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February 2013



Recent Posts



Taking Care of Yourself When You’re Depressed


Associate Editor


Self-care is often the last thing on your mind when you’re struggling with depression. It takes energy and “a sense that you want to be around tomorrow” to tend to your needs, said Therese Borchard, author of Beyond Blue: Surviving Depression & Anxiety and Making the Most of Bad Genes.


But the very nature of depression is draining. “A depressed person is exhausted, hopeless, and usually not all that concerned about the future.”


Deborah Serani, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist who’s experienced depression since childhood, described the fatigue as a “knuckle-dragging, heavy-limbed, bone-weary, energy-zapping exhaustion.” Depression also causes groggy and slow thinking, “which makes it hard to kick-start problem solving skills.”


But, as both experts stressed, self-care is a salve for depression.


According to Serani, author of the book Living with Depression, “tend[ing] to your mind, body and soul is vital for healing depression or any illness for that matter.” Self-care “shortens the time between relapses. In fact, it makes relapsing less likely,” Borchard said.


Self-care gives you the strength and the foundation to start applying the necessary tools to treat your depression, Serani said.


These are several simple but meaningful ways you can practice self-care, even when that’s the last thing you want to – or can – do.


Read More …


Scopolamine flower

Psychiatric Applications For Scopolamine


Article Date: 15 Feb 2013 – 0:00 PST


Scopolamine is an anticholinergic drug with many uses. For example, it prevents nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness. 


However, scopolamine is re-emerging as anantidepressant, with recent studies showing that scopolamine can rapidly improve mood in depressed patients. In addition, in a new study published in Biological Psychiatry this month by Dr. Moriel Zelikowsky and colleagues at the University of California, Los Angeles, it may also be a possible treatment for anxiety disorders. 


Exposure therapy, where the key goal is the elimination of fear through repeated ‘safe’ exposure to the threat, is commonly employed for the treatment of anxiety disorders. However, its effectiveness is diminished because humans and animals alike tend to be very sensitive to context, causing extinction learning to be dependent on the environment in which it occurs. This makes memories formed during extinction unstable. As a result, extinguished fears commonly return when people put themselves in new situations.


Read in Full:


Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation: A New Electrical Treatment for Depression?




When electricity and the brain are mentioned in the same sentence, your mind might immediately jump to disturbing images of people receiving huge shocks while covered in electrodes, strapped to tables.


But electroconvulsive therapy(ECT) treatment has developed considerably since the days depicted in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”  A current study at JAMA Psychiatryexamines a treatment called transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS).


Could this fairly new form of electrical treatment for depressionreally be effective — and without the negative side effects of ECT?


This new treatment, which involves stimulating the brain with a weak electrical current, is starting to be considered as an alternative — and potentially effective — treatment for depression.  tDCS, unlike traditional ECT, passes only a weak electrical current into the front of the brain through electrodes on the scalp.


Patients receive the treatment once a day for 30 minutes and remain awake and alert during the entire procedure.


Why is New Treatment for Depression So Essential?


Depression in adulthood remains a common and often under-treated condition.


Depression can occur at any age, but it typically emerges in the mid-20s. Women experience depression twice as frequently as men, and symptoms can vary from mild to severe. Major depressive disorder, which may be diagnosed when depressive symptoms last for 2 weeks or more, is understood to occur in 15 to 17 percent of the population.


Read in Full:


Diabetes + Depression = Increased Risk of Death, Review Finds


Feb. 20, 2013 — People living with diabetes who also have untreated depression are at increased risk of death, according to a new evidence review in General Hospital Psychiatry.


More than 42,000 patients with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and depression were analyzed in the review. The reviewers discovered that depression was associated with a 1.5 fold increase in the risk of dying. In four of the studies reviewed, co-morbid depression was linked to about a 20 percent higher risk of cardiovascular death for people with diabetes.


Diabetes affects 25.8 million people in the U.S., according to the 2011 National Diabetes Fact Sheet, and about 30 percent of these people also experience symptoms of depression.


Read in Full:


Recalling Good Times May Reduce Depression


By  Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 26, 2013

A new strategy to improve mood may help people who suffer from depression. The approach calls on the recollection of positive day-to-day experiences.


Researchers have learned that remembering or recalling concrete, detailed memories that are positive or self-affirming can help to improve the mood of people with a history of depression.


Unfortunately, it’s this kind of vivid memory for everyday events that seems to be dampened for people who suffer from depression.


In the new study, Tim Dalgleish, Ph.D., of the Medical Research Council Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit and colleagues hypothesized that a well-known method used to enhance memory — known as the “method-of-loci” strategy — might help depressed patients to recall positive memories with greater ease.


