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Scientists Discover New Path in Brain to Ease Depression

From Northwestern University

Scientists Discover New Path in Brain to Ease DepressionScientists have discovered a new pathway in the brain that can be manipulated to alleviate depression. The pathway offers a promising new target for developing a drug that could be effective in individuals for whom other antidepressants have failed.

New antidepressant options are important because a significant number of patients don’t adequately improve with currently available antidepressant drugs. The lifetime prevalence of major depressive disorder is between 10 to 20 percent of the population.

The study was published Oct. 4 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

“Identifying new pathways that can be targeted for drug design is an important step forward in improving the treatment of depressive disorders,” said Sarah Brooker, the first author and an M.D./Ph.D student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Brooker did the research in the lab of senior study author Dr. Jack Kessler, a professor of neurology at Feinberg and a Northwestern Medicine neurologist.

The aim of the study was to better understand how current antidepressants work in the brain. The ultimate goal is to find new ones that are more effective for people not currently getting relief from existing drugs.

In the study, scientists discovered for the first time that antidepressant drugs such as Prozac and tricyclics target a pathway in the hippocampus called the BMP signaling pathway. A signaling pathway is a group of molecules in a cell that work together to control one or more cell functions. Like a cascade, after the first molecule in a pathway receives a signal, it activates another molecule and so forth until the cell function is carried out.

Brooker and colleagues showed that Prozac and tricyclics inhibit this pathway and, thereby, trigger stem cells in the brain to produce more neurons. These particular neurons are involved in mood and memory formation. But the scientists didn’t know if blocking the pathway contributed to the drugs’ antidepressant effect because Prozac acts on multiple mechanisms in the brain.

After confirming the importance of the BMP pathway in depression, Northwestern scientists tested a brain protein, Noggin, on depressed mice. Noggin is known block the BMP pathway and stimulate new neurons, called neurogenesis.

“We hypothesized it would have an antidepressant effect, but we weren’t sure,” Brooker said.

They discovered Noggin blocks the pathway more precisely and effectively than Prozac or tricyclics. It had a robust antidepressant effect in mice.

Scientists injected Noggin into the mice and observed the effect on mood by testing for depression and anxiety behavior. A sign of depression in mice is a tendency to hang hopelessly when held by the tail, rather than trying to get upright. After receiving Noggin, mice energetically tried to lift themselves up, whereas control mice were more likely to give up and become immobile.

The mice were then put in a maze with secluded (safe) and open (less safe) spaces. The Noggin mice were less anxious and explored more mazes than the control mice.

“The biochemical changes in the brain that lead to depression are not well understood, and many patients fail to respond to currently available drugs,” said Kessler, also the Ken and Ruth Davee Professor of Stem Cell Biology. “Our findings may not only help to understand the causes of depression, but also may provide a new biochemical target for developing more effective therapies.”

Original Article: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/10/161004130338.htm

 

Related Online Continuing Education Courses

 

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can occur in people without family histories of depression too. Scientists are studying certain genes that may make some people more prone to depression. Some genetics research indicates that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. Other depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger.This introductory course provides an overview to the various forms of depression, including signs and symptoms, co-existing conditions, causes, gender and age differences, and diagnosis and treatment options.

 

Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out daily tasks. Symptoms of bipolar disorder can be severe. They are different from the normal ups and downs that everyone goes through from time to time. Bipolar disorder symptoms can result in damaged relationships, poor job or school performance, and even suicide. But bipolar disorder can be treated, and people with this illness can lead full and productive lives. This introductory course, from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), provides a brief overview of bipolar disorder in adults, including: signs and symptoms; diagnosis; risk factors; and treatment options.

 

In the Zone: Finding Flow Through Positive Psychology is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that offers a how-to guide on incorporating flow into everyday life. According to the CDC, four out of ten people have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Further, the APA reports that most people suffer from moderate to high levels of stress, and according to SAMSHA, adult prescription medication abuse (primarily to counteract attention deficit disorders) is one of the most concerning health problems today. And while clinicians now have a host of resources to mitigate distress and reduce symptomatology, the question remains: how do clinicians move clients beyond baseline levels of functioning to a state of fulfillment imbued with a satisfying life purpose? The answer may lie in a universal condition with unexpected benefits…This course will explore the concept of flow, also known as optimal performance, which is a condition we are all capable of, yet seldom cultivate.

