Adam Lanza’s Mental Health Care Inadequate, and Other News

A memorial with photographs of victims of Sandy Hook shootingWhen Adam Lanza shot and killed 20 children and 6 adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the tragedy sparked a national discussion about mental health. According to a new report issued by the Connecticut Office of the Child Advocate, Adam Lanza’s mental health problems were left entirely untreated in the years leading up to the shooting.

The report argues that Lanza’s mother, who was also one of his victims, did not pursue treatment for her son. Medical experts at Yale University had cautioned Ms. Lanza that her son needed immediate and far-reaching mental health intervention. Ms. Lanza continued to keep guns and high-capacity magazines in the home, despite warning signs that her son might be dangerous. The report concludes that Lanza likely suffered from anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behavior, as well as untreated anorexia.

Asymptomatic Atherosclerosis Linked to Cognitive Impairment

According to a study of 2,000 adults, atherosclerosis—a condition that causes plaque to build up in the walls of the arteries—could impair cognitive function. Participants took the Montreal Cognitive Assessment and underwent MRI screenings. Researchers found that even when they controlled for individual factors such as age and sex, there was a correlation between plaque in the arteries and mild cognitive impairment. 

Study Finds Short-Term Counseling Could Reduce Repeat Suicide Attempts

Suicide remains a leading cause of death in the United States, with an estimated 1 million people attempting to kill themselves each year. According to a study of 65,000 Denmark residents who had previously attempted suicide, it might not take years of counseling to reduce depression or suicide risk. Several Denmark clinics offer short-term suicide prevention counseling. Of the study participants who attended such counseling sessions, the risk of suicide decreased. Counseling recipients were 27% less likely to attempt suicide, and 38% less likely to die due from any cause, including suicide. 

Prison Policies Vary on Treating Transgender Inmates, Which Could Put Inmates and Institutions at Risk

The Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, but prison and jail policies on preventing cruelty to transgender inmates vary wildly. Transgender inmates are more vulnerable to rape and prison violence. According to a paper by Gina Gibbs, a criminal justice doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati, prisons often only act to remedy a problem once it has already occurred. This piecemeal approach to dealing with transgender inmates can put all inmates in danger.

Being the Boss Tied to Depression Risk for Women, But Not Men

According to a study of 1,500 middle-aged women and 1,300 middle-aged men in Wisconsin, women with higher educational levels, more job prestige, and higher incomes have higher rates of depression than lower-status women. High-status men do not experience these effects. The study’s authors suggest that sexism and social pressure could play a role, pointing out that high-status women may deal with stereotypes, prejudice, isolation, and hostility from subordinates more frequently than high-status men. 

Protein That Rouses Brain From Sleep May Be Target for Alzheimer’s Prevention

A brain protein called Orexin helps the brain awake from sleep, but new research suggests it could also play a role in treating Alzheimer’s. Several studies have established a correlation between Alzheimer’s and changes in sleeping patterns. The latest study found that, when researchers eliminated Orexin from the brains of mice, the mice slept for longer periods of time and experienced a decreased buildup of brain plaques associated with Alzheimer’s. 

Most Heavy Drinkers Are Not Alcoholics

Online alcoholism inventories frequently ask test-takers how much they drink, and how often. But according to data from a survey of 138,100 adults, the majority of heavy drinkers are not alcoholics. The research suggests that 29% of the population drinks heavily, but that 90% of these drinkers don’t meet the criteria for alcoholism. 

Should It Be Allowable to ‘Diagnose’ Mental Health in the Press?

The media frequently speculates about the mental health of everyone from criminals to celebrity crime victims. Some mental health professionals, such as Fox News personality Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist, even engage in this speculative diagnostic process. Ablow, for example, has previously “diagnosed” President Obama with a victim complex, calling him “Victim-in-Chief.” Mental health conditions can only be diagnosed based on a detailed clinical interview and history, though, and Forbes writer Cheryl Conner questions the ethics of such armchair diagnoses.

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  • Heath

    Heath

    November 28th, 2014 at 11:28 AM

    How do you have a child in your home like that and determine that you will not seek treatment for them? Are you that blind just because this is your child?

  • Shannon

    Shannon

    November 28th, 2014 at 2:25 PM

    Pay attention GPs!
    This is something that could be facing your patients right now that they are unaware of.

  • Christina Z

    Christina Z

    November 29th, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    As a female manager I think that there are times when more is expected from me than there is from my male co workers and that this adds a whole lot more stress and pressure to my job than what they may experience.

    I think that I do a good job and I know that my coworkers like me and respect me but I just have this feeling at times that I have to do a little bit more than what the guys do to be recognized for my abilities and talents.

  • kendall

    kendall

    November 29th, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    I am shocked that the Lanza father did not do more about this situation?
    He obviously knew what a danger his son posed to others and yet he did nothing as far as we know to try to intervene and get his son the help that he needed

  • Meggy

    Meggy

    November 29th, 2014 at 4:08 PM

    the armchair diagnoses are so not cool and definitely unethical, very demeaning for those who are actually struggling with an issue like this in their own lives

  • ben

    ben

    November 30th, 2014 at 11:08 AM

    So most heavy drinkers are not alcoholics? I would definitely buy into that theory. I have a lot of friends who drink pretty heavily on the weekends and that never impairs them on the job, in their family life, etc. I think that for most of them this is just a way to unwind and relax with friends and I would hope that we would be aware enough of their habits that if we noticed something other than that going on that we would feel like we could speak up.

  • Jamis

    Jamis

    November 30th, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    How is that short term counseling is helpful for certain things and not for others? Is it the person or is the issue that makes one be more likely to respond well?

  • Cecily

    Cecily

    November 30th, 2014 at 3:34 PM

    Do you know how incredibly sad it makes me to think that something could have been done to prevent that terrible shooting tragedy but it wasn’t because the guy was isolated and never received the proper care that he needed? He was tormented I am sure so he saw no other way than to unleash that torment on others. It makes me angry to think that the actions of one person could have done so much to change the fate of so many…

  • Jackie j

    Jackie j

    December 2nd, 2014 at 3:59 AM

    so amazing to me that you could actually pinpoint down to one protein something that could help treat such a devastating diagnosis as Alzheimer’s!

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