When 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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