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April 2011



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Archive for April 5th, 2011


I am pleased to announce the release of the third and final part of my Fine Line Doctor Who adventure “The Chattath Factor”. It stars Joe Binks as the Doctor, Amy Elizabeth as Jenny, with John Ainsworth as Dr Joseph Winston.

As the villagers transform into monstrous creatures en masse, will the Doctor and Jenny find the solution? Is it too late to save Winston from himself?

A full cast audio adventure with sound effects and music.

Written by Will Hadcroft.
Directed and produced by Gareth Preston.

The complete story is now available to play on YouTube.
Doctor Who – The Chattath Factor Episode 1:
Episode 2:
Episode 3:


Teens Who Choose Music Over Books Are More Likely to Be Depressed, Study Finds

ScienceDaily (Apr. 4, 2011) — Adolescents who spend more time listening to music are far more likely to have major depressive disorder, while young people who spend more time reading books are far less likely to have such a diagnosis, according to a University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine study published in the April edition of the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine.

The findings add to the growing body of research linking emotional health to media exposure. The study was unique in that it was one of the first to measure media exposure using an intensive “real-life” methodology called ecological momentary assessment, in which the behaviors of study participants are repeatedly sampled in real time. The method is more reliable than standard surveys and helped researchers recognize this large association between exposure to music and depression, said Brian Primack, M.D., Ed.M., M.S., assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Pitt’s School of Medicine, who led the study.

Read in Full: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110404161817.htm

Artery Sketch

Antidepressants Linked to Thicker Arteries


ScienceDaily (Apr. 2, 2011) — Antidepressant use has been linked to thicker arteries, possibly contributing to the risk of heart disease and stroke, in a study of twin veterans. The data is being presented on April 5 at the American College of Cardiology meeting in New Orleans.

Depression can heighten the risk for heart disease, but the effect of antidepressant use revealed by the study is separate and independent from depression itself, says first author Amit Shah, MD, a cardiology fellow at Emory University School of Medicine. The data suggest that antidepressants may combine with depression for a negative effect on blood vessels, he says. Shah is a researcher working with Viola Vaccarino, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Epidemiology at Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health.

The study included 513 middle-aged male twins who both served in the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. Twins are genetically the same but may be different when it comes to other risk factors such as diet, smoking and exercise, so studying them is a good way to distill out the effects of genetics, Shah says.


Read in Full: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110402163856.htm

Sad Lovers

Depression Dulls Sensitivity to Partner’s Thoughts, Feelings


By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 31, 2011

It is no surprise that researchers have discovered that depression erodes intimate relationships.

Depression breeds feelings of loneliness and withdrawal. So when your partner in a relationship is feeling depressed, it can be as though he or she is not even there.

Israeli researchers determined depression impairs the ability of a partner to accurately perceive the others’ thoughts and feelings.

Depression impairs what psychologists call “empathic accuracy.” Depression can also exacerbate alienation, depression, and the cycle by which they feed each other.

The investigators studied these dynamics in relationships, particularly the role of gender.

Their study will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

The study revealed a surprising dynamic: “It’s called the partner effect,” said Reuma Gadassi, lead author and a psychology graduate student at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

“Women’s depression affects their own accuracy. But it also affected their partner’s accuracy negatively.”

Read in Full: http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/03/31/depression-dulls-sensitivity-to-partners-thoughts-feelings/24857.html

Pediatrics Gets it Wrong about Facebook Depression


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

You know it’s not good when one of the most prestigious pediatric journals, Pediatrics, can’t differentiate between correlation and causation.

And yet this is exactly what the authors of a “clinical report” did in reporting on the impact of social media on children and teens. Especially in their discussion of “Facebook depression,” a term that the authors simply made up to describe the phenomenon observed when depressed people use social media.

Shoddy research? You bet. That’s why Pediatrics calls it a “clinical report” — because it’s at the level of a bad blog post written by people with a clear agenda. In this case, the report was written by Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, Kathleen Clarke-Pearson and the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Communications and Media (2011).

What makes this bad a report? Let’s just look at the issue of “Facebook depression,” their made-up term for a phenomenon that doesn’t exist.

