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On ‘Sound Medicine’: Mental health, the human-pet bond, and treating childhood aggression


“Sound Medicine” covers breakthrough research studies, topics in bioethics and the day-to-day application of recent advancements in medicine. It’s also available via podcast and Stitcher Radio for mobile phones and iPads and posts updates on Facebook and Twitter.

What guidelines dictate the treatment of childhood aggression? New guidelines were recently released that detail the treatment path for childhood aggression. These guidelines are the result of the increased use of antipsychotics and mood stabilizing drugs to treat aggression in children in an outpatient setting. These drugs can cause troubling side effects in children. Several institutions and experts at Mayo Clinic, along with several other institutions including the REACH Institute, the Center for Education and Research on Mental Health Therapeutics at Rutgers University, joined forces to create a new set of guidelines to help clinicians, patients and patients’ families manage aggression in children. Peter Jensen, M.D., psychiatrist at Mayo Clinic, joins “Sound Medicine” host Steve Bogdewic, Ph.D., to discuss the new recommendations and when aggression needs to be treated.

What mental health and substance abuse issues do baby boomers face? With the senior population expected to reach 72.1 million by 2030, a new report suggests that our current health system will be overwhelmed by the number of seniors seeking treatment for mental and substance abuse disorders. Currently, at least 5.6 million to 8 million older adults in America — nearly one in five — suffer from one or more mental health or substance abuse conditions, and that number will continue to grow. Christopher Callahan, M.D., director of the Indiana University Center for Aging Research, talks about typical mental health issues, not including Alzheimer’s disease, for older people and their consequences, and the ability of today’s health care system to address the mental health needs of a growing senior population.  Callahan is one of the authors of the report titled, “The Mental Health and Substance Use Workforce for Older Adults: In Whose Hands?”

Besides humans, what other mammal can be infected by West Nile Virus? The horse.  After a West Nile virus vaccine for horses was distributed in the early 2000s, the number of equine cases plummeted. However, as the number of humans contracting the disease rises, so does the number of horses, with 88 cases reported in 24 states this year.  Horses are infected in the same manner as humans and don’t transmit the disease to or from humans. Joan Norton, VMD, founder of Norton Veterinary Consulting and Education Resources, shares the characteristic symptoms of West Nile infection in horses and how they are treated.

How does the bond between an animal and a human benefit human health? Having pets has long been touted as a source of fun and relaxation. Rebecca Johnson, R.N., Ph.D., associate professor of nursing and Millsap Professor of Gerontological Nursing and Public Policy at the University of Missouri, talks with Kathy Miller, M.D., about her studies about the health benefits for senior citizens who have pets. She found that interacting with pets on a regular basis can lower stress and increase levels of oxytocin, prolactin and norepinephrine, all hormones related to joy, nurturing and relaxation. 

“Sound Medicine,” co-produced by the IU School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio (90.1 FM) and underwritten in part by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is aired on the following Indiana public radio stations: WBSB (Anderson, 89.5 FM), WFIU (Bloomington, 103.7 FM; Columbus, 100.7 FM; Kokomo, 106.1 FM; Terre Haute, 95.1 FM), WNDY (Crawfordsville, 91.3 FM), WVPE (Elkhart/South Bend, 88.1 FM), WNIN (Evansville, 88.3 FM), WBOI (Fort Wayne, 89.1 FM), WFCI (Franklin, 89.5 FM), WBSH (Hagerstown/New Castle, 91.1 FM), WFYI (Indianapolis), WBSW (Marion, 90.9 FM), WBST (Muncie, 92.1 FM), WBSJ (Portland, 91.7 FM), WLPR (Lake County, 89.1 FM) and WBAA (West Lafayette, 101.3 FM).

“Sound Medicine” is also broadcast on these public radio stations across the country: WLRH (Huntsville, Ala.), KSKA (Anchorage, Alaska), KTNA (Talkeetna, Alaska), KUHB (Pribilof Islands, Alaska), KUAF (Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark.), KIDE (Hoopa Valley, Calif.), KRCC (Colorado Springs, Colo.), KEDM (Monroe, La.), WCMU (Mount Pleasant, Mich.), WCNY and WRVO-1 (Syracuse, N.Y.), KMHA (Four Bears, N.D.), WYSU (Youngstown, Ohio), KPOV (Bend, Ore.) and KEOS (College Station, Texas).