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Science News About Treatments

Guidelines published for treating PANS/PANDAS

Science Update

An expert panel has published guidelines for treatment of Pediatric Acute Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS) and a subset of patients diagnosed with PAN Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infection (PANDAS).

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Imaging Pinpoints Brain Circuits Changed by PTSD Therapy

Science Update

Using brain imaging to track the effects of treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), scientists have identified a brain circuit on which a frequently used and effective psychotherapy (prolonged exposure) acts to quell symptoms. The findings help explain why the neural circuit identified is a promising target for additional treatment development, including brain stimulation therapies.

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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 to Host Multimodal Brain Stimulation Speaker Series

Science Update

Beginning May 31, 2017, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will launch a speaker series intended to bring together leaders in the field conducting research using non-invasive brain stimulation and functional imaging including EEG, fMRI, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

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Brain “Relay” Also Key to Holding Thoughts in Mind

Press Release

Long overlooked as a mere “relay,” an egg-like structure in the middle of the brain also turns out to play a pivotal role in tuning-up thinking circuity. A trio of studies in mice are revealing that the thalamus sustains the ability to distinguish categories and hold thoughts in mind. It might even become a target for interventions for psychiatric disorders marked by working memory problems, such as schizophrenia.

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Prescribing Patterns Change Following Direct Marketing Restrictions

Press Release

A study of how policies restricting pharmaceutical promotion to physicians affect medication prescribing found that physicians in academic medical centers (AMCs) prescribed fewer of the promoted drugs, and more non-promoted drugs in the same drug classes, following policy changes to restrict marketing activities at those medical centers.

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Revealed: LSD Docked in its Human Brain Target

Science Update

Scientists have discovered the molecular structure of LSD in its human brain receptor.

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Sex Hormone–Sensitive Gene Complex Linked to Premenstrual Mood Disorder

Press Release

Researchers have discovered molecular mechanisms that may underlie a woman’s susceptibility to disabling irritability, sadness, and anxiety in the days leading up to her menstrual period.

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Adding Better Mental Health Care to Primary Care

Science Update

Medicare’s new policy supports Collaborative Care and could improve the lives of millions of people with behavioral health conditions.

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Designer Agent Blocks Pain in Mice Without Morphine’s Side Effects

Science Update

Scientists have synthesized a molecule with a unique profile of highly specific pain-relieving properties and demonstrated its efficacy in mice.

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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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Team-based Treatment for First Episode Psychosis Found to be High Value

Press Release

Coordinated Specialty Care for First Episode Psychosis is Cost Effective

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Federal Agencies Partner to Promote Coordinated Services for Patients with First Episode Psychosis

Science Update

On October 16, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced support for a new treatment for first episode psychosis called coordinated specialty care (CSC). This decision means more clinics may be able to offer CSC and it may become more readily available.

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Antipsychotics Use Among Older Adults Increases with Age

Press Release

Researchers find antipsychotic use among older adults increases with age despite known health risks. In 2010, more than 3/4 of seniors receiving an antipsychotic prescription had no documented clinical psychiatric diagnosis during the year. In addition, among those who did have a diagnosed mental disorder and/or dementia, nearly half of the oldest patients had dementia, regardless of FDA warnings that antipsychotics increase mortality in people with dementia.

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Team-based Treatment is Better for First Episode Psychosis

Press Release

New research shows that a team-based, coordinated specialty care treatment plan produces better outcomes than typical community care for people with first episode psychosis. Investigators also found that treatment is most effective for people who receive care soon after psychotic symptoms begin.

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Embracing the SPIRIT of reducing suicide

Science Update

NIMH, NIH, and the National Institute of Justice are collaborating on a 4-year, $6.8 million study called Suicide Prevention for at-Risk Individuals in Transition or “SPIRIT.” The study focuses on the high-risk individuals who are transitioning from jail to community. SPIRIT is NIMH’s first major investment in suicide prevention in the justice system.

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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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Boys More Likely to Have Antipsychotics Prescribed, Regardless of Age

Press Release

Boys are more likely than girls to receive an antipsychotic prescription regardless of age, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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Medications for Patients with First Episode Psychosis May Not Meet Guidelines

Press Release

Many patients with first-episode psychosis receive medications that do not meet guidelines. A study finds that almost 40 % of people with first-episode psychosis in community mental health clinics across the country might benefit from medication treatment changes.

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Largest Autism Gene Dragnet Fingers 33 Prime Suspects

Science Update

Many patients with psychosis develop health risks associated with premature death early in the course of their mental illness, researchers have found.

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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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Groundbreaking Suicide Study

Science Update

A groundbreaking study will help researchers learn more about treating people with suicidal thoughts. Nearly 20,000 patients will be able to enroll in the trial. One of the treatments being tested was developed with the help of other patients

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Increased Health Risks Linked to First-episode Psychosis

Press Release

Many patients with psychosis develop health risks associated with premature death early in the course of their mental illness, researchers have found.

