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Recent research: a mixed bag of six papers on anxiety

Here are half a dozen papers with anxiety relevance.  The first couple are about the interaction between genetic vulnerability (or resilience) and childhood experience.  The Stevens et al paper is an update on the large body of research looking at psychological genetic vulnerability/resilience in macaque monkeys and how this interacts with parenting quality to lead, or not lead, to emotional and neurophysiological disturbances in adulthood.  The Battaglia paper particularises this gene/environment investigation by looking at the connections between early human childhood separation anxiety, loss of a parent, and panic disorder in adulthood.  

Recent research: prevention & treatment of overweight with changed eating behaviours, energy density & breastfeeding

Here are six studies on eating and weight.  The first, by Maruyama and colleagues, demonstrates a strong association between both "eating until full" and "eating quickly" and the chances of being overweight.  The linked BMJ editorial by Denney-Wilson & Campbell discusses these findings further, including suggesting that "Clinicians should encourage parents to adopt a child led feeding strategy that acknowledges a child's desire to stop eating that begins from birth. Reassure parents that well children don't starve."  Unfortunately Llewellyn et al show that eating rate seems to be partly genetically determined - an even stronger reason to work hard to go against any tendency to gobble food.  The Denney-Wilson editorial gives other ways to encourage weight loss, and Leahy and colleagues underlines the value of one such approach - reducing the energy density (ED) of diets " ...  by decreasing fat and sugar and by increasing fruit and vegetables."  Children whose diet was changed in this way " ...

Recent research: mothers, children & depression

Here are five recent papers on mothers, families, children and depression.  The first is a freely viewable editorial by Markowitz which begins with a quote from the Aeneid "I cannot bear a mother's tears".  Markowitz looks at evidence demonstrating the importance of both nature (genetic risk) and nurture (effects of the mother-child relationship and other environmental factors) on psychological outcomes.  The second paper is a good overview of postnatal depression by Musters et al.  Unfortunately the full text is only viewable if you are a BMJ subscriber or if you pay for the article (or contact the authors).  The third study looks at the benefits for children of effective treatment for maternal depression.  The fourth paper - a freely viewable editorial by Reiss - looks both at the effects of maternal depression on children and the effects of children's psychological symptoms on mothers.  The fifth study is unusual and interesting as it compares the effects of parental depression on both nonadopted and on adopted children.

Markowitz, J. C. (2008). "Depressed Mothers, Depressed Children." Am J Psychiatry 165(9): 1086-1088. [Free Full Text]

Life review, traumatic memories & therapeutic writing

In the Dzogchen teachings there’s an analogy to ringing a bell (to instantly see the illusory nature of the self).  You briefly ring it and then the continuity of the sound evolves for as long as it will.  And then you ring it again.

- Sam Harris

This section includes charts to help clarify life history, traumatic events, childhood experiences, and therapeutic writing.  It overlaps with some of the handouts given in the linked "PTSD assessment, images, memories & information" section .  I use "therapeutic" writing as a general term covering all types of writing that have been shown to be helpful & "therapeutic".  When describing the form of therapeutic writing, developed by Jamie Pennebaker and other researchers, that focuses particularly on writing one's "deepest thoughts & feelings" about life traumas & difficulties, I tend to use the term "expressive" writing (to distinguish it, for example, from other forms of therapeutic writing focusing on diverse topics such as "best possible selves", "intensely positive

Relationships, families, couples & psychosexual

“ When I get to heaven, God will not ask me, "Why were you not Moses?" He will ask, "Why were you not Susya? Why did you not become what only you could become?" ” - Susya, a Hasidic Rabbi

Here are a series of questionnaires and handouts on couples, sexuality, parenting, attachment, and abuse.  The first sequence of 20 or so handouts are from a two day workshop I run - for more details including downloadable copies of the slides, see the blog post "Psychotherapy with couples & other close relationships".  Listed below these are further relevant handouts & questionnaires.

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