News and Research
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.
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.
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.
Possible Alternative Cause, Drug Target for Depression
A self-degradation response to the antidepressant Zoloft in yeast cells observed by researchers could provide knowledge about how antidepressants work, as well as suggest that depression is not linked only to the neurotransmitter serotonin. The study shows significant evidence that antidepressants do more than regulate serotonin. (PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (4) Read more.
Arthritis, Anxiety, and Depression
A new study of adults diagnosed with arthritis finds that 31 percent have anxiety and 18 percent have depression. But only half those with anxiety and depression had sought treatment in the previous year. (Arthritis Care & Research, published online April 30, 2012) Read more.
Late Depression Links to Dementia Risk
Researchers report that depression that occurs for the first time late in life may be an early sign of Alzheimer's disease. But depression striking in midlife that recurs later may be a cause of vascular dementia. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2012; 69(5): 493-498). Read more.
Fast Foods' Depression Connection
According to a recent study, eating fast foods, defined as commercial baked goods (fairy cakes, croissants, doughnuts, etc.) and fast food (hamburgers, hotdogs and pizza), is linked to depression. (Public Health Nutrition, 2011; 15 (03): 424) Read more.
Depression: Perhaps an Evolutionary Immune System Byproduct
Biologists propose several theories to account for how depression, or behaviors linked to it, can somehow offer an evolutionary advantage. Two psychiatrists propose that genetic variations that promote depression have evolved to also help early humans fight infection. (Molecular Psychiatry, published online 31 January 2012) Read more.
Insomnia, SSRI Treatment in Depressed Youth
Most youth with depression has report insomnia. A recent study shows that adolescents with substantial insomnia were less likely to respond to treatment with antidepressants than those without insomnia. But children were more responsive to fluoxetine when they had insomnia. (Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, published online January 18, 2012) Read more.
Anxiety, Comorbid Depression Linked to Frequent Insomnia
Insomnia is often associated with anxiety disorders, as well as comorbid depression, according to a study on the sleep habits of more than 94,000 Americans; anti-anxiety medication often provides relief from sleep deprivation as well as anxiety. The preliminary findings of the study were presented at the American Psychiatric Association 2011 Institute on Psychiatric Services (APA-IPS), (Medscape Medical News, published online November 2011) Read more.
Depression and Chronic Stress Accelerate Aging
People with recurrent depressions or those exposed to chronic stress exhibit shorter telomeres (outermost part of the chromosome) in white blood cells. With increasing age, telomeres shorten, and studies have shown that oxidative stress and inflammation accelerate shortening. Shorter telomere length has also been associated with recurrent depression and cortisol levels indicating exposure to chronic stress. (Biological Psychiatry, published online November 2011) Read more.
Depression Can Lead to Heart Disease
Recent research suggests that those who suffer from a mood disorder may be twice as likely to have a heart attack as those who are not depressed. The findings highlight the importance of testing for cardiovascular disease among people suffering from major depression. (Psychophysiology, 48(11), November 2011: 1605–1610) Read more.
Connectivity Problems in Depressed Brains
New research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) showed aberrant connectivity in depressed brains. (Biology of Mood & Anxiety Disorders, published online 8 December 2011) Read more.
Predictors of Long-Term Prognosis of Depression
Previous depression, daily smoking, and a lack of control over life circumstances are risk factors for repeat episodes of depression. (Canadian Medical Association Journal, published online October 24, 2011). Read more.
Researchers Demonstrate Rare Animal Model for Studying Depression
By electrically stimulating a brain region central to an animal's primary emotions, researchers have taken one step further toward creating an animal model for decoding the specific brain circuits involved in depression. (Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, October 2011; 35(9): 1902-1915) Read more.
New Therapy Developed to Help Depression Patients Cultivate Optimistic Future
Patients with major depressive disorder who learned to create a more positive outlook about the future in treatment with the new Future-Directed Therapy™ demonstrated significant improvement over those undergoing traditional therapy, which seeks to alter irrational, negative thoughts about past experiences. (CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, published online in March) Read more.
Gene for Major Depression Identified
Researchers at two universities discovered independently the genetic location of major depressive disorder on chromosome 3. (Biological Psychiatry, published online inOctober) Read more.
Depression in Cancer Patients
Physicians should make themselves aware of comorbid depression among cancer patients, survivors, and their loved ones. See “Cancer and Depression,” a recent issue of Psychiatric Annals. (Psychiatric Annals, 41(9); Sept. 2011) Read more.
