Archives for June 2015

Better Treatment for Mood Disorders

Newly Launched Research Network Seeks Better Treatments for Mood Disorders
From the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA):
Imagine walking into a doctor’s office and getting a treatment that’s been shown to be most effective for your kind of depression or bipolar disorder. This doesn’t happen today. But by pulling together the largest pool of data ever collected, a national team of clinical researchers is seeking to collect enough information about how different treatments work so doctors can provide just that type of care. Led by Massachusetts General Hospital, the team is collaborating with patients and national organizations.
Through the newly established MoodNetwork, the team’s goal is to advance knowledge of which treatment works best for which person and to take a major step forward in personalized care of people who suffer from a mood disorder.
Read entire article HERE.

New biomarker identified in women with mental illness

A new biomarker identified in women with mental illness.

From Medical News Today, June 22, 2015:

Psychiatric disorders can be difficult to diagnose because clinicians must rely upon interpreted clues, such as a patient’s behaviors and feelings. For the first time, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report identifying a biological marker: the over-production of specific genes that could be a diagnostic indicator of mental illness in female psychiatric patients.

“There has been an utmost urgency to identify biomarkers for mental illness that could significantly impact research and drug development,” said Xianjin Zhou, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Diego School of Medicine and lead author.

Zhou and his team said reversing the abnormal activity of the inactive X chromosome in patients suffering from mental illness may offer a potential new strategy for treating psychiatric disorders.

“Our results indicate that a large subpopulation of female psychiatric patients from the general population may have abnormal function of the inactive X chromosome,” said Zhou. “These results are powerful in that early diagnosis of mental illness could possibly happen with a simple blood test, leading to better interventions, therapy and treatment options.”

Read entire article at

Genetic mutations and schizophrenia

Researchers have identified genetic mutations that may cause schizophrenia

From Medical News Today:

Schizophrenia affects around 2.4 million adults in the US. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but past research has suggested that genetics may play a part. Now, investigators from the Columbia University Medical Center in New York, NY, have uncovered clues that may build on this concept.

Although the cause of schizophrenia is unknown, researchers have established that the condition is hereditary. Around 1% of the general population have the illness, but it occurs in around 10% of individuals who have a first-degree relative with the condition, such as a parent, brother or sister.

According to the CUMC research team, past studies have focused on searching for individual genes that may contribute to the development of schizophrenia. But they note that new high-throughput DNA sequencing technology is now available, which allows researchers to investigate whether a combination of genes may trigger schizophrenia.

Read entire article at

Schizophrenia Research

Large Study Confirms Major Hypotheses in Schizophrenia Research
Although researchers don’t yet have a good picture of what causes schizophrenia, they do know that both genetics and environment play a role. A small minority of people with the illness have missing or extra chunks of DNA known as copy number variants (CNVs). Researchers have turned to these large spans of altered DNA in the search for gene changes that contribute to schizophrenia.
The largest study of CNVs in schizophrenia so far reports the first strong genetic evidence that molecules involved in neuronal communication with GABA, one of the brain’s major neurotransmitters, may play a role in schizophrenia. The new findings, published in the June 3rd issue of Neuron, are consistent with a large amount of non-genetic research from people with schizophrenia as well as animal models that also point to changes in GABA signaling as underlying the cognitive problems of the illness. The research also confirms previous evidence implicating the other major neurotransmitter, glutamate.
Read the entire article at the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.

Animal Magnetism

In psychotherapy, an approach called “person-centered counseling” calls for three essential qualities in the therapist: empathy, acceptance, and authenticity. According to a 2014 study of 312 middle school students, therapy dogs rate high on all three elements.
That will make sense to any pet owner. Animals have no pretense, so they are genuine and fully present. They don’t judge. And it’s obvious from anecdotal evidence that companion animals sense low mood, anxiety, and agitation.
“It’s like she knows I’m not feeling well,”one Oregon woman told us about her beagle, Mackenzie. “When she snuggles in my lap it calms me.”
You’ll find sentiments like that echoed in “Friends with Benefits,” in the new Spring 2015 issue of bp Magazine. Plus, spending quality time with a companion animal—visiting with a therapy dog, having a dog at home, stroking a cat, even watching goldfish— links to better cardiovascular health, combats stress, and eases depression and anxiety.
Read entire article at BP Magazine

Free Webinar on Child & Adolescent Anxiety

The Brain & Behavior Research Foundation is offering a FREE webinar:
Topic: “Child and Adolescent Anxiety: Psychopathology and Neuroscience”
When: Tuesday, June 9, 2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. Eastern

The speaker is Daniel S. Pine, M.D. Throughout his career, Dr. Pine has engaged in research focusing on the epidemiology, biology and treatment of brain and behavior disorders in children and adolescents. His areas of expertise include biological and pharmacological aspects of mood, anxiety and behavioral disorders in children; the biological commonalities and differences among psychiatric disorders of children, adolescents and adults; and the interfaces between psychiatric and medical disorders. Currently, he and his group are examining the degree to which mood and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents are associated with underlying abnormalities in the amygdala, prefrontal cortex and other brain regions.

You can get more information and register for the free webinar HERE.

See their upcoming webinar topics and watch previous webinars HERE.