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Science News About Depression

Depression’s “Transcriptional Signatures” Differ in Men vs. Women

Science Update

Brain gene expression associated with depression differed markedly between men and women. Such divergent “transcriptional signatures” may signal divergent underlying illness processes requiring sex-specific treatments.

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Webinar: RDoC - Fear & Anxiety: From Mechanisms to Implementation

Institute Update

This November 2016 RDoC webinar highlights the role of fear and anxiety in disorders such as phobias and depression.

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Pediatrics-based Brief Therapy Outdoes Referral for Youths with Anxiety and Depression

Science Update

A streamlined behavioral therapy delivered in a pediatrics practice offered much greater benefit to youth with anxiety and depression than a more standard referral to mental health care with follow-up in a clinical trial comparing the two approaches.

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NIMH Grantee Wins One of Science’s Most Coveted Prizes

Science Update

NIMH grantee Karl Deisseroth, M.D., Ph.D., of Stanford University, has been awarded one of science’s most generous prizes. A German foundation presented the inventor of technologies that are transforming neuroscience with its 4 million euros Fresenius Prize.

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Estrogen Alters Memory Circuit Function in Women with Gene Variant

Science Update

Brain scans reveal that fluctuations in estrogen can trigger atypical functioning in a key brain memory circuit in women with a common version of a gene. Since working memory function is often disturbed in mental disorders, such gene-hormone interactions are suspect mechanisms that may confer risk.

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Tapping Crowd-Sourced Data Unearths a Trove of Depression Genes

Press Release

Scientists have discovered 15 genome sites – the first ever – linked to depression in people of European ancestry. But – in a twist – the researchers didn’t have to sequence anyone’s genes! Instead, they analyzed data already shared by people who had purchased their own genetic profiles via an online service and elected to participate in its research option.

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Electroconvulsive Therapy Lifts Depression, Sustains Remission in Older Adults

Science Update

An individualized program of follow-up treatment with electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) combined with an antidepressant was effective in preventing relapse in patients 60 years and older who had had a successful initial course of treatment for severe depression.

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Ketamine Lifts Depression via a Byproduct of its Metabolism

Press Release

A chemical byproduct, or metabolite, created as the body breaks down likely holds the secret to its rapid antidepressant action .

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Facebook Q&A on Electroconvulsive Therapy

Science Update

On March 17, 2016, NIMH hosts a Facebook Q&A on electroconvulsive therapy with expert Dr. Sarah Lisanby.

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A BRIGHT Technological Future for Mental Health Trials

Science Update

Is mobile mental health research the next frontier for smartphones? Based on Dr. Patricia Areán’s pioneering BRIGHTEN study, research via smartphone app is already a reality.

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Webinar Series – Office for Research on Disparities and Global Mental Health

Science Update

View the archived webinars with NIMH experts and grantees, which focus on training, research, and methodology

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NIH Joins with Women’s Organization to Debut Postpartum Depression Video

Science Update

A new video about postpartum depression marks the launch of a mental health education collaboration by two NIH Institutes and one of the nation’s largest African-American women’s organizations.

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Disorders Share Risk Gene Pathways for Immune, Epigenetic Regulation

Science Update

Risk genes for different mental disorders work through same pathways

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Rapid Agent Restores Pleasure-seeking Ahead of Other Antidepressant Action

Press Release

A drug being studied as a fast-acting mood-lifter restored pleasure-seeking behavior independent of – and ahead of – its other antidepressant effects.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Depression and the Development of Novel Medications

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Depression and the Development of Novel Medications

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Men and Depression

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Men and Depression

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Postpartum Depression

Science Update

NIMH Twitter Chat on Postpartum Depression

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Jump-starting Natural Resilience Reverses Stress Susceptibility

Press Release

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors to out-of-balance neuronal electrical activity and made mice resilient by reversing it.

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Girls Thrive Emotionally, Boys Falter After Move to Better Neighborhood

Science Update

Girls in public housing benefited emotionally from a move to a better neighborhood while boys fared worse than if they’d stayed in the poor neighborhood. Rates of depression and conduct disorder markedly increased in boys and decreased in girls. Boys also experienced significantly increased rates of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), complicating housing policy decision-making.

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NIMH Twitter Chat on Depression and Older Adults

Science Update

Join NIMH’s Jovier Evans, Ph.D., Chief of the Geriatric Translational Neuroscience Program, for a Twitter Chat on depression and older adults.

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NeuroBioBank Gives Researchers One-stop Access to Post-mortem Brains

Press Release

The NIH NeuroBioBank provides researchers with one-stop access to post-mortem brains.