 

This introductory course, from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), describes the symptoms and treatments for bipolar disorder (BPD) in children and adolescents. All parents can relate to the many changes their children go through as they grow up. But sometimes it’s hard to tell if a child is just going through a “phase,” or showing signs of something more serious. In the last decade, the number of children receiving the diagnosis of bipolar disorder, sometimes, called manic-depressive illness, has grown substantially. But what does the diagnosis really mean for a child? This course discusses bipolar disorder in children and teens, including signs and symptoms, differences between child/adolescent and adult BPD, diagnostic types, medications for BPD (along with their individual cautions), and other therapies.

 

Professional Development Resources is a Florida nonprofit educational corporation 501(c)(3) approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA): the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners. We are CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within one week of completion.

 

 

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Negative Events Cause Brain to Backfire in People with Depression

from the University College London

Brain Backfires in Depression

A region of the brain that responds to bad experiences has the opposite reaction to expectations of aversive events in people with depression compared to healthy adults, finds a new study.

The study, published in Molecular Psychiatry, found that the habenula, a pea-sized region of the brain, functions abnormally in depression. The same team previously showed that the habenula was activated in healthy volunteers when they expected to receive an electric shock.

“A prominent theory has suggested that a hyperactive habenula drives symptoms in people with depression: we set out to test that hypothesis” says senior author Professor Jonathan Roiser (UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience). “Surprisingly, we saw the exact opposite of what we predicted. In people with depression, habenula activity actually decreased when they thought they would get a shock. This shows that in depressed people the habenula reacts in a fundamentally different way. Although we still don’t know how or why this happens, it’s clear that the theory needs a rethink.”

The researchers scanned the brains of 25 people with depression and 25 never-depressed individuals using high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The participants were shown a sequence of abstract pictures while they lay inside the scanner. Over time they learned that different pictures were associated with a chance of different outcomes — either good or bad. Images predicting electric shocks were found to cause increased habenula activation in healthy volunteers, but decreased activation in depressed people.

There were no differences in average habenula size between people with depression and healthy volunteers. However, people with smaller habenulae, in both groups, were found to have more symptoms of anhedonia, a loss of interest or pleasure in life.

“The habenula’s role in depression is clearly much more complex than previously thought,” explains lead author Dr. Rebecca Lawson (UCL Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging). “From this experimental fMRI study we can draw conclusions about the effects of anticipated shocks on habenula activation in depressed individuals compared with healthy volunteers. We can only speculate as to how this deactivation is linked to symptoms, but it could be that this ancient part of the brain actually plays a protective role against depression. Animal experiments have shown that stimulating the habenula leads to avoidance, and it is possible that this occurs for mental as well as physical negative events. So one possible explanation is that the habenula may help us to avoid dwelling on unpleasant thoughts or memories, and when this is disrupted you get the excessive negative focus that is common in depression.”

Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/05/160531081803.htm

Related Continuing Education Courses

In the Zone: Finding Flow Through Positive Psychology is a 2-hour online continuing education (CE) course that offers a how-to guide on incorporating flow into everyday life. According to the CDC, four out of ten people have not discovered a satisfying life purpose. Further, the APA reports that most people suffer from moderate to high levels of stress, and according to SAMSHA, adult prescription medication abuse (primarily to counteract attention deficit disorders) is one of the most concerning health problems today. And while clinicians now have a host of resources to mitigate distress and reduce symptomatology, the question remains: how do clinicians move clients beyond baseline levels of functioning to a state of fulfillment imbued with a satisfying life purpose? The answer may lie in a universal condition with unexpected benefits…This course will explore the concept of flow, also known as optimal performance, which is a condition we are all capable of, yet seldom cultivate. When in flow we experience a profound and dramatic shift in the way we experience ourselves, our capabilities, and the world around us.

 

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can occur in people without family histories of depression too. Scientists are studying certain genes that may make some people more prone to depression. Some genetics research indicates that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. Other depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger.This introductory course provides an overview to the various forms of depression, including signs and symptoms, co-existing conditions, causes, gender and age differences, and diagnosis and treatment options.

 

Nearly every client who walks through a health professional’s door is experiencing some form of anxiety. Even if they are not seeking treatment for a specific anxiety disorder, they are likely experiencing anxiety as a side effect of other clinical issues. For this reason, a solid knowledge of anxiety management skills should be a basic component of every therapist’s repertoire. Clinicians who can teach practical anxiety management techniques have tools that can be used in nearly all clinical settings and client diagnoses. Anxiety management benefits the clinician as well, helping to maintain energy, focus, and inner peace both during and between sessions. The purpose of this course is to offer a collection of ready-to-use anxiety management tools.

