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October 2011



Recent Posts


Repeat Bouts Of Depression Linked To Low Mastery And Smoking

Editor’s Choice
Academic Journal

Article Date: 26 Oct 2011 – 10:00 PDT


According to a report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), the risk factors for individuals experiencing repeat episodes of depression include daily smoking, lack of control over life situations (low mastery) and previous depression.


Depression is a common disorder in which feelings of sadness, anger, loss, or frustration negatively affect the individual’s quality of life. Approximately 65% of individuals with the condition have repeat episodes. In addition the condition can be linked with weight and dietary control as well as pain and inattention to other health issues.


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Rat Study Ties Antidepressants to Autism-like Brain Abnormalities

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 26, 2011

A new study shows that immature rats given a common antidepressant can exhibit brain abnormalities and behaviors characteristic of autism spectrum disorders.

Researchers believe the findings suggest that taking a certain class of antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) during pregnancy may be a factor in the rise in childhood developmental disorders.

“We saw behaviors in the treated rats and neurological problems that indicate their brains are not properly conducting and processing information,” said Rick C.S. Lin, Ph.D., principal investigator on the study. Lin is a professor of neurobiology and anatomical sciences at University of Mississippi Medical Center.

“However, based on this study alone it would be premature to conclude that a pregnant mother should stop taking SSRIs. A pregnant mother may do more harm to her baby through untreated depression than by taking prescribed SSRIs. This study is a starting point and a lot more research needs to be done.”

The study appears online in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Antidepressant Use Up 400 Percent in US


By Janice Wood Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 25, 2011


The rate of antidepressant use in the United States increased nearly 400 percent over the last two decades, according to a report released Oct. 19.


The report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics found that 11 percent of Americans over the age of 12 takes an antidepressant, with about 14 percent taking the medication for more than 10 years.


The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that antidepressants were the third most common prescription drug taken by Americans of all ages from 2005 to 2008 and the most frequently used medication by people between the ages of 18 and 44.


The study also found that women are two and a half times more likely to take antidepressant medication as males, while 23 percent of women ages 40 to 59 take antidepressants, more than in any other age or sex group.


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11% Of US Adults And Teens Take Antidepressants


Article Date: 19 Oct 2011 – 13:00 PDT


Antidepressants were taken by 11% of Americans over the age of twelve years during the period 2005-2008, according to a CDC report issued today. Antidepressants are the most common prescription drugs taken by individuals aged 18 to 44 – nearly one quarter of all females aged 40 to 59 take them, the reports informs.

The authors report that teenage women are two times as likely to take antidepressants as adult males. Usage among people aged 12 to 17 is about the same in both sexes.


A higher percentage of over 40s take prescription drugs for depression, compared to those in the 12-39 age group.


Below are some highlighted data from the report:


Read More …


11 Ways to Help a Loved One in Denial

By Therese J. Borchard
Associate Editor


What if your friend, mother, sibling, or father-in-law is severely depressed but refuses to recognize it?


Most of us have been there at least once in our life: the awkward spot where you know a loved one has a mood disorder or drinking problem, but is too stubborn to admit it and to proud to get help. You might see the consequence his behavior is having on his children, his job, or his marriage, but he is blissfully blind or is in too much pain to see the truth.


What can you do, short of taking the person by his shoulders, shaking him, while screaming, “Wake the hell up and see what you are doing?!?”


It’s very complicated.


Because people are different.


Mood disorders vary.


And families are as unique as the illnesses themselves.


After doing a bit of research and consulting with a few mental health professionals, I have compiled this list of suggestions, to be read as merely that: suggestions.


1. Educate yourself.


The first responsible thing you can do is to educate yourself. Because you can’t really spot a type of disorder without knowing its symptoms. In guessing that a sister is depressed, you should know if there have been any significant changes in her diet, sleep, energy, and so forth. You can’t really assume your brother-in-law is bipolar based on Matt Damon’s performance as a pathological liar/bipolar freak in “The Informant!” or that a friend is obsessive-compulsive because her behavior resembles Jack Nicholson’s in “As Good As It Gets.”

Educating yourself is not only going to help you gather the facts that you need in order to know how sick your loved is, but it is going to help you feel more in control of the situation—so that you can guard yourself against the fruitcake that will be hurled at you come Christmas dinner. It won’t be a TOTAL surprise.

