Chapter 16. Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders

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By DOUGLAS QUENQUA In the days after his son was born, Rob Sandler found the thrill of becoming a new father replaced with dark feelings of dread and hopelessness. Those feelings, coupled with sleep deprivation and stress, culminated in a panic attack during his son’s bris. As a group of old friends was saying goodbye after the ceremony, “I had this feeling that they were leaving and I was stuck in this situation that would never get any better,” said Mr. Sandler, a marketing executive in Dallas. “I just felt trapped.” What followed was months of sadness, anxiety and — perhaps most worrisome of all — a feeling of acute disappointment in his own ability to be a good parent. In recent years, a growing body of research, and the increasing visibility of dads like Mr. Sandler, has given rise to the idea that you don’t have to give birth to develop postpartum depression, the so-called “baby blues.” Studies suggest that the phenomenon may occur in from 7 percent to 10 percent of new fathers, compared to about 12 percent of new mothers, and that depressed dads were more likely to spank their children and less likely to read to them. Now, a University of Southern California study has found a link between depression and sagging testosterone levels in new dads, adding physiological weight to the argument that postpartum depression isn’t just for women anymore. The study also found that while high testosterone levels in new dads helped protect against depression in fathers, it correlated with an increased risk of depression in new moms. “We know men get postpartum depression, and we know testosterone drops in new dads, but we don’t know why,” said Darby Saxbe, a professor of psychology at U.S.C. and an author of the new report. “It’s often been suggested hormones underlie some of the postpartum depression in moms, but there’s been so much less attention paid to fathers. We were trying to put together the pieces to solve this puzzle.” © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Depression; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24203 - Posted: 10.17.2017

By HEATHER MURPHY Can a fish be depressed? This question has been floating around my head ever since I spent a night in a hotel across from an excruciatingly sad-looking Siamese fighting fish. His name was Bruce Lee, according to a sign beneath his little bowl. There we were trying to enjoy a complimentary bloody mary on the last day of our honeymoon and there was Bruce Lee, totally still, his lower fin grazing the clear faux rocks on the bottom of his home. When he did finally move, just slightly, I got the sense that he would prefer to be dead. The pleasant woman at the front desk assured me that he was well taken care of. Was I simply anthropomorphizing Bruce Lee, incorrectly assuming his lethargy was a sign of mental distress? When I sought answers from scientists, I assumed that they would find the question preposterous. But they did not. Not at all. It turns out that not only can our gilled friends become depressed, but some scientists consider fish to be a promising animal model for developing anti-depressants. New research, I would learn, has been radically shifting the way that scientists think about fish cognition, building a case that pet and owner are not nearly as different as many assume. “The neurochemistry is so similar that it’s scary,” said Julian Pittman, a professor at the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at Troy University in Alabama, where he is working to develop new medications to treat depression, with the help of tiny zebrafish. We tend to think of them as simple organisms, “but there is a lot we don’t give fish credit for.” Dr. Pittman likes working with fish, in part, because they are so obvious about their depression. He can reliably test the effectiveness of antidepressants with something called the “novel tank test.” A zebrafish gets dropped in a new tank. If after five minutes it is hanging out in the lower half, it’s depressed. If it’s swimming up top — its usual inclination when exploring a new environment — then it’s not. In Dr. Pittman’s lab, researchers induce depression in a fish by keeping it drunk on ethanol for two weeks, then cutting off the supply, forcing it into withdrawal. This here is a depressed fish. Both clips, which represent a small segment of the five minute tank test, were extracted at comparable speeds. Troy University © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Depression; Evolution
Link ID: 24201 - Posted: 10.17.2017

