Daily Archives: November 27, 2016

Are ADHD stimulants overprescribed in children?

The preponderance of Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children aged 4-17 in 2011 was 11%. Around 6.4 million children in that age group were diagnosed with ADHD, and 4.2 million were prescribed psychostimulants, according to the CDC. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is a neurodevelopmental mental disorder where one has difficulty controlling behavior, problems paying attention, etc.  Stanford Newmark claimed in The Wall Street Journal that a good amount of children are diagnosed after a 15 to 20 minute visit with a pediatrician. There are many opinions regarding overprescription of stimulants to children with ADHD. Some believe this increase is due to a misdiagnosis at an early age of childhood in children who are commonly immature. Others believe that the over prescription is simply a myth and that there is insufficient evidence to support it. ADHD is very real, but there may be some alternatives before going straight to the pill. So I want to know, are ADHD medications actually overprescribed in America?


I reviewed three studies done on children with ADHD to see if there is a common outcome:

1.MECA Study


1,285 children and their parents in four United States communities partook a epidemiological survey in the MECA or Methods for the Epidemiological of Child and Adolescent Mental Disorders Study. This particular study focused on three main aspects: the frequency of the diagnosis of ADHD itself, medication prescription, and alternate methods such as psychosocial services. For the results of ADHD diagnosis, only 5.1% of all the children had met the full criteria for an ADHD diagnosis. Although, when it comes to the prescription of stimulants, 12.5% who met the ADHD criteria were treated. This was accurately prescribed, however, due to the fact that these particular children had very high levels of ADHD symptoms.

This study itself can not prove that there is not an over prescription of stimulants in ADHD children, simply that it is too small  and that is it a survey. However, this study supports the claims that medication is not over prescribed due to the fact that most of the ADHD diagnosed children were not prescribed the medication. This shocked me because most of the articles I read supported the common claim that this over prescription is absolutely prevalent.

  1. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

3,082 United States children aged 8-15 were surveyed from 2001-2004. Of those children, 8.7% met the criteria for ADHD. Of the 8.7%, 38.8% of those children were prescribed medication. Surprisingly, the poorest children in the study were the least likely to be given ADHD medication despite the fact that they are the most likely to have ADHD.

This study is difficult to say whether medication is over prescribed or not because most studies, like this one, fail to touch upon whether the medication is really needed as compared to their diagnosed ADHD status.

  1.  International Studies

I was curious how this was concept was in children outside of the United States to see if they were having the same “problem”.  

A structured interview regarding 1,897 Latino/Hispanic children aged 4-17, was conducted in Puerto Rico to see if they are treated with medication for ADHD or not. Only around 7% of the children diagnosed with ADHD, and only 0.2% without a diagnosis were treated with medication.According to this population, medication prescription is actually under prescribed rather than overprescribed. However, A study in Iceland (a country with a similar stimulant usage as the US), ⅓ of the youngest children studied were 50% more likely to not only be diagnosed with ADHD, but also prescribed medication.

Together these studies help prove that it is really mixed throughout the world on the prescription of ADHD medication when diagnosed. There is simply no way as of right now to determine whether either side is true or not. Certain articles supporting the idea that the stimulants are over prescribed claim that the increase of stress on the average American family has a drastic effect on the frequency of ADHD. However, the studies I have seen so far claim that there is not a significant problem in this “overprescription” in America. This is why we are split on this idea. There is simply no way of saying for a fact which side is correct.\

Works Cited

“Are ADHD Medications Overprescribed?” WSJ. Wsj.com, 14 Sept. 2012. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

“Are Stimulants Overprescribed? Treatment of ADHD in Four U.S. Communities.” Are Stimulants Overprescribed? Treatment of ADHD in Four U.S. Communities. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

Froehlich, MD Tanya E. “Prevalence, Recognition, and Treatment of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in a National Sample of US Children.” Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders | JAMA Pediatrics | The JAMA Network. N.p., 01 Sept. 2007. Web. 27 Nov. 2016. <http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/571105>.

N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0890856709609850>.