2. Gather the information.


Here comes the fun part. You get to pretend you are a detective for a month or so and gather any facts you can about the person without a) invading her privacy, or 2) bringing on an awkward confrontation. If you think she is depressed, ask about her diet. “Are you still eating Chipotle’s Burrito Bowl for lunch? No? Why not? Are you still playing tennis on Tuesday nights? Why have you stopped? What book are you reading for your book club? Have you hosted any of the meetings recently? It’s helpful to get together with any mutual friends and/or family members who would have additional information, so that together you can get a truer picture of what’s going on. The person may tell you something that contradicts your sister’s information, and the discrepancy can be even more significant than either of the answers. After studying the symptoms of the disorder that you think your loved one has, you will better know the information you need to find out.


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‘Trading Places’ Most Common Pattern for Couples Dealing With Male Depression

ScienceDaily (Oct. 21, 2011) — University of British Columbia researchers have identified three major patterns that emerge among couples dealing with male depression. These can be described as “trading places,” “business as usual” and “edgy tensions.”

Published in the Social Science & Medicine journal and led by UBC researcher John Oliffe, the paper details how heterosexual couples’ gender roles undergo radical shifts and strain when the male partner is depressed and the female partner seeks to help. Depression, a disorder often thought of as a women’s health issue, is underreported in men, and little is known about how heterosexual couples respond when the male partner is depressed.

“Overall, our study underscores how women play a key role in helping their male partners manage their depression,” says Oliffe, an associate professor in the School of Nursing whose work investigates masculinities and men’s health with a focus on men’s depression.

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New Psychotherapy Helps Depression Patients Cultivate Optimistic Outlook Instead Of Traditional Therapy Focus On Negative Thoughts About Past

Article Date: 20 Oct 2011 – 2:00 PDT

Patients with major depression do better by learning to create a more positive outlook about the future, rather than by focusing on negative thoughts about their past experiences, researchers at Cedars-Sinai say after developing a new treatment that helps patients do this.

While Major Depressive Disorder patients traditionally undergo cognitive-behavior therapy care that seeks to alter their irrational, negative thoughts about past experiences, patients who were treated with the newly-developed Future-Directed Therapyâ„¢ demonstrated significant improvement in depression and anxiety, as well as improvement in overall reported quality of life, the researchers found.

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Too Much Undeserved Self-Praise Can Lead To Depression

Article Date: 20 Oct 2011 – 3:00 PDT


People who try to boost their self-esteem by telling themselves they’ve done a great job when they haven’t could end up feeling dejected instead, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association.


High and low performers felt fine when they assessed themselves accurately, probably because the high performers recognized their strengths and low performers acknowledged their weaknesses and could try to improve their future performance, according to a study in the October issue of the APA journal Emotion.

“These findings challenge the popular notion that self-enhancement and providing positive performance feedback to low performers is beneficial to emotional health. Instead, our results underscore the emotional benefits of accurate self-assessments and performance feedback,” said lead author Young-Hoon Kim, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania.

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Depressed Teens Listen to Heavy Metal Music in Unhealthy Way

By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 20, 2011

Youth at risk of depression are more likely to listen habitually and repetitively to heavy metal music, according to research by Dr. Katrina McFerran of the University of Melbourne.

For the study, McFerran, a senior lecturer in Music Therapy at the Melbourne Conservatorium of Music, conducted in-depth interviews with 50 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 and combined this information with a national survey of 1,000 young people.

Her goal is to create an early intervention model that can be brought into schools to positively impact teens before behavioral problems occur.

“The mp3 revolution means that young people are accessing music more than ever before and it’s not uncommon for some to listen to music for seven or eight hours a day,” she said.

“Most young people listen to a range of music in positive ways; to block out crowds, to lift their mood or to give them energy when exercising, but young people at risk of depression are more likely to be listening to music, particularly heavy metal music, in a negative way.”

“Examples of this are when someone listens to the same song or album of heavy metal music over and over again and doesn’t listen to anything else. They do this to isolate themselves or escape from reality,” McFerran adds.

“If this behavior continues over a period of time then it might indicate that this young person is suffering from depression or anxiety, and at worst, might suggest suicidal tendencies.”


Read More …



10 Things Not to Say to a Depressed Person

By Therese J. Borchard
Associate Editor

CBS News and Health.com published a nice gallery listing what you should and shouldn’t tell a depressed love one.


I have my own list. Here are 10 things you definitely don’t want to say, a collection of the gems that I heard when well-intentioned people opened their mouths and said something really stupid to me the two years I was in sorry shape.


