In children and adolescents, irrational thoughts can lead to obsessive-compulsive disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most effective treatment, though some patients may also need medication.
Research is adding to the theory that epilepsy and schizophrenia are biologically linked.
As many as 20% of people over 65 experience delirium during illness or hospitalization. It can be caused by medication, infection, or injury.
The authors of the book Organize Your Mind, Organize Your Life discuss the principles of organization and offer suggestions for getting started.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has amended its guidelines for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
A study suggests that mindfulness training may help people who have quit smoking remain nonsmokers.
I got divorced a few months ago. Recently I was diagnosed with depression. A friend suggested I try interpersonal therapy. She thinks the problem is my relationship with my former husband. I'd never heard of this therapy. Could you tell me more about it?
Depression and heart disease in women
The evidence continues to strengthen that depression is a risk factor for heart disease, and since women are twice as likely as men to develop depression, it is extremely important for women to be aware of this risk.
Exploring the mysteries of hypnosis
While hypnosis is endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association as a therapy for certain disorders, the precise manner in which it works is still not understood.
The life-changing potential of neuroplasticity
A physician explores the brain's ability to compensate for injury by recounting his daughter's premature birth and early years.
Why stress causes people to overeat
The extent to which stress correlates to overeating in a given person may depend on that individual's level of insulin or cortisol.
In Brief: Study suggests best way to treat a painkiller addiction
Research into painkiller addiction suggests that successful treatment may require ongoing use of a drug that dulls the craving for the painkiller.
In Brief: More evidence that regular exercise is good for the brain
People with heart disease are at higher risk of cognitive decline, but increased physical activity may equate with the cognitive function of someone several years younger.
Commentary: ADHD drugs and heart risk for children
Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, discusses the results of a study on heart disease risk in children with ADHD.
Eating disorders in adult women
Eating disorders are generally considered a problem of young people, but their incidence among middle-aged and older women is becoming more common, and is sometimes caused by the significant changes that can occur later in life.
Anxiety and gambling
A book examines the relationship between gambling and anxiety, and offers information on relaxation techniques.
Why coffee perks people up
Research suggests that people who drink coffee may be less susceptible to depression.
In Brief: Encouraging news about ADHD drugs and heart risk in adults
Medication for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder does not increase the risk of heart attack or stroke in adults.
In Brief: Medicaid analysis reveals trends in depression care
An analysis of Medicaid data showed an increase in spending on depression care, mainly on medications.
Ask the doctor: Is it possible to prevent vascular dementia?
My father-in-law was just diagnosed with vascular dementia. The doctor said heart disease probably contributed to the problem. What exactly is vascular dementia, and how can I help my husband avoid the same fate?
Although a subset of those with mental illness commits violent acts, there are many other overlapping factors involved, including socioeconomic factors, family history, and substance abuse.
More people are now abusing prescription opioid painkillers than any other prescription drug or even cocaine, and the abuse is particularly high among teenagers.
Two separate studies found evidence of a relationship between generalized anxiety disorder and higher risk of a heart attack or other cardiac event.
Taking an omega-3 supplement during pregnancy does not significantly reduce the likelihood of experiencing postpartum depression.
My husband has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Someone suggested that metacognitive therapy might help him become better organized. What is that?
Motivating behavior change
Motivational interviewing is a conversational, nonjudgmental form of therapy that uses the patient's own desire to change to facilitate and encourage progress in dealing with weight issues, smoking, drinking, or other substance abuse.
Millions of people suffer from insomnia, and it often accompanies a psychiatric disorder. Cognitive behavioral therapy is recommended over medication for treating chronic insomnia.
Smoking increases later risk of dementia
Preliminary research suggests there may be a connection between smoking and increased risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease.
In Brief: Options for treating adolescents with anorexia nervosa
A study of adolescents with anorexia found that those who participated in therapy that involves other family members had higher rates of remission than those who received individual therapy.
In Brief: Social relationships and longevity
An analysis of dozens of longitudinal studies bolsters the belief that strong social relationships contribute to longevity.
Commentary: Did Lou Gehrig have Lou Gehrig's disease?
Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, discusses research into traumatic brain injury, which has similarities to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis but is distinct from it.
Options for managing conduct disorder
Treating children or adolescents with conduct disorder tends to be more effective when the treatment involves parents or other caregivers.
Understanding the stress response
Research suggests that prolonged stress is linked to high blood pressure, clogged arteries, anxiety, depression, addictive behaviors, and obesity.
New insights into treatment-resistant depression
When people being treated for depression do not achieve remission after trying multiple medications, clinicians should consider the possibility that those patients may be suffering from psychosis.
In Brief: Alzheimer's drug proves ineffective for delirium
It was hoped that a medication normally given to Alzheimer's disease patients might help people with delirium, but a study found that it made the delirium worse.
In Brief: Mindfulness may rival medication at preventing depression relapse
A study found that a program of mindfulness therapy was about as effective as a maintenance dosage of medication at preventing a relapse of depression.
Ask the doctor: Stuttering and a king's speech
Is The King's Speech, the movie chronicling the relationship between England's King George VI and his speech therapist, an accurate portrayal of stuttering?
Breaking free from nicotine dependence
Because successfully quitting smoking requires overcoming the psychological habit as well as the body's addiction to nicotine, the combination of a medication and therapy is more effective than either option alone.
Medications for Alzheimer's disease
No medications currently available to treat Alzheimer's disease can halt or prevent cognitive decline, and it is unknown if any will be discovered. The available drugs can alleviate symptoms and help manage behavioral issues.
Treating intermittent explosive disorder
Research on intermittent explosive disorder suggests that serotonin levels in the brain and activity in the prefrontal cortex may be contributing factors.
In Brief: Large study finds that the combination of diabetes and depression ups mortality risk
A study of nurses found that those who had both diabetes and depression had a much higher risk of premature death from cardiovascular disease, compared to those who had only one, or neither.
In Brief: Antidepressant may help ease hot flashes
Researchers are exploring the possibility that certain antidepressant medications may alleviate hot flashes in some women.
Commentary: A biomarker for PTSD risk?
Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, discusses post-traumatic stress disorder and research into a biomarker that may identify those at increased risk of developing it.
Women and depression
Women are more likely than men to develop depression, seasonal affective disorder, or bipolar disorder. Researchers have examined genes, hormones, stress, and other factors in an effort to find an explanation for the discrepancy.
Assertive community treatment
Assertive community treatment offers individualized, multidisciplinary care to the more severely mental ill, allowing them the opportunity to live and function in their communities instead of in institutions.
New insights into the nocebo response
Patients in clinical trials sometimes experience the nocebo effect, which describes what happens when those assigned to receive the placebo exhibit side effects associated with receiving the real medication.
In Brief: Study strengthens evidence that early marijuana use increases risk of psychosis
An analysis of studies suggests that use of marijuana during teenage years not only increases the risk of developing psychosis, but may also cause psychosis to manifest sooner than in others who are not marijuana users.
In Brief: After high school, youths with autism spectrum disorders lose access to services
When young people with autism spectrum disorders leave high school, they are less likely to continue making use of services intended to help them socialize and improve their communication skills.
Ask the doctor: What is agoraphobia?
My daughter tells me her new roommate is afraid to leave a 10-block area around their apartment in New York City. She has something called agoraphobia. What is that?
Generalized anxiety disorder
In contrast to phobias like social anxiety disorder, which are related to specific situations, people with generalized anxiety disorder experience debilitating worry about anything, or nothing.
Recognizing depression in men
Women are more likely than men to develop major depression, but men are less likely to seek help for depression, and more likely to develop cardiovascular disease or attempt suicide, both of which are connected to depression.
The psychology of risk perception
An expert identifies more than a dozen factors that influence our perception of how dangerous a circumstance or situation is.
In Brief: Premenstrual mood disturbances increase chances of relapse in women with bipolar disorder
According to researchers, women with bipolar disorder were more likely to have their condition negatively affected by premenstrual symptoms.
In Brief: Nicotine replacement therapy may ease agitation for hospitalized patients with schizophrenia
Patients with schizophrenia who received nicotine replacement therapy during hospitalization experienced a decrease in agitation during their stays.
Commentary: Safe use of social media: Guidance for parents
Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, explains why parents should make the effort to understand their children's use of the internet and social media.
