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June 2012



Recent Posts



Ketamine Relieves Bipolar Depression, Suicidal Thoughts in Less Than an Hour

By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on May 31, 2012

Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), led by Dr. Carlos Zarate, recently found that a single dose of ketamine could rapidly relieve depression in patients with bipolar disorder.

They have now replicated these results in a new study of depressed patients who also have bipolar disorder, this time “blinding” the study by giving some subjects a placebo. Replication is a vital part of the scientific method, as it helps ensure that the first results weren’t accidental.

Bipolar disorder is a serious and debilitating condition in which sufferers experience severe mood swings ranging from mania to depression. The time periods of low or high moods can last for days or months, and the risk of suicide is high.

Antidepressants are often prescribed for bipolar disorder, but they are not universally effective. Many patients continue to suffer through episodes of depression even while on medication, and many individuals must try several different types of antidepressants before finding one that is effective.

In addition, sometimes it takes several weeks before a patient begins to feel relief from the drug’s effects. Because of this, better treatments for depression are desperately needed.

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Was Freud Right About Depression and Guilt?

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 6, 2012

New brain imaging research suggests Sigmund Freud was correct that depression can result from exaggerated expressions of guilt and self-blame.

In a study, scientists have shown that the brains of people with depression respond differently to feelings of guilt – even after their symptoms have subsided.

Researchers found that the brain scans of people with a history of depression differed in the regions associated with guilt and knowledge of socially acceptable behavior from individuals who never get depressed.

The University of Manchester study is published in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry.

The hard evidence displayed by functional magnetic imaging (fMRI) is one of the first to show how the brain responds among people with a diagnosis of depression.

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Making Decisions When Depressed

John Folk-Williams Updated: Jun 1st 2012

I experience depression in various forms, yet each in its own way knocks out the decision control center in my mind. At times, I scramble in anxiety and can’t focus enough to pick out one among many possibilities. At other times, I don’t care about choosing – or anything else for that matter – and I let the alternatives fall where they may. Or I make all kinds of decisions, even life changing ones, but none of them seems like a choice. Each one is do-or-die. If I fail to do it, I’ll go right over the edge.

Varieties of Indecision

Depression isn’t one thing but a series of moods along a continuum from mild to severe. I used to move regularly with this perverse flow toward desperation. At the mild end, I might wake up knowing that something is wrong, feeling at once that everything is a bit off. I want and need to get a lot done, but I’ve lost my sense of where to begin and what’s most important. Then I get anxious.

There’s a steady snowfall of tasks, floating free of deadlines and priorities. I feel the anxiety and tension about getting them all done, so I pick one out of the air – yes, I’ve got to do that! Then I realize after a few minutes of continuing worry that I’ve got to do that other one in a hurry too. So I grab that and start working. And then another and another. It’s like picking snow flakes out of the air, each melting at once, a drop of moisture in my hand. I’ve got to get everything done, but I’m going crazy because I can’t grab hold of anything.

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Effectiveness of Telephone-Administered Vs. Face-To-Face Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression Compared

ScienceDaily (June 5, 2012) — Patients with major depression who received telephone-administered cognitive behavioral therapy (T-CBT) had lower rates of discontinuing treatment compared to patients who received face-to-face CBT, and telephone administered treatment was not inferior to face-to-face treatment in terms of improvement in symptoms by the end of treatment; however, at 6-month follow-up, patients receiving face-to-face CBT were less depressed than those receiving telephone administered CBT, according to a study in the June 6 issue of JAMA.

“Depression is common, with the 1-year prevalence rate of major depressive disorder estimated at between 6.6 percent and 10.3 percent in the general population and roughly 25 percent of all primary care visits involving patients with clinically significant levels of depression. Psychotherapy is effective at treating depression, and most primary care patients prefer psychotherapy to antidepressant medication. When referred for psychotherapy, however, only a small percentage of patients follow through.

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Post-Stroke Depression Linked to Functional Brain Impairment

ScienceDaily (June 5, 2012) — Researchers studying stroke patients have found a strong association between impairments in a network of the brain involved in emotional regulation and the severity of post-stroke depression. Results of the study are published online in the journal Radiology.

“A third of patients surviving a stroke experience post-stroke depression (PSD),” said lead researcher Igor Sibon, M.D., Ph.D., professor of neurology at the University of Bordeaux in Bordeaux, France. “However, studies have failed to identify a link between lesions in the brain caused by ischemia during a stroke and subsequent depression.”

Instead of looking for dysfunction in a specific area of the brain following a stroke, Dr. Sibon’s study was designed to assess a group of brain structures organized in a functional network called the default-mode network (DMN). Modifications of connectivity in the DMN, which is associated with internally generated thought processes, has been observed in depressive patients.

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Depression Treatment Can Prevent Adolescent Drug Abuse

ScienceDaily (June 4, 2012) — Treating adolescents for major depression can also reduce their chances of abusing drugs later on, a secondary benefit found in a five-year study of nearly 200 youths at 11 sites across the United States.

Only 10 percent of 192 adolescents whose depression receded after 12 weeks of treatment later abused drugs, compared to 25 percent of those for whom treatment did not work, according to research led by John Curry, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University.

“It turned out that whatever they responded to — cognitive behavioral therapy, Prozac, both treatments, or a placebo — if they did respond within 12 weeks they were less likely to develop a drug-use disorder,” Curry said.

The study found no such relationship when it came to thwarting alcohol abuse, however.

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Early Puberty Linked to Depression

By Traci Pedersen Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on June 4, 2012

Going through early puberty puts a child at greater risk for anxiety and depression later in adolescence, according to researchers at the University of Melbourne.

By studying magnetic resonance images of the brains of 155 adolescents (ages 12, 15, and 18), researchers discovered that participants who went through puberty earlier than their peers had a larger pituitary gland and were in turn more prone to depression in their later teen years.

The pituitary gland is the part of the brain that triggers puberty.

The lead researcher, Sarah Whittle, Ph.D., said the results indicate there may be a biological reason why children — especially girls — who go through early puberty are more likely to experience depression in young adulthood.

Previously, the ongoing theory suggested it was a largely social problem caused by being teased about early development.

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