Nerve stimulator may help depressed patients feel normal

An implanted nerve stimulator may help patients with the most severe depression get some of their day-to-day lives back, even if it doesn’t fully relieve their symptoms, doctors reported Tuesday.

Patients who have been using the vagus nerve stimulator say they have regained significant quality of life, and the improvements have lasted for as long as five years, the team reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.

They hope that their findings will help encourage health insurance companies to pay for the pacemaker-like devices and the surgery needed to implant them. Although the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the devices for depression in 2005, health insurance companies, including Medicare, rarely pay for them.

Full story at NBC News

What are the effects of bulimia on the body?

Bulimia nervosa, or bulimia, is an eating disorder that leads to bingeing, purging, and other symptoms. The adverse physical side effects of bulimia may not be noticeable at first, but over time they can take their toll on the body.

Bulimia can also disrupt a person’s mental and emotional health. The side effects of this condition may be life-threatening, especially if the individual does not receive treatment.

In this article, learn about the signs of bulimia and its effects on the body.

Full story at Medical News Today

Kids stress over public acts of discrimination

In a sign of the times, new USC research shows that some kids stressed out over recent public acts of discrimination show increased behavioral problems.

The study focused on Los Angeles-area teens from communities of color or families with limited education. Many of the youths reported concern that discrimination is a growing societal problem. The more worried the teens were, the worse their substance use, depression and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms became, the study shows.

The findings are a snapshot into the adolescent mind during a time of rising U.S. political tensions and concern about increasing discrimination in society. It also coincides with the beginning of new social policies proposed by the Trump administration, which the scientists note might affect mental health for the youngsters.

Full story at Science Daily

Individuals shot by police exhibit distinct patterns of recent prior hospitalizations and arrests

A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that more than 50 percent of people with assault-related or legal intervention (LI) firearm injuries due to law enforcement actions and over 25 percent of individuals with self-inflicted or unintentional firearm injuries were arrested, hospitalized, or both in the two years prior to being shot. While LI firearm injuries are comparatively rare, they are on the rise, increasing 10 percent nationally in the United States over the last decade. The study’s findings contribute important evidence that can be used to reduce and prevent these injuries and deaths.

“Looking at arrest and hospital records in Seattle, we identified some patterns among intent-specific firearm injuries. Notably, individuals shot by police had arrest histories similar to those shot in assaults and homicides and medical histories similar to those with self-inflicted firearm injuries. The individuals who are injured in LI encounters also exhibit disruptive, impulsive, and conduct-related disorders more frequently than individuals in our control group and increased risk of interpersonal and self-directed violence,” explained Brianna M. Mills, PhD, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center (HMC), University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA. “Our results show how many firearm injuries occur after a series of encounters with institutions that are meant to help individuals in crisis, but unfortunately have failed to deter the situation leading to the injury. We believe that each of these encounters represents an opportunity for more effective interventions and long-term solutions.”

Full story at Science Daily

A Shorter—but Effective—Treatment for PTSD

First-line treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often require many treatment sessions and delivery by extensively trained therapists. Now, research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has shown that a shorter therapy may be just as effective as lengthier first-line treatments. The study appeared in the March 2018 issue of JAMA Psychiatry.

First-line treatments for PTSD consist of psychotherapies that focus on exposure and/or cognitive restructuring. One such therapy is cognitive processing therapy (CPT), which is widely acknowledged as an effective treatment for PTSD. Patients being treated with CPT take part in 12 weekly therapy sessions that are delivered by a highly-trained practitioner. During these sessions, patients learn to recognize and challenge dysfunctional thoughts about their traumatic event, themselves, others, and the world. In addition, patients are given homework to complete between sessions.

Full story at NIMH

Stress during pregnancy increases risk of mood disorders for female offspring

High maternal levels of the stress hormone cortisol during pregnancy increase anxious and depressive-like behaviors in female offspring at the age of 2, reports a new study in Biological Psychiatry. The effect of elevated maternal cortisol on the negative offspring behavior appeared to result from patterns of stronger communication between brain regions important for sensory and emotion processing. The findings emphasize the importance of prenatal conditions for susceptibility of later mental health problems in offspring.

Interestingly, male offspring of mothers with high cortisol during pregnancy did not demonstrate the stronger brain connectivity, or an association between maternal cortisol and mood symptoms.

“Many mood and anxiety disorders are approximately twice as common in females as in males. This paper highlights one unexpected sex-specific risk factor for mood and anxiety disorders in females,” said John Krystal, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry. “High maternal levels of cortisol during pregnancy appear to contribute to risk in females, but not males.”

Full story at Science Daily

Treating Teen Depression Might Improve Mental Health Of Parents, Too

An estimated 12.8 percent of adolescents in the U.S. experience at least one episode of major depression, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. According to previous studies, many of those teens’ mental health is linked to depression in their parents.

But new research suggests there’s a flipside to that parental effect: When teens are treated for depression, their parents’ mental health improves, too.

We tend to think of depression as affecting individuals. But Myrna Weissman, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University, says, “Depression is a family affair.”

Weissman has studied depression in families for years. “We know that there’s high rates of depression in the offspring of depressed mothers,” she says.

Full story at NPR

Mental health at university: know where to find support

At the beginning of his second year at Loughborough University, Rahul Mathasing started struggling. His moods were becoming darker, his motivation disappeared and he started missing lectures. He approached the university medical centre, which referred him to the local NHS community mental health team. His pattern of behaviour – manic episodes in which he couldn’t concentrate or sleep, as well as episodes of very low moods – led to a diagnosis, in February 2015, of bipolar disorder.

The systems engineering student, who continues to see a psychiatrist and is on medication to treat his disorder, has had help from the students’ union, the medical centre, and his department, which gave him a leave of absence: “They’ve done every thing they can to help me get to a level I’m happy with.”

Students can be more stressed and anxious than other young people. “You don’t have family around you, necessarily, and you are probably having a massive shift in your support systems,” says Micha Frazer-Carroll, welfare and rights officer at the University of Cambridge students’ union.

Full story at The Guardian

New theory may explain cause of depression and improve treatments

A new area in depression research suggests dysfunction in mitochondria — the main source of energy for cells — could lead to major depression. Published in Frontiers in Neuroscience, this new insight to long-held theories on the causes of depression could lead to the development of novel and more effective antidepressant drugs.

Depression is a highly prevalent disorder affecting up to 20% of the population. It is commonly thought to be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, yet the specific biological mechanisms which lead to depression are not fully understood.

“Until now, most theories about the biological causes of depression have focused on the idea that depression is caused by an imbalance in neurotransmitters like serotonin,” says Dr Lisa E. Kalynchuk, co-author of the review from the University of Victoria, Canada.

Full story at Science Daily

A Shorter—but Effective—Treatment for PTSD

First-line treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often require many treatment sessions and delivery by extensively trained therapists. Now, research supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has shown that a shorter therapy may be just as effective as lengthier first-line treatments. The study appeared in the March 2018 issue of JAMA Psychiatry.

First-line treatments for PTSD consist of psychotherapies that focus on exposure and/or cognitive restructuring. One such therapy is cognitive processing therapy (CPT), which is widely acknowledged as an effective treatment for PTSD. Patients being treated with CPT take part in 12 weekly therapy sessions that are delivered by a highly-trained practitioner. During these sessions, patients learn to recognize and challenge dysfunctional thoughts about their traumatic event, themselves, others, and the world. In addition, patients are given homework to complete between sessions.

Full story at NIMH