The authors of the Pediatrics report use six citations to support their claim that social media sites like Facebook actually cause depression in children and teens. Four of the six citations are third-party news reports on research in this area. In other words, the authors couldn’t even bother with reading the actual research to see if the research actually said what the news outlet reported it said.

Read in Full: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/03/28/pediatrics-gets-it-wrong-about-facebook-depression/

Depression Needs A Second Opinion

Article Date: 12 Mar 2011 – 1:00 PST

As he struggled for decades with a depression that often left him despondent, Eric Wilson never thought to get a second opinion.

“This might be true of many of us,” he said. “We feel we have more ownership of what we see as our body and physical health so, if a doctor gives me a diagnosis I don’t like, I’m likely to get a second opinion. It just wasn’t the same for mental health.”

After decades of broken relationships, multiple flirtations with suicide, and manic highs and lows, he received his final and accurate diagnosis of bipolar II mixed. This form of bipolar disorder is difficult to diagnose because its sufferers often are highly functioning and extremely productive. The highs can masquerade as general happiness. The difficulty is when the mood swings drastically and uncontrollably.

Researchers have found that as many as 69 percent of initial diagnoses of people with bipolar disorder were incorrect, underlining the importance of seeking a second opinion. With bipolar, the wrong medication can have devastating effects, plunging a patient into a deeper depression or into rapid cycles of highs and lows.

Wilson describes his journey from a dangerously moody teen to happily married father in “The Mercy of Eternity.” He credits the loving persistence of his wife and the wonder of his daughter for pushing him beyond that first incorrect diagnosis of his disease.

He is sure he would never have sought additional help on his own.

Read in Full: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/218993.php

Depression May Increase the Risk of Kidney Failure

ScienceDaily (Mar. 11, 2011) — Depression is associated with an increased risk of developing kidney failure in the future, according to a study appearing in an upcoming issue of the Clinical Journal of the American Society Nephrology (CJASN). Approximately 10% of the US population will suffer from depression at some point during their lifetime.

Lead investigator, Dr. Willem Kop (Department of Medical Psychology and Neuropsychology at the University of Tilburg, the Netherlands) and colleagues studied 5,785 people from four counties across the United States for 10 years. The participants were 65 years and older and not yet on dialysis. They completed a questionnaire measuring depressive symptoms and a broad range of medical measurements, including estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and risk factors for kidney and heart diseases. The investigators examined whether depression predicted the onset of kidney disease or other medical problems in which the kidneys play a critical role.

According to the results, depression coincided with the presence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and was 20% more common in individuals with kidney disease than those without kidney disease. The study shows that depression predicted subsequent rapid decline in kidney function, new onset clinically severe kidney disease (or end-stage renal disease), and hospitalizations that were complicated by acute kidney injury. When the investigators corrected for the long-term effects of other medical measures, the predictive value of depression for hospitalizations with acute kidney injury remained high.

Read in Full: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110310173202.htm

History of a Suicide

History of a Suicide: An Interview with Jill Bialosky


By Therese J. Borchard
Associate Editor

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Jill Bialosky, author of the new book History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life, in which she brilliantly weaves together her sister’s inner life and brings an awkward but essential topic of discussion out of the shadows.

1. If you could have readers leave with one piece of truth about suicide, what would it be?

Jill: Suicide is a multi-faceted, complex event and though there may be a present catalyst that triggers it, ultimately it is a psychological drama that happens within the mind of a suicidal individual resulting from intense inner pain. This is a theory developed by Dr. Edwin Shneidman, one of the leading figures in the study of suidiology and it is the one theory that makes sense to me.

We must recognize the inner pain of someone who is suicidal as quickly as possible. One of the conundrums is that those who are suffering deeply tend to isolate themselves and disguise their inner pain to protect loved ones. We must look for warning signs and be not afraid to ask.

2. Why don’t we have the language we need to talk about suicide? How can we develop one?

Jill: Suicide is still a taboo subject. People are uncomfortable talking about it. Suicides are particularly painful for family and loved ones to process because of overwhelming feelings of shock, guilt, shame, anger and responsibility survivors of suicides experience. Suicide taps into fears about recognizing the fragility of human existence, worry and feelings of helplessness in the face of those we love who are suffering. With that said, we need to begin to raise the veil and open the dialogue.