“A True ADHD Epidemic or an Epidemic of Overdiagnosis?” Psychiatry Advisor. N.p., 11 Mar. 2016. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

Image 1

Favorite day of class

Jason Wright’s guest lecture was probably my favorite class all semester.  As a philosophy major I enjoy asking difficult questions and searching for answers.  One of those questions is what are some of the things that science will never know.  Jason talked about how the philosopher Comte had the idea that you will never be able to measure the chemical component of things.  But to most non science people, this doesn’t really satisfy our search for what science can’t find out.  

So what is the deal with science?  Taking this class I had hoped to get a better understanding of it.  I’m not a science person and really taking the class as a requirement but the biggest thing I learned is to think through everything.  Science is not meant to give you straight answers all the time but it is meant to allow you to think through it.  You will be able to see what something is as you are exploring it but sometimes you never understand it fully.  All you could do is think through it.  

Don’t worry, you’re not getting Zika

There are two things that we talked about in class that I want to talk about.  The Zika virus and the science not being perfect.  The World Health Organization who announced that Zika had become an epidemic last February just announced that the Zika virus is no longer a public health emergency.  After the rise of the Zika virus it has no lowered to the point where the group that made the declaration is now receding its warning about the virus.  But not everyone agrees with this.

According to the research and data from the World Health Organization, Zika is no longer a problem.  But what happens if their research is incorrect?  After all there was confusion on how the virus spread to begin with, was it sexually transmitted or was it from mosquitoes?  There is a lot that can be said about this but this is a perfect example of what we have discussed in class about science admitting ignorance but working to find the truth.

Work cited

Goldschmidt, Debra. “WHO Ends Zika Public Health Emergency.” CNN. Cable News Network, 18 Nov. 2016. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

Ahimsa: a self expirement

Ahimsa is the practice of non-harm and non violence which is not exclusive to just yourself.  In fact, that’s not how I used it during these past weeks.  I have always been a non violent person, I don’t like hurting anyone and would rather take a hit then hit.  Which is where my focus ended up being.  Not harm to others but harm to myself, not physically but mentally.  I have always put myself in situations so others wouldn’t have to endure challenges and have neglected myself in the process.  For this blog I wanted to reflect and practice non self harm to myself by taking time for myself, sleeping more, and taking a load off my plate.  It is very unlike me to not always be busy but my goal was to take as much off my schedule as possible so I can enjoy myself, my family, and my friends.  So my independent variable was practicing no self harm and my dependent variable was my well-being.  My hypothesis was pretty straightforward in that practicing no self harm and taking care of myself first would make me happier and be better for me mentally and physically.  

After practicing this for a couple weeks, the journey has been interesting because I don’t feel like I have changed in a way that is recognizable but I feel like I have changed mentally.  My altered variable was to try to create more personal time and not have so much on my plate.  I would make sure to sleep more and not overpack my schedule.  It was extremely difficult as it was against my nature and there lied the difficulty.  Yet I knew this would be difficult, I knew people would ask me if I was ok and I was.  I just shifted my focus on clearing my schedule rather than making sure it was full.  

As for the practice of physical postures, asana provides the opportunity to really tune in to the body and check in.  Although I do believe in the separation of mind and body, there is a small connection and one can effect the other.  The mind can reflect the body and the body can reflect the mind.  Being in a calm physical posture can reflect a calm and relaxed mind.  It has helped me in the goal of taking more time for myself as rather than go out on a friday night to unwind I can use asana to unwind from the week instead.  It provides a physical relaxation as well as a mental one.  Therefore, I do believe they are related because although they are two separate entities they can have positive and also negative effects on each other.

One of the things I’ve learned from this is the idea of doing my own research with me as a subject.  In class, we talked about how science isn’t always right so being the one who was conducting it with myself as the test subject I was able to see first hand if what science or the study of yoga and ahimsa actually worked.  I think any rational person who is interested in seeing things for themselves should use themselves as the manipulated variable (depending on the study) to be able to fully understand why and how things happen.  

