Predicting Depression Recurrence

For people with a history of unipolar depression (episodes in the past of clinically significant depression, but no history of periods of being energized – mania or hypomania) who are no longer experiencing a clinical depression, is it possible to predict whether they will have another episode in the near future? Noted psychiatric researchers Lewis L. Judd, MD, Pamela J. Schettler, …

Depression and Inflammation Interactions

There has been a lot of interest in the last year in the idea that information or activation of the body’s immune system, might be a cause and/or consequence of depression.  One theory argues that depression might be an inflammatory disorder, more than a disorder of altered neurotransmitter levels. Certainly there’s a fair amount of information that some people with …

Mindfulness for Depression -Research Update

Mindfulness has received a lot of attention recently as an approach to improving mental health in a number of conditions. But is it really effective as part of a strategy for treating serious depression? And, if so, how can we best incorporate it into treatment, given the great difficulty that many people with depression have doing even a small amount …

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Part 2: Defusion

Defusion is one of the six core processes that make up Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). These core processes, which also include acceptance (click here to review this process as described in Part 1), present-moment awareness, self-as-context, values, and committed action, are aimed at cultivating psychological flexibility, or the ability to have all of our thoughts and feelings while continuing …

Atlas of Emotions

Psychologist Dan Kalb recently posted a link to a wonderful resource for people who are interested in understanding and exploring emotions. In his post, Dan explains a little bit about the background for this site… The Dalai Lama commissioned psychologist Paul Eckman to create a secular interactive map of human emotions. Eckman, in turn, surveyed some 150 researchers with expertise …

Heat for Depression

Many people with depression have found Bikram Yoga to be an extremely helpful way of improving their mood and we are strong proponent of the value of yoga in general. The new article in the prestigious psychiatric journal JAMA Psychiatry raises the possibility that the heat in Bikram Yoga may also be helpful. In this study 30 patients were randomized …

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Part 1: Acceptance and Willingness

I recently attended the Anxiety and Depression Association of America conference in Philadelphia, where I offered a two-hour workshop on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and deepening experiential practices in ACT sessions (largely based on the book The Big Book of ACT Metaphors: A Practitioner’s Guide to Experiential Exercises and Metaphors in Acceptance and Commitment Therapy*). This post is Part …

Kevin Briggs and the Golden Gate Bridge

I am away at the annual meeting of the Northern California Psychiatric Society this weekend and while taking a break from the presentations I wanted to try to come up with a quick post that might be relevant to this blog. Probably the most moving part of the weekend was last night’s presentation by Kevin Brigg, who for many years …

Aerobic Exercise Stimulates Neuron Growth

Moderate aerobic exercise appears to be the best form of exercise to stimulate neuron growth. One of the great challenges facing anyone who has wrestled with depression is how best to counteract the negative effects on brain development and cognitive function that have clearly been linked to recurrent depression. Depression leads directly to reductions in the brain’s growth hormone (brain …

Depression Screening Recommended

Although it seems like nothing more than common sense, we were very pleased to see that the United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), which is the major organization responsible for guidelines for public health interventions in the United States, added depression screening for adults, in particular for pregnant women and women who recently given birth, to its short list of …

Antidepressants in Pregnancy and Autism

Antidepressants in Pregnancy: Is Excess Risk for Autism Spectrum Disorder Believable? Journal Watch Psychiatry editor, Allison Bryant, MD, MPH, reviewed a recent article on this topic Boukhris T et al. JAMA Pediatr 2015 Dec 14. In this study the risk for autism spectrum disorder appeared to be higher in those women who used antidepressants (especially SRIs) during late pregnancy; but the question is whether maternal …

Mood Charting for Complicated Problems

Lucy is a single woman who is a professor of anthropology at a local university. She is in her late 30s and she was referred to me for a consultation because of a complicated set of potentially interrelated problems with cognitive impairment, sleep disruption, anxiety, depression, a seizure disorder, and migraine headaches. She’s an interesting person and I really wanted to help her figure …

Bright Light for Non-Seasonal Depression

Bright light may work for non-seasonal depression. This is the conclusion of a study published in the prestigious psychiatric journal JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers at the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia in Canada conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo- and sham-controlled, 8-week trial in adults (aged 19-60 years) with major depression of at least moderate severity. 122 patients were …

Fish Oil for Depression

Is fish oil effective for treating depression? Just this past week a new patient in my practice asked me that question and I said that I didn’t know. I mentioned that ever since a study of people with bipolar depression was published in the Archives of General Psychiatry (the leading journal in psychiatry) by Andy Stoll in 1999 there has been …

Parity is What We Want

An overwhelming majority of Americans want parity. A large study found that almost 90% of Americans reported that mental health and non-mental health care were equally important to them in terms of their overall well-being. At the same time nearly a third of those Americans surveyed felt that mental health care was inaccessible and 40% felt that it was something that …

Self Injury is the 8th Leading Cause of Death

An article just published online in the prestigious journal JAMA Psychiatry makes us drawn case that our fascination with trying to come up with clear  answers to questions that may ultimately be impossible to answer (what a person’s intent was when they injured themselves) is obscuring the fact that self-injury is now the eighth leading cause of death in this …

St. John’s Wort for Depression

A recently published study raises questions about whether the natural supplement St. John’s wort is actually associated with fewer adverse effects than commonly prescribed SSRIs. Living in the Bay Area it is common for me to run into a strong conviction that any natural supplement is bound to be safer than any manufactured medication. Perhaps the most problematic of these …

Prefrontal Cortex and Limbic System

A very bright young man who has a great potential as the therapist but who is wrestled with chronic depression for years and has developed a pattern of avoiding doing things that he knows he has to do in order to move ahead with his life led me to talk again about the relationship between depression, the limbic system (or emotional …