Critical receptor involved in response to antidepressants like ketamine

Effective treatment of clinical depression remains a major mental health issue, with roughly 30 percent of patients who do not respond to any of the available treatments. Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have discovered a crucial receptor called mGlu2 that is critical to the mechanism of fast-acting antidepressants such as ketamine when used to treat depression.

This discovery into how this type of receptor in the brain works with fast-acting antidepressants is a critical discovery in treating depression, because existing treatments can take weeks before they are effective. A single dose of ketamine that is lower than the amount required to cause anesthesia within 24 hours can alleviates depression in some treatment-resistant patients.

Todd Gould, MD., Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry, together with researchers from the National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Program, discovered that this special type of glutamate receptor interacts with ketamine’s mechanism.

Full story at Science Daily

Suicide: How You Can Make a Difference

The recent deaths of two school shooting survivors has brought the topic of suicide into everyday conversations. It’s important to know some facts and to know what to do if you think someone might be at risk for self-harm. A crisis can pass with time and the most important thing is to stay safe through the crisis and get help.

5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain

  • Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.
  • Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means can make a difference.

Full story at NIMH

When neurons are out of shape, antidepressants may not work

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the most commonly prescribed medication for major depressive disorder (MDD), yet scientists still do not understand why the treatment does not work in nearly thirty percent of patients with MDD. Now, Salk Institute researchers have discovered differences in growth patterns of neurons of SSRI-resistant patients. The work, published in Molecular Psychiatry on March 22, 2019, has implications for depression as well as other psychiatric conditions such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia that likely also involve abnormalities of the serotonin system in the brain.

“With each new study, we move closer to a fuller understanding of the complex neural circuitry underlying neuropsychiatric diseases, including major depression,” says Salk Professor Rusty Gage, the study’s senior author, president of the Institute, and the Vi and John Adler Chair for Research on Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disease. “This paper, along with another we recently published, not only provides insights into this common treatment, but also suggests that other drugs, such as serotonergic antagonists, could be additional options for some patients.”

Full story at Science Daily

Daily use of high potency marijuana linked to higher rates of psychosis, study finds

Daily cannabis use, especially of the high potency strains, is linked to an increased risk of developing psychosis, according to new research released Tuesday.

The European study, which looked at cannabis use in 11 major cities and Brazil, is the first to show the impact of marijuana use on rates of psychosis, a severe mental condition, in large populations. The link with psychosis was strongest in London and Amsterdam where high potency strains — marijuana which contains over 10 percent THC, the psychoactive component of the drug — are highest and most commonly available.

In Amsterdam, half of all new cases of psychosis were linked with high potency use; in London, one-third of new cases were linked with high potency use.

Full story at NBC News

Hate Those Stressful Office Parties? Just Fake It, Study Suggests

Though they often dread social events, many introverts find they’re not as bad as feared and some have learned to fake an outgoing personality to get through the experience.

In the business world, socializing is a key to success, said Erik Helzer, who led a team that examined the psychological implications for both introverts and extroverts. Helzer is an assistant professor of management and organization at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School in Baltimore.

“We’re told, ‘You ought to do this. It will help your career,'” he said in a university news release. “But that doesn’t mean we look forward to it. In fact, many people do not.”

For the study, Helzer and colleagues asked 146 university students to spend 30 minutes interacting with strangers in a cocktail party environment.

Full story at Health Day

NIH Study Shows Many Preteens Screen Positive for Suicide Risk During ER Visits

A research team found nearly one-third of youth ages 10 to 12 years screened positive for suicide risk in emergency department settings. As part of a larger study on youth suicide risk screening in emergency departments, researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, and collaborators sought to explore how frequently preteen youth ages 10 to 12 screened positive for suicide risk. Notably, 7 percent of the preteens who screened positive for suicide risk were seeking help for physical – not psychiatric – concerns. The study appears online March 11 in Hospital Pediatrics.

“Typically, suicidal thoughts and behaviors are seen in older teens. It was troubling to see that so many preteens screened positive for suicide risk, and we were alarmed to find that many of them had acted on their suicidal thoughts in the past,” said Lisa Horowitz, Ph.D., M.P.H., a clinical scientist in the NIMH Division of Intramural Research Programs (DIRP) and an author on the paper. “This study shows that children as young as 10 who show up in the emergency department may be thinking about suicide, and that screening all preteens — regardless of their presenting symptoms — may save lives. Otherwise, they may pass through our medical systems undetected.”

Full story at NIMH

Stress: A feeling of control may limit its negative effects

Researchers conducted a study on rats and revealed that the possibility of controlling the source of stress may be key to reducing its impact.

Everybody experiences stress at some point in their lives.

Sometimes, stress can be a positive force and lead to positive outcomes.

However, when it becomes chronic, it might produce a range health complaints.

These may include headaches, muscle tension, chest pain, gastrointestinal issues, insomnia, and mental health conditions.

Full story at Medical News Today

Child’s elevated mental ill-health risk if mother treated for infection during pregnancy

Risks for autism and depression are higher if one’s mother was in hospital with an infection during pregnancy. This is shown by a major Swedish observational study of nearly 1.8 million children.

“The results indicate that safeguarding against and preventing infection during pregnancy as far as possible by, for instance, following flu vaccination recommendations, may be called for,” says Verena Sengpiel, Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, and last author of the study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

Maternal infection with certain infectious agents, such as cytomegalovirus (CMV) or the herpes virus, are already known to be capable of harming fetal brain development and boosting the risk of certain psychiatric disorders.

Full story at Science Daily

Psychedelic microdosing in rats shows beneficial effects

The growing popularity of microdosing — taking tiny amounts of psychedelic drugs to boost mood and mental acuity — is based on anecdotal reports of its benefits. Now, a study in rats by researchers at the University of California, Davis suggests microdosing can provide relief for symptoms of depression and anxiety, but also found potential negative effects. The work is published March 4 in the journal ACS Chemical Neuroscience.

“Prior to our study, essentially nothing was known about the effects of psychedelic microdosing on animal behaviors,” said David Olson, assistant professor in the UC Davis departments of Chemistry and of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, who leads the research team. “This is the first time anyone has demonstrated in animals that psychedelic microdosing might actually have some beneficial effects, particularly for depression or anxiety. It’s exciting, but the potentially adverse changes in neuronal structure and metabolism that we observe emphasize the need for additional studies.”

Full story at Science Daily

What are mania and hypomania?

Mania and hypomania are periods where a person feels elated, very active, and full of energy. Hypomania is a milder form of mania.

Mania and hypomania both involve periods when the individual feels excited or experiences an energized mood. They differ in how severe these mood changes are:

  • Mania is a severe episode that may last for a week or more. A person may feel uncontrollably elated and very high in energy. These symptoms interfere with daily life, and in severe cases, a person may need to go to the hospital.
  • Hypomania is an episode that lasts for a few days. People may feel very good and function well. Family or friends may notice mood or activity changes, while the person with the hypomania may not.

Full story at Medical News Today