Research Updates

Short-Term Psychotherapy to Help Cardiac Patients

Acute myocardial infarction survivors who received short-term psychotherapy, in addition to standard cardiac care, were less likely to have new cardiac events or to be hospitalized again in the year after the incident, as well as have lower depression scores and better quality of life outcomes. (Int J Cardiol. 2013; 170(2):132-139.  Read more.

Brief Therapy Eases Symptoms of Combat-Related Psychological Trauma

Accelerated Resolution Therapy, or ART, a brief, safe, and effective treatment for combat-related symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among veterans and U.S. service members, researchers report in a new study. They found this treatment of a combination of evidence-based psychotherapies and use of eye movements was shorter and more likely to be completed than other conventional therapies. (Military Medicine, 178(12) December 2013) Read more.

Personal Antidepressant for Every Genome

Researchers have discovered a gene that may reveal whether people are likely to respond well to SSRI antidepressants, both generally and in specific formulations. The new biomarker, once it is validated in clinical trials, could be used to create a genetic test that allows doctors to provide personalized treatment for depression.  (Translational Psychiatry, (2013) 3, e313) Read more.

Brains of Social Anxiety Sufferers Can't Control Sense of Fear

People suffering from social anxiety disorder lack a proper functioning inhibitory connection in their brain, making them vulnerable to uncontrollable fear, according to a study. Researchers explain that this “brake” in the brain is necessary to keep the sense of fear at appropriate levels and not spin out of control when a situation doesn’t demand it. (Cerebral Cortex, published online October 9, 2013) Read more. 

Frequent Cell Phone Use Linked to Students’ Anxiety, Lower GPA, Reduced Happiness

Of more than 500 university students surveyed, researchers found that high-frequency cell phone users tended to have lower GPA, higher anxiety, and lower satisfaction with life relative to their peers who used the cell phone less often. (Computers in Human Behavior, 2014; 31: 343) Read more.

Important Discovery Related to Anxiety Disorders, Trauma

A team of researchers found that PC7, the seventh member of the proprotein convertase family responsible for converting inactive proteins into their active states, plays a critical role in the hippocampus and amygdala, which are important for memory and emotional reactions that are involved in anxiety responses. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2013; 110 (43): 17362) Read more.

Group Therapy May Help Ease Social Anxiety Disorder

Talk therapy conducted in groups could help people with social anxiety disorder, according to a new review of past studies. The report suggests undergoing CBT in groups is effective for people with social anxiety disorder, particularly because it helps people practice interacting with others. (PLOS One, published online November 15, 2013) Read more.

Talk Therapy May Reverse Biological Changes in PTSD Patients

A new study suggests that CBT for posttraumatic stress disorder reduces symptoms and affects the underlying biology of this disorder. (Biological Psychiatry, 2013; 74 (11): 793) Read more.

Found: Gene Responsible for Susceptibility to Panic Disorder

A study points for the first time to the gene trkC as a factor in susceptibility to panic disorder. The researchers define the specific mechanism for the formation of fear memories that will help in the development of new pharmacological and cognitive treatments. (Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (38): 15259) Read more. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/11/131128133921.htm

“Anti-Ketamine” to Treat Depression?

Ketamine has shown evidence of producing rapid antidepressant effects in depressed patients who had not responded to prior treatments by blocking one of the targets for the neurotransmitter glutamate in the brain, the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor. A new study now reports that enhancing, instead of blocking, that same target -- the NMDA glutamate receptor -- also causes antidepressant-like effects. (Biological Psychiatry, 2013; 74 (10): 734) Read more.

For Anxious Children and Teens, Context Counts

Researchers have shown that teenagers with anxiety disorders show increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex when they are interpreting a situation negatively. Earlier research had found that anxious youths likely interpret neutral or ambiguous information as threatening, fueling the feelings of distress that characterize anxiety disorders.  (Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, 2013; 3 (1): 18) Read more. 

Enlarged Amygdala Linked to Anxiety in Young Children

Measuring the size and connectivity of the amygdala may accurately predict anxiety levels in young children ― even before they have been diagnosed with a disorder, a new imaging study shows. Investigators found that participants, between the ages of 7 and 9 years, who had larger basolateral amygdalae had significantly higher scores on an anxiety checklist than those who had smaller amygdalae. Also, stronger functional connections between the amygdala and other brain regions associated with emotion regulation were significantly linked to high anxiety levels. (Biological Psychiatry, published online November 20, 2013) Read more. 


Biomarkers of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Read a brief summary of the articles appearing in this special issue of Biological Psychiatry. (Biological Psychiatry, 74(9):633, 1 November 2013) Read more. 

Stress: Impact on Brain and Body

Read a brief summary of the articles appearing in this special issue of Biological Psychiatry. (Biological Psychiatry, 74(11):787, 1 December 2013) Read more.

CBT Success for Older Veterans' Depression

Researchers have found significant and equivalent reductions in symptoms of depression for older and younger veterans undergoing cognitive-behavioral therapy for depression (CBT-D). (The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, November 2013) Read more.

New Insight Into How Antidepressants Work in the Brain

Recent research provides a brand-new view of how nerve cells communicate with each other, giving a better understanding of how antidepressants work in the human brain, which could lead to the development of such medications with few or no side effects. (Nature, 2013; 503(7474): 85) Read more.

Depression Therapy Effective for Poor, Minority Moms

A new study shows that screening for depression and providing short-term, relationship-focused therapy through weekly home visits can relieve depression among low-income minority mothers, even in the face of poverty and personal histories of abuse or violence. (Development and Psychopathology, 25(4pt1):1065-1078) Read more. 

Increased Anxiety Disorders in Service Members

Nearly 218,000 incidents of anxiety disorders were diagnosed among the active-component of the U.S. Armed Forces; this rate steadily increased over the past 13 years, according to a new study. (Medical Surveillance Monthly Report, October 2013) Read more.

ERP Boosts Antidepressant Treatment of OCD

Researchers have found that exposure and ritual prevention can augment antidepressant treatment OCD better than an antipsychotic. They recommend that exposure and ritual prevention (ERP)  be offered first to OCD patients who don’t respond adequately to treatment with an antidepressant alone, the current guidelines. (JAMA Psychiatry, 2013 Nov 1;70(11):1190-9.) Read more.

How Treatment for Anxiety Disorders Silences Fear Neurons

A new mouse study reports that exposure therapy remodels an inhibitory junction in the amygdala, a brain region important for fear in mice and humans. The findings improve understanding of how exposure therapy suppresses fear responses and may lead to the development of more effective treatments. (Neuron, 31 October 2013) Read more. 

Variant Gene Form Reduced Antidepressant's Ability to Weaken Emotional Memories

Having a different form of a gene that regulates the brain chemical noradrenaline influences how well men remember negative memories after taking the antidepressant drug reboxetine, according to new research. The findings demonstrate how genes can influence antidepressant response. (The Journal of Neuroscience, 33(43):17023-17028) Read more. 

Moderate Exercise Prevents Depression

Physical activity is being increasingly recognized as an effective tool to treat depression, and research takes this connection one more step: Moderate exercise can actually prevent episodes of depression in the long term. (American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2013; 45 (5): 649) Read more.

Interactive Computer Program Helps Patients Talk With Physician About Depression

Patients using an interactive computer program about depression while waiting to see their primary care doctor were nearly twice as likely to ask about the condition and significantly more likely to receive a recommendation for antidepressant drugs or a mental health referral from their physician, according to a new study. (JAMA, 2013; 310 (17): 1818) Read more. 

Anxiety a Greater Suicide Risk Factor Than Depression

Four papers in a special issue of Depression and Anxiety demonstrate that anxiety poses a greater suicide risk than depression. (Depression and Anxiety, 30(10):893–1053) Read more.

