This study examined the association of homelessness and related factors with child psychiatric and behavior disorders (diagnosed with structured diagnostic interviews) and child cognitive ability (on the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test) in a randomly selected sample of 157 homeless children and their mothers and a comparison of 61 housed children and their mothers. Homeless children had more disruptive behavior disorders and lower cognitive scores than housed children. In multivariate analyses, maternal verbal scores and child nonverbal scores were associated with child verbal ability; maternal education, homelessness, and child nonverbal scores were related to child behavior disorders.
homelessness; children; psychiatric disorders; behavior disorders; cognitive ability
The terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 (9/11) left workplaces in pressing need of a mental health response capability. Unaddressed emotional sequelae may be devastating to the productivity and economic stability of a company’s workforce. In the second year after the attacks, 85 employees of five highly affected agencies participated in 12 focus groups to discuss workplace mental health issues. Managers felt ill prepared to manage the magnitude and the intensity of employees’ emotional responses. Rapid return to work, provision of workplace mental health services, and peer support were viewed as contributory to emotional recovery. Formal mental health services provided were perceived as insufficient. Drawing on their post-9/11 workplace experience, members of these groups identified practical measures that they found helpful in promoting healing outside of professional mental health services. These measures, consistent with many principles of psychological first aid, may be applied by workplace leaders who are not mental health professionals.
disaster; employees; focus group; terrorism; workplace; 9/11; 11 September attacks
Neuropeptide Y (NPY) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) have been implicated in both the stress response and alcohol addiction. However, few studies have assessed the NPY and BDNF response to stress in alcohol-dependent participants and the concurrent measure of NPY and BDNF has not been reported in human participants.
The purpose of this study was to concurrently assess serum NPYand BDNF, as well as adrenocorticotropin (ACTH) and cortisol, in control and race- and aged-matched abstinent alcohol-dependent participants in response to a stress-inducing public-speaking task.
Basal and post-stress serum values of NPY and BDNF, as well as ACTH and cortisol, were assessed in 14 abstinent alcohol-dependent and ten healthy control male participants.
Basal measures were stable over short periods of time and stress induced a significant increase in both NPY (p= 0.002) and BDNF (p=0.006) as well as ACTH (p<0.001) and cortisol (p<0.007). Alcohol-dependent and control groups did not significantly differ on any basal or stress-induced measure. Basal and delta responses of NPY and BDNF were not significantly correlated, and delta peak responses of NPY and BDNF did not correlate with one another or with their respective ACTH and cortisol responses.
These findings reveal that both serum NPY and BDNF are responsive to behavioral stressors, although their regulatory mechanisms appear to differ from one another and those of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis. Differences in basal and stress-induced responses of NPY and BDNF were not supported between control and abstinent alcohol-dependent subjects.
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor; Neuropeptide Y; Adrenocorticotropic hormone; Cortisol; Stress; Psychological; Alcoholism
Neuroimaging studies of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)-related memory impairments have consistently implicated abnormal activities in the frontal and parietal lobes. However, most studies have used block designs and could not dissociate the multiple phases of working memory. In this study, the involvement of the prefrontal cortex in working memory phases was assessed among veterans with PTSD and age-/gender-matched healthy controls. Multichannel functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) was utilized to measure prefrontal cortex hemodynamic activations during memory of neutral (i.e., not trauma-related) forward and backward digit span tasks. An event-related experimental design was utilized to dissociate the different phases (i.e., encoding, maintenance and retrieval) of working memory. The healthy controls showed robust hemodynamic activations during the encoding and retrieval processes. In contrast, the veterans with PTSD were found to have activations during the encoding process, but followed by distinct deactivations during the retrieval process. The PTSD participants, but not the controls, appeared to suppress prefrontal activity during memory retrieval. This deactivation was more pronounced in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during the retrieval phase. These deactivations in PTSD patients might implicate an active inhibition of dorsolateral prefrontal neural activity during retrieval of working memory.