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New Data Reveal Extent of Genetic Overlap Between Major Mental Disorders

Press Release

The largest genome-wide study of its kind has determined how much five major mental illnesses are traceable to the same common inherited genetic variations.

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Webinar on Ketamine and Next Generation Therapies Featuring NIMH’s Carlos A. Zarate, M.D.

Science Update

On August 13, 2013, Carlos A. Zarate, M.D., from the National Institute of Mental Health will give a live presentation titled “Ketamine & Next Generation Therapies,” where he will discuss his research on novel medications for treatment-resistant depression and bipolar disorder at the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

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Scan Predicts Whether Therapy or Meds Will Best Lift Depression

Press Release

Pre-treatment scans of brain activity predicted whether depressed patients would best achieve remission with an antidepressant medication or psychotherapy, in a study that may help mental health treatment decision-making move beyond trial-and-error. The study sought to identify a biomarker that could predict which type of treatment a patient would benefit from based on the state of his or her brain.

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Bullying Exerts Psychiatric Effects Into Adulthood

Science Update

Once considered a childhood rite of passage, bullying lingers well into adulthood. Bullies and victims alike are at risk for psychiatric problems such as anxiety, depression, substance abuse, and suicide when they become adults, reported a study partially funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) that was published in the April issue of JAMA Psychiatry.

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Ketamine Cousin Rapidly Lifts Depression Without Side Effects

Science Update

NMDA or glutamate receptor modulators as antidepressants have come of age. Human clinical studies demonstrated that ketamine can ward off depressive symptoms within 2 hours of administration and last for several days. Yet serious side effects are attached to this drug, including excessive sleepiness, hallucinations, and substance abuse behavior.

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NIH Study Shows People with Serious Mental Illnesses Can Lose Weight

Press Release

Losing weight is challenging for everyone. It can be particularly difficult for someone with a serious mental illness. An NIMH-funded clinical study proves that a modified diet and exercise program can work for people with serious mental illnesses. Participants lost 7 pounds more than controls—and continued to lose weight.

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Five Major Mental Disorders Share Genetic Roots

Science Update

Five major mental disorders share some of the same genetic risk factors, the largest genome-wide study of its kind has found.

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Imaging Biomarker Predicts Response to Rapid Antidepressant

Press Release

A boost of activity in visual cortex at the back of the brain, triggered by the processing of emotional information, predicted depressed patients’ responses to a rapid-acting antidepressant.

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Stress-Resilience/Susceptibility Traced to Neurons in Reward Circuit

Press Release

Researchers, for the first time, have instantly switched depression-like states on-and-off in mice by tweaking the firing pattern of neurons in the brain’s reward circuit.

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Experimental Agent Briefly Eases Depression Rapidly in Test

Press Release

Ketamine-like agent lifts depression briefly in treatment-resistant patients, with few side effects.

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Genetic Switch Involved in Depression

Science Update

Researchers have discovered a gene regulator that is over-expressed in brains of both depressed patients and rats that show depression-like behaviors. Boosting expression of the regulator, Gata1, decreased expression of genes that code for the connections between neurons in rats’ thinking and feeling circuitry, as well as the number of such synapses.

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Brain Signal ID’s Responders to Fast-Acting Antidepressant

Press Release

Biomarkers identified in research on a fast-acting antidepressant can signal who will respond to the medication and are providing clues to how it works to lift depression.

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Pattern Recognition Technology May Help Predict Future Mental Illness in Teens

Science Update

Computer programs that automatically spot patterns in data may help predict a person’s risk for future mental disorders.

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Ethnic Disparities Persist in Depression Diagnosis and Treatment Among Older Americans

Science Update

Older racial and ethnic minorities living in the community are less likely to be diagnosed with depression than their white counterparts, but are also less likely to get treated, according to a recent NIMH-funded analysis published online ahead of print December 15, 2011, in the American Journal of Public Health.

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Interventions Show Promise in Treating Depression Among Preschoolers

Press Release

A new psychosocial approach shows promise in helping preschoolers with symptoms of depression function better and learn to regulate their emotions, according to an NIMH-funded study published online ahead of print October 31, 2011, in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

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Brain Chemical Linked to Joylessness Provides Insight Into Teen Depression

Science Update

Depressed teens with anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure, have lower levels of the neurotransmitter GABA in a key mood-regulating region of the brain, according to an NIMH-funded study published online October 3, in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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New Neurons in Adult Brain Buffer Stress

Science Update

New neurons growing in the adult brain help buffer the effects of stress, according to a new study in mice.

