Depression and Reward Insensitivity

Why do some people get depressed and what can be done about it? Studies of brain response to rewards suggests that there is a strong link between depression and reward insensitivity. People who are at risk of depression literally don’t react to rewards in  same way as other people. A large study of adolescent girls without any history of depression found …

4 Ways You Can Help a Loved One Cope with Addiction and Mental Illness

Mental illness and addiction co-occur more than some people may think. People with a mental illness are more likely to abuse substances while those with addictions are likely to either develop the symptoms of a mental illness or a full-blown mental illness. If there is someone in your life struggling with these two problems here are a few ways you …

Where is the Outrage about Suicide?

Imagine a world where a silent epidemic was cutting short the lives of young, otherwise healthy people. Imagine that, that deaths in this epidemic were rapidly increasing, while deaths from cancer, heart disease, HIV, and stroke were decreasing. Now imagine that there was no public outrage, not even any clear recognition in the media of what was happening. And imagine that …

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 …

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 …

Children at Risk for Depression

James Hudziak, and other researchers, presented information suggesting a strategy for improving brain health, and reducing anxiety and depression in children at risk for these conditions at the 2015 meeting of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. We have previously mentioned in this blog another excellent resource for information on bipolar, Bipolar Network News, and this information is summarized …

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 …

Psychopharmacology and Psychobiology

The wonderful thing about having two blogs (www.moodsurfing.com and www.gatewaypsychiatric.com) is that there are two sets of readers for the articles that I post. The problem is that sometimes I’m much more prolific in one area or another. For whatever reason, I have been writing more regularly on the Gateway Psychiatric website, which is where I post articles related to …

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 …

S-Adenosyl-Methionine Update

SAM-e S-adenosylmethionine, or SAM-e for short, is one of the few nutritional supplements that has good clinical research to support its safety and effectiveness. Although SAM-e is used for many purposes, we are particularly interested in it as a compound that may have antidepressant properties. Clinical Significance S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is involved in many reactions that involve methylating chemicals (transferring a methyl …

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 …