 

Professional Development Resources is approved to offer online continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the Alabama State Board of Occupational Therapy; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board and Board of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 

 

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Depression and The Emotion Processing Networks in the Brain

 

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From the University of Illinois at Chicago

Parts of the brain that work together to process emotion are different in people who have suffered from multiple bouts of depression. Researchers say that by identifying risk factors, mental health professions can begin to understand and treat this condition more effectively for the long term.
 
The study, led by researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, is published in the journal Psychological Medicine.

“Half of people who have a first depressive episode will go on to have another within two years,” says Scott Langenecker, associate professor of psychiatry and psychology at UIC and corresponding author on the study.

Disruptions in the network of areas of the brain that are simultaneously active during problem-solving and emotional processing have been implicated in several mental illnesses, including depression. But in addition, “hyperconnectivity,” or too much connection, within the “resting network,” or areas active during rest and self-reflection, has also been linked to depression.

“If we can identify different network connectivity patterns that are associated with depression, then we may be able to determine which are risk factors for poorer outcomes down the line, such as having multiple episodes, and we can keep those patients on preventive or maintenance medication,” Langenecker explained. “We can also start to see what medications work best for people with different connectivity patterns, to develop more personalized treatment plans.”

In previous research, Langenecker found that the emotional and cognitive brain networks were hyperconnected in young adults who had depression. Areas of the brain related to rumination — thinking about the same thing over and over again — a known risk factor for depression, were also overly connected in adolescents who had experienced depression.

In the new study, Langenecker said he and his coworkers wanted to see if different patterns of network-disruption would show up in young adults who had experienced only one episode of depression versus several episodes.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging, or fMRI, to scan the brains of 77 young adults (average age: 21.) Seventeen of the participants were experiencing major depression at the time of the scan, while 34 were currently well. Of these 51 patients, 36 had experienced at least one episode of depression in the past, and these individuals were compared to 26 participants who had never experienced a major depressive episode. None were taking psychiatric medication at the time they were scanned.

All fMRI scans were done in a resting state — to show which areas of the brain are most synchronously active as one relaxes and lets their mind wander.

The researchers found that the amygdala, a region involved in detecting emotion, is decoupled from the emotional network in people who have had multiple episodes of depression. This may cause emotional-information processing to be less accurate, Langenecker said, and could explain “negative processing-bias” in which depression sufferers perceive even neutral information as negative.

The researchers also saw that participants who had had at least one prior depressive episode — whether or not they were depressed at the time of the scan — exhibited increased connectivity between the resting and cognitive networks.

“This may be an adaptation the brain makes to help regulate emotional biases or rumination,” Langenecker said.

“Since this study provides just a snapshot of the brain at one point in time, longer-term studies are needed, to determine whether the patterns we saw may be predictive of a future of multiple episodes for some patients and might help us identify who should have maintenance treatments and targets for new preventive treatments,” he said.
 
Original: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160120143007.htm

Related Continuing Education Courses

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can occur in people without family histories of depression too. Scientists are studying certain genes that may make some people more prone to depression. Some genetics research indicates that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. Other depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger.This introductory course provides an overview to the various forms of depression, including signs and symptoms, co-existing conditions, causes, gender and age differences, and diagnosis and treatment options.

 

This CE test is based on the book “The Mindfulness Workbook for Addiction: A Guide to Coping with the Grief, Stress and Anger that Trigger Addictive Behaviors” (2012, 232 pages). This workbook presents a comprehensive approach to working with clients in recovery from addictive behaviors and is unique in that it addresses the underlying loss that clients have experienced that may be fueling addictive behaviors. Counseling skills from the field of mindfulness therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy are outlined in a clear and easy-to-implement style. Healthy strategies for coping with grief, depression, anxiety, and anger are provided along with ways to improve interpersonal relationships.