•Multiple phases of working memory in PTSD and healthy controls were assessed.•Brain atlas-based optical topography and multi-regression analysis were implemented.•Prefrontal deactivation in the retrieval phase of working memory was found in PTSD.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); Functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS); Working memory; Digit span; Hemispheric emotional valence (HEV); Topography
Somatization disorder has been described in several comorbid functional syndromes of urological chronic pelvic pain syndrome, such as irritable bowel syndrome. We investigated whether a subset of patients with urological chronic pelvic pain syndrome may have the polysymptomatic, polysyndromic presentation pattern that is common in somatization disorder.
Materials and Methods
A total of 70 male and female patients with urological chronic pelvic pain syndrome and 35 age matched controls without the syndrome completed a 59-item symptom checklist to assess the classic polysymptomatic, polysyndromic symptom pattern. The 2 operational tools used were the Perley-Guze derived symptom checklist and the somatic symptom algorithm used for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 4th Edition, Text Revision somatization disorder criteria.
Female patients with urological chronic pelvic pain syndrome (interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome) reported significantly more nonpain symptoms and pain symptoms outside the pelvis than control female urology patients (p = 0.0016 and 0.0018, respectively). Female patients with urological chronic pelvic pain syndrome were more likely to endorse a polysymptomatic, polysyndromic symptom pattern than female controls (27% vs 0%, p = 0.0071). In contrast, male patients with urological chronic pelvic pain syndrome (interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome and/or chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome) did not report more extrapelvic pain than male controls (p = 0.89). Male patients with urological chronic pelvic pain syndrome were not more likely than male controls to have a polysymptomatic, polysyndromic symptom pattern.
A subset of female patients with urological chronic pelvic pain syndrome endorses numerous extrapelvic symptoms across multiple organ systems. The checklist may be valuable to assess patients for this polysymptomatic, polysyndromic symptom pattern, which is common in somatization disorder. Recognizing this polysymptomatic, polysyndromic presentation will prompt clinicians to investigate further to determine whether somatization disorder may be an underlying diagnosis in a small subset of patients with urological chronic pelvic pain syndrome who complain of numerous extrapelvic symptoms.
urinary bladder; prostate; cystitis; interstitial; prostatitis; somatization disorders
glucocorticoids; extinction; veterans
Development of novel treatment approaches for combat-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is critical, given the increasing prevalence of PTSD in veterans returning from war zone deployment. Established preclinical research using protein synthesis inhibitors (such as sirolimus) to interfere with fear memory reconsolidation provides a compelling rationale for investigation in humans.
This double-blind, placebo-controlled translational pilot study examined the effects of pairing reactivation of a trauma memory with a single administration of sirolimus on the frequency and intensity of PTSD symptoms in male combat veterans.
Primary analyses found no significant differences between treatment groups on any of the clinical or physiologic outcome measures. In an exploratory analysis of a subsample of post–Vietnam-era veterans who had more recent combat trauma, PTSD symptom scores fell significantly more in these veterans than in controls.
The post–Vietnam-era veteran findings suggest that further investigation of this pairing of sirolimus with traumatic memory reactivation may be warranted. Theoretically, interference with the reconsolidation of fear memories could ameliorate military-related psychological trauma symptoms. Future research should focus on veterans of more recent eras whose traumatic memories may be less entrenched and more amenable to pharmacologic modification within this procedure.
posttraumatic stress disorder; memory; veterans; memory reconsolidation; novel intervention; trauma; pharmacotherapy
Several studies have provided prevalence estimates of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) related to the September 11, 2001 (9/11) attacks in broadly affected populations, although without sufficiently addressing qualifying exposures required for assessing PTSD and estimating its prevalence. A premise that people throughout the New York City area were exposed to the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) towers and are thus at risk for developing PTSD has important implications for both prevalence estimates and service provision. This premise has not, however, been tested with respect to DSM-IV-TR criteria for PTSD. This study examined associations between geographic distance from the 9/11 attacks on the WTC and reported 9/11 trauma exposures, and the role of specific trauma exposures in the development of PTSD.
