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Science News from 2006

Experience Sculpts Brain Circuitry to Build Resiliency to Stress

Press Release

It’s long been known that experiencing control over a stressor immunizes a rat from developing a depression-like syndrome when it later encounters stressors that it can’t control.

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Landmark Council Session Spotlights “Real World” Trials

Science Update

Principal investigators of NIMHs four large-scale clinical trials presented study results and their implications at the National Advisory Mental Health Council meeting on September 15, 2006.

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New Data on Suicidal Behaviors in Black Americans May Guide Interventions

Science Update

The prevalence of attempted suicide among black Americans is higher than previously reported, but near the levels reported for the general population.

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Receptor Helps Neurons Grow in Right Direction

Science Update

Researchers have discovered a receptor for a key protein that helps guide certain nerve cells into the correct position as the nervous system develops — a vital part of a process that enables the brain to receive sensory input from the environment and to send messages to the rest of the body via the spinal cord.

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Broad HIV Screening Valuable Even in Communities with Low Infection Rates

Science Update

An HIV/AIDS screening program may be cost-effective even in communities where the infection rate and the prevalence of the disease are very low and among populations at low risk for HIV infection, according to an NIMH-funded study published December 5, 2006, in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Benefits to Employers Outweigh Enhanced Depression-Care Costs

Press Release

It may be in society’s and employers’ best interests to offer programs that actively seek out and treat depression in the workforce, suggests an analysis funded by NIMH.

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Brain’s Fear Center Likely Shrinks in Autism’s Most Severely Socially Impaired

Press Release

The brain’s fear hub likely becomes abnormally small in the most severely socially impaired males with autism spectrum disorders, researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) have discovered.

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Older Medication May Be More Cost-Effective for Some Patients with Schizophrenia

Press Release

A new study analyzing the economic implications of the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) concludes that the older (first generation) antipsychotic medication perphenazine was less expensive and no less effective than the newer (second generation) medications used in the trial during initial treatment, suggesting that older antipsychotics still have a role in treating schizophrenia.

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Targeting the Most Aggressive Children May Be Cost-Effective Prevention of Later Conduct Disorders

Science Update

Targeted preventive interventions may help reduce conduct problems in children displaying the most aggressive or disruptive behaviors.

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New NIMH Research Strives to Understand How Antidepressants May Be Associated with Suicidal Thoughts and Actions

Science Update

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, is funding five new research projects that will shed light on antidepressant medications, notably selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and their association with suicidal thoughts and actions.

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Mouse Model May Reveal Anxiety Gene, Marker for Antidepressant Failure

Science Update

Studies of a new mouse model suggest that a specific gene variation plays a role in the development of anxiety disorders and in resistance to common medications for anxiety and depression.

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U.S. Youth Suicide Rates Lower in Counties with High SSRI Use

Science Update

For children ages five to 14, suicide rates from 1996 to 1998 were lower in areas of the country with higher rates of antidepressant prescriptions, according to an NIMH-funded study published in the November 2006 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Odds of Beating Depression Diminish as Additional Treatment Strategies are Needed

Science Update

An overall assessment of the nation's largest real-world study of treatment-resistant depression suggests that a patient with persistent depression can get well after trying several treatment strategies, but his or her odds of beating the depression diminish as additional treatment strategies are needed.

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Colloquium to Mark 25 Years of Improving Access to Mental Health Research Careers

Science Update

When mostly minority college students being groomed for careers in mental health-related research convene in Washington D.C. early next month, a program to promote diversity in the scientific workforce will mark a quarter century of progress.

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More Direct Way to Map Brain Activity Deemed Feasible

Science Update

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to directly detect the electrical activity emitted by neurons, NIMH scientists and colleagues have demonstrated.

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New Research Helps to Improve Understanding of Bipolar Disorder in Youth

Science Update

Bipolar disorder may be hard to identify in children and adolescents for several reasons, including a lack of age-appropriate diagnostic guidelines and symptoms different than those commonly seen in adults with the disorder.