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For Minor Depression, Study Shows No Benefit Over Placebo from St. John’s Wort, Citalopram

Science Update

An extract of the herb St. Johns Wort and a standard antidepressant medication both failed to outdo a placebo in relieving symptoms of minor depression in a clinical trial comparing the three. The results of this study, consistent with earlier research, do not in support the use of medications for mild depression.

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Drug Boosts Growth Factor to Jump-start Rapid Antidepressant Response

Press Release

A study in mice has pinpointed a pivotal new player in triggering the rapid antidepressant response produced by ketamine. By deactivating a little-known enzyme, the drug takes the brakes off rapid synthesis of a key growth factor thought to lift depression, say researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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Drug Boosts Growth Factor to Jumpstart Rapid Antidepressant Response

Science Update

A study in mice has pinpointed a pivotal new player in triggering the rapid antidepressant response produced by ketamine. By deactivating a little-known enzyme, the drug takes the brakes off rapid synthesis of a key growth factor thought to lift depression, say NIMH-funded researchers.

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Stress-Defeating Effects of Exercise Traced to Emotional Brain Circuit

Science Update

Evidence in both humans and animals points to emotional benefits from exercise, both physical and mental. Now, in recent experiments with mice, scientists have traced the stress-buffering effect of activity to a brain circuit known to be involved in emotional regulation as well as mood disorders and medication effects. The finding is a clue to understanding the neurological roots of resilience, key to developing new means of prevention and treatment for stress-related illness.

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Combination Antidepressant Therapy May Not Improve Odds of Remission Among Chronically Depressed

Science Update

A combination of two antidepressants may not be any more effective in treating chronic major depression than a single antidepressant, according to an NIMH-funded study published online ahead of print May 2, 2011, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Study Reveals New Clues to How Depression May Develop

Science Update

Activating neurons in a brain structure linked to disappointment increased depression-like behaviors in rats, while suppressing the neurons’ activity reduced the behaviors, according to an NIMH-funded study. The findings help to explain previous research linking this brain structure to depression in humans and highlight a cellular process that hadn’t been previously explored in mood disorders research. The study was published in the February 24, 2011, issue of Nature.

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Depressed Teens with History of Abuse Less Likely to Respond to Combination Treatment

Science Update

Adolescents with treatment-resistant depression who have a history of abuse—especially physical abuse—are less likely to respond to combination treatment than to medication alone, according to data from the NIMH-funded Treatment of Resistant Depression in Adolescents (TORDIA) study. The new study was published in the March 2011 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Nurturing Newborn Neurons Sharpens Minds in Mice

Press Release

Adult mice engineered to have more newborn neurons in their brain memory hub excelled at accurately discriminating between similar experiences – an ability that declines with normal aging and in some anxiety disorders. Boosting such neurogenesis in the adult hippocampus also produced antidepressant-like effects when combined with exercise, in the study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Case-managed Care Improves Outcomes for Depressed Patients with Multiple Medical Conditions

Science Update

People with diabetes or heart disease plus depression fare better if their medical care is coordinated by a care manager who also educates patients about their condition and provides motivational support, compared to those who receive care from their primary care physician only, according to an NIMH-funded study published December 30, 2010, in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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Teens Who Recover from Hard-to-treat Depression Still at Risk for Relapse

Science Update

Teens with hard-to-treat depression who reach remission after 24 weeks of treatment are still at a significant risk for relapse, according to long-term, follow-up data from an NIMH-funded study published online ahead of print November 16, 2010, in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. The long-term data reiterate the need for aggressive treatment decisions for teens with stubborn depression.

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Rapid Antidepressant Works by Boosting Brain’s Connections

Science Update

An experimental drug that lifts depression in hours likely works by rapidly stimulating connections between brain cells, a study in rats has revealed. The drug, called ketamine, quickly generated such synapses in a brain circuit implicated in human depression by triggering a key enzyme.

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Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder May Go Undiagnosed in Some Adults with Major Depression

Science Update

Nearly 40 percent of people with major depression may also have subthreshold hypomania, a form of mania that does not fully meet current diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder, according to a new NIMH-funded study. The study was published online ahead of print August 15, 2010, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Stress Hormone Receptors Less Adaptive in Female Brain

Science Update

A study in rats has revealed striking gender difference in the brain’s stress response that could shed light on women’s proneness to mood and anxiety disorders. Female rat brain cells were more sensitive to a key stress hormone than males’, which could adapt to the hormone in a way female cells couldn’t.