Work cited

Farhi, Donna.  “Donna Farhi: Living Principles.” Yoga mind, body & spirit: a return to wholeness, 2000, pp. 1-11.

Forbes, Bo. “Introduction: Yoga’s Role in Emotional Balance.”  Yoga for Emotional Balance, 2011, pp. 1-10.

Does studying abroad provide health benefits?

In reviewing research on student travel one thing is certain, it is a very complex and important topic.  Not only for students who wish to travel but also for the people they will become.  Researchers begin with searching for the motivation to want to travel.  What makes someone want to invest his or her time and money into such a grand adventure?  Only then can researchers begin to understand the effects traveling can have on a person.  Next researchers look at the benefits of traveling to see why someone would follow through with the spark to travel.  There are health benefits, experiential benefits, and developmental opportunities.  

Benefits of traveling

        There has been an increase in focus on this topic as more and more we realize the importance of travel as a global society.  The benefits of tourism and travel reached the interest of scholars in the field of organizational behavior as well as health sciences.  

Mental, emotional, and physical health

        As discussed in the roles of perceived travel benefits, organizational behavior research shows how travel can reduce job or school related stress, reduce burnout, as well as overall performance.  As for health scientist, it’s been shown that taking a vacation of travel can decrease health risks.  In a study of 12,388 people, those who traveled abroad had fewer health risks in a nine-year span (Chen).  Even in tourism literature, you can find benefits of travel.  Research done by Neal, Sirgy, and Uysal show how challenging experiences and perceived control can contribute to mental wellness (Chen).


Developmental benefits

Along with the effects it has on the well being of a person, there are also developmental benefits.  According to (Biniecki), Taylor’s findings suggest that “the learning process of intercultural competencies connects to the development of a worldview.”  It’s a learning process that creates a “cultural disequilibrium [which] consists of periods of incongruence experienced by the participants while attempting to integrate themselves into the host culture.” (Biniecki)  Taylor’s study provided one way to examine the growth of people who had worldly experiences.  But as he continues his research, he suggests that there are multiple ways to gain more perspective with world travel but we will get back to that later in the review.

What I have learned

So would a rational person student abroad?  I would say so.  It makes complete sense to go abroad because of the benefits it brings and besides finances there really isn’t a negative.

Work Cited

Biniecki, Susan and Conceicao, Simone. “How Living or Traveling to Foreign Locations Influences Adults’ Worldviews and Impacts Personal Identity.” New Horizon in Adult Education and Human Resource Development, vol. 26, 2014, pp. 39-53.


Chen, Chun-Chu and Erichson, Elizabeth. “The Roles of Perceived Travel Benefits, Importance, and Constraints in Predicting Travel Behavior” Journal of Travel Research, vol. 55, 2016, pp. 509-522.


Do fitness trackers make you more fit?

Two months ago, my birthday present from my family was an iWatch which its biggest component is a fitness tracker.  So when I stumbled upon the article “Fitness Trackers Might Help Us Live Longer (if Only We Used Them)” I was interested to see what they said as I recently caught the wave of using a fitness tracker.  This article uses two different pieces of research, one by the American Journal of Epidemiology and the other published by The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology, to investigate the impacts of fitness trackers and the motivations to use it.  The first journal focuses on the question of if the data from fitness trackers actually correlates with your health.  It uses 4000 people and conducts a quantitative study over a long period of time in order to compare who lived longer; those who used fitness trackers or those who didn’t.  The next journal focuses on the question of motivation to use fitness trackers and was more of a qualitative.  They used three groups, one that was payed, one that was given a donation to their favorite charity, and one that was given nothing. So two experimental and one control group in which they changed variables in the first two.  These groups were compared to see which group would exercise more.  They then took away those benefits and compared the first set of results to the second to see if there was a difference.

First research that the article talks about is a stratified random sample of 4000 middle aged men and women.  Nothing else is known about how they are selected but the data collected from them were on a nominal level with item to total reliability.  The article aimed for prediction validity by attempting to show that those who wore fitness trackers lived longer than those who didn’t.  On the other hand, the second journal was discussed more specifically in the news article.  Using non-probability sampling, it was on a partially volunteer basis of 800 office workers from Singapore.  Regardless of the different methods, I don’t believe that either are very representative samples as one was of only middle aged men and women rather than all ages and the others were office workers in a different country who weren’t regularly active in their day to day lives.