Approximately 3 years after the attacks, 379 surviving employees (102 with direct exposures, including 65 in the towers, and 277 with varied exposures) recruited from 8 affected organizations were interviewed using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule/Disaster Supplement and reassessed at 6 years. The estimated closest geographic distance from the WTC towers during the attacks and specific disaster exposures were compared with the development of 9/11–related PTSD as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fourth Edition, Text Revision.
The direct exposure zone was largely concentrated within a radius of 0.1 mi and completely contained within 0.75 mi of the towers. PTSD symptom criteria at any time after the disaster were met by 35% of people directly exposed to danger, 20% of those exposed only through witnessed experiences, and 35% of those exposed only through a close associate’s direct exposure. Outside these exposure groups, few possible sources of exposure were evident among the few who were symptomatic, most of whom had preexisting psychiatric illness.
Exposures deserve careful consideration among widely affected populations after large terrorist attacks when conducting clinical assessments, estimating the magnitude of population PTSD burdens, and projecting needs for specific mental health interventions.
September 11 attacks; posttraumatic stress disorder; trauma exposure; disaster; disaster mental health services
To estimate the prevalence and risk factors for vitreous floaters in the general population.
An electronic survey was administered through a smartphone app asking various demographic and health questions, including whether users experience floaters in their field of vision. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was used to determine risk factors.
A total of 603 individuals completed the survey, with 76% reporting that they see floaters, and 33% reporting that floaters caused noticeable impairment in vision. Myopes were 3.5 times more likely (P=0.0004), and hyperopes 4.4 times more likely (P=0.0069) to report moderate to severe floaters compared to those with normal vision. Floater prevalence was not significantly affected by respondent age, race, gender, and eye color.
Vitreous floaters were found to be a very common phenomenon in this non-clinical general population sample, and more likely to be impairing in myopes and hyperopes.
vitreous floaters; myopia; survey; floaters; age
The objective of this exploratory pilot study was to examine autonomic reactivity and hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis dysregulation in spouses of highly exposed survivors of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
This study compared psychiatric diagnoses and biological stress markers (physiological reactivity and cortisol measures) in spouses of bombing survivors and matched community participants. Spouses were recruited through bombing survivors who participated in prior studies. Individuals with medical illnesses and those taking psychotropic medications that would confound biological stress measures were excluded. The final sample included 15 spouses and 15 community participants. The primary outcome measures were psychiatric diagnoses assessed with the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for DSM-IV (DIS-IV). Biological stress markers were physiological reactivity and recovery in heart rate and blood pressure responses to a trauma interview and cortisol (morning, afternoon, and diurnal variation).
Compared to the community participants, spouses evidenced greater reactivity in heart rate, systolic blood pressure, and diastolic blood pressure; delayed recovery in systolic blood pressure; and higher afternoon salivary cortisol.
The results support the need for further research in this area to clarify post-disaster effects on biological stress measures in the spouses of survivors and the potential significance of these effects and to address the needs of this important population which may be overlooked in recovery efforts.
Background. Few disaster studies have specifically examined personality and resilience in association with disaster exposure, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and major depression. Methods. 151 directly-exposed survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing randomly selected from a bombing survivor registry completed PTSD, major depression, and personality assessments using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for DSM-IV and the Temperament and Character Inventory, respectively. Results. The most prevalent postdisaster psychiatric disorder was bombing-related PTSD (32%); major depression was second in prevalence (21%). Bombing-related PTSD was associated with the combination of low self-directedness and low cooperativeness and also with high self-transcendence and high harm avoidance in most configurations. Postdisaster major depression was significantly more prevalent among those with (56%) than without (5%) bombing-related PTSD (P < .001)
and those with (72%) than without (14%) predisaster major depression (P < .001). Incident major depression was not associated with the combination of low self-directedness and low cooperativeness. Conclusions. Personality features can distinguish resilience to a specific life-threatening stressor from general indicators of well-being. Unlike bombing-related PTSD, major depression was not a robust marker of low resilience. Development and validation of measures of resilience should utilize well-defined diagnoses whenever possible, rather than relying on nonspecific measures of psychological distress.
