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January 2011



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Archive for January 22nd, 2011

With Christmas just around the corner, we are delighted to announce the launch of the first-ever LEGO® calendar, the sales of which will see 100% of the profits donated to The National Autistic Society (NAS). The calendar is on sale now priced £7.99 and available to buy online at www.shop.lego.com

The calendar features LEGO mini-figures in a series of quirky scenarios based on timely activities and key calendar dates, including Easter, back to school and Hallowe’en.

“Everyone at LEGO UK is really excited about the launch of the calendar, as it is something that we have never done before. Even more exciting is the fact that 100% of the profits will be going to support the vital work of the NAS.”

Melissa Wallace, PR & Promotions Manager, LEGO UK

The initiative is the latest activity in our partnership with LEGO UK, who have been working over the past two years to raise money for the redevelopment of the NAS Radlett Lodge School playground.



Toy Innovation 2009

Winner Category “GAMES + ACTION” 

Introducing LEGO Games, the world’s first collection of games that you build, play and change.  Now you can experience a whole new way of having fun together with family and friends.

Not only do you get to play a variety of fun and exciting games, you also get to build and change them, making LEGO Games the ideal way of spending fun, quality time with the whole family!

Delivering great value, LEGO Games takes the LEGO experience you know and love to a whole new level.  With everything you need to get the fun started, each LEGO Game features a unique, buildable LEGO Dice, building instructions and game rules.  Just open the practical game box for a whole new way to play!

Challenge your friends and family to an exciting LEGO Game from a wide range of game types.  Including guessing, strategy and memory games.  Just try rolling the bouncy rubber LEGO Dice and find out why no two games will ever be the same!

Master the Labyrinth!


Ages 7+  211 pieces

The mighty Minotaur, a mythical creature, protects a secret temple hidden deep inside a labyrinth.  Be the first to lead your heroes to the temple, avoiding the Minotaur and cleverly placing walls to block your opponents.  Clear and simple rules make this game great fun for the whole family (2-4 players).  Game play approximately 20-30 minutes.


A Race in Space!

Lunar Command

Ages 7+  271 pieces

Build enough space stations to gather a crew of robots and astronauts before your opponents progress.  The first commander to have a full crew wins and gets to launch the Lunar Rocket.  A deeply engaging and strategic game for 2 players.  Game play approximately 15-25 minutes.


A Game of Tactics!

Ramses Pyramid!

Ages 8+  231 pieces.

 The Mummy King Ramses is planning on conquering all of Egypt with his army of mummies!  Unlock the crystal coded layers to climb to the top of the pyramid and defeat the Mummy King, taking his crown and the treasures within.  An award winning game for 2-4 players.  Game play approximately 20-30 minutes.


Monster 4

Ages 7+  141 pieces

Night has fallen in the graveyard and the monsters have come out to play with the skeletons.  The first to get four of their monsters in a row wins.  But keep an eye out for the spider jumping in and scaring you off!  A clever and exciting game for 2-4 players.  Game play approximately 15-25 minutes.



Ages 6+  108 pieces.

Be the first to cast the magic spell in the cauldron!  With the help of the owl you must be the first to collect the four special ingredients from the shelves.  Steal ingredients from your opponents to slow them down and help you win the game.  A simple yet extremely engaging game for 2 to 4 players.  Game play approximately 10-20 minutes.


Lava Dragon

Ages 7+  131 pieces

Prove you are the bravest knight of all by being the first one to summon the dragon from the top of the volcano.  Avoid the lava and block your opponents as you climb to victory.  With the LEGO Dice no two games of Lava Dragon are ever the same.  For 2 to 4 players.  Game play approximately 15-25 minutes.


Robo Champ 

Ages 6+  118 pieces

There is a contest at the robot factory.  The first to build a robot with all the correct colour parts will win this year’s trophy and be named the Robo Champ.  If someone takes a part you need you may have to steal it back to achieve victory.  A fast and fun game to play again and again for 2 to 3 players.  Game play approximately 10-15 minutes.


Pirate Code 

Ages 8+  268 pieces.

Who can be the most cunning pirate of them all? Guess the other players’ secret codes before they discover yours and become the pirate captain.  A game of logic and luck, secrets and treasures for 2 to 4 players.  Game play approximately 15-25 minutes.


Race 3000 

Ages 7+  166 pieces.

Do you have what it takes to cross the finish line first and win the trophy?  Use shortcuts, overtake or turbo boost past your opponents to get in front and change lanes to avoid the oil slicks in your way.  The LEGO Dice brings a new twist on a classic racing game for 2 to 4 players.  Game play approximately 20-30 minutes.



Ages 7+  338 pieces.

Roll the LEGO Dice to select one of four exciting building categories: vehicles, buildings, nature or things.  With three levels of difficulty you can show off your building skills, while the others guess what you are creating.  A great game for family and friends to test your imagination, creativity, building and guessing skills to the max.  An interactive game for 3 – 8 players.  Game play approximately 30-60 minutes.



Find out all about LEGO Games, which is the right game for your family, how the games’ designs help your child’s development, discuss the games with other parents and so much more …  http://games.lego.com/en-gb/kids/default.aspx

Try Chocolate for an Emotional Release

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 12, 2009

New research suggests a palatable method to relieve stress involves regular consumption of dark chocolate. As an additional bonus, the chocolate may also improve cardiovascular health and supply benefits associated with antioxidants.

In a clinical trial, investigators found that eating about an ounce and a half of dark chocolate a day for two weeks reduced levels of stress hormones in the bodies of people feeling highly stressed.

Everyone’s favorite treat also partially corrected other stress-related biochemical imbalances.

Sunil Kochhar and colleagues note growing scientific evidence that antioxidants and other beneficial substances in dark chocolate may reduce risk factors for heart disease and other physical conditions.

Studies also suggest that chocolate may ease emotional stress. Until now, however, there was little evidence from research in humans on exactly how chocolate might have those stress-busting effects.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2009/11/12/try-chocolate-for-an-emotional-release/9525.html

Banishing monsters from under the bed

Sarah Hutcheon
Society for Research in Child Development


Many parents of preschoolers struggle with their children’s fears of real and imaginary creatures. A new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers some ideas on how they can better manage their children’s worries.

Researchers studied about 50 4-, 5-, and 7-year-olds in an effort to identify coping strategies that can be carried out by children. The children listened to a series of short illustrated stories. Each story featured a child alone or with another person who came into contact with something that looked like a real or an imaginary frightening creature, such as a snake or a ghost. Children were asked to predict how intensely afraid each of the children in the stories were, to give a reason why each child felt that way, and to offer a way to help the child in the story feel less afraid.

In situations in which a child’s fear was caused by real creatures, the researchers found, children would rather do something than think positive thoughts. In these situations, boys more often suggested fighting, while girls more often wanted to avoid the creature.

They also found that between ages 4 and 7, children show more understanding that people’s thoughts and beliefs can both cause and reduce fear. While preschoolers tended to suggest pretending the imaginary creature was friendly, older children tended to suggest reminding themselves what the reality was. Therefore, the researchers say, preschoolers may benefit from seeing things in a more positive light (“Let’s pretend the dragon is nice“), while older children may do better when they focus on what’s real and what’s not (“Dragons aren’t real“).

These results should help parents by reminding them to keep in mind their children’s age-appropriate abilities when helping them deal with their fears, particularly fears of imaginary creatures,” according to the researchers.

Sayfan L, Lagattuta KH. Scaring the Monster Away: What Children Know About Managing Fears of Real and Imaginary Creatures Child Dev. 2009 Nov/Dec;80(6):1756-1774   [Abstract]


Parents often underestimate impact of stress on their kids


Psychologists say Americans’ stress levels too high with few receiving support to make lasting lifestyle changes

Angel Brownawell, APA
Juanita Panlener, Vanguard Communications

Stress related to school pressure and family finances has a greater impact on young people than parents believe, according to a new national survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA). Building on past research indicating that stress is a top health concern for U.S. teens between 9th and 12th grade[1], psychologists say that if they don’t learn healthy ways to manage that stress now, it could have serious long-term health implications.

Teens and tweens were more likely than parents to say that their stress had increased in the last year. Nearly half (45%) of teens ages 13-17 said that they worried more this year, but only 28 percent of parents think their teen’s stress increased, and while a quarter (26%) of tweens ages 8-12 said they worried more this year, only 17 percent of parents believed their tween’s stress had increased. Similarly, only 2-5 percent of parents rate their child’s stress as extreme (an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale) when 14 percent of tweens and 28 percent of teens say they worry a lot or a great deal.

