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Sara Reardon A form of the hallucinogenic party drug ketamine has cleared one of the final hurdles toward clinical use as an antidepressant. At a 12 February meeting at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in Silver Spring, Maryland, an independent advisory panel voted 14-2 in favour of recommending a compound known as esketamine for use in treating depression. If the FDA approves the drug, it could buoy the chances of other ketamine-inspired treatments currently under development. But questions remain about esketamine’s overall effectiveness at lifting mood and its potential to be abused. Mental health researchers rejoiced at the news. “I’m still a little bit in shock,” says James Murrough, a psychiatrist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.If approved, esketamine would be the first truly novel antidepressant to enter the market in several decades. “If this comes to pass, we’ll have done what people have been quick to point out hasn’t been done since the original discovery of antidepressants.” The FDA is expected to make a decision on esketamine by 4 March. Researchers discovered ketamine’s antidepressant properties in the early 2000s. It’s unclear how ketamine, which is a mixture of two molecules that are mirror images of each other, works in the brain. But scientists do know that it acts extremely quickly to alleviate symptoms of depression — in a matter of hours as opposed to weeks — and in a very different way than other drugs approved to treat depression. © 2019 Springer Nature Publishing AG

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25960 - Posted: 02.13.2019

By Pam Belluck For the first time, a national health panel has recommended a way to prevent depression during and after pregnancy. This condition, known as perinatal depression, affects up to one in seven women and is considered the most common complication of pregnancy. The panel, the United States Preventive Services Task Force, said two types of counseling can help keep symptoms at bay. Its recommendation means that under the Affordable Care Act, such counseling must be covered by insurance with no co-payment. Here’s a guide to what to look for and how to get help. What is perinatal depression and what are the signs that you or a loved one might be experiencing it? Perinatal depression can occur during pregnancy or any time within a year after childbirth. As defined by the panel, it can involve major or minor depressive symptoms that last for at least two weeks, including loss of energy or concentration, changes in sleeping and eating patterns, feelings of worthlessness or suicidal thoughts. It’s not the same as the “baby blues,” which is less severe and doesn’t last as long. The panel said “baby blues” can occur right after childbirth and can include crying, irritability, fatigue and anxiety, symptoms that usually disappear within 10 days. Many things can raise a woman’s risk of depression during and after pregnancy. Having a personal or family history of depression is a significant risk factor. Others include a range of experiences that can generate stress: recent divorce or relationship strain; being a victim of abuse or domestic violence; being a single mother or a teenager; having an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy. Economic burdens increase the risk — about one in three low-income women develops depression during or after pregnancy. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 12: Sex: Evolutionary, Hormonal, and Neural Bases
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 8: Hormones and Sex
Link ID: 25959 - Posted: 02.13.2019

By Gretchen Reynolds Jogging for 15 minutes a day, or walking or gardening for somewhat longer, could help protect people against developing depression, according to an innovative new study published last month in JAMA Psychiatry. The study involved hundreds of thousands of people and used a type of statistical analysis to establish, for the first time, that physical activity may help prevent depression, a finding with considerable relevance for any of us interested in maintaining or bolstering our mental health. Plenty of past studies have examined the connections between exercise, moods and psychological well-being, of course. And most have concluded that physically active people tend to be happier and less prone to anxiety and severe depression than people who seldom move much. But those past studies showed only that exercise and depression are linked, not that exercise actually causes a drop in depression risk. Most were longitudinal or cross-sectional, looking at people’s exercise habits over a certain period or at a single point of time and then determining whether there might be statistical relationships between the two. In other words, active people might be less likely to become depressed than inactive people. But it’s also possible that people who aren’t prone to depression may be more likely to exercise. Those types of studies may be tantalizing, but they can’t prove anything about cause and effect. To show causation, scientists rely on randomized experiments, during which they assign people to, for instance, exercise or not and then monitor the outcomes. Researchers have been using randomized trials to look at whether exercise can treat depression after people already have developed the condition, and the results have been encouraging. © 2019 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25956 - Posted: 02.13.2019