Check out the book at Amazon.com: History of a Suicide: My Sister’s Unfinished Life.

If you’re thinking of suicide, please read this first.

Read More … http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/03/31/history-of-a-suicide-an-interview-with-jill-bialosky/

Wealth is of the Heart & Mind, Not The Pocket

Are Rich People More Depressed Than Poor? And Other Depression Factoids


By Therese J. Borchard
Associate Editor

I taped a radio show the other day with Court Lewis of American Variety Radio in which he wanted me to cover the demographics of depression.

So here we go. Many of these stats I assembled from the book Understanding Depression by J. Raymond DePaulo Jr., MD, Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Others I picked in articles here and there.

Depression and Gender

More women are depressed than men because women have more to be depressed about than men. Kidding, of course. But I still don’t understand how our gender got stuck with labor pains and all that. Almost one in five women in the US will have one or more episodes of clinical depression, which is TWO or THREE times the rate of depressive illness that men have.

Some say the discrepancy can be attributed to all the mood-altering hormonal effects of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, childbirth, infertility, and/or contraceptives. Based on the Armageddon that happened to me around childbirth, I’d give that theory a thumbs up. That, and I have to track my menstrual cycle because I’ve been known to go off on people a day or two before my period. However, men’s depression has been crawling up to meet us lately with the recession cutting more male jobs than female jobs. Naddy naddy boo boo.

Married men have lower rates of depression than single men, but not so for married women. (I have my theories but consider myself very lucky so I won’t go into them.) Women who are married are no better off than women who are widowed, divorced, or single (never been married).

Age and Depression

Before age 13 depression is fairly uncommon in both girls and boys. The biggest factor for severe depressive illness in children appears to be genetic. Both parents of severely depressed children often have depression.

Read in Full: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/03/10/are-rich-people-more-depressed-than-poor-and-other-depression-factoids/

Diet Coke and Depression

By Therese J. Borchard
Associate Editor

When you are a recovering drunk, you don’t have a ton of options at parties. I used to be an avid Diet Coke drinker. But last summer my sister scared the, well you know what, out of me when she started talking about what aspartame can do to your system. I am chemically sensitive as it is, and many of you are, too, probably — which is why I don’t drink alcohol and gave up smoking.

But I was curious if Diet Coke was really that dangerous. I did some research, and as you well know, every paranoia will be confirmed eventually by some article on the web.

I found an article about Diet Coke on John McManamy’s website. What was particularly interesting to me was the relationship between aspartame and depression and bipolar disorder.

Read in Full: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/03/14/diet-coke-and-depression/

Tai Chi Beats Back Depression in the Elderly, Study Shows

ScienceDaily (Mar. 20, 2011) — The numbers are, well, depressing: More than 2 million people age 65 and older suffer from depression, including 50 percent of those living in nursing homes. The suicide rate among white men over 85 is the highest in the country — six times the national rate.

And we’re not getting any younger. In the next 35 years, the number of Americans over 65 will double and the number of those over 85 will triple.

So the question becomes, how to help elderly depressed individuals?

Researchers at UCLA turned to a gentle, Westernized version of tai chi chih, a 2,000-year-old Chinese martial art. When they combined a weekly tai chi exercise class with a standard depression treatment for a group of depressed elderly adults, they found greater improvement in the level of depression — along with improved quality of life, better memory and cognition, and more overall energy — than among a different group in which the standard treatment was paired with a weekly health education class.

The results of the study appear in the current online edition of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Read in Full: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110316131122.htm

For Teens, Acne Problems May Be More Than Skin Deep


By David McCracken, MA, LPC
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 16, 2011

For many teens, acne is a much bigger problem than a facial blemish. New research finds that depression and other psychological disorders may be more prevalent in adolescent acne patients.

Steve Feldman, M.D., a professor of dermatology at from Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, conducted a systematic review of the published research literature to arrive at this conclusion. They found that while most teenagers consider acne to be a cosmetic problem, many others report that acne has a significant impact on their self-esteem and quality of life, often leading to anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.