 

This is a test only course (book not included). The book can be purchased from Amazon or some other source.This CE test is based on the book “Suicide & Psychological Pain: Prevention that Works” (2012, 147 pages). Jack Klott, using case studies taken from his 45-year-career as a suicidologist, brings to life the ideas, theories and concepts surrounding suicide and self-mutilation including risk factors, assessment, and treatment components. He presents information about which personality types are most vulnerable to acts of suicide and self-mutilation, as well as the essential link between these behaviors and addiction disorders. Jack Klott’s work focuses on the treatment relationship between therapist and client and the hope for both the suicidal and self-harm client in achieving treatment goals. This narrative is interwoven with case histories and treatment outcomes which yield a personal and fascinating look into the work of treating suicidal clients.

 

Nearly every client who walks through a health professional’s door is experiencing some form of anxiety. Even if they are not seeking treatment for a specific anxiety disorder, they are likely experiencing anxiety as a side effect of other clinical issues. For this reason, a solid knowledge of anxiety management skills should be a basic component of every therapist’s repertoire. Clinicians who can teach practical anxiety management techniques have tools that can be used in nearly all clinical settings and client diagnoses. Anxiety management benefits the clinician as well, helping to maintain energy, focus, and inner peace both during and between sessions. The purpose of this course is to offer a collection of ready-to-use anxiety management tools.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC) to offer home study continuing education for NCCs (#5590); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB #1046, ACE Program); the Florida Boards of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, and Mental Health Counseling (#BAP346) and Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

 

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Robin Williams – Depression and Dementia

Written by Dean Burnett

Robin WilliamsNearly a year and half ago, I wrote a piece about suicide and depression in the wake of Robin Williams’ death. You may have read it. A lot of people did. I didn’t expect to have revisit this subject again, and yet here we are. But for good reason.

The original piece, and the unpleasant comments from numerous people that first inspired it, stemmed from the widespread assumption that Robin Williams ended his life due to struggles with depression, a condition he was known to have dealt with often.

However, a recent interview with his widow, Susan Williams, reveals that the beloved actor was actually struggling with dementia with Lewy Bodies, sometimes known as Lewy Body dementia. While making the loss of such a beloved individual no less tragic, this does throw a different light on matters.

Dementia with Lewy Bodies is not as common or well known as depression, or the more familiar forms of dementia, most obviously Alzheimer’s disease. However, even among the grim spectrum of neurological disorders and mental illnesses, dementia with Lewy Bodies is a particularly nasty condition. Here’s why.

What are Lewy Bodies?

The most obvious question when encountering dementia with Lewy Bodies is, what are Lewy Bodies? What do they do? Why are they important? What damage do they cause?

Put simply, Lewy Bodies are lumps, known as aggregates, of misshapen protein (of the type Alpha-synuclein) that occur in nerve cells (neurons) of people with certain conditions, most often Parkinson’s disease, and but also (obviously) dementia with Lewy Bodies. Cells as complex and important as neurons produce a bewildering array of proteins, to aid in the necessary functions and form the delicate cytoskeletal structure in place to maintain everything.

Sometimes, certain proteins are formed wrongly, and rather than integrating seamlessly into the cell they form (relatively) big clumps. Exactly why this happens is currently unknown, but the fact that it occurs in cells throughout the brain suggests some sort of underlying genetic effect.

Whatever the initial cause, these protein aggregates build up in neurons, and are believed to clog and disrupt the vital processes taking place within, damaging the cell and eventually causing it to die. Similar processes are believed to take place in other neurodegenerative disorders, like tau tangles in Alzheimer’s disease, and inclusion bodies in Huntington’s disease.

What problems do they cause?

The thing about dementia with Lewy Bodies is that it’s not at all restrained when it comes to causing debilitating symptoms. The Lewy Bodies occur in regions throughout the brain, all of which provide important, often crucial functions for everyday life. The presence of Lewy Bodies mean multiple problems occur in conjunction, but for a diagnosis of probable dementia with Lewy Bodies, two of the following three symptoms must be evident

  • Fluctuating cognition with pronounced variations in attention and alertness (meaning a wildly varying level of mental ability and thinking)
  • Recurrent visual hallucinations that are typically well formed and detailed (striking and persistent hallucinations, seeing things that aren’t there)
  • Spontaneous motor features of Parkinsonism (stiffness, tremor, involuntary jerks etc.)

We say “probable” dementia with Lewy Bodies because at present it can only be confirmed with a post-mortem. But there are numerous features that back up a diagnosis of dementia with Lewy Bodies if added to the three core symptoms above, and these include sleep disruption, repeated falls, non-visual hallucinations, loss of consciousness, delusions and, back where we started, depression.

