Depression / 10.06.2016

As of now, little is known about the causes of depression. Whilst some scientists believe that there are genetic links to depression, many people who suffer from this condition do so due to past experiences, upbringing, or trauma. Perhaps you are related to somebody who has suffered or is suffering from depression – watching a loved one battle depression is never easy, but does this mean that you will also suffer from the condition? Studies show that a person with a family member who suffers from depression is five times more likely to suffer from the condition themselves, but is this hereditary, or are other factors involved? About Depression: Major depressive disorder or clinical depression is one of the most common forms of depression and also one of the most commonly suffered mental health conditions. The Stanford School of Medicine estimates that around ten percent of U.S.A. citizens will experience major depressive disorder at some point in their lives. Clinical depression is also more likely to be shared by siblings and children, putting those who are related to somebody with the condition at a higher risk of suffering from clinical depression themselves. If you know somebody who is battling depression, Smart Brain and Health offers depression treatment Los Angeles. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Lancet, Pediatrics / 10.06.2016 Interview with: Andrea Cipriani, MD PhD Associate Professor Department of Psychiatry University of Oxford Warneford Hospital Oxford UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Cipriani: Major depressive disorder is common in young people, with a prevalence of about 3% in school-age children (aged 6–12 years) and 6% in adolescents (aged 13–18 years). Compared with adults, children and adolescents with major depressive disorder are still underdiagnosed and undertreated, possibly because they tend to present with rather undifferentiated depressive symptoms—eg, irritability, aggressive behaviours, and school refusal. Consequences of depressive episodes in these patients include serious impairments in social functioning, and suicidal ideation and attempts. Our analysis represents the most comprehensive synthesis of data for currently available pharmacological treatments for children and adolescents with acute major depressive disorder (5620 participants, recruited in 34 trials). Among all antidepressants, we found that only fluoxetine was significantly better than placebo. According to our results, fluoxetine should be considered the best evidence-based option among antidepressants when a pharmacological treatment is indicated for children and adolescents with moderate to severe depression. Other antidepressants do not seem to be suitable as routine treatment options. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Duke, Genetic Research, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 27.05.2016 Interview with: Dr. Johnna Swartz, PhD Postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Ahmad Hariri Duke postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Ahmad Hariri What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Swartz: Prior research has shown that low socioeconomic status is a risk factor for the development of depression. In this study, we examined whether this risk factor was associated with changes in an epigenetic tag near the gene coding for the serotonin transporter, which has previously been linked to depression. We found that adolescents growing up in families with lower socioeconomic status accumulated more of these tags over time, which may lead to decreased gene expression. Moreover, we found that more of these tags were associated with increased activity in the amygdala, a brain region that plays an important role in the stress response. Finally, we found that adolescents with increased activity in the amygdala were more likely to develop depression symptoms a year later, particularly if they had a close relative with a history of depression. This is some of the first research to draw a link from an environmental risk factor to changes in depression symptoms through changes in epigenetic markers and brain function. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA, Mental Health Research / 27.05.2016 Interview with: Robert J. Ursano, M.D. Professor and Chair Department of Psychiatry/ Director Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Ursano: This study is part of STARRS-LS (Study to address risk and resilience in service members-longitudinal study). STARRS is a group of studies that address suicide risk in the US Army. Suicidal behavior includes suicide ideation, plans, attempts and completions. Understanding the transitions between these is an important goal. One component of STARRS is the examination of data available on all soldiers who were in the Army 2004-2009. This study examines suicide attempts in soldiers serving 2004-2009 in order to understand the association with deployment and the timing of suicide attempts as well as their association with mental health problems. STARRS is directed to identifying the who, when and where of service member risk. Then interventions can better be developed for these soldiers. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, OBGYNE / 09.05.2016 Interview with: Professor Robert H. Keefe PhD, LMSW, ACSW School of Social Work, University at Buffalo State University of New York, Buffalo, New York What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Keefe: The study focuses on recommendations mothers of color, who have histories of postpartum depression, would make to service providers that they believe would improve service effectiveness.  The study is timely inasmuch as the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act mandates ongoing research to better understand and address differences in treatment needs among mothers from racial and ethnic groups and to develop culturally competent, evidence-based treatment approaches. We were concerned that the research on postpartum depression relies heavily on White mothers, who have access to care, ongoing relationships with service providers, are married or otherwise coupled, and from middle-class backgrounds.  While the limited research on mothers of color notes their rates of postpartum depression are markedly higher than White mothers, it does little to address how their treatment needs differ from White mothers. We undertook this study to get recommendations from the mothers and discovered that many of the issues that inhibit the mothers from accessing services are the very issues that lead mothers to have postpartum depression.  