To prospectively examine the long-term course of psychiatric disorders, symptoms, and functioning among 113 directly exposed survivors of the Oklahoma City bombing systematically assessed at six months and again nearly seven years post-bombing.
The Diagnostic Interview Schedule/Disaster Supplement was used to assess predisaster and postdisaster psychiatric disorders and symptoms and other variables of relevance to disaster exposure and outcomes.
Total prevalence of PTSD was 41%. Seven years post-bombing, 26% of the sample still had active PTSD. Delayed-onset PTSD and new postdisaster alcohol use disorders were not observed. PTSD non-remission was predicted by the occurrence of negative life events after the bombing. Posttraumatic symptoms among survivors without PTSD decayed more rapidly than for those with PTSD, and symptoms remained at seven years even for many who did not develop PTSD. Those with PTSD reported more functioning problems at index than those without PTSD, but functioning improved dramatically over seven years, regardless of remission from PTSD. No survivors had long-term employment disability based on psychiatric problems alone.
These findings have potentially important implications for anticipation of long-term emotional and functional recovery from disaster trauma.
To characterize the experience of volunteer disaster psychiatrists who provided pro bono psychiatric services to 9/11 survivors in New York City, from September 12, 2001 to November 20, 2001.
Disaster Psychiatry Outreach (DPO) is a non-profit organization founded in 1998 to provide volunteer psychiatric care to people affected by disasters and to promote education and research in support of this mission. Data for this study were collected from one-page clinical encounter forms completed by 268 DPO psychiatrists for 2 months after 9/11 concerning 848 patients served by the DPO 9/11 response program at the New York City Family Assistance Center.
In this endeavor, 268 psychiatrist volunteers evaluated 848 individuals and provided appropriate interventions. The most commonly recorded clinical impressions indicated stress-related and adjustment disorders, but other conditions such as bereavement, major depression, and substance abuse/dependence were also observed. Free samples were available for one sedative and one anxiolytic agent; not surprisingly, these were the most commonly prescribed medications. Nearly half of those evaluated received psychotropic medications.
In the acute aftermath of the attacks of September 11, 2001, volunteer psychiatrists were able to provide services in a disaster response setting, in which they were co-located with other disaster responders. These services included psychiatric assessment, provision of medication, psychological first aid, and referrals for ongoing care. Although systematic diagnoses could not be confirmed, the fact that most patients were perceived to have a psychiatric diagnosis and a substantial proportion received psychotropic medication, suggests potential specific roles for psychiatrists that are unique and different from roles of other mental health professionals in the early post-disaster setting. In addition to further characterizing post-disaster mental health needs and patterns of service provision, future research should focus on the short- and long-term effects of psychiatric interventions, such as providing acute psychotropic medication services and assessing the effectiveness of traditional acute post-disaster interventions including crisis counseling and psychological first aid.