How addiction hijacks the brain
The mechanism of addiction to a substance or pleasurable activity is rooted in the brain's reaction to the neurotransmitter dopamine.
When depression starts in the neck
People who are depressed may be suffering from hypothyroidism, which in turn can be caused by another disease or treatment for a medical condition.
Expressive writing for mental health
Writing about a traumatic experience may help some people deal with their feelings in a healthy way.
In Brief: Long-term results of deep brain stimulation for depression
Deep brain stimulation is still considered an experimental treatment for depression, but one small study suggests that some patients could benefit from it.
In Brief: More evidence that exercise aids the brain
Another study adds to the evidence that exercise helps protect the brain from cognitive decline in older age.
Commentary: FDA: No link between food colorings and hyperactivity in most children
Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, discusses the findings of an FDA advisory committee regarding the question of whether artificial food colorings and additives contribute to behavioral issues in children.
New diagnostic criteria for Alzheimer's disease
New guidelines for diagnosing Alzheimer's disease define its progression in three distinct stages, and encourage testing for changes in the brain that are associated with the development of the disease.
No "magic pill" for autism spectrum disorders
While medications are frequently prescribed to children with autism spectrum disorders, there is only slight evidence of any positive effect.
Metabolic syndrome and mental illness
People with mental illnesses are particularly susceptible to metabolic syndrome, due to factors like a lack of exercise, poor nutrition, and medications that cause weight gain.
Delusions of infestation
People with delusional parasitosis believe their bodies are infested with insects.
In Brief: Sedentary lifestyle can be a heart-stopper in people with depression
Those with depression are more likely to lead a sedentary lifestyle, which is a significant risk factor for heart disease.
In Brief: Antipsychotics are overprescribed for nursing home residents
Many elderly nursing home patients with dementia are being prescribed antipsychotic medications, despite evidence that they are twice as likely to die during treatment.
Commentary: Can painkillers cap antidepressant effect?
Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, comments on research that examined the interaction between antidepressant medications and pain relievers.
Beyond the "baby blues"
Postpartum depression is a common condition following childbirth. Unfortunately many women who experience it do not seek treatment.
Protecting youths from online harassment
Children can be bullied or harassed while online, so parents need to be aware of these risks and be willing to talk about them with their kids.
Educating and empowering families
When a person is struggling with a mental illness, there are probably family members who are also in need of guidance. A free course is available to help family members cope with these challenges.
Becoming a better perfectionist
A Harvard Medical School psychology instructor and author offers advice for dealing with perfectionist tendencies in a constructive way.
In Brief: PACE study suggests cognitive behavioral therapy may help some people with chronic fatigue syndrome - but is no panacea
A study comparing treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome found that cognitive behavioral therapy yielded the best results, but the benefit from any of the treatments was modest.
In Brief: Secondhand smoke and the brain
Research on secondhand smoke found that its effects were the same on the brains of both smokers and nonsmokers.
Ask the doctor: Bath salts - a new way to get high?
I heard a news story about people using bath salts to get high. How is that possible? My husband and I have two teenagers. Should we talk with them about this?
Autism spectrum disorders revisited
New research suggests that environmental factors play a much larger role in the development of autism spectrum disorders than previously believed.
Natural supplements for mental health
Herbal supplements, certain vitamins, and other naturally occurring substances may provide relief for some mental health conditions.
Mind over matter
Mindfulness techniques have been shown to be effective in people with depression or anxiety, and they can be useful in alleviating stress.
In Brief: Study tests electronic messages as a way to improve depression care
Electronic communication with patients may help improve the treatment of depression.
In Brief: More evidence that varenicline harms the heart
An analysis of studies lends additional insight to the evidence that using Chantix to quit smoking increases the risk of a cardiovascular event.
Commentary: Dr. Aaron T. Beck's enduring impact on mental health
Dr. Michael Miller, editor in chief of the Harvard Mental Health Letter, offers an appreciation of a psychiatrist considered a pioneer in cognitive therapy.
In praise of gratitude
Research indicates that people who feel and express their gratitude are more likely to feel positive emotions and have stronger personal relationships.
Depressed parent, depressed child?
A child of a depressed parent is about twice as likely to also develop depression by age 18. Researchers hope that interventions designed to assist depressed parents will benefit whole families.
Seven common memory problems
Memory tends to become less reliable with age, but anyone can experience certain types of memory lapses.
In Brief: Study suggests how nicotine suppresses appetite
Researchers studying the relationship between nicotine and depression found that a certain smoking-cessation drug caused mice to eat less and lose weight.
In Brief: Weighing psychotherapy options for social anxiety disorder
Interpersonal therapy is another option for people with social anxiety disorder.
In Brief: Encouraging news about borderline personality disorder
A long-term study of people with borderline personality disorder found that most people who obtained treatment were able to achieve remission.
In Brief: Study suggests a link between sleep-disordered breathing and later cognitive decline
Sleep apnea and other similar breathing problems may increase the risk of cognitive decline in older age.
Ask the doctor: Is it possible to become addicted to chocolate?
A friend jokes she is a "chocoholic." Can you really become addicted to chocolate or other foods?
Understanding grief and loss
The stress of dealing with grief may lead to depression, but many resources are available.
The normal process of grieving
The process of grieving often brings a variety of emotional and physical states that may be complicated by the circumstances of the deceased's life and death.
Beyond the five stages of grief
The concept of distinct and discrete stages of grief has evolved to incorporate the understanding that a person's experience of bereavement is rarely linear.
A guide to getting through grief
When dealing with grief, focus on taking care of yourself and turning to those closest to you for help and support.
Coping with complicated grief
A person who grieves for an extended period of time, in such a way that it interferes with everyday life, may be suffering from complicated grief.
In Brief: Handling holidays and difficult times
Holidays, birthdays, and other important dates are more difficult after the loss of a loved one, but there are ways to ease the pain.
Ask the doctor: How long does grief last?
I lost my brother several months ago, and there are days when I still feel overpowered by sadness. Is it normal to grieve this long?
Ask the doctor: Surprised by anger
I always knew I'd feel sad when my father died, but I wasn't expecting to feel so angry. I snap at everyone. What's wrong with me?
Addiction in women
Statistically, men are more likely than women to become addicts, but women with addiction problems find it harder to quit, and are more likely to relapse after treatment.
Encouraging patients to take medication as prescribed
Patients being treated for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder often do not take their medication properly, because of side effects, belief that they do not need the medication, or various other reasons.
Are rates of autism spectrum disorders increasing?
Statistical evidence indicates that the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders has increased since the 1960s. It is believed that this is due to increased public awareness and broader diagnostic criteria.
In Brief: Treating depression in adolescents
A study of treatment for depression in adolescents found that cognitive behavioral therapy and medication achieved results, but were more effective when combined.
In Brief: Mental health parity update
Government agencies are being tasked with developing regulations regarding implementation of the mental health parity law.
In Brief: Second-generation antipsychotics cause weight gain in youths
Children who took second-generation antipsychotic drugs were likely to experience weight gain as a side effect.
Commentary: Concussions in football
National Football League players are at high risk of developing brain damage. The league has an opportunity to influence children and adolescents by establishing safety regulations regarding head injuries.
Mental health problems in the workplace
People with mental health issues may not seek treatment out of fear of losing their jobs, but their problems affect the workplace in lost productivity and possible damage to their careers.
Vitamins unlikely to revitalize the mind
Studies have attempted to assess whether taking supplements of B vitamins, vitamin D, or vitamin E might prevent cognitive decline, but so far there is not sufficient evidence to support this theory.
Experts urge caution in using deep brain stimulation
Early research on the use of deep-brain stimulation for treatment of major depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder has led to establishment of a set of recommendations regarding its use.
In Brief: Combined nicotine replacement therapy provides best chance of smoking cessation
A smoking-cessation study found that the combination of a nicotine patch and a nicotine lozenge achieved the best results.
In Brief: Cognitive behavioral therapy may be an option for treating seasonal affective disorder
Cognitive behavioral therapy may be an effective treatment option for people with seasonal affective disorder who do not respond to light therapy.
Questions and Answers
What is the difference between the "unconscious" and the "subconscious?"
Treating social anxiety disorder
Social anxiety disorder, whether generalized or specific, can be severe enough to affect a person's ability to work or have a social life, but only about half those with the disorder get treatment.