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Study Shows Possibilities for Predicting How Patients Will Respond to Antidepressants

Science Update

In a study of an experimental treatment for major depression, pretreatment testing to probe the function of a specific brain center predicted how patients would respond to ketamine, a medication that can lift depression rapidly in some people.

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Effects on Personality May Be Mechanism of Antidepressant Effectiveness

Science Update

Results of a study of antidepressant treatment for major depression suggest that changes in personality traits seen in patients taking the drug paroxetine (Paxil) may not be the result of the medication’s lifting of mood but may instead be a direct effect of this class of drugs and part of the mechanism by which they relieve depression.

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Early Treatment Decisions Crucial for Teens with Treatment-resistant Depression

Science Update

An early response to second-course treatment is associated with greater likelihood of remission among teens with hard-to-treat depression, according to recent data from an NIMH-funded study published online ahead of print May 17, 2010, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Resilience Factor Low in Depression, Protects Mice From Stress

Press Release

Scientists have discovered a mechanism that helps to explain resilience to stress, vulnerability to depression and how antidepressants work. The new findings, in the reward circuit of mouse and human brains, have spurred a high tech dragnet for compounds that boost the action of a key gene regulator there, called deltaFosB. Triggering deltaFosB, which is depleted in post-mortem brains of depressed patients, protected mice from developing a depression-like syndrome following chronic social stress.

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Rapid Antidepressant Action of Common Medication Confirmed by Repeat Trial

Science Update

Confirming results from earlier research, a clinical trial of treatment for major depression showed that the medication scopolamine, commonly used for motion sickness and as a sedative, could lift symptoms of depression within days, far faster than current antidepressants. Though the study was small, the magnitude of scopolamine’s effects in comparison with placebo suggests that this class of medications has potential for rapid treatment of depression.

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Magnetic Stimulation Scores Modest Success as Antidepressant

Press Release

Some depressed patients who don’t respond to or tolerate antidepressant medications may benefit from a non-invasive treatment that stimulates the brain with a pulsing electromagnet, a study suggests. This first industry-independent, multi-site, randomized, tightly controlled trial of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) found that it produced significant antidepressant effects in a subgroup of patients, with few side effects.

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Novel Model of Depression from Social Defeat Shows Restorative Power of Exercise

Science Update

In a study in a mouse model that mimics the contribution of social stress to human depression, an environment that promotes exercise and exploration alleviated depressive behavior in the mice. The beneficial effect of activity depended on the growth of new neurons in the adult brain.

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Imaging Studies Help Pinpoint Child Bipolar Circuitry

Science Update

A series of imaging studies are revealing that the brain works differently in youth with bipolar disorder (BD) than in chronically irritable children who are often diagnosed with pediatric BD.

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Family History of Depression Alters Brain’s Response to Reward and Risk

Science Update

Girls at high risk for depression but without current or past clinically significant symptoms showed abnormal brain function related to anticipating and receiving either a reward or loss, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Diabetes and Depression Associated with Higher Risk for Major Complications

Science Update

People with type 2 diabetes and coexisting major depression are more likely to experience life-threatening diabetes-related complications, according to a recent NIMH-funded study published in the February 2010 issue of Diabetes Care.

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Same Genes Suspected in Both Depression and Bipolar Illness

Science Update

Researchers, for the first time, have pinpointed a genetic hotspot that confers risk for both bipolar disorder and depression. People with either of these mood disorders were significantly more likely to have risk versions of genes at this site than healthy controls. One of the genes, which codes for part of a cell’s machinery that tells genes when to turn on and off, was also found to be over-expressed in the executive hub of bipolar patients’ brains, making it a prime suspect. The results add to mounting evidence that major mental disorders overlap at the molecular level.

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Just Over Half of Americans Diagnosed with Major Depression Receive Care

Science Update

Overall, only about half of Americans diagnosed with major depression in a given year receive treatment for it, and even fewer—about one fifth—receive treatment consistent with current practice guidelines, according to data from nationally representative surveys supported by NIMH. Among the ethnic/racial groups surveyed, African Americans and Mexican Americans had the lowest rates of use of depression care; all groups reported higher use of past-year psychotherapy vs. medication for depression.