Taken all together, a severe case of dementia with Lewy Bodies means you potentially can’t think, can’t sleep, can’t stay awake, can’t trust what you see, can’t move, can’t understand what’s going and can’t be happy. Judging by her Susan Williams’ comments about the speed of progression of his symptoms, it sounds like Robin Williams had a severe case of dementia with Lewy Bodies.

How common is dementia with Lewy Bodies?

Current figures suggest that dementia with Lewy Bodies is the third most common type of distinct dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia successively. Around 4% of dementia cases are believed to be dementia with Lewy Bodies (although some estimates put it as high as 10%), and that’s an increasingly large number. With 850,000 dementia sufferers in the UK at present, and an increasingly ageing population meaning this is predicted to increase to 1.15 million over the next 10 years, this means we can expect to see 46,000 cases of dementia with Lewy Bodies by 2025 in the UK alone.

The most likely people to develop dementia with Lewy Bodies are men, aged early 60s to 70s. Sadly, Robin Williams fell right into this category.

Why isn’t it more well-known?

As stated, it’s not the most common dementia. Alzheimer’s disease, the most familiar type of dementia, is far more common, and tends to get the most attention and recognition as a result. Dementia with Lewy Bodies is also somewhat hard to pin down. You’re relying on observations of people who have it, and as detailed above their current mental state is severely compromised, so it’s very hard to get consistent or reliable reports from them on what they’re experiencing.

This is also compounded by the fact that not every possible symptom occurs in every patient, and many symptoms are also evident in other types of dementia, further confounding diagnosis. The big overlap with Parkinson’s disease is the same problem from another angle.

On top of this, there’s also disagreement among the relevant experts as to how to classify it. Some argue that it shouldn’t be a distinct type of dementia and is more of a subtype of Parkinson’s disease, but the current consensus is that it is a separate disorder. But if even the experts in possession of all the available data can’t quite agree on what it is, it’s unsurprising that more among the general public don’t have much of an idea about it.

What can be done about dementia with Lewy Bodies?

There’s little to be done about it, sadly. Behavioural and therapeutic interventions exist that can help manage the symptoms, but that’s about it. Some pharmacological treatments may help, but frustratingly dementia with Lewy Bodies rules out some of the already limited drugs for neurological disorders. Levodopa, the typical treatment for symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, is known to worsen the mental symptoms of dementia with Lewy Bodies. And antipsychotics are ruled out entirely, as they exacerbate things to the point where risk of death is greatly increased.

So it wasn’t depression?

As Susan Williams said, if Robin Williams had depression at the time of his death, it was one of countless other symptoms he was dealing with. A look at the brief summary above shows just how all-consuming dementia with Lewy Bodies can be.

But depression and dementia with Lewy Bodies often occur together, as is the case with most dementias. This is entirely understandable; it would take someone of superhuman mental fortitude to not let such a diagnosis affect them very deeply.

We will never know exactly what Robin Williams was thinking when he opted to end his own life, and at this point it seems disrespectful and more than a little sinister to keep asking. However, given the number of things dementia with Lewy Bodies can put a person through, accusations of “selfishness” now seem more unwarranted than ever.

Original: http://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2015/nov/04/robin-williams-depression-and-dementia-the-clinical-picture

Related CE Courses for Mental Health Professionals

Lewy body dementia (LBD) is a disease associated with abnormal deposits of a protein called alpha-synuclein in the brain. These deposits, called Lewy bodies, affect chemicals in the brain whose changes, in turn, can lead to problems with thinking, movement, behavior, and mood. LBD is one of the most common causes of dementia, after Alzheimer’s disease and vascular disease. Dementia is a severe loss of thinking abilities that interferes with a person’s capacity to perform daily activities such as household tasks, personal care, and handling finances. Dementia has many possible causes, including stroke, tumor, depression, and vitamin deficiency, as well as disorders such as LBD, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer’s. Diagnosing LBD can be challenging for a number of reasons. Early LBD symptoms are often confused with similar symptoms found in brain diseases like Alzheimer’s. Also, LBD can occur alone or along with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease. This course is intended to help people with LBD, their families, and professionals learn more about the disease and resources for coping. It explains what is known about the different types of LBD and how they are diagnosed. Most importantly, it describes how to treat and manage this difficult disease, with practical advice for both people with LBD and their caregivers.

