Author Interviews, Depression, Journal Clinical Oncology, Lung Cancer / 05.10.2016 Interview with: Donald R. Sullivan, M.D., M.A. Assistant Professor, Division of Pulmonary & Critical Care Medicine Oregon Health & Science University Investigator, VA Portland Health Care System What is the background for this study? Response: There is an inextricably link between physical and mental health, and all too often clinicians focus solely on the physical components of disease. A life-threatening diagnosis such as cancer often evokes significant psychological distress and lung cancer patients are at significantly risk. Up to 44% of lung cancer patients experience depression symptoms and 5-13% major depressive disorder, higher than most other cancers. Previous studies have demonstrated the development of depression or depression symptoms at lung cancer diagnosis can increase patient mortality, but there is a paucity of research exploring how longitudinal changes in depression symptoms impact patient outcomes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Brigham & Women's - Harvard, Depression, JCEM, Menopause, Sleep Disorders / 28.09.2016 Interview with: Hadine Joffe, MD, MSc Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School Vice Chair for Psychiatry Research Director of Division of Women's Mental Health / Dept of Psychiatry / Brigham and Women’s Hospital Director of Psycho-Oncology Research / Dept of Psychosocial Oncology and Palliative Care /Dana Farber Cancer Institute What is the background for this study? Response: We conducted this study to advance our understanding about causes of mood disturbance in the menopause transition that are specifically related to menopause. We used an experimental model to dissect out the contributions of hot flashes and sleep disturbance from contribution of changing levels of estrogen because hot flashes, sleep problems, and estrogen fluctuations co-occur and are difficult to distinguish from one another. Understanding whether hot flashes and/or sleep disturbance are causally related to mood disturbance will help us identify who is at risk for mood changes during the menopause transition. This is incredibly important now that we are finding effective non-hormonal treatments for hot flashes and sleep disruption. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Brain Injury, Depression, JAMA / 26.09.2016 Interview with: Ricardo E. Jorge  MD Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Director Houston Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders Senior Scientist  Beth K. and Stuart C. Yudofsky Division of Neuropsychiatry Michael E DeBakey VA Medical Center Baylor College of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Depressive disorders affect between one-third and one-half of patients with traumatic brain injury. Once established, these disorders are difficult to treat and frequently follow a chronic and refractory course. Depression has a deleterious effect on TBI outcomes, particularly affecting the community reintegration of TBI patients. In this randomized clinical trial that included 94 adult patients with TBI, the hazards for developing depression for participants receiving placebo were about 4 times the hazards of participants receiving sertraline treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Baylor College of Medicine Houston, Brain Injury, Depression, JAMA / 21.09.2016 Interview with: Ricardo E. Jorge MD Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences Director Houston Translational Research Center for TBI and Stress Disorders Senior Scientist Beth K. and Stuart C. Yudofsky Division of Neuropsychiatry Michael E DeBakey VA Medical Center Baylor College of Medicine What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Depressive disorders affect between one-third and one-half of patients with traumatic brain injury (TBI). Once established, these disorders are difficult to treat and frequently follow a chronic and refractory course. Depression has a deleterious effect on TBI outcomes, particularly affecting the community reintegration of TBI patients. In this randomized clinical trial that included 94 adult patients with TBI, the hazards for developing depression for participants receiving placebo were about 4 times the hazards of participants receiving sertraline treatment. (more…)
Author Interviews, Cost of Health Care, Depression, JAMA, Pediatrics / 21.09.2016 Interview with: Laura P. Richardson, MD, MPH Interim Chief | Division of Adolescent Medicine Director | UW Leadership Education in Adolescent Health (LEAH) Program Professor | UW Department of Pediatrics Seattle Children's | University of Washington What is the background for this study? Response: Adolescent depression is one of the most common mental health conditions during adolescence. Up to one in five adolescents experience an episode of major depression by age 18. Depressed youth are at greater risk of suicide, dropping out of school and poor long-term health. Treatments, including medications and psychotherapy, have been proven to be effective but most depressed teens don’t receive any treatment. Two years ago, we showed that the Reaching Out to Adolescents in Distress (ROAD) collaborative care model (a.k.a. Reach Out 4 Teens) designed to increase support and the delivery of evidence-based treatments in primary care was effective in treating depression in teens, significantly improving outcomes. We ran a randomized clinical trial at nine of Group Health’s primary care clinics and reported effectiveness results in JAMA. The current paper represents the next step in this work, examining the cost-effectiveness of collaborative care for adolescent depression in our intervention sample of 101 adolescents with depression, ages 13-17 years. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Diabetes / 16.09.2016 Interview with: Dr Cathy E. Lloyd Professor of Health Studies School of Health, Wellbeing and Social Care Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies The Open University Milton Keynes UK What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: We know from earlier epidemiological research that people with diabetes have an increased risk of developing depression and other mental health problems compared to those without diabetes. However the impact of this and what treatment and care should be provided is still unclear, in particular in countries other than the US or the UK. Our study aims to redress that imbalance, collecting data on diabetes and depression in 16 countries across the globe. Ours is the first study to measure depressive symptoms but also use a standardised clinical interview to diagnose depression according to ICD criteria. Overall 10.6% received a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), however prevalence rates differed widely between countries with 1% diagnosed with MDD in Uganda and nearly 30% in Bangladesh. Twenty-five percent reported subthreshold levels (PHQ-9 score 5 -9) of depression. Those with MDD were significantly more likely to be female and living in an urban rather than rural location (p<0.001). Age and duration of diabetes did not significantly differ between those with and without MDD. Multi-variable analyses demonstrated that while controlling for country, a diagnosis of MDD was significantly associated with female sex, lower education, taking insulin, less exercise, higher levels of diabetes-related distress and a previous diagnosis of MDD. A negligible proportion of those with either MDD or subthreshold levels of depression had a diagnosis or any treatment for their depression recorded in their medical records. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Heart Disease, HIV, Vanderbilt / 25.08.2016 Interview with: Matthew S Freiberg, MD, MSc Cardiovascular Medicine Division, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Tennessee Valley Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center, Nashville  TN Tasneem Khambaty, PhD Department of Psychology, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida Jesse C. Stewart, PhD Department of Psychology, Indiana University–Purdue University , Indianapolis, Indianapolis What is the background for this study? Response: Due to highly effective antiretroviral therapy, people with HIV are living longer. Unfortunately, these HIV-infected individuals remain at a higher risk for other chronic diseases, with cardiovascular disease (CVD) being one of the leading cause of death in this population. In the general population, depressive disorders, such as major depressive disorder (MDD) and dysthymic disorder, are associated with increased risk of new-onset CVD. Given that roughly 24-40% of HIV-infected individuals have a depressive disorder, we examined whether MDD and dysthymic disorder are also associated with an increased risk of new-onset CVD in people with HIV. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Lancet / 23.07.2016 Interview with: Professor David A. Richards, PhD Professor of Mental Health Services Research and NIHR Senior Investigator University of Exeter Medical School University of Exeter St Luke's Campus Exeter United Kingdom What is the background for this study? Response: Depression is a common mental health disorder affecting around 350 million people worldwide. Untreated depression is expected to cost the global economy US$5.36 trillion between 2011 and 2030. Many patients request psychological therapy, but the best-evidenced therapy—cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)—is complex and costly. A simpler therapy—behavioural activation (BA)—might be as effective and cheaper than is CBT. We aimed to establish the clinical efficacy and cost-effectiveness of BA compared with CBT for adults with depression. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, JAMA, Mental Health Research, Pediatrics / 18.07.2016 Interview with: Dr Carmen Pace MPsych (Clin Child) PhD AMACPA Clinical Psychologist and Research Fellow Murdoch Childrens Research Institute The Royal Children’s Hospital Flemington Rd Parkville, Victoria AUS What is the background for this study? Response: We know that mothers of very preterm infants (born prior to 32 weeks gestation) are at higher risk for psychological distress compared to mothers who have healthy full term infants. However, detailed longitudinal research looking at how symptoms evolve over the first weeks and months is limited, and fathers are largely neglected in the literature. We addressed these gaps by assessing symptoms of depression and anxiety in both mothers and fathers every two weeks for the first twelve weeks after birth, and again at six months. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Fertility / 04.07.2016 Interview with: Jessica Datta Department of Social & Environmental Health Research London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine London What is the background for this study? Response: The paper presents an analysis of data from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal-3). Natsal-3 is a survey of more than 15,000 women and men aged 16-74 resident in Britain, conducted in 2010-2012, which includes a wide range of questions about sexual relationships and behaviour and reproductive history. In this paper we analysed responses to the questions: ‘Have you ever had a time, lasting 12 months or longer, when you and a partner were trying for a pregnancy but it didn’t happen?’ and ‘Have you (or a partner) ever sought medical or professional help about infertility?’. As well as calculating the prevalence of experience of infertility and help seeking, we looked at associated factors e.g. education, employment, relationship status. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Heart Disease, JAMA / 01.07.2016 Interview with: Prof. Dr. med. Christiane E. Angermann, FESC, HFA Deutsches Zentrum für Herzinsuffizienz Würzburg Comprehensive Heart Failure Center (CHFC) Universitätsklinikum Würzburg Würzburg What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Previous meta-analysis indicates that depression prevalence in patients with heart failure is much higher than in the general population, 10 percent to 40 percent, depending on disease severity. Depression has been shown to be an independent predictor of mortality and rehospitalization in patients with heart failure, with incidence rates increasing in parallel with depression severity. Furthermore, it is associated with poor quality of life and increased healthcare costs. It would, against this background, seem desirable to treat the depression, and when planning the study we hypothesized that by doing so we might be able to improve depression and thus reduce mortality and morbidity of this population. Long-term efficacy and safety of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are widely used to treat depression and have proven efficacious in individuals with primary depression, is unknown for patients with heart failure and (comorbid) depression. (more…)
Author Interviews, Depression, Race/Ethnic Diversity / 22.06.2016 Interview with: Sirry Alang PhD Assistant professor of sociology and anthropology Lehigh University What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Discrepancies exist between how some Black populations perceive depression and how depression is conceptualized within research and clinical settings. African Americans are exposed to a lot of stress from structural racism, yet, they perceive themselves to be resilient. The context of stress from discrimination and beliefs about depression inform how they express psychological distress. Depression is thought of as a weakness that is inconsistent with notions of strength in the community. Although depression was expressed through classic depressive symptoms such as feeling hopeless, loss of sleep, and losing interests in activities, symptom like anger, agitation, and the frantic need for human interaction were considered to be indicative of depression. Anger, agitation, and the frantic need for human interaction are not consistent with how depression is defined in the latest manual for psychiatric diagnosis- the DSM-V. (more…)
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, 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, 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…)
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, 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…)