disaster psychiatry; trauma; posttraumatic stress disorder; psychiatric services; terrorism; crisis counseling; psychological first aid; mental health outreach
The October 2001 anthrax attacks heralded a new era of bioterrorism threat in the U.S. At the time, little systematic data on mental health effects were available to guide authorities' response. For this study, which was conducted 7 months after the anthrax attacks, structured diagnostic interviews were conducted with 137 Capitol Hill staff workers, including 56 who had been directly exposed to areas independently determined to have been contaminated. Postdisaster psychopathology was associated with exposure; of those with positive nasal swab tests, PTSD was diagnosed in 27% and any post-anthrax psychiatric disorder in 55%. Fewer than half of those who were prescribed antibiotics completed the entire course, and only one-fourth had flawless antibiotic adherence. Thirty percent of those not exposed believed they had been exposed; 18% of all study participants had symptoms they suspected were symptoms of anthrax infection, and most of them sought medical care. Extrapolation of raw numbers to large future disasters from proportions with incorrect belief in exposure in this limited study indicates a potential for important public health consequences, to the degree that people alter their healthcare behavior based on incorrect exposure beliefs. Incorrect belief in exposure was associated with being very upset, losing trust in health authorities, having concerns about mortality, taking antibiotics, and being male. Those who incorrectly believe they were exposed may warrant concern and potential interventions as well as those exposed. Treatment adherence and maintenance of trust for public health authorities may be areas of special concern, warranting further study to inform authorities in future disasters involving biological, chemical, and radiological agents.
A longitudinal analysis of psychiatric severity was conducted with a national sample of recovering substance abusers living in Oxford Houses, which are self-run, self-help settings. Outcomes related to residents’ psychiatric severity were examined at three follow-up intervals over one year. Over time, Oxford House residents with high versus low baseline psychiatric severity reported significantly more days using psychiatric medication, decreased outpatient psychiatric treatment, yet no significant differences for number of days abstinent and time living in an Oxford House. These findings suggest that a high level of psychiatric severity is not an impediment to residing in self-run, self-help settings such as Oxford House among persons with psychiatric comorbid substance use disorders.
Psychiatric severity; Addiction; Self-help settings; Oxford House; Psychiatric comorbid substance use disorders (PCSUDs); Psychiatric comorbidity; Mental health
Youth’s reactions to disasters include stress reactions, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and comorbid conditions. A number of factors contribute to outcome including characteristics of the event; the nature of the youth’s exposure; and individual, family, and social predictors. Demographic features may be less important than exposure and other individual variables like preexisting conditions and exposure to other trauma. While youth’s disaster reactions reflect their developmental status and thus may differ from those of adults, their reactions generally parallel those of their parents in degree. Family factors that appear to influence youth’s reactions include parental reactions and the quality of interactions within the family. Social factors have not been well examined. We describe these outcomes and predictors to prepare professionals who may work with youth in post-disaster situations.
This article revisits the links between psychopathology and functional gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), discusses the rational use of antidepressants as well as non-pharmacological approaches to the management of IBS, and suggests guidelines for the treatment of IBS based on an interdisciplinary perspective from the present state of knowledge. Relevant published literature on psychiatric disorders, especially somatization disorder, in the context of IBS, and literature providing direction for management is reviewed, and new directions are provided from findings in the literature. IBS is a heterogeneous syndrome with various potential mechanisms responsible for its clinical presentations. IBS is typically complicated with psychiatric issues, unexplained symptoms, and functional syndromes in other organ systems. Most IBS patients have multiple complaints without demonstrated cause, and that these symptoms can involve systems other than the intestine, e.g. bones and joints (fibromyalgia, temporomandibular joint syndrome), heart (non-cardiac chest pain), vascular (post-menopausal syndrome), and brain (anxiety, depression). Most IBS patients do not have psychiatric illness per se, but a range of psychoform (psychological complaints in the absence of psychiatric disorder) symptoms that accompany their somatoform (physical symptoms in the absence of medical disorder) complaints. It is not correct to label IBS patients as psychiatric patients (except those more difficult patients with true somatization disorder). One mode of treatment is unlikely to be universally effective or to resolve most symptoms. The techniques of psychotherapy or cognitive-behavioral therapy can allow IBS patients to cope more readily with their illness. Specific episodes of depressive or anxiety disorders can be managed as appropriate for those conditions. Medications designed to improve anxiety or depression are not uniformly useful for psychiatric complaints in IBS, because the psychoform symptoms that sound similar to those seen in psychiatric disorders may not have the same significance in patients with IBS.