By Ricardo Muñoz More than 300 million individuals worldwide suffer from major depression. About 16 million of them are in the U.S., where 90 percent report difficulties with work, home or social activities related to their symptoms. While there are many effective treatments for depression, including medications and psychological therapies, the rate of depression is not going down, and treatment is not enough to reduce the burden. Recently, research has emerged indicating that about half of all cases of depression are preventable. Yet we’re not doing much to prevent it. In much the same way we vaccinate against other debilitating diseases, it is our moral obligation to begin concerted prevention efforts to reduce the number of new cases of depression in our communities. Depression is the number one cause of disability worldwide. It produces substantial suffering not only for the depressed individual, but also for those around them—when it leads to suicide, the impact on surviving loved ones is devastating. Depression is also related to a number of other health problems. Take smoking, for example, which is the leading cause of preventable death in the world, and how it is affected by depression. People who suffer from depression are more likely to start smoking, less likely to quit, and, if they quit, more likely to start again. This is the case with the use of alcohol and other drugs as well. Adolescent girls who have suffered at least one episode of major depression have a greater probability of having sexual relations as teenagers, having more than one sexual partner and having unintended pregnancies. © 2019 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25953 - Posted: 02.12.2019

Adrian Woolfson Globally, the burden of depression and other mental-health conditions is on the rise. In North America and Europe alone, mental illness accounts for up to 40% of all years lost to disability. And molecular medicine, which has seen huge success in treating diseases such as cancer, has failed to stem the tide. Into that alarming context enters the thought-provoking Good Reasons for Bad Feelings, in which evolutionary psychiatrist Randolph Nesse offers insights that radically reframe psychiatric conditions. In his view, the roots of mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, lie in essential functions that evolved as building blocks of adaptive behavioural and cognitive function. Furthermore, like the legs of thoroughbred racehorses — selected for length, but tending towards weakness — some dysfunctional aspects of mental function might have originated with selection for unrelated traits, such as cognitive capacity. Intrinsic vulnerabilities in the human mind could be a trade-off for optimizing unrelated features. Similar ideas have surfaced before, in different contexts. Evolutionary biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin, for example, critically examined the blind faith of ‘adaptationist’ evolutionary theorizing. Their classic 1979 paper ‘The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm’ challenged the idea that every aspect of an organism has been perfected by natural selection (S. J. Gould et al. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 205, 581–598; 1979). Instead, like the curved triangles of masonry between arches supporting domes in medieval and Renaissance architecture, some parts are contingent structural by-products. These might have no discernible adaptive advantage, or might even be maladaptive. Gould and Lewontin’s intuition has, to some extent, been vindicated by molecular genetics. Certain versions of the primitive immune-system protein complement 4A, for instance, evolved for reasons unrelated to mental function, and yet are associated with an increased risk of schizophrenia. © 2019 Springer Nature Publishing AG

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25946 - Posted: 02.11.2019

By Elizabeth Pennisi Of all the many ways the teeming ecosystem of microbes in a person’s gut and other tissues might affect health, its potential influences on the brain may be the most provocative. Now, a study of two large groups of Europeans has found several species of gut bacteria are missing in people with depression. The researchers can’t say whether the absence is a cause or an effect of the illness, but they showed that many gut bacteria could make substances that affect nerve cell function—and maybe mood. “It’s the first real stab at tracking how” a microbe’s chemicals might affect mood in humans, says John Cryan, a neuroscientist at University College Cork in Ireland who has been one of the most vocal proponents of a microbiome-brain connection. The study “really pushes the field from where it’s been” with small studies of depressed people or animal experiments. Interventions based on the gut microbiome are now under investigation: The University of Basel in Switzerland, for example, is planning a trial of fecal transplants, which can restore or alter the gut microbiome, in depressed people. Several studies in mice had indicated that gut microbes can affect behavior, and small studies of people suggested this microbial repertoire is altered in depression. To test the link in a larger group, Jeroen Raes, a microbiologist at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, and his colleagues took a closer look at 1054 Belgians they had recruited to assess a “normal” microbiome. Some in the group—173 in total—had been diagnosed with depression or had done poorly on a quality of life survey, and the team compared their microbiomes with those other participants. Two kinds of microbes, Coprococcus and Dialister, were missing from the microbiomes of the depressed subjects, but not from those with a high quality of life. The finding held up when the researchers allowed for factors such as age, sex, or antidepressant use, all of which influence the microbiome, the team reports today in Nature Microbiology. They also found the depressed people had an increase in bacteria implicated in Crohn disease, suggesting inflammation may be at fault. © 2018 American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 25932 - Posted: 02.05.2019