Narcolepsy Complicated by High Comorbidities

A new study shows that individuals diagnosed with narcolepsy have substantially higher rates of psychiatric and medical conditions than the general population: 27% had a mood disorder, 37% were taking an antidepressant (a rate three times greater than the general population), and anxiety disorders were prevalent. (Sleep Medicine, 14(6): 488-492, June 2013) Read more.

Anxiety Gene May Limit Helping Others

Researchers have discovered that people with the genotype 5-HTTLPR, which is linked to higher social anxiety, were less likely to engage in prosocial behavior (strong social skills), compared with those missing this genotype. (Social Neuroscience, 8(5): 397-399) Read more.

CBT Effective for Reducing Health Anxiety

The findings of the first large-scale trial to test the effectiveness of CBT for health anxiety show that it is substantially more effective than standard care at reducing symptoms of health anxiety in medical patients (10-20% of hospital patients who excessively worry that they have a serious, undiagnosed illness). (The Lancet, published online 18 October 2013) Read more. 

Making Memories Fade Away

A new study reveals that enhancing the activity of Tet1, a gene critical to the process of memory extinction, might benefit people with PTSD by making it easier to replace fearful memories with more positive associations. (Neuron, 79(6): 1109-1122) Read more. 

Neurotransmitter Linked to PTSD

Researchers reported that posttraumatic stress disorder is associated with lowered levels of norepinephrine transporter (NET) in a brain region that plays a role in panic and stress. The results suggest that PTSD is associated with significantly reduced NET availability in the locus coeruleus and that greater NET availability in this brain region is associated with increased severity of anxious arousal symptoms in individuals with PTSD. (JAMA Psychiatry, published online September 18, 2013) Read more. 

Sleeping Away Fear

A fear memory was reduced in people by exposing them to the memory over and over again while they slept, the first time that emotional memory has been manipulated in humans during sleep. Adding a nighttime component may offer a new way to enhance the daytime treatment of phobias through exposure therapy. (Nature Neuroscience, published online 22 September 2013) Read more. 

Anxiety and Stress Can Rewire Brain, Make Malodorous Smells

Researchers using new brain imaging technologies are revealing how anxiety or stress can rewire the brain, linking centers of emotion and olfactory processing, to make typically benign smells malodorous. (Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (2): 587) Read more.

Increased ERN Activity in Six-Year-Olds With Anxiety

A recent study shows that the relationship between an increased error-related negativity (ERN) and clinical anxiety is evident by age 6, independent from an opposing influence of maternal anxiety history on the ERN. These findings support the ERN as a promising neurobehavioral marker of anxiety. (Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, November 2013, 41(8):1257-1266) Read more. 

Postpartum Depression Spans Generations

A recent study suggests that exposure to social stress impairs a mother's ability to care for her children and can also negatively impact her daughter's ability to provide maternal care to future offspring. In a rat study, researchers examined  the behavioral and physiological changes in mothers exposed to chronic social stress early in life as a model for postpartum depression and anxiety. (Hormones and Behavior, 2013; 64 (4): 634) Read more.

PTSD Increases Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

People PTSD face a greater risk of cardiovascular disease and death, and a new study of the medical literature shows that PTSD also increases an individual’s risk of metabolic syndrome. However, the link between these two disorders is not yet clear. (Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, 11(5): 301-308) Read more.

Depression May Increase Risk of Parkinson’s

People who are depressed may have triple the risk of developing Parkinson's disease, according to a study. Other studies have linked it to cancer and stroke, and this one suggests that depression may also be an independent risk factor for Parkinson's disease. (Neurology, 81( 17):1538-1544) Read more.

NIH Approves High-Priority Research Within Brain Initiative

National Institutes of Health has approved initial areas of high-priority brain research to guide $40 million of NIH fiscal year 2014 funding within the BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative. The funding will focus on nine areas of research.  Read more. 

Exposure-Antidepressant Combination May Help OCD

New research shows that patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) do better with a combination of intensive exposure therapy along with an antidepressant, rather than taking a common two-drug combination. This study suggests that unique aspects of brain function are targeted by medication and psychotherapy. (JAMA Psychiatry, published online Sept. 11) Read more.

Anxiety Affects Size of Personal Space

New research on the relationship between anxiety and personal space gives limits to the space surrounding the body, or peripersonal space. Scientists can define the limit of the peripersonal space as 20 to 40 cm away. Those who scored highly anxious tended to react more strongly to stimuli 20 cm from their face than subjects who got low scores on the anxiety test. (The Journal of Neuroscience, 28 August 2013, 33(35):14225-14230) Read more.

Toward Better Targets for Anxiety Treatments

A new study shows a communication pathway between the amygdala and the ventral hippocampus that appears to control anxiety levels. In a mouse study researchers turned the volume of this communication up and down and were able to boost and reduce anxiety levels. (Neuron, Volume 79, Issue 4, 21 August 2013, Pages 658–664) Read more.

Discovery and Validation of Blood Biomarkers for Suicidality

Researchers have identified possible RNA biomarkers for suicide risk. The results have implications for the understanding of suicide and for the development of objective laboratory tests and tools to track suicidal risk and response to treatment. (Molecular Psychiatry, advance online publication 20 August 2013) Read more.

Racism Linked to Depression and Anxiety in Youth

An international review has found that children and young people experience poor mental health, depression, and anxiety following experiences of racism, particularly interpersonal experiences of racism. The review shows racism as an important factor influencing the health and well-being of children and youth. (Social Science & Medicine, 2013; 95: 115-127) Read more. 

Anxiety Symptoms From Immune Cells Called to Brain

New research shows that in a dynamic mind-body interaction during prolonged stress, cells from the immune system are recruited to the brain, where they promote symptoms of anxiety. The findings of this mouse study offer a new explanation of how stress can lead to mood disorders and identify a monocytes (a subset of immune cells) that could be targeted by drugs for treatment. (Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 33 (34): 13820) Read more.

Stomachaches in Kids Tied to Adulthood Anxiety Disorders

A longitudinal study shows that functional abdominal pain in childhood has been associated with anxiety disorder and depression in teens and young adults, even if the stomach pain disappeared. (Pediatrics, published online August 12, 2013) Read more.

Inflammation Marker Higher in Kids With Asthma and Depression

Children and adolescents with coexisting asthma and depression tended to have high levels of the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein, researchers found. (Journal of Pediatrics, published online August 5, 2013) Read more. 

Potential New Way to Treat Anxiety Discovered

Researchers have discovered that chemically modified inhibitors of the COX-2 enzyme relieve anxiety behaviors in mice by activating endocannabinoids (natural signaling molecules) without gastrointestinal side effects. They activate cannabinoid receptors in the brain, which are also found in the gastrointestinal system and elsewhere. (Nature Neuroscience, published online August 11, 2013) Read more.

Alcohol Use, PTSD Improve With Naltrexone

The frequency of alcohol consumption decreased significantly more with naltrexone than with placebo in patients with comorbid alcohol dependence and PTSD, according to a randomized trial. The addition of this opioid receptor antagonist to exposure therapy or supportive counseling resulted in the largest reduction of drinking days. (JAMA, 2013;310(5):488-495) Read more.

PTSD After Traumatic Events: Who’s at Risk?

Clinicians can target those teens who are most vulnerable to developing posttraumatic stress disorder, according to a large study. (Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, August 2013, 52(8): 815-830) Read more.

High levels of Enzyme Linked to Anxiety

A study has revealed that mouse embryos with high levels of the human enzyme CYP2C19 develop a smaller hippocampus and demonstrate anxiety-like behavior, as well as a higher stress sensitivity. (Molecular Psychiatry, published online 23 July 2013). Read more.

Strengthening Bad Memories, Oxytocin Can Increase Fear and Anxiety

Oxytocin, the hormone that promotes feelings of love and well-being has been shown to actually strengthen social memory in one specific region of the brain. This is the first study that links oxytocin to social stress and its ability to increase anxiety and fear in response to future stress. (Nature Neuroscience, published online 21 July 2013) Read more.