For example, many of the mothers report because they have poor-paying jobs, no health benefits, and limited transportation, they are unable to keep appointments despite wanting to do what is best for their newborn babies.  Furthermore, because they missed appointments, the service provider would terminate the mother from a service the mother needs, or worse contact Child Protective Services to report the mother for neglect.  The mothers were not at all neglectful.  They were all invested in their child’s wellbeing; but various life problems kept mounting up so that they and their babies were not receiving ongoing care. Consequently, the recommendations these mothers make have little to do with psychotherapy.  In fact, most of the mothers reported they had no time to be depressed and that psychotherapy was a luxury they could not afford. Instead, the mothers wanted service systems in place that would allow them to receive the care they need so that they and their new-born babies could live happy and health lives. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA / 04.05.2016 Interview with: Dipl.-Psych. R. Redlich Neuroimaging Group Klinik und Poliklinik für Psychiatrie und Psychotherapie Westfaelische Wilhelms-Universitaet Muenster What is the background for this study? Response: Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is one of the most effective treatments for severe depression. The ability to advise psychiatrists and patients accurately regarding the chances of successful ECT is of considerable value, particularly since ECT is a demanding procedure and, despite having relatively few side effects, has a profound impact on patients. Therefore, the present study sought to predict ECT response in a psychiatric sample by using a combination of structural Magnetic Resonance Imaging data and machine-learning techniques. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Depression, Lancet / 02.05.2016 Interview with: Saira Saeed Mirza, MD, PhD Department of Epidemiology Erasmus MC, Rotterdam What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Mirza: Depressive symptoms appearing in late-life have been extensively studied for their relationship with dementia. They not only very frequently occur in demented patients, but also predict dementia. In this context, depressive symptoms have largely been assessed at a single time point only. However, depression is a disorder which remits and relapses, and symptoms do not remain same over the years. Given this pattern of disease progression, it is more important to study the course of depression over time in relation to long-term health outcomes such as dementia, rather than assessing it at a single time-point, which will neglect the course of depression. This is important as people follow different courses of depression, and different courses of depression might carry different risks of dementia. When we studied the course of depressive symptoms over 11 years in community dwelling older adults in Rotterdam, and the subsequent risks of dementia, we observed that only those who had increasing or worsening depressive symptoms were at a higher risk of dementia. In this group of people, about one in five persons developed dementia. Interestingly, people suffering from high depressive symptoms at a single time point were not at a higher dementia risk than those without depressive symptoms. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Mental Health Research, OBGYNE, Pediatrics, Pharmacology / 02.05.2016 Interview with: Heli Malm, MD, PhD Specialist in Obstetrics and Gynecology Teratology Information Service Helsinki University and Helsinki University Hospital What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Malm: Animal studies have demonstrated that exposure to SSRIs during early brain development can result in depression-like behavior in adolescence. Today 6% of pregnant women in the US and 4% in Finland are on selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) at some stage of pregnancy. SSRIs pass the placenta but no prior studies have followed children beyond childhood to monitor the development of depressive disorders, which typically emerge after puberty onset. Results on autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) have been conflicting. The study material is based on national register data from Finland. We investigated offspring psychiatric diagnoses, including depression, anxiety, ASD, and ADHD, of nearly 16,000 mothers who had used SSRIs during pregnancy between 1996 and 2010. Children in this cohort ranged in age from 0 to 15 years old. Because maternal psychiatric illness can affect offspring neurodevelopment in the absence of SSRIs, primary comparisons were made between offspring of the SSRI group and offspring of mothers with a psychiatric disorder diagnosis but no antidepressant use. Children exposed to SSRIs during gestation were diagnosed with depression at an increasing rate after age 12, reaching a cumulative incidence of 8.2% by age 15, compared to 1.9% in the group of children exposed to maternal psychiatric illness but no antidepressants. Rates of anxiety, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) diagnoses did not differ significantly between the two groups. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression / 21.03.2016 Interview with: Theodore Henderson, MD, PhD Neuroluminance Ketamine Infusion Centers What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Henderson: Depression is a widespread problem. Psychotropic medications or therapy are the standard treatments, but they are often disappointing. Some studies have shown that the response rate to antidepressant medications is only 12-17% better than placebo response rate. Newer non-pharmacetical treatments, like transcranial magnetic stimulation, appear to have only a 50% response rate at best. The seminal study by Berman and colleagues in 2000 showed that sub-anesthetic dose infusions of the anesthetic, ketamine, produced a rapid antidepressant response. Many clinics across the United States focus on these rapid effects. Our clinic has been treating patients with treatment-resistant depression (defined as failing five or more antidepressants) for over three years. Our response rate is 80% based on multiple depression rating scales. We report here on 100 of the over 300 patients in our clinic who agreed to share their data in a research study. We treated patients with ketamine infusions no more frequently than once per week, unlike the clinical studies and many other ketamine clinics. We found our patients did equally well or better and received fewer treatments. The neurobiology of ketamine and its mechanism of action hold the key. Ketamine is a potent activator of the growth factor, brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This growth factor reverses the damage that depression causes to the brain – loss of synapses, dearborization of dendrites, and neuronal death. Ketamine’s ability to activate BDNF over time is responsible for a persistent antidepressant effect upon the brain. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Omega-3 Fatty Acids / 19.03.2016 Interview with: Dr. Roel JT Mocking Program for Mood Disorders Department of Psychiatry Academic Medical Center University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands What is the background for this study? Response: Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation (popularly referred to as fish oil) is being promoted as (add-on) treatment for depression. Thus far, many studies have been performed that tested the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in depression. In order to overcome differences between these results of individual studies, a meta-analysis can be performed. A meta-analysis pools the results of all individual studies, and thereby provides a more definitive conclusion regarding the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in depression. Moreover, using the differences between the individual studies, a meta-analysis can point to factors that are associated with a better effect of the supplementation, for example supplementation dose or duration. There have been meta-analyses performed previously, but they seemed to contain several inconsistencies. For example, they accidentally included the same study two or three times, which results in errors. In addition, these meta-analyses did not only include studies performed in patients with the psychiatric disorder "major depressive episode", but also subjects from the general population with less severe depressive complaints. This makes it more difficult to interpret the results. Therefore, we performed a meta-analysis that included only studies performed in patients with major depressive disorder, and corrected errors from earlier meta-analyses. (more…)
Alzheimer's - Dementia, Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA, UCSF / 18.03.2016 Interview with: Allison R. Kaup, PhD Assistant Adjunct Professor, UCSF Department of Psychiatry Clinical Research Psychologist / Clinical Neuropsychologist and Kristine Yaffe MD Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Epidemiology Chief of Geriatric Psychiatry and Director of the Memory Evaluation Clinic San Francisco VA Medical Center What is the background for this study? Response: Previous research has shown that older adults with depression are more likely to develop dementia.  But, most studies have only examined an older adult’s depressive symptoms at one point in time.  This is an important limitation because we know that depressive symptoms change over time and that older adults show different patterns of depressive symptoms over time.  For the present study, older adults were followed for several years.  We assessed what patterns of depressive symptoms they tended to have during the early years of the study, and then investigated whether these different patterns were associated with who developed dementia during the later years of the study. What are the main findings? Response: Older adults in this study tended to show one of 3 different patterns of depressive symptoms.  Most tended to have few, if any, symptoms over time.  Some tended to have a moderate level of depressive symptoms at the beginning of the study, which increased over time.  And others tended to have a high level of depressive symptoms at the beginning of the study, which increased over time. We found that older adults with the high-and-increasing depressive symptoms pattern were almost twice as likely to develop dementia than those with minimal symptoms, even when accounting for other important factors.  While older adults with the moderate-and-increasing depressive symptom pattern were also somewhat more likely to develop dementia, this association was not as strong and did not hold up in our statistical models when we accounted for what individuals’ cognitive functioning was like during the early years of the study. (more…)
Abuse and Neglect, Autism, Depression / 14.03.2016 Interview with: Dr. Rebecca A. Charlton PhD Senior Lecturer in Psychology; Undergraduate Admissions Tutor Department of Psychology Goldsmiths, University of London New Cross London, UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Charlton: Although Autism Spectrum Disorders are classified as developmental disorders, they last throughout life. Autism Spectrum Disorders were first identified in the 1940s, but it was only from the 1960s onwards that awareness of the condition began to increase. Initial research into Autism focused on the area of greatest need, i.e. childhood and education. Only now that those individuals first diagnosed with Autism are reaching old age are studies able to examine what happens in late-life. Although there are an increasing number of older adults with a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorders, it is often difficult to identify individuals willing to participate in research. One alternative is to explore Autism traits in the general population, this is known as the Broad Autism Phenotype (BAP). These BAP traits occur in relatives of those with Autism and in the general population. By examining the BAP in community-dwelling older adults, we can begin to understand whether these traits confer additional risk to in ageing. What did you do in the study? What are the main findings? Dr. Charlton: Adults aged over 60 years old were recruited to take part in the study. They completed questionnaires reporting on presences of  Broad Autism Phenotype traits, executive functions (the ability to plan and organise behaviour), mood (depression and anxiety), and social support. Of the 66 individuals who participated, 20 individuals reported significant BAP traits – classified as the  Broad Autism Phenotype group. Individuals in the BAP group reported more problems with executive functions, higher rates of depression and anxiety, and less social support than those in the non-BAP group. Further analyses demonstrated that having  Broad Autism Phenotype traits was the factor that most explained presence of depression and anxiety symptoms among these older adults. