People who have long-term, recurrent depression eventually develop smaller hippocampi in their brains, according to research published in Molecular Psychiatry. And University of Sydney psychiatrist Ian Hickie, a co-author of the study, told The Guardian that there exists "a good bit of evidence" that antidepressants provide a neuroprotective effect against such hippocampal shrinkage. Hickie apparently did not clarify to The Guardian, however, that the particular study he'd just co-authored had actually found the exact opposite -- that antidepressants were associated with greater hippocampal shrinkage. More →
Continuing to take antidepressants during pregnancy was associated with higher rates of depressive relapses, hospitalizations and self-harming than stopping antidepressants, according to a study in Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety. More →
The relative effectiveness of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) in alleviating depression has been declining steadily for the past 40 years, according to a study in Psychological Bulletin. More →
In The Lancet Psychiatry, David Menkes of the University of Auckland and Andrew Herxheimer of the UK Cochrane Centre argue that a recent headline-making Lancet study linking depression to acts of violence should have examined antidepressant medications -- rather than depression alone -- as possible causes. More →
One reason that depression is linked to later "emotional dysregulation" problems in children could be because depressed mothers often have less healthy diets and later feed their children less well, according to a study in Psychological Medicine. More →
Depressed pregnant women need good care. They should not be made to feel guilty for the choices they make concerning their depression or lectured to by those who don’t understand the area or lack compassion for them. In that sense, Andrew Solomon does the public a service by turning his attention and writing talents to the topic of depression and pregnancy this week in the New York Times. However, a crucial part of providing good care to depressed pregnant women is to give them accurate information on the topic. In this sense, Andrew Solomon falls short.
The reason that SSRI antidepressants have seemingly not performed better than placebo is because their effects have been measured incorrectly, according to a reanalysis of clinical trial data published in Molecular Psychiatry. A more appropriate way to measure SSRI efficacy, the researchers argued, is to ignore the answers to 16 of the 17 questions about patients' feelings that were typically asked during the drug trials. More →
"Depression can double risk of stroke," reported Time, CNN, NPR and many other news outlets, covering a study by Harvard School of Public Health researchers in the Journal of the American Heart Association. More →
Women diagnosed with bipolar or depression did not perform as well on tests measuring the ability to "sustain attention and respond quickly," according to a study in Brain. "Fuzzy thinking episodes" are "real signs" of bipolar and depression, reported Medical Daily. Though it was not mentioned in the abstract, press release or most news articles about the study, most of the women were taking psychotropics. More →
Salon looks at old data on depression studies and new data on anxiety disorders, and finds pharmaceutical companies and psychiatric researchers still "aren't telling you the whole truth." More →
Time discusses a review of the literature published in the journal of Aging and Mental Health, examining the effects of a number of relaxation techniques on depression and anxiety in elderly people. More →
A University of Oxford-led randomized controlled study published in The Lancet found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was as effective as antidepressants at preventing relapses in depressed people. The press release for the study noted this also meant that MBCT "isn't any more effective" than maintenance antidepressant treatment in preventing relapses. However, the mindfulness group had to deal with another important confounding factor which the study authors only noted in passing. More →
I thought I would make a small contribution to the discussion about how coverage of the recent airline tragedy focuses so much on the supposed ‘mental illness’ of the pilot and not so much on the possible role of antidepressants. Of course we will never know the answer to these questions but it is important, I think, to combat the simplistic nonsense wheeled out after most such tragedies, the nonsense that says the person had an illness that made them do awful things. So, just to confirm what many recipients of antidepressants, clinicians and researchers have been saying for a long time, here are some findings from our recent New Zealand survey of over 1,800 people taking anti-depressants, which we think is the largest survey to date.
In Forbes, David Kroll asks whether antidepressants are more dangerous for commercial pilots to have than depression. And in Mail Online, Peter Hitchens similarly argues that the public discussion about the Germanwings crash has to start distinguishing between the questions of whether depressed people should be flying commercial planes and whether people taking antidepressants should be. More →
People who are depressed experience time simultaneously in two different ways, according to a review of studies in the Journal of Affective Disorders. They often subjectively experience time as passing much more slowly than people who aren't depressed, but also experience and measure the actual passage of seconds, minutes and hours as accurately as anyone else. More →
Common scientific beliefs about serotonin levels in depression and how antidepressants act on the brain appear to be completely backwards, according to a paper from Canadian and American researchers in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. More →
When I was researching Anatomy of an Epidemic and sought to track the number of people receiving a disability payment between 1987 and 2007 due to “mental illness,” I was frustrated by the lack of diagnostic clarity in the data. The Social Security Administration would list, in its annual reports on the Supplemental Security Income and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) programs, the number of people receiving payment for “mental disorders,” which in turn was broken down into just two subcategories: “retardation,” and “other mental disorders.” Unfortunately, the “other mental disorders,” which was the category for those with psychiatric disorders, was not broken down into its diagnostic parts.
We live in a culture bombarded by media and sped up by rapid-fire social interactions. It’s definitely useful to grab hold of a simple, short, sound-bite term, to quickly describe what we are feeling or suffering. “Depression” is such a word – it evokes and encapsulates, conjures the images of that ugly pit of despair that can drive so many to madness and suicide. Yet at the same time the words we use, strangely, become like those pens deposited in medical offices and waiting rooms around the world: ready at hand, easily found, familiar — and tied to associations, marketing and meanings we were only dimly aware were shaping how we think.
In Psychology Salon, Randy Paterson compares life in the present to life in the past, to try to see if there are any clues there as to why the incidence of depression seems to have been increasing so dramatically. More →
Depressed elderly people are more likely to suffer heart disease not because of their depression, but apparently due to antidepressant medications, according to a study published in Psychological Medicine. More →
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