Neurofeedback for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Mixed results in tests of medications for the treatment of ADHD have led to interest in neurofeedback as a possible alternative, but research into its effectiveness has not been conclusive so far.
Get the lead out
The level of lead in the blood of Americans has decreased dramatically since the 1970s, but research is suggesting that even low-level exposure may result in learning and behavior problems in children.
In Brief: Study finds that combining an antidepressant with an omega-3 supplement does not benefit people with heart disease and major depression
Taking an omega-3 supplement along with an antidepressant for major depression and heart disease was not any more effective than taking only the antidepressant.
Ask the doctor: What is a medical home?
What is a medical home? And is it useful for people with mental health problems?
Ask the doctor: Is it normal to grieve for months when a pet dies?
My elderly uncle can't seem to recover from the loss of his dog. Is it normal to grieve for months when a pet dies? When is it time to encourage him to seek mental health help?
Medical marijuana and the mind
Medical marijuana may be a viable alternative treatment option for patients with certain conditions who do not respond to other available medications, but there are definite psychiatric risks involved in its use.
Autism spectrum disorders and the gut
Researchers continue to explore the question of whether there is a connection between gastrointestinal problems in children and incidence of autism spectrum disorders.
Options for mild or moderate depression
Patients with milder or moderate symptoms of depression may benefit from psychotherapy, relaxation techniques, and exercise before considering use of an antidepressant medication.
Morphine and traumatic memory
Research involving soldiers wounded while on active duty suggests that patients with physical injuries who receive morphine early in treatment may be less likely to experience post-traumatic stress disorder.
In Brief: Addiction terminology affects clinicians' attitudes towards patients
A survey of clinicians found that the language used to describe a person with an addiction problem affected the respondents' attitude about the person.
In Brief: Disease-modifying drug fails in Alzheimer's study
Another potential treatment for Alzheimer's disease failed in a randomized trial to perform better than a placebo.
Ask the doctor: What tests monitor the metabolic risks of antipsychotics?
My daughter has schizophrenia. The psychiatrist at her mental health center prescribed an antipsychotic. I know some of these drugs increase risk of diabetes and heart disease. What sort of clinical monitoring do you advise?
Ask the doctor: What is sensory processing disorder?
My son always seems to be in trouble at school. His elementary school teacher told me she thinks he has sensory processing disorder. What is that?
Pain, anxiety, and depression
Pain, anxiety, and depression often coincide because the parts of the brain and nervous system that handle sensations and touch interact with those that regulate emotions and stress.
Cultivating a "winner's brain"
The authors of a book on improving mental performance suggest some strategies for staying motivated and focused and for improving memory.
Preventing depression in adolescents
Adolescents are at higher risk of depression if they have a parent who is depressed or have had prior depression or exhibited depressive symptoms. Intervention programs are most effective when they target such higher-risk teens.
In Brief: Preventing relapse in bipolar disorder
A study of people with bipolar disorder found that those who took lithium, either alone or in combination with valproate, were less likely to relapse than those who took valproate alone.
In Brief: The Quirky Brain: Why songs get "stuck" in people's heads
If you've ever had a song stuck in your head, you're not alone. Researchers in England found that every person they interviewed had had such an experience.
Ask the doctor: How does someone overcome fear of dogs?
I've recently started dating a man who is afraid of dogs. The problem is, I've owned a black lab for 10 years and don't want to surrender my pet. Are there any treatments for this type of phobia?
Ask the doctor: Why are patients with body dysmorphic disorder so self-critical?
I have a friend who was diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder. What is this disorder and what causes it?
Treating borderline personality disorder
Various types of psychotherapy have been shown to be successful in the treatment of borderline personality disorder, though each requires a significant time commitment to produce results.
Schizophrenia treatment recommendations updated
An expert panel has issued revised guidelines for the treatment of schizophrenia, including new information about helping patients improve their physical health.
Antidepressants and tamoxifen
There is growing evidence that certain antidepressant medications may interfere with the body's ability to metabolize the drug tamoxifen, which is prescribed to some women for breast cancer treatment.
In Brief: The Quirky Brain: Chewing gum and memory
Researchers are investigating whether chewing gum improves the brain's memory-forming ability, though as yet there is no evidence to support this theory.
Ask the doctor: Is it better to stop smoking abruptly or gradually?
I've tried to quit smoking three times. A friend suggested that instead of giving cigarettes up all at once that I try to kick the habit gradually. Which method is best?
Ask the doctor: What is temper dysregulation disorder?
My 8-year-old son was diagnosed with bipolar disorder several years ago. Now a new therapist thinks the problem might be temper dysregulation disorder. What is that? How is it treated?
Pessimism about pedophilia
Pedophilia, a sexual attraction to prepubescent children, is a sexual orientation that is unlikely to change, so the aim of treatment is to protect children by preventing pedophiles from acting on their urges.
Dementia syndromes in the elderly
Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia, but other types, including vascular dementia and Lewy body dementia, may also affect the elderly.
The evolving understanding of stigma
People with a mental health disorder often avoid seeking treatment for fear of being stigmatized. Researchers are considering this stigmatization in a sociological and moral context in order to advance the public's understanding of mental illness.
In Brief: Treating depression along with alcohol dependence
Because depression and alcohol dependence are often linked, researchers tested whether the combination of an antidepressant and an alcohol-dependence medication might better help patients with both issues.
In Brief: The Quirky Brain: Why people hear voices
There are several theories about why people with schizophrenia have a tendency to hear voices, but no consensus has emerged.
Ask the doctor: How does health care reform affect mental health parity?
How will national health care reform affect my mental health coverage? Does this new law nullify the parity bill that was supposed to take effect in 2010?
Because pathological gambling shares some similarities to substance abuse, and because of the frequent overlap between them, the treatment strategies are similar to those for addiction.
Alternatives to antidepressants during pregnancy
Women who develop depression during pregnancy, but who are reluctant to take antidepressant medications, can consider alternatives such as psychotherapy, acupuncture, or massage.
Stress and the sensitive gut
People who suffer from gastrointestinal disorders may benefit from one or more forms of psychotherapy treatment.
In Brief: Large study finds brain training does not improve overall cognitive fitness
An online study determined that attempting to improve cognitive ability through "brain training" programs was not effective.
In Brief: The Quirky Brain: Why addiction causes craving
The process of addiction alters the brain's neural connections and creates environmental cues that can trigger cravings.
Ask the doctor: What is the choking game?
I was half listening to the television the other night and heard something about kids dying from the choking game. What is that? How can I tell if my child might be playing this game?
Merits of psychodynamic therapy
Psychodynamic therapy is in some ways similar to psychoanalysis, though it typically does not last as long. Research supports its use for a variety of mental health disorders.
Autism spectrum disorders
It is estimated that 1 of 150 children is affected by an autism spectrum disorder. There are no biological tests to identify ASDs, so diagnosis is a challenge.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation
People with major depression who have not responded sufficiently to treatment with medications may benefit from transcranial magnetic stimulation.
In Brief: Study suggests there is a silver lining to the "golden" years
A survey of hundreds of thousands of Americans found that people in middle and older age were happier overall than younger people.
In Brief: The Quirky Brain: Why cell phone conversations distract drivers
Researchers used a driving simulator to explore why talking on a cell phone while driving is more distracting than talking to a passenger in the car.
Ask the doctor: What is catatonia?
What is catatonia? You hardly hear about it anymore. Has it been cured?
Violent video games and young people
Parents, educators, and mental health professionals share concern about the potential effects of violent video games on children. Researchers are divided on the issue, but agree that parental oversight is key.
Cognitive enhancement therapy for schizophrenia
Cognitive enhancement therapy, an approach that combines cognitive techniques with skills training, may help people with schizophrenia gain more control over their thinking and social skills.
Managing dental phobia
Dental phobia can be treated successfully with several different strategies, and using them in combination often results in a better outcome.
Second-step treatments for adolescent depression
Adolescents with depression who do not improve after initial treatment with a medication may benefit from trying another medication combined with cognitive behavioral therapy.
In Brief: Advice about living with bipolar disorder
Researchers interviewed people with bipolar disorder to learn what strategies they used to manage their symptoms and avoid relapse.
The Quirky Brain: Why eating slowly helps make people feel full
The feeling of fullness is a result of the complex interaction between the digestive tract and the brain via hormones and neurotransmitters.