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Substance Use Associated with Low Response to Depression Treatment Among Teens

Science Update

Depressed teens who report low levels of impairment related to drug or alcohol use tended to respond better to depression treatment than depressed teens with higher levels substance-related impairment, according to an analysis of data from the NIMH-funded Treatment of SSRI-Resistant Depression in Adolescents (TORDIA) study. However, it is unclear whether less substance-related impairment allowed for better response to depression treatment, or if better treatment response led to less substance-related impairment. The study was published in the December 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Long-term Depression Treatment Leads to Sustained Recovery for Most Teens

Science Update

Long-term treatment of adolescents with major depression is associated with continuous and persistent improvement of depression symptoms in most cases, according to the most recent analysis of follow-up data from the NIMH-funded Treatment of Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS). The report, along with a commentary compiling the take-home messages of the study, was published in the October 2009 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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NIH Encourages Depressed Moms to Seek Treatment for Themselves

Science Update

Numerous studies have suggested that depression runs in families. Children of depressed parents are 2–3 times as likely to develop depression as compared to children who do not have a family history of the disorder. Other studies have shown that remission of depression in mothers is associated with improvements in psychiatric symptoms in their children. Despite all signs encouraging mothers to prioritize their own mental health, many suffer from untreated depression while managing treatment for their children’s emotional or behavioral problems.

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Telephone-based Depression Treatment Program Effective While Cost Efficient

Science Update

Patients who receive structured, telephone-based support to manage their depression gain significant benefits with only moderate increases in health care costs compared to those who receive usual care, according to an NIMH-funded analysis published in the October 2009 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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New Approach to Reducing Suicide Attempts Among Depressed Teens

Science Update

A novel treatment approach that includes medication plus a newly developed type of psychotherapy that targets suicidal thinking and behavior shows promise in treating depressed adolescents who had recently attempted suicide, according to a treatment development and pilot study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The study, described in three articles, was published in the October 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Combination Treatment for Psychotic Depression Holds Promise

Science Update

A combination of an atypical antipsychotic medication and an antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) may be more effective in treating psychotic depression than an atypical antipsychotic alone, according to results from an NIMH-funded clinical study.

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Brain Emotion Circuit Sparks as Teen Girls Size Up Peers

Press Release

What is going on in teenagers’ brains as their drive for peer approval begins to eclipse their family affiliations? Brain scans of teens sizing each other up reveal an emotion circuit activating more in girls as they grow older, but not in boys. The study by Daniel Pine, M.D., of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of National Institutes of Health, and colleagues, shows how emotion circuitry diverges in the male and female brain during a developmental stage in which girls are at increased risk for developing mood and anxiety disorders.

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Much Touted “Depression Risk Gene” May Not Add to Risk After All

Press Release

Stressful life events are strongly associated with a person’s risk for major depression, but a certain gene variation long thought to increase risk in conjunction with stressful life events actually may have no effect, according to researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. The study, published in the June 17, 2009, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, challenges a widely accepted approach to studying risk factors for depression.

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Re-shaping Negative Thoughts Shields At-Risk Teens from Depression

Science Update

At-risk teens exposed to a program that teaches them to counteract their unrealistic and overly negative thoughts experienced significantly less depression than their peers who received usual care, NIMH-funded researchers have found. However, the cognitive behavioral prevention program failed to similarly help adolescents prone to the mood disorder if their parents were currently depressed.

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New NIMH Video Describes Depression, Importance of Treatment

Science Update

A new 4-minute video from the National Institute of Mental Health provides an overview for the general public on the symptoms, impact, and treatment of depression. The video is available for viewing by individuals or can be used by community groups or in health care offices to inform viewers about depression and its consequences, and the critical importance of seeking treatment.

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Searching for Risk Factors of Suicidal Events During Antidepressant Treatment

Science Update

A new set of analyses of the NIMH-funded Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS) were conducted to better understand what may predict the development of suicidal events during treatment. The analyses, which were published in the May 2009 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, showed that youths with suicidal thoughts and more severe depression prior to treatment were at higher risk for suicidal events while undergoing treatment.

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Thinning Tissue in Right Half of Brain Signals Increased Risk of Inherited Depression

Science Update

In cases of familial depression, changes in tissue thickness in key brain structures in the right half of the brain may increase a person’s risk for developing depression, according to NIMH-funded researchers. Similar changes in the left half of the brain were linked to the severity of a person’s existing depression or anxiety symptoms. Based on their findings, the researchers proposed a possible mechanism for how these brain changes affect depression risk in the April 14, 2009, issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Key Molecule in Inflammation-Related Depression Confirmed

Science Update

Scientists have confirmed the role of an immune-activated enzyme in causing inflammation-related depression-like symptoms in mice.