It’s clear that parents do not fully appreciate the impact that stress is having on their kids,” says psychologist Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, APA’s executive director for professional practice. “What we’re seeing with stress is in line with existing research about parents’ perception of their kids’ engagement in risky behaviors. Parents often under report drug use, depression and sexual activity in their children. Now it appears the same may be true for stress.

Parents’ responses about sources of stress for their children were out of sync with what children reported as sources of worry. Children were more likely to say they worried about their family’s financial difficulties than parents were to say this was a source of stress for their children (30% vs. 18% of parents). Results are similar for doing well in school (44% vs. 34% of parents). In general, children also were more likely to report having experienced physical symptoms often associated with stress than parents were to say their children experienced these symptoms, including headaches, difficulty sleeping, and changes in appetite.

  • *Tweens (30%) and teens (42%) say they get headaches vs. 13 percent of parents
  • *Tweens (39%) and teens (49%) cite difficulty sleeping vs. 13 percent of parents
  • *Tweens (27%) and teens (39%) report eating too much or too little vs. 8 percent of parents.



Stress in America survey results show that adults continue to report high levels of stress and many report that their stress has increased over the past year. Additionally, many adults are reporting physical symptoms of stress.

Seventy-five percent of adults reported experiencing moderate to high levels of stress in the past month (24 percent extreme, 51% moderate) and nearly half reported that their stress has increased in the past year (42%). Nearly half (43%) of adults say they eat too much or eat unhealthy foods as a result of stress. Thirty-seven percent report skipping a meal because they were under stress.

While 44 percent of adults report that they exercise or walk to relieve stress, many Americans also say they rely on more sedentary activities to manage stress (49% listen to music, 41% read, 36% watch TV or movies more than two hours per day, and 33% play video games.) While these activities may be helpful in alleviating stress, they do not provide the extra benefit of improving overall physical health or maintaining a more healthy weight that more active forms of stress management afford.

Overall, many adults say they have felt the physical effects of stress in the past month:


  • *47 percent of all adults report that they have lain awake at night;
  • *45 percent report irritability or anger;
  • *43 percent report fatigue;
  • *40 percent report lack of interest, motivation or energy;
  • *34 percent report headaches;
  • *34 percent report feeling depressed or sad;
  • *32 percent report feeling as though they could cry;
  • *and 27 percent report upset stomach or indegestion as a result of stress.



The prevalence with which Americans continue to report increasing and extreme stress levels is a real concern,” said Dr Nordal. “Also, people say that their levels of stress and lack of willpower are preventing them from making lifestyle and behavior changes that are necessary for improving and maintaining good health. It’s clear that people need tools and support to better manage extreme stress in order to prevent serious health consequences. Unfortunately, our current healthcare system does not do a very good job in this regard. And insurance companies often don’t cover preventive services or the kinds of services people need in order to better manage chronic illness.

Two-thirds (66%) of adults living in the U.S. have been told by a health care provider that they have one or more chronic conditions, most commonly high blood pressure or high cholesterol. The vast majority of adults indicated that their health care provider recommended lifestyle and behavior changes (70%).

Few adults reported that their health care provider offered support to help them make lasting changes: only 46 percent were given an explanation for the recommendation; only 35 percent were offered advice or shown techniques to help make changes; and only 5-10 percent were referred to another health care provider to support the adoption of lifestyle changes. Further, only 48 percent of adults reported that their health care providers followed up with them to check on their progress in making lifestyle and behavior changes – such as quitting smoking, getting more sleep, reducing stress, exercising, losing weight and choosing healthier foods.

In general, people cited a number of barriers in their efforts to make lasting lifestyle and behavior changes – lack of willpower (33%); not enough time (20%); and lack of confidence (14%). More than one in ten people cited stress as the barrier preventing them from making lifestyle and behavior changes (14% of adults reported they are too stressed to make these changes).

Stress in America is part of APA’s Mind/Body Health public education campaign. For additional information on stress and lifestyle and behavior, visit www.apahelpcenter.org, read the campaign blog www.yourmindyourbody.org, and follow @apahelpcenter on Twitter.


  • 1. America’s Promise Alliance for Youth. Voices Study: Research Findings. Alexandria, VA: American’s Promise, 2005




Freedom from Fear

Neurogenesis may decay short-term fear memories

Cathleen Genova


Short-term memory may depend in a surprising way on the ability of newly formed neurons to erase older connections. That’s the conclusion of a report in the November 13th issue of the journal Cell, which provides some of the first evidence in mice and rats that new neurons sprouted in the hippocampus cause the decay of short-term fear memories (fear extinction) in that brain region, without an overall memory loss.

The researchers led by Kaoru Inokuchi of The University of Toyama in Japan say the discovery shows a more important role than many would have anticipated for the erasure of memories. They propose that the birth of new neurons (neurogenesis) promotes the gradual loss of memory traces from the hippocampus as those memories are transferred elsewhere in the brain for permanent storage. Although they examined this process only in the context of fear memory, Inokuchi says he “thinks all memories that are initially stored in the hippocampus are influenced by this process.

In effect, the new results suggest that failure of neurogenesis will lead to problems because the brain’s short-term memory is literally full. In Inokuchi’s words, we may perhaps experience difficulties in acquiring new information because the storage capacity of the hippocampus is “occupied by un-erased old memories.

Of course, Inokuchi added, “our finding does not necessary deny the important role of neurogenesis in memory acquisition.” Hippocampal neurogenesis could have a dual role, he says, in both erasing old memories and acquiring new ones.

Earlier studies had shown a crucial role for the hippocampus in memorizing new facts. Studies in people with impaired and normal memories and in animals also showed that information recall initially depends on the hippocampus. That dependence progressively decays over time as memories are transferred to other regions, such as the neocortex. Scientists have also observed a similar decay in the strength of connections between neurons of the hippocampus, a phenomenon known as long-term potentiation (LTP) that is considered the cellular basis for learning and memory.

Scientists also knew that new neurons continue to form in the hippocampuses of adults, even into old age. But it wasn’t really clear what those newborn brain cells actually do. Inokuchi’s team suspected that the integration of new neurons was required to maintain neural connections, but they realized it might also go the other way. The incorporation of new neurons into pre-existing neural circuits might also disturb the structure of pre-existing information, and indeed that is what their new findings now show.

The researchers found that irradiation of rat’s brains, which drastically reduces the formation of new neurons, maintains the strength of neural connections in the hippocampus. Likewise, studies of mice in which hippocampal neurogenesis was suppressed by either physical or genetic means showed a prolonged dependence of fear memories on that brain region.

On the other hand, voluntary exercise, which causes a rise in the birth of new neurons, sped up the decay rate of hippocampus-dependency of memory, without any memory loss.

Enhanced neurogenesis caused by exercise may accelerate memory decay from the hippocampus and at the same time it may facilitate memory transfer to neocortex,” Inokuchi said. “Hippocampal capacity of memory storage is limited, but in this way exercise could increase the [brain’s overall] capacity.

The study sets the stage for further examination of the connections between neurogenesis and learning capacity, the researchers say. They also plan to examine how the gradual decay of memory dependence on the hippocampus relates to the transformation of memory over time from a detailed and contextually-rich form to a more generic one.

Kitamura T, Saitoh Y, Takashima N, et al. Adult Neurogenesis Modulates the Hippocampus-Dependent Period of Associative Fear Memory. Cell 2009 Nov 13;139(4):814-827   [Summary]


Mice with deleted gene less anxious, depressed

Graeme Baldwin – BioMed Central


Removing the PKCI/HINT1 gene from mice has an antidepressant-like and anxiolytic-like effect. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Neuroscience applied a battery of behavioral tests to the PKCI/HINT1 knockout animals, concluding that the deleted gene may have an important role in mood regulation.

Elisabeth Barbier and Jia Bei Wang, from the School of Pharmacy at the University of Maryland, USA, carried out the experiments to investigate the role of the gene in regulating mood function. Wang, the corresponding author of the paper, said, “The knockout mice displayed behaviors indicative of changes in mood function, such as increased perseverance and reduced anxiety in open spaces.

The causes of mood dysfunction, as seen in depressive and bipolar disorders, are still not fully understood. They are believed to be multifactorial, involving heredity, changes in neurotransmitter levels, altered neuro-endocrine function, and psychosocial factors.

Speaking about these results, Wang said, “Although we don’t yet know why the deletion of the gene altered the mood status of the mice, what we have learned about the importance of this gene in mood function and its involvement in human mental disorders is interesting. The protein encoded by this gene could be a potential drug target for development of diagnostic or therapeutic agents that one day might be used for depression, bipolar or schizophrenia disorders. In addition, the knockout mice might be useful as a model to study mania, as there is no other animal model available yet.”