Rapid Acting Antidepressants

Focus of issue (Biological Psychiatry, 73:12; June 14, 2013:1164-1222) Read it.

Depressive Disorders

Issue on Sources of Treatment Resistance in Depression: Inflammation and Functional Connectivity (Biological Psychiatry, 74:1; July 1, 2013:26-69)  Read it.

Iron Deficiency and Childhood Psychiatric Disorders

Research shows that children and adolescents with iron deficiency anemia are at increased risk for psychiatric disorders, including anxiety and depressive disorders. (BMC Psychiatry, published online June 4). Read more.

Identifying a Neuroimaging Treatment Selection Biomarker for Major Depressive Disorder

If verified with prospective testing, the insula metabolism-based treatment-specific biomarker provides the first objective marker to guide initial treatment selection for depression. Identification of a biological marker might lead to more patients achieving remission with initial treatment. (JAMA Psychiatry, 2013 Jun 12:1-9) Read more.

Posttraumatic Stress Symptoms in Latino Children Exposed to Violence

Results of a study suggest that individual differences in behavioral inhibition contribute to risk for specific PTSD symptoms, important for understanding variation in responses to trauma exposure. (Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, August 2013, 41(6):983-992) Read more.

Brain Estrogen Means Females Respond Better to Stress

Researchers have found a scientific explanation for the viewpoint that females are more resistant in responding to chronic stress because estrogen has a protective effect. Specifically, the glutamate receptor in the prefrontal cortex remains intact, providing more support for a growing body of research demonstrating that the glutamate receptor is the molecular target of stress, which mediates the stress response. (Molecular Psychiatry, published online July 9) Read more.

Antidepressant Plus Talk Therapy Aids Older Adults

A combination of antidepressant therapy and counseling is an effective way to treat anxiety in older adults, a new study finds. Together, these treatments keep seniors anxiety-free for a longer time than either medication or counseling alone. (American Journal of Psychiatry, July 2013; 170 (7):782-789) Read more.  

Lack of Sleep  Boosts Anticipatory Anxiety

Neuroscientists have found that sleep deprivation amplifies anticipatory anxiety by firing up the amygdala and insular cortex, brain regions associated with emotional processing, a pattern that mimics the abnormal neural activity of anxiety disorders. Furthermore those who are naturally more anxious and more likely to develop an anxiety disorder are more vulnerable to the impact of insufficient sleep. (Journal of Neuroscience, 26 June 2013, 33(26):10607-10615) Read more.

Lithium Reduces Suicide Risk in Those With Mood Disorders

The authors of a new study report that the drug lithium appears to reduce the risk of death and suicide by more than 60 percent, compared with a placebo, suggesting that lithium is an effective agent for people with clinical depression and bipolar disorder. (BMJ 2013;346:f3646) Read more.

Brain Differences Visible in Depressed Preschoolers

Brain scans of preschoolers with depression revealed elevated activity in the amygdala when compared with scans of peers exhibiting no signs of depression. The differences were measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); they provide the earliest evidence so far of changes in brain function in young children with depression. (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 2013; 52 (7): 737-746) Read more.

Analysis of Relapse Following Successful ECT for Major Depression

The aim of this study was to provide a systematic overview of the existing evidence regarding post ECT relapse, due to the reported high rates. Current treatment guidelines offer little information to clinicians on the optimal nature of maintenance therapy following ECT. (Neuropsychopharmacology, published online June 18, 2013) Read more.

Ketamine Cousin for Depression: Rapid, No Side Effects

GLYX-13, a molecular cousin to ketamine, induces similar antidepressant results without the street drug side effects, according to a new NIMH-funded study, and it is rapid acting (1 hour) and long-lasting (24 hours) in rats. (Neuropsychopharmacology, 2012; 38 (5): 729) Read more.

Half Diagnosed With PTSD Also Have Depression

About one of every two people diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) also suffer symptoms of depression, according to new research. Further, both genders diagnosed with PTSD suffer equally from depression. (Journal of Traumatic Stress, 26(3): 299–417) Read more.

Partner Can Buffer Effects on Depressed Dad's Children

A supportive partner appears to buffer the effects of the father's depression (but not the mother's) on his children's behavior. (Developmental Psychology, Apr 29, 2013) Read more.

Brain Scans: Modern Meditation Can Lower Anxiety

Researchers measuring anxiety levels of individuals who underwent mindfulness meditation found that that anxiety levels could fall to as much as 39 percent, as well as increased brain activity in the ventromedial prefontal cortex (associated with controlling worries) and the anterior cingulate cortex, which mediates thinking and emotion. (Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, published online April 24, 2013) Read more.

D-Cycloserine Augments CBT for Anxiety Disorders

A number of preclinical and clinical studies suggest that DCS may act as a cognitiveenhancer during extinction learning and CBT. Unanswered questions include the optimal dose and timing, possible interaction effects with other drugs, long-term effects, and the specificity of the cognitive process targeted by the drug. (Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, 2013, 3:11) Read more.

Scan Predicts Therapy or Meds for Depression

Scans of brain activity predicted whether depressed patients would best achieve remission with an antidepressant medication or psychotherapy, in a study funded by NIMH, showing that brain imaging may aid clinical decision-making. (JAMA Psychiatry, June 12, 2013; 70(6):1-9) Read more.

Possible Prevention of PTSD

Scientists have developed a drug that targets a specific gene, which can prevent memory problems and increased anxiety in traumatized mice suffering from PTSD-like symptoms, suggesting that the new drug could have a similar effect in humans. (Science Translational Medicine, 5 June 2013; 5(188):188ra7) Read more.

Blocking OCD Behavior

Neuroscientists developed a mouse model in which they blocked compulsive behavior by activating a brain circuit that controls compulsive behavior, which could lead to the development of new treatments for OCD and Tourette's syndrome. They used light to control the activity of neurons involved in compulsive behavior (optogenetics); this technique is not yet ready for humans. (Science, 7 June 2013; 340(6137):1243-1246) Read more.

Extinction and the Treatment of Anxiety Disorders

The June issue is devoted to this topic. (Biological Psychiatry, 73(11): 1037-1119, June 1, 2013) Read more.

Fear in the Brain Never Rests for Combat Veterans With PTSD

Researchers exploring the brains of combat veterans with PTSD found that the effects of trauma persist in certain brain regions even in the absence of external triggers. These findings represent a critical step toward better diagnostics and treatments for PTSD. (Neuroscience Letters, published online May 2013) Read more.

How to Prescribe Exercise for Depressed Patients

Research data is now sufficient enough to provide specific guidance on how to prescribe exercise for depressed patients. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 19(3):204-212, May 2013) Read more.

Tylenol May Ease Death Anxiety

The pain reliever acetaminophen can also decrease emotional pain related to worry about death or the uncertainty of life. (Psychological Science, published online April 11, 2013) Read more.

Emotional Strategies Influence Anxiety

New research findings suggest that the way emotions are regulated can influence if or how much a person may suffer from anxiety. Those who engage in an emotional regulation strategy called reappraisal also tended to have less social anxiety and less anxiety in general than those who avoid expressing their feelings. (Emotion, published online May 13, 2013) Read more.

Body Clocks Altered at Cell Level in Depression

A new study suggests that even at the level of the gene activity inside their brain cells, the clock in the brains of people with depression may be broken. The research reveals the first direct evidence of altered circadian rhythms in people with depression, which shows that they operate out of sync with the usual ingrained daily cycle. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online 2013) Read more.

Parental Addictions Linked to Adult Children's Depression

The offspring of parents who were addicted to drugs or alcohol are more likely to be depressed in adulthood than are their peers, according to a new study.
(Psychiatry Research, published online 06 May 2013) Read more.

Common Depression Overdiagnosis, Overtreatment in the U.S.