By Consumer Reports s has no financial relationship with any advertisers on this site. All medications have the potential to cause unwanted side effects, and depression is among them. One-third of Americans are now taking meds that can cause this mood disorder, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in June. Other research has had similar findings, but this is the largest review on the topic to date. The study authors found that about 200 prescription drugs, including some often used by older adults — such as proton-pump inhibitors (PPIs) to treat acid reflux and beta blockers for hypertension — can lead to depression. But doctors may not know this. “Many physicians may not be aware that several commonly prescribed medications are associated with an increased risk of this disorder,” says study author Mark Olfson, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York. In the study, the more drugs people took, the higher their depression risk. About 7 percent of those taking one such drug were depressed compared with 15.3 percent of those taking at least three. This is concerning for older adults, who may take multiple medications and are more vulnerable to drug side effects, says Michael Hochman, an associate professor of clinical medicine at Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25825 - Posted: 12.26.2018

Jon Hamilton Just in time for the winter solstice, scientists may have figured out how short days can lead to dark moods. Two recent studies suggest the culprit is a brain circuit that connects special light-sensing cells in the retina with brain areas that affect whether you are happy or sad. When these cells detect shorter days, they appear to use this pathway to send signals to the brain that can make a person feel glum or even depressed. "It's very likely that things like seasonal affective disorder involve this pathway," says Jerome Sanes, a professor of neuroscience at Brown University. Sanes was part of a team that found evidence of the brain circuit in people. The scientists presented their research in November at the Society for Neuroscience meeting. The work hasn't been published in a peer-reviewed journal yet, but the researchers plan to submit it. A few weeks earlier, a different team published a study suggesting a very similar circuit in mice. Together, the studies offer a strong argument that seasonal mood changes, which affect about 1 in 5 people, have a biological cause. The research also adds to the evidence that support light therapy as an appropriate treatment.. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 15: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 14: Biological Rhythms, Sleep, and Dreaming
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 11: Emotions, Aggression, and Stress; Chapter 10: Biological Rhythms and Sleep
Link ID: 25809 - Posted: 12.21.2018

By Moises Velasquez-Manoff In May of 2017, Louise decided that her life was just too difficult, so she’d end it. In the previous four years, three siblings and a half-sibling had died, two from disease, one from fire and one from choking. Close friends had moved away. She felt painfully, unbearably alone. It would be the fourth time Louise (I’m using her middle name to protect her privacy), then 68, would attempt suicide, and she was determined to get it right. She wrote a letter with instructions on where to find important documents and who should inherit what. She packed up her jewelry and artwork, addressing each box to particular friends and family members. Then she checked into a motel — homes where people have committed suicide lose value and she didn’t want hers to sell below market — put a plastic sheet on the bed, lay down and swallowed what she figured was an overdose of prescription pills with champagne. A few days later, she woke up in a psychiatric ward in Albuquerque. The motel maid had found her. “I was very upset I had failed,” she told me recently. So she tried to cut her wrists with a bracelet she was wearing — unsuccessfully. The suicide rate has been rising in the United States since the beginning of the century, and is now the 10th leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s often called a public health crisis. And yet no new classes of drugs have been developed to treat depression (and by extension suicidality) in about 30 years, since the advent of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors like Prozac. The trend most likely has social causes — lack of access to mental health care, economic stress, loneliness and despair, the opioid epidemic, and the unique difficulties facing small-town America. These are serious problems that need long-term solutions. But in the meantime, the field of psychiatry desperately needs new treatment options for patients who show up with a stomach full of pills. Now, scientists think that they may have found one — an old anesthetic called ketamine that, at low doses, can halt suicidal thoughts almost immediately. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 4: The Chemistry of Behavior: Neurotransmitters and Neuropharmacology
Link ID: 25746 - Posted: 12.03.2018