“With this study, we found that acne is more than skin deep for those aged 13 to 18,” Feldman said. “Depending on how the patient feels about it, acne can have a potentially large and negative impact on their lives or it can have a small affect.”

In a New Zealand study cited by the authors, for example, greater severity of acne correlated with more depressive symptoms. And problem acne was associated with an increase in frequency of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts.

As a result, Feldman said the presence of these psychological disorders “should be considered in the treatment of acne patients when appropriate.”

Read in Full: http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/03/16/for-teens-acne-problems-may-be-more-than-skin-deep/24452.html

Depression Drugs — SSRIs — May Reorganize Brain Plasticity, New Research Suggests

ScienceDaily (Mar. 18, 2011) — Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) such as Prozac are regularly used to treat severe anxiety and depression. They work by immediately increasing the amount of serotonin in the brain and by causing long term changes in brain function. However it can take weeks of treatment before a patient feels any effect and both beneficial effects and side effects can persist after treatment is stopped.

New research published by BioMed Central’s open access journal Molecular Brain investigates physiological changes within the brain that may be caused by SSRI treatment.

The hippocampus is an area of the brain involved in long term memory and spatial awareness, and is involved in symptoms afflicting people with Alzheimer’s disease, such as loss of memory and disorientation. Neuronal cells in the hippocampus can change their activity and strength of connections throughout life, a process known as plasticity, which thought to be one of the ways new memories are formed. Altered plasticity is often associated with depression and stress.

Read in Full: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/03/110316084425.htm

Mancession and Male Depression: Open Your Minds and Shut Your Mouths


By Therese J. Borchard
Associate Editor

I used to think a woman’s depression rate was two or three times that of a man’s simply because of the hormonal roller coaster she gets to ride from the time she first gets her period in junior high (or now in first grade — okay, maybe not that early) until she can stop buying sanitary items or, even better, stop making her husband buy them for her.

But now I’m not so sure.

Women are giving more weight these days to domestic tasks like raising kids and keeping the house in order than to their menstrual cycle and the biological trauma of childbirth. Because, in sync with Dr. Boadie Dunlap’s editorial in the British Journal of Psychiatry, as we switched roles in our home, the adjustment has been much more difficult than the simple plan we forecast in Quicken: my income increases, his household responsibilities increase. Easy enough?

The recession, of course, has been dubbed the “mancession” by some because about 75 percent of the jobs lost have been in industries that belong to men: construction, manufacturing, and labor. The downsizing has been further compounded by innovations in technology (less manual labor) and outsourcing to foreign countries, where labor doesn’t cost so much.

Since men derive a substantial amount of their self-esteem from their jobs, and societal norms—although gradually shifting—still dictate the man as the breadwinner, men are at increased risk for depression until the economy turns around.

Read in Full: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/03/18/mancession-and-male-depression-open-your-minds-and-shut-your-mouths/

Euthymics Bioscience Initiates Triade Trial For Major Depression

Article Date: 16 Mar 2011 – 1:00 PDT

Euthymics Bioscience, Inc. announced the initiation of an advanced clinical study of its lead product candidate EB-1010 for the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD). The TRIADE (Triple Reuptake Inhibitor Anti-Depressant Effects) trial is a phase 2b/3a clinical trial designed to assess the safety and efficacy of EB-1010, a novel serotonin-preferring triple reuptake inhibitor. The trial will be conducted at 25 centers throughout the U.S., and Euthymics plans to enroll approximately 300 individuals. Patient recruitment is now underway and top-line results are expected in mid-2012.

Read in Full: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219200.php

Study Shows Children’s Psychiatric Symptoms Improve After Depression Remission In Mother

Article Date: 16 Mar 2011 – 2:00 PDT

Children of mothers with major depressive disorder showed improvement in their own psychiatric symptoms in the year after their mothers’ depression responded to treatment, according to a study appearing in the online edition of The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Since the children of parents with major depression are also at increased risk of a psychiatric disorder diagnosis, the relationship between maternal remission and the decrease in offspring symptoms is encouraging as it represents an improvement in a child’s future prospects, said authors of the study, published March 15 at AJP in Advance, the online advance edition of The American Journal of Psychiatry, the official journal of the American Psychiatric Association.

