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March 2012
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Mental Health Leaders Call for New Drug Treatments for Depression, Schizophrenia

 

There is a serious lack of new drug treatments for mental health disorders, such as depression and schizophrenia, say leading international academics, who are currently advocating for new approaches to drug development for mental health disorders. 


Although nearly 40 percent of the population is affected by mental health issues, which includes everything from depression and dementia to anxiety and schizophrenia, researchers say there is still a crisis in the development of new treatments.


“The pharmaceutical industry has in part withdrawn, either because they struggled to translate research into a viable drug or because of financial pressures.  Although some have remained, there are still insufficient resources being focused on diseases which affect a disproportionate percentage of the population,” said Professor Barbara Sahakian, of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge.


In the paper, the researchers point to genetics as fertile ground for drug exploration, referring to the impact it has made on other medical treatments. Furthermore, they believe that academics should investigate the compounds that industry has abandoned.


“We need to reassess how we identify and validate new drugs, and should consider open access drug development which involves both industry and academia,” said Sahakian.


Other studies have proven that mental disorders disproportionately affect the young, with 75 percent of disorders beginning before the age of 24.  Because of this, the academics also push for earlier intervention and preventative treatments.


The researchers also advocate non-pharmacological approaches.  They emphasize the effectiveness of treatments which combine medications with psychosocial treatments. 


For example, new treatments could include the use of emerging technology such as video games that help autistic children interact socially through increased eye contact.


Read in Full:

http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/03/17/mental-health-leaders-call-for-new-drug-treatments-for-depression-schizophrenia/36148.html

Stigma Linked To Depression Among Lung Cancer Patients


Article Date: 27 Mar 2012 – 0:00 PDT


Studying the role of social stigma in depression for lung cancer patients, researchers at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., have found that depression can be heightened by a lung cancer patient’s sense of social rejection, internalized shame and social isolation. These factors may contribute to depression at rates higher than experienced by patients with other kinds of cancer.


Their study was published in a recent issue of Psycho-Oncology (21:2012).

 

“To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the relationship of perceived stigma to depressive symptomology in lung cancer patients,” said study co-author Paul B. Jacobsen, Ph.D., Moffitt’s associate center director for Population Sciences. “Given its strong association with tobacco use, lung cancer is commonly viewed as a preventable disease. Consequently, patients may blame themselves for developing lung cancer and feel stigmatized. Even lung cancer patients who have never smoked often felt – accurately or inaccurately – that they were being blamed for their disease by friends, loved ones and even health care professionals.”


Read in Full:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/243348.php

Does Brain Remember How to Respond to Antidepressants?

Does Brain Remember Response to Antidepressants?


By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 27, 2012


A new study suggests that how the brain responds to an antidepressant may be influenced by remembering past antidepressant exposure.


Major depression is typically an event that occurs several times over a lifetime. As a result, an individual may receive multiple courses of antidepressant treatment and researchers wanted to know if the brain may exhibit a “learned” response from prior medication regimens.


Currently, the relationship between prior treatment and the brain’s response to subsequent treatment is unknown.


In the study, researchers used a harmless placebo as the key to tracking the footprints of prior antidepressant use.


Read in Full:

http://psychcentral.com/news/2012/03/27/does-brain-remember-response-to-antidepressants/36592.html

UMass Fails Student with Depression


By John M. Grohol, PsyD
Founder & Editor-in-Chief


If you’re a college student and you’re depressed, chances are you have a student counseling center that’s available to you, at no charge.


Sounds good, right? In an ideal world, the student counseling center would properly assess, diagnose and even treat students with mental health concerns — such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more.


But we don’t live in an ideal world and student counseling centers don’t make a university any money. So they aren’t necessarily well-funded, overflowing with well-paid staff or have access to all the resources they need.


That’s why Emily Merlino’s column about her experience at the University of Massachusetts (UMass), supposedly one of the better universities in the country, was a bit disheartening to read. In it, she details how she was experiencing depressive feelings and sought out help from a professional at the UMass Mental Health Services clinic.

 

When Emily Merlino first called for an appointment, she was placed on a 2-week wait-list. This is not an uncommon experience for anyone who’s ever sought out services from their university’s health center or student counseling center, or from a community mental health center. When I was in graduate school nearly 20 years ago, this wait-list could extend for as long as 4 to 5 weeks for the first psychotherapy appointment. Since state and federal budget cuts, these wait lists have only gotten worse.


When she finally did get in to see a professional, it was not a positive experience:


Read More …

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/03/26/umass-fails-student-with-depression/

Home Alone: Depression Highest for Those Living Alone


ScienceDaily (Mar. 23, 2012) — The number of people living on their own has doubled, over the last three decades, to one in three in the UK and US. New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Public Health shows that the risk of depression, measured by people taking antidepressants, is almost 80% higher for those living alone compared to people living in any kind of social or family group.


For women a third of this risk was attributable to sociodemographic factors, such as lack of education and low income. For men the biggest contributing factors included poor job climate, lack of support at the work place or in their private lives, and heavy drinking.


It is known that living alone can increase the risk of mental health problems for the elderly, and for single parents, but little is known about the effects of isolation on working-age people. Researchers in Finland followed 3500 working-aged men and women for seven years and compared their living arrangements with psychosocial, sociodemographic, and health risk factors, including smoking, heavy drinking and low physical activity, to antidepressant use. Information on antidepressant medication was taken from the National Prescription Register.


Read in Full:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120323001246.htm

 

How Does ECT Work in the Brain?


By John M. Grohol, PsyD
Founder & Editor-in-Chief


Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is an uncommon treatment for severe, chronic depression. It is used sparingly, partially because our understanding of why and how it works is still in the dark ages. It also doesn’t help that it can cause memory loss in many patients who undergo it (usually confined to just memory around ECT treatments, but occasionally also around older, longer-term memories as well), as well as increasing attention and concentration problems in a minority of people who try ECT.


However, a new study sheds light on the possible mechanism for how electroconvulsive therapy works, based upon one theory of how depression works in the brain.


The theory goes like this — depression isn’t caused by too little brain activity. It’s actually caused by too much brain activity, an overactive brain that has accidentally “hot-wired” multiple brain networks together. (How and why this hot-wiring occurs is still a mystery.)


So how can ECT undo this hot-wiring?

 

It’s theorized that ECT may undo this hot-wiring, and return the brain’s neural networks to normal functioning:


Read More …

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/03/20/how-does-ect-work-in-the-brain/



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