Ashley P. Taylor Electrically stimulating the lateral orbitofrontal cortex, a brain area behind the eyes, improves the moods of people with depression, according to a study published yesterday (November 29) in Current Biology. The technique used by the researchers, led by Edward Chang of the University of California, San Francisco, is called deep brain stimulation (DBS), in which surgically implanted electrodes send electrical pulses to particular areas of the brain. The approach is already in use as a treatment for movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and tremors. But results on its ability to treat depression have been mixed, as NPR reports. The researchers worked with 25 epilepsy patients who already had electrodes implanted into their brains as part of their treatments. Many of the study participants also had signs of depression as evaluated by mood tests the researchers administered, Science News reports. The investigators tried stimulating many areas of the brain, and they found that jolts to the lateral orbitofrontal cortex made patients with signs of depression—but not others who didn’t have symptoms—feel better right away. “Wow, I feel a lot better. . . . What did you guys do?” study coauthor Kristin Sellers recalls a patient exclaiming after receiving the stimulation, she tells NPR. “Only the people who had symptoms [of depression] to start with improved their mood, which suggests that perhaps the effect of what we’re doing is to normalize activity that starts off abnormal,” adds another coauthor, Vikram Rao.

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 18: Attention and Higher Cognition; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 14: Attention and Consciousness; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 25742 - Posted: 12.03.2018

Jon Hamilton There's new evidence that mild pulses of electricity can relieve depression — if they reach the right target in the brain. A study of 25 people with epilepsy found that those who had symptoms of depression felt better almost immediately when doctors electrically stimulated an area of the brain just above the eyes, a team reported Thursday in the journal Current Biology. These people were in the hospital awaiting surgery and had wires inserted into their brains to help doctors locate the source of their seizures. Several of the patients talked about the change they felt when the stimulation of the lateral orbitofrontal cortex began, says Kristin Sellers, an author of the paper and a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, San Francisco. One person's response was: "Wow, I feel a lot better. ... What did you guys do?" The stimulation only lasted a few minutes. After it stopped, the effect on mood quickly faded. To be sure that the effect was real, the researchers also pretended to stimulate the lateral OFC in the same patients without actually running current through the tiny wires implanted in their brains. In those sham treatments, there was no discernible change. DBS is an approved treatment for tremors, including those associated with Parkinson's disease. But results with depression have been less consistent, and DBS isn't approved for this purpose by the Food and Drug Administration. © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 25735 - Posted: 11.30.2018

By Roni Caryn Rabin A. A deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause neurological and psychiatric problems that “can progress if left untreated, and can lead to irreversible damage,” said Dr. Donald Hensrud, director of the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Living Program. Fortunately, it can be reversed fairly easily with vitamin pills or injections. Vitamin B12 is required for proper red blood cell formation, nerve function and DNA synthesis. It is naturally present in fish, meat, eggs and dairy products, as well as some fortified breakfast cereals and nutritional yeast products. Strict vegans who avoid animal products can develop a deficiency of B12 over time if they don’t take a supplement. But two-thirds of cases occur in the elderly, who are susceptible because they may not absorb adequate amounts of B12 from foods but who are not routinely tested, Dr. Hensrud said. Consequences of B12 deficiency can cause a range of symptoms that include fatigue, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite and weight loss. Other symptoms include difficulty maintaining balance, depression, confusion, dementia, poor memory and soreness in the mouth or tongue. B12 deficiency may also result in a form of anemia called megaloblastic anemia, which can also result from a deficiency of folic acid, another B vitamin. If anemia is detected on blood tests, levels of both vitamins should be checked. Neurological symptoms can, however, occur in the absence of anemia. Early treatment is critical to avoid potentially irreversible damage. Older adults are susceptible to B12 deficiency because they may have decreased secretion of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, which makes it difficult to absorb B12. Also vulnerable to B12 deficiency are those with gastrointestinal disorders like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease; those who have had weight loss or other gastrointestinal surgery; and those who use certain acid reflux drugs or the diabetes drug metformin. Individuals with pernicious anemia, which affects up to 2 percent of older adults, are also susceptible. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 13: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 9: Homeostasis: Active Regulation of the Internal Environment
Link ID: 25732 - Posted: 11.30.2018