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Premature Birth Risk Higher for Pregnant Women Taking SSRIs or Suffering from Untreated Depression

Science Update

Untreated major depression, as well as the use of antidepressant medications, may increase the risk for premature (preterm) birth, but the risk of other problems in fetuses such as breathing, gastrointestinal, or motor problems, may not be increased, according to a study of pregnant women published online ahead of print March 15, 2009, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Expert Panel Addresses High Rates of Smoking in People with Psychiatric Disorders

Science Update

Numerous biological, psychological, and social factors are likely to play a role in the high rates of smoking in people with psychiatric disorders, according to the report of an expert panel convened by the National Institute of Mental Health. The report reviews current literature and identifies research needed to clarify these factors and their interactions, and to improve treatment aimed at reducing the rates of illness and mortality from smoking in this population.

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Suicidal Thinking May Be Predicted Among Certain Teens with Depression

Science Update

Certain circumstances may predict suicidal thinking or behavior among teens with treatment-resistant major depression who are undergoing second-step treatment, according to an analysis of data from an NIMH-funded study. The study was published online ahead of print February 17, 2009, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Getting Closer to Personalized Treatment for Teens with Treatment-resistant Depression

Science Update

Some teens with treatment-resistant depression are more likely than others to get well during a second treatment attempt of combination therapy, but various factors can hamper their recovery, according to an NIMH-funded study published online ahead of print February 4, 2009, in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Adolescents with Depression Not Harmed in Studies Using Placebo

Science Update

Teens with depression who initially are randomly assigned to placebo treatment (inactive pill) during a trial are no more likely to experience harm or have a diminished response to subsequent active treatments than teens who are initially randomized to active treatment, according to an analysis of data from the NIMH-funded Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS).

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Depression Relapse Less Likely Among Teens Who Receive CBT After Medication Therapy

Science Update

Adolescents with major depression who received cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) after responding to an antidepressant were less likely to experience a relapse or recurrence of symptoms compared to teens who did not receive CBT, according to a small, NIMH-funded pilot study published in the December 2008 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Anxious and Depressed Teens and Adults: Same Version of Mood Gene, Different Brain Reactions

Science Update

An NIMH study using brain imaging shows that some anxious and depressed adolescents react differently from adult patients when looking at frightening faces.

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Millisecond Brain Signals Predict Response to Fast-Acting Antidepressant

Press Release

Images of the brains fastest signals reveal an electromagnetic marker that predicts a patients response to a fast-acting antidepressant, researchers have discovered.

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Emotion-Regulating Circuit Weakened in Borderline Personality Disorder

Science Update

Differences in the working tissue of the brain, called grey matter, have been linked to impaired functioning of an emotion-regulating circuit in patients with borderline personality disorder (BPD).

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Serotonin Neurons Critical for Mouse Postpartum Maternal Behavior, Pup Survival

Science Update

Mood disorders, including postpartum depression, have long been treated with antidepressants that enhance the mood-regulating brain chemical messenger serotonin.

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Depression Patients’ Brain Circuitry Makes Them Vulnerable to Relapse

Science Update

Using brain imaging, NIMH researchers have produced direct evidence that people prone to depression -- even when theyre feeling well -- have abnormal mood-regulating brain circuitry.

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Mechanism for Postpartum Depression Found in Mice

Press Release

Researchers have pinpointed a mechanism in the brains of mice that could explain why some human mothers become depressed following childbirth.

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Errant Stress/Immune Indicators Detected in Depression-Prone Women’s Sweat

Science Update

An experimental skin patch test detected abnormal levels of markers for immune function and stress in the sweat of women with histories of depression, NIMH researchers say.

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Mice Expressing Human Genes Bred to Help Unravel Mental Disorders

Science Update

New mouse strains engineered to express human genes related to mental disorders are being developed under a recently-launched grant program from NIMH’s Division of Neuroscience and Basic Behavioral Science.

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Preventive Treatment May Help Head Off Depression Following a Stroke

Science Update

For the first time, researchers show that preventive treatment with an antidepressant medication or talk therapy can significantly reduce the risk or delay the start of depression following an acute stroke, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. These findings differ from past studies attempting to prevent poststroke depression. The study appears in the May 28, 2008, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Medication-only Therapy and Combination Therapy Both Cost Effective for Treating Teens with Depression

Science Update

Treating depressed teenagers with either the antidepressant fluoxetine (Prozac) or a combination of fluoxetine and psychotherapy can be cost effective, according to a recent economic analysis of the NIMH-funded Treatment for Adolescents with Depression Study (TADS). The study was published online ahead of print April 15, 2008, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Studies Identify Subtle Genetic Changes’ Risk for Mental Disorders; May Lead to Targets for New, Better, Therapies

Science Update

WASHINGTON, DC, May 5 — Epigenetics — the examination of how environmental factors like diet, stress, and post-natal maternal behavior can change gene function without altering DNA sequence — plays a major role in depression and in the actions of antidepressant medications. New studies in the field are revealing new molecular targets for better therapies for depression, scientists say.