Ask the doctor: Do antidepressants cause cataracts?
Is it true that some antidepressants might cause cataracts?
Biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease
Researchers are hopeful that continued study of the progression of Alzheimer's disease will one day lead to the discovery of biomarkers that could identify people at risk for the disease early enough to treat it.
Helping couples deal with medical challenges
Several types of therapy are available to couples having difficulty with the challenges of a medical illness or substance abuse issue.
Research suggests new drug targets for depression
A small study found that people with major depression who received one dose of ketamine experienced a significant improvement in mood, but the results will be of interest mainly to researchers, because of how ketamine acts on the brain.
In Brief: Survey finds that mental illness affects the wallet as well as the brain
People from 19 different countries who suffer from serious mental illnesses earn significantly less than other workers.
The Quirky Brain: How depression may alter visual perception
The phenomenon experienced by people with depression of seeing things as flat, dull, or gray may have a biological explanation.
Ask the doctor: What is the blood-brain barrier?
What is the blood-brain barrier? I've heard that it may have something to do with psychiatric disorders. Is that true?
Augmentation strategies for depression
Many people being treated for depression do not experience relief from their symptoms after taking just one medication. Augmentation, typically with either a second medication or psychotherapy, is usually the next step in treatment.
Reconsidering the placebo response
Studies of the placebo response employing sham acupuncture treatments found that the behavior of the clinician can affect the patient's perception of the effectiveness of treatment.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and sleep
Many children and adolescents with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder also have sleep problems, such as difficulty falling asleep, that worsen their ADHD symptoms.
The Quirky Brain: Theories about what causes chemobrain
Researchers studying the effects of chemotherapy on thinking and cognitive ability believe there are several possible sources for the impairment.
Ask the doctor: What is hypomania?
Recently I've been staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning to work on my oil paintings. I know I should feel tired, but I don't. One of my friends said that I might be hypomanic. What is that?
Options for treatment-resistant depression
For people who do not respond successfully to medication as treatment for depression, electroconvulsive therapy may be a viable option, though some patients are reluctant to try the treatment due to its possible side effects.
Benefiting from mental health parity
The federal government has enacted a mental health parity law intended to provide greater financial protection for people in need of mental health treatment. A separate law has also established similar protections for Medicare patients.
Alcohol abstinence vs. moderation
People who seek treatment for alcohol dependence sometimes attempt to drink in moderation rather than abstain altogether. The success of this approach largely depends on whether the patient has already established a high degree of dependence.
In brief: MRI scans reveal altered brain response to criticism in patients with social phobia
A small study found that people with social phobia who read a negative statement about themselves had increased brain activity in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex that the control patients did not have.
In brief: Screening patients with heart disease for depression
The American Heart Association, acknowledging a correlation between heart disease and depression, is recommending that doctors treating patients with heart disease should ask questions to screen for possible signs of depression.
In brief: Post-discharge counseling helps hospitalized smokers quit
An analysis of hospital-based programs to assist smokers in quitting found that only those that followed inpatient treatment with continued counseling and support after discharge were successful.
Commentary: Treatment that works for anxious children
A study of treatments for anxiety disorders in children showed that medication and cognitive behavioral therapy were both effective, and that the combination of the two was even more so.
Failed efforts to thwart Alzheimer's disease raise questions
Studies of medications and supplements aiming to treat or reverse Alzheimer's disease have been unsuccessful. Drug therapy combining the available Alzheimer's medications, and maintaining physical and mental fitness, appears to be the best option for now.
Cytochrome P450 enzymes and psychiatric drugs
Some people metabolize certain psychiatric medications too quickly, while others do so too slowly. Factors that can affect this include ethnicity, medical history, other medications being taken, diet, and lifestyle.
When children with bipolar disorder grow up
A study of children diagnosed with bipolar disorder, who were assessed periodically over several years, found that manic episodes persisted into adulthood for 44% of the participants, and that about one third had developed substance abuse problems.
In brief: Cell phone use more distracting to drivers than chatting with passengers
In a series of driving simulation experiments conducted by psychologists, drivers were more likely to be distracted by a cell phone conversation, even while using a hands-free device, than by talking to a passenger in the vehicle.
In brief: Improving outcomes for opioid-addicted youth
Young people with an opioid addiction who received a more prolonged treatment regimen during a study were less likely to relapse, but after the study's end they were almost as likely to use again as the group receiving less intensive treatment.
Commentary: Mental health at a reasonable cost
Two studies from abroad demonstrate that mental health treatment can produce significant and lasting results at a reasonable cost.
Understanding the risks of antipsychotic treatment in young people
Prescribing antipsychotic medications to children and teenagers is complicated by side effects such as weight gain (which can increase health risks later in life), sedation, and neurological problems such as stiffness or spasms.
Treating obsessive-compulsive disorder
Obsessive-compulsive disorder may take years to diagnose, partly because its symptoms are similar to those of other disorders. Many patients who receive treatment (typically behavioral therapy, medications, or a combination) experience improvement.
Overcoming cocaine or stimulant addiction
Two million Americans are dependent on cocaine or other stimulants. Treatment for such substance abuse typically involves behavioral therapy, while certain medications not specifically approved for this purpose have had moderate results in testing.
In brief: Study suggests how to tailor cognitive behavioral therapy for patients with eating disorders
Patients with eating disorders who also had problems with self-esteem or interpersonal relationships responded favorably to treatment that combined cognitive behavioral therapy with counseling to address their underlying issues.
In brief: Brain scans indicate that depression can increase pain perception
Seriously depressed young adults who were exposed to a painful stimulus showed brain activity that suggests depression may heighten the emotional response to pain while also decreasing the brain's ability to adjust to it.
Questions and Answers
Why does it feel good to improvise?
Mentalization-based treatment for borderline personality disorder
People with borderline personality disorder may benefit from a new form of therapy that helps patients learn how to properly mentalize, or make emotional sense of their thoughts and feelings in relation to others.
Rare diseases offer insights into autism spectrum disorders
A portion of autism spectrum disorders are caused by single-gene mutations. Researchers hope that by studying how these mutations lead to autism disorders, they can find ways to block or reverse the symptoms.
Yoga for anxiety and depression
A growing number of studies indicate that yoga may be a beneficial treatment for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
More evidence on risks of antipsychotics in adults
Patients taking antipsychotic medications, particularly at higher dosages, are at increased risk of dying from a sudden cardiac event, though screening for heart problems and prescribing at the lowest effective dose may reduce the risk.
In Brief: Type 2 diabetes may slow thinking ability early on
A Canadian study suggests that certain types of mental functioning are affected by type 2 diabetes at an earlier stage in the disease than was previously believed.
In Brief: Reducing teens' risk on the Internet
Many teenagers post information about risky behavior in their online social networking profiles, but a study found that nearly half responded to an intervention aimed at getting them to make their profiles safer by altering or removing such information.
Questions & answers
What is reminiscence therapy?
The psychological impact of infertility and its treatment
Most instances of infertility have a physiological cause, but the emotional and mental toll is significant, and fertility treatments can add to the stress.
Advice about which antidepressant to choose first
Although an individual's reaction to a particular medication cannot be known ahead of time, research suggests that some antidepressant medications are less likely to cause certain side effects than others.
The glutamate hypothesis for schizophrenia
Researchers are investigating the possibility that the neurotransmitter glutamate may play a role in the development of schizophrenia.
In Brief: The stress of waiting for a breast cancer diagnosis
Women who learned that they needed to undergo further testing for breast cancer experienced as much stress as women who learned they had breast cancer.
In Brief: Updates about mental health parity
The State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) now includes a mental health parity provision. A study suggests that a low copayment for mental health services may increase the likelihood that patients will receive the care they need.
Commentary: Providing rewards for smokers who want to quit
Researchers used rewards and enticements to demonstrate that smokers might be more likely to quit if they were offered something that they percieved as more valuable than the pleasure derived from smoking.
Two-way street between depression and heart disease
The correlation between heart disease and depression highlights how physical and mental health are so closely linked. Medication, therapy, and exercise are all important aspects of treatment.
Diet and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
Researchers are investigating possible links between certain food additives (such as dyes and preservatives) and incidence of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children.
Coping with the stress of caregiving
In addition to the stress of caring for a relative or friend with a brain illness, caregivers are at greater risk of developing anxiety, depression, a chronic illness, or of premature death. Information, support, and respite care can ease the burden.