At 35, Sharon Jakab knew something was wrong when she started hallucinating. "I saw my grandmother on the wall in the room. She was talking to me. I wasn't sleeping, and I was a mess," she says from her home in Burlington, Ont. Jakab had been suffering from postpartum depression following the birth of her daughter. About a year and a half later, Jakab had another episode of postpartum depression following an ectopic pregnancy. It became so bad, she was suicidal. "There was a gun in the house and there were cartridges. I was all set to kill myself." She had to suicide-proof her home by taking away all dangerous objects, even skates, which have sharp blades. Now 61, Jakab has been in and out of hospitals, dealing with what she calls "waves of depression" that have lasted most of her adult life. She's tried about a dozen medications, including the antipsychotic drug clozapine. "Clozapine really helped me a lot, but I still suffered from depression, psychosis and mania." Because standard treatment like medication and therapy weren't effective, Jakab was diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression, a severe form of depression that close to a million Canadians experience. Electroconvulsive therapy or ECT, better known as shock treatment, is still considered the go-to treatment but comes with the common side effect of memory loss. So doctors are now exploring less invasive experimental approaches like brain stimulation that rewires the brain's circuits. ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders; Chapter 3: Neurophysiology: The Generation, Transmission, and Integration of Neural Signals
Link ID: 25718 - Posted: 11.26.2018

A countrywide shortage of a common antidepressant medication has caused alarm among doctors, pharmacists and patients with mental illnesses. Nearly a dozen pharmacies in Saskatoon and Regina have told CBC News that they have run out of bupropion— both the brand-name product Wellbutrin and its generic counterparts — and can't get more from their suppliers. More than 12,000 patients in Saskatchewan take bupropion, according to the Ministry of Health. National figures are not readily available. The prescription antidepressant is used to treat major depressive disorder and seasonal affective disorder. "This might have been the drug that gave you the energy to live your life, do the things you needed to do, get on with your job, do your studies," said Dr. Sara Dungavell, a Saskatoon psychiatrist. She said she fielded anxious phone calls from patients about the shortage. Two pharmaceutical companies that produce generic bupropion are reporting a shortage or anticipated shortage on the Health Canada website. The company that manufactures Wellbutrin, Bausch Health, reported its shortage to Health Canada six weeks ago. On Thursday, it told CBC News it had resolved its shortage, and Canadian pharmacies would receive the drug "imminently," depending on delivery schedules. By Saturday afternoon, pharmacies in Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina and Winnipeg said they had yet to receive a shipment, and their pharmacists said it was still listed as unavailable in their system. ©2018 CBC/Radio-Canada

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25702 - Posted: 11.20.2018

By Benedict Carey A generation ago, depression was viewed as an unwanted guest: a gloomy presence that might appear in the wake of a loss or a grave disappointment and was slow to find the door. The people it haunted could acknowledge the poor company — I’ve been a little depressed since my father died — without worrying that they had become chronically ill. Today, the condition has been recast in the medical literature as a darker, more permanent figure, a monster in the basement poised to overtake the psyche. For decades, researchers have debated the various types of depression, from mild to severe to “endogenous,” a rare, near-paralyzing despair. Hundreds of studies have been conducted, looking for markers that might predict the course of depression and identify the best paths to recovery. But treatment largely remains a process of trial and error. A drug that helps one person can make another worse. The same goes for talk therapies: some patients do very well, others don’t respond at all. “If you got a depression diagnosis, one of the most basic things you want to know is, what are the chances of my life returning to normal or becoming optimal afterward?” said Jonathan Rottenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of South Florida. “You’d assume we’d have an answer to that question. I think it’s embarrassing that we don’t.” In a paper in the current issue of Perspectives on Psychological Science, Dr. Rottenberg and his colleagues argue that, in effect, the field has been looking for answers in the wrong place. In trying to understand how people with depression might escape their condition, scientists have focused almost entirely on the afflicted, overlooking a potentially informative group: people who once suffered from some form of depression but have more or less recovered. Indeed, while this cohort almost certainly exists — every psychiatrist and psychologist knows someone in it — it is so neglected that virtually nothing is known about its demographics, how well its members are faring and, fundamentally, how many individuals it contains. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25603 - Posted: 10.23.2018