Americans are over-diagnosed and over-treated for depression, according to a new study, which examines adults with clinician-identified depression and individuals who experienced major depressive episodes within a 12-month period. When assessed for major depressive episodes using a structured interview, only 38.4 percent of adults with clinician-identified depression met the 12-month criteria for depression, despite the majority of participants being prescribed and using psychiatric medications.(Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 2013;82:161-169) Read more.

Spray Improves Dry Mouth Caused by Antidepressants

A spray containing 1% malic acid has been shown to greatly improves xerostomy, or dry mouth, caused by antidepressant drugs. Combined with xylitol and fluorides, in a spray format, it stimulates saliva production and improves quality of life. (Depression and Anxiety, 2013; 30 (2): 137) Read more.

Meditation Mindfulness and Lower Stress Hormone

Focusing on the present rather than letting the mind drift may help to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, suggests new research. This is the first study to show a direct relation between resting cortisol and scores on any type of mindfulness scale. (Health Psychology, published online Mar 25, 2013)  Read more.

Forced Exercise Protects Against Anxiety and Stress

Being prescribed an exercise regimen by their doctors helps reduce anxiety and depression just as exercising voluntarily does, according to a new study using rats. (European Journal of Neuroscience, 2013; 37 (3): 469) Read more.

Heart Disease Patients With Anxiety, Depression at Increased Risk of Dying

Heart disease patients who have anxiety have twice the risk of dying from any cause compared to those without anxiety, according to new research. Patients with both anxiety and depression have triple the risk of dying. (Journal of the American Heart Association, March 19, 2013) Read more.

Major Depression: From Despair to Hope in Hours

Ketamine—a drug currently approved for the induction of anesthesia—opens a door to new possibilities and renewed hope for people living with major depressive disorders. (NIH Research in Action online) Read more.

Clues to Antidepressant’s Effects

Brain scans during memory tests might help predict which depressed patients will be helped by scopolamine, a fast-acting drug, a new study reports. (NIH News in Health, April 2013) Read more.

Most Effective PTSD Therapies Not Widely Used

Although some psychological interventions effectively ameliorate the symptoms of PTSD, most people struggling with the disorder don't receive those treatments. (Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 2013; 14 (2): 65) Read more.


Anxiety Disorders More Common in Kids Who Avoid Scary Situations

Researchers who followed more than 800 children ages 7 to 18 found that children who avoid situations they find scary are likely to have anxiety, suggesting this may be a new method to measure avoidance behavior in young children. (Behavior Therapy, published online 4 March 2013) Read more.

Part of Hippocampus Plays Role in Modulating Anxiety

Researchers have found that selective activation of the dentate gyrus, a section of the hippocampus that plays a role in learning, can reduce anxiety without affecting learning. The finding suggests that therapies targetting the dentate gyrus could treat panic disorder and PTSD with minimal cognitive side effects. (Neuron, 2013;77(5): 955) Read more.

Fear-Extinction Training Increased REM Sleep In Anxiety Disorders

Researchers identified a specific group of cells in the brainstem whose activation during REM sleep is critical for the regulation of emotional memory processing. The findings may lead to the development of effective therapies for PTSD, phobias, and panic. (Journal of Neuroscience, 6 March 2013, 33(10):4561-4569) Read more. 

Family Intervention Improves Symptoms in Youth at Risk for Bipolar Disorder

A study found that children and adolescents with major depression or subthreshold forms of bipolar disorder—and who had at least one first-degree relative with bipolar disorder—responded better to a 12-session family-focused treatment than to a briefer educational treatment. (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 52(2); 121-131) Read more.

Stress Hormone May Indicate Postpartum Depression

Research points to biological and psychological risk factors for postpartum depression: Women who receive strong social support from their families during pregnancy are less likely to develop postpartum depression because they appear to be protected from sharp increases in a particular stress hormone, according to a new study. (Clinical Psychological Science, 2013) Read more.

New Mothers’ Obsessions

A new study found that women who have recently given birth have a higher rate of obsessive-compulsive symptoms than the general population: 11 percent of women at two weeks and six months postpartum experience significant obsessive-compulsive symptoms, compared to 2–3 percent in the general population. The symptoms (including fear of injuring the baby and worry about germs) are usually temporary, possibly resulting from hormonal changes or as an adaptive response to caring for a new baby. Compulsions interfering with functioning may indicate a psychological disorder. (The Journal of Reproductive Medicine, published online in April 2013) Read more.

PTSD Often Seen With Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Nearly one-fourth of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer experienced posttraumatic stress disorder; blacks, Asians, and women younger than 50 reported distress more often. Identifying PTSD in women with breast cancer early in diagnosis would help manage their symptoms and treatment better.  (Journal of the National Cancer Institute (JNCI),  published online February 21, 2013) Read more. 

5 Psych Disorders Have Common Genetics

Findings from family and twin studies show that that autism, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, and schizophrenia share common genetic underpinnings -- despite differences in symptoms and course of disease. Single nucleotide polymorphisms in two genes involved in calcium-channel activity appear to play a role in all five. (The Lancet, early online publication, 28 February 2013) Read more. 

Major Depression Responsive to Low-Intensity Interventions

Patients with more severe depression gain as much clinical benefit from low-intensity interventions, such as self-help books and websites, as those with less severe depression, researchers found. (BMJ, 2013;346:f540) Read more.

New Applications for Old Drug

Recent studies show that scopolamine, which prevents nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness, can rapidly improve mood in depressed patients. In addition, it may also be a possible treatment for anxiety disorders. (Biological Psychiatry, 2013; 73 (4): 345) Read more. 

Bullying Victims at Increased Risk of Anxiety Disorders and Depression

Children who are bullied are at an increased risk of developing anxiety disorders and depression when they become adults. The study identified that bullying is not harmless because it can also cause serious adverse health outcomes in the victims and perpetrators, including depression, and problems of physical health, emotion, and behavior; psychotic symptoms; and loss of motivation. (JAMA Psychiatry, 2013;1-8.) Read more. 

Role of Neuron Creation in Anxiety Disorders Identified

People with PTSD often have impaired pattern separation, the process by which similar experiences are transformed into distinct memories. They often react to events that resemble their original trauma, even in safe situations Research suggests that drugs that promote neurogenesis—the production of new neurons—may play a potential role in treating impaired pattern separation. (Nature Neuroscience, 15,1613–1620(2012) Read more.  

Broken Brain Receptors Cause Anxiety

Problems arise in critical brain receptors when the molecular motors they depend on fail to operate. Researchers have shown these broken motors induce stress and anxiety in mice, a discovery that may point toward new kinds of drugs to treat anxiety and other disorders. (Cell Reports, 3(2):509-519) Read more. 

Key to Antidepressant Response Uncovered

Researchers have identified a protein that appears to be the target of both antidepressant drugs and electroconvulsive therapy. Research results explain that these therapies likely work to relieve depression by stimulating stem cells in the brain to grow and mature. (Molecular Psychiatry, published online December 2012) Read more.

Packed Emergency Room May Trigger PTSD in Heart Patients

Emergency department crowding may lead acute coronary syndrome patients to experience posttraumatic stress disorder, potentially resulting in ACS recurrence or mortality, researchers found. (JAMA Intern Med, 2013;1-2) Read more. 

Gastritis and Mental Disorders

An investigation of the association between physician-diagnosed gastritis and mood and anxiety disorders among adults in the general population showed an increased prevalence of panic attacks, social phobia, any mood disorder and major depression, compared to those without gastritis. A diagnosis of gastritis appears to be associated with significantly increased odds of mood and anxiety disorders among adults in the general population, and it was consistent among both sexes. (Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47(1):128-132) Read more.

Brain Imaging Predicts Psychotherapy Success Social Anxiety Disorder

Brain imaging can provide neuromarkers to predict whether cognitive-behavioral therapy or other traditional options will work for a particular patient with social anxiety disorder. Characterized by the fear of being judged by others and humiliated, social anxiety disorder is the third most prevalent psychiatric disorder in Americans, after depression and alcohol dependence, (JAMA Psychiatry, January 2013; 70(1):87–97) Read more.