Read in Full: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219242.php

Depressed Dads More Likely to Spank Kids


By David McCracken, MA, LPC
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on March 16, 2011

Difficulties with depression for new parents are usually focused on moms, but depression can also affect fathers — and make them more likely to spank children as young as 1 year old.

About 40 percent of depressed fathers in a survey said they’d spanked kids that age, versus just 13 percent of fathers who weren’t depressed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics and many child development experts warn against spanking children of any age.

The researchers said spanking is especially troubling in children who are only 1, because they could get injured and they “are unlikely to understand the connection between their behavior and subsequent punishment.”

In addition, four out of five dads had recently visited a pediatrician for their child’s routine visit — an opportunity to get help for themselves that was missed.

The authors analyzed data on 1,746 fathers from a nationally representative survey in 16 large U.S. cities, conducted in 1999-2000. Lead author Dr. Neal Davis said that was the most recent comprehensive data on the subject, and he believes it is relevant today. Depression among fathers is strongly tied to unemployment rates, which are much higher now than a decade ago, he said.

The men were questioned about depression symptoms, spanking and interactions with their 1-year-olds, but weren’t asked why they spanked or whether it resulted in physical harm.

Overall, 7 percent of dads had experienced recent major depression.

Some likely had a history of depression, but in others it was probably tied to their children’s birth, similar to postpartum depression in women, Davis said. A pediatrician now, Davis did the research while at the University of Michigan.

Read in Full: http://psychcentral.com/news/2011/03/16/depressed-dads-more-likely-to-spank-kids/24436.html

High-Quality Follow-Up Depression Care Via Online Messaging

Article Date: 18 Mar 2011 – 0:00 PDT

Online messaging can deliver organized follow-up care for depression effectively and efficiently, according to a randomized controlled trial of 208 Group Health patients that the Journal of General Internal Medicine e-published in advance of print.

After five months, compared to the half of the patients randomly assigned to receive usual care, the half who had three online care management contacts with a trained psychiatric nurse were significantly more likely to feel less depressed, take their antidepressant medication as prescribed, and be “very satisfied” with their treatment for depression. The patients in the trial were starting antidepressant medication that their primary care providers prescribed.

Read in Full: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/219441.php


People with autism use their brains differently from other people, which may explain why some have extraordinary abilities to remember and draw objects in detail, according to new research.

University of Montreal scientists say in autistic people, the brain areas that deal with visual information are highly developed.

Other brain areas are less active.

The National Autistic Society says the findings significantly increase understanding of the condition.

The research, published in the journal Human Brain Mapping, pulls together 15 years of data on the way the autistic brain works.

Better at visual tasks

It suggests that the brains of autistic people are organised differently from those of other people; the area at the back of the brain, which processes visual information, is more highly developed.

That leaves less brain capacity in areas which deal with decision-making and planning.

Autistic brain
Areas where autistic brains are more active

That may be why people with autism can be better than others at carrying out some types of visual tasks.

For example, some are able to draw highly accurate and detailed images from memory.

However, they can find it difficult to interpret things like facial expressions.

The condition varies in severity, with some people functioning well, but others completely unable to take part in normal society.

The researchers believe their findings may lead towards new ways of helping people to live with the condition.

“For example, this may show a means to help people to literacy in a much more natural way than the usual methods of helping autistic people,” said Dr Laurent Mottron from the University of Montreal.

“The natural tendency is to think that autism is a form of disorganisation. Here, what we see is that it is a reorganisation of the brain,” he said.

Understanding autism

Autism experts regard the research findings as significant.

“This review highlights that autism should not only be seen as a condition with behavioural difficulties, but should also be associated with particular skill,” said Dr Christine Ecker from the Institute of Psychiatry at Kings College, London.

“It offers us unique insights into the way people with autism perceive their environment and helps us to understand some of their behaviour.”

She said it added to the understanding of autism. “Knowing the strengths and difficulties of someone with autism may help to better understand their needs and help them maximize their potential.”

Read in Full: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-12937009