In Brief: Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder may share genetic origins
Research into the genetic origins of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder suggests that, while distinct, the two mental illnesses are more alike than different.
In Brief: Some brain effects of stress may be reversible
Stress affects the brain's ability to shift attention, think creatively, and solve problems, but if the stress is alleviated, the effects are unlikely to linger.
Questions and Answers
If I have obsessions or compulsions, does that mean I have obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Sleep and mental health
Mental health clinicians traditionally viewed sleep disorders as a symptom of a psychiatric disorder, but research suggests that in some patients sleep issues may be a cause of the disorder.
Manipulating memory to overcome fear
Researchers have found that it may be possible to reduce the fear from traumatic memories by recalling the memory and then interrupting the brain's process of reconsolidation.
Treating fibromyalgia in the mental health setting
Fibromyalgia is a chronic pain syndrome that is often accompanied by anxiety or depression. A program of mild to moderate physical activity or cognitive behavioral therapy may relieve symptoms and improve mood.
In Brief: Alcohol abuse may lead to depression
Data from a longitudinal study in New Zealand suggest that people with an alcohol dependency may be more likely to develop major depression.
In Brief: Lithium may reduce risk of dementia
People with bipolar disorder who maintain long-term lithium therapy may gain some protection against developing dementia.
Commentary: The pleasure we take from other people's pain
Japanese researchers used brain scans to demonstrate that social discomfort and physical pain stimulate the same areas of the brain.
Treating anorexia nervosa
People suffering from anorexia nervosa fight the body's instinctive urge to eat. Challenges to treatment include permanent changes in the brain due to prolonged starvation, and providing treatment in a manner that is sympathetic rather than punitive.
Heavy heart, thin bones?
Evidence from a number of studies suggests that long-term use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication to treat depression may lead to weaker bones.
Infectious health behaviors
Two researchers believe that patterns of healthy or unhealthy behavior can spread among proximity groups such as family, close friends, or neighbors.
In Brief: Divalproex is not effective for children with bipolar disorder
In a study of children and adolescents with bipolar disorder, the anticonvulsant drug divalproex was no more effective than a placebo.
In Brief: Factors that affect risk of dementia
Researchers have formulated an index of risk factors that may help lower the likelihood of developing dementia in older age.
Commentary: The importance of recess
A large study highlights the importance of recess in child development.
Treating generalized anxiety disorder in the elderly
Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the more common mental illnesses affecting older people. Medication may not be the best treatment option because older patients tend to be more prone to side effects.
Treating bulimia nervosa
The eating disorder bulimia nervosa is characterized by a period of binge eating followed by a compensating action. Recommended treatment combines psychotherapy with nutritional counseling.
Taking on school bullies
Victims of bullying are more likely to develop mental health problems than other children, and bullies are also more likely to have problems as they get older. Resources are available to help schools and parents deal with bullying issues.
In Brief: Mental performance during perimenopause
A study of women at different stages of menopause found that a slight cognitive lag occurs in late perimenopause, but it is temporary.
In Brief: Depression screening in adolescents
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is recommending that adolescents be screened for depression when the systems to diagnose and treat them are available.
Questions and Answers
I often lie and hurt important people in my life. Should I seek help?
Infection, inflammation, and mental illness
There is growing evidence that the immune system's response to inflammation may be linked to depression. Research is examining whether combining antidepressant medication with an anti-inflammatory may be more effective for certain patients.
Treating premenstrual dysphoric disorder
Women who experience severe premenstrual symptoms may have a condition called premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Antidepressants may relieve these symptoms and, depending on the person, can be taken intermittently instead of daily.
Lithium-induced kidney problems
Lithium is one of the most effective treatments for bipolar disorder, but long-term lithium use may cause kidney problems. Kidney function of patients should be monitored through regular testing.
In Brief: Drug fails to subdue repetitive behavior in children with autism spectrum disorders
A test found that the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor citalopram did not relieve symptoms of repetitive behavior or movement in children with autism spectrum disorders.
In Brief: Supplement may ease compulsive hair pulling
An amino acid supplement may be an effective treatment for some people with the compulsive hair-pulling disorder trichotillomania.
Questions and Answers
To prevent post-traumatic stress disorder, is it helpful to provide psychotherapy to everyone who has been exposed to a significant trauma?
Recognizing and managing ADHD in adults
While children with ADHD typically have difficulty staying focused and sitting still, adults with the disorder are more likely to struggle with attention and memory. As with children, medication and psychotherapy is the best treatment option for adults.
Supporting survivors of suicide loss
Survivors of a suicide include the person's family members, friends, coworkers, and in many cases mental health clinicians. Survivors may struggle with grief and guilt for much longer than those mourning other types of death.
Treating somatoform disorders
Somatoform disorders are generally defined as symptoms of pain or fatigue with no apparent physical cause. Studies have shown cognitive behavioral therapy to be the most effective treatment for these disorders.
In Brief: One question may help screen for unhealthy alcohol use
A question about drinking that primary care physicians can ask patients may help identify people with alcohol problems, which tend to be underdiagnosed.
In Brief: The psychological cost of foreclosure
Researchers found that homeowners facing foreclosure have to bear a heavy psychological burden and, not surprisingly, have a higher incidence of symptoms of depression.
There was an error in the October 2009 article about premenstrual dysphoric disorder.
Commentary: The Mediterranean diet, physical activity, and cognitive health
In addition to the reduced risk of cancer or heart disease, people who follow a Mediterranean-type diet and lead an active lifestyle are seemingly less likely to suffer cognitive decline as they grow older.
Managing chronic depression
Chronic depression is defined as lasting at least two years. Psychotherapy and treatment with an antidepressant may achieve remission, though long-term maintenance use of medication may be needed to prevent relapse.
Challenges in preventing schizophrenia
Research into schizophrenia is attempting to find ways to identify those at risk of developing psychosis before the disorder reaches the chronic, disabling stage.
Helping compulsive hoarders
Compulsive hoarding has traditionally been considered a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but research is suggesting that treatments that are effective for people with OCD do not produce positive results in hoarders.
In Brief: Intervention reduces dating violence perpetrated by boys
An intervention program intended to reduce dating violence among high school students was effective in boys but not girls.
In Brief: Cholesterol levels in middle age affect dementia risk
A large study found that middle-aged people with elevated or high cholesterol were more likely to develop dementia later in life.
Commentary: Internet-based insomnia treatment
An experimental internet-based program aims to helping people overcome insomnia using interactive elements and individualized advice.
Psychological aspects of bariatric surgery
Because of the risks and challenges for the patient, those undergoing bariatric surgery should receive mental health care before the procedure and for an extended period of time after it.
Using lithium to reduce suicide risk in bipolar disorder
Lithium has been proven to be effective at reducing the risk of suicide in patients being treated for bipolar disorder, probably because of its mood-stabilizing properties.
Seafood and brain development
Pregnant and nursing women concerned about consuming too much mercury from seafood can safely eat fish if they follow certain guidelines regarding the quantity and kinds of fish they eat.
In Brief: Topiramate may be effective at treating alcohol dependence
A study found that a medication called topiramate helped heavy drinkers reduce their dependence on alcohol.
In Brief: Location of spinal cord injury may affect mental health scores
Researchers examining patients with spinal cord injuries found that those with the most severe physical impairments also had better overall states of mental health.
In Brief: Possible blood test for Alzheimer's disease
An experimental blood test found that a pattern of proteins was present in people with Alzheimer's disease and in those with mild cognitive impairment, considered a precursor condition to Alzheimer's.
Commentary: Strains on the heart
A pair of studies found that increased, prolonged strain in people's close relationships or jobs correlated with an increased risk for a cardiac event.
Recognizing and treating depression in the elderly
In elderly patients, symptoms of depression can be mistaken for symptoms of another medical problem, so it is important for clinicians to consider all physical problems and medications of elderly patients before making a diagnosis.
Measuring empathy during psychotherapy
Researchers measured the biological responses of therapists and patients during therapy sessions, and found that when the patient felt the therapist was listening, their patterns of sweat production (an indicator of empathy) roughly matched.
Medication Update: Tamoxifen investigated as mania treatment
The drug tamoxifen, which is used to treat breast cancer, may also be effective in treating mania in patients with bipolar disorder.