Threat Bias Interacts With Combat & Gene to Boost PTSD Risk

Soldiers preoccupied with threat at enlistment or with avoiding it just before deployment were more likely to PTSD, according to a study of Israeli infantrymen. (JAMA Psychiatry, published online February 13, 2013) Read more.

Depression May Lower Response to Shingles Vaccine

After receiving the varicella zoster virus vaccine against herpes zoster, or shingles, older patients with major depressive disorder who were not receiving antidepressants had lower cell-mediated immunity to the vaccine than those who were healthy and depressed who were receiving drug treatment. (Clinical Infectious Diseases, published online February 13, 2013) email=jteichroew [at] adaa [dot] org&mu_id=5336017" target="_blank">Read more.

Dimensions and Subtypes of Anxiety Disorders

Articles in this special issue of Biological Psychiatry:: Transgenerational Epigenetic Effects on Brain Functions; Dimensions and Subtypes of Anxiety Disorders; Mechanisms of Anxiety Treatments; Targeted Modulation: Effects on Fear and Desire; Estrogen Blockade Impairs Fear Extinction; Bereavement and Cortisol Respons (Biological Psychiatry, 73(4): February 15, 2013; 295-388) Read more.

CBT Improves PTSD Symptoms in Children and Teens

Children and teenagers diagnosed with PTSD showed signs of improvement up to three months following treatment. A review, published in The Cochrane Library, showed evidence for the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy and other psychological therapies. While CBT was not shown to be more effective than others, better evidence supported its positive effects. (Medical News Today, MediLexicon, Intl., 14 Dec. 2012.) Read more.

Domestic Violence Experienced Among Those With Mental Disorders

Men and women with mental health disorders, including anxiety disorders, PTSD, and OCD, are more likely to have experienced domestic violence than the general population, according to new research. This is the first study to look at a wide range of mental health problems in both male and female victims. (PLoS ONE, 2012;7(12) Read more. 

Mistaking OCD for ADHD Has Serious Care Consequences

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) appear similar on a behavioral level, but the mechanism behind the two neuropsychological disorders differs greatly, and misdiagnosis threatens successful patient care. (Journal of Neuropsychology, 6:161–191) Read more. 

Anxiety Linked to Chest Pain in Children

Psychological factors can have as much or more impact on chest pain as physical ones in children, a study found recently. (Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 2012; published online November 5, 2012) Read more.

Root of Trauma for Soldiers With PTSD May Lie in Childhood

New research on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in soldiers provides evidence that traumatic experiences in childhood, not combat, may predict which soldiers develop the disorder. (Psychological Science, December 2012; 23(12):1557-1565) Read more.

Parents Pass Fear of Dentist to Children

A new study confirms the important role that parents play in the emotional transmission of dentist fear in their family. (International Journal of Paediatric Dentistry, 2012; 22:324-330) Read more.

Reaction to Stress Predicts Future Health

Contrary to popular belief, stressors are not the cause of health issues; a new study suggests that people’s reactions to stressors foretell negative health consequences. Research showed that a reaction to a stressful situation now can predict health problems for 10 years away regardless of present health and stressors. (Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Oct. 2012) Read more.

ER Suicide Screening Tool Accurate for At-Risk Youth

Four questions for emergency department nurses or physicians can successfully identify youth at risk for attempting suicide, reported a study by National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) researchers. Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ), is the first such screen validated for pediatric and young adult patients. (Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, December 2012;166(12):1170–1176) Read more.

Antidepressants During Pregnancy Not Linked to Increased Risks to Babies

In a study of nearly 30,000 women who had filled a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prescription during pregnancy, researchers found no significant association between use of these medications during pregnancy and risk of stillbirth, neonatal death, or post-neonatal death. (JAMA, 2013;309(1):48-54) Read more. 

Perceived Stress May Be Real Risk for Heart

People who feel stressed appear to be at risk for developing coronary heart disease, a meta-analysis showed; those who had high perceived stress were 27% more likely to develop coronary heart disease subsequently compared with those who had low perceived stress. (American Journal of Cardiology, 110(12):1711-1716) Read more. 

Late-Life Depression, Prevalent Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Increased Risk of Dementia

Depressive symptoms occur in 3 to 63 percent of patients with mild cognitive impairment; some studies have shown an increased dementia risk in those with a history of depression. (Archives of Neurology, published online December 31, 2012) Read more.

Treated Teens Still Likely to Try Suicide

Though most suicidal teens have received some form of mental health treatment, many of them still plan or attempt to kill themselves, researchers found. (JAMA Psychiatry, published online January 9, 2013) Read more.

Gastritis Linked to Anxiety and Mood Disorders

Patients with gastritis are at significantly increased risk for mood and anxiety disorders. Researchers found that patients with gastritis were significantly more likely than the general population to have experienced any anxiety disorder, any mood disorder, and major depression in the previous 12 months, after accounting for age, gender, and socioeconomic status. (Journal of Psychiatric Research, 47(1):128-132) Read more. 

Biomarker Discovered to Screen Teens With Anxiety, Depression

A team of scientists has discovered a cognitive biomarker: a biological indicator of anxiety and depressive disorders. Although currently too expensive and too lengthy a screening to use widely, scientists hope to develop inexpensive cognitive tests to screen for these illnesses, especially among those identified as high social and genetic risk. (PLoS ONE, 7(11): e48482) Read more.  

Light Induced, Relieved Depression Symptoms

Researchers have successfully induced and relieved depression-like deficiencies in pleasure and motivation in mice by controlling a single area of the brain called the ventral tegmental area. The findings highlight the first time that well-defined types of neurons in a specific brain region have been tied directly to the control of many symptoms of major depressive illness. (Nature, published online 12 December 2012) Read more.

Depression: CBT Works When Antidepressants Don't

Combining cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with antidepressants as treatment for people with depression is three times more likely to make them feel better when the medications alone fail to work. This finding appears to be promising for the two-thirds of those with depression who haven't experienced improvements from antidepressant use alone. (The Lancet, early online publication 7 December 2012) Read more. 

Symptoms Mediated in Veterans With Military-Related PTSD

A portable practice of repeating a sacred word or phrase has been shown to reduce the severity of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in veterans with military trauma. The results may come from increasing levels of existential spiritual well-being (ESWB). (International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 19(4):496-502) Read more. 

Novel Antidepressant: Rapid and Long-Lasting

A recently discovered antidepressant drug that has been tested on adults who have failed other antidepressant therapies has shown to alleviate symptoms within hours, have good safety, and produce positive effects that last for about seven days from a single dose. The novel therapeutic targets brain receptors responsible for learning and memory, quite different from existing antidepressants. (Neuropsychopharmacology, published online 3 December 2012) Read more.

Blue Light Helps Teens Deal With Stress

Exposure to morning short-wavelength “blue” light may help sleep-deprived teens prepare for stress or challenges more than exposure to dim light. (International Journal of Endocrinology, 2012; published online) Read more.

Gene Variants Linked to Weight Gain From Taking Antipsychotics

Extreme weight gain associated with taking an antipsychotic medication may be linked to genetic variants, according to a recently published study. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2012 Sep. 69(9):904-912.) Read more.

Suicidal Teens Lacking Specialized Treatment

Most adolescents who are considering suicide or who have attempted suicide do not receive specialized mental health services, according to an analysis. (Psychiatric Services, published online Aug 15, 2012) Read more.

Integrative Medicine Reduces PTSD Symptoms in Combat-Exposed Military

A new study shows that healing touch combined with guided imagery showed significant improvement in quality of life, as well as reduced depression and cynicism, compared to soldiers receiving treatment as usual alone for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in combat-exposed active duty military. (Medical News Today, 15 Nov. 2012) Read more.