 

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can occur in people without family histories of depression too. Scientists are studying certain genes that may make some people more prone to depression. Some genetics research indicates that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. Other depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger.This introductory course provides an overview to the various forms of depression, including signs and symptoms, co-existing conditions, causes, gender and age differences, and diagnosis and treatment options.

 

What is aging? Can we live long and live well—and are they the same thing? Is aging in our genes? How does our metabolism relate to aging? Can your immune system still defend you as you age? Since the National Institute on Aging was established in 1974, scientists asking just such questions have learned a great deal about the processes associated with the biology of aging. Technology today supports research that years ago would have seemed possible only in a science fiction novel. This course introduces some key areas of research into the biology of aging. Each area is a part of a larger field of scientific inquiry. You can look at each topic individually, or you can step back to see how they fit together, interwoven to help us better understand aging processes. Research on aging is dynamic, constantly evolving based on new discoveries, and so this course also looks ahead to the future, as today’s research provides the strongest hints of things to come.

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists; the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC ACEP #5590);  the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB Provider #1046, ACE Program); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA Provider #3159); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR Provider #PR001); the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy (#BAP346), Psychology & School Psychology (#50-1635), Dietetics & Nutrition (#50-1635), and Occupational Therapy Practice (#34); the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board (#RCST100501); the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs (#193); and the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists (#114) and State Board of Social Worker Examiners (#5678).

 

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How Talking Face to Face Can Help Stave Off Feelings of Depression

By Carolyn Gregoire

Talking Face to Face to Stave Off DepressionWe all get by with a little help from our friends, but that help is much more valuable when it’s given in person rather than via email or telephone. A new study from Oregon Health & Science University shows that face-to-face interactions are more powerful than digital ones at warding off depression in older adults.

The study, which was published online Monday in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, showed that older adults who met regularly with family and friends were 5 percent less likely to report symptoms of depression, compared to those who spoke with their loved ones via email or phone. The benefits lasted for at least two years.

“We don’t know precisely what the magic ingredient is, but our results imply there is something special and uniquely effective about meeting up in-person in terms of preventing future depression,” Dr. Alan Teo, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the university, told The Huffington Post in an email.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from over 11,000 adults over the age of 50 who participated in a longitudinal study with the University of Michigan, measuring each individual’s frequency of in-person, telephone and written (including email) social interactions. Two years after collecting that data, the researchers assessed the study participants’ risk for depression, taking into consideration factors including pre-existing depression, physical health and proximity to family.

What did the researchers find? Individuals who had little face-to-face contact with friends and family had a nearly doubled risk of depression two years later. Frequent phone calls, emails and other types of communication had no effect on a person’s risk for depression.

Among older adults who spent time with their families at least three times a week, only 6.5 percent were at risk for depression. Those who saw their loved ones every few months or less frequently had an 11.5 percent chance of experiencing depressive symptoms.

While the study looked only at depression in older adults, Teo said it was likely that the results also apply to younger people. But, he said, “We need more research to determine if it applies across the full age spectrum.”

The findings don’t suggest that email and social media aren’t valuable means of social interaction. However, the benefits of these interactions don’t seem to extend to guarding against depression.

“My message is not that social media or calls on smart phones are things we should cut out of our lives,” Teo said. “I use social media too. But when it comes to depression prevention, it seems hard to beat a good old-fashioned face-to-face visit.”

For older adults, the benefits of strong social connections may also extend to improved cognition, better health behaviors and increased longevity.

The bottom line? For both older and younger people, there’s likely to be little downside to making time for quality, face-to-face interactions with friends and family.

“We should make a real effort to have face-to-face visits with our friends and family,” Teo said. “Before reaching for the phone or typing a message to someone, people should think about trying to meet them for coffee or inviting them over for dinner.”

Original Article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/depression-in-person-email-phone_56127e6be4b0dd85030c8586?utm_hp_ref=mental-health

