Conversion therapy—a controversial and largely discredited practice that attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation—is opposed by most major medical and psychiatric organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, the American Counseling Association, and the American Psychological Association. Oregon, California, Illinois, New Jersey, and the District of Columbia have banned the practice for minors, citing concerns about coercion and abuse. But proponents of conversion therapy believe people should be able to change their sexual orientation if they want to, and some see the practice as a form of religious expression.
Now, the federal government has taken a stand on the issue. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced its position October 15th, arguing in favor of providing support to LGBT youth and adults. SAMHSA says a strong professional consensus points toward the perils of conversion therapy, and conversion therapy endorses outdated and incorrect notions about gender and sexuality. The move comes as advocates in many states are working to ban the practice.
A study of 39 students suggests transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) in the posterial medial frontal cortex of the brain could change beliefs about God and immigrants. Students who underwent TMS expressed fewer hostile attitudes toward immigrants and were less likely to say they believed in God, angels, and heaven.
Weight-loss surgery may increase the risk of suicide, according to a JAMA Surgery study. Researchers found that participants were 50% more likely to attempt suicide after the operation than before it. The researchers say they were unable to determine whether the people studied had regained weight or were dealing with other mental health issues.antipsychotic drugs is double the rate of prescriptions among people ages 65 to 69. Antipsychotics increase the risk of a number of serious health conditions, including kidney failure and cardiovascular problems, so doctors typically reserve their use only for people with mental health issues severe enough to warrant antipsychotics. Yet more than 75% of seniors had no documented mental health condition in the year studied.
Research is increasingly finding that the way people feel about aging could affect how they age. People who associated negative terms, such as decline and disability, with advanced age are more likely to face health challenges later in life. Those who view aging as an opportunity for personal growth are more likely to experience good health as they age.
In 2010, hangovers cost employers $77 billion thanks to productivity impairments, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study. When paired with other consequences of excessive alcohol use, such as absenteeism, the figure increases to $90 billion. Overall, alcohol abuse costs the U.S. economy $249 billion a year—a figure that includes property damage due to drunken accidents and crime, health care expenses, alcohol-related deaths, and other factors.
An animal study that looked at prenatal cannabis consumption in mice suggests marijuana use during pregnancy can have lasting consequences for the developing fetus. Prenatal exposure to cannabis interfered with cannabinoid receptors in the animals’ brains, leading to changes in neuron connectivity and motor function. These changes, the study suggests, can have lifelong effects.
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