The research itself was done using experimental research as the experimenters manipulated certain variables to see if there was a cause-effect relationship.  This made it easy to see the impact of the research done and provided clear results.  The first journal had a very simple experimental research, it tracked middle aged men and women for ten years and checked to see who had died in those ten years.  It showed that those who wore a fitness tracker were more likely to be alive than those who hadn’t.  The next journal’s research was a little more complex.  It took 800 office workers and had three groups, a control, and two variable manipulations.  Then they got rid of the variable manipulation to see if the manipulation had an impact on the results.  Ultimately, the way the research was conducted was pretty straight forward and was simple to understand logically as the reader.

But I always come back to the question of, would a rational person invest in a fitness tracker?  It wouldn’t hurt.  I wouldn’t run to the store immediately to grab one as it probably won’t make you more fit.  But if you are looking for a way to track your progress this is probably one of the best ways to do it.  

Work cited

Reynolds, Gretchen. “Fitness Trackers Might Help Us Live Longer (if Only We Used Them).” The New York Times. The New York Times, 02 Nov. 2016. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.


Does Being Bored Give Us More Creativity?

Thanksgiving Break has just ended which is typically a time for getting together with family on Thursday and shopping the malls with family or friends the next day. Many of us probably spent time with high school friends we have not seen in months or reunited with our beloved pets. Since it was a week long, there was plenty of free time to do whatever we wanted. This also might have lead to some of us feeling bored and trying to entertain ourselves in some manner. Are we aware when we are bored? How do we decide what to do when we are in a state of boredom? This reminded me of my high school Science teacher who used some tricks to help his daughters to be creative. He told us that he limited which toys his daughters could play with at a given time, because he wanted them to be creative with activities to do with those toys. He felt that if they could have any toy whenever they wanted, they would be less creative and enjoy the excessive resources of entertainment without using their brains. I wonder if this is true for all of us… does being bored force us to be more creative?


First, I needed to define what “boredom” really is scientifically. An article written by professors at York University did that and their findings can be summarized in a few main points. They found that boredom occurs when humans have an inability to focus on our surroundings. When this occurs, we are self-aware about our own boredom and we recognize that we cannot keep focus. So when we were saying that we were bored over break, it really means that our current surroundings are not holding our attention. I wonder if that causes us to find new surroundings or objects that will hold our attention since we know that we are not focusing on our current environment.  From this piece of research, we now have the knowledge that boredom happens, because of the environment that one is in.

My hypothesis is that low-stimulation environments cause people to be more creative. This would be my alternative hypothesis as well. The null hypothesis is that low-stimulation environments do not have an effect on people’s creativity.


Luckily, two studies were executed to test this idea. The first study required a group to read  literature that was considered boring then perform a creative task. The control group did not have a specific “boring” activity to do prior to doing creative work. One issue is if a participant is actually intrigued by the literature and does not become bored by it. This was improved for the second study which offered varying types of boring activities in addition to a control group. Still, with these differences the results were the same for both studies. The specific numbers from the studies are not given, but it is stated that the findings suggest that participating in boring activities leads to an increase in creativity.In addition to that, boring reading activities lead to more creativity than partaking in boring writing activities. An issue is that the first study had 80 participants and the latter had 90 so the sample sizes could have been higher. Some confounding variables could be variation in what activities people think are boring, different levels of creativity, etc. I think that it is also suspicious that the article is not more specific about the findings of the two studies. What we can take away from this is that boredom, which is typically seen negatively, could potentially have some benefits after all.


The Health Benefits of Alcohol (In Moderation)

When I was younger, my grandfather would always have one glass of wine with his dinner. Being a child, I never really questioned it but as I grew older, general curiosity settled in. One day I asked him why he always had a glass of wine with dinner to which he gave the most simplistic response: “because it’s good for me”. Being that I was approximately eight years old at the time and still believed that everything told to me was undoubtedly a fact, I believed him and never questioned it again. With this being said, today with the background knowledge my education has provided me about the negative impacts of consuming alcohol, I wondered what the positive benefits of consuming alcohol are.