Phone Therapy Found as Effective as Face-To-Face

A new study reveals that cognitive therapy over the phone is just as effective as meeting face-to-face, and it increases access to psychological therapies for people with common mental disorders. (PLoS ONE, online September 28) Read more.

Light at Night May Cause Depression

According to a new study of mice, chronic exposure to bright light elevates levels of cortisol, which results in depression and lowers cognitive function. (Nature, published online November 14, 2012) Read more.

OCD Brain Activity in Moral Dilemmas

Morality problems cause much more worry for people with OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), compared to the general population, according a study that noted the rise of neurofunctional activity when faced with moral dilemmas. The researchers say these findings prove that people who have OCD are much more morally sensitive than people without the disorder. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2012;69(7):741-749.) Read more.

Social Anxiety Disorder: From Parents to Children 

A new study has found that parents with social anxiety disorder are more likely to pass on the traits to their kids than parents who suffer from other anxiety disorders. The findings suggest that parental social anxiety should be considered a risk factor for childhood anxiety. (Child Psychiatry & Human Development, published online 28 September 2012) Read more. 

SSRIs in Pregnancy: Mothers and Children at Risk

Pregnant women who took antidepressants were at risk for miscarriage and preterm delivery, and their babies were at risk for a number of developmental and health complications, researchers found. (Human Reproduction, advance access online 2012) Read more. 

SSRIs Linked to Stroke Risk

Use of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) class of antidepressants conferred a small, but statistically significant risk of brain hemorrhage, an analysis of several studies found. (Neurology, 2012; 79: 1862-1865) Read more.

Decreased Gene Activity in Childhood Risk for Anxiety and Depression

Decreased activity of specific genes within the amygdala, the brain's fear center, may explain why in young children the "fear center" of the anxious brain can't learn to distinguish real threats from the imaginary, according to a new study. Researchers hypothesize that this may result in overactivity of the brain circuit, leading to higher risk for developing disabling anxiety and depression. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), published online October 2012) Read more. 

Novel Pharmacotherapies for Depression

An issue of Biological Psychiatry features the following: a review of the future of ketamine research for depression; antidepressant effects and mechanisms; cognitive vaccine as attention bias modification to prevent depression; vocal acoustic measures as depression biomarkers; neural processing and network connectivity in depression. (Biological Psychiatry, 72(7):521-611, 1 October 1, 2012) Read more. 

Science Special Section: Depression

Different aspects of depression, including 1) a review of evidence that stress and depression cause neuronal atrophy and decreased synaptic connections in cortical and limbic brain regions; 2) a synthesis of recent seminal findings relevant to neurogenesis, with special emphasis on the interchange between stress, depression, and cognition; 3) a summary of current models for mood disorders and a prospective analysis of potential tests or tools that might improve the repertoire of suitable animal models for depression; and 4) an overview of current ideas about why some people are more protected against stress and depression and how this may help develop better treatments and successful prevention strategies. (Science, 5 October 2012, 338(5):67–82) Read more.

Changing Paradigms: Genetic Basis of Mood and Anxiety Disorders

When genome-wide genetic association studies became available and affordable, they allowed a hypothesis-free approach to study genetic risk factors for these disorders. In an unprecendented scientific collaborative effort, large international consortia formed to allow the analysis of these genome-wide association datasets across thousands of cases and controls. (Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, 2012, 2:17; 1 October 2012) Read more.

Found: Mechanism Protecting Brains From Turning Stress and Trauma Into PTSD

Researchers conducting a mouse study have identified receptors that protect us from developing uncontrollable fear: protease-activated receptor 1 or PAR1). In the amygdala, these receptors tell neurons to stop or accelerate their activity after a traumatic event. (Molecular Psychiatry, published online 2 October 2012) Read more. 

High Personality Disorder Comorbidity Rates Identified in Anxiety

Thirty years of research have identified high rates of comorbid personality disorders across a number of anxiety disorder subtypes, ranging from 35% for PTSD to 52% for OCD. (Journal of Affective Disorders, published online 21 September 2012) Read more.

Genetic Mutation Linked to Psychiatric Disease and Obesity

Researchers have identified a small region in the genome that conclusively plays a role in the development of psychiatric disease and obesity: The genomic deletion of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a nervous system growth factor that plays a critical role in brain development. Five individuals with BDNF deletions were obese and had a mild- to-moderate intellectual impairment and had a mood disorder. Children had anxiety disorders, among other illnesses, and post-pubescent patients had anxiety and major depressive disorders. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2012; 1–9) Read more. 

Ketamine Conquers Chronic Depression

Many chronically depressed and treatment-resistant patients experience immediate relief from symptoms after taking small amounts of the drug ketamine. The drug triggers release of neurotransmitter glutamate, which in turn stimulates growth of synapses between brain cells damaged by stress and depression. (Science, 2012; 338 (6103): 68) Read more. 

Stress Hormones Lower PTSD Risk

Increasing the presence of glucocorticoids may decrease the development of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A new study of drugs that restrict glucocorticoid activity suggests that high glucocorticoid levels may prevent the occurrence of PTSD. High levels of glucocorticoids during episodes of grave stress prevent anxiety-like behaviors by regulating synaptic connectivity in the basolateral amydgala area of the brain. (Biological Psychiatry, September 2012; published online) Read more. 

Genetic Switch Involved in Depression

A  new postmortem study, focused specifically on genes related to synapses, reveals that about 30 percent of the genes with significantly lower expression in people with depressed brains related to some aspect of synapse function. Further experiments found significantly reduced expression for five particular genes in the prefrontal cortex of depressed people. (Nature Medicine, 2012(18):1413–1417) Read more. 

Prejudice Can Cause Depression

Research suggests that many cases of depression may be caused by prejudice from the self or from another person. The researchers propose an integrated perspective of prejudice and depression, which holds that stereotypes are activated in a person who expresses prejudice toward another and causes that person to become depressed. (Perspectives on Psychological Science, 2012; 7 (5): 427) Read more. 

Like (Anxious) Father, Like Daughters

According to a study of mice, researchers state that young men exposed to unstable lifestyles experience change in their sperm cells, which increases their risk of anxiety as they age, as well as the risk of psychiatric disorders in their daughters throughout coming generations. (Biological Psychiatry, August 2012; published online) Read more.

Anti-Inflammatory Drug Effective for Depression

According to a recent study, anti-inflammatory drug may help patients suffering from depression. Because inflammation is the body's natural response to infection or wounding,  it can damage many parts of the body, including the brain, especially when prolonged or excessive. (Archives of General Psychiatry, September 2012; published online) Read more.

GAD and Reduced Brain Connections Revealed

A new imaging study shows that the amygdala in people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) appears to have weaker connections to the prefrontal and anterior cingulate cortex (ACC), the center of emotional regulation, suggesting that the brain’s "panic button" may stay on due to lack of regulation. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2012;69(9):925-934)  Read more. 

Expressing Emotions Can Reduce Fear

A new study suggests that labeling emotions at the precise moment of confronting a feared object can reduce fear and anxiety. Rather than have people change their way of thinking to reduce anxiety, this was not an attempt to change their experience. (Psychological Science, 2012; published online August 16) Read more. 

Lack of Correlation of Fear Extinction With Personality and Neuropsychological Indices

Fear extinction may be less determined by trait variables and cognitive state, and may depend more on a person’s current emotional state. The negative correlation between fear renewal and extraversion suggests that this personality characteristic may protect against post-treatment relapse of symptoms of anxiety disorders. (Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, 2012, 2:16) Read more.

Psychotropic Drugs and Driving: Increased Risk

According to a recent study, drugs prescribed to treat anxiety, depression, and insomnia may increase patients’ risk of being involved in motor vehicle accidents. (British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2012; published online) Read more.

Brain Scans to Predict Treatment for Social Anxiety Disorder

Researchers have found that examining brain scans of patients with social anxiety disorder can help determine if cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) could be an effective treatment option. (Archives of General Psychiatry, September 2012; published online) Read more.