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA, Johns Hopkins / 04.03.2016 Interview with: Katherine L. Musliner, PhD National Centre for Register-Based Research, Department of Economics and Business Economics, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark The Lundbeck Foundation Initiative for Integrative Psychiatric Research Department of Mental Health The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is great variation among patients with depression in terms of long-term illness course. This variation may be indicative of underlying differences in the cause of the illness, and from a practical perspective, it also has implications for treatment and allocation of public health resources. Our goal was to identify different trajectories of depression course by examining inpatient and outpatient contacts for depression at psychiatric treatment facilities in Denmark (where healthcare is free) during the 10-year period following patients’ initial depression diagnosis. We found that the majority of patients (77% in our sample) followed a trajectory characterized by a brief period of contact with the psychiatric treatment system and no contact for depression during the remainder of the 10-year follow up period. Patients with more prolonged contact either had a drawn out initial period of contact lasting as long as five years (13%), left depression treatment for several years only to return with a depression diagnosis years later (7%) or exhibited a chronic course (3%). (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Eating Disorders, Mental Health Research, Nutrition, OBGYNE, Pediatrics / 23.02.2016 Interview with: Lisanne de Barse PhD Department of Epidemiology Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam MedicalResearch: What is the background for this study? Dr. de Barse: Fussy (or “picky”) eating behaviour, which is characterised by consistent rejection of particular foods, is common in childhood and a source of concern for parents. It is not well understood what affects fussy eating. It is, however, well known that internalizing psychiatric problems of parents (i.e. anxiety and depression) have an impact on children’s health and development. Studies have also shown that mothers’ internalizing problems during the child’s preschool period was linked to child fussy eating. It was not clear whether the child’s eating problems causes stress and psychiatric symptoms in mothers or whether mothers’ symptoms predict child eating behaviour. Nor was it known what potential impact the dads’ state of mind have. The purpose of this study was to examine whether mothers’ and fathers’ internalizing problems during pregnancy and during the child’s life predicts child fussy eating. MedicalResearch: What are the main findings? Dr. de Barse: Our main findings indicate that mothers’ anxiety and depressive symptoms during pregnancy could have an influence on children’s fussy eating. This was irrespective of mothers’ internalizing symptoms at the child’s preschool period. We also found indications that fathers’ anxiety and depressive symptoms might influence children’s fussy eating behaviour. This was studied in Generation R, a study that has been tracking the health and wellbeing of children from conception onwards, conducted by the Erasmus Medical Centre, in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Opiods, Pain Research / 19.02.2016 Interview with: Dr-Jeffrey-ScherrerJeffrey F. Scherrer, PhD Associate Professor Research Director Department of Family and Community Medicine Saint Louis University School of Medicine St. Louis, MO 63104  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Scherrer: We initiated a series of studies on chronic opioid use and risk of depression about 3 years ago and obtained an NIH R21 to study prescription opioid use and risk of new onset depression, depression recurrence and transition to treatment resistant depression.  The rationale comes partly from clinical observations of the research team (I am not a clinician, just a epidemiologist).  We also observed the large field demonstrating patients with depression are more likely to get opioids for pain, take them longer and develop abuse.  We wanted to switch the direction of effect to determine if the reverse exists.  After publishing two papers demonstrating longer use of opioid was associated with increasing risk of depression, our next step was to look at recurrence among patients with a recent history of depression. Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report? Dr. Scherrer: Our main recommendation is clinicians should repeatedly screen patients for depression.  While screening at time of starting opioids is common, repeated screening is worth consideration.  Patients with depression who may experience temporary euphoria should not expect opioids to cure depression and they may increase risk for worsening mood and or recurrence after long term use. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA, NYU, Pediatrics / 01.02.2016 Interview with: Briannon O'Connor PhD New York University Child Study Center Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry New York University School of Medicine New York Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. O'Connor: a.      As the health care system continues to emphasize accountability for providing high quality care, the development of meaningful quality standards is critical.  This study came from NCQA’s work to develop these quality measures for adolescent depression care.  Prior to this study, little was known about what routine care looked like for adolescents who showed up at their primary care visits with significant symptoms of depression. This study looked at follow up care documented in an electronic health record in the three months after an adolescent was first identified with significant symptoms of depression. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. O'Connor:    Key findings from this study include:
  1. Most adolescents (nearly two-thirds) with newly prescribed depression symptoms received some treatment, usually including psychotherapy, within the first 3 months after depression symptoms were first identified.
