Tag Archives | Depression

Mindfulness has lost its Buddhist roots, and it may not be doing you good

Harry Koopman (CC BY 2.0)

Harry Koopman (CC BY 2.0)

Miguel Farias, Coventry University and Catherine Wikholm, University of Surrey

Mindfulness as a psychological aid is very much in fashion. Recent reports on the latest finding suggested that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is as effective as anti-depressants in preventing the relapse of recurrent depression.

While the authors of the paper interpreted their results in a slightly less positive light, stating that (contrary to their hypothesis) mindfulness was no more effective than medication, the meaning inferred by many in the media was that mindfulness was superior to medication.

Mindfulness is a technique extracted from Buddhism where one tries to notice present thoughts, feeling and sensations without judgement. The aim is to create a state of “bare awareness”. What was once a tool for spiritual exploration has been turned into a panacea for the modern age — a cure-all for common human problems, from stress, to anxiety, to depression.… Read the rest

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Depression Distorts People’s Perception of Time, Study Finds

oatsy40 (CC BY 2.0)

oatsy40 (CC BY 2.0)

Depression can lead to time distortion.

via PsyBlog:

Most people experience differences in how time is perceived, with or without depression.

For example, 10 minutes in the dentist’s waiting-room can seem like an hour.

While an enjoyable conversation with a good friend can pass in the blink of an eye.

What a new study finds, though, is that depressed people have a general feeling that time is passing more slowly, or even that it has stopped.

Dr. Daniel Oberfeld-Twistel, one of the study’s authors, said:

“Psychiatrists and psychologists in hospitals and private practices repeatedly report that depressed patients feel that time only creeps forward slowly or is passing in slow motion.

The results of our analysis confirm that this is indeed the case.”

The strange part is what happens when people with depression are asked to judge intervals of time.

For example, they are asked to watch a movie and estimate its length.

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Schizophrenia, Depression and Addiction All Linked to Similar Loss of Brain Matter

Jon Olav Eikenes (CC BY 2.0)

Jon Olav Eikenes (CC BY 2.0)

via PsyBlog:

Could there be an underlying biological cause for many mental illnesses?

Diagnoses as different as depression, addictions and schizophrenia are all linked to a similar pattern of gray-matter loss in the brain, a new study finds.

The results hint at an underlying biological cause for these mental illnesses.

Dr Thomas Insel, commenting on the study, said:

“The idea that these disorders share some common brain architecture and that some functions could be abnormal across so many of them is intriguing,”

The research, published in JAMA Psychiatry, pooled data from 193 separate studies, which included brain imaging from 7,381 patients (Goodkind et al., 2015).

Patients were experiencing all sorts of different mental illnesses, including depression, schizophrenia, OCD and some anxiety disorders.

Despite this, the researchers identified three structures in the brain which had shrunk across all the different diagnoses.

Continue reading.… Read the rest

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Depression may result from “hyperactivity” in “the disappointment circuit” of the brain

Gerald Gabernig (CC By 2.0)

Gerald Gabernig (CC By 2.0)

Dr Jeremy Dean writes at PsyBlog:

People who are depressed may have hyperactivity in a part of the brain known as ‘the disappointment circuit’, a new study finds.

Scientists led by Professor Roberto Malinow of the University of California, San Diego, found what could amount to an antidote to feeling let-down.

The study focused on a part of the brain called the lateral habenula, which has been linked to the feeling of disappointment which follows from the absence of an expected reward.

Professor Roberto Malinow, who led the study, said:

“The idea that some people see the world as a glass half empty has a chemical basis in the brain.

What we have found is a process that may dampen the brain’s sensitivity to negative life events.”

The neuroscientists found that this area, unlike almost any other in the brain, produces neurotransmitters which both ramp up and damp down brain activity.

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Ketamine (Special K) May Be Best Medicine For Depression

Ketmine Injection I.P..jpg

Photo: Psychonaught (CC)

Amazingly enough the powerful hallucinogen ketamine (the horse tranquilizer sometimes known as Special K) is being touted as a serious and better alternative to the SSRIs like Prozac. Report from the New York Times:

It is either the most exciting new treatment for depression in years or it is a hallucinogenic club drug that is wrongly being dispensed to desperate patients in a growing number of clinics around the country.

