Archive for November, 2015

Mental Illness Plays a Role in Repeat DUIs

November 19, 2015

Roughly 60% of repeat drunk-driving offenders have suffered major depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a new study from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). Researchers studied people convicted of at least two DUI offenses during the past 10 years. A majority reported mental-health problems as well as alcohol or other drug dependency; female repeat DUI offenders were more likely than men to suffer from depression or PTSD.

“People who deal with drug and alcohol abusers need to understand there are often other disorders that need to be dealt with as well,” said lead researcher Sandra Lapham, MD, MPH, director of PIRE’s Behavioral Health Research Center. “That’s why we need to screen repeat offenders for multiple disorders. The offender should be viewed as a unique person with a unique set of issues. If they include psychiatric problems, these should be treated along with drug and alcohol issues.”

“The results of this study should encourage the courts to develop a more comprehensive approach to dealing with the hard-to-treat drinking driver,” added Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Eric J. Bloch. “Assessing the mental health of a DUI offender will help us choose the program that will reduce the change of a re-offense.”

The research was published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol. (Reference: Lapham, S.C., C’de Baca, J., McMillan, G.P. and Lapidus, J. Psychiatric Disorder in a Sample of Repeat Impaired Driving Offenders, Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 67(5): 707-713.)

Another new report recommends that people arrested for drunk driving should be tested for other drug use and mental illness as well. The Behavioral Health Research Center of the Southwest in Albuquerque, NM, studied 612 women and 493 men, aged 23 to 54, who were convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol. The research established that 32% of the women and 38% of the men were found to use other drugs besides alcohol, compared to 16% and 21%, respectively, in the general population. This report is published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Sick and Tired or Just Plain Ill?

November 10, 2015

“Feeling fatigued is something people shouldn’t ignore,” says Andrew Heyman, MD, MS. “When you feel fatigued and you do the normal activities – such as improving your diet, getting adequate sleep at night and reducing your stress – and you’re still fatigued and can’t do normal activities, then it’s time to see your doctor.”

Many services are available for people experiencing fatigue. Heyman notes that fatigue rarely stems from a single cause. “A lot of things happen that cause fatigue: our hormone levels change, our respiratory pattern changes, our heart rhythms change,” he says. “It occurs on all levels of the body, at the cellular level, the organ-system level, and can include psychiatric factors such as low energy from depression.”

Some causes of fatigue include, but are not limited to:

  • sleep disorders, such as insomnia and sleep apnea.
  • ongoing pain, including conditions such as fibromyalgia.
  • an underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism.
  • use of alcohol, illegal drugs, or overuse of medications.
  • depression.
  • diseases such as mononucleosis, tuberculosis and AIDS.
  • malnutrition or eating disorders.
  • cancer.
  • congestive heart failure.
  • diabetes.
  • lupus and other autoimmune disorders.
  • chronic fatigue syndrome.

Possible treatments can include:

  • regularly getting enough sleep. Heyman says most people need about eight hours a night. In the 1940s and 1950s, he says, only about 15%of the population had less than seven hours of sleep a night; today, it is closer to 40%.
  • avoiding caffeine, alcohol, and drugs.
  • increase in exercise.
  • prescription medications that help to regulate one’s sleep.
  • vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • meditation and breathing exercises.
  • acupuncture, which is showing promise as a treatment to alleviate fatigue. Heyman notes that the needles used in acupuncture can have a stimulating effect on the body and can give people more energy.
  • physical therapy.
  • treatment of underlying conditions, such as talk therapy for depression.