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Human Brain Appears “Hard-Wired” for Hierarchy

Press Release

Human imaging studies have for the first time identified brain circuitry associated with social status, according to researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) of the National Institutes of Health. They found that different brain areas are activated when a person moves up or down in a pecking order – or simply views perceived social superiors or inferiors. Circuitry activated by important events responded to a potential change in hierarchical status as much as it did to winning money.

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Journal Highlights Effectiveness of Research Based Psychotherapies for Youth

Science Update

Reviews of the current research on psychosocial and behavioral therapies, or psychotherapies, for children and adolescents found a number of well established and probably efficacious treatments for many mental disorders. For example, six were probably efficacious for anxiety disorders, and two were well established for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to scientists funded by NIMH and the National Institute on Drug Abuse, divisions of the National Institutes of Health.

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Maintenance Treatment Crucial for Teens’ Recovery from Depression

Science Update

Long-term maintenance treatment is likely to sustain improvement and prevent recurrence among adolescents with major depression, according to an NIMH-funded study published in the April 2008 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Paying More for Prescriptions May Limit Seniors’ Access to Antidepressants

Science Update

New cost-sharing policies may prevent some older adults diagnosed with depression from filling new antidepressant prescriptions, according to an analysis published in the April 2008 issue of Psychiatric Services.

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State Survey Finds FDA “Black Box” Warning Correlates with Curtailed Antidepressant Prescriptions

Science Update

After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a “black box” warning on antidepressant medications, Nebraskan doctors began prescribing fewer antidepressant medications to children and teens and referring more patients to specialists, according to a state survey. The study, which involved NIMH-funded researchers, was published in the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

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One Gene Overrides Another to Prevent Brain Changes that Foster Depression

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For what appears to be the first time in humans, scientists have detected an interaction between genes that may help prevent brain changes that increase vulnerability to depression.

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Teens with Treatment-resistant Depression More Likely to Get Better with Switch to Combination Therapy

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Teens with difficult-to-treat depression who do not respond to a first antidepressant medication are more likely to get well if they switch to another antidepressant medication and add psychotherapy rather than just switching to another antidepressant, according to a large, multi-site trial funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). The results of the Treatment of SSRI-resistant Depression in Adolescents (TORDIA) trial were published February 27, 2008, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

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Co-occurring Anxiety Complicates Treatment Response for Those with Major Depression

Science Update

People with major depression accompanied by high levels of anxiety are significantly less likely to benefit from antidepressant medication than those without anxiety, according to a study based on data from the NIMH-funded Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study. The study was published online ahead of print in January 2008, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Primary Care Doctors May Overlook Elderly Patients’ Mental Health

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Doctors spend little time discussing mental health issues with their older patients and rarely refer them to a mental health specialist even if they show symptoms of severe depression, according to an NIMH-funded study published December 2007 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

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Genetic Variation May Influence Response to Depression Treatment

Science Update

Variations in a gene known as TREK1 may explain some forms of treatment-resistant major depression, according to a new study analyzing genetic data from the NIMH-funded Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) trial. The study was published online February 20, 2008, in Neuropsychopharmacology.

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Team Care for Depressed Older Adults Cuts Overall Medical Costs

Science Update

A team approach to depression treatment for older adults, already shown to be effective, is also less expensive than usual care, according to an NIMH-funded study published February 2008 in the American Journal of Managed Care.

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Tomorrow’s Antidepressants: Skip the Serotonin Boost?

Science Update

New research adds to evidence of potentially better molecular targets in the brain to treat depression and other mental disorders, according to NIMH-funded scientists.

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Gene Variants Protect Against Adult Depression Triggered by Childhood Stress

Press Release

Certain variations in a gene that helps regulate response to stress tend to protect adults who were abused in childhood from developing depression, according to new research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. Adults who had been abused but didn’t have the variations in the gene had twice the symptoms of moderate to severe depression, compared to those with the protective variations.

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Mood Disorders Predict Later Substance Abuse Problems

Science Update

People with manic symptoms and bipolar disorder type II are at significant risk of later developing an alcohol abuse or dependence problem, a long-term study conducted in Switzerland confirms. The study was published in the January 2008 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Hurricane Katrina Survivors Lack Access to Mental Health Services

Science Update

The majority of Hurricane Katrina survivors who developed mental disorders after the disaster are not receiving the mental health services they need, and many who were receiving mental health care prior to the hurricane were not able to continue with treatment, according to an NIMH-funded study published online ahead of print December 17, 2007, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Depression Linked to Bone-Thinning in Premenopausal Women

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Premenopausal women with even mild depression have less bone mass than do their nondepressed peers, a study funded in part by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), shows.