It is called ketamine — or Special K, in street parlance.

While it has been used as an anesthetic for decades, small studies at prestigious medical centers like Yale, Mount Sinai and the National Institute of Mental Health suggest it can relieve depression in many people who are not helped by widely used conventional antidepressants like Prozac or Lexapro.

And the depression seems to melt away within hours, rather than the weeks typically required for a conventional antidepressant.

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The Ketamine Key

415px-Ketamine2

K-holes for everyone!

via Psychology Today:

As with everything in the brain, the story isn’t so simple as a single neurotransmitter system like dopamine. Neurotransmitters have complex interactions. Another system using the neurotransmitter glutamate has always been known to be at the heart of depressive disorders. Glutamateis the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, meaning it is the “on” switch. Problem is, if things are put “on” too aggressively or too much, you get what is called “excitotoxicity” leading to neuron damage and even cell death. There’s some evidence that glutamate overload of glutamate receptors like the NMDA receptor may be responsible for the key symptom of depression, anhedonia. Chronic stress seems to damage the nerve synapses.

In a recent paper (news coverage here), researchers described how they used a noncompetitive inhibitor of the NMDA receptor and partial dopamine receptor agonist, ketamine (originally developed as a tranquilizer/anesthetic agent that is now used mostly in veterinary practice and sometimes in children) to rapidly reverse the symptoms of anhedonia in depressed patients.

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Men, masculine pride and how to cope with depression

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.

By Jason Spendelow, University of Surrey

Masculinity plays an important role in dealing with problems such as depression. Men often don’t feel able to reach out for assistance because both the symptoms of depression and the act of seeking help goes against a stereotypical view of how us blokes should or shouldn’t behave.

Of course, traditional masculine characteristics are not necessarily “good” or “bad”. Stereotypical male traits such as self-reliance and independence can be very valuable in life (for both men and women). But when demonstrated through unhealthy and over-used psychological practises, they can spell trouble for well-being and mark seeking help as off-limits.

For example, adherence to “strait-jacket” masculinity, might not only prevent getting treatment but also intensifies tactics such as hiding depressed mood and increasing risk-taking behaviours such as substance use.

Different strategy needed off the pitch.

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What If Everything We Know About Treating Depression Is Wrong?

"How to Overcome Depression" by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

“How to Overcome Depression” by Kevin Dooley via Flickr

Could it be that we’re treating the wrong part of the brain?

via AlterNet:

A new study is challenging the relationship between depression and an imbalance of serotonin levels in the brain, and brings into doubt how depression has been treated in the U.S. over the past 20 years.

Researchers at the John D. Dingell VA Medical Center and Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit have bred mice that cannot produce serotonin in their brains, which should theoretically make them always depressed. But researchers instead found that the mice showed no signs of depression, but instead acted aggressively and exhibited compulsive personality traits.

This study backs recent research that indicates that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, may not be effective in lifting people out of depression. These commonly used antidepressants, such as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Zoloft, and Lexapro, are taken by some 10% of the U.S.

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Antidepressants May Affect Feelings of Love

Were their original feelings a product of their depression/anxiety? Are their new feelings a product of the antidepressants? Could their feelings be attributed to the natural ebb and flow of relationships?

via Live Science:

Taking antidepressants may affect people’s feelings of love and attachment, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that men’s feelings of love tended to be affected more than women’s by taking antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which work mainly through the serotonin system. In contrast, drugs called tricyclic antidepressants, which affect the serotonin system less, seem to affect women’s feelings of love more than men’s, the researchers said.

“The good news is that there are a variety of agents for treating depression,” said study author Dr. Hagop S. Akiskal, a distinguished professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego.

In the study, researchers compared the effects of SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants on the love lives of 192 people with depression — 123 women and 69 men — whose mean age was 41.

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