Early BPA Exposure Leads to High Anxiety Levels

New research shows that exposure to the chemical bisphenol A (BPA) early in life results in high levels of anxiety; it causes significant gene expression changes in the amygdala. But a soy-rich diet can mitigate these effects. (PLoS ONE, 2012; 7(9) Read more. 

Examination of New PTSD Diagnosis Criteria

Results of a recent study indicate that the proposed DSM-5 changes to the diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will not substantially affect the number of people who meet criteria for the disorder. (Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice and Policy; published online) Read more.

Cognitive-Behavior Therapy in Occupational Therapy

There has been an increasing trend in pediatric clients with mood disorders entering occupational therapy over the last few years. One practitioner discusses using cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), among other strategies, for pediatric clients. (Advance, 28(15):17) Read more.

How Fear and Anxiety Affect Decision-Making

The excessive fear and dread that accompanies anxiety disorders clearly influences the everyday decision-making processes of anxious individuals. The review by two scientists highlights the overlap in the neural systems underlying anxiety and decision-making and provides some insight into how fear and anxiety alter choices. (Biological Psychiatry, 72:2;July 15, 2012) Read more.

Model Synapse to Shed Light on Anxiety, Other Disorders

A group of scientists have developed a new way to study the role of a critical neurotransmitter in epilepsy, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and other disorders. The new method involves molecularly engineering a model synapse, which can precisely control a variety of receptors for the neurotransmitter GABA. (Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2012 287: 27431) Read more.

Genetic Clues to OCD and Tourette Syndrome

The first genome-wide studies looking at the potential association of particular genes with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and Tourette syndrome contributed important new clues. The studies failed to identify specific genes, suggesting that it’s likely that many different genes play a role, or that there might be one rare gene. (Molecular Psychiatry, online publication, 14 August 2012) Read more. 

Postpartum Women Suffer PTSD Symptoms

A researcher has found that about one-third of all postpartum women exhibit some symptoms of PTSD, and a smaller percentage of people develop full-blown PTSD, a surprising finding that suggests a relatively high prevalence of the disorder. (Israel Medical Association Journal, 14 June 2012) Read more. 

Found: Gene Associated With PTSD

Researchers have discovered a new gene that is associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The findings suggest that retinoid-related orphan receptor alpha (RORA) is involved in protecting brain cells from the damaging effects of stress and that it could also play a role in developing PTSD. (Molecular Psychiatry, published online) Read more.

Increasing Glial Cells to Treat Depression

In a new study, researchers report their findings on fibroblast growth factor-2, or FGF2, a relatively novel growth factor. FGF2 can increase the number of glial cells and block the decrease caused by chronic stress exposure by promoting the generation of new glial cells. (Biological Psychiatry, 2012; 72 (4): 258) Read more. h

Long-Term Depression and Bipolar Disorder

A recent study found that for some people, having long-time depression can change to bipolar. Those who have a long history with depression and who had been in the hospital for it were more likely to develop bipolar disorder. (Journal of Affective Disorders, published online August 4) Read more.

How Depression and Stress Shrink the Brain

A team of researchers has discovered why major depression or chronic stress can cause the loss of brain volume: a genetic switch that triggers loss of brain connections in humans and depression in animal models. (Nature Medicine, published online 12 August 2012) Read more.

Smiling: Reduces Stress, Helps the Heart

A new study suggests that smiling during periods of stress may help your heart. The findings show that it may make us feel better, too. (Psychological Science, to be published August 2012) Read more.

Anxiety and Depression Increase Risk of Sick Leave.

Researchers have identified anxiety as a primary risk factor in absence from work. Their study shows that common mental disorders increase the risk absence of 90 or more days and repeated sick leave. The risk is highest among those with co-occurring anxiety and depression, and anxiety may be more important factor than depression. (Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, published online 7 July 2012)  Read more. 

Couples Therapy Decreases PTSD Symptoms

A new study shows that couples who started PTSD therapy immediately showed significantly greater gains than did those who waited. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 2012; 308: 700-709.) Read more.

Brain Signal May Identify Responders to Antidepressant

Scientists have discovered a biological marker that may help to identify which depressed patients will respond to an experimental, rapid-acting antidepressant. (Biological Psychiatry, published online 23 April 2012)  Read more. 

Somatic Therapies for Treatment-Resistant Depression

A review of literature for articles reporting results for clinical trials in particular efficacy data about new nonpharmacological somatic therapies (ECT, TMS, VNS, DBS) as valuable options for patients who have failed numerous other treatments. (Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, 2012, 2:14) Read more.

Childhood Physical Punishment May Contributes to Adult Mental Illness

Spanking, slapping, and hitting are associated with an increased risk of mental disorders in adulthood, researchers reported. Adults who reported such punishments in their childhood had a greater risk of mood disorders, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug abuse dependence, and several personality disorders. (Pediatrics, 2012; 130: 1–9.) Read more.

Childhood Adversity Increases Risk for Depression, Chronic Inflammation

Growing evidence shows that the depression of children who suffered from early adversity was accompanied by an inflammatory response. Chronic inflammation is related to diabetes and heart disease, leading to a  greater-than-average risk for these and other health problems. (Biological Psychiatry, July 1, 2012, 72(1): 34-40) Read more.

Flowers for Depression?

Scientists have discovered that substances from the South African plant species Crinum and Cyrtanthus (related to snowdrops and daffodils) have an effect on the mechanisms in the brain involved in depression and may find use as treatment. (Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, published online 4 June 2012) Read more. 

Stress Can Boost Immune System

A recent study of lab rats shows that short-term stress — the flight-or-flight response —stimulates the immune system, as opposed to weeks or months of chronic stress weakening it. (Journal of Psychoneuroendocrinology, published online 22 June 2012)  Read more.

PTSD Caused By Heart Attack Raises Recurrence and Mortality

Researchers found that one in eight people who experience a heart attack or another acute coronary event are more likely to develop symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.  Heart patients who experience these symptoms of PTSD have twice the chance of experiencing another cardiac event, or even mortality, within the next one to three years.(PLoS ONE, 7(6): e38915) Read more. 

Chronic Anxiety Disorders Speed Aging

Chronic panic, phobia, and other anxiety disorders may contribute to premature aging by shortening telomeres, according to a new study. A telomere is a length of DNA that is made up of a repeating sequence of six nucleotide bases (TTAGGG). (PLoS ONE, 2012;7) Read more. 

Emotion Detectives Treatment Protocol (EDTP) for Childhood Anxiety and Depression

To develop a more effective treatment for childhood anxiety and depression, ADAA members Jill Ehrenreich-May and her collaborator Emily L. Bilek analyzed the efficacy and feasibility of a novel intervention called Emotion Detectives Treatment Protocol (EDTP). Preliminary findings show a significant reduction in the severity of anxiety and depression after treatment, as reported by the children and their parents. (Cognitive and Behavioral Practice, 19(1), Feb. 2012; 41-55) Read more.

Treating Social Anxiety: No Decrease in Alcohol Consumption

In a workshop presented by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, researchers shared findings that  not only do individuals with social anxiety drink during social situations to feel more relaxed, they are also more likely to drink before engaging in a planned social activity that they believe will make them anxious. (Psychiatric News, 47(13),July 6, 2012:11b-17) Read more.

Online Depression Therapy Makes Wide Impact

Results from a recent study in Australia show that online depression therapy programs can reduce depressive symptoms and hazardous use of alcohol. (Journal of Medical Internet Research, 2012;14(3):e68) Read more.

Sleep Deprivation Reduces PTSD Risk

Within the first few hours of exposure to a significantly stressful threat, sleep deprivation actually reduces the risk of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study by researchers in Israel. (Neuropsychopharmacology, published online 27 June 2012) Read more.

Anhedonia Uncovered

Scientists conducting a mouse study have discovered a novel molecular mechanism for anhedonia, or the loss of the ability to experience pleasure, an important symptom of major depression. The findings may offer a new approach to testing new antidepressants. (Nature, 2012; 487(7406): 183) Read more. 