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Depression’s Flip Side Shares its Circuitry

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Humans tend to be overly optimistic about the future, sometimes underestimating risks and making unrealistic plans, notes NIMH grantee Elizabeth Phelps, Ph.D., New York University.

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Depressed Adolescents Respond Best to Combination Treatment

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A combination of psychotherapy and antidepressant medication appears to be the most effective treatment for adolescents with major depressive disorder—more than medication alone or psychotherapy alone, according to results from a major clinical trial funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Mental Disorders Account for Large Percentage of Adult Role Disability

Science Update

An NIMH-funded study finds that more than half of U.S. adults have a mental or physical condition that prevents them from working or conducting their usual duties (e.g., role disability) for several days each year, and a large portion of those days can be attributed to mental disorders.

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Scientists May Have Found Long-Pursued Binding Site for Antidepressants

Science Update

NIMH-funded scientists have a major new clue as to where the long-pursued binding site for commonly used antidepressants – potentially the site that triggers the medications’ effects – may be on brain cells.

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Genes Linked to Suicidal Thinking During Antidepressant Treatment

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Specific variations in two genes are linked to suicidal thinking that sometimes occurs in people taking the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressants, according to a large study led by scientists at the National Institutes of Healths (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Workplace Depression Screening, Outreach and Enhanced Treatment Improves Productivity, Lowers Employer Costs

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Enhanced and systematic efforts to identify and treat depression in the workplace significantly improves employee health and productivity, likely leading to lower costs overall for the employer, according to a study published September 26, 2007, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Drops in SSRI prescription rates may coincide with increases in youth suicides

Science Update

A 2004 spike in suicide rates may have coincided with a drop in antidepressant prescriptions for youth, following warnings from U.S and European regulatory agencies that the medications might trigger suicidal thoughts.

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New Technique Pinpoints Crossroads of Depression in Rat Brain

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NIMH-funded scientists have developed a new high-speed technique for imaging brain activity and used it to pinpoint a circuit signal in rats that may be at the crossroads of depression — a possible “final common pathway” where different causes of, and treatments for, the disorder appear to converge.

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Success or Failure of Antidepressant Citalopram Predicted by Gene Variation

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A variation in a gene called GRIK4 appears to make people with depression more likely to respond to the medication citalopram (Celexa) than are people without the variation, a study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, has found.

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Faster-Acting Antidepressants Closer to Becoming a Reality

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A new study has revealed more about how the medication ketamine, when used experimentally for depression, relieves symptoms of the disorder in hours instead of the weeks or months it takes for current antidepressants to work.

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Gene Variants Linked to Suicidal Thoughts in Some Men Starting Antidepressant Treatment

Science Update

Some men who experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors after they first start taking antidepressant medications may be genetically predisposed to do so, according to the latest results from the NIMH-funded Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study

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In Second Try to Treat Depression, Cognitive Therapy Generally As Effective As Medication

Science Update

Switching to or adding cognitive therapy (CT) after a first unsuccessful attempt at treating depression with an antidepressant medication is generally as effective as switching to or adding another medication, but remission may take longer to achieve

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Benefits of Antidepressants May Outweigh Risks for Kids

Science Update

The benefits of antidepressant medications likely outweigh their risks to children and adolescents with major depression and anxiety disorders, according to a new comprehensive review of pediatric trials conducted between 1988 and 2006. The study, partially funded by NIMH, was published in the April 18, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Depression Risk Higher in Girls with Low Birth Weight

Science Update

Girls’ risk for developing depression after puberty increased significantly if they had low birth weight, in a study funded in part by NIMH. Yet low birth weight didn’t appear to be just one more risk factor for depression. Rather, it seemed to increase the risk effects of other adversities.

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African Americans, Black Caribbeans, and Whites Differ in Depression Risk, Treatment

Science Update

Although black Americans are less likely than whites to have a major depressive disorder (MDD), when they do, it tends to be more chronic and severe.

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Virtual-Reality Video Game Helps Link Depression to Specific Brain Area

Science Update

Scientists are using a virtual-reality, three-dimensional video game that challenges spatial memory as a new tool for assessing the link between depression and the hippocampus, the brain’s memory hub.

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History of Childhood Abuse or Neglect Increases Risk of Major Depression

Science Update

People who were abused or neglected as children have increased risk of major depression, which often begins in childhood and has lingering effects as they mature, according to a study funded by NIMH.

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