  2. Among those adolescents who were prescribed antidepressant medications, 40% had no other follow up care in three months, which is quite concerning since current black box warnings highlight the risk for increased suicidality for youth prescribed antidepressants and clearly recommend close monitoring in the few months following initial prescription.
  3. There were low rates of other follow up care events in the three month follow up period:  19% of adolescents  did not receive any follow up care at all, 36% did not receive any treatment, and the majority (68%) lacked documentation that symptoms were monitored or re-assessed using a valid questionnaire
  4. The sites that participated in the study are highly regarded health care institutions, often looked to as leaders in cutting-edge care. Thus, results from this study, discouraging as they are, may overstate the quality of care in other settings.
Aging, Author Interviews, Columbia, Depression, Geriatrics / 27.01.2016 Interview with: Stanford Chihuri MPH Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention Department of Anesthesiology Columbia University Medical Center New York City, New York  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: For many older adults, driving is instrumental to their daily living and is a strong indicator of self-control, personal freedom and independence. This study assesses and synthesizes evidence in the research literature on the impact of driving cessation on subsequent health and well-being of older adults. The main findings are that driving cessation in older adults appears to contribute to a variety of health problems, particularly depression. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression / 22.01.2016

More on Depression on Interview with: Prof. Steven LoBello, Professor of Psychology Auburn University at Montgomery Study co-authors: Megan Traffanstedt (graduate student) and Dr. Sheila Mehta Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Looking at a large sample of the U.S. population who completed the PHQ-8 depression scale we found that there is no relation between different seasons and prevalence of depression. Sunlight exposure is supposed to be the key variable at work here, so we also obtained sunlight data from the US Naval Observatory about sunlight exposure time in the communities of survey respondents on the date of their interviews.  We found no relationship between amount of available sunlight and prevalence of depression. Finally we also evaluated prevalence of depression in 3 different latitude bands, latitude being an often-used proxy for sunlight exposure. Again, we found no relationship between prevalence and latitude of residence.  Our findings pertain to the DSM 5 diagnostic category of major depression with seasonal variation. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA, Surgical Research, UCLA, Weight Research / 12.01.2016 Interview with: Aaron J. Dawes, MD Fellow, VA/RWJF Clinical Scholars Program Division of Health Services Research University of California Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 90024 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Dawes: We reviewed the published literature to answer three basic questions about bariatric surgery and mental health conditions. First, how common are mental health conditions among patients being referred for or undergoing bariatric surgery?
  • Second, do patients who carry a diagnosis of one of these conditions lose less weight after surgery than patients without these conditions?
  • And, third, what happens to the clinical course of mental health conditions after patients undergo surgery? Do they get better, worse, or stay the same?