Medication Update: Research raises questions about long-acting antipsychotics
A study of patients taking an injectable, long-acting form of an antipsychotic medication found that within six months of starting treatment, most patients had switched back to the oral form of the drug.
Medication Update: SSRIs may increase risk of gastrointestinal bleeding
Patients taking selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors may be at increased risk for gastrointestinal bleeding, particularly if they are also taking a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug.
Exercise, estrogen, and executive function
Research into the long-term effects of hormone therapy found that women who were more physically active were less likely to suffer cognitive decline than those who exercised less often.
In Brief: Unmet mental health needs
The World Health Organization found that many people worldwide are not receiving needed mental health care and services.
In Brief: Cognitive behavioral therapy improves outcomes in depressed adolescents
Researchers studying adolescents with major depression found that cognitive behavioral therapy, either on its own or in conjunction with antidepressant medication, was an effective treatment, with a low incidence of suicidal ideation.
Commentary: Brain function and political attitudes - political science or science fiction?
A small study into political psychology found that those who considered themselves politically liberal responded differently to a stimulus test than did those who considered themselves conservative.
The hazards of hookah
Although hookah or waterpipe smoking is thought to be less addictive than cigarettes, waterpipes are typically smoked for sustained periods and the smoke is inhaled more often, so smokers are still exposed to nicotine and other toxins.
Learning how to say "I'm sorry"
A sincere and effective apology acknowledges the wrong and takes responsibility for it without making excuses. A genuine apology can be an important first step toward rebuilding a personal or professional relationship.
Hypnosis as mental health therapy
Although not always regarded seriously, hypnosis can be an effective treatment for pain or anxiety. Certain other conditions may lend themselves to treatment with hypnosis, but the results are less certain.
In Brief: Thimerosal exposure and neuropsychological development
Testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that exposure to thimerosal through vaccinations generally did not impair neuropsychological development in children, as had been previously believed.
In Brief: Exploring the mechanisms of self-sabotage
Researchers used a series of tests to evaluate people's perception of their own intelligence and how it may change according to how adaptable they believe themselves to be.
Questions and Answers
What is cognitive remediation, and is it helpful for treating schizophrenia?
Mild cognitive impairment
Mild cognitive impairment is considered to be the state between normal mental function and dementia. Researchers are seeking a way to diagnose the condition sooner, so that medication can be used to treat or at least manage it, to keep it from worsening.
Treating preschoolers with psychiatric disorders
Because of the rapid pace of brain development in preschoolers, particular care must be used when prescribing them medications for psychiatric conditions or disorders. Psychotherapy should be attempted before prescribing any medication.
Getting help for post-combat mental health problems
Veterans returning from deployment often have mental health issues, but many do not seek treatment for fear it will affect their chances for advancement. Family menbers should watch for unusual behavior that could be a symptom of a problem.
In Brief: Asthma may increase risk of anxiety and depression
Researchers found that children and adolescents with asthma were more likely to suffer from anxiety or a depressive disorder, but as yet there is no indication what the connection might be.
In Brief: Metformin and lifestyle changes help people taking antipsychotics lose weight
A study found that people taking antipsychotic medications, which can cause weight gain, were able to lower their body mass index and improve their overall health by taking metformin, which lowers blood sugar.
Questions and Answers
The New England Journal of Medicine published a study that seems to question the effectiveness of antidepressants. Is that correct? What does this mean about continuing the antidepressant I am taking?
Positive psychology in practice
Positive psychology techniques attempt to shift away from traditional psychotherapy's focus on negative emotions, and encourage patients to emphasize their personal strengths and positive emotions.
Psychiatric genetic tests raise concerns
A genetic testing kit for bipolar disorder is now available to consumers, but because of the many variables involved in genetics, even if a particular gene is identified, it does not necessarily mean that person will go on to develop the disorder.
Behavioral cognitive therapy for addictions
A study comparing several forms of treatment for cocaine addiction found that while all treatments resulted in decreased drug use, those that focused on changing behavior were more successful.
Dealing with sexual side effects
Antidepressant medications can decrease libido or impair sexual function. Sometimes this can be overcome by switching medications, changing dosage, or waiting to see if the effect diminishes over time.
In Brief: Music therapy may help depression
A review of studies indicated that music therapy may be an effective treatment for depression. Because the studies considered were small, this technique may prove to be most effective in combination with other therapies.
In Brief: Chromosome "hot spot" linked to autism
Researchers found a correlation between the deletion or duplication of a section of genes on one particular chromosome and an increased risk of a child developing an autism disorder.
In Brief: Mood and anxiety disorders more likely in people with arthritis
Results of a survey of people in 17 countries suggest that people with arthritis are more likely to suffer from depression or a related anxiety disorder such as social phobia.
Commentary: Song lyrics, stress, and substance abuse in adolescents
An analysis of the lyrics of popular songs found that approximately 40% had some sort of reference to drug or alcohol use. Whether or not this has any effect on the behavior of teenagers is unclear.
Improving outcomes in bipolar disorder
Several types of psychosocial therapy for bipolar disorder have had success when used in conjunction with medications, but full recovery is still a lengthy and difficult process.
Combination therapy for panic disorder
Research on treatments for panic disorder has found that the combination of medication and therapy, or therapy on its own, is more likely to achieve results than medication alone.
Drinking, smoking, and quitting
People with alcohol dependency are more likely to be smokers, and should be encouraged to try to quit smoking as well. Quitting both habits increases the chances of maintaining sobriety.
In Brief: Regular family meals may reduce risk of eating disorders in girls
Adolescent girls who have several meals per week with their families may have a reduced risk of developing an eating disorder.
In Brief: Stimulant treatment for ADHD may not increase risk of substance abuse
A study of young men who were given stimulant medication as children found no increase in the likelihood of their use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs later in life.
In Brief: Top reasons for seeking medical care
According to a study conducted in 2005, Americans were more likely to seek medical treatment for mental health issues than for any other reason.
Commentary: Handguns and health
From a public health perspective, the presence of a firearm in the home dramatically increases the risk of an occupant being killed or committing suicide.
Revisiting the CATIE schizophrenia study
A long-term trial of schizophrenia drugs has found that newer medications are not any more effective than a first-generation drug, but questions have been raised about the parameters of the study.
Protecting children and teens from cyber-harm
Adolescents who engage in risky behavior online, such as talking with strangers in chat rooms, are more likely to be victims of online harassment or sexual solicitation.
Moving from one stage of addiction recovery to the next
For patients who are attempting to overcome an addiction, assigning specific tasks at the various stages of the process serves as motivation to change and progress from one stage to the next.
In Brief: Abdominal fat boosts later dementia risk
People who tend to accumulate fat around the abdomen are at higher risk for diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Research is suggesting that they may also be at increased risk of developing dementia.
In Brief: SSRIs and risk of postpartum hemorrhage
Investigators found that taking an SSRI antidepressant during the last trimester of pregnancy did not significantly increase the risk of postpartum hemorrhage.
Commentary: The value of regret
Studies show that the primary value of regret is that it helps us understand our decisions and put them in context, so that we learn from our mistakes.
Finding the right depression medication
Most people with depression will have to try more than one medication before seeing positive results. Research shows that a medication should be taken for at least eight weeks before adding a second drug or trying a different one.
Involuntary outpatient commitment
Involuntary outpatient commitment laws exist in most states, but enforcement varies. Two studies on the issue produced contrasting results.
Alzheimer's and driving ability
The onset of dementia can increase the risks of driving for older people. Older drivers, their family members, and doctors should be alert for patterns of behavior that indicate diminished capacity behind the wheel.
In Brief: Anti-inflammatory drugs may not protect cognitive function
A drug trial found that people with a family history of Alzheimer's disease did not benefit from taking an NSAID. In fact, testing showed that the subjects who took one of these drugs scored lower on tests of cognitive function.
In Brief: Study suggests bipolar disorder is overdiagnosed
Researchers believe that bipolar disorder is being overdiagnosed, perhaps because clinicians find it easier to treat than disorders with similar symptoms, such as depression.
In Brief: Psychotherapy for early childhood obsessive-compulsive disorder
Young children with obsessive-compulsive disorder may benefit from family-based cognitive behavioral therapy.
Questions and Answers: Munchhausen's syndrome
What is Munchhausen's syndrome by proxy and why is it not in the DSM-IV?