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Gene Linked to Autism in Families with More Than One Affected Child

Press Release

A version of a gene has been linked to autism in families that have more than one child with the disorder. Inheriting two copies of this version more than doubled a child’s risk of developing an autism spectrum disorder, scientists supported by NIMH and NICHD have discovered.

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Preschoolers with ADHD Improve with Low Doses of Medication

Press Release

The first long-term, large-scale study designed to determine the safety and effectiveness of treating preschoolers who have attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) with methylphenidate (Ritalin) has found that overall, low doses of this medication are effective and safe.

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Antipsychotic Medications Used to Treat Alzheimer’s Patients Found Lacking

Press Release

Commonly prescribed antipsychotic medications used to treat Alzheimer’s patients with delusions, aggression, hallucinations, and other similar symptoms can benefit some patients, but they appear to be no more effective than a placebo when adverse side effects are considered, according to the first phase of a large-scale clinical trial funded by NIMH.

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Gene Therapy May One Day Prevent AIDS–Related Brain–Cell Death

Science Update

Scientists have shown that gene therapy has potential for treating brain pathology triggered by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which causes AIDS.

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How Strep Triggers Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – New Clues

Science Update

A likely mechanism by which a bacterial infection triggers obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) in some children has been demonstrated by NIMH scientists and collaborators at California State University and the University of Oklahoma.

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NIMH Researchers Discover Medication’s Antidepressant Potential

Science Update

A commonly used sedative and motion-sickness treatment shows promise as a fast-acting antidepressant, according to a study conducted by researchers at NIMH.

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New NIMH Research Program Launches Autism Trials

Press Release

NIMH has launched three major clinical studies on autism at its research program on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland.

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New Schizophrenia Trial: Does Method of Administering Medication Make a Difference?

Science Update

A new clinical trial is testing whether an injection of a long-lasting antipsychotic medication every two weeks results in better adherence to treatment and better outcomes among people with schizophrenia than do oral medications taken daily.

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Bipolar Disorder Exacts Twice Depression’s Toll in Workplace, Productivity Lags Even After Mood Lifts

Press Release

Bipolar disorder costs twice as much in lost productivity as major depressive disorder, an NIMH funded study has found.

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Subsequent Treatment Strategies for Persistent Depression Yield Modest Results

Science Update

Patients with treatment-resistant depression had a modest chance of becoming symptom-free when they tried different treatment strategies after two or three failed treatments, according to results from the nation's largest real-world study of depression.

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College Women at Risk for Eating Disorder May Benefit From Online Intervention

Press Release

A long-term, large-scale study has found that an Internet-based intervention program may prevent some high risk, college-age women from developing an eating disorder.

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Experimental Medication Kicks Depression in Hours Instead of Weeks

Press Release

People with treatment—resistant depression experienced symptom relief in as little as two hours with a single intravenous dose of ketamine, a medication usually used in higher doses as an anesthetic in humans and animals, in a preliminary study.

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Shy Temperament: More than Just Fearful

Science Update

Compared to others, children with extremely shy temperament have heightened brain activity in response to any prominent event, whether the event is positive or negative, a new imaging study suggests.

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Receptor Knockout Yields an Adventurous Mouse

Press Release

Mice altered to lack a particular type of receptor in the brain’s executive hub are more prone to go where normal mice fear to tread, NIMH funded scientists have discovered.

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Males with Autism Have Fewer Cells in Brain’s Emotional Memory Hub

Science Update

Males with autism have fewer cells in a part of the brain that has a key role in emotion and memory, according to NIMH-funded researchers at the University of California, Davis.

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Brain Changes Mirror Symptoms in ADHD

Science Update

The severity of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in youth appears to be reflected in their brain structure, recent NIMH-supported brain imaging studies are finding.

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New Factors Identified for Predicting Violence in Schizophrenia

Science Update

A study of adults with schizophrenia showed that symptoms of losing contact with reality, such as delusions and hallucinations, increased the odds of serious violence nearly threefold.