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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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For Schizophrenia, Newer Injectables Not Necessarily Better

Science Update

Treatment adherence is a problem among people with schizophrenia, who may not take medications because they don’t perceive its need or benefit, don’t like the side effects, or forget. To combat this issue, long-acting injectable medications are administered every 2-4 weeks. But are the new forms of these drugs better than the old ones?

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Jane Pearson Talks About Suicide Prevention Research on NPR’s Science Friday

Science Update

NIMH scientist Dr. Jane Pearson appeared on NPR’s Science Friday to discuss the latest findings in suicide prevention research.

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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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NAB Unveils Youth Mental Health Awareness Campaign

Science Update

On Tuesday, July 23, the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) launched “OK2Talk,” a mental health awareness campaign to increase understanding and awareness about mental health in youth. The campaign includes television and radio ads in English and Spanish that feature teens and young adults opening up about their experiences with mental health.

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Community-based Treatments Offset Depression Disparities

Science Update

Improving care for depression in low-income communities -- places where such help is frequently unavailable or hard to find -- provides greater benefits to those in need when community groups such as churches and even barber shops help lead the planning process, according to a new study.

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Science/AAAS Webinar on Translational Neuroscience Research Featuring NIMH’s Carlos A. Zarate, M.D.

Science Update

Want to know how the latest findings in neuroscience research go from bench to bedside? NIMH and Science/AAAS partnered to produce an informative webinar on translating neurobiological research into treatments.

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HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on the State of Mental Health Care in the United States

Science Update

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discusses state of U.S. mental health care, commemorates JFK’s speech on the topic 50 years ago.

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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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Couple’s Therapy Appears to Decrease PTSD Symptoms, Improve Relationship

Science Update

Among couples in which one partner was diagnosed as having posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), participation in disorder-specific couple therapy resulted in decreased PTSD symptom severity and increased patient relationship satisfaction, compared with couples who were placed on a wait list for the therapy, according to a study in the August 15 issue of JAMA, a theme issue on violence and human rights.

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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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NIH-funded Study Defines Treatment Window for HIV-positive Children Infected at Birth

Press Release

HIV-positive children older than 1 year who were treated after showing moderate HIV-related symptoms did not experience greater cognitive or behavior problems compared to peers treated when signs of their infection were still mild, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Training Peers Improves Social Outcomes for Some Kids with ASD

Press Release

Children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) who attend regular education classes may be more likely to improve their social skills if their typically developing peers are taught how to interact with them than if only the children with ASD are taught such skills. According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, a shift away from more commonly used interventions that focus on training children with ASD directly may provide greater social benefits for children with ASD.

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Perinatal Antidepressant Stunts Brain Development in Rats

Press Release

Rats exposed to an antidepressant just before and after birth showed substantial brain abnormalities and behaviors, in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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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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Toddlers with Autism Show Improved Social Skills Following Targeted Intervention, Finds NIH-Supported Study

Press Release

Targeting the core social deficits of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in early intervention programs yielded sustained improvements in social and communication skills even in very young children who have ASD, according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health. The study was published online July 28, 2010, in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

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Experimental Medication Lifts Depression Symptoms in Bipolar Disorder Within an Hour

Science Update

People with treatment-resistant bipolar disorder experienced relief from symptoms of depression in as little as 40 minutes after an intravenous dose of the anesthetic medication ketamine in a preliminary study; while the patient group was small, this work adds to evidence that compounds in the class to which ketamine belongs have potential as rapid and effective medications for depression, including bipolar depression.

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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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Autism Intervention for Toddlers Improves Developmental Outcomes

Science Update

Children with autism who receive a high intensity developmental behavioral intervention starting by age 18–30 months show major improvements in IQ, language, adaptive behavior, and severity of their diagnosis, according to an NIMH-funded study.

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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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Recovery Act Grant Aims to Teach Kids with Autism How to Better Express Themselves

Science Update

Most children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) seem to have trouble engaging in everyday social interactions. They may seem to have no reaction to other people or may respond atypically when others show anger or affection. Their own facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language may not match what they are saying, making it difficult for others to respond appropriately. Such barriers to communication can isolate children with ASD from their peers.

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Major NIMH Research Project to Test Approaches to Altering the Course of Schizophrenia

Press Release

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is launching a large-scale research project to explore whether using early and aggressive treatment, individually targeted and integrating a variety of different therapeutic approaches, will reduce the symptoms and prevent the gradual deterioration of functioning that is characteristic of chronic schizophrenia.

