Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Shorter sleep duration among children was associated with increased risk for depression, anxiety, impulsive behavior and poor cognitive performance, according to study findings published in Molecular Psychiatry.

“Sleep disturbances are common among children and adolescents around the world, with approximately 60% of adolescents in the United States receiving less than 8 hours of sleep on school nights,” Jianfeng Feng, PhD, of the department of computer science at University of Warwick in the UK, told Healio Psychiatry. “An important public health implication is that psychopathology in both children and their parents should be considered in relation to sleep problems in children. Further, we showed that brain structure is associated with sleep problems in children and that this is related to whether the child has depressive problems.”

According to Feng and colleagues, the present study is the first large-scale research effort to analyze sleep duration in children and its impact on psychiatric problems including depression, brain structure and cognition. They analyzed measures related to these areas using data from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study, which included structural MRI data from 11,067 individuals aged 9 to 11 years.

The researchers found that depression, anxiety and impulsive behavior were negatively correlated with sleep duration. Dimensional psychopathology in participants’ parents was correlated with short sleep duration in the children. Feng and colleagues noted that the orbitofrontal cortex, prefrontal and temporal cortex, precuneus and supramarginal gyrus were brain areas in which higher volume was correlated with longer sleep duration. According to longitudinal data analysis, psychiatric problems, particularly depressive problems, were significantly associated with short sleep duration 1 year later. Moreover, they found that depressive problems significantly mediated these brain regions’ effect on sleep. Higher volume of the prefrontal cortex, temporal cortex and medial orbitofrontal cortex were associated with higher cognitive scores.

“Our findings showed that 53% of children received less than 9 hours of sleep per night,” Feng said. “More importantly, the behavior problems total score for children with less than 7 hours of sleep was 53% higher on average and the cognitive total score was 7.8% lower on average than for children with 9 to 11 hours of sleep. We hope this study attracts public attention to sleep problems in children and provides evidence for governments to develop advice about sleep for children.” – by Joe Gramigna

https://www.healio.com/psychiatry/depression/news/online/%7B7440e93a-fe6a-4154-88f4-a5858d16c4cb%7D/children-with-less-sleep-experience-increased-depression-anxiety-decreased-cognitive-performance

By Jason Arunn Murugesu

An AI can predict from people’s brainwaves whether an antidepressant is likely to help them. The technique may offer a new approach to prescribing medicines for mental illnesses.

Antidepressants don’t always work, and we aren’t sure why. “We have a central problem in psychiatry because we characterise diseases by their end point, such as what behaviours they cause,” says Amit Etkin at Stanford University in California. “You tell me you’re depressed, and I don’t know any more than that. I don’t really know what’s going on in the brain and we prescribe medication on very little information.”

Etkin wanted to find out if a machine-learning algorithm could predict from the brain scans of people diagnosed with depression who was most likely to respond to treatment with the antidepressant sertraline. The drug is typically effective in only a third of the people who take it.

He and his team gathered electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings showing the brainwaves of 228 people aged between 18 and 65 with depression. These individuals had previously tried antidepressants, but weren’t on such drugs at the start of the study.

Roughly half the participants were given sertraline, while the rest got a placebo. The researchers then monitored the participants’ mood over eight weeks, measuring any changes using a depression rating scale.

Brain activity patterns
By comparing the EEG recordings of those who responded well to the drug with those who didn’t, the machine-learning algorithm was able to identify a specific pattern of brain activity linked with a higher likelihood of finding sertraline helpful.

The team then tested the algorithm on a different group of 279 people. Although only 41 per cent of overall participants responded well to sertraline, 76 per cent of those the algorithm predicted would benefit did so.

Etkin has founded a company called Alto Neuroscience to develop the technology. He hopes it results in more efficient sertraline prescription by giving doctors “the tools to make decisions about their patients using objective tests, decisions that they’re currently making by chance”, says Etkin.