Barbier E, JWang JB. Antidepressant and anxiolytic like behaviors in PKCI/HINT1 knockout mice associated with elevated plasma corticosterone level. BMC Neuroscience 2009;10:132   [Abstract | Full text (PDF)]


Seattle Residents Continue To Report High Levels Of Stress

Article Date: 10 Nov 2009 – 2:00 PST

Work is causing stress for more Seattleites this year according to the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Stress in America survey, while the number reporting money or the economy as significant stressors has dropped since last year. More than 50 percent of city residents remain stressed by one or more of these three sources, a cause of concern for psychologists who worry about the effects of long-term stress and how it can contribute to chronic health disorders.

The survey released today reported that the number of Seattle residents who cited work as a significant cause of stress grew from 74 percent in 2008 to 82 percent in 2009. And about two in five employed Seattleites (42 percent) said they typically feel tense or stressed out during the work day, compared to 36 percent last year. Additionally, one-quarter of Seattle residents rated their average stress levels as an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale. But the number of Seattleites reporting that their stress had decreased in the past year has gone up from 12 percent in 2008 to 20 percent this year.

These high and long-lasting levels of stress can contribute to serious physical health problems. Diabetes, heart disease, obesity and high blood pressure are just a few of the diseases linked to chronic stress. In the APA survey, 70 percent of Seattle residents said they have been told by a health provider that they have a chronic condition (vs. 66 percent nationally). More than the rest of the nation, they reported that they are overweight or obese (31 percent in Seattle vs. 25 percent nationally), depressed (29 percent vs. 17 percent nationally) and have anxiety disorders (15 percent vs. 8 percent nationally).

Read in Full:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/170355.php

Survey Says: Fewer Americans Using Mental Health Professionals To Manage Stress

Article Date: 10 Nov 2009 – 2:00 PST

Results of a recent survey reveal that, despite an increase in stress, fewer Americans use therapy as a way to manage it.

The results of the annual “Stress in America” survey by the American Psychological Association, released last week, found that while 85 percent of Americans say their stress level has remained the same or increased in the past year, just 4 percent of people use therapy as a way to combat that stress. This reflects a decrease in therapy usage related to stress. In 2008, 7 percent of people said they saw a mental health professional to manage their stress.

In fact, Americans are more likely to eat (28%), smoke (14%), shop (15%) or watch TV (36%) than see a therapist as a stress management technique.

“We need to make Americans aware that seeing a mental health professional such as a Marriage and Family Therapist is a wise, effective way to manage stress that’s getting in the way of daily life,” said Patsy Pinkney-Phillips, Ph.D., president of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists Board and a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. “If you’re experiencing high levels of stress, talk therapy can help you get through it.”

Read in Full:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/170353.php

Anxious personalities linked to poor oral health

Jo Galer – University of Otago


People with anxious personalities are more likely to have poor oral health, including decayed or missing teeth, a University of Otago, New Zealand study has found.

A recent study, published in Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, looked at the anxiety levels of 1037 participants aged 15 to 32 in the long-running Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study and identified about one quarter of the group who were dentally anxious.

Split into three groups, they had always been dentally anxious (stable anxious); or had developed dental anxiety later as adolescents (adolescent-onset anxious), or as adults (adult- onset anxious).

Those in the stable anxious group had more tooth decay at age five and early experience of dentists; the adult-onset group was more likely to have lost teeth between the ages of 26 and 32, while the adolescent-onset anxious group had experienced more tooth decay from the age of 15.

Those with dental anxiety were more than just people who visit the dentist with a feeling of trepidation as the dentist looms over them with drill in hand; they were so frightened at the prospect of visiting a dentist or having dental procedures that they would avoid the dentist altogether – until the problem became so serious that treatment could no longer be avoided.

Researchers, led by Professor Murray Thomson, of the University’s Department of Oral Sciences, probed deeper into the characteristics of these anxious groups and found that they tended to be “the glass-half-empty” personality type – people who, as a rule, would be anxious about other things, such as heights. Some in this group were also anxious due to bad dental experiences in the past.

Usually, these people become more and more anxious through a vicious cycle of avoiding the dentist to the point where their dental condition becomes much worse,” he says.

They then require more unpleasant treatment options such as lancing an abscess, root canal treatment or a tooth extraction; and this reinforces their dental anxiety and makes it even less likely that they will attend the dentist next time they have a problem.

As a consequence, people who are dentally anxious end up with more tooth decay and more missing teeth than those who are not.

This was reflected in tooth decay statistics which showed that non-anxious people would have about 13 decayed, missing or filled tooth surfaces by the age of 32, whereas the stable anxious group would have almost double that – 22 surfaces affected by tooth decay – by 32.

In the study, three non-anxious groups were also identified, comprising three-quarters of the people studied; the three non-anxious groups were named stable non-anxious low; stable non-anxious medium and the recovery group.

The anxious groups tend to be more nervous than others, while the non-anxious groups tend to have more robust personalities, and are more able to cope with what life throws at them – these are the majority,” Professor Thomson says.

The biggest surprise was the appearance during the study of a ‘recovery’ group, which had been dentally anxious at age 15, but had ceased to be so by the age of 32.

We only had 13 respondents in this group, which is too small to study, but we would like to do more work in this area to find out what makes people cease to be anxious,” he says.

Professor Thomson says the study has implications for the dentistry profession and for the public.

This gives the dental profession a good understanding of what makes people dentally anxious, and to be mindful that some people can grow out of it,” he says.

For the public, it’s useful to know that, if you take the path of least resistance and avoid dental care, then in the end you will be worse off, not only dentally but also in terms of appearance, social interactions and your quality of life.

This reinforces previous findings from the Dunedin Multidisciplinary Study which show that poor oral health can lead to compromised quality of life and other health-related problems.

Thomson WM, Broadbent JM, Locker D, Poulton R. Trajectories of dental anxiety in a birth cohort. Community Dent Oral Epidemiol. 2009;37(3):209-19 [Abstract]


Why Do We Have Emotions?

by Ilana Simons, Ph.D.

Mental illness often results from excess emotion.

Mental illness often results from excess emotion. The overflow of emotion doesn’t just drive mood disorders like Major Depression but fuels most psychological problems: phobias, anxiety, trauma, hoarding, obsessiveness, borderline personality disorder, and drug and alcohol abuse.

Why (oh why) were we made to feel so much? It’s as if our wiring (which, when given the options of emotion and reason, gravitates to the former), were out to screw us.

The popular answer is the evolutionary one–that emotions have helped us survive. When we lived in the wild–with monkeys and mastodons and tigers–we needed emotions in order to react quickly to dangerous stimuli. If faced with a tiger, it’s better to be rocked with a fear so strong it triggers a rush of blood than to sit around and theorize about the threat. We developed an emotional system because it could induce quick responses to danger (for theorists on emotion and evolution, see Antonio Damasio, Joseph LeDoux, and Robert Trivers).

But the claim that emotions keep things alive is too simple. After all, you can name a lot of efficient, enduring response systems that don’t include emotion. Rivers are one–they skirt serious barriers and survive through history. Or consider an ivy plant. It has a very good sensory system and no love, fear, or drama to weigh it down. It winds itself up from the ground, over rocks, through the locks of gates, finding places to cling. It can endure weather changes, feed itself, and grow new cells. That’s a solid response system not driven by emotion. So, again, why were we built to carry the burden of so much sentiment?

An evolutionary answer with a bit more detail is that we’re animals: more aggressive and self-conscious than rivers and plants are. Aggression and the desire to survive that comes with selfhood helped scoot animals up the food chain. If you want to create a system that works hard to survive, make it consciousness and emotional. It will want to keep itself around.

Read in Full:  http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-literary-mind/200911/why-do-we-have-emotions

Project Spectrum was created to give people on the autism spectrum the opportunity to express their creativity and develop a life skill using Google SketchUp 3D modeling software. The idea for Project Spectrum originated when we began getting phone calls and emails from users telling us about how much kids on the autism spectrum were enjoying SketchUp. As the calls kept coming in, we learned that autistic people tend to be visually and spatially gifted—that, in fact, they think in pictures. When people with these gifts get their hands on powerful, easy-to-use 3D design software like SketchUp, sparks tend to fly.

Update on the Google SketchUp model by Rachel W.

Rachel is the daughter of Theresa K. Wrangham, USAAA Advisory Board Member. Theresa updates us on Rachel’s progress since she started Project Spectrum in 2007.