Depression Loosens Brain Circuits
A new study using MRI scans illustrates that depression frequently seems to uncouple the brain's "hate circuit" involving the superior frontal gyrus, insula, and putamen. (The so-called circuit appears to connect these brain regions when test subjects are shown pictures of people they hated.) (Molecular Psychiatry, published online Oct. 4, 2011)
Enlarged Amygdala in Children of Depressed Mothers
Scientists studying 10-year-old children whose mothers exhibited lifelong symptoms of depression discovered that the children's amygdalae, a part of the brain linked to emotional responses, were enlarged. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; 108 (34):14324) Read more.
Reason for Relapse in Depression
Researchers searching for markers of relapse risk in people who have recovered from depression have found that those who activate the brain's frontal lobes by ruminating are more likely to relapse than those who respond with acceptance and activate visual areas in the back of the brain. (Biological Psychiatry, 70(4):366-372) Read more.
Mind-Altering Microbes May Reduce Anxiety and Depression
Probiotic bacteria have the potential to alter brain neurochemistry and treat anxiety and depression-related disorders, according to recent research. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, published online before print August 29, 2011). Read more.
Exercise: The Other “Medication”
Exercise can be as effective as a second medication for as many as half of depressed patients whose condition have not been cured by a single antidepressant medication. (UT Southwestern Medical Center; 2011, August 24) Read more.
Depressed and Abused Teens Less Likely to Respond to Combination Treatment
Adolescents with treatment-resistant depression who have a history of abuse, especially physical, are less likely to respond to combination treatment than to medication alone, according to data from a study funded by NIMH. (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 50(3): 293-301) Read more.
Chronic Depression and Accelerated Aging of Immune Cells
Some cases of major depression associated with premature aging of immune cells may make people more susceptible to other serious illness. Findings from a new study indicate that accelerated cell aging depends on the length someone has depression, particularly if it is untreated. (PLoS ONE, 2011; 6(3) Read more.
Light at Night and Depression Symptoms
Exposure to even dim light at night appears to be capable of triggering depression-like symptoms in hamsters, which may lead to future understanding about how light at night affects mood in humans. (Psychiatric News, 45(24): 26) Read more.
From Blues to the Flu: New Treatments for Mood Disorders?
A mouse study reveals that depression may be triggered by the same mechanisms that enable the immune system to respond to infection. Researchers activating the immune system in mice produced “despair-like” behavior that has similarities to depression in humans. (Neuropsychopharmacology, (2010) 35: 2510–2520) Read more.
Depression and Too Much Cleanliness
Researchers point to mounting evidence that disruptions in humans’ ancient relationships with microorganisms in soil, food, and the gut may contribute to the increasing rates of depression. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 67(12):1211-1224) Read more.
Cardiac Testing Essential for Patients With Anxiety and Depression
According to a new study, people affected by anxiety and depression should receive an additional cardiac test when undergoing diagnosis for potential heart problems. (Journal of Cardiopulmonary Rehabilitation and Prevention, published online 18 August 2010) Read more.
Depression and Activity of Circadian Rhythm Gene
New research suggests that people with a history of depression have a higher level of activity in a gene that plays a role in regulating circadian rhythm than do people with no mood disorders. (Journal of Affective Disorders, 126(1-2), October 2010: 161–166) Read more.
Skin Condition Associated With Anxiety, Depression
Researchers have found that people who have psoriasis appear to have an increased risk of depression, anxiety and suicidality, suggesting that clinicians evaluate patients with psoriasis for these conditions to improve outcomes (Archives of Dermatology, 2010; 146(8):891-895) Read more.
Blood Test for Depression May Be a Future Possibility
Dutch researchers evaluating blood-gene expression profiles in healthy individuals and patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD) identified a set of genes that distinguished unmedicated MDD patients from healthy controls. It may be too early to state that gene-expression profiling leads to diagnostic tests, but this study may be a stepping stone for finding diagnostic markers for depression. (Biological Psychiatry, 2010; 68(2): 179-186) Read more.
Collaborative Care Improves Depression Treatment
A meta-analysis of collaborative care — alternating between a primary care physician and psychiatric visits — indicates increased adherence to antidepressants at proper doses by about twofold, improved the quality of care, and improved depression outcomes in the first 6 months to 1 year of treatment, and it has also been shown to improve patient satisfaction and quality of life, compared to usual primary care. (Psychiatry Weekly, July 26, 2010; 5(18) Read more.
Risk Factors for Suicidal Students
Many college students think about suicide, and a key risk factor in predicting persistent suicidal thoughts is lack of social support. Other risk factors: depressive symptoms, exposure to domestic violence in childhood, and a mother suffering from depression. (Journal of Affective Disorders, in press as of July 2010) Read more.
Biological Reason for Higher Anxiety and Depression in Women
Neuroscience researchers have found that females are more sensitive to low levels of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a hormone that organizes stress responses in mammals, making them twice as vulnerable as men to stress-related disorders. (Molecular Psychiatry, published online June 15, 2010) Read more.
