Depression and Prescription Drugs in Adolescents

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Despite concerns that too many U.S. youth use prescription psychiatric drugs, a new study suggests just one in seven teens with a mental disorder has been prescribed medication.

Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which funded the study, said there was "no compelling evidence for either misuse or overuse of psychotropic medications," which include stimulants for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), antidepressants and antipsychotics.

The findings are based on interviews with more that 10,000 teens and their parents.

"Certainly the use of psychiatric medications has been increasing in children and adolescents over the years," said Dr. Benedetto Vitiello from the NIH, who worked on the study.He told Reuters Health, "Most of the adolescents who met the criteria for a condition were not receiving medication, which suggests that they were being treated with something else, maybe psychotherapy, or maybe they were not even treated."

This data possibly suggests there is an underuse of medication, in some cases. Bendetto and his colleagues found 2,350 teens had a type of disorder, including ADHD, anxiety, eating disorders ad depression.

A little over 14 percent of youth with mental illness had been prescribed over the the past year.

I find these results rather alarming. It's hard to believe that this many adolescents were found to have a disorder in a population of 10,000. But it's alarming to learn that only 14 percent of them have sought medication. It's possible, however, that individuals are seeking help in a form besides medication. I suppose it's possible that the participants weren't aware they suffer from a disease, or that they needed medical or professional treatment. Also, the fact that the participants were interviewed with their parents may have affected the results of the study.

Matters of the Heart

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Over time, stress can lead to an increased chance of having a heart attack, depression, and more. Research found that women with high-stress jobs (where they are subject to high demand with little control) were 67 percent more likely to have a hear attack than women in less-intense jobs. The analysis is based on a study including 22,086 women in the health-car field during a span of ten years.

Stress symptoms include increased breathing, tense muscles, and the ignition of "flight of fight" responses, which can contribute to physical and emotional problems over time.

When you are more stressed, you tend to make poor decision about diet. A new study of parents of adolescents found that those who reported greater difficulty balancing work and family obligations were more likely to eat fewer fruits and vegetables and choose fast food than their less-stressed peers.

Anxiety and depression are also associated with increased risk of dying from stroke, according to a study.

This article examines ways to reduce stress such as meditation and exercise. Meditation allows you to focus attention on breathing, which slows your heart rate. Exercise also releases endorphin, which can counteract the negative effects you feel when stressed.

After reading this article, it reinforces how important running is to my life! I would go insane without it!

Binge Drinking Gene

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A study published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal found that a gene known as RASGRF-2 plays a crucial role in controlling how alcohol stimulates the brain to release dopamine, triggering feelings of reward. Alcohol activates the brain's dopamine systems, which stimulates feelings of pleasure and reward.

To begin this study, scientists looked at the brains of mice who had the RASGRF2 gene removed to see how they handles alcohol. Scientist discovered the gene was linked to a great reduction in alcohol-seeking behavior. They also found when the mice consumed alcohol, less dopamine was released into the body, reducing the sense of reward.

The committee continues to analyze the brains of 663 14-year old boys and found that when they were anticipating a reward in a mental test, those with variations of the RASGR2 gene had more brain activity. This suggests people with a variation of the gene release more dopamine when anticipating a reward, therefore they receive more pleasure from it.

Two years later the team analyzed the same group of boys. They found the same boys with the gene variation drank more often then those who didn't.

"People seek out situations which fulfill their sense of reward and make them happy, so if your brain is wired to find alcohol rewarding, you will seek it out," Schumann said in a statement about the research. "We now understand the chain of action: how our genes shape this function in our brains and how that, in turn, leads to human behavior."

I thought this article was interesting! It's interesting to see why some people drink more than others. Although it seems as though this study leads me to ask how the "binge" aspect of drinking was analyzed in this study. In other words, I feel as though the study is drawing conclusions too soon. There is a difference between drinking and binge drinking, which I don't think is made clear in this study. It's also possible that the boys had lied about their drinking practices, as I'm assuming most 16-year olds don't want to reveal their true alcoholic beverage consumption levels. Lastly, it's also possible the scientists were biased, since it appears they knew which boys had gene variations and which ones didn't.

