Self-compassion may protect people from the harmful effects of perfectionism

Relating to oneself in a healthy way can help weaken the association between perfectionism and depression, according to a study published February 21, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Madeleine Ferrari from Australian Catholic University, and colleagues.

Perfectionistic people often push themselves harder than others to succeed, but can also fall into the trap of being self-critical and overly concerned about making mistakes. When the perfectionist fails, they often experience depression and burnout. In this study, Ferrari and colleagues considered whether self-compassion, a kind way of relating to oneself, might help temper the link between perfectionist tendencies and depression.

The researchers administered anonymous questionnaires to assess perfectionism, depression, and self-compassion across 541 adolescents and 515 adults. Their analyses of these self-assessments revealed that self-compassion may help uncouple perfectionism and depression.

Full story at Science Daily

Novel genetic variants for ADHD linked to educational attainment

A study published in the February 2018 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP) reports that five novel genetic variants associated with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have been identified by exploiting genetic overlap between ADHD and educational attainment.

“In this study, we aimed to explore the genetic architectures of ADHD and educational attainment and to what degree they have a shared genetic basis,” says Alexey A. Shadrin, lead author of the study and postdoctoral research fellow at the Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT). “Our findings may increase the understanding of the genetic risk underlying ADHD and its connection to educational attainment, which has important socioeconomic and health-related life implications,” Dr. Shadrin explains.

Full story at Science Daily

Increased stress on fathers leads to brain development changes in offspring

New research in mice has found that a father’s stress affects the brain development of his offspring. This stress changes the father’s sperm, which can then alter the brain development of the child. This new research provides a much better understanding of the key role that fathers play in the brain development of offspring.

Scientists have known that a mother’s environment during pregnancy, including factors such as poor diet, stress or infection, can cause damage negatively impact her offspring. This may be due in part to how this environment affects the expression of certain genes — known as epigenetics.

But the researchers, led by neuroscientist Tracy Bale at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, now show that a father’s stress can also affect offspring development, by altering important aspects of his sperm.

Full story at Science Daily

Opioid cessation may be more successful when depression is treated

Opioid cessation in non-cancer pain may be more successful when depression is treated to remission, a Saint Louis University study shows.

The study, “Impact of adherence to antidepressants and on long-term prescription opioid use” was published in the February issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

Jeffrey Scherrer, Ph.D., professor of family and community medicine at Saint Louis University and his co-authors have found depression is a consequence of chronic opioid use. In the current study, they find that patients with chronic prescription opioid use and depression who adhered to anti-depressant medications were more likely to stop opioids.

Full story at Science Daily

NIMH Twitter Chat on Seasonal Affective Disorder

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) are co-hosting a Twitter chat to discuss Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The chat will take place Tuesday, February 20, 2018, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET.

SAD is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. This chat will cover SAD signs and symptoms, risk factors, and treatments and therapies. Two experts will be available to answer questions:

  • Matthew Rudorfer, M.D., Somatic Treatments and Psychopharmacology Program Chief, NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research
  • David Shurtleff, Ph.D., Acting Director, NCCIH

For more information visit NIMH

Child development experts discover potential upside to prenatal stress

Prenatal stress might not be so bad for babies after all, depending on how they are raised.

New research with prairie voles by child development experts at the University of California, Davis, suggests that prenatal stress promotes developmental plasticity in babies, making them especially likely to benefit from good parenting as well as suffer from negligent care.

“It looks like prenatal stress can be good for us if we are lucky enough to have a supportive environment postnatally,” said Sarah Hartman, a recent Ph.D. graduate in human ecology at UC Davis who conducted the research under the supervision of human development professor Jay Belsky and Karen Bales, professor of psychology.

Full story at Science Daily

Acne linked with increased risk of depression

In an analysis of one of the largest electronic medical records databases in the world, researchers found that patients with acne had a significantly increased risk of developing major depression, but only in the first 5 years after being diagnosed with acne.

The British Journal of Dermatology analysis included data from The Health Improvement Network (THIN) (1986-2012), a large primary care database in the United Kingdom.

The investigators found that the risk for major depression was highest within 1 year of acne diagnosis — a 63% higher risk compared with individuals without acne — and decreased thereafter.

Full story at Science Daily

Mental Illnesses by the Numbers

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has launched a redesigned Statistics section on its website that features interactive data visualization tools and sharing capabilities. The section also features improved organization, navigation, and accessibility. The goal: To help people understand the impact of mental illnesses.

“There is power in numbers,” said Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., director of NIMH. “Mental illnesses affect tens of millions of people in the United States and across the globe each year. Each of these individuals has a singular, compelling story that conveys an understanding of the depth of suffering. Statistics build on this foundation by helping us better understand the broader scope and impact of mental illnesses on society.”

Full story at NIMH

‘Depression education’ effective for some teens

In an assessment of their “depression literacy” program, which has already been taught to tens of thousands, Johns Hopkins researchers say the Adolescent Depression .Awareness Program (ADAP) achieved its intended effect of encouraging many teenagers to speak up and seek adult help for themselves or a peer.

The program provides selected high school teachers a curriculum geared to students in ninth or 10th grade in the required health education classes.

In a report of their findings, published in the December issue of the American Journal of Public Health, the researchers say the program was designed to prevent suffering at a time when adolescent depression rates are on the rise and many believe awareness, early recognition and effective therapies can lead to better outcomes.

Full story at Science Daily

Molecular secrets revealed: Antipsychotic docked in its receptor

Antipsychotic drugs — which transformed mental health care following their chance discovery in the mid-20th Century — may finally be poised for a long-overdue makeover incorporating structure-based design. Scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health have achieved a landmark of psychiatric neuropharmacology: deciphering the molecular structure of a widely prescribed antipsychotic docked in its key receptor. They are hopeful that this discovery may hold secrets to designing better treatments for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental illnesses.

“For the first time, we can understand precisely how atypical antipsychotic drugs bind to their primary molecular target in the human brain,” explained Dr. Laurie Nadler, chief of the neuropharmacology program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which co-funded the study along with the National Institute of General Medical Sciences and the National Cancer Institute. “This discovery opens the way for the rational design of a new generation of antipsychotic drugs, hopefully with more desirable effects and fewer side effects.”

Full story at Science Daily