Rachel is attending Front Range Community College to complete her Associates Degree in MultiMedia. She is a past award recipient of the Skills USA pin design contest, as well as Boulder Valley School District Destination Imagination award recipient. She currently has 9 credits toward her degree and graduated with honors from high school and is a member of the National Technical Honor Society.

The wonderful thing about Project Spectrum is that without that exposure, I don’t know that Rachel would ever have identified her career track. Of course, as parents we know she could change her mind and choose another direction…we are just happy that she has found a direction.”

Learn More …http://www.google.com/educators/spectrum.html

As an educator, you can:
Try Google SketchUp – free 3D design software
Sign up for the Google for Educators Newsletter
Join our online community at the Project Spectrum Google Group
Watch a video on how to get started using SketchUp
Download the Project Spectrum Manual of Lesson Plans

by Emily Ramshaw |  11/2/09

AUSTIN – Texas educators forcibly pinned down students with disabilities more than 18,000 times in the last school year, sometimes injuring them in the process.

A Texas Tribune review of state data shows public school educators used so-called “physical restraints” – a tool to control or discipline students with disabilities – roughly 100 times a day during the 2007-08 school year.

That year, school staff restrained four of every 100 special education students, with some students being restrained dozens of times. More than 40 percent of restrained youth suffered from emotional problems like post-traumatic stress disorder; nearly 20 percent were autistic.

Educators say restraints are sometimes the only way to prevent disasters. They point to the September 2009 case of a 16-year-old Tyler special education student who fatally stabbed his music teacher in a classroom.

But disability rights advocates say the numbers point to a crisis in Texas special education. They say teachers are resorting to physical restraints because they aren’t properly trained to manage their students’ disabilities – posing a threat to vulnerable children and to themselves.

Their concerns were echoed in Washington this spring, where a federal agency exposed thousands of restraints – including several deaths – of special education students in schools nationwide.  In many cases, the U.S. Government Accountability Office found restraints were performed on children who weren’t physically aggressive, and by teachers who weren’t trained to use them.

“It’s a dangerous intervention, both for students and for staff,” said Steve Elliot, an attorney for Advocacy Inc., the state’s federally funded abuse watchdog group. “We’ve had students die in Texas because of restraints, and staff members report injuries. There are less intrusive ways to intervene when inappropriate behavior arises.”

Educators say restraints are only used as a last resort, when all other methods to intervene have failed. When properly used, they immobilize students who are a physical danger to themselves or their classmates without injuring them.

But even with proper training, they’re risky. Restraints can easily lead to scrapes, bruises and broken bones, and too much chest pressure can block air to the lungs.

Between 2002 and 2004, a profoundly disabled teenager was restrained 40 times at her Kemp, Texas high school; in one incident, her family says, educators broke a $100,000 device surgically implanted in the girl to prevent seizures.

In 2004, an emotionally disturbed boy trying to leave the classroom for lunch died of suffocation after his Killeen teacher sat on him to restrain him.

The Texas school districts with the highest restraint rates say there’s no crisis: Some say they’ve been over-reporting the numbers; others say they have tougher special education populations than their peers. But many say they’ve been working in the last year to improve training and provide teachers with alternative strategies, and that their restraint numbers are dropping steadily.

“Our numbers were very high,” acknowledged Austin ISD special education director Janna Lilly. The district saw its restraints drop from 1,007 to 790 in the last two years after it hired a full-time student aggression specialist and started focusing on “positive behavior supports” — techniques to calm students without getting physical.

“We’re not out of the woods,” Lilly said, “but our numbers are now lower than other districts with fewer special education students.”

Officials with the Texas Education Agency say they started collecting special education restraint data and training teachers in restraint alternatives in 2004, after the Killeen boy’s restraint death. School districts are not required to track restraints of students in the general education population.

“There wouldn’t have been all of this work done if this wasn’t a concern,” said Kathy Clayton, the state director of special education. “There’s a heightened awareness now.”

But she said there’s no way to tell if Texas’ numbers are low or high. Only three other states record restraint data, and they don’t record it the same way Texas does. And she said even Texas’ numbers may be exaggerated because of inconsistencies in the way districts have reported restraints. The state doesn’t keep data on restraint-related injuries.

“It makes it very difficult to be able to look at any trends,” she said.

Advocates for people with disabilities say the comparison isn’t that tough to make.

California – which has 2 million more public school students than Texas – reported about 14,000 instances of restraint, seclusion, or other emergency interventions during the 2007-08 school year. Texas had 18,000 instances of restraint alone.

Texas’ numbers could also be low. They’re self-reported by the school districts, the advocates say, and don’t account for the many restraints performed by on-campus peace officers and other school district police, who aren’t required to report to the state.

“Because they don’t have to report it, school districts will often call in a police officer to make a restraint, instead of having the teacher do it,” said Deborah Fowler, an attorney with the legal advocacy group Texas Appleseed.

Source:  http://www.texastribune.org/stories/2009/nov/02/disabled-students-restrained-public-schools/

Letting Go

By Therese J. Borchard

Awhile back I discussed Eileen Flanagan’s book, The Wisdom to Know the Difference. If you’d like to learn more about her, visit her website at www.EileenFlanagan.com.

Therese: What are five clues you should be letting go of something?


1. You find yourself repeating the same complaint to different people.

We all get frustrated from time to time, but it’s not good for our mental or spiritual health to wallow in frustration. I remember once I got irritated with another mother at my kid’s nursery school after she did something that inconvenienced me. I complained to the first mother I ran into, and then the second. When I heard myself repeating the story for the third time, it hit me that I was making myself more agitated, not less. I was also putting poison in the community well. Someone had made an honest mistake, and I needed to get over it.

2. You’re churning over in your brain what you wish you (or someone else) had done.

You can’t change the past. Period. If you can’t stop thinking about something that has happened, reframe your internal conversation by asking what you have learned from the experience or what you want to do differently next time. Just replaying the same tape isn’t going to get you anywhere.

3. Your body is showing signs of anxiety.

Often our bodies give us clear messages about what is going on inside of us. For some people, anxiety manifests in not being able to sleep. For me, heartburn is a frequent symptom, as well as tight shoulder muscles. If you pay attention to how you feel when you are at peace as well as when you are anxious or angry, you can learn to use your body as a barometer. Awake at 2AM again? That may be your sign that you need to let go of something.

4. You are scheming how to make someone else do something.

Face it: you can’t force anyone else do anything, and the more you try, the more likely you are to push that person away. You can tell them what you want, but if you find yourself imagining ways to get them to do what you want, it’s time to back off and let go. (i.e. “Accidentally” dragging your boyfriend past the diamond store in the mall is not going to make him ready to get engaged, if that’s what you’re hoping.) Focus on making yourself happy, rather than trying to manipulate someone else.

5. You can’t appreciate the life you have because you keep focusing on what could be.

Every one has something to be grateful for, even if it’s just breathing. If it takes you more than several seconds to think of five things you are grateful for, you are probably focusing too much on a picture of how you wish things were. Counting your blessings is a time-tested way to let go of what you don’t have and focus on what you have.

Therese: And in reverse, what are five clues you should be making a change instead of giving up?


1. You can’t let go.
An inability to forget something may be a sign that you need to make a change. If you just can’t accept the fact that your boss doesn’t respect your work, maybe it’s time to polish your resume. If you are still grieving a lost friendship, maybe you need to write the person a letter to repair the relationship or get closure. Sometimes we need to take action before we can let go.

2. The problem will persist if you do nothing.

Forgiving someone for an honest mistake is one thing, but if someone continually does something that you find hurtful or annoying, you probably need to let the person know. Maybe if your neighbor knew that his music was bothering you, he would turn it down. Maybe not, but he won’t turn it down if you never tell him, and you are likely to get a better response if you mention it calmly when it is a minor annoyance, rather than waiting until you are exasperated.

3. You feel jealous of someone else’s accomplishments.

Jealousy can be toxic if we wallow in it, but it can also point us toward our unrealized goals. If you find yourself resentful of a friend who just published her first novel, maybe you should ask what creative venture you have put off. That could be the impetus to look for a writing class or take some other step toward what you want.

4. People you trust believe you should make a change.

We have to be careful about following other people’s advice, but the truth is that sometimes other people see us more clearly than we see ourselves. Psychologists say that depression, for example, is often recognized by loved-ones before the depressed person can see it. Be open to the observations of people who have your best interests at heart, especially if they think you need some kind of help.

