Skip to comments.Mother-daughter Conflict, Low Serotonin Level May Be Deadly Combination
Posted on 03/07/2008 10:32:49 AM PST by blam
Mother-daughter Conflict, Low Serotonin Level May Be Deadly Combination
ScienceDaily (Mar. 7, 2008) A combination of negative mother-daughter relationships and low blood levels of serotonin, an important brain chemical for mood stability, may be lethal for adolescent girls, leaving them vulnerable to engage in self-harming behaviors such as cutting themselves.
New University of Washington research indicates that these two factors in combination account for 64 percent of the difference among adolescents, primarily girls, who engage in self-harming behaviors and those who do not.
"Girls who engage in self harm are at high risk for attempting suicide, and some of them are dying," said Theodore Beauchaine, a UW associate professor of psychology and co-author of a new study. "There is no better predictor of suicide than previous suicide attempts."
The paper, co-authored by Sheila Crowell, one of his doctoral students, appeared recently in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.
Beauchaine said the relationship between the level of mother-daughter conflict and self-harming behavior was not strong. There was a stronger relationship between serotonin levels and self-harming behavior. But when both factors were considered together, the relationship to self-harming behaviors was very strong.
"Most people think in terms of biology or environment rather than biology and environment working together," he said. "Having a low level of serotonin is a biological vulnerability for self-harming behavior and that vulnerability increases remarkably when it is paired with maternal conflict."
To understand this relationship, the researchers recruited 20 adolescents with a history of self-harming behavior and 21 age-matched adolescents who did not harm themselves. Adolescents were considered self-injuring if they had harmed themselves three or more times in the past six months or five or more times in their lifetimes. The mean age of both groups was 15 years and the participants were predominantly white. There were two boys in each group.
Each mother and child separately filled out behavioral questionnaires that examined the adolescent's mental health and self-injurious behaviors, and one that identified areas of conflict between parents and teenagers. To assess negativity in each parent-child relationship, the researchers selected a topic that both parties said was a serious issue. Crowell said that doing chores at home was the most common area of conflict. Then each mother and child were asked to discuss a specific problem topic for 10 minutes. The discussion was taped and the interaction was later coded. After the discussion small amounts of blood were drawn from the adolescents to assess their serotonin level.
"You would think that they would be civil to each other in this kind of situation, but many of these topics were hot and within five minutes some of our subjects were arguing with each other," Beauchaine said.
He said most of the teenage participants in the study were girls because self-inflicted injuries are far more common among girls. Mothers, rather than fathers, were chosen because research has shown that the relationship between girls and mothers is usually closer than it is between daughters and fathers.
Beauchaine believes finding the underlying causes of self-inflicted injuries and developing prevention programs should be a national priority because self-harming behavior can lead to suicide which is a leading cause of death among American adolescents and young adults.
"Once self-harming behavior starts it is difficult to stop. Over time, with something such as cutting, children's bodies react to it in a way that helps reduce biological and psychological pain. They essentially become addicted to this behavior. So you want to prevent this behavior before it starts," he said.
The National Institute of Mental Health, Seattle Children's Hospital Research Institute and the National Foundation for Suicide Prevention funded the research. Co-authors of the study are Elizabeth McCauley, UW professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; Christina Vasilev, former UW undergraduate student who is now a research study coordinator at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle; Adrianne Stevens, a UW psychology doctoral student; and Dr. Cindy Smith, formerly with Trillium Family Services.
Adapted from materials provided by University Of Washington.
I completely and totally agree--a very severe case of severe depression or even just more pointed short term use under very closely supervised etc conditions is appropriate, yet overblown and completely ill exercised is what has happened and what is reality. I am so very happy to hear you are finding your own place in all of this.
I do want to add another positive brain addition and that is daily meditation or even mediation through out the day has helped me. Studies have shown a positive effect to the brain similar to orgasm from sex. Sorry to be so explicit, but I gather that is a darn good thing for all those chemicals swirling around up there :-).
By the way I do all of this (the natural positive things I mentioned in a previous email) utterly and completely imperfectly and hope I do not sound like some self righteous, highly disciplined person as I am not and in fact I think allowing myself to be imperfect at all of this has really helped me not beat up on myself and berate myself as if it (feeling down or even depressed) is all my fault like I am not doing things right (which is a possible beating up stick when one has chosen to use natural methods and behavioral techniques to increase brain/mental/emotional/spiritual health. At least I have found this for myself.)
Someone mentioned the internet time too and not exercising as much--man do I hear that!! That has been my new nemesis. yet when we all connect if feels so good :-).
Love your tag line by the way!! Made me laugh.
As I understand it, when you go off a psychotropic drug, you're supposed to go off it gradually. As a hypothetical example, if you're taking 80 mg/day of Paxil, you can go down to 60, then 40, then 20, then 0. I'm not sure what time intervals or step sizes are best.
The protein in the turkey counteracts the LTrytophan. But you can get it in pill form in some health food stores. Three caplets before bedtime (with juice or water not milk) is the best way to do it.
Thanks so much for your honesty. I love how you summarized it all initially—hair falling out but you felt GREAT!! Man do I hear that. Good for you for getting on a different path!! 6 months one Slim Fast a day and exercising. Wow. So blessed to be healthy and alive today :-) and posting your experience, strength, and hope with us all.
My father was bipolar back in the late sixties and early seventies when all of this was just coming into play--the use of chemicals in the psych industry. He was a guinea pig at every turn and this really turned me away from the use of chemical therapy watching and living with all of this from the ripe age of zero. However he attended weekly or regular sessions with a psychiatrist through out his life to regulate his medications/emotional/mental state as well as was hospitalized whenever his medication needed to be shifted. It is a bit different the use of just straight SSRIs versus the other meds for bipolar, yet it is all the same in the chemical craziness and seriousness of their use.
Seems the industry does not take them as seriously as they used to. As was mentioned now they are like candy.
What a great boss to work for.
I can relate to what he is going through, tell him to talk to his Dr, he can ween him off rather than go through what I have/am.
I think that he found a doctor that had actually gone through the same thing, himself. He changed the anti-depressant and then weaned him off of it. He just couldn’t go through his whole life on psychotropic drugs.
Yes, it’s the same two girls.
I have come to realize through my aunt that this is the typical mother-daughter rebellion. Their Dad is firmer than me, but doesn’t understand the subtle smartaleck stuff they do and say. I, however, remember quite well how I acted and know their game. Maybe that’s it. I gave my mother such a hard time, that age old ‘I hope you have two just like you’ came true, ha!
Seriously, I was watching an episode of Roseanne the other night and recognized the SAME type stuff and remembered watching that show and recalling my own 12 year old stuff. Wow, it really does happen and I can get through this. I have done one practice that is REALLY helping. Repeat. Anytime one of them say something ugly or smartalecky as they are want to do, to me or each other or someone else, I make them repeat it. It was taking two or three times, but now it’s once and even becoming a habit to say it ‘right’ the first time. I hope this works.
Oh dear God, you hate me don’t you. Chocolate. Ha! I might as well throw in four or five cups of coffee and a Red Bull or two.
We don’t do caffiene. Even in our tea, it’s decaf and that is limited. No, I learned the caffiene thing a LONG time ago.
Very good! My own grandson drinks sodas all day and then can’t sleep. Until 5:00 am, of course.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.