By James Gallagher Health and science reporter, BBC News website A hallucinogen found in magic mushrooms can "reset" the brains of people with untreatable depression, raising hopes of a future treatment, scans suggest. The small study gave 19 patients a single dose of the psychedelic ingredient psilocybin. Half of patients ceased to be depressed and experienced changes in their brain activity that lasted about five weeks. However, the team at Imperial College London says people should not self-medicate. There has been a series of small studies suggesting psilocybin could have a role in depression by acting as a "lubricant for the mind" that allows people to escape a cycle of depressive symptoms. But the precise impact it might be having on brain activity was not known. Image copyright Getty Images The team at Imperial performed fMRI brain scans before treatment with psilocybin and then the day after (when the patients were "sober" again). The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, showed psilocybin affected two key areas of the brain. The amygdala - which is heavily involved in how we process emotions such as fear and anxiety - became less active. The greater the reduction, the greater the improvement in reported symptoms. The default-mode network - a collaboration of different brain regions - became more stable after taking psilocybin. Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial, said the depressed brain was being "clammed up" and the psychedelic experience "reset" it. He told the BBC News website: "Patients were very ready to use this analogy. Without any priming they would say, 'I've been reset, reborn, rebooted', and one patient said his brain had been defragged and cleaned up." © 2017 BBC

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24195 - Posted: 10.16.2017

Haroon Siddique Magic mushrooms may effectively “reset” the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression, the latest study to highlight the therapeutic benefits of psychadelics suggests. Psychadelics have shown promising results in the treatment of depression and addictions in a number of clinical trials over the last decade. Imperial College London researchers used psilocybin – the psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in magic mushrooms – to treat a small number of patients with depression, monitoring their brain function, before and after. Images of patients’ brains revealed changes in brain activity that were associated with marked and lasting reductions in depressive symptoms and participants in the trial reported benefits lasting up to five weeks after treatment. Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, head of psychedelic research at Imperial, who led the study, said: “We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments. “Several of our patients described feeling ‘reset’ after the treatment and often used computer analogies. For example, one said he felt like his brain had been ‘defragged’ like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt ‘rebooted’. “Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary ‘kick start’ they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a ‘reset’ analogy. Similar brain effects to these have been seen with electroconvulsive therapy.” © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24189 - Posted: 10.13.2017

By Simon Makin About 10 years ago David Adam scratched his finger on a barbed wire fence. The cut was shallow, but drew blood. As a science journalist and author of The Man Who Couldn't Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought, a book about his own struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, Adam had a good idea of what was in store. His OCD involved an obsessive fear of contracting HIV and produced a set of compulsive behaviors revolving around blood. In this instance he hurried home to get some tissue and returned to check there was not already any blood on the barbed-wire. “I looked and saw there was no blood on the tissue, looked underneath the fence, saw there was no blood, turned to walk away, and had to do it all again, and again and again,” he says. “You get stuck in this horrific cycle, where all the evidence you use to form judgments in everyday life tells you there’s no blood. And if anyone asked, you’d say ‘no.’ Yet, when you ask yourself, you say ‘maybe.’” Such compulsive behaviors, and the obsessions to which they are typically linked are what define OCD. Far from merely excessive tidiness, the mental disorder can have a devastating impact on a person’s life. Adam's story illustrates a curious feature of the condition. Sufferers are usually well aware their behavior is irrational but cannot stop themselves from doing whatever it is they feel compelled to do. Advertisement A new study published September 28 in Neuron uses mathematical modeling of decision-making during a simple game to provide insight into what might be going on. The game looked at a critical aspect of the way we perceive the world. Normally, a person's confidence about their knowledge of the surrounding environment guides their actions. “If I think it’s going to rain, I'm going to take an umbrella,” says lead author Matilde Vaghi. The study shows this link between belief and action is broken to some extent in people with OCD. As a consequence, what they do conflicts with what they know. This insight suggests compulsive behaviors are a core feature rather than merely a consequence of obsessions or a result of inaccurate beliefs. © 2017 Scientific America

Keyword: OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Link ID: 24150 - Posted: 10.05.2017