Research Changes in Time

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I have attached a link to a meme I found on the Internet. The meme states, " Back in my day, surveys were 6 hours long and 8 times as boring." It's accompanied by a picture of an old man.
I found this meme relative to the research blog because we have spent a lot of class time discussing how effective research methods are changing. Today, men and women live busy lifestyles and tend not to take the time to fill out email or direct mail surveys. Many homes have cell phones rather then land lines, and door-to-door marketing has become rather obsolete. Due to these changes in social norms, it's more important than ever for surveys to be brief and simple, and an added incentive can help improve participation. For example, offering a participant five dollars to complete a survey would be a nice bonus. It's also important to consider the objective of a survey when choosing a medium. for example, don't call consumers and ask them to take a survey that's 40 minutes, because they most likely won't spend that much time on the phone.


Ethics in Research

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This article, from Adage, illustrates an important aspect of research- ethics. A Dutch professor of psychology, who performed studies on women's responses to beauty product ads, and allegedly falsified the results in at least 30 scholarly papers. the "Lying Dutchman" publicly announced his regret for producing misleading information and wrote, "I have failed as a scientist and researcher,I feel ashamed for it and have great regret," on the Tilburg website.

Published in the University of Chicago Press' Journal of Consumer Research, Mr. Stapel's article reports that women who saw fashion or beauty products in ads had lower self-esteem than women who viewed the same items in a nonadvertising setting. It is one of many studies being investigated by the committee at Tilburg.

This situation illustrates flaws in the research system because Stapel's work passed peer review, and not just on one occasion but nearly 50. "The peer-review process pretty well sorts out the bad eggs," says Geoffrey Precourt, editor of the Advertising Research Foundation's Journal of Advertising Research. "It should be the mission of all the editors ... to step up their review process to guard against future frauds."

This situation also displays the harm done to the reputation of research. " It has done great harm to science and the field of social psychology in particular," says the Tilburg research committee. Not only will peers in the research industry have to me more critical, but individuals in the public will also be more weary of research findings after hearing about this embarrassment event.

According to the article, the "fraud" involved the creation of data from non-existent participants. Stapel reportedly collected data from 583 females, provided the data, and analyzed his findings. There is no evidence that other researchers who partook in the study had any knowledge of the unethical actions.

The closing paragraph tof the article reads: "Mr. Barocci ventured that Mr. Stapel "isn't the first guy to abuse the system." Academicians are "intent to publish stuff," he said. "If [the work] can get into journals, readers assume ... they can trust the material. Their trust is what has been violated"

I think this paragraph is very powerful. Academicians are stereotyped as having little concern over the validity or reliability of their findings, rather they are just pleased to get their name published. It also highlights that individuals who read scholarly articles assume the results are bulletproof. This criticizes other researchers, and even people like students, professors, and knowledge seekers who learn from such materials.

After reading this article, I can't help but think about the ethics unit we studied in this class. Things such as honestly, debriefing, informed consent and the use of appropriate language are all important aspects of ethics that should be implemented by every researcher and research organization.

Athlete Emotions

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Hillel Aviezer, a psychology researcher at Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, was curious if people could accurately read real-life facial expressions, rather than the posed images typically used in the research lab. He decided to perform a study using images of professional tennis players.
He chose this category of athletes because in high-stakes tennis matches, players tend to be very emotional and their facial expressions change after every point. Usually, people are able to recognize what emotion the player is feeling when they see a photo of a tennis player, holding a tennis racket on the court after enduring a well-matched game.
"When I look at a sports magazine, and I see the full picture of a person winning a point, and he has his full gesture, the whole picture makes perfect sense to me," says Aviezer. "The face looks like a victorious face, and the body looks victorious; everything together seems to make perfect sense.
However, Aviezer's opinion on the accuracy of emotional perception changed. He showed people images of only the bodies of the tennis players. People had to judge winners from losers based on body language, not facial expression. "And when people saw the body alone, they easily knew if this was a positive or negative emotion," says Aviezer.
This seems unusual, because people normally think they perceive emotion based on facial expression. This idea is illustrated when Aviezer shows people full images of tennis players -- the faces and bodies. He asks them to describe how they know what the player is feeling, and people usually describe the face. They claim to see tell-tale clues in the player's eyes or mouth. "When in fact it's an illusion," says Aviezer. "They have this false idea of information in the face when really it's coming from the body."
To manipulate the experiment one more time, Aviezer swapped the faces and bodies of winners and losers to create a mix-matched display of emotions. The individuals reported interpretations that coincided with the emotion of bodies.
"When you and I talk to each other and we look at each other, we're really looking at each other's faces. That's where our attention is. And so the assumption has been that that's where all the information is, too," says Barrett, a scientist at Northeastern University who studies emotions. "But these studies show very clearly that that's not the case."
I found this study very interesting. I would agree that I look at peoples faces when seeking hints for emotion. It would be interesting to see how the results of this study if the bodies of different athletes were used, or the bodies of everyday individuals. Maybe something about the body language of tennis players on the tennis court is misleading, due to their stance or some other factor.