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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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Citalopram No Better Than Placebo Treatment for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

Press Release

Citalopram, a medication commonly prescribed to children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), was no more effective than a placebo at reducing repetitive behaviors, according to researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and other NIH institutes. The study was published in the June 2009 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

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Brain Awareness Week Teaches Kids How Their Brains Work

Press Release

The 10th annual Brain Awareness Week (BAW), a science and health education fair held in various locations across the United States, teaches fifth through eighth grade students about the brain. In Washington, D.C., it will take place March 16-20, 2009, at the National Museum of Health and Medicine at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Several institutes from the National Institutes of Health will provide interactive exhibits and lectures focusing on brain health and neuroscience on March 18th and 19th.

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Possible HIV Prevention Therapy Shows Promise, But At a Significant Cost

Science Update

A therapy that shows promise in preventing HIV infection could significantly reduce the risk of HIV infection among high-risk groups, but the cost may be substantial unless drug costs can be reduced, according to a study published online ahead of print February 4, 2009, in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

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Pilot Study Will Test New Treatment to Reduce Self-Harm in Borderline Personality Disorder

Science Update

NIMH recently funded Kim Gratz, Ph.D., University of Mississippi Medical Center, and colleagues to continue to test a new group therapy to help women with borderline personality disorder reduce self-harm behaviors and to improve functioning.

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New NIMH Research to Test Innovative Treatments for Children with ADHD

Science Update

Two new grants funded by NIMH will focus on novel and innovative approaches to treating children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

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NIMH Funds Research to Find Best Treatments for Children with Autism and ADHD Symptoms

Science Update

A new NIMH-funded study will help guide the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).

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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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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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New Research to Help People with Mental Disorders Quit Smoking

Science Update

A new grant funded by NIMH will develop an intervention designed to help people with serious mental illness (SMI) quit smoking. The addiction is very common among people with SMI, and contributes significantly to deteriorating health and higher costs for care. But it is difficult to treat among people with SMI because they require a tailored approach that is incorporated into their existing mental health treatment.

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Group Therapy Program Offers Meaningful Gains for People with Borderline Personality Disorder

Science Update

A 20-week group therapy program focusing on cognitive behavioral and skills training, when used in conjunction with usual care, helped reduce symptoms of borderline personality disorder and improve overall functioning, reported NIMH-funded researchers.

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Research-based Principles May Help Improve Mental Health Recovery Following Mass Trauma

Science Update

Experts on trauma-related research and medical practices from around the world recently identified five principles to guide mental health care efforts immediately or shortly after a mass trauma, such as a natural disaster or terrorist attack. In a related commentary, NIMH scientist Farris Tuma, Sc.D., MHS, discusses how these principles may help determine effective mental health care for large numbers of people following an emergency, and how best to deliver it. The article and commentary were published in the Winter 2007 issue of Psychiatry: Interpersonal and Biological Processes.

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Memory-sustaining Enzyme May Help Treat PTSD, Cognitive Decline

Science Update

Chemically blocking an enzyme in a specific area in the brain’s cortex, or outer mantle, erased a long-term memory of an aversive event that rats had learned, a study funded in part by NIMH has found.

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Internet-based PTSD Therapy May Help Overcome Barriers to Care

Science Update

NIMH-funded researchers recently completed a pilot study showing that an Internet-based, self-managed cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can help reduce symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, with effects that last after treatment has ended.

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Family Involvement and Focused Intervention May be Key to Helping Teens with Bulimia

Science Update

Family-based treatment for adolescent bulimia nervosa (FBT-BN) is more effective than an individual-based therapy called supportive psychotherapy (SPT) in helping teens overcome bulimia according to an NIMH-funded study.

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New Research to Help Youth with Mental Disorders Transition to Adulthood

Science Update

As young people with mental health disorders transition from adolescence to adulthood, they frequently face new and difficult challenges such as the loss of state-issued benefits like Medicaid and foster care, or loss of family-based insurance coverage.

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Studies Refine Understanding of Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Science Update

Two new studies provide additional details on best practices for treating people with bipolar disorder, a sometimes debilitating illness marked by severe mood swings between depression and mania.

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New Technique Pinpoints Crossroads of Depression in Rat Brain

Science Update

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

Press Release

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

Press Release

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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Improvement Following ADHD Treatment Sustained in Most Children

Press Release

Most children treated in a variety of ways for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) showed sustained improvement after three years in a major follow-up study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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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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Intensive Psychotherapy More Effective Than Brief Therapy for Treating Bipolar Depression

Press Release

Patients taking medications to treat bipolar disorder are more likely to get well faster and stay well if they receive intensive psychotherapy, according to results from the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder (STEP-BD), funded by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Study Sheds Light on Medication Treatment Options for Bipolar Disorder

Press Release

For depressed people with bipolar disorder who are taking a mood stabilizer, adding an antidepressant medication is no more effective than a placebo (sugar pill), according to results published online on March 28, 2007 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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