David Dobbs By the time Nev Jones entered DePaul University's esteemed doctoral program in philosophy, she had aced virtually every course she ever took, studied five languages and become proficient in three, and seemed to have read and memorized pretty much everything. Small and slightly built, with a commanding presence that emerged when she talked, she was the sort of student that sharp teachers quickly notice and long remember: intellectually voracious, relentlessly curious, endlessly capable, and, as one of her high school teachers put it, "magnificently intense." Her mind drew on a well-stocked, seemingly flawless memory with a probing, synthesizing intelligence. With astounding frequency she produced what one doctoral classmate called "genius-level reflections." So Jones grew alarmed when, soon after starting at DePaul in the fall of 2007, at age 27, she began having trouble retaining things she had just read. She also struggled to memorize the new characters she was learning in her advanced Chinese class. She had experienced milder versions of these cognitive and memory blips a couple times before, most recently as she’d finished her undergraduate studies earlier that year. These new mental glitches were worse. She would study and draw the new logograms one night, then come up short when she tried to draw them again the next morning. These failures felt vaguely neurological. As if her synapses had clogged. She initially blamed them on the sleepless, near-manic excitement of finally being where she wanted to be. She had wished for exactly this, serious philosophy and nothing but, for half her life. Now her mind seemed to be failing. Words started to look strange. She began experiencing "inarticulable atmospheric changes," as she put it—not hallucinations, really, but alterations of temporality, spatiality, depth perception, kinesthetics. Shimmerings in reality's fabric. Sidewalks would feel soft and porous. Audio and visual input would fall out of sync, creating a lag between the movement of a speaker's lips and the words' arrival at Jones' ears. Something was off. © 2017 The Social Justice Foundation

Keyword: Schizophrenia
Link ID: 24148 - Posted: 10.05.2017

By JAIME LOWE WHEN I was 16, I was admitted to U.C.L.A.’s neuropsychiatric institute. I’d been suffering from increasing paranoia (I thought war was imminent; I thought I would be called into battle) and lack of sleep (I paced our staircase into the early hours of morning). Most profoundly, I thought my parents were actually secret agents, wearing masks, sent to monitor my behavior. My hallucinations encompassed a wide range of cultural references — Michael Jackson, the Muppets, the Night Stalker, Bob from “Twin Peaks” and the clown from “It.” My parents told the doctors at U.C.L.A. that my behavior had been erratic for two months — I was obsessing over odd things, I wasn’t eating and I was convinced that the end of the world was on its way. In short, I was manic. I was hospitalized for almost a month, and I left the institute with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. My cure came in the form of three pink pills: 900 milligrams of lithium. It worked when I was on it. But a few years ago, my general practitioner had discovered heart-attack-level blood pressure and high creatinine measures — side effects that I couldn’t feel but were serious enough to warrant a visit to the E.R. As a result of my taking lithium, my kidneys were breaking down — I basically had a 60-year-old’s kidneys in my 37-year-old body. I was given a choice: I could stay on the lithium and get a kidney transplant eventually, or I could switch medication and risk having mania return. I chose to try a new medication. No drug could ever be as cool as lithium, a mysterious element that was present during the Big Bang and lingers throughout the galaxy as primordial stardust. Lithium has a medicinal history that dates to the Greeks and Romans, yet no doctor or researcher knows exactly how or why it works. It just does. It’s on the periodic table of elements, unpatentable and therefore cheap. Depakote, a drug officially approved for bipolar patients in the United States in the mid-1990s, has none of this cachet, and yet it’s known to be as effective as lithium in bipolar cases like mine. So my psychiatrist prescribed it to replace my pink pills. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Schizophrenia
Link ID: 24141 - Posted: 10.03.2017