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New Tool Can Boost or Block the Body’s Protective Inner Barriers

Press Release

A team of experts funded by NIH has developed a chemical tool that allows scientists to manipulate control of the passage of substances through the barriers between blood and the tissues of every organ — from the brain, lungs, and heart to the organs of the immune system.

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Obesity Linked with Mood and Anxiety Disorders

Science Update

Results of an NIMH-funded study show that nearly one out of four cases of obesity is associated with a mood or anxiety disorder, but the causal relationship and complex interplay between the two is still unclear.

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Targeted Therapy Halves Suicide Attempts in Borderline Personality Disorder

Science Update

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) reduced suicide attempts by half compared with other types of psychotherapy available in the community in patients with borderline personality disorder, an NIMH-funded study has found.

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Switching to a Third Antidepressant Medication May Prove Helpful to Some with Treatment-Resistant Depression

Science Update

The next wave of results from the nation's largest real-world study of treatment-resistant depressionshows that patients had a moderate chance of becoming symptom-free when they switched to a third antidepressant medication, following two previously unsuccessful medication attempts.

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Behaviors, Not ADHD Diagnosis, Predict Adolescents’ Initial Substance Use

Science Update

A small NIH-funded study that followed 12-to 14-year olds over four years suggests that specific behaviors can help predict which youth will begin to use tobacco, alcohol, or marijuana.

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Adult Children of Depressed Parents Have Higher Risk of Mental and Physical Illness

Science Update

As children of depressed parents enter adulthood, they continue to suffer greater risk of mental disorders and begin to report more physical illnesses than grown-up children of non-depressed parents.

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Antipsychotic Prescriptions Rise Sharply for Children and Adolescents

Science Update

The number of antipsychotic medication prescriptions for children and adolescents increased six-fold from 1993 to 2002, according to a study of visits made by people 20 years old and younger to doctors' offices.

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Antidepressant Does Not Reduce Risk Of Relapse Among Patients With Anorexia Nervosa

Science Update

An NIMH-funded study has concluded that the antidepressant medication fluoxetine (Prozac) is no more effective than placebo in preventing relapse among patients with anorexia nervosa who had achieved a healthy weight during inpatient or day-program treatment.

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Intermittent Explosive Disorder Affects up to 16 Million Americans

Press Release

A little-known mental disorder marked by episodes of unwarranted anger is more common than previously thought, a study funded by NIMH has found.

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Fear Circuit Flares as Bipolar Youth Misread Faces

Press Release

Youth with bipolar disorder misread facial expressions as hostile and show heightened neural reactions when they focus on emotional aspects of neutral faces, NIMH researchers have discovered.

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Depression Rates Are Lower in Children Whose Mothers Are Successfully Treated

Science Update

When women treated for depression become symptom-free, their children are less likely to be diagnosed with depression, according to a study published in the March 22/29 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Studies ID Molecular Accomplices of Suspect Schizophrenia Genes

Science Update

NIMH-funded researchers have discovered how certain genes work at the molecular level to increase the risk of schizophrenia.

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Properly Timed Light, Melatonin Lift Winter Depression by Syncing Rhythms

Science Update

Most Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) symptoms stem from daily body rhythms that have gone out-of-sync with the sun, a NIMH-funded study has found.

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ADHD Medication Use Held Steady in Recent Years

Science Update

The results of a study conducted by researchers at the Agency of Healthcare Research Quality and the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health indicate that the prevalence of stimulant use among U.S. children for treating symptoms of Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) remained relatively constant between 1997 and 2002.

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Harvard Study Suggests Significant Prevalence of ADHD Symptoms Among Adults

Science Update

A recent NIMH-funded survey tracking the prevalence of attention deficit/hyperactivity symptoms found that an estimated 4.4 percent of adults ages 18-44 in the United States experience symptoms and some disability.

