he still believes young children should not watch television, Christakis says tablets may be harmless, or even beneficial to infants. Given most parents are ignoring the AAP’s recommendation and 90 percent of children under age 2 watch video screens regularly, Christakis says tablets with interactive apps could be a better alternative. Read full post »

Research study asks: Could mothers be key to ADHD treatment?

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From left: Christina, Lance and Justin Hughes.

As a child, Christina Hughes had trouble paying attention in school. She was criticized for her outbursts in the classroom and constantly forgot her homework. Doctors diagnosed her with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), but her symptoms were never relieved by therapy. Her academics and social life suffered.

“It was always hard for me to make friends, and the ones I did make weren’t the best influence,” Hughes says.

Thirty years later, Hughes is raising two sons with similar behavioral challenges. Justin, 9, is especially impulsive and emotional. Two years ago, he had a fit and began punching himself in the face. He has been bullied and suspended from school for fighting.

Justin was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in 2012. Read full post »

Study: Parents key in treating depressed teens

depression_teensDepression occurs in up to 14 percent of kids ages 13 to 17 and can lead to risky sexual behaviors, substance abuse or even suicide. Unfortunately, few teens utilize mental health services that can help manage depression symptoms. But a study by Seattle Children’s Research Institute suggests parents play a strong role in helping teens receive mental health care.

To find out why some depressed adolescents get help from mental health services and others do not, Seattle Children’s researchers studied 113 teens who screened positive for depression within non-profit health system Group Health. Despite the fact that all of the patients had insurance and access to mental health care, just 52 percent used mental health services. Read full post »

Visit with Macklemore helps 6-year-old heart patient recover

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Courtesy Jordan.Nicholson.Photography.

AJ Hwangbo was a happy-go-lucky 6-year-old without a worry in the world until mid-November when he developed a life-threatening heart condition. While specialists at Seattle Children’s Hospital helped AJ heal physically, the young boy struggled to bounce back emotionally. But, AJ’s joyful spirit returned after hospital staff arranged for him to meet his hero – local artist Macklemore.

“The luckiest or unluckiest boy”

Before he became ill, AJ’s mom Yoo-Lee Yea said he was an especially social first-grader and a frequent jokester. But on the morning of Nov. 12 he was quieter than usual. Later that day AJ threw up at school and by the evening he had a high fever. AJ’s primary care doctor said he likely had a virus and should feel better in a few days. Read full post »

Addressing ADHD Improves Academic and Social Success

At every moment of every day, the human brain processes a constant, and natural, barrage of stimuli. At multiple levels, including below consciousness, our brains constantly filter through these competing stimuli to prioritize those that help us respond, begin a task, take steps toward a larger goal and behave in socially appropriate ways.

For people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), something is amiss in the brain pathways that filter through these competing impulses. Those affected with this neurological condition have difficulty sorting out relevant stimuli from non-relevant stimuli, and may respond impulsively or not respond when a quick response is required. In the classroom, children with ADHD have difficulty focusing on school or homework, sustaining their attention for things they are not interested in, and some (especially younger children) have difficulty sitting still.

Between 9 percent and 11 percent of school-aged children (4 to 17 years of age) in the U.S. have been diagnosed with ADHD – about 13 percent of boys and 5.5 percent of girls.

Though people with ADHD can be very successful in life, without proper diagnosis and treatment, this condition can have serious consequences, like:

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Researchers pinpoint decision-making parts of brain that can affect addiction, ADHD

The brainWhen “Glee” star Cory Monteith died last month from an overdose of heroin and alcohol, his fans were baffled. Monteith, 31, seemed to have everything—a great job, fame and a loving girlfriend and co-star. He had just completed a stint in rehab in April, too. But the pull of addiction is strong and even the smartest people don’t make the best decisions when faced with temptation.

Now, a team led by Susan Ferguson, PhD, from Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and John Neumaier, MD, PhD, from the University of Washington, has used a new technique to identify and learn more about a key reward-based, decision-making part of the brain, the striatum.

The team’s findings have implications for addiction, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder. Perhaps one day, with the help of medications targeting this part of the brain, addicts like Monteith can better control their urges and avoid tragic endings.

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Tips for kids’ mental health

MentalHealthPostWhen a child is sick, needs a vaccination or gets bumped or bruised, most parents don’t hesitate to make a trip to the doctor’s office. But what happens when a child’s feeling blue, overly anxious or struggling to focus in school? This month, in recognition of Mental Health Awareness Month, doctors offer tips for parents to keep kids mentally and emotionally well, and explain what to do when there’s a problem.

Carol M. Rockhill, MD, PhD, and Ian M. Kodish, MD, PhD, child and adolescent psychiatrists at Seattle Children’s Hospital, say first and foremost, we need to relearn the way we view mental health.

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Study: Teens and Young Adults with Mental Health Disorders at Risk of Long-Term Opioid Use

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In a new study, Laura Richardson, MD of Seattle Children’s Research Institute and co-investigators found that young adults ages 13 to 24 with mental health disorders were more likely to be prescribed opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin for chronic pain and also more than twice as likely to become long-term opioid users than those who didn’t have a mental health disorder. The study, “Mental Health Disorders and Long-term Opioid Use Among Adolescents and Young Adults With Chronic Pain,” appears in the June 2012 issue of  Journal of Adolescent Health, and underscores the increase in the use and abuse of long-term opioid painkillers among teens in the U.S.

In this video, Dr. Richardson discusses the findings of the study and what they tell us about this trend:


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