/ By Shayla Love Just after lunchtime, on a blistering summer day in Washington D.C., cultural psychologist Yulia Chentsova-Dutton is showing me the stars. They’re on her computer screen at Georgetown University, and labelled disturbingly: insomnia, anhedonia, headache, social withdrawal, chronic pain, and more. Each star represents a somatic or emotional sensation linked to depression. “There’s the way people express depression … and then there’s what Chinese people do.” Chentsova-Dutton’s father was an astronomer. She’s found a way to use what he studied, the night sky, to understand her own research: how culture can influence the way we feel and express emotion. If you look up, there are thousands of stars, she says. You can’t possibly take them all in. So, each culture has invented schemas to remember them by, constellations. She pushes a button, and several of the depression stars are connected by a thin yellow line. “This is depression according the DSM,” she says, referring to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. “This,” she says, pushing another button, “is a Chinese model of depression.” The constellation changes, morphing into a different shape. New stars pop up, most having to do with the body: dizziness, fatigue, loss of energy. Chentsova-Dutton and her colleagues have been comparing these two constellations — of Chinese and Western emotion — for years, trying to explain a long-standing assumption about Chinese culture. Since the 1980s, cultural psychologists had been finding that, in a variety of empirically demonstrable ways, Chinese people tend to express their feelings, particularly psychological distress, through their bodies — a process known as somatization. Copyright 2017 Undark

Keyword: Emotions; Depression
Link ID: 24140 - Posted: 10.03.2017

Juli Fraga Becoming a mother is often portrayed as a magical and glorious life event. But many women don't feel joyful after giving birth. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, almost 15 percent of moms suffer from a postpartum mood disorder like anxiety or depression, making maternal mental health concerns the most common complication of childbirth in the U.S. And even though these mental illnesses affect millions of women each year, new research shows 20 percent of mothers don't disclose their symptoms to healthcare providers. "Many women feel hesitant discussing their emotional difficulties, especially when they're experiencing symptoms of postpartum depression and anxiety," says Sarah Checcone, founder and director of The Postpartum Society of Florida. The Sarasota-based non-profit organization is testing out a new way to support struggling mothers and their families by offering a mother-to-mother mentorship program known as SISTER (Self-Image Support Team and Emotional Resource). Volunteers are mothers who've recovered from a maternal mental illness, as well as those impacted by a friend or family member's postpartum challenges. Sister moms seek to build community, creating a safe space. And that just might help women to open up about their difficulties. "Many women falsely believe that admitting they're anxious or depressed is the same as admitting weakness. They may even fear that speaking about their feelings may make them more real. We need to do a better job explaining to patients that anxiety and depression have nothing to do with being a 'bad mom,' " says Dr. Alexandra Sacks, a psychiatrist in New York City, specializing in maternal mental health and reproductive psychiatry. © 2017 npr

Keyword: Depression; Sexual Behavior
Link ID: 24126 - Posted: 09.30.2017

By Amanda Onion Belly fat can be deadly, and is linked to a host of chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes. But as many of us probably know, it can be hard to lose weight in this area. Now it seems that inflammation of immune cells may be to blame, and we may be able to use drugs to help us burn off our belly flab. Christina Cammel, of the Yale School of Medicine, and her colleagues have been investigating macrophages – immune cells that normally track down and gobble up pathogens in the body. But as we age, there’s evidence that the macrophages in belly fat become inflamed. To see what effect this might have, Cammel’s team isolated macrophages from the fat tissue of young and old mice, and sequenced the DNA from these cells. They found that the genomes of the aged macrophages expressed more genes that hinder a group of molecules that spread signals between nerve cells, called catecholamines. The genes do this by activating an enzyme that suppresses these neurotransmitters. The boosted activity of this enzyme in aged immune cells in the belly fat of older mice effectively block signals telling the body that there is fat there that is available to burn for energy. “We found [that] macrophages in belly fat interfere with signals in a way that’s new to us,” says Cammel. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Obesity; Depression
Link ID: 24120 - Posted: 09.28.2017