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Studies Offer New Information About Treatment Choices for Schizophrenia — Phase 2 Results

Science Update

A national clinical trial comparing clozapine with other new-generation antipsychotic medications for the treatment of chronic schizophrenia has shown that people who switched to clozapine from their first medication because it failed to manage symptoms adequately were twice as likely to continue treatment as patients who switched to other antipsychotic medications.

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Cortex Matures Faster in Youth with Highest IQ

Press Release

Youth with superior IQ are distinguished by how fast the thinking part of their brains thickens and thins as they grow up, researchers at NIMH have discovered.

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New Strategies Help Depressed Patients Become Symptom-Free

Press Release

Results of the nation’s largest depression study show that one in three depressed patients who previously did not achieve remission using an antidepressant became symptom-free with the help of an additional medication and one in four achieved remission after switching to a different antidepressant.

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Aggression-Related Gene Weakens Brain’s Impulse Control Circuits

Press Release

A version of a gene previously linked to impulsive violence appears to weaken brain circuits that regulate impulses, emotional memory and thinking in humans, researchers at NIMH have found.

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Maintenance Treatment Prevents Recurrence in Older Adults with Single-Episode Depression

Press Release

People age 70 and older who continued taking the antidepressant that helped them to initially recover from their first episode of depression were 60 percent less likely to experience a new episode of depression over a two-year study period than those who stopped taking the medication, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health.

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Gene Influences Antidepressant Response

Press Release

Whether depressed patients will respond to an antidepressant depends, in part, on which version of a gene they inherit, a study led by scientists at NIH has discovered. Having two copies of one version of a gene that codes for a component of the brain’s mood―regulating system increased the odds of a favorable response to an antidepressant by up to 18 percent, compared to having two copies of the other, more common version.

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Depression Model Leaves Mice with Molecular Scar

Press Release

In addition to triggering a depression-like social withdrawal syndrome, repeated defeat by dominant animals leaves a mouse with an enduring “molecular scar” in its brain that could help to explain why depression is so difficult to cure, suggest researchers funded by NIMH.

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Lithium Blocks Enzyme To Help Cells’ Clocks Keep On Tickin’

Science Update

NIMH-funded researchers have discovered how lithium likely fixes body clocks gone awry, stabilizing sleep-wake cycles and other daily rhythms disturbed along with mood in bipolar disorder.

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Mice Lacking Social Memory Molecule Take Bullying in Stride

Press Release

The social avoidance that normally develops when a mouse repeatedly experiences defeat by a dominant animal disappears when it lacks a gene for a memory molecule in a brain circuit for social learning, scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have discovered.

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Largest Study to Date on Pediatric Bipolar Disorder Describes Disease Characteristics And Short-Term Outcomes

Science Update

Recent findings from the multi-site, NIMH-funded Course and Outcome of Bipolar Illness in Youth (COBY) study are helping to shape the understanding of three major subtypes of bipolar disorder that affect children and adolescents and how this diagnosis may affect them as adults.

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Early Findings from Largest NIMH-Funded Research Program on Bipolar Disorder Begin to Build Evidence-Base on Best Treatment Options

Science Update

Findings from an NIMH research program on bipolar disorder provide much needed long-term data on the chronic, recurrent course of the disorder, and begin the work of building an evidence-base on the best treatments for those with the disorder.

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Stopping Antidepressant Use While Pregnant May Pose Risks

Science Update

Pregnant women who discontinue antidepressant medications may significantly increase their risk of relapse during pregnancy, a new NIMH-funded study has found.

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Initial Results Help Clinicians Identify Patients with Treatment-Resistant Depression

Press Release

Initial results of the nation’s largest clinical trial for depression have helped clinicians to track “real world” patients who became symptom-free and to identify those who were resistant to the initial treatment.

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Nobelist Discovers Antidepressant Protein in Mouse Brain

Press Release

A protein that seems to be pivotal in lifting depression has been discovered by a Nobel Laureate researcher funded by NIMH.

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