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Harvard Mental Health Letter: November 2009

Articles in this issue:

Recognizing and managing ADHD in adults

Symptoms tend to evolve and attenuate with age, but may still require treatment.

Many children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) continue to experience symptoms after reaching adulthood. One study based on a nationally representative survey estimated that slightly more than 4% of U.S. adults meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).

However, symptoms of ADHD tend to evolve and become more subtle with age. If overtly hyperactive behavior is part of the picture — for example, running around or having trouble sitting still — it usually ...

Supporting survivors of suicide loss

 

Family, friends, co-workers, and mental health clinicians are all affected.

More than 30,000 Americans, and roughly one million people worldwide, die by suicide each year. The aftermath of grief and bereavement extends much further, with a conservative estimate of six survivors left behind for every suicide death.

Survivors of suicide loss include immediate family members, other relatives, friends, and co-workers. And because 90% of people who die by suicide have a psychiatric disorder, mental health clinicians are also among those affected.

More than 60% of people who take their own lives have major depression. Other diagnoses that increase suicide ...

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Treating somatoform disorders

Most research supports cognitive behavioral therapy, but other options exist.

About one-third to one-half of all outpatient medical visits worldwide are for symptoms such as pain or fatigue that have no clear physical cause. Some of those seeking help for such unexplained symptoms meet the criteria for somatoform disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV).

Earlier in the history of psychiatry, the prevailing view was that such disorders (often lumped together as hysteria) were a sign of unresolved emotional conflicts or earlier traumas. In the early 1920s, the term "somatization" entered the vernacular, ...

In Brief: One question may help screen for unhealthy alcohol use

A question about drinking that primary care physicians can ask patients may help identify people with alcohol problems, which tend to be underdiagnosed.

In Brief: The psychological cost of foreclosure

Researchers found that homeowners facing foreclosure have to bear a heavy psychological burden and, not surprisingly, have a higher incidence of symptoms of depression.

Editor's note

There was an error in the October 2009 article about premenstrual dysphoric disorder.

Commentary: The Mediterranean diet, physical activity, and cognitive health

Commentary The Mediterranean diet, physical activity, and cognitive health Last month, I visited my neighbor who was having some stone work done outside his home. The leader of the crew doing the work was a lively, muscular, good-natured fellow with a strong Italian accent, whom I took to be in his mid-fifties, if that old. In fact, he was approaching 70. He volunteered his approach to life: a full day of hard physical effort followed by a good Italian meal, a little red wine, and then to sleep like a baby.

About the same time as this encounter occurred, the ...

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