Study: Depression can exacerbate heart failure

‘Depression may promote stiffening of the heart tissue, which worsens heart failure, a study reports today.

Though there has been strong evidence that depression can lead to higher death rates from coronary heart disease, there has been less research on how symptoms of depression affect the health of people with heart failure.

The worse someone’s symptoms of depression, the stiffer his heart tissue appears to be in the new study of 880 adults by researchers from University of Maryland School of Medicine. The team will report the results today at the American Psychosomatic Society meeting in Baltimore.

A healthy heart expands and contracts like a rubber band. But when heart tissue stiffens, a process called fibrosis, the heart becomes inflexible and can’t pump blood as well.’

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March 20th, 2008 by | Comments Off

Metabolic syndrome: a risk factor for depression?

‘A cluster of heart disease and diabetes risk factors known as the metabolic syndrome may be a “predisposing factor for the development of depression,” Finnish researchers report.

Dr. Hannu Koponen of Kuopio University in Kuopio, Finland, and colleagues followed a large group of middle-aged men and women living in central Finland for 7 years. At the start of the study in 1998, they checked for symptoms of depression using a standard instrument called the Beck Depression Inventory. They also assessed the presence of metabolic syndrome in the subjects, using established criteria.

Components of metabolic syndrome include high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and excess belly fat.’

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March 20th, 2008 by | Comments Off

Protein discovery could lead to depression test

‘Changes in the location of a single protein in the brain could be used to tell whether a person with depression is responding to an antidepressant within days of taking the drug, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

People with depression now must wait weeks before they learn whether the drug they are taking will bring relief.

But researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have discovered that a single protein in the brain changes its location within a cell membrane when an antidepressant is working, and this change could be identified with a simple blood test.

“The possibility there, is if we look at blood from a patient on day zero and day four or five, we’ll know whether the antidepressant would be effective,” said UIC’s Dr. Mark Rasenick, whose study appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.’

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March 20th, 2008 by | Comments Off

Depression, anxiety tied to unhealthy habits

‘Depression and anxiety are associated with obesity and poor health behaviors like smoking, drinking, and inactivity, new research indicates.

“Depression and anxiety are serious mental health conditions and without treatment may assume a chronic course,” Dr. Tara W. Strine who led the study told Reuters Health. “Given this, it is important to take depression and anxiety seriously and to seek medical care when needed.”

Strine, from the division of adult and community health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta and colleagues analyzed data from 217,379 U.S. adults who took part in the 2006 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System — a large telephone survey that monitors the prevalence of key health behaviors.’

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March 19th, 2008 by | Comments Off

Depression, pregnancy linked among US black teens

‘Black American adolescents who suffer depression after giving birth run a higher risk of becoming pregnant again soon after than those who are not depressed, researchers reported on Monday.

It may be that depression causes feelings of fatigue and helplessness that lead to less use of birth control methods, or that emotionally distressed teen mothers “seek out intimacy with additional sexual relationships,” Dr. Beth Barnet and colleagues at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore reported.

Depression is a problem for both white and black teenage mothers, who in general are twice as likely as adult mothers to become depressed, the report said. And it also noted that previous research has found that black adolescent mothers suffer from depression at twice the rate of their white counterparts.’

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March 19th, 2008 by | Comments Off

‘Testosterone link’ to depression

‘A study of about 4,000 men aged over 70 found those with lowest testosterone were three times more likely to be depressed than those with the most.

Researchers suspect the hormone may affect levels of key brain chemicals.

The study, by the University of Western Australia, features in Archives of General Psychiatry.’

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March 19th, 2008 by | Comments Off

Net gains for mental health

‘Type “online counsellor” into any internet search engine and hundreds of thousands of results will appear: with a click of the mouse, and a glance at a screen, you, too, can be cured of your depression, phobias and eating disorders, go the claims. Unbelieveable? Perhaps not. A growing body of research has found that when - and this is crucial - it is carried out responsibly, and kept specific, online therapy is one of the most effective ways of dealing with the rising levels of mental ill-health.

That there is a need for treatments other than pills is undoubted. As many as one person in five suffers depression at some point. And of the estimated 1.3 million people who suffer from its severest form, only around 10 per cent receive treatment. According to Mind, the mental-health charity, many depressed patients wait a year or more before getting an appointment with a medical professional on the NHS. Now, though, there are other options, such as self-help CD-roms or, increasingly, online counselling with a professional via internet chatrooms and e-mail correspondence.’

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March 19th, 2008 by | Comments Off

Internet helps lift depression in the long run: study

‘People who turn to websites to help treat their depression enjoy surprising long-term health benefits, a new report indicates.

The report, by the Australian National University’s Centre for Mental Health Research, found that cognitive behaviour therapy websites, as well as information sites for those suffering from depression, had a significant positive effect on users after a year.

The findings come in the wake of a UK-based study into the effects of new generation anti-depressant drugs which found that only the most severely depressed of patients were being helped by the medicine.

Centre deputy director Professor Andrew Mackinnon said the study showed websites could be useful for patients who had finished drug or therapist treatment.’

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March 19th, 2008 by | Comments Off

Teen Depression: Try Therapy, Switch Medication

‘Depressed teens who don’t respond well to the first antidepressantmedication they are prescribed do improve if they are switched to a different antidepressant medication and also offered “talk” therapy, according to a new study.

The combination — switching medications and offering talk therapy — works better than simply changing medications, the researchers found, although switching medications alone also offers improvement.

“This validates our clinical hunch about what to do with these kids,” says study researcher David Brent, MD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. “Which is, if the medicine isn’t working, switch it, and if they aren’t getting cognitive behavioral therapy (talk therapy), you should add it.”

About 40% of teens with clinical depression don’t respond well when treated initially with commonly prescribed antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors), experts say. How to help these adolescents has been an ongoing challenge. Results of the new study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, are expected to offer important guidance.’

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March 19th, 2008 by | Comments Off

Army of therapists to push aside pills for depression

‘The government yesterday released details of its £170m plan to train 3,600 more psychological therapists in the wake of a study showing that antidepressant drugs such as Prozac are no more effective than a placebo.

About 900,000 more people will be treated for depression and anxiety under the plan, according to the Department of Health, which predicts that 450,000 of them will be completely cured. The department also believes that 25,000 fewer people will claim sick pay and benefits because of mental health problems.

“The Improving Access to Psychological Therapies programme has already captured the imagination of primary care trusts up and down the country and is transforming the lives of thousands of people with depression and anxiety disorders in the areas that have been involved so far,” said Alan Johnson, the health secretary.’

Read more at Army of therapists to push aside pills for depression

March 18th, 2008 by | Comments Off


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