School-based safety interventions
Schools seeking to prevent or reduce violence are using screening tools to identify students who may be suffering from depression. The goal is to create an environment where students feel they are connected to the school community.
Helping psychiatric patients to stop smoking
People with a psychiatric condition are more likely to be smokers. Treatment tends to be more aggressive, and they may have to take smoking-cessation medication in higher doses, and for longer periods of time, for it to be successful.
The "forgotten bereaved"
Adults who experience the death of a sibling often find that their loss is minimized by others, which may cause them to suppress their grief. Survivors should seek out a grief partner for emotional support.
In Brief: Bright lights may improve dementia symptoms
Elderly patients with dementia who were exposed to bright light for several hours each day showed a slight improvement in symptoms.
In Brief: Money can buy happiness - if you give it away
A series of experiments found that people who spent money on others were happier than those who spent it on themselves.
Commentary: Social networks and memory function
Research on social connections and aging finds that older people with a large, active social network are more likely to retain their cognitive functioning, and less lilely to develop dementia.
Treating ADHD in children and adolescents
A long-term study of children with ADHD concluded that the most beneficial treatment involved medication, either alone or with behavioral therapy, but the effectiveness of medication begins to fade after about two years.
Herbal and dietary supplements for depression
About half of Americans with severe depression take some form of complementary therapy. Supplements such as St. John's wort and folic acid are popular, but taking them does carry some risk.
Copy number variation: The new genetic frontier
Psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism are caused more by genes than by environment. An area of research is focusing on the influence of spontaneous mutations in DNA called copy number variation.
In brief: Cognitive behavioral therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome
A review of studies on chronic fatigue syndrome found that cognitive behavioral therapy may be an effective treatment for the disorder.
In brief: Sildenafil may improve sexual functioning in depressed women
The erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil may improve sexual function in women who take antidepressants, but there is no evidence that it boosts sexual desire in women with low or no libido.
Questions and Answers
My husband was recently diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. His illness is now under control but he has developed a dangerous gambling habit. Is there a connection between Parkinson's disease and gambling?
Treating "first-episode" schizophrenia
In the treatment of first-episode schizophrenia, starting treatment as quickly as possible offers the best chance of relief from symptoms, but this is frequently complicated by difficulty in confirming the diagnosis.
Dealing with the emotional aspect of conflict
Conflicts can be resolved more successfully by acknowledging the importance of emotions. Try to focus on the core concerns of both parties and view them positively in light of the larger issues.
New treatment options for seasonal affective disorder
Light therapy is typically prescribed to treat seasonal affective disorder, but there are risks for certain people. Researchers are looking at making adjustments to the timing and duration of the therapy to try to reduce this risk.
In brief: Who is prescribing antidepressants?
More primary care physicians and internists are prescribing antidepressant medications, and the overall number of prescriptions is on the rise.
In brief: Suicidal thoughts in college
A survey of 26,000 college students, both undergraduate and graduate, found that about 10 percent had considered suicide in the previous year, but fewer than half of those had sought help or told anyone.
In brief: Psychiatrists offering less psychotherapy
According to an analysis of appointment data, psychiatrists are spending less time on psychotherapy with their patients. This is due mainly to health care bureaucracy and increased prescription of medications.
Commentary: How undecideds decide
Research into how the brain makes decisions found that in people who say they are undecided on an issue, the unconscious part of the brain often makes a decision before the conscious mind is aware of it.
Prescribing during pregnancy
Women with a psychiatric disorder who become pregnant must consider any potential risk to the fetus caused by medications, as well as the possible risk of relapse caused by stopping medications.
Psychological challenges of surviving cancer
Cancer survivors must contend with a number of psychological issues that are frequently not understood by family members, friends, and coworkers.
Preventing driving accidents involving teenagers
Teen drivers need experience behind the wheel to develop their skills, so instead of limiting driving time, parents should set limits on a teen's driving behavior, such as having a nighttime curfew and limiting the number of passengers.
In brief: Phone psychotherapy for depression
Psychotherapy by phone is not as effective as face-to-face therapy, but people participating in phone therapy are less likely to end the treatment than those receiving in-person therapy.
In brief: Antipsychotic choice in early-onset schizophrenia
A study of antipsychotic medications in the treatment of young patients found more evidence that first- and second-generation drugs are not particularly effective.
Commentary: The value of long-term psychodynamic psychotherapy
Long-term psychodynamic therapy was shown to provide a significant benefit to patients with complex mental disorders, compared to shorter-term therapies.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), despite its controversial reputation, remains an effective treatment for certain types of mental illness. But the treatment is not for every patient, and it is not without risks.
The risk for PTSD: New findings
Studies show that women are more likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than men, even if they experienced the same traumatic event. This difference may be due to environmental factors, or to differences in IQ.
In Brief: The social voice of conscience
Studies using role-playing games to examine the social aspects of conscience found that people would give up a monetary reward in order to punish others who were unwilling to share.
In Brief: Obesity and depression
A study claims that obese people are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, but the findings do not prove that the conditions are causally related to each other.
In Brief: Act, don't think, to relieve depression
Behavioral activation therapy is a variation of cognitive therapy that encourages patients to fight depression by examining their feelings and experiences and focusing on their positive accomplishments.
In Brief: Thwarting alcoholism in the brain
A study suggests that people with a family history of alcoholism are capable of producing higher levels of a dopamine receptor in the brain that may offer them protection against the disease.
Questions and Answers
I've been taking Zoloft. Recently, my pharmacist filled my prescription with a generic form of the drug. Does the brand name matter?
A significant portion of therapy clients are couples, and there are several different therapeutic approaches to meet their treatment needs.
Folate for depression
Folate, a B vitamin, breaks down homocysteine, which may be associated with depression. Because of this it has been tested as a possible treatment, but the results have been mixed and more research is needed.
Antipsychotic drugs: The costs and benefits
A study of the medications given to patients with schizophrenia finds that the newer drugs do not offer enough additional benefits over first-generation drugs to offset the increased cost.
In Brief: The evolution of romance
Researchers speculate that romantic love functions as one part of the brain's system for managing reproduction, by providing a bridge or connection between seeking a mate and rearing offspring.
In Brief: $ is for self-sufficiency
Experiments indicate that thinking about money makes people less inclined to help others, and more likely to want to be alone.
Questions and Answers: Who is helped most by transference interpretations?
Who is helped most by transference interpretations?
Dependent personality disorder
Dependent personality disorder, in which people exhibit an excessive need to be cared for by others, has its roots in childhood, particularly if independence is discouraged. Typical treatment approaches are psychodynamic or behavioral therapy.
When children assault children
Research found that child-on-child violence is often regarded as insignificant, but if it occurs repeatedly in a family or school setting, the continued proximity of the attacker can be emotionally traumatic.
In Brief: Efficacious, yet ineffective
The questionable results of an experimental program intended to help delinquent teenagers change their behavior illustrate the difference between the power to produce an effect during a controlled trial and success in a real-world setting.
In Brief: Depression at menopause
According to two studies, women going through menopause are much more likely to develop symptoms of depression, due in part to changes in hormone production. Hormone replacement may provide temporary relief from severe depression.
In Brief: Names will often hurt you
Children who experience verbal abuse are at as much risk for developing anxiety or depression as those who are abused physically or sexually. This may be due to the fact that verbal abuse is likely to persist over a lengthy period of time.
In Brief: Schizophrenia and physical illness
Schizophrenics tend to have a higher incidence of medical problems, possibly because their mental illness prevents them from properly assessing their own health, or their mental health providers are not monitoring their physical condition.
Questions and Answers
Is there an effective treatment for hair pulling (trichotillomania)?
Bipolar disorder in children
Bipolar disorder is often not recognized in children or is misdiagnosed as ADHD. Therapy along with a combination of medications can be effective, but there is often a lengthy dosage adjustment trial period, and there are numerous possible side effects.
Thyroid deficiency and mental health
Researchers are exploring a potential link between thyroid deficiency and mental health problems. Though the findings are inconsistent, there is evidence that thyroid medication can help those with depression, even if their thyroid function is normal.
In Brief: Depression in China: Finding a translation
Researchers in China found that Chinese citizens were more likely to express symptoms of depression as having a physical component as well as an emotional one, due to the way their culture interprets such feelings.