By ERICA CROMPTON I’ve been fired more times than I care to admit. I have even more resignation letters to my name. Work and paranoid schizophrenia aren’t exactly a recipe for success. At one job I had, on the ground floor of a city office, there were bars on the windows. The bars were no doubt put in for security reasons, like all the other shops and offices on the street. But I grew increasingly convinced that they were placed there just for me as part of a grand conspiracy. I have always felt that people are setting me up for heinous crimes or that I’ve committed one that I can’t remember and that the police are spying on me to gather evidence. With the windows I felt they’d been fitted by a stranger who knew of me, sometime before I started work, to send me the message that I would soon “be behind bars.” Seeing a policeman on the street outside the office or hearing a helicopter fly by would set my heart racing. I was convinced they’d finally come for me. I didn’t last long in that office. The sedative effects of my medications also mean I often oversleep and get into the office late. Really late. Sometimes 90 minutes late. The head of my department at another job I had didn’t seem to mind, as I always made the time up in the evening. But colleagues did mind, others in the office told me, including the girl who sat next to me. Back then, I wasn’t open about having schizophrenia. I didn’t want to stigmatize myself by giving reasons for my tardiness. So I assume people just thought I was lazy. Far too often, I would regard an off-the-cuff remark by a work colleague, a roll of the eyes when I offered an idea at a meeting, or a sigh when I arrived late, as aggressive and threatening, an insult directed toward me. © 2017 The New York Times Company

Keyword: Schizophrenia
Link ID: 24113 - Posted: 09.26.2017

By Nathaniel Morris If you were at risk for developing depression, would you take a pill to prevent it? For years, physicians have prescribed antidepressants to treat people grappling with depression. Some people can benefit from taking these medications during an acute episode. Others with a history of recurrent depression may take antidepressants to help prevent relapses. But researchers are studying a new use for these medications: to prevent depression in people who may have never had it before. It has long been known that people with head and neck cancer are vulnerable to becoming depressed. These types of cancers can impair functionality at the most basic levels, like speaking or swallowing. Treatments, such as surgery and radiation, for these diseases can be debilitating. Some studies have estimated that up to half of patients with head and neck cancers may experience depression. A group of researchers in Nebraska examined what would happen if non-depressed patients were given antidepressants before receiving treatment for head and neck cancer. Published in 2013, the results of the randomized, placebo-controlled trial were startling: Patients taking an antidepressant were 60 percent less likely to experience depression compared with peers who were given a placebo. In medicine, this approach is often referred to as prophylaxis, or a treatment used to prevent disease. © 1996-2017 The Washington Post

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 24071 - Posted: 09.18.2017

Allison Aubrey Earlier this year, when Emily Chodos was about 25 weeks into her pregnancy, she woke up one night feeling horrible. "My hands were tremoring, my heart racing, " recalls Chodos, who lives near New Haven, Conn. She couldn't take a deep breath. "I'd never felt so out of control of my body." She ended up paging her obstetrician's office at 4 a.m., and one of the midwives in the practice, after listening to her symptoms, said, "It sounds like you're having a panic attack." Chodos was advised to take an antianxiety medication — Xanax. "I was afraid to take it, as a pregnant woman," Chodos says. But she was miserable, so eventually decided to take the medicine that night. Chodos, who is a nurse, knew that there are concerns about drugs like Xanax and other medications its class— benzodiazepines. Studies completed decades ago suggested a risk of birth defects from these drugs, but data from more recent studies have shown no clear evidence of an increase. There are remaining questions, researchers say, about whether prenatal exposure to the drugs can influence behavior. "I felt very trapped," Chodos says. It felt as if there was probably no safe medication — "that I'd probably just have to suffer and feel awful." At her doctor's suggestion, Chodos went to see Dr. Kimberly Yonkers, a psychiatrist and professor at Yale University. Yonkers has been studying the effects of benzodiazepines and SSRI antidepressants on the pregnancies of women who have anxiety, depression or panic disorders. Yonkers told us she understands why women can feel torn about using these drugs when they're expecting.

Keyword: Depression; Development of the Brain
Link ID: 24070 - Posted: 09.18.2017

