Self-Perceived Weight and Anabolic Steroid Misuse Among US Adolescent Boys

Jampel, J.D. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Volume 58, Issue 4, April 2016. pp. 397–402
Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Purpose: Anabolic steroid misuse is a growing concern among adolescent boys, and chronic misuse is associated with multisystemic health consequences. However, little is known about weight related predictors of anabolic steroid misuse. We examined the prediction of lifetime anabolic steroid misuse as a function of self-perceived weight status among US adolescent boys.

Methods: Analysis was undertaken using the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, a nationally representative data set sampling public and private high school students throughout the United States. Data from a total of 6,000 US adolescent boys were used in the present study.

Results: The prevalence of ever misusing anabolic androgenic steroids was 12.6% among boys who viewed themselves as very underweight, 11.9% for boys who viewed themselves as very overweight, compared with 3.8% for boys who viewed themselves as about the right weight. Compared to boys who viewed themselves as about the right weight, boys who self-perceived themselves as very underweight (adjusted odds ratio = 6.9, 95% confidence interval: 2.7–17.7, p < .001) and very overweight (adjusted odds ratio = 3.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.8–7.7, p < .001) were significantly associated with increased risk of anabolic androgenic steroid misuse.

Conclusions: Large effect size estimates were revealed, suggesting that anabolic androgenic steroid misuse is not solely a function of boys desiring increased mass; boys who desire leanness are also likely to misuse anabolic androgenic steroids. Future prevention efforts should target not only boys who view themselves as underweight but also those who perceive themselves as overweight.

Read the abstract here


Psychiatric diagnoses in young transgender women

ScienceDaily, 21 March 2016.
Image source: Stephen Magrath – Wellcome Images // CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0

Image shows  ink and watercolour illustration depicting the brain of someone suffering from depression.

About 41 percent of young transgender women had one or more mental health or substance dependence diagnoses and nearly 1 in 5 had two or more psychiatric diagnoses in a study of participants enrolled in a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) prevention intervention trial, according to an article published online by JAMA Pediatrics.

Transgender youth — including adolescent and young adult transgender women assigned a male sex at birth who identify as girls, women, transgender women, transfemale, male-to-female or another diverse gender identity on the transfeminine spectrum — are a vulnerable population at risk for negative mental health and substance use outcomes.

The authors report prevalence for:

  • Lifetime and current major depressive episodes were 35.4 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively
  • Past 30-day suicidality was 20.2 percent
  • Past 6-month generalized anxiety disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder were 7.9 percent and 9.8 percent, respectively
  • Past 12-month alcohol dependence and nonalcohol psychoactive substance use were 11.2 percent and 15.2 percent, respectively

Read the full commentary here

Read the original research abstract here

Economic impact of youth mental health services in the UK

Canaway, A. & Sampson, C. The Mental Elf Blog. Published online: 18th March 2016.

Analysis of: Knapp M, Ardino V, Brimblecombe N, Evans-Lacko S, Iemmi V, King D, Snell T (2016) Youth Mental Health: New Economic Evidence. LSE Personal Social Services Research Unit.
Image source: Tax Credits // CC BY 2.0

Young people are at increased risk of mental health problems; the majority of which start in adolescence and persist into adulthood. The impacts are far-reaching, with consequences for educational, social and economic outcomes as well as poor health behaviours that further impact on mental and physical health. It’s also important to take into account the wider impact on friends and family, and the costs associated with health and social care services as well as education and criminal justice costs.

Maybe this is why there hasn’t been much comprehensive research on the impact of youth mental health services – it’s too complicated. This lack of research and understanding might also contribute to the underdiagnosis and unmet need that can be observed for young people with, or at risk of experiencing, mental health problems. In 2004 only 25% of children with mental illness were in treatment; a statistic that did not seem to have improved by 2010. In this new report, Martin Knapp and colleagues seek to address the dearth of findings for broader mental health services for young people, with a focus on economic outcomes.


  • There is a major gap in service provision for young people with mental health problems, which may in part be due to failures in transition
  • Like much research before it, this study was hampered by limitations in the available data
  • Future research should focus on the cost-effectiveness of specialist services, with attention paid to the costs falling on the education sector.