According to Robert Preidt, there is a positive correlation in health benefits associated with consuming a light to moderate amount of alcohol. More specifically, light to moderate alcohol consumption is beneficial in reducing the chances of having an ischemic stroke. For those who are unaware, an ischemic stroke is the most common type of stroke and occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain is obstructed. On the contrary, while Preidt reports that there is a positive correlation in reducing the chances of having an ischemic stroke, there is zero benefits associated with little to moderate alcohol consumption for hemorrhagic strokes. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when an artery in the brain bursts, this type of stroke is significantly less likely to occur. Although, interestingly enough high consumption of alcohol increases the chances of both strokes.

The hypothesis that light to moderate consumption of alcohol reduces the chances of having an ischemic stroke is a result of twenty-five studies performed in England and Sweden. These studies reveal that consumption of two drinks a day is beneficial to reducing the chances of having an ischemic stroke. One of the scientists of these studies, Susanna Larsson, stated that this study revealed that the chances of suffering from hemorrhagic strokes increased following heavy drinking (a positive correlation). Another study author stated that the type of stroke that an individual might experience could be a result of the particular affect alcohol has on that person’s body. All in all, the researchers concluded that while there is a strong association between alcohol and strokes, the two do not have a causal relationship. The assumed hypothesis of experiment is that the consumption of light to moderate amounts of alcohol daily is likely to reduce the chances of an individual having an ischemic stroke, while overconsumption of alcohol increases chances of experiencing a stroke. This hypothesis, based on the studies, is proven to be correct. Moreover, due to the fact that the conclusion is based on twenty-five studies, the results are deemed to be accurate. It is important to note that other variants, such as age and current state of health, were not disclosed. This information could impact just how accurate the results of the study are. Furthermore, this type of information could potentially explain any potential confounding variables in this study.

While Preidt’s report is an example of a positive association between the consumption of alcohol and health benefits, it is important to notes the negatives as well. According to Harvard, even though alcohol is beneficial for cardiovascular health, there is still a dark side. For one, alcohol increases the chances of breast cancer. This statistic results from six studies with a total of over 320,000 women. Furthermore, genes play a role in whether or not alcohol consumption is good for an individual. Studies show that individuals who have relatives with alcoholism are more likely to develop it too. This information serves to point out that like most things in life, there are risks and benefits in engaging in any particular activity. It is important to know one’s personal health to ensure that something is right for them and weigh the costs and benefits. The discussion of alcohol intake is no exception to this rule. To conclude, all things are good in moderation.


Crowdsourced Publication

Becoming a published author in any field is not an easy task. As Andrew experienced in his publication process, many publishers are very particular about the work they choose. This constant process of rejections and appeals leads many scientists with innovative new ideas to feel disheartened by the procedure. However, the time old process of application and rejection is not the only way to publish scientific work anymore.

A Swiss startup calling themselves, “ScienceMatters” have developed their own form of crowdsourced publication. Founder and CEO, Lawrence Rajendran, came up with the idea when he experienced his own difficulties with publishing a paper. He found that many top journals were not interesting in correct or new information, if it lacked an exciting factor. The sheer amount of discoveries and new work these publications receive far exceed the time and employees they have to cover them. Because of that, the journals only want the articles that will generate big press and leave out many great ideas that just were not interesting enough to them.


The ScienceMatters homepage

The idea of ScienceMatters is unique to many scientific publishers, but has a lot of promise for the future of publication. To narrow down good work, the site requires two basic principles. First, the research has to functionally work, in the sense of proper controls and good execution of the experiment. Second, it needs to have a basis in a scientific field such as biology or physics. Once it has been confirmed that the paper meets both these requirements, it is reviewed in a triple blind review process, keeping both author and editor completely anonymous. This process produces scientifically sound, peer-reviewed papers that remove the bias from large journal’s paper selection.