This AI “could have potential future relevance to patients with depression”, says Christian Gluud at the Copenhagen Trial Unit in Denmark. But the results need to be replicated by other researchers “before any transfer to clinical practice can be considered”, he says.

Journal reference: Nature Biotechnology, DOI: 10.1038/s41587-019-0397-3

Read more: https://www.newscientist.com/article/2232792-brain-scans-can-help-predict-wholl-benefit-from-an-antidepressant/#ixzz6DeyTJYpK

By Yasemin Saplakoglu

The FDA is helping to speed up the process of researching and approving psilocybin, a hallucinogenic substance in magic mushrooms, to treat major depressive disorder (MDD).

For the second time in a year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has designated psilocybin therapy — currently being tested in clinical trials — as “breakthrough therapy,” an action that is meant to accelerate the typically sluggish process of drug development and review. It is typically requested by a drug company and granted only when preliminary evidence suggests the drug may be an enormous improvement over already available therapy, according to the FDA.

Last year, the FDA granted “breakthrough therapy” status to psilocybin therapy in the still-ongoing clinical trials run by the company Compass Pathways, which are looking into psilocybin’s potential to treat severe treatment-resistant depression, or depression in patients who have not improved after undergoing two different antidepressant treatments, according to New Atlas.

Now, the FDA has granted another “breakthrough therapy” status to the psychedelic treatment, this time for a U.S.-based clinical trial conducted by the nonprofit Usona Institute, according to a statement from the company. This clinical trial, which includes 80 participants at seven different sites across the U.S., focuses on the efficacy of treating patients with MDD with a single dose of psilocybin.

There are more than 17 million people in the U.S. who have major depressive disorder, or severe depression that lasts more than two weeks, according to the statement. Psilocybin, with a single dose, could profoundly impact the brain and have long-lasting impacts after wiping away depressive symptoms, according to the statement.

The phase 2 trial is expected to be completed by early 2021, and with the help of this status, Usona expects it to quickly move into a larger phase 3 trial, according to New Atlas. Around one in three treatments previously given a Breakthrough Therapy status have moved on to get market approval, New Atlas wrote.

“What is truly groundbreaking is FDA’s rightful acknowledgement that MDD, not just the much smaller treatment-resistant depression population, represents an unmet medical need and that the available data suggest that psilocybin may offer a substantial clinical improvement over existing therapies,” Dr. Charles Raison, the director of clinical and translational research at Usona, said in the statement.

This isn’t the first time that a psychedelic has been researched for its potential in treating depression. In March, the FDA approved a nasal spray depression treatment for treatment-resistant patients based on Esketamine, a substance related to ketamine — an anesthetic that’s also been used as an illicit party drug. But much is still unknown even of this approved drug. Though fast-acting, it’s unclear how Esketamine changes the brain and thus what its long-term effects will be, according to a previous Live Science report.

https://www.livescience.com/psilocybin-depression-breakthrough-therapy.html

he most commonly prescribed antidepressant barely relieves symptoms of modern depression, a major study reveals.

The largest independent investigation ever undertaken found patients taking sertraline experienced negligible improvements in mood.

Published in the Lancet Psychiatry, the study comes amid mounting controversy over increased use of antidepressants by GPs in recent decades, with roughly 7.3 million people in England issued a prescription each year.

Its authors said they were “shocked and surprised” by the results, and called for the development of new classes of medication.

However, in the absence of better drugs, they do not want current prescribing practice to be changed because the trial also showed sertraline is effective in reducing anxiety, which often accompanies depression.

The new trial is by far the largest to be conducted without the involvement of the pharmaceutical industry.

It is also the most in-depth examination of sertraline – a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) – in patients with a range of depression severities, rather than just in severely depressed patients in specialist mental health units.

The study included 654 people aged 18 to 74 who were given either the antidepressant for 12 weeks or a placebo.

The results showed depressive symptoms were five per cent lower after six weeks in the sertraline group, which was “no convincing evidence” of an effect.

