Saturday, July 31, 2021

Comments by Mendblogger

Showing 5 of 5 comments.

  • Cyndi,

    Thank you for your honest and beautiful story. I am inspired by how you took control of your thoughts.

    Like you, one of the most important ways that I came out of depression was learning to observe my thoughts and control the content of my attention. It was very hard. Mindfulness, meditation, and yoga were key to this.

    I came at my quest to come out of depression initially by experimenting with all of the non-medication treatments for depression that I could find, that had been validated by research and data. Mindfulness, meditation, and exercise have been shown to be as effective as anti-depressant medications in a lot of studies. I studied yoga and became a yoga teacher, as for me, yoga was a meditation on movement that stilled the mind, in addition to being good exercise.

    I write a blog about my experiences called “Mend: My Journey through Science to Fix Depression.” Here is a link to a series I wrote about the science of mindfulness.

  • I definitely agree that the best use of depression research money is for solutions. But in order to find solutions, research also needs to find better evidence about causes. There actually is good research about brain activity and depression – see the work of Richard Davidson at the University of Wisconsin or Yvette Sheline at Washington University. My recent blog post describes both.

    Mend – My Journey Through Science to Fix Depression

  • For those of us who have experienced depression or other mental health challenges, there can be no doubt that something very real and different from the norm has happened to you – to your body, mind, emotions, and thinking. I have full faith that most people who enter mental health professions do so as dedicated individuals who truly want to help other people. The problem is that the DSM and those who use it to treat mental illness have become reliant on a very limited set of tools for diagnosis – self-reports and, in some ways, arbitrary categorizations of symptoms. While considering self-reports of symptoms is a legitimate and important approach, it is very partial. While it does not make sense to throw out the body of research that led the science of mental health to where it is today, it is very important to develop new tools that can look at these issues in a wholistic way. Diagnosis for depression should not be based (as it is now) on a limited set of questions about how you feel, but should include a more balanced set of tools that still need to be developed. Current science has shown differences in thinking habits, brain activity, hormones, gene alleles, and more in those of us who have experienced depression. But diagnostic tools have not been developed based on these findings. A good outcome from this healthy debate would be funding to develop more rigorous and balanced diagnostic tests that could include fMRIS of brain activity, blood tests for hormone levels, DNA tests, more targeted questionnaires about thoughts and emotions, or other creative and evidence-based approaches.

    Mend – My Journey Through Science to Fix Depression

  • Your point about not looking at depression through a biological lense only is an important one. The new NIMH approach to grounding depression diagnosis in evidence-based studies of biology is a very important next step – and yet it remains incomplete. If the study of depression stays stove-piped within disciplines, even an important one such as biology, without incorporating studies of (a) the mind and thinking habits and (b) stressful circumstances in our environment, then we are still aiming for an incomplete solution. From a policy perspective, perhaps the NIMH can take their initiative the next step and develop a wholistic, evidence-based approach to defining and diagnosing mental health that includes the body, the mind, and circumstances.


  • For those of us who have gone through a diagnosis process, the lack of science during the process is appalling – a series of questions about mood and symptoms. And yet, studies do show a basis for depression in the body – overactive left prefrontal cortex in fMRI, elevated levels of stress hormones like cortisol, a shrunken hippocampus, possibly (controversially) something wrong with serotonin levels, a gene that has been linked to depression. And yet, there are no blood tests, lab procedures, or brain scans to diagnose depression. I congratulate Dr. Insel for turning research in a new direction.

    Mend – My Journey Through Science to Fix Depression