5. You angrily deny any problem.

If you get angry when someone suggests that you should be making a change, that’s all the more reason to take the person’s concern seriously. Anger is a typical symptom of denial. One way to break through denial is to look for objective evidence. One man I interviewed for The Wisdom to Know the Difference denied that he had a drinking problem until a counselor gave him a 20 question survey about drinking. When he answered yes to 18 of the 20 questions, he was jolted out of denial, giving him the boost he needed to join AA, a change that transformed his life.

To get to “Living the Serenity Prayer” by Eileen Flanagan, click here. Or visit her website at www.EileenFlanagan.com.

Source:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/11/07/5-clues-you-should-be-letting-go-of-something-an-interview-with-eileen-flanagan/

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 13, 2009

An award winning new study from a health economics professor examines the effects of adolescent health on educational outcomes.

Queen’s University researcher Steven Lehrer and Jason Fletcher of Yale University recently published their paper in the journal Forum for Health Economics & Policy.

“Our study shows that poor mental health in children and teenagers has a large impact on the length of time they will stay in school,” says Dr. Lehrer.

He notes a large number of school-based programs have recently been introduced to prevent childhood obesity through lifestyle changes, but suggests the net should be cast more widely.

“It’s important for policymakers to target health conditions that are not the easiest to identify – like inattention – but may have larger impacts on one’s future.”

The findings provide strong evidence that inattentive symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in childhood and depression in adolescents are linked to the number of years of completed schooling.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2009/11/13/teen-mental-health-linked-to-educational-success/9550.html

Focused Education For Autism, ADHD

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 13, 2009

Emerging research suggests structured and concentrated teaching can improve literacy and comprehension in challenged school-aged children.

Experts call for teachers and parents to be vigilant in detecting difficulties with language comprehension, reading and spelling in children and young people with autism, Asperger’s syndrome and ADHD.

“It is important that pupils are offered the support to which they are entitled,” says Jakob Asberg in a new thesis at the University of Gothenburg.

“Pupils with these neuropsychiatric disorders are often reported as having problems with spoken and written activities. However, relatively little research has been carried out within the field.

“Considering how important such skills are for coping independently in school and in working life and society in general, it is of great importance that we become better informed about these issues,” Åsberg, who is publicly defending his thesis in psychology, said.

Read in Full: http://psychcentral.com/news/2009/11/13/focused-education-improves-autism-adhd/9556.html

"Myth"(Sphinx) Sculpture

10 Common Myths About Clinical Depression

Almost every mental illness ends up accompanied by a barrage of myths, misunderstandings, and misconceptions that cloud the minds of the populace and ultimately produces muddied opinions of the true threat. Unfortunately, one of the most marginalized and ridiculed conditions is also one of the most common. An estimated 17 million Americans suffer from some form of clinical depression a year, most of whom end up never seeking psychological assistance due to feeling undermined and discouraged by the perceptions of society at large. Because those suffering from depression run a much higher risk of committing suicide or acts of self-mutilation than their comparatively healthier peers, it is absolutely integral to understand the complexities and widespread influence of the disease. Only by making an earnest effort to combat these negative and patently false perceptions can the depressed begin to realize that no shame or weakness lay in their situation, thereby removing many of the stigmas and reservations still undeservedly attached to entering into therapy.

Read in Full:  http://onlinepsychologydegrees.org/10-common-myths-about-clinical-depression/

Survey finds big gap in knowledge of depression


Americans do not believe they know much about depression, but are highly aware of the risks of not receiving care, according to a survey released today by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The survey provides a “three dimensional” measurement of responses from members of the general public who do not know anyone with depression, caregivers of adults diagnosed with depression and adults actually living with the illness.

  • *Seventy-one percent of the public sample said they are not familiar with depression, but 68 percent or more know specific consequences that can come from not receiving treatment-including suicide (84%).
  • *Sixty-two percent believe they know some symptoms of depression, but 39 percent said they do not know many or any at all.
  • *One major finding: almost 50 percent of caregivers who responded had been diagnosed with depression themselves, but only about 25 percent said they were engaged in treatment.
  • *Almost 60 percent of people living with depression reported that they rely on their primary care physicians rather than mental health professionals for treatment. Medication and “talk therapy” are primary treatments-if a person can get them-but other options are helpful.
  • *Fifteen percent of people living with depression use animal therapy with 54 percent finding it to be “extremely” or “quite a bit” helpful. Those using prayer and physical exercise also ranked them high in helpfulness (47% and 40% respectively).
  • *When people living with depression discontinue medication or talk therapy, cost is a common reason, but other significant factors include a desire “to make it on my own,” whether they believe the treatment is actually working and in the case of medication, side effects.

The survey reveals gaps and guideposts on roads to recovery,” said NAMI Executive Director Michael J. Fitzpatrick. “It tells what has been found helpful in treating depression. It can help caregivers better anticipate stress that will confront them. It reflects issues that need to be part of ongoing health care reform.

There are many treatment strategies,” said NAMI Medical Director Ken Duckworth. “What often works is a combination of treatments that fit a person and their lifestyle. Research indicates that the combination of medication and psychotherapy are most effective. But physical exercise, prayer, music therapy, yoga, animal therapy and other practices all can play a role. The good news is that 80 percent or more of the public recognize that depression is a medical illness, affecting people of all ages, races and socioeconomic groups, which can be treated.

Harris Interactive conducted the survey for NAMI on-line between September 29 and October 7, 2009. Participants included 1,015 persons who did not know anyone diagnosed with depression, 513 persons living with depression and 263 caregivers of a family member or significant other diagnosed with depression.

The full survey results are at: http://www.nami.org/depression.

The survey was made possible with support from AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly & Co. and Wyeth. NAMI does not endorse or promote any specific medication, treatment, product or service.

Van Gough

The Evolution of Depression

November 10, 2009 | By Dirk Hanson, MA

Millions of people around the world suffer from depression, the most common mental disorder of all. Since depression appears to be largely genetic, several long-standing questions continue to bedevil researchers. Have the genes for clinical unipolar depression undergone selective evolution–or is depression a random product of mutation, evolutionary drift, or other non-selective forces? The symptoms of depression are found in every culture and time period, from the ancient Greeks to modern New Yorkers, from the !Kung of southern Africa to ranchers in the American West. Why is depression so much more common than any other major mental illness? Clearly, it is a malfunction, a maladaptation — or is it?

Read in Full:  http://brainblogger.com/2009/11/10/the-evolution-of-depression/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+GNIFBrainBlogger+%28Brain+Blogger%29

Deep Brain Stimulation For Clinical Depression?

Posted on: November 11, 2009 11:49 AM, by Dave Munger

This week on SEED, I’m writing about Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), a promising new way to treat clinical depression. Here’s a snippet:

In DBS therapy, one or more electrodes the size of a spaghetti strand are precisely positioned in the patient’s brain, then connected by wire around the skull and through the neck to a pacemaker-like device, a neurostimulator, just below the collarbone. The neurostimulator is activated and deactivated by a magnet that the patient carries, so if a tremor is beginning to become disruptive, DBS can be self-administered in an instant, with near-instantaneous results. A video provided by the manufacturer of a DBS device shows how it works in ideal cases.

Now new uses for the treatment are being tested. One observed side effect of DBS for Parkinson’s is excessive happiness, to the point of uncontrollable elation–the sort of unhealthy, personality-changing reaction that everyone fears when they think of electrodes being implanted in their brain. Tuning the device can minimize this side effect, but its very existence suggests that DBS might be a useful therapy for clinical depression.

For more, read the whole article

John Hopkins: Antidepressant Medication “Poop Out”

A reader from Roswell, Georgia asks: “I have been taking 20 mg/day of Celexa (citalopram) for about a year and a half for depression. It was the first medication I tried, and it worked great. For the past two months or so, however, I haven’t been feeling great. I have been sleeping a lot, crying a lot, and feeling antisocial. Is it possible for Celexa to “poop out” and just stop working over time? Should I talk to my doctor about increasing my dosage or changing medications? Or maybe this bout with depression is just extra bad and I should tough it out?” Here’s our advice.

Antidepressant tachyphylaxis — known less formally as the “poop out” effect — was first described in 1984 when researchers observed that some patients experienced relapse of mood symptoms on antidepressants that had previously been effective therapies. There is some suggestion that serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, such as Celexa, are more prone to tachyphylaxis than other antidepressants, such as tricyclic medications like nortriptyline and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) like Effexor.