Sasa Woodruff Ryan "China" McCarney has played sports his entire life, but sometimes he has to force himself to show up on the field to play pick-up soccer with his friends. "I'm dreading and I'm anticipating the worst. But I do it anyway. And then, it's a euphoric sensation when you're done with it because you end up having a great time," says McCarney. McCarney was just 22 when he had his first panic attack. As a college and professional baseball player, he says getting help was stigmatized. It took him six years to get professional support. He still struggles with depression and social anxiety, but says exercising helps him — especially when it's with his teammates. Research shows exercise can ease things like panic attacks or mood and sleep disorders, and a recent study in the journal, Lancet Psychiatry, found that popular team sports may have a slight edge over the other forms of physical activity. The researchers analyzed CDC survey data from 1.2 million adults and found — across age, gender, education status and income — people who exercised reported fewer days of bad mental health than those who didn't. And those who played team sports reported the fewest. One of the study's authors, Adam Chekroud, an assistant adjunct professor at Yale's School of Medicine, thinks team activity could add another layer of relief for sufferers of mental illness. He says there are biological, cognitive and social aspects to mental illness. "Some sports might just be hitting on more of those elements than other sports," he says. "If you just run on a treadmill for example, it's clear that you're getting that biological stimulation. But perhaps there are other elements of depression that you're not going to be tapping into." © 2018 npr

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25597 - Posted: 10.22.2018

By Erin Blakemore Are you depressed? If you’re not sure, it’s no surprise. Perpetual sadness isn’t the only symptom. Anger, back pain, sleep disturbances and even indecisiveness could all be signs of depression. One in six adults will experience depression in their life, but you can’t get help if you’re not sure you need it. Your doctor can screen for depression, so it’s worth asking on your next visit. Isolation and social withdrawal are common among people with depression. But it’s still possible to seek help during these periods. If you can’t face the thought of visiting your doctor, you can find information and assistance on your computer or smartphone. Screening for Mental Health’s online screening program gives a brief survey. It then tells you whether your answers are consistent with depression and provides materials to bring to your next doctor’s visit and a list of resources. Although it’s not a formal diagnosis, it’s a place to start to seek help. Crisis Text Line can connect you with a trained crisis counselor who can take you from crisis to cool down, all via text. The service is free and confidential. It’s available to people experiencing any kind of crisis. Text HOME to 741741 to get started. The National Alliance on Mental Illness can also connect you to mental-health resources, including help for depression. Visit nami.org/Find-Support or call the NAMI Helpline, 800-950-NAMI, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern. © 1996-2018 The Washington Post

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25537 - Posted: 10.08.2018

By Benedict Carey Dr. Bernard J. Carroll, whose studies of severe depression gave psychiatry the closest thing it has to a “blood test” for a mental disorder, and who later became one of the field’s most relentless critics, helping to expose pervasive corruption in academic research, died on Sept. 10 at his home in Carmel, Calif. He was 77. His wife, Sylvia Carroll, said the cause was lung cancer. Dr. Carroll was all of 28 when he published a paper that seemed to herald a new age of psychiatry, one rooted in biology rather than Freudian theory. Trained both in endocrinology and psychiatry, he applied a test from that first specialty — the dexamethasone suppression test, or DST — to people with mood problems. The test measures the body’s ability to suppress its own surges of cortisol, a stress hormone. In a 1968 article in The British Medical Journal, Dr. Carroll announced that when the test was administered to people with the severest species of depression — a paralyzing gloom then called melancholia, or endogenous depression — their bodies were shown to have trouble suppressing the hormone. People with other kinds of mood disorders had normal scores. The test did not mean that failure to suppress cortisol caused depression, just that it was associated with it. “I thought of it as a confirmatory test, to support a diagnosis, not to make one,” Dr. Carroll, known as Barney, said, in a recent interview in his home, “and possibly as a way to monitor progress in treatment.” It didn’t happen. In 1980, experts revising psychiatry’s influential diagnostic manual eliminated distinctions in kinds of depression. Melancholia was lumped with many other mild and moderate conditions under the classification “major depressive disorder.” Soon after, modern antidepressants hit the market, and pharmaceutical companies paid top academics around the world to help interpret studies, massage data and promote their products. The field chased the drugs, and the money, and learned nothing about the biology of mental disorders. © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25531 - Posted: 10.05.2018