The company draws some parallels between a Nobel Prize winner, Randy Schekman, who created a similar crowdsourced publication called, “eLife”. Schekman was famously known for disparaging top journals for their selection principles. Like ScienceMatters, eLife wants to change the traditional dynamics of science publication to benefit the scientists instead of the journals. By giving the power back to the scientists, the work is more much rewarding and publication will no longer be the make-or-break point of many scientists’ careers.


The eLife homepage

Crowdsourced publication is a unique and possibly brilliant concept. ScienceMatters has published almost one hundred papers, and has more than half a thousand editors for the review process. The company could face problems down the road with funding or advertising, but the University of Bern in Switzerland and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (EPFL) are currently negotiating deals to cover publishing charges. Overall, ScienceMatters and crowdsource publication could be the future of science publishing and would greatly benefit scientists around the world.

Works Cited

“ELife.” ELife Sciences. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

“Enter the Next-generation Science Journal.” ScienceMatters. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

Magistretti, Bérénice. “Disrupting the World of Science Publishing.” TechCrunch. AOL Inc., 27                          Nov. 2016. Web. 27 Nov. 2016.

Is Crying A Good Thing?

cryingPicture Link

Ever since I was little, I have always been told crying is good for you. I vividly remember the first time I heard this, a feeling of distraught came across me. Why would something associated with something so sad be good? Is it actually true? This didn’t make any sense to me, and hasn’t for years, so I decided to look more into it.

To clarify, there are actually three types of tears: reflexive, continuous, and emotional. While reflexive and continuous tears are used to help keep your eyes clean physically, emotional tears are patently due to a reaction from your emotions (psych today). In this blog, I will therefore discuss the effects of emotional tears.

Structurally, tears contain chemicals and toxins. Therefore, when we cry emotional tears,  feel-good chemicals get released (Gilbertson 2014). For example, it has been found that out of the three types of tears, emotional comprise of the highest level of stress hormones (Govender). Thus, when we cry, we release some of this stress. These types of tears also contain the most manganese (Govender). Manganese affects mood, so when we cry our body reduces its manganese level, and thus our mood is improved (Sollitto).

Another reason crying is good for you is because it helps you emotionally internally. Tears do this by exposing your true emotion, and allow you to actually deal with said emotion. According to an occupational health psychologist, Professor Gail Kinman, this is due to the Freudian theory. This theory implies that it’s more advantageous to let your feelings out, opposed to bottling them up, because if you bottle them up for too long, you will not only likely to be psychologically negatively affected, but physically affected too. (Mann 2011).

In a recent observational study, this theory was supported. In this study, participants were shown a sad movie, and whether people cried or did not cry was noted. The study shows the progression of the participants moods after different time increments. Immediately after the movie, the non-criers felt the same as they did before the movie, while the criers felt worse. Then, after 20 minutes, the criers felt as they did before they watched the movie, and after 90 minutes, the criers even rated their mood higher than the non-criers did by this time. (Levine 2015). Here it is clear that crying has the ability to improve one’s mood. William H. Frey, a biochemist conducted a similar experiment where he also made participants cry by showing sad movies and found the same result; crying made the participants feel better (Levine 2015). Frey concluded that this happens because crying releases the chemicals: prolactin, adrenocortiotrpoic, and leucine enkephalin which are the chemicals that produce stress while watching said movie (Mann 2011).

Although these studies and observations support the phenomenon that crying is in fact good for you, there are restrictions and exceptions. First of all, to actually improve your mood from crying, you must cry after you’ve solved or fixed the reason as to why you are crying. This is due to the fact that if you cry before the reason is fixed, there is no benefit to the crying. Another exception is that crying will most likely not improve your mood and/or health if you suffer from a mood disorder such as anxiety and/or depression (Thompson 2010).

In conclusion, it is evident that crying does in fact improve your mood, so it therefore is good for you. Although this is true, we have to remember it is not true all of the time, and that if there are more serious conditions, greater action needs to be placed instead of relying on a good cry to fix everything.