Read in Full:


Untreated Depression Linked to Less Effectiveness of Shingles Vaccine


By  Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 17, 2013

A new study has found a link between untreated depression in older adults and decreased effectiveness of the herpes zoster, or shingles, vaccine.


Older adults are known to be at risk for shingles, a painful condition caused by the reactivation of the varicella-zoster virus, researchers said, noting more than 1 million new cases occur each year in the U.S. The vaccine boosts immunity to the virus and can decrease the incidence and severity of the condition.


In a two-year study, led by Dr. Michael Irwin at the University of California-Los Angeles, researchers measured the immune responses to the shingles vaccination among 40 subjects aged 60 or older with a major depressive disorder and compared their responses to similar levels in 52 control patients matched by age and gender. Measurements were taken at baseline, then at six weeks, one year, and two years after the patients received the shingles vaccine or a placebo.


Read in Full:



Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Feb 15th 2013


There is a natural tendency to think of abuse as physical or verbal violence against another person, either a child, wife or husband. Generally, most people think in terms of violence against women. Yet, there is another type of abuse that might be considered violence even though it is somewhat different. Specifically, I am referring to “reproductive coercion.” Reproductive coercion comes in many forms. Sometimes a man will poke holes in a condom unbeknownst to his lover, resulting in pregnancy. Sometimes the lover will use violence or the threat of violence to force his partner into pregnancy. There have even been cases in which the man pulls the IUD out of the woman’s vagina before having unprotected sex. By the way, this is certainly a violent and dangerous thing to do. Sometimes, reproductive coercion involves pressuring a lover into having a baby they do not wish to have. In fact, in all of these cases, the lover is very specific in not wanting a child. One of the motivations for doing this is to keep a relationship going by having a baby. In other words, it’s a kind of entrapment whereby the presence of a baby allows a lover to keep control over his partner. This can and does result in multiple pregnancies. The fact is that, by sabotaging birth control, not only is pregnancy being forced upon a woman, but she is exposed to the possibility of sexually transmitted disease. In effect, reproductive coercion is an example of violence against women.

Read in Full:
Article Date: 17 Feb 2013 – 0:00 PST


An interdisciplinary team of researchers from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the University of Houston has found a new way to influence the vital serotonin signaling system – possibly leading to more effective medications with fewer side effects. 


Scientists have linked malfunctions in serotonin signaling to a wide range of health issues, everything from depression and addictions to epilepsy and obesity and eating disorders. Much of their attention has focused on complex proteins called serotonin receptors, which are located in the cell membrane. Each receptor has a so-called “active site” specially suited to bond with a serotonin molecule; when that bond is formed, the receptor changes shape, transmitting a signal to the cell’s interior.


Read in Full:


Abstinence Can Lift Drinking-Induced Depression


By  Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 13, 2013

A new study clarifies that heavy drinking can lead to mood problems that often result in depression.
Although experts have long known that heavy drinking can spur temporary episodes of depression — what’s known as “substance-induced depression” — the new research shows the prevalence and clinical importance of the phenomenon.
The study is found in the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
“I don’t know that the average person realizes that heavy drinking can induce mood problems,” said lead researcher Marc A. Schuckit, M.D., of the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine.

Read in Full:

Avatars Reduce Depression Rates in Young Adults


By  Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 12, 2013

Mental health problems in young adulthood are often ignored or neglected, a function of reluctance to seek treatment because of the stigma, inadequate insurance coverage, or a difficulty in finding a mental health care provider.


New research at Case Western Reserve University suggests depression symptoms may be significantly reduced when 18- to 25-year-olds interact with computerized avatars.


The avatars are virtual 3D images of a healthcare provider like a nurse practitioner or physician. The interaction provides young adults a way to rehearse office visits ahead of time and learn self-management skills.

Read in Full:

Yoga Helps Relieve Depression, Sleep Problems


By  Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on January 26, 2013

Practicing yoga may help relieve the symptoms of several types of mental disorders, according to a new review.
Researchers compiled the findings of 16 significant studies that examined the effects of yoga on mental illness. 
The results conclude that yoga may offer positive effects for people withdepression and sleep problems even if they don’t take medication, as well as for individuals with schizophreniaand attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who are taking medication.
No benefit was found, however, for people with eating or cognitive disorders.
Yoga research has suggested that the practice positively influences chemical messengers in the brain, inflammation in the body, and other biological factors in much the same way as antidepressants andpsychotherapy, said study researcher Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University Medical Center.

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