When antidepressants appear to “poop out,” there are four options available to the physician and patient. The first is to increase the medication dosage in an effort to boost the antidepressant effect, assuming the maximum dose is not already prescribed. For example, the maximum dose of Celexa is 60 mg daily. A common pattern with SSRIs is for there to be an initial response to a lower dose that is not sustained, requiring titration over time to higher doses. Increasing the dosage alone may be sufficient to jumpstart recovery.

Read in Full: 


Abstract: Trends in prescribing and self-poisoning in relation to UK regulatory authority warnings against use of SSRI antidepressants in under-18-year-olds

Bergen H, Hawton K, Murphy E, Cooper J, Kapur N, Stalker C, Waters K.

Centre for Suicide Research, Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford, Oxford; Centre for Suicide Prevention, University of Manchester, Manchester; Derbyshire Mental Health Trust, Derby, UK

AIMS: To assess the impact of the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) warning in December 2003 not to prescribe selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, except fluoxetine, to under-18-year-olds.

METHODS: Interrupted time series analysis of prescriptions (UK) and general hospital presentations for nonfatal self-poisoning (three centres in England) for 2000-2006.

RESULTS: Following the MHRA warning in December 2003 there were significant decreases in prescribing of SSRI antidepressants (conservative estimate 51%) to young people aged 12-19 years. Surprisingly, this decrease also affected fluoxetine (conservative estimate 20%) and tricyclics (conservative estimate 27%). Nonfatal self-poisoning in this age group following the warning also declined significantly for SSRIs (conservative estimate 44%), but not for fluoxetine, tricyclic antidepressants, or all drugs and other substances. Rates of nonfatal self-harm did not change significantly over the study period.

CONCLUSIONS: The reduction in both prescribing and self-poisoning with SSRI antidepressants (except fluoxetine) following the MHRA warning is in keeping with reduced availability of these drugs. There was some evidence of substitution from other SSRIs to fluoxetine for use in self-poisoning. Importantly, overall rates of nonfatal self-harm and self-poisoning did not change, indicating no substitution of method or increases in self-injury.

Source… © 2009 The Authors; Journal compilation © 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Abstract+: A investigation of cognitive ‘branching’ processes in major depression

Nicholas D Walsh , Marc L Seal , Steven CR Williams and Mitul A Mehta

Background: Patients with depression demonstrate cognitive impairment on a wide range of cognitive tasks, particularly putative tasks of frontal lobe function. Recent models of frontal lobe function have argued that the frontal pole region is involved in cognitive branching, a process requiring holding in mind one goal while performing sub-goal processes. Evidence for this model comes from functional neuroimaging and frontal-pole lesion patients. We have utilised these new concepts to investigate the possibility that patients with depression are impaired at cognitive `branching’.

Methods: 11 non-medicated patients with major depression were compared to 11 matched controls in a behavioural study on a task of cognitive `branching’. In the version employed here, we recorded participant’s performance as they learnt to perform the task. This involved participants completing a control condition, followed by a working memory condition, a dual-task condition and finally the branching condition, which integrates processes in the working memory and dual-task conditions. We also measured participants on a number of other cognitive tasks as well as mood-state before and after the branching experiment.

Results: Patients took longer to learn the first condition, but performed comparably to controls after six runs of the task. Overall, reaction times decreased with repeated exposure on the task conditions in controls, with this effect attenuated in patients. Importantly, no differences were found between patients and controls on the branching condition. There was, however, a significant change in mood-state with patients increasing in positive affect and decreasing in negative affect after the experiment.

Conclusions: We found no clear evidence of a fundamental impairment in anterior prefrontal `branching processes’ in patients with depression. Rather our data argue for a contextual learning impairment underlying cognitive dysfunction in this disorder. Our data suggest that MDD patients are able to perform high-level cognitive control tasks comparably to controls provided they are well trained. Future work should replicate these preliminary findings in a larger sample of MDD patients.

Source | Full text (PDF0

Open access

Women More Likely Than Men To Suffer Depression After Stroke

Article Date: 11 Nov 2009 – 2:00 PST

Depression occurs in as many as one-third of patients after a stroke, and women are at somewhat higher risk, according to a large new review of studies. Post-stroke depression is associated with greater disability, reduced quality of life and an increased risk of death.

The systematic review appears in the November-December issue of the journal Psychosomatics.

Brittany Poynter, M.D., and colleagues from the University of Toronto looked at 56 studies on stroke and depression comprising more than 75,000 people, about 12,000 of them women. The time between the stroke and onset of depression ranged from less than two weeks to 15 years.

In women, rates of post-stroke depression ranged from about 6 percent to 78 percent, while in men depression rates ranged from 4.7 percent to about 65 percent.

These findings are important, Poynter said, because women who have had a stroke generally do more poorly than men. They tend to have higher rates of disability and longer hospitalization times. The authors say this might be due in part to higher rates of depression. In addition, “women may have less access to care,” Poynter said.

“People think of stroke as a ‘male’ disease and it is slightly more common in men but because it increases with age, more women end up having strokes because they live longer,” said Linda S. Williams, M.D., chief of neurology at the Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis. She is not associated with the review.

Read in Full:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/170526.php

Psychiatry’s dirty little secret

Scott Mendelson, MD

When I was in medical school, I learned one of psychiatry’s dirty little secrets. That is, that of people prescribed an antidepressant to treat their Major Depression, only about 25% enjoy complete resolution of symptoms, another 50% feel some but not complete relief, and the last unfortunate 25% get no relief at all. This was true 15 years ago and remains true today. As a psychiatrist, I prescribe antidepressants, and I have seen these medications improve and even save lives.


Copyright © 2009 HuffingtonPost.com, Inc.

Study finds clear connection between depression and osteoporosis

Jerry Barach
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Research carried out among thousands of people has shown a clear connection between depression and a loss of bone mass, leading to osteoporosis and fractures. according to Hebrew University of Jerusalem researchers, Prof Raz Yirmiya, head of the Brain and Behavior Laboratory, and Prof Itai Bab, head of the Bone Laboratory. They further revealed that the relationship between depression and bone loss is particularly strong among young women.

Osteoporosis is the most widespread degenerative disease in the developed world, afflicting 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over 50. Sufferers experience decrease in bone density, which often leads to bone fractures. In many cases, these fractures cause severe disability and even death.

Despite the accumulating evidence for a connection between depression and decreased bone density, official authorities, such as the US National Institutes of Health and the World Health Organization, have not yet acknowledged depression as a risk factor for osteoporosis, due to the lack of studies in large samples. To remedy this situation, the researchers assembled the data from all studies on the subject conducted to date, and analyzed them using a special statistical approach called meta-analysis.

The results were recently published in the journal Biological Psychiatry. In the article the Hebrew University scientists assessed data from 23 research projects conducted in eight countries, comparing bone density among 2,327 people suffering from depression against 21,141 non-depressed individuals.

The results, say the researchers, show clearly that depressed individuals have a substantially lower bone density than non-depressed people and that depression is associated with a markedly elevated activity of cells that breakdown bone (osteoclasts).

Yirmiya and Bab found that the association between depression and bone loss was stronger in women than men, especially young women before the end of their monthly period. This connection was especially strong in women with clinical depression diagnosed by a psychiatrist, but not in community studies, in which women subjectively identified themselves as being depressed using self-rating questionnaires.

Based on the present findings, Profs. Yirmiya and Bab propose that “all individuals psychiatrically diagnosed with major depression are at risk for developing osteoporosis, with depressed young women showing the highest risk. These patients should be periodically evaluated for progression of bone loss and signs of osteoporosis, allowing the use of anti-osteoporotic prophylactic and therapeutic treatments.

Yirmiya R, Bab I. Major depression is a risk factor for low bone mineral density: a meta-analysis. Biol Psychiatry. 2009 Sep 1;66(5):423-32   [Abstract]

Having Mental Illness Does Not Make People More Accepting, Research Shows

Article Date: 10 Nov 2009 – 0:00 PST

Having a mental illness does not make people more accepting of others with a similar problem, research says.

Amy Klassen asked 1073 people in Alberta, Canada, about their attitudes generally toward people who had a mental illness.

She found that those among the 1073 who had themselves been treated for a mental illness were no more accepting of others who have a mental illness.

However Ms Klassen, who worked with the Population Research Laboratory and the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta, Canada, found that those questioned were less willing to reject those with a mental illness if they knew someone who had had such a problem.

Those surveyed were given eight statements, including ‘being around a mentally ill person would make me feel nervous’ and ‘even though former mental patients may seem fine, it is foolish to forget that they are mentally ill’ and asked to say how much they agreed or disagreed. From this their desire for ‘social distance’ from those with mental illness – how rejecting or not they were – was calculated.