After 12 weeks, there was a 13 per cent reduction, a finding the experts described as “weak”.

But the drug did offer clear benefits in reducing anxiety, with a 21 per cent reduction in symptoms at six weeks and 23 per cent at 12 weeks.

This is likely to explain why patients taking sertraline were twice as likely to say they felt generally better compared to the placebo group, even once questioned on specific symptoms of depression the benefit was far weaker.

Symptoms of depression include poor concentration, low mood, trouble with sleep, lack of enjoyment, whereas anxiety is presents as worry, nervousness, irritability and restlessness.

Professor Glyn Lewis, who led the research at University College London, said: “We were shocked and surprised when we did our analysis.

“There is absolutely no doubt this is an unexpected result.’

“Our primary hypothesis was that it would affect those depressive symptoms at six weeks and we didn’t find that.

“We definitely need better treatments for depression, and we need more research in this area.”

He suggested that new, more effective classes of antidepressants could be based on ketamine, psilocybin, the psychedelic in magic mushrooms, and anti-inflammatories.

It is thought that roughly four million people in England are long-term users of antidepressants.

Prescribing data shows that SSRI’s such as sertraline make up 54 per cent of antidepressant prescriptions.

Scientists have responded to the new study by pointing out that some of the patients had very mild symptoms of depression to start with, making it less likely that sertraline would cause an improvement.

However, others have pointed out that this is exactly the basis upon which GPs tend to hand out the drugs in practice.

Dr Gemma Lewis, who co-authored the new research, said: “I think it’s really important to understand that anxiety symptoms are very, very common among people with depression.”

She added: “It appears that people taking the drug are feeling less anxious, so they feel better overall, even if their depressive symptoms were less affected.

“We hope that we have cast new light on how antidepressants work, as they may be primarily affecting anxiety symptoms such as nervousness, worry and tension, and taking longer to affect depressive symptoms.”

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of GPs, said: “It is well-established that it often takes a while for patients to feel the full benefits of modern antidepressants and that they work best when taken for significant periods of time, which is one reason why doctors will often review patients after several weeks of use and then prescribe a fairly long course of the drugs, if they appear to be beneficial.”

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2019/09/19/common-antidepressant-barely-helps-improve-depression-symptoms/

Thanks to Kebmodee for bringing this to the It’s Interesting community.

by David N. Osser, MD

Current estimates are that 4% to 5% of the population is at risk for a disorder on the bipolar spectrum. Among the patients in the so-called soft portion of that spectrum are those with a disturbance of temperament in the direction of hypomania.

The concept of temperament is a product of German nosological research from a century ago starting with Kraepelin. In the US, the concept has been championed by Hagop Akiskal, MD and his colleagues. Akiskal is now the editor emeritus of the Journal of Affective Disorders. The notion of depressive temperament has been incorporated into DSM-5 nosology in the form of “persistent depressive disorder” (previously called dysthymia). The other pole was called hyperthymia by the Germans. DSM committees have considered adding hyperthymia but have not done so. The research base on it is still, to many, unconvincing. However, it seems that in clinical practice one encounters individuals who have chronic low-grade hypomanic symptoms—high energy, need for less sleep than others, chronic optimism, chronic risk taking. These individuals can be prone to major depressions and can become severely suicidal.

Akiskal and colleagues have been describing these patients for almost 40 years. Their research criteria for hyperthymic temperament include onset before age 21, habitual sleep of less than 6 hours even on weekends, excessive use of denial, and traits (described originally by Schneider et al) that include being overoptimistic, self-assured, grandiose, overtalkative, warm and people-seeking, uninhibited, promiscuous, and meddlesome (1). Neurobiological studies have suggested the individuals have dopaminergic dysregulation (2),

Treatment issues have focused on what medications to use when hyperthymic individuals become depressed. The studies have all been uncontrolled. However, it seems that antidepressants are ineffective for these depressions and often trigger a mixed state or frank mania at times. Mood stabilizers and medications effective for bipolar depression may be more appropriate for the depressions in these patients.Usually their sunny temperament itself doesn’t require treatment and may, in fact, foster excellent productivity and creativity during much of their lifespan.