Irritiable bowel syndrome; Functional disorders; Gastrointestinal disease; Somatization disorder; Somatoform; Psychoform; Psychotropic medication; Psychotherapy; Symptoms; Psychiatric disorder
This report describes a 3-year follow-up study of survivors of a mass shooting incident. Acute-phase and 1-year follow-up data from this incident have been previously reported. The Diagnostic Interview Schedule/Disaster Supplement was used to assess 116 survivors at 1–2 months and again 1 and 3 years later, with an 85% reinterview rate. Examining the course of postdisaster posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression in individuals allowed detailed consideration of remissions and delayed detection of disorders not possible from data presenting overall rates across different time frames. Only about one half of the PTSD cases identified at any time over 3 years were in remission at the 3-year follow-up. Those who did not recover from PTSD diverged from those who recovered at 3 years by reporting increased numbers of symptoms over time, especially avoidance and numbing symptoms. Although women and people with preexisting disorders were at greater risk for the development of PTSD, these variables did not predict chronicity. Chronicity of PTSD was predicted by functional impairment and seeking mental health treatment at baseline. Chronicity of major depression was predicted by report of family history of depression and treatment for paternal alcohol problems. No delayed cases of PTSD were identified. Studies are needed to compare these characteristics of the course of PTSD with other populations, using consistent methodology to allow valid comparison.
This study explored the impact of the 1995 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, bombing on the spouses and significant others of a volunteer sample of Oklahoma City firefighters who participated in the bombing rescue effort. Twenty-seven partners of Oklahoma City firefighters participated in this study, conducted 42 to 44 months after the bombing. These partners were assessed using a structured diagnostic interview and a companion interview to examine exposure, rates of psychiatric disorders and symptoms, functioning, health, and relationships. Coping and perception of the firefighter partner's response were also examined. Some of the women were exposed directly; most knew someone who had been involved in the disaster, and all reported exposure through the media. The rate of psychiatric disorders in the women following the disaster was 22%, essentially unchanged from before the incident. One developed bomb-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Most were satisfied with their work performance; 15% reported that their health had worsened since the bombing, and more than one third reported permanent changes in relationships as a result of the bombing. Most coped by turning to friends or relatives, with less than 10% seeking professional help. Many described symptoms in their firefighter mate; all reported that their mate had been affected by the experience, and one half said their mate had fully recovered. The mates of these firefighters fared relatively well in terms of psychiatric disorders, symptoms, and ability to function. The prevalence of bomb-related post-traumatic stress disorder was considerably lower in this sample than in samples of individuals more directly exposed to the bombing, although some reported changes in relationships and health. The results suggest the need for further study of the impact of interpersonal exposure in those who provide support for rescue-and-recovery workers in major terrorist incidents.
The literature on mental health effects of catastrophic trauma such as community disasters focuses on posttraumatic stress disorder. Somatization disorder is not listed among the classic responses to disaster, nor have other somatoform disorders been described in this literature. Nondiagnostic "somatization," "somatization symptoms," and "somatic symptoms" form the basis of most information about somatization in the literature. However, these concepts have not been validated, and therefore this work suffers from multiple methodological problems of ascertainment and interpretation. Future research is encouraged to consider many methodological issues in obtaining adequate data to address questions about the association of somatization with traumatic events, including a) appropriate comparison groups, b) satisfactory definition and measurement of somatization, c) exclusion of medical explanations for the symptoms, d) recognition of somatizers' spurious attribution of symptoms to medical causes, e) collection of data from additional sources beyond single-subject interviews, f) validation of diagnosis-unrelated symptom reporting or reconsideration of symptoms within diagnostic frameworks, g) separation of somatization after an event into new (incident) and preexisting categories, h) development of research models that include sufficient variables to examine the broader scope of potential relationships, and i) novel consideration of alternative causal directionalities.