Read in Full:  http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/170321.php

[VIDEO] Guide To Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Authoritative information from the British Medical Journal on CBT, a psychotherapy used to treat depression, anxiety, panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder

View Video:  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/video/2009/nov/04/cognitive-behavioural-therapy-cbt-guide

TMS As Drug-Free Depression Treatment

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on November 6, 2009

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) is a FDA-approved, non-invasive antidepressant device-based treatment clinically proven for treatment of depression.

Rush University Medical Center has opened a clinic that uses the TMS therapy system to deliver highly focused magnetic field pulses to a specific portion of the brain, the left prefrontal cortex, in order to stimulate the areas of the brain linked to depression.

The repeated short bursts of magnetic energy introduced through the scalp excite neurons in the brain.

Depression affects at least 14 million American adults each year. Researchers estimate that by the year 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of disability worldwide.

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2009/11/06/tms-as-drug-free-depression-treatment/9392.html

Emotional Resilience: Coping with Life, It’s Tragedies and Its Stresses

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 7th 2009

I am relatively certain that all of you have heard the saying, “G-d does not give you more of a burden than you are able to hold.” I suppose it is a way to assure people that they can handle anything.

However, all of us know that there are times when it feels like a burden is too heavy to carry.

The sources of these burdens are such things as the death of a loved one, being caught in a war, earthquake, hurricane or tornado. For others, it may be having a spouse suddenly and unexpectedly decide to move away and end the marriage with no explanation. In fact, there are many scenarios that are traumatic and depressing. Another way of thinking about this is that life tests us and our capacity to cope.

As a result of these difficult times it is common to think such things as, “This is not what I bargained for. This is beyond me and who I am. This is beyond the emotional resources that I have. No one else goes through this type of thing. I just want to die!”

In psychology, there is a concept known as “emotional resilience.” The following Mental Help.Net article defines emotional resilience. It can be found at this URL:


One aspect of emotional resilience is:

“to be able to spring back after suffering through difficult and stressful times in one’s life. Stressed people experience a flood of powerful negative emotions which may include anger, anxiety, and depression. Some people remain trapped in these negative emotions long after the stressful events that have caused them have passed. Emotionally resilient people, on the other hand, are quickly able to bounce back to their normal emotional state. In a way, they have learned to wear a “hard hat,” a protective cover that allows them to move on.

Read in Full:  http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc.php?type=doc&id=33772&cn=298


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“The Government has Got to Get it Right”: A NAS response to the Public Accounts Committee Report on autistic adults, UK”:


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Gary McKinnon Updates “Gary McKinnon’s mother in tears after snub from Alan Johnson”:


“Gary McKinnon: amendment to law by peers could prevent repeat of extradition attempt”:


“The disability paradox”:


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Letters: “Failing the incapacity test”:


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“In Honor of Veterans, 2009”:


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“Virtual Hospital”:



Will Hadcroft “My visit to More House School”:


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Cambridgeshire “Special needs day school to open”:


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“Check out assistive devices”:


“Musical fun at school”:




[UK] “Tackle work stress, bosses told”:


Glencraft “Disability firm into liquidation”:


“Workers with disabilities make up 22% of workforce”:


“Client of the year: They helped me to find my own voice”:


“Give autistic teen a chance”:


“Creative Support Ltd”:


“Autelligent Laboratories

We believe all people have a contribution to make and deserve an opportunity to be productive.

With your caring and excellent help, we are creating jobs for the 40 million people worldwide who are diagnosed with Autism and Asperger Syndrome. Today less than one in five of us are currently employed. We are motivated and competent and we deserve equal employment. Help make this a reality.

Autelligent Laboratories is dedicated to creating a space where autistic software engineers can more than contribute, we can excel.”:


Luxury Quality Scented Candles “Humbolt Candles – Autism & Disability Employment Company”:


Individuality, Diversity, Equality, Achievement

Auties..org is an Aspie & Autie friendly site for all people on the Autistic Spectrum who are ready to dare reach out to occupation and employment, open the doors to the community and market their abilities directly to the public and for those interested in supporting these pioneers.




Linking job seekers with vacancies in work related to autism, Aspergers and ASDs


“Current job vacancies within the NAS”:


For further employment information, please view”:



“Philip Greenall”:


“Robotics technology future is here”:


“Secret millionnaire saves special needs project”:


“Independent living: A disabled man and his personal assistants”:


“Ian Birrell: Mind your language: words can cause terrible damage”:


“Weighted blankets – Full instructions”:


“Bonfire Night”:


Christmas Cards “Support the NAS this Christmas”:



Macedonian Flag ~Learn more …  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_of_Macedonia

Macedonian Scientific Society for Autism
Institute of Special Education and Rehabilitation
Faculty of Philosophy, Bull. Krste Misirkov b.b.,
1000 Skopje
Tel: 389-2-3116520 (Ext.234)
Fax: 389-2-3118143
Email: vladotra@fzf.ukim.edu.mk

Skopje - Macedonia's Capital
Skopje – Macedonia’s Capital

PORAKA “Republic Center for Support of Persons with Intellectual Disability”:


Samuil’s Fortress is in the old part of Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia, called the Ohrid Kale. It was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire, during the rule of Samuil in the middle-ages. Today, this historical monument is a major tourist attraction. It was renovated in 2003. According to recent excavations by Macedonian archaeologists, it was alleged that this fortress was built on the place of an earlier fortification, dated to 4th century B.C., which was probably built by king Phillip II of Macedon.

SHARE-SEE “Self-Help & Advocacy for Rights and Equal Opportunities ~ South East Europe”:


Located in Ohrid’s old town, Plaosnik is an utterly unique phenomenon: it was recently reconstructed, with loving attention to detail, precisely in the style of a Byzantine church, right down to the red bricks and mortar.  An early Christian sacral building dating from the 5th century was discovered here, built over the remains of an older antique building whose cistern was found in the atrium of the newly built temple. Today, Plaosnik is one of the most exhilarating Byzantine-style churches in Macedonia. Its floor is covered with mosaics of twenty wave-shaped tassel interspersed with the figures of flowers, birds and animals. The very fact of its reconstruction is evidence of the strong affection Macedonians still feel for their Byzantine heritage.  There are ongoing excavations. You’ll find lots of old mosaics with the figures of flowers, birds and animals from the 4th to 6th century. On October 10, 2007, a depot of approximately 2,383 Venetian coins was discovered by archaeologists while excavating the monastery. A prominent archaeologist of the Republic of Macedonian, Pasko Kuzman, stated that the coins are of special significance because they indicate that Ohrid and Venice were commercially linked.

The history of Plaosnik is really interesting:

Heraclea Mosaic
Heraclea Mosaic – 600 AD

“Macedonia – Facts, Information & History”:


Alexander III of Macedon (356–323 BC), popularly known as Alexander the Great (Greek: Μέγας Ἀλέξανδρος, Mégas Aléxandros), was a Greek king (basileus) of Macedon who created one of the largest empires in ancient history.
Learn More …http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_the_Great

“Map of Macedonia”:


Stobi Roman Ruins
Stobi – Roman Ruins:
Beautiful mosaics at the ancient Roman site of Stobi in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).  There are many Roman ruins with beautiful mosaics throughout Macedonia, as well as in Bulgaria. “Stobi” is about 10 km north of Negotino, Macedonia.

Official Tourism Sites …

“Overview of Macedonia’s cities, cuisines, accommodations, restaurants, and more.”:


Macedonian Desert
Macedonian Desert

“Information on music, theater, film, the performing arts, visual arts, and more in Macedonia.”:


Kastoria City
The town of Kastoria is a wonderful small town on a peninsula of a lake, with beautiful old othodox churches. It is Macedonia’s most picturesque town. Built on an isthmus on the shores of lake Orestiada and surrounded by mountains, it is a city of old neighbourhoods, narrow lanes, stately mansions and Byzantine churches. The city flourished, both culturally and economically, during the Turkish occupation, particularly in the 17th century. Later, large numbers of Jewish furriers came to the area because of the abundance of beavers. Unfortunately the beaver population was wiped out in the nineteenth century and the Jews not long after that during the Nazi occupation. Since that time, the people of Kastoria have dedicated themselves to working with furs and embroidery. Even today, the city boasts a large number of luxury fur and textile shops and factories. Kastoria has more than 70 Byzantine and post-Byzantine churches, dating from as far back as the 9th century up to the 19th. Most of them are as small as a family house and ttheir walls are filled with beautiful frescoes. Very typical is the architecture of the mansions, dating from the 18th and 19th century, usually three-story edifices with large windows, enclosed balconies and projecting ‘sahnisia’. Their interiors are spacious and sumptuously decorated with woodcarving and wall paintings.