Disclosures:
Dr Osser is a Consulting Psychiatrist, US Department of Veterans Affairs, National Telemental Health Center, Bipolar Disorders Telehealth Program, Brockton, MA.

References:
1. Akiskal HS, Mallya G. Criteria for the “soft” bipolar spectrum: treatment implications. Psychopharmacol Bull. 1987;23:68-73.

2. Rihmer Z, Akiskal KK, Rihmer A, Akiskal HS. Current research on affective temperaments. Curr Opin Psychiatry. 2010;23:12-18.

by Bruce Jancin

The tantalizing prospect that statins could be repurposed as adjunctive antidepressant drugs in a defined subgroup of patients with major depression is finally about to undergo rigorous testing.

Several lines of preliminary evidence, including large observational cohort studies as well as three small, short-duration randomized trials, suggest that this might indeed be the case. It’s an extremely attractive possibility, since patients and physicians wish that antidepressant therapy were more effective, statins are among the most widely prescribed drugs worldwide, and their safety profile is thoroughly established. The expectation is that a definitive answer as to whether repurposing of statins as antidepressants is worthwhile will be provided by the SIMCODE trial, recently approved for funding by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Christian Otte, MD, announced at the annual congress of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology.

SIMCODE is a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial to be conducted at eight German academic medical centers. Participants, all of whom must have major depressive disorder and comorbid obesity, will be randomized to simvastatin or placebo on top of standard antidepressant therapy with escitalopram, an SSRI which, like simvastatin, is available as a relatively inexpensive generic, explained Dr. Otte, professor and vice director of the department of psychiatry and psychotherapy at Charite University in Berlin.

For Dr. Otte, SIMCODE will close a circle he helped open with his 2012 report from the Heart and Soul Study, a prospective longitudinal study of nearly 1,000 San Francisco Bay Area patients with coronary heart disease who were assessed annually for depressive symptoms for 6 years. The 65% of patients who were on statin therapy, albeit in nonrandomized fashion, had an adjusted 38% lower risk of developing depression (J Clin Psychiatry. 2012 May;73[5]:610-5).

His was one of seven observational studies involving more than 9,000 patients included in a subsequent meta-analysis showing that statin users were 37% less likely to develop depression than were nonusers (J Affect Disord. 2014 May;160:62-7).

At a symposium on repurposing statins as antidepressants held at ECNP 2019, Dr. Otte was joined by other researchers who have made key contributions in this area. All agreed that the verdict isn’t in yet as to statins’ effectiveness as adjunctive antidepressants, and that the subgroup of patients with major depression who are most likely to gain added antidepressive effect from a statin are those with what the speakers variously described as comorbid cardiometabolic disease, immunometabolic disease, or simply, as in SIMCODE, obesity. These are patients with a high degree of systemic inflammation, which often makes their depression less responsive to standard antidepressant therapies. The working hypothesis is that the pleiotropic anti-inflammatory effects of statins will result in a greater response to conventional antidepressants.

Animal studies point to multiple potential mechanisms by which statins might have antidepressant efficacy in clinical practice, according to Dr. Otte. Beyond their anti-inflammatory effects, these include the drugs’ documented effects on glutamatergic N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, dopamine receptors, brain-derived neurotrophic factor, glucocorticoid receptors, and hippocampal serotonin 2A receptors.

https://www.the-hospitalist.org/hospitalist/article/207875/depression/statins-may-do-double-duty-antidepressants?channel=51329

An ambitious research project aims to assess the state of mental-health resources and support for graduate students. The 22-month initiative is a joint venture of the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) in Washington DC and the Jed Foundation, a non-profit organization in New York City that focuses on the mental health of young adults. The initiative will explore current schemes and programmes centred on student wellness at CGS member universities in the United States and Canada, and provide recommendations for future approaches to promote mental and emotional well-being in students.