In Brief: Williams syndrome in Japan: The interplay of genetics and culture
Parents of children with the disorder known as Williams syndrome, but from different countries, have differeing perceptions of their childrens' condition, due to the differences between American and Japanese cultures.
In Brief: Addiction treatment, ready or not
A test that measures readiness to change as an indicator of success in substance abuse treatment finds that those who are most prepared to change tend to be those with the most serious problems, but this does not mean they will be most likely to succeed.
Questions and Answers: How important is a good breakfast for children?
How important is a good breakfast for children?
The use and misuse of self-esteem
In the mental health community, there is debate about whether treatment that leads to higher self-esteem should be a goal in itself, or whether improving self-esteem should come as a result of achieving other goals in one's life.
The treatment of schizophrenia: Making it work
Treatment of patients with schizophrenia often falters because patients are unwilling or unable to maintain doctor's appointments and medication schedules. Transitional services such as assertive community treatment can improve the chances of success.
In Brief: Uncovering diagnostic biases
A study that asked mental health professionals to evaluate a hypothetical case history found biases based on the way the circumstances of the case were presented, and also due to professional orientation and training.
In Brief: Alternative medicine for depression
A survey of women who had recently been diagnosed with depression found that at least half of them had opted for an alternative form of treatment, such as massage or yoga, in addition to conventional forms of treatment such as medication and therapy.
Questions & Answers
How well does the new drug varenicline work for people who want to stop smoking?
Antidepressants and suicide
While there is a very small risk of suicide in adolescents who take antidepressants, they are also beneficial to many teenagers with depression. All factors should be weighed in treatment decisions, and patients should be monitored carefully.
How Alcoholics Anonymous works
Informal evidence shows that alcoholics who choose to attend AA meetings do better than those who do not, and the longer they are involved in attending meetings, the better their chances of remaining abstinent.
In Brief: Finding the right treatment: Attachment as a guide
Research suggests that for patients who are starting treatment for depression, their type of attachment anxiety should be taken into consideration as a factor in determining the best course of treatment.
In Brief: Therapeutic alliance and treatment preference
A study found that some mental health patients who were given a choice of different types of treatment for depression, and who received their first preference, had a better overall working relationship with their therapist.
Commentary: Drug diversion by adolescents
A study found that many adolescents who are prescribed medication give or sell the drugs to other teens. Some of this diversion is recreational, but some may be for therapeutic purposes or performance enhancement.
Rethinking posttraumatic stress disorder
The definition of posttraumatic stress disorder has evolved to reflect the idea that what would be considered traumatic to one person might not be so to another.
Antipsychotic drugs in dementia
Second-generation antipsychotic drugs are sometimes being used to treat dementia in the elderly, but the potential side effects and other risks outweight the benefits in many instances.
In Brief: Treatment for bipolar depression: New studies
Some studies question the effectiveness of antidepressants used in conjunction with mood stabilizing drugs to treat bipolar disorder, while other studies found that intensive psychotherapy treatments achieved promising results.
In Brief: Torture by any other name
A study of torture survivors found that their degree of psychological suffering was not significantly influenced by the type of torture they experienced, whether physical or mental.
Commentary: The Clock gene and bipolar disorder
Study of the gene that helps regulate humans' circadian rhythms has found that an irregularity in this gene may be related to the development of bipolar disorder.
Preschool attention deficit disorder
ADHD has become the most common mental health issue in preschool children. Some study has been done on giving medication to preschoolers with ADHD, but training parents to change their responses to their child's behavior is believed to be more effective.
Endophenotypes are characteristics of a disorder or illness that are not observable. It is hoped that study of these characteristics may lead to better understanding of the genetic causes of mental illnesses.
Farewell to the voices
Hearing voices is a common symptom of schizophrenia. While some patients find relief with antipsychotic drugs, other techinques under investigation include electrical stimulation, cognitive therapy, behavioral therapy, and meditation.
In Brief: Domestic violence: Not always one sided
A survey found that in certain situations of domestic disputes, women were more likely than men to have hit, pushed, or thrown something at their partner.
In Brief: The mystery of muscle relaxation
Research is challenging the perception that people can combat insomnia or anxiety by learning muscle relaxation techniques.
In Brief: Victories over borderline personality disorder
Studies of borderline personality disorder show success treating the condition with various types of therapy, while another study found that many of the more serious symptoms went away over time.
Commentary: Children, depression, and the FDA
Concern about antidepressants increasing the risk of suicide in children could have the unintended effect that children suffering from depression may not receive needed treatment.
Disease-modifying drugs for Alzheimer's: Hope or hype?
Medications under study may be able to treat Alzheimer's disease, by targeting the abnormalities that develop in the brain long before the disease manifests.
Beating the blues by treating sleep apnea
People who suffer from depression are more likely to have a sleep-related breathing problem such as apnea. Treating the sleep problem may help alleviate the depression in some people.
The spiritual side of recovery
Doctors can support their patients throughout the treatment and recovery process by asking questions to determiine if a spiritual component would be of benefit to the patient.
In Brief: Treatment rates for alcohol abuse and dependence remain low
Effective treatment for alcohol dependency is available, but treatment rates among alcohol abusers are low because of lack of awareness and embarrassment.
In Brief: Repeat autism screening recommended for at-risk children
Siblings of children with autism are at higher risk of developing the disorder. A study suggests that these at-risk children should be screened around their first and second birthdays to increase the chance of detecting warning signs.
In Brief: Researchers provide insight into the chemistry of fear
Researchers have found a chemical in the brain thay may affect how the mind retains or discards memories of a traumatic event.
Questions and Answers: Is internet addiction a distinct mental disorder?
Some mental health professionals feel that internet addiction should be classified as a distinct disorder, but regardless of the form an addiction takes, getting to the roots of the behavior is the goal that treatment should strive to attain.
Protecting the heart while treating the mind
People with schizophrenia are at greater risk of dying from heart disease. This may be caused by insufficient attention to a patient's physical health, but some antipsychotic medications worsen the risk for diabetes and heart disease.
Searching for early signs of autism spectrum disorders
Research into autism disorders has found evidence that genetic factors play an important role in the disorder's development. Meanwhile, others are looking for behaviroal indicators in babies that could lead to earlier diagnosis and treatment.
The perils of perfectionism
Research into perfectionism suggests that the behavior may arise as a coping mechanism in response to a form of ill treatment by others known as indirect aggression.
In Brief: Children's mental health care costly for families
Caring for a child with a mental health problem causes a greater financial burden on the family than caring for a child with some other type of medical problem.
In Brief: Preventing depression in people with age-related macular degeneration
Older people with macular degeneration are more likely to experience depression, but those who received problem-solving therapy to help them adapt to and cope with their condition were less likely to develop depression.
In Brief: Writer's cramp is partly in your head - but where?
Researchers are attempting to identify areas of the brain responsible for the sensation of writer's cramp.
Questions and Answers: Nocturnal binge eating
Studies have found links between excessive nighttime eating and depression, and also between the excessive eating and propensity for substance abuse.
Making the most of psychiatric advance directives
Psychiatric advance care directives establish a person's wishes so that appropriate mental health care can be provided if needed. It may also be advisable to appoint a health care agent to ensure the patient's treatment choices are followed.
Helping teens stop smoking
Teens who smoke are more likely to quit if they can be convinced to participate in a cessation program that emphasizes the health risks of smoking, provides motivational encouragement and coping skills, and encourages a healthy overall lifestyle.
After a head injury, many people experience symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, and mood changes as long as a year after the accident. A pattern of several lingering symptoms may constitute a postconcussion syndrome.
In Brief: Study finds ADHD is diagnosed and treated less than half the time
Researchers found that less than half of a group of children who had symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder had been definitively diagnosed with the condition, and fewer were receiving treatment.
In Brief: Mice provide new clues about obsessive-compulsive disorder
The study of a protein in mice led to an unintentional discovery about a possible influence on the development of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
In Brief: Research suggests why stress may add pounds
In experiments on mice, suppressing a chemical linked to stress and appetite prevented the formation of abdominal fat cells, which could lead to new possibilities for weight loss drugs.
Commentary: The rise of pediatric bipolar disorder
Diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children has risen dramatically in recent years. It is difficult to diagnose because symptoms often overlap with other disorders, particularly ADHD.