Read the full analysis here


Jiménez-Fernández, S. et al. (2016) Oxidative Stress and Antioxidant Parameters in Patients With Major Depressive Disorder Compared to Healthy Controls Before and After Antidepressant Treatment: Results From a Meta-Analysis. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 2015; 1658

B0005642 Crystals of serotonin, polarised light micrograph
Image source: Spike Walker – Wellcome Images

Image shows a polarized light micrograph of crystals of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter thought to be reduced in depression

Summary via ScienceDaily:

An international team of researchers lead by the University of Granada (UGR) has demonstrated, for the first time, that depression is more than a mental disorder: it causes important alterations of the oxidative stress, so it should be considered a systemic disease, since it affects the whole organism.

The results of this work could explain the significant association that depression has with cardiovascular diseases and cancer, and why people suffering from depression die younger. At the same time, this research may help finding new therapeutic targets for the prevention and treatment of depression.

The lead author of this work is Sara Jiménez Fernández, PhD student at the UGR and psychiatrist at the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Unit at Jaén Medical Center (Jaén, Spain). The co-authors are the UGR Psychiatry professors Manuel Gurpegui Fernández de Legaria and Francisco Díaz Atienza, in collaboration, among others, with Christoph Correll from the Zucker Hillside Hospital (New York, USA).

A study with 3961 people

This research is a meta analysis of 29 previous studies which comprise 3961 people, and it’s the first detailed work of its kind about what happens in the organism of people suffering from depression. It studies the imbalance between the individual increase of various oxidative stress parameters (especially malondialdehyde, a biomarker to measure the oxidative deterioration of the cell membrane) and the decrease in antioxidant substances (such as uric acid, zinc, and the superoxide dismutase enzyme).

The researchers have demonstrated that, after receiving the usual treatment against depression, the patients’ malondialdehyde levels are significantly reduced, to the point that they are indistinguishable from healthy individuals. At the same time, zinc and uric acid levels increase until reaching normal levels (something that does not occur in the case of the superoxide dismutase enzyme).

Read the full summary here

Read the original research abstract here

Why are more children being prescribed antidepressants?

Morgan, E. The Guardian. Published online: 11 March 2016.

B0005930 Treatment of depression with Prozac
Image source: Rowena Dugdale – Wellcome Images

Illustration showing the treatment of depression with the anti-depressant drug, Prozac. Prozac is a selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) and works by increasing the level of serotonin in the synapse.

Young people with serious mental health problems face significant waiting times for talking therapies. Using drugs is a product of the NHS being suffocated by the government.

New research published this week shows that between 2005 and 2013 there was a 54% increase in the number of children and young people prescribed antidepressants in the UK. The World Health Organisation’s director of mental health, Dr Shekhar Saxena, has expressed concern about the reasons behind this rise.

Antidepressants are not licensed for prescription for under-18s, with one exception. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence clinical guidelines state that fluoxetine, a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, can be used in under-18s, but should not be prescribed without first referring the child for talking therapy. The two treatments should coexist and the child should be monitored carefully, particularly in the first few weeks after starting the drug, when the risk of the “major harm” Saxena speaks of is at its highest.

Read the full news story here

Facts and trends in mental health

The Mental Health Network (MHN) has published the fourth edition of  key statistics and trends in mental health. This updated edition, reflects new figures, statistics and resources, giving an overview of the major trends and challenges facing mental health services.

Image source:

This factsheet sets out available data relating to:

  • investment in services
  • trends in morbidity
  • suicide and homicide rates
  • service activity
  • use of mental health legislation
  • mental health of children and young people
  • service user experience
  • inequalities experienced by people with mental health problems
  • workforce and staff satisfaction.

Bringing together physical and mental health

The King’s Fund. Published online: 8th March 2016.

kings fund2
Image source: The King’s Fund

The King’s Fund publishes a new report today which shows that the psychological problems associated with physical health conditions, and vice versa, are costing the NHS more than £11 billion a year and care is less effective than it could be. The report argues that by integrating physical and mental health care the NHS can improve health outcomes and save money.

The £11 billion a year is the collective cost of:

  • high rates of mental health issues among those with long-term conditions such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease
  • limited support for the psychological aspects of physical health, for example during and after pregnancy
  • poor management of ‘medically unexplained symptoms’ such as persistent pain or tiredness.

The separation between physical and mental health has a high human cost: the life expectancy for people with severe mental illness (such as bipolar disorder or schizophrenia) is 15 to 20 years below that of the general population, largely as a result of physical health conditions.

kings fund1
Image source: The King’s Fund

Read the full report here

Read the full commentary here