Category: Depression and Mood Disorders

Major Depression May Be Triggered by Teenage Stressors

A recent study using mice to mimic stress and depression in adolescents suggests that the teenage years are a particularly vulnerable time for the brain.  Working with mice who carried an introduced human gene mutation for depression, the researchers exposed some of the adolescent mice to social stress (isolation for three weeks) and kept a control group of mice stress-free.  There were two important findings.  First, the gene mutation for depression had no effect on mouse behavior except among the stressed mice.  Second, they found that the behavior change may be mediated by increases in cortisol (a stress hormone) and decreases in dopamine (a neurotransmitter in the brain).  Morever, after they returned the stressed mice to their preferred social environment, the behavioral abnormalities remained.  This study, and others like it, suggest that once activated during adolescence, the neuro-biological pathway active in depression does not turn off, even after the stressor has passed.
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Talk to Your Children about Their Family History

It is scary to be diagnosed with depression.  However, it’s a lot less scary to be diagnosed with depression when you know that your grandmother and your uncle on your mother’s side also had it.  We may live in the age of biological psychiatry, and the NIH may have just announced their plan to map the human brain, but we are still haunted by a view of brain illnesses that led our forefathers to drill holes in the skulls of depressed persons to let out the evil spirits.  Stigma is alive and well.  But its impact is reduced by the realization that, “It’s not my fault.”  Moreover, people diagnosed with the illness may be more open to the proven treatments (talk therapy combined with medication) when shown evidence that the predisposition is inherited, not a function of personal failure.   Most of my new patients with the illness have no idea that they are suffering from depression; they just know that they are suffering — sometimes for 30 years.  Without treatment.  Blaming themselves.  Concluding that they are worthless and that their situation is hopeless.

If depression runs in your family, do your children a favor.  Save them potentially years of suffering.  Tell them about it.

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Depression is a Treatable, Medical Illness

Symptoms of Depression

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)1 provides this list of symptoms:

* People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency and duration of symptoms will vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness.

* Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” feelings

* Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism

* Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness

* Irritability, restlessness

* Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex

* Fatigue and decreased energy

* Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions

* Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

* Overeating, or appetite loss

* Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

* Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment
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Individual Emotionally-Focused Therapy

Emotionally-focused therapy (EFT) for couples is a highly effective method for resolving relationship distress and creating …

At what age do humans develop emotional intelligence? The answer might surprise you.

Emotional pain typically drives the quest for psychotherapy.  Pain, after all, is nature’s signal that an organism’s …

Major Depression May Be Triggered by Teenage Stressors

A recent study using mice to mimic stress and depression in adolescents suggests that the teenage years are a particularly …