“We want to create a road map for moving forward,” says Suzanne Ortega, CGS president and the principal investigator of the project, called Supporting Mental Health and Wellness of Graduate Students. “We’ll be offering advice about policies and resources that will help students in crisis while also creating an environment where graduate students can thrive.”

The project, supported by nearly US$280,000 in grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, will gather input through surveys of administrators at CGS’s 500 or so member institutions across the world, along with focus groups that will probably involve students as well as those advocating on behalf of students. A key part of the conversation will take place at a workshop for students, administrators and mental-health specialists that is tentatively scheduled for October next year in Washington DC. An initial report of findings and recommendations for policies is scheduled to be published in December next year.

Unmet needs

The pressure, competition and stress experienced by graduate students puts them at high risk for mental-health issues, Ortega says. Precise estimates of the prevalence of anxiety and depression in this population remain elusive, she notes, and graduate students need and deserve thoughtful, evidence-based support. “We’re convinced by the need,” she says. “We know that a significant minority of graduate students have clinical symptoms of distress.”

Nance Roy, the Jed Foundation’s chief clinical officer, says that few effective mental-health programmes aimed at graduate students are currently offered at academic institutions. The Jed Foundation assisted universities in developing guidelines that will help to address undergraduate mental health, but Roy points out that graduate students have different needs and life situations that could require tailored approaches. For example, graduate students might find it especially difficult to take time off when they’re feeling overwhelmed. “They may not be able to just step away from a research project,” she says. “We want to promote people taking time off if they need it.”

Roy is also concerned about mentorship, a crucial aspect of graduate training that doesn’t always receive much scrutiny. “That relationship needs a tremendous amount of attention,” she says.

Ortega and other investigators have identified some innovative approaches that deserve a closer look. Boston University in Massachusetts, for example, instituted a holiday policy this year that ensures two weeks, or ten working days, of paid holiday every year for PhD students on annual stipends. “The idea is that this will foster work–life balance, which is a big part of student wellness,” says Ortega.

Another is the Mental Health Bill of Rights and Responsibilities that was adopted by the graduate education department at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, in February. The document states that, among other things, any student who seeks mental-health treatment through the university will be assigned a care coordinator who can help them to navigate the system and connect with resources.

Mark Wallace, a neuroscientist and dean of the Vanderbilt University Graduate School, says that the bill of rights was a product of many discussions between graduate students and university leaders. “This approach ensures that everyone has a role to play in tackling mental-health issues on our campus, whether they be students, faculty or staff,” he says.

Covering new ground

Ortega says that the CGS initiative is the first of its kind in the United States and Canada. She and other investigators were partly inspired by other mental-health schemes, including the UK Council For Graduate Education’s first International Conference on the Mental Health & Wellbeing of Postgraduate Researchers, which took place in May (and was supported by Nature Research).

The CGS will co-host a global summit, Cultural Contexts of Health and Well-Being in Graduate Education, at the University of Manchester, UK, on 1–3 September. “There’s a growing recognition of these issues in Europe,” Ortega says.

Ortega and Roy hope that their project will inspire universities around the United States to take a closer look at at what they’re doing — or not doing — to promote the mental health of graduate students. The results should also lay the foundation for a future of better support for graduate students, including more scientifically rigorous studies of issues that this group faces, Ortega says.

“Graduate-student mental health and well-being has become one of the hottest topics that our graduate dean members want to see addressed,” Ortega says. “Clearly, we have a lot of work to do in the next 22 months.”

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-019-02584-7?utm_source=Nature+Briefing&utm_campaign=0a58fd4efb-briefing-dy-20190902&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c9dfd39373-0a58fd4efb-44039353