Boomers in Research

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Medical advancements allow people to live longer, healthier lives than ever before. Boomers have more disposable income and are more active than their elders. For these reasons, incorporating boomers in marketing plans is a wise idea. Developing strategies to communicate with this public, however, seem to pose a challenge for many businesses.
"Boomers don't just populate existing life stages or consumer trends, they transform them." In other words, Boomers are able to learn methods of technological communication, and they can do so at an efficient pace. What organizations may fail to notice is the ability for this generation to be very tech-savvy, although they are stereotyped as being technologically-ill-informed.
Doyle Research Associates says it often uses interactive strategies to communicate with Boomers and elderly audiences, including mobile devices, the Internet, and webcams. Research also shows these groups tend to be on time for interpersonal meetings and are less likely to be swayed by their peers when sharing opinions, Illustrating various perks of working with this dependable are group.
Boomers and seniors tend to be overlooked by many organizations, who concentrate on younger developing audiences. These companies fail to recognize that the elderly population is larger than it has been in the past, and they are missing out on an audience that produces beneficial insights and has money to spend.

Alzheimer's Precursors

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A study says deterioration of the brain in Alzheimer's patients occurs long before any symptoms show. The study was conducted on large extended family of 5,000 individuals in Colombia with a genetic form of the disease. Brain changes are noticeable 20 years prior to and evidence of cognitive impairment. There is evidence of the memory-encoding areas of the brain having to work harder, and low levels of amyloid in the spinal cord-- a hallmark of Alzheimer's.
Researchers received a grant to test a drug on family members who had not yet noticed any symptoms. Spinal taps, M.R.I.s, and brain imaging were used to measure the effects of the drug upon the participants. There were two conclusions. One possibility is that brain areas are already impaired. Another possibility, experts said, is that these brain differences may go back to the young developing brain.
I understand that Alzheimer's is a genetic disease, and studying individuals who are related could produce insightful outcomes, however limiting a study to one family could exclude many factors. The family could have an unusual form of the disease or lack genes that most families contain (I'm not very well educated in medicine, but I'm sure this study could possibly produce some irrational conclusions.) Conducting the study on a larger, random sample of people could be more productive. It would also be helpful to have a control group.

Religion is the Key to Happiness

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Individuals who follow a faith have better mental health, according to a study. Professor Dan Cohen, of the University of Missouri, says, "Our prior research shows that the mental health of people recovering from different medical conditions, such as cancer, stroke, spinal cord injury and traumatic brain injury, appears to be related significantly to positive spiritual beliefs and especially congregational support and spiritual interventions."
Researchers dispersed three surveys to determine if correlations exist among people's mental and physical health, personality factors, and spirituality. People including Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Catholics and Protestants were all included in the study. The study concluded across all faiths, those with higher levels of spirituality tend to have better mental health. The researchers believe spiritual individuals are selfless and feel a sense of belonging, which enhances their mental health.
One issue I think could be affecting this study is the definition of 'spirituality' and being able to quantify an individual's level of spirituality. Since spirituality is intangible, it is hard to measure. Also, they did not include atheists or non-spiritual individuals in the study, which I think is a huge problem.

Online Grocery Shopping

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Due to changing buyer landscapes, grocer sites are being created to target newly independent Millennials. In order to gain insight about the age group, Nufer Marketing Research performed studies on their buying behavior. What did they find? According to the study, Millenials have money to spend, they are more price sensitive, and are more willing to pay a higher price for organic food. Plus, the growing population of Millenials makes them a profitable market. Today, they represent only 5% of the population. However, by 2020 they will make up a substantial 19% of the population.
Although online grocery shopping poses a few difficulties, such as purchasing produce and other perishable goods, the business is rapidly growing. It seems rather sensible that consumers who look up e-recipes for tonight's dinner can progress to fill up their grocery carts on a grocery shopping website. This technology goes hand-in-hand with the trend of 'convenience' in successful American corporations.
In order to further research consumers' opinions about online grocery shopping, I would suggest the company sends email surveys to prospective customers. Nufer can get customer email lists from grocery stores or companies who have this information, and see what the Millenials have to say about the potential of buying groceries on a computer screen.