By Nathaniel P. Morris A growing trend in medicine has doctors prescribing visits to parks for their patients. A pediatrician named Robert Zarr at Unity Health Care in Washington, D.C., has worked with the National Park Service and other institutions to create DC Park Rx, an initiative that helps health care providers prescribe activity in outdoor spaces to patients. And National Geographic recently highlighted the rise of this practice in Vermont, where doctors are now prescribing thousands of visits to state parks. In the last several years park prescription programs have spread nationwide, from Maine to California, South Dakota to New Mexico. Proponents of these programs promote outdoor activity as a means of tackling chronic medical conditions like obesity, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. But park prescriptions also hold considerable promise for patients suffering from mental health issues. A large body of evidence suggests that exposure to nature may promote mental well-being. A 2010 meta-analysis of 10 studies including over 1,200 participants found people who exercised in green environments demonstrated significant improvements in mood and self-esteem. A 2011 systematic review looked at 11 trials that compared indoor and outdoor activity, finding that exercise in natural settings was “associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement, decreases in tension, confusion, anger and depression, and increased energy.” Another recent review of studies found activity in natural environments correlated with reductions in negative emotions like sadness, anger and fatigue. © 2017 Scientific American,

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 24065 - Posted: 09.15.2017

By Diana Kwon Lying in a room at Imperial College London, surrounded by low lighting and music, Kirk experienced a vivid recollection of visiting his sick mother before she passed away. “I used to go and see my mum in the hospital quite a lot,” recalls Kirk, a middle-aged computer technician who lives in London (he requested we use only his first name). “And a lot of the time she’d be asleep . . . [but] she’d always sense I was there, and after about five minutes she’d wake up, and we’d interact. I kind of went through that again—but it was a kind of letting go.” Kirk choked up slightly while retelling his experience. “It’s still a little bit emotional,” he says. “The thing I realized [was that] I didn’t want to let go. I wanted to hold on to the grief, because that was the only connection I had with my mum.” While this may sound like an ordinary therapy session, it was not what you would typically expect. Kirk was experiencing the effects of a 25-mg dose of psilocybin—the active ingredient in psychedelic “magic” mushrooms—which he had ingested as part of a 2015 clinical trial investigating the drug’s therapeutic potential. After his mother died, Kirk says, he fell into a “deep, dark pit of grief.” Despite antidepressants and regular sessions with a therapist, his condition was not improving. “I was stuck in it for years,” he recalls. So when he heard Imperial College London was recruiting participants for an upcoming trial studying the impact of psilocybin on depression, Kirk decided to sign up. © 1986-2017 The Scientist

Keyword: Depression; Drug Abuse
Link ID: 24064 - Posted: 09.14.2017

Laura Sanders Words can’t describe the pandemonium that follows a child’s birth, but I’ll try anyway. After my first daughter was born, I felt like a giant had picked up my life, shaken it hard, martini-style, and returned it to the ground. The familiar objects in my life were all still there, but nothing seemed to be the same. The day we came home from the hospital as a family of three, my husband and I plunged headfirst into profound elation and profound exhaustion, often changing by the minute. We worried. We snipped at each other. We marveled at this new, beautiful person. The experience, as new parents the world over know, was intense. The first week home, my body took a bruising. I was recovering from the wildness that is childbirth. I was insanely thirsty and hungry. I was struggling to both breastfeed and pump every two hours, in an effort to boost my milk supply. And against this backdrop, my levels of estrogen and progesterone, after climbing to great heights during pregnancy, had fallen off a cliff. Massive reconfigurations were taking place, both in life and in my body. And at times, I felt like the whole thing could go south at any point. After talking to other new mothers, I now realize that almost everyone has a version of this same story. Childbirth and caring for a newborn is really, really hard, in many different ways. © Society for Science and the Public

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 24063 - Posted: 09.14.2017

Sarah Knapton, Science Editor Depression could be treated using anti-inflammatory drugs, scientists now believe, after determining that it is a physical illness caused by a faulty immune system. Around one in 13 people in Britain suffers from anxiety or depression and last year the NHS issued 64.7 million prescriptions for antidepressants, double the amount given out a decade ago. Current treatment is largely centred around restoring mood-boosting chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, but experts now think an overactive immune system triggers inflammation throughout the entire body, sparking feelings of hopelessness, unhappiness and fatigue. It may be a symptom of the immune system failing to switch off after a trauma or illness, and is a similar to the low mood people often experience when they are fighting a virus, like flu. A raft of recent papers, and unexpected results from clinical trials, have shown that treating inflammation seems to alleviate depression. Likewise when doctors give drugs to boost the immune system to fight illness it is often accompanied by depressive mood - in the same way as how many people feel down after a vaccination. Professor Ed Bullmore, Head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cambridge, believes a new field of ‘immuno-neurology’ is on the horizon. © Telegraph Media Group Limited 2017