1. It’s all in your head. You need to think positive.


Upon hearing this, I wanted to throw a life-size figure of Tony Robbins at them. Because, while optimism is certainly important in training the brain, studies have shown that people who are severely depressed or acutely anxious only activate their amydalas (fear center of the brain) by forcing positive thinking.


2. You need to get out of yourself and give back to the community.


This is one that certainly made bad things worse. Because now, in addition to feeling severely depressed, a person also feels guilty and self-absorbed. Yes, giving back is important, but only when a person is healthy enough to hold a ladle at a soup kitchen.


3. Why don’t you try and exercise?


This is good advice. Exercise has strong antidepressant effects. However telling someone that they need to exercise is a little like telling someone their butt looks fat in those jeans. You need to hint at it, but not put it directly on the table, or else the person may very well take up kick-boxing and practice with you.


4. Shop at Whole Foods and you will feel better.


Why does this get me? Because 1) I don’t have the money to shop at Whole Foods, and 2) although I know that my diet affects my mood, and the more organic the better, I resent your telling me that my Frosted Flakes is what’s causing power outage in the left frontal lobe of my brain.


5. Meditation and yoga are all you need.


Correction: meditation and yoga may be all that people experiencing mild and moderate depression need. Both are important tools to reduce depression. However, acute anxiety and severe depression are different animals altogether. In fact, my suicidal thoughts worsened with yoga.


6. Get a new job.


Maybe the job is making your loved one depressed. Stress is never a good thing for our health, and especially our emotional health. It pours toxins into our bloodstream. But don’t encourage a major decision while the person is depressed. A balanced perspective is needed.


Read More …



Dutch Study Shows Cannabis Tied to Risk of Depression in Youth

By David McCracken, MA, LPC Managing News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 17, 2011

Young people who are genetically vulnerable to depression should be extra careful about smoking marijuana: A new study out of the Netherlands suggests cannabis use can lead to increased risk of developing depressive symptoms.

According to researcher Roy Otten at the Behavioural Science Institute of Radboud University Nijmegen, two-thirds of the population have the gene variant that makes one sensitive to depression.

Many young people use cannabis in the Netherlands, where adult residents can legally smoke cannabis in “coffee shops.” Nearly 30 percent of 16-year-olds indicate they have used cannabis on at least one occasion, and 12 percent that they have used it during the past month.

But besides hindering academic performance, recent studies have also found the use of cannabis increases the risk of developing schizophrenia and psychosis, particularly for those with a genetic predisposition to the disorders.

Smoking hashish and marijuana have been suspected to increase the risk of depression, but no conclusive evidence has been found. Otten said this is partly because earlier studies failed to consider individual genetic vulnerability to depression.

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Antidepressant-Induced Mania Similar to Bipolar Disorder

By Candace Czernicki Managing News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 13, 2011

Depressive patients with antidepressant-induced “manic switches” show similar clinical features as individuals with bipolar disorder, research shows.

The findings suggest that people who were previously diagnosed with clinical depression and who have these manic switches might be better classified and treated as actual bipolar patients.

Antidepressant medication can induce a “manic switch” in patients with depression, but manic-switch episodes are currently not considered bipolar disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV, the reference book used to classify and diagnose mental disorders.

Bipolar disorder is broken down into two major types — type I and type II. Type I is characterized by the presence of full-blown manic episodes, while Type 2 is characterized by less extreme manic episodes called hypomania. People with either type of bipolar disorder also experience at least one episode of clinical depression.

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Low GABA Levels Hinder Teens from Experiencing Pleasure

By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on October 8, 2011

Teens with anhedonia — a symptom of depression marked by an inability to experience pleasure — are found to have lower levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in a vital mood-regulating section of the brain, according to a NIMH-funded study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.  Anhedonia is found in up to 59 percent of depressed teens.

In young people, symptoms of depression can be highly varied and often overlap with symptoms of other disorders. This tends to make adolescent depression more difficult to study when using conventional research tools and methods.  However, by focusing on specific symptoms and using various kinds of measuring systems, researchers may be able to discover the pathways and processes underlying depression and other mental disorders.

Guided by research on adults, Vilma Gabbay, M.D., of New York University School of Medicine, and a team set out to focus on the neurotransmitter GABA, which plays a vital role throughout the body and is involved in regulating brain cell communication.

Abnormalities in GABA production or function in the brain have been linked to anhedonia and several other mental disorders, including schizophrenia, postpartum depression, and possibly learning disorders.

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