We found that mental health conditions are surprisingly common among bariatric patients, especially depression and binge eating disorder, which occur at almost twice the rate among bariatric patients than in the general U.S. population. We also found no strong evidence to suggest that patients with depression lose less weight after surgery and some evidence that the condition may actually improve after surgery. Eleven of the twelve studies on the topic found either lower rates or fewer symptoms of depression, at least during the first 3 years post-operatively. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Hormone Therapy, JAMA, Menopause / 08.01.2016 Interview with: Eleni Petridou, MD, MPH, PhD Marios K. Georgakis, MD Department of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Medical Statistics School of Medicine National and Kapodistrian University of Athens Athens, Greece Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Response: Previous epidemiologic studies have shown that women during their reproductive life are more vulnerable (by a factor of two) to depression than men; this has been particularly evident during peaks of intense fluctuations of ovarian hormones, like the premenstrual, perimenopausal and postpartum periods. Endogenous (natural) female sex hormones, however, have been shown in various experimental studies to possess neuroprotective and anti-depressive properties. Production of these hormones is diminished after menopause; therefore, age at menopause can be used as a proxy of the lifetime exposure to endogenous hormones. Our research hypothesis was whether longer exposure to endogenous sex hormones has a cumulative anti-depressive action, i.e., whether later age at menopause decreases the risk for postmenopausal depression. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, OBGYNE, Pharmacology / 06.01.2016 Interview with: Anick Bérard PhD FISPE Research chair FRQ-S on Medications and Pregnancy and Director, Réseau Québécois de recherche sur le médicament (RQRM) and Professor, Research Chair on Medications, Pregnancy and Lactation Faculty of Pharmacy University of Montreal and Director, Research Unit on Medications and Pregnancy Research Center CHU Ste-Justine  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Bérard: Paroxetine (one of the most used antidepressant during pregnancy) has been studied extensively over the past 10-12 years. In 2005, a black box warning was put on the Paxil label to caution against use during pregnancy due to the increased risk of cardiac defects. The ACOG 2010 guidelines also suggested switching to other antidepressants during pregnancy. Over the past decade, many studies, including meta-analyses, were performed on on paroxetine use during pregnancy and the risk of cardiac malformations - but results were sometimes statistically significant or not, although a consistent increased risk was observed. It was thought that these variations could be explained by different study designs, patient populations, and because maternal depression was not always taken into account correctly. Hence, we undertook another meta-analysis (the most recent and updated) to quantify the risk of cardiac defects overall as well as specific cardiac defects associated with paoxetine use during pregnancy and to assess the impact of study designs, maternal depression and patient population on the effect of the risk. We found that women using paroxetine during the first trimester of pregnancy (critical time-window for malformations) were 23% more at risk of having a child with malformations (15 studies combined) - baseline risk of malformation is 3-5% and thus a 23% increased risk is 3.69-6.15% absolute risk; women using paroxetine during the first trimester of pregnancy were 28% more at risk of having a child with cardiac malformations (18 studies combined) - baseline risk of cardiac malformation is 1% and thus a 28% increased risk is 1.28% absolute risk. We found that paroxetine was increasing the risk of many specific cardiac defects as well. Although the estimates varied depending on the comparator group, study design, and malformation detection period, a trend towards increased risk was observed. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, Depression / 17.12.2015 Interview with: Ruhi Kanani  Cancer Epidemiology and Population Health Research Oncology King's College London London, UK What is the background of this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is a long history of research investigating the possible association between psychological and physical health. This study is the first to analyse cancer registration information and hospital records of depression for a large group of women with breast cancer in South East England. 77, 173 women diagnosed with breast cancer between 2000 and 2009 were included and followed until the end of 2010. 955 women had a record of depression, 422 before, and 533 in the year after their cancer diagnosis. The results showed that women with a record of depression had a worse overall survival. This was particularly so for those with a  new record of depression after the cancer diagnosis, who had a 45% higher risk of death from all causes compared to those who didn’t develop depression after their cancer diagnosis. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Depression, MD Anderson, Tobacco / 11.12.2015 Interview with: Dr. Eileen H. Shinn PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Behavioral Science Cancer Prevention and Population Sciences MD Anderson Cancer Center The University of Texas Houston, TX  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Shinn: Recent studies with leukemia, breast, lung, renal and liver cancer patients have shown that patients with depression have worsened survival.  These effect sizes are small, but independent of any of the traditional factors that are known to impact survival, such as extent of cancer, types of treatment administered and baseline health and age of the patient.  