By Laura M. Holson Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have recommended that psilocybin, the active compound in hallucinogenic mushrooms, be reclassified for medical use, potentially paving the way for the psychedelic drug to one day treat depression and anxiety and help people stop smoking. The suggestion to reclassify psilocybin from a Schedule I drug, with no known medical benefit, to a Schedule IV drug, which is akin to prescription sleeping pills, was part of a review to assess the safety and abuse of medically administered psilocybin. Before the Food and Drug Administration can be petitioned to reclassify the drug, though, it has to clear extensive study and trials, which can take more than five years, the researchers wrote. The analysis was published in the October print issue of Neuropharmacology, a medical journal focused on neuroscience. The study comes as many Americans shift their attitudes toward the use of some illegal drugs. The widespread legalization of marijuana has helped demystify drug use, with many people now recognizing the medicinal benefits for those with anxiety, arthritis and other physical ailments. Psychedelics, like LSD and psilocybin, are illegal and not approved for medical or recreational use. But in recent years scientists and consumers have begun rethinking their use to combat depression and anxiety. “We are seeing a demographic shift, particularly among women,” said Matthew Johnson, an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins and one of the study’s authors. Among the research he has conducted, he said, “we’ve had more females in our studies.” © 2018 The New York Times Company

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25530 - Posted: 10.04.2018

By Michael Shermer Anthony Bourdain (age 61). Kate Spade (55). Robin Williams (63). Aaron Swartz (26). Junior Seau (43). Alexander McQueen (40). Hunter S. Thompson (67). Kurt Cobain (27). Sylvia Plath (30). Ernest Hemingway (61). Alan Turing (41). Virginia Woolf (59). Vincent van Gogh (37). By the time you finish reading this list of notable people who died by suicide, somewhere in the world another person will have done the same, about one every 40 seconds (around 800,000 a year), making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. Why? According to the prominent psychologist Jesse Bering of the University of Otago in New Zealand, in his authoritative book Suicidal: Why We Kill Ourselves (University of Chicago Press, 2018), “the specific issues leading any given person to become suicidal are as different, of course, as their DNA—involving chains of events that one expert calls ‘dizzying in their variety.’” Indeed, my short list above includes people with a diversity of ages, professions, personality and gender. Depression is commonly fingered in many suicide cases, yet most people suffering from depression do not kill themselves (only about 5 percent Bering says), and not all suicide victims were depressed. “Around 43 percent of the variability in suicidal behavior among the general population can be explained by genetics,” Bering reports, “while the remaining 57 percent is attributable to environmental factors.” Having a genetic predisposition for suicidality, coupled with a particular sequence of environmental assaults on one's will to live, leads some people to try to make the pain stop. In Bering's case, it first came as a closeted gay teenager “in an intolerant small Midwestern town” and later with unemployment at a status apex in his academic career (success can lead to unreasonably high standards for happiness, later crushed by the vicissitudes of life). Yet most oppressed gays and fallen academics don't want to kill themselves. “In the vast majority of cases, people kill themselves because of other people,” Bering adduces. “Social problems—especially a hypervigilant concern with what others think or will think of us if only they knew what we perceive to be some unpalatable truth—stoke a deadly fire.” © 2018 Scientific American

Related chapters from BN8e: Chapter 16: Psychopathology: Biological Basis of Behavior Disorders
Related chapters from MM:Chapter 12: Psychopathology: The Biology of Behavioral Disorders
Link ID: 25529 - Posted: 10.04.2018