Facebook Use Doesn’t Lead to Depression

A 2011 study of university students refutes a report by the American Academy of Pediatrics suggesting that exposure to Facebook and other social-media sites could lead to depression in children and adolescents. (Journal of Adolescent Health, published online 9 July 2012) Read more.

Fear Overcome With Altered Brain Chemistry

Researchers conducting a mouse study have found a way to calm fears with a drug that alters their brain chemistry. Results also indicate that human genetic differences related to this brain chemistry influence how well people cope with fear and stress. (Molecular Psychiatry, published online June 12, 2012) Read more.

Stress May Delay Brain Development in Early Years

Stress may affect brain development in children, altering growth of prefrontal cortex, which is involved in complex cognitive abilities like holding onto important information for quick recall and use, according to recent research. Brain scans revealed that the anterior cingulate, a portion of the prefrontal cortex believed to play key roles in spatial working memory, takes up less space in children with greater exposure to very stressful situations. (Journal of Neuroscience, 2012; 32 (23): 7917) Read more. 

CBT via Telephone vs. Face to Face

A recent study shows that patients with major depression who received telephone-administered cognitive behavioral therapy had lower rates of discontinuing treatment when compared to patients who received face-to-face CBT. Also telephone-administered treatment was not inferior to face-to-face treatment in terms of improvement in symptoms by the end of treatment. But after six months, patients receiving face-to-face CBT were less depressed than those receiving telephone administered CBT. (The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2012; 307 (21): 2278) Read more.

Anxious Girls’ Brains Hard at Work

Scientists say the brains of anxious girls work much harder than those of boys, a discovery that could help in the identification and treatment of anxiety disorders, and it may help predict the development of anxiety issues later in life for girls. (International Journal of Psychophysiology, published online 29 May 2012) Read more. 

Treating Adolescent Depression to Prevent Substance Abuse

Treating adolescents for major depression can also reduce their chances of abusing alcohol or drugs later on, a secondary benefit found in a five-year study of hundreds of youths in the United States. (Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2012; 80 (2): 299) Read more. 

Post-Stroke Depression

Researchers studying stroke patients have found a strong association between impairments in a network of the brain involved in emotional regulation and the severity of post-stroke depression. (Radiology, published online June 5, 2012)  Read more.

Brain Acidity and Panic and Depression

Recent studies suggest that changes in the brain, particularly increased acidity, or low pH,  is linked to panic disorders, anxiety, and depression.  (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), May 22, 2012 vol. 109 no. 21 8270-8273) Read more. 

Genetic Clue Reveals New Mechanism for Anxiety Disorders

Researchers have found a link between anxiety disorders and the gene that encodes Glyoxylase 1 (GLO1), although the underlying mechanism remains unclear. The findings also suggest that preventing GLO1 reduced anxious behavior in mice, indicating that it may be a potential treatment target in humans. (The Journal of Clinical Investigation, 2012;122(6):2306–2315) Read more. 

Sleepwalking Links to Depression and Anxiety

A recent study shows an association between sleepwalking and depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders. The study found that about 1.1 million adults in the U.S., or 3.6 percent of the adult population, are prone to sleepwalking. (Neurology, May 15, 2012 78:1583-1589) Read more.

Walking in Nature to Relieve Depression

In one of the first studies to examine the effect of nature walks on cognition and mood in people with major depression, scientists have found that a walk in the park may have psychological benefits for people suffering from depression. (Journal of Affective Disorders, published online 30 March 2012) Read more.

Stressed Men More Social?

Researchers have refuted the common belief that stress always causes aggressive behavior. Rather than showing the fight-or-flight response to stress, the study indicates that men show a "tend-and-befriend" response. Studies in the late 1990s first argued that women exhibited this response as a consequence of stress. (Psychological Science, June 2012; vol. 23, 6: pp. 651-660) Read more. 

D-cycloserine Enhances PTSD Psychotherapy

Researchers found that D-cycloserine enhanced the effects of exposure therapy in a specific subgroup of patients with PTSD. In addition, those with more severe PTSD had a greater reduction in symptoms when they received DCS. (Biological Psychiatry, 71(11): 962-968) Read more.

Computer Program May Help Kids’ Anxiety

An international research effort is examining a new computer program that suggests it is as effective as medications or psychotherapy for childhood anxiety disorders. The treatment technique called Attention Bias Modification (ABM) reduces anxiety to change thought patterns by drawing children away from their tendency to dwell on potential threats. (American Journal of Psychiatry, Feb. 2012; 169(2); 213-230) Read more. 

Sleep Deprivation May Increase Anxiety

Researchers using fMRI scans found that sleep deprivation increased the build-up of anticipatory activity in deep emotional brain centers, especially the amygdala, suggesting that anxiety may significantly elevate the emotional dysfunction and risk associated with insufficient sleep. (Abstract “Tired, anxious and expecting the worst: The impact of sleep deprivation and anxiety on emotional brain anticipation” presented at SLEEP 2012, the 26th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies) Read more. 

Painkiller Abuse Linked to Depression, Suicide in College Students

Researchers found that college-students who reported feeling hopeless, sad, depressed, or considered suicide were significantly more likely to report nonmedical use of any prescription drug, particularly among females who reported painkiller use. (Addictive Behaviors, 2012; 37(8):890) Read more. 

 


 

Media Coverage of the 2013 Annual Conference

Antidepressants and CBT Good for Older Adults' Anxiety

A meta-analysis of 32 studies comparing psychotherapy with medication for anxiety found that patients treated with medication fared significantly better on clinician-rated outcome measures. (Clinical Psychiatry News, 4/17/13) Read more.

Tricky to Involve Parents in Kids' Exposure Therapy 

Getting parents involved in some capacity is important to enhance exposure therapy in children with anxiety disorders, particularly since it's considered the best treatment. But the path to achieving buy-in from parents can be rough. (Clinical Psychiatry News, 4/17/13) Read more. 

Numerous Barriers to Care for Prenatal, Ppostpartum Mental Health

An estimated one in five pregnant and postpartum women have significant mental health problems, yet few seek help.
(Ob.Gyn. News Digital Network, 04/11/13) Read  more. 

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression Wide-Ranging

Clinicians may confuse intruding thoughts and images with postpartum psychosis, a rare (occurring in 1 to 2 of every 1,000 women who give birth) but life-threatening medical emergency.
(Ob.Gyn. News Digital Network, 04/11/13) Read  more. 

For OCD, CBT May Be More Effective Than Add-On Antipsychotic

For OCD patients, taking the antipsychotic drug risperidone (Risperdal) as an add-on drug is no more effective than placebo in those who failed to respond to a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SRI) alone, according to a new study. (PsychCentral, 4/14/2013) Read more.

Novel, Effective Antidepressant Still Not Ready for Prime Time

In the largest clinical trial to test the efficacy of ketamine for the treatment of depression, a single dose of the glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist was shown to be significantly more effective than midazolam in reducing treatment-resistant depression over 24 hours. (Medscape Medical News, April 12, 2013) Read more.

Carbon Dioxide Challenge May Predict PTSD Risk

A panicked reaction to a single inhalation of 35% carbon dioxide (CO2) may predict risk for anxiety and subsequent posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in military personnel, new research suggests. (Medscape Medical News, April 10, 2013) Read more.

Online Behavioral Therapy Clicks for Hypochondriasis

Internet-based cognitive-behavioral therapy (ICBT) is effective and more accessible than face-to-face CBT in patients suffering from hypochondriasis, new research suggests. (Medscape Medical News, April 9, 2013) Read more.   

PTSD Linked to Earlier Onset of Physical Illness

Individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have an increased risk for earlier onset of some health conditions compared with those without the disorder, new research suggests. (Medscape Medical News, April 9, 2013) Read more.


 

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