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Blood and gore. Intense violence. Strong sexual content. Use of drugs. These are just a few of the phrases that the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) uses to describe the content of several games in the Grand Theft Auto series, one of the most popular video game series among teenagers. The Pew Research Center reported in 2008 that 97% of youths ages 12 to 17 played some type of video game, and that two-thirds of them played action and adventure games that tend to contain violent content. (Other research suggests that boys are more likely to use violent video games, and play them more frequently, than girls.) A separate analysis found that more than half of all video games rated by the ESRB contained violence, including more than 90% of those rated as appropriate for children 10 years or older.
Given how common these games are, it is small wonder that mental health clinicians often find themselves fielding questions from parents who are worried about the impact of violent video games on their children.
The view endorsed by organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) is that exposure to violent media (including video games) can contribute to real-life violent behavior and harm children in other ways. But other researchers have questioned the validity or applicability of much of the research supporting this view. They argue that most youths are not affected by violent video games. What both sides of this debate agree on is that it is possible for parents to take steps that limit the possible negative effects of video games.
Difficulties in thinking and socializing, known as "negative"
symptoms, often develop in patients with schizophrenia and
typically persist even after hallucinations, delusions, and other
"positive" symptoms of the disorder are under control. Various
types of cognitive remediation therapies exist to improve mental
and social functioning, but most have been studied only in patients
with chronic schizophrenia.
In a study testing a cognitive intervention earlier in the
schizophrenia disease process, researchers at the University of
Pittsburgh published a series of papers about a randomized
controlled trial evaluating a hybrid therapy, cognitive enhancement
therapy, that combines cognitive remediation techniques with social
skills training. The core study involved 58 young adult outpatients
(the average age was 26) who were diagnosed either with
schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder. Patients had experienced
their first psychotic symptom an average of three years prior to
entry into the study; nearly 80% had been ill for fewer than five
years. All had symptoms under control as the study began and
continued taking their antipsychotic medications.
Surveys report that 13% to 24% of people are afraid of going to
the dentist. In most cases, dental anxiety is unpleasant but does
not interfere with health. People whose dental fear is severe,
however, may so dread the thought of going to the dentist that
they cancel appointments, delay seeking care, and sometimes wind
up needing more invasive and painful procedures as a
About half of adults who suffer from dental phobia can trace
their fears back to unpleasant childhood experiences — memories
that may be triggered at the sight of a dentist's chair, the
sound of a dental drill, or the smell of antiseptic
Although medications such as diazepam (Valium) and lorazepam
(Ativan) may help reduce anxiety, they are best used in
conjunction with various cognitive, educational, and behavioral
strategies — especially those that help patients gain a sense of
control in a situation where they may feel helpless. The
following techniques are easy to learn, get better with practice,
and can be combined during a dental visit.
The TORDIA study suggests options when initial drug treatment
After six months of treatment with either an antidepressant or
psychotherapy, about 60% of adolescents newly diagnosed with major
depression attain remission. The Treatment of Resistant Depression
in Adolescents (TORDIA) study was designed to determine how best to
treat those youths who have not obtained adequate relief after one
This government-funded randomized controlled trial enrolled 334
youths ages 12 to 18, newly diagnosed with major depression or
dysthymia, who had not responded sufficiently to at least eight
weeks of initial treatment with a selective serotonin reuptake
Researchers interviewed people with bipolar disorder to learn
what strategies they used to manage their symptoms and avoid
The feeling of fullness is a result of the complex interaction
between the digestive tract and the brain via hormones and
Is it true that some antidepressants might cause cataracts?