The current thinking is that cancer patients who are depressed have chronically heightened responses to stress; the constant release of stress hormones trigger changes in the tumor itself (such as noradrenergically-driven tumor angiogenesis) or may weakens the body’s immune function and ability to resist tumor growth. When we measured depression in newly diagnosed patients with oropharyngeal cancer (cancer of the base of tongue and tonsil), we found that those patients who scored as depressed were 3.5 times more likely to have died within the five year period after their diagnosis, compared to nondepressed patients.  We also found that patients who were depressed were also 3.8 times more likely to have their cancer recur within the first five years after diagnosis.  We also found that patients who continued to smoke after diagnosis were more likely to recur within the first five years. These effect sizes were larger than those typically found in recent studies.  We believe that the larger effect size may be due to the tight eligibility criteria ( e.g., we did not include patients who already had recurrent disease, we only included patients with one specific type of head and neck cancer, oropharyngeal) and also due to controlling other known factors (all patients completed individualized treatment regimens of radiation/ chemoradiation at a comprehensive cancer center and patients with more advanced disease stage were more likely to have received treatment intensification compared to patients with early stage disease).  In all, we had 130 patients, one of the largest prospective studies with oropharyngeal cancer to examine the effect of depression on cancer outcome. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Education, JAMA / 09.12.2015 Interview with: Douglas A. Mata, M.D., M.P.H. Anatomic and Clinical Pathology Resident Physician, Brigham & Women’s Hospital Clinical Fellow, Harvard Medical School Boston, MA 02115 Marco A. Ramos, M.Phil., M.S.Ed. History of Science and Medicine M.D./Ph.D. Candidate, Yale School of Medicine New Haven, CT 06511 Medical Research: What is the background for your study? Dr. Mata: Training to be a doctor is clearly stressful, but the prevalence of depression among trainees is not well known. They may get especially depressed during their grueling years of residency, when young physicians are learning their craft by working long hours and taking care of critically ill patients. Coming up with a reliable estimate of the prevalence of depression among graduate medical trainees would help us identify causes of resident depression and begin to treat or prevent it. We thus aimed to find answers to two questions:
  • First, what percentage of new doctors might be depressed?
  • Second, how much has that changed over time?
Medical Research: What are the main findings? Dr. Mata: We set out to find every study ever published on this subject. We analyzed 50 years of research on depression in resident physicians. We collected and combined data from 54 studies conducted around the world, and found that a startling 29% of physicians in training have signs of depression. We also detected a small but significant increase in the prevalence of depression over the five decades the study covered. Mr. Ramos: Twenty-nine percent is a concrete number you can hang your hat on, so to speak. But this number alone doesn’t capture the extent of the problem. We conducted additional studies that revealed that up to 43% of residents have depressive symptoms. (more…)
Author Interviews, BMJ, Depression / 08.12.2015 Interview with: Halle Amick, research associate Sheps Center for Health Services Research University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill, NC Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Major depressive disorder (MDD) affects more than 32 million Americans and millions more worldwide. Many patients first seek care from a primary care provider, and the most common treatment initiated in that setting is medication. Although there is an evidence base that shows certain psychotherapies to be effective treatments, primary care providers may not be familiar enough with psychotherapy to present it as a treatment option. We conducted a full review of clinical trials that compared antidepressant medication—specifically second-generation antidepressants (SGAs)—with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). We found that symptom improvement and rate of remission were similar between SGAs and CBT, whether they were used alone or in combination with each other. We also found no difference in the rates of withdrawal from the clinical trials either overall or due to adverse events. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Depression, JNCI, Kaiser Permanente / 03.12.2015 Interview with: Reina Haque, PhD, MPH Research scientist Department of Research & Evaluation Kaiser Permanente Southern California Pasadena Calif Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Haque: Tamoxifen is a commonly prescribed generic drug taken by women with breast cancer to reduce their chances of developing a recurrence. Tamoxifen is recommended for five years, but has notable side effects, including hot flashes, night sweats and depression. Since hormone replacement therapy is not recommended to alleviate these symptoms in breast-cancer survivors, antidepressants have been increasingly prescribed for relief. Almost half of the 2.4 million breast-cancer survivors in the U.S. take antidepressants. However, previous studies have suggested that antidepressants reduce tamoxifen's effectiveness in lowering subsequent breast-cancer risk. This study was conducted to determine whether taking tamoxifen and antidepressants (in particular, paroxetine) concomitantly is associated with an increased risk of recurrence or contralateral breast cancer. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA / 20.11.2015 Interview with: Raymond W. Lam, MD, FRCPC Professor and Associate Head for Research Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia Director, Mood Disorders Centre, Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health Executive Chair, Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) Vancouver, BC, Canada Medical Research: What is the background for this study? Dr. Lam: Our multicentre team studied the effects of bright light therapy for nonseasonal depression. Light therapy is a non-pharmacological approach that has been studied as a treatment for seasonal affective disorder (SAD, or "winter depression"), but only a small number of studies has explored the use of light therapy in treating nonseasonal depression. Clinical depression, known formally as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is the most common psychiatric disorder and one of the most common medical conditions worldwide. At any given time, at least 1 person in 20 (5% of the general population) is experiencing MDD, which will become the second-leading cause of disability worldwide by 2020, according to the World Health Organization.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA, Neurological Disorders / 18.11.2015

Claudia van Borkulo, MSc University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen Department of Psychiatry, Research School of Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences, Interdisciplinary Center for Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation, Groningen, the Interview with: Claudia van Borkulo, MSc University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen Department of Psychiatry, Research School of Behavioural and Cognitive Neurosciences, Interdisciplinary Center for Psychopathology and Emotion Regulation, Groningen, the Netherlands Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We consider psychiatric disorders as complex dynamical systems in which symptoms can interact with each other. This novel network approach to psychopathology – that is new to psychiatry – implies that a more densely connected network of symptoms of a disorder might be indicative of worse prognosis. Having one symptom can easily lead to developing more symptoms in a densely connected network, in which more symptoms reinforce each other. Reversely, a symptom in a less densely connected network will rarely turn on other symptoms. A densely connected network can theoretically be related to an increased vulnerability; because of the high level of mutual reinforcement, a small external stressor can induce a quicker transition from a healthy state to a depressed state for people with a more densely connected network. In our study, we investigated the association between baseline network structure of depression symptoms and longitudinal course of depression. We compared the baseline network structure of persisters (defined as patients with MDD at baseline and depressive symptomatology at 2-year follow-up) and remitters (patients with MDD at baseline without depressive symptomatology at 2-year follow-up). While both groups have similar symptomatology at baseline, persisters have a more densely connected network compared to remitters. More specific symptom associations seem to be an important determinant of persistence of depression. (more…)
Aging, Author Interviews, Depression, Geriatrics / 13.11.2015 Interview with: Helena Chui, Ph.D. CPsychol Lecturer Division of Psychology University of Bradford Bradford England  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Chui: It is debatable whether psychological well-being improves or declines with age. Findings of the age-related changes in psychological well-being, life satisfaction, and depressive symptoms, are not unequivocal. Some studies have found that people stay pretty stable in terms psychological well-being until late life. Other studies have found otherwise. My recent publication reports the findings using a 15-year longitudinal study from Australia. Results showed that as people get older, depressive symptoms increase. Both men and women reported increasingly more depressive symptoms as they aged, with women initially starting with more depressive symptoms than men. However, men showed a faster rate of increase in symptoms so that the difference in the genders was reversed at around the age of 80. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Diabetes, Kidney Disease / 10.11.2015 Interview with: Miklos Z Molnar, MD, PhD, FEBTM, FERA, FASN Associate Professor of Medicine Division of Nephrology, Department of Medicine University of Tennessee Health Science Center Memphis, TN, 38163  Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Molnar: We examine the association between presence of depression and all-cause mortality; incident Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) (new onset AMI, CABG or PCI), incident ischemic stroke, slopes of eGFR (OLS, <-5 vs ≥-5 ml/min/1.73m2/yr) in 933,211 diabetic (based on ICD9, medication and HbA1c ≥ 6.5%) US Veterans with eGFR ≥ 60 ml/min/1.73m2 at baseline. We adjusted for independent covariates, collected from VA databases, such as age, gender, race, BMI, marital status, income, service connection, comorbid conditions (ICD9), baseline eGFR, serum albumin. Mean age was 64±11 years, 97% were male and 18% African-American. Depression was present in 340,806 (37%) patients at enrollment. During a median follow-up of 7.3 years, 180,343 patients (19%) developed Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD).AS (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR] and 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.20 (1.19-1.21)). Similarly, depression was associated with 35% higher risk of incident stroke (aHR and 95% CI: 1.35 (1.32-1.39), 24% higher risk of incident CHD (aHR and 95% CI: 1.24 (1.22-1.27) and 25% higher risk of all cause mortality (aHR and 95% CI: 1.25 (1.24-1.26) during the follow-up. (more…)