Kastoria Village Home

“Entry requirements for Macedonia, tourist contacts, and more.”:


Lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid

“Flight schedules and deals from Macedonia’s national airline.“:


Tree Talk ~ Yankovi, Aliakmon River
Tree talk ~ Yankovi, Aliakmon River

Further Macedonian Sites of Interest …

“Photographs of Macedonia’s places and people.”:


Macedonian Folk Music
Music in Macedonia ~ Macedonian dance is a favorite with folk-dancers, with the colourful costumes and lively traditional music creating a festive social atmosphere. This party was held at a local school’s graduation celebration.

“Overview of the history, cultural traditions, politics, cuisines, and religions of Macedonia.”:


Red Fox Pup, Macedonia
Red Fox Pup, Macedonia

“A comprehensive history of Macedonia, including major political events and issues.”:



“Examples of antique Macedonian icons, including the Annunciation and the Crucifixion.”:


Peacock, Macedonia
Peacock, Macedonia

“News and current events in Macedonia from a Macedonian news provider.”:


Snowy Klisoura
First Snow, Klisoura


“ADHD and Girls”:


“Exploring the Upside of ADHD”:


“Schools turn a blind eye to ADD”:


“Forum focuses on ADHD worries”:


“Campaign launches to sound alarm about the misuse of prescription drugs among teens”:


“New data on attention in children with ADHD”:


“ADHD Medications: Neurotransmitters to the Rescue”:


“Flint Township college student recognized for overcoming learning disability and ADHD”:


ADRES “Adverse Drug Reaction Electronic System(Adverse Drug Reactions Website)”-This website provides patients, doctors, and other medical professionals with a comprehensive examination of adverse drug reactions (ADRs), side effects, and other safety information for both prescription and over-the-counter medications.. Our goal is to allow users of our website make informed decisions when taking (patients) or prescribing (doctors) drugs. We are providing unmatched information and analysis tools.


Our objective is to promote awareness to AD/HD (Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) and to provide information and as much free practical help as we can to those affected by the condition, both adults and children, their families in the UK and around the World via this website.


“ADDISS” The National Attention Deficit Disorder Information and Support Service…




“hi2u ADHD Pages”:





“Yoga for kids: New York’s latest trend”:


“10-kilometre runs”:


“Trek to Everest Base Camp- 5-21 November 2010”:


“Trek Snowdon – Date TBA”:


“Trek the Sahara – 5-25 March 2010 or 29 Oct-8 Nov 2010”:


“Trek the Inca Trail – 22-31 May 2010”:


“Trek Mount Kilimanjaro – 29 Sept-10 Oct 2010”:


“Trek the Great Wall of China – 9-18 Oct 2010”:


“Trek to Everest Base Camp – 5-21 November 2010”:


“Cycle India – 27 November – 6 December, 2009”:


“Cycle Cuba – 14-22 March 2010”:


“London to Paris 2010 – 5-8 June”:


“L’Etape du Tour 2010 – 18 July 2010”


“Sky Diving – All Year Round”:



“DiS meets Gary Numan”:


“The AutisMusic Project”:



“Autistic artist draws 18ft picture of New York skyline from memory”:


“Autistic artist finds inspiration in New York city”:


“An eye on autism and art”

Art pieces will be sold to raise money to fund two projects the community-funded television and radio station KVCR hopes to have up and running in 2010. “We are hoping to raise enough money to fund a traveling art exhibit for the Inland Empire and to create a video presentation to take into local law enforcement agencies to help officers recognize (autism) on patrol,” said Lillian Vasquez, marketing coordinator for KVCR.”:


This year’s NAS Christmas Cards are now on sale. There’s a selection of cards, two of which are designed by our competition winners. For fans of Thomas and Friends, there’s also a festive Thomas card. For more information, visit http://www.autism.org.uk/christmascards

GLIMPSE – the talents of the autism community

They are painters, sculptors and photographers; poets and storytellers; musicians and creators of amazing video games. They are kids, teens and adults. Last year, a new online publication arose to celebrate the talents of autistic individuals and other developmental disabilities: GLIMPSE, offered by ICDL (The Interdisciplinary Council of Developmental and Learning Disorders). In late 2008, Volume 2 of GLIMPSE was released, and was expanded into a print book and notecards. The works are serious, humourous, deeply personal and illuminating. See it for yourself, share it with others, submit your own/your child’s work for inclusion in Volume 3, to release later this year. Find information and ordering details at www.icdl.com

“ARTROOM ………where under 17s can make and display art online”:



“Theater and education in Autistic License”:


“BBC to focus on modern family life with docs … The Autistic Me, directed by Matt Rudge, was one of the highest rating single documentaries ever on the channel. A follow-up to The Autistic Me has now been commissioned from Matt.”:


“Actors for Autism”:


“Tim Page on Asperger’s and why he was so absent-minded”:


“Part 1: Look Me in the Eye; My Life with Asperger’s”:


“Autism, Advocates, and Law Enforcement Professionals: recognizing and Reducing Risk Situations for People with Autism Spectrum Disorders”

Author: Dennis Debbaudt


“Sing, Move, Learn”

Author: Jenny Clark rack, OTR/L, BCP, AOTA Board Certification in Pediatrics


“The Autism Spectrum in the 21st Century: Exploring Psychology, Biology and Practice”

Author: Ilona Roth

With Chris Barson, Rosa Hoekstra, Greg Pasco and Terry Whatson


“Bereavement, Loss and Learning Disabilities: A Guide for Professionals and Carers”

Author: Robin Grey


“Successful School Change and Transition for the Child with Asperger Syndrome: A Guide for Parents”

Author: Clare Lawrence


“Writers on the Spectrum: How Autism and Asperger Syndrome have Influenced Literary Writing”

Author: Julie Brown


“The Feeling’s Unmutual: Growing Up With Asperger Syndrome (Undiagnosed)”

Author: Will Hadcroft


“Anne Droyd and Century Lodge”

Author: Will Hadcroft


“Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows”

Author: Will Hadcroft


“The Girl Who Spoke With Pictures: Autism Through Art”

Author: Eileen Miller

Foreword by Robert Nickel MD

Illustrated by Kim Miller


“Life and Learning with Autism Spectrum Diffability”

Author: Wendy Lawson



Disney’s A Christmas Carol (3D)

Release Date: Wednesday November 4 2009


Official Site:



Invizimals – with Camera and Trap (PSP) 7+

Release Date: Nov 13 2009



Spark of Genius

“Clever Fools: Why A High IQ Doesn’t Mean You’re Smart”



“Plan To Pierce Heart Of Urban Monster Volcano”

Next month, geologists will begin to drill into a huge volcano in Italy that has towns on top of it: is that a good idea?


Take care,


A Macedonian Sunset


My heart goes out to all who have been affected by the Queensland floods.  Many are in shock over the sheer scale of the devastation.  Having been born and raised in Brisbane, and with family and friends who are currently directly affected, I am all too familiar with flash floods.  Sending my best wishes for the safety of all and of your homes. For those who’ve lost loved ones, my deepest sympathy.

The Queensland Government has set up a Relief Appeal:


For those living in Australia who wish to assist, please phone 1800219028.

Be Safe,



Related Articles

Brisbane Floods – Before & After

(Move mouse over pics to view before and after):


Queensland Floods:


Australia: Thousands leave homes as floods hit Victoria:



Article Date: 15 Dec 2010 – 3:00 PST

Swedes are both happy and content with their lives, reveals a report from the SOM Institute at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. The factors that contribute most to a sense of wellbeing are good health, family and friends, a good home and personal finances. Clothes and appearance play only a very minor role.

More and more Swedes are describing themselves as happy and content. When the SOM Institute asked: “On balance, how content are you with the life you live?” and “On balance, how happy would you say you are?”, nine out of ten replied that they are both content and happy. Not entirely unexpectedly, there also turned out to be a strong correlation between happiness and contentedness.

Good health is the most important factor for Swedes’ personal wellbeing, followed by family, good friends, having a good (and safe) place to live, and healthy personal finances.

The factors at the bottom of the list include religious faith, political commitment, looking good, an exciting life and wearing nice clothes.

The report also shows that contentment can vary considerably from one area of our life to another we are generally more content with family life than with our work/studies or finances.

The report’s authors are Bengt Brülde, docent in practical philosophy at the University of Gothenburg, and Ã…sa Nilsson, research administrator at the SOM Institute.


Sources: University of Gothenburg, AlphaGalileo Foundation.