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 24055 - Posted: 09.11.2017

Nicola Davis A pioneering approach to tackling a host of diseases using an electrical implant could eventually reduce or even end pill-taking for some patients, researchers have claimed. The technology relies on electrical stimulation of the vagus nerve – a bundle of nerve fibres that runs from the brain to the abdomen, branching off to organs including the heart, spleen, lungs and gut, and which relays signals from the body’s organs to the brain and vice versa. The pacemaker-like device is typically implanted below the left collarbone with wires running to the vagus nerve in the neck and is already used to tackle treatment-resistant epilepsy and depression. But a growing body of researchers say that such “hacking” of the body’s neural circuits could alleviate the symptoms of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease by tapping into a recently discovered link between the brain and the immune system. That, they say, could bring hope for those with currently untreatable conditions while raising the possibility for others of dramatically reducing medication, or even cutting it out altogether. “In your lifetime and mine we are going to see millions of people with devices so they don’t have to take drugs,” said Kevin Tracey, president of the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research and co-founder of bioelectronics company, SetPoint Medical.

Keyword: Stress; Depression
Link ID: 24051 - Posted: 09.09.2017

By Andy Coghlan A type of therapy originally designed for insomnia has been found to also help a range of mental health issues, including negative thoughts, anxiety, depression and psychosis. Daniel Freeman, at the University of Oxford, and his colleagues have been testing Sleepio, a type of cognitive behavioural therapy available online. The ten-week course is intended to restore healthy sleep patterns in people with insomnia, and Freeman wanted to see if it could also relieve other problems. Learn more about the science of sleep: In our expert talk at New Scientist Live in London His team asked nearly 1900 students who have difficulty sleeping to try using Sleepio, and nearly 1870 others to try following standard advice for insomnia. Both groups filled in questionnaires beforehand that assessed their sleep patterns, as well as tendencies to experience paranoia and hallucinations. They repeated these questionnaires at three, ten and 22 weeks into the experiment. Overall, those using Sleepio slept 50 per cent better than the control group, says Freeman. Compared to this group, the Sleepio users also had a 30 per cent reduction in hallucinations, 25 per cent reduction in paranoia, and their anxiety and depression levels were 20 per cent lower. © Copyright New Scientist Ltd.

Keyword: Sleep; Depression
Link ID: 24044 - Posted: 09.07.2017

By Susan Noakes, CBC News Researchers studying fish from the Niagara River have found that human antidepressants and remnants of these drugs are building up in their brains. The concentration of human drugs was discovered by scientists from University at Buffalo, Buffalo State and two Thai universities, Ramkhamhaeng University and Khon Kaen University. Active ingredients and metabolized remnants of Zoloft, Celexa, Prozac and Sarafem — drugs that have seen a sharp spike in prescriptions in North America — were found in 10 fish species. Diana Aga, professor of chemistry at University at Buffalo, says these drugs are found in human urine and are not stripped out by wastewater treatment. Could affect fish behaviour "It is a threat to biodiversity, and we should be very concerned," Aga said in a release from the university. Fish in the Niagara River show concentrations of antidepressants in their brains higher than levels in the river itself. (David Duprey/The Associated Press) "These drugs could affect fish behaviour. We didn't look at behaviour in our study, but other research teams have shown that antidepressants can affect the feeding behaviour of fish or their survival instincts. Some fish won't acknowledge the presence of predators as much." The Niagara River, which carries water from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario, is already under stress, with reports this summer of untreated wastewater released into the river. The research, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, found levels of antidepressants in fish brains that were several times higher than levels in the river itself, indicating that the chemicals are accumulating over time. ©2017 CBC/Radio-Canada.

Keyword: Depression
Link ID: 24036 - Posted: 09.05.2017