Earlier Intervention for Teens with Treatment-Resistant Depression
Early response to second-course treatment is associated with a greater likelihood of remission among teens with hard-to-treat depression, according to recent data from an NIMH-funded study. (American Journal of Psychiatry, May 17, 2010; published online) Read more.
Link Between Depression and Abdominal Obesity
A new study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham confirms the relationship between depression and abdominal obesity, which has been linked to an increased risk for cancer and cardiovascular disease. (American Journal of Public Health, 2010, 100: 1040-1046) Read more.
High Prevalence of Depression After Traumatic Brain Injury
According to a recent study, during the year following hospitalization for a traumatic brain injury, a majority of patients experienced major depression. (JAMA, 2010;303(19):1938-1945) Read more.
Mood Food: Chocolate and Depressive Symptoms
People who screen positive for possible depression appear to consume more chocolate than those who do not screen positive for depression. (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2010; 170(8):699-703) Read more.
Worry May Mitigate Depression, Fear
A new study of brain activity indicates that anxiety modifies some of the effects of depression. The research results suggest that fearful vigilance sometimes heightens the brain activity associated with depression, while worry may counter it, which reduces some of the negative effects of depression and fear. (Cognitive, Affective & Behavioral Neuroscience, 2010 10:141-156)
Children of Deployed Parents More Anxious, Depressed
A recent study of children with parents deployed in Iraq or Afghanistan showed elevations in anxiety and depression linked to length of deployment and the psychological stress of the parent at home. Further, the symptoms persist after the deployed parent comes home. (Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, April 2010, 49(4): 310-320)
Depression Among Older Adults
Researchers examining octogenarians and centenarians found that diminished problem-solving skills among octogenarians and living in a nursing home among centenarians were strong predictors of depressive symptoms. Centenarians were further depressed by worries about the state of the world for their descendants. (Gerontology, 2010; 56:93-99)
Link Between Suicidality and Antidepressants
Results of a study at UCLA show a link between worsening suicidality and specific changes in brain function while on these antidepressants. A noninvasive biomarker allowed researchers to observe a sharp reduction of activity in a specific brain region in people suffering from major depressive disorder who were susceptible to thoughts of suicide within 48 hours of the start of treatment. (Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, published online 8 Apr 2010 in advance of print)
Fear of Fear a High-Risk Factor
Anxiety sensitivity, or the fear of feeling anxious, may put people who are already above-average worriers at risk for depression, according to researchers at Penn State University. (Journal of Anxiety Disorders, December 2009; 23(8):1126-1131)
Deadly Depression, Helpful Anxiety
Research conducted at the University of Bergen, Norway, and at King's College London shows that patients with depression face an overall increased risk of mortality (as much a risk as smoking), but a combination of depression and anxiety lowers mortality, compared with depression alone. (The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2009; 195:118-125)
Mental Health Problems May Be More Common
Mental health conditions—such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse—may be more than twice as high as previously thought. According to new research, people greatly underreport the amount of mental illness they've suffered when asked to recall their history years after the fact. The findings add weight to the view that mental health conditions are under-diagnosed and undertreated.
Stress Hormone Links Childhood Obesity and Depression
A new study connects elevated levels of the stress hormone cortisol with symptoms of depression in obese children. The finding indicates that obesity and depression may not only be related to behavior but also may have a hormonal link. Researchers recommend screening obese children for anxiety and depression.
Crohn’s Disease in Children Increases Risk for Anxiety and Depression
Children younger than 18 with a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease have a significantly increased risk for anxiety and depression, according to recent findings; they are more than twice as likely to have a diagnosis of depressive disorder, compared with young patients who don’t have Crohn’s.
Depression-Risk Gene May Not Add to Risk
A gene variation long thought to increase risk in conjunction with stressful life events may actually have no effect, according to researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. The study examined associations between the serotonin genotype, stressful life events, and depression, and appears to challenge a widely accepted approach to studying risk factors for depression.
Snoring in Preschool-Age Children May Be Linked to Anxiety and Depression
According to a study published in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, snoring is a possible risk factor for mood problems, particularly symptoms of anxiety and depression, and cognitive impairments.
Depression, Blood Pressure, and Risk for Hypertension
The findings of a study comparing blood pressure between subjects with clinical anxiety and depressive disorders with healthy controls suggest that the use of certain antidepressants may increase the risk for hypertension.
Anxious, Depressed, and Aggressive Children at Risk of Victimization
Children’s early mental health problems may set them up for abuse by their peers. According to a study conducted at the University of Victoria, first-graders with signs of anxiety and depression or excessive aggression are at risk of being chronically bullied by their classmates by the third grade. Treating the anxiety and depression may help reduce being bullied. (Child Development, 2009; 80(3): 828-842)