Related CE Courses for Mental Health Professionals

Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression.Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can occur in people without family histories of depression too. Scientists are studying certain genes that may make some people more prone to depression. Some genetics research indicates that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. Other depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger.This introductory course provides an overview to the various forms of depression, including signs and symptoms, co-existing conditions, causes, gender and age differences, and diagnosis and treatment options.
The emotional stress of caring for persons who are aging, chronically ill or disabled can be debilitating for family members as well as professional caregivers. This course addresses caregiver depression and grief and provides a three-step process that can help develop an attitude of creative indifference toward the people, situations and events that cause emotional stress. It offers suggestions for dealing with preparatory grief, an experience shared by families and professionals as they cope with the stress of caring for someone who will never get well. In the process, it also explains the differences between reactionary depression and clinical depression. By gaining insights into the process of losing someone over an extended period of time, the mental health professional will be in a better position to understand the caregiver’s experience with depression and grief and provide both empathy and strategies for implementing a self-care plan. This course includes downloadable worksheets that you can use (on a limited basis) in your clinical practice.
According to the Schaeffer Institute, the ministry is perhaps the single most stressful and frustrating working profession, more than medical, legal, or political careers. Most statistics say that 60% to 80% of those who enter the ministry will not still be in it 10 years later, and only a fraction will stay in it as a lifetime career. One study found that over 70% of pastors are so stressed and burned out that they regularly consider leaving the ministry. What are the elements that conspire to produce such dire statistics? In addition to the job stressors that will be discussed in this course, the essential rub may be found in the daunting challenges of trying to accommodate two entities – the human being and the minister – within a single skin.Clergy stress and its links to depression have been identified in numerous studies and dissertations. However, the authors believe little research has been done linking the internal, external, and spiritual factors that are involved in stress and depression in clergy. This course, which is an adaptation of a doctoral dissertation, proposes to examine the role of these three factors in clergy stress and depression from a Judeo-Christian foundation, which would include Jewish rabbis, Catholic priests, and Protestant pastors. It is likely that most mental health professionals will encounter clergy among the clients they treat in their practices. The purpose of this course is to provide clinicians with an understanding of the complex factors that cause stress and depression in clergy, along with recommendations for prevention and treatment.

Professional Development Resources is approved to offer continuing education by the American Psychological Association (APA); the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; the Texas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners and is CE Broker compliant (all courses are reported within 1 week of completion, provider #50-1635).

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2015 in Mental Health

 

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Being Numb Means Never Growing or Changing

Staying Numb Means No Change

By Justin Lioi, LCSW, Relationships and Marriage

Some people drink a lot, smoke pot a lot, or work a hell of a lot.

While for many people, these activities might indicate a clinical addiction that needs to be directly addressed, for many others, these—and other activities—may be used to avoid discomfort.

A few of the most common issues people find themselves trying to avoid include:

  • Disappointment in relationships (or the lack of a relationship)
  • Feeling used at a job or unenthusiastic about work
  • Remembering something painful they would rather forget

Anyone who grew up with a pet hamster probably noticed how it would spend its day running in place on a wheel. Well, we can be like that, too. We can run and run as we try to hold off feelings of discomfort. The problem is, once we stop, we’re still on the wheel. We’re more exhausted, but we’re still in the same cage.

The Numbing Process

Some people I work with experience anger issues, but many others experience what appears to be the opposite: They go numb.

Through the anesthesia of their choice, they attempt to cordon themselves off from feelings. This can actually be effective for a certain amount of time. In fact, many people swear by this technique. Often, they’re proud of they way they “compartmentalize” so well!

Yet, feelings find a way to come out.

If you deal with discomfort by going numb, you’re hiding two things: You’re warding off the initial feeling, and you’re growing more worried of what will happen once that feeling emerges.

  • If you allow yourself to get angry, will you insult or hurt someone?
  • If you allow yourself to grieve, will you ever find your way out?
  • If you allow yourself to be scared, will you ever be strong again?
  • If you let others know you’re sad, will they say, “Get over it,” or tell you that you’re too needy?
  • If you let others know you’re angry at them, will they disappear?

Avoiding Feelings to Protect Our Relationships

Numbing is sometimes used to protect the status quo in our relationships with other people.

We are constantly changing and the world around us is constantly changing. Numbing, however, keeps things just as they are.This is often easier to see in others than ourselves. Can you think of a person who has a girlfriend, a parent, or a friend that they are always making excuses for? Maybe you question how and why they continue to keep this person in their life?

If they really considered the way that person treated them, they might need to say something or make some real changes in the relationship. Avoiding the negative feelings and continuing to run on the wheel means that someone doesn’t have to risk change. Change is scary, and it can sometimes be painful, so many people choose to avoid the risk.

Resistance to Change

We are constantly changing, and the world around us is constantly changing. Numbing, however, keeps things just as they are.

It’s hard to keep things the same when we live in a changing world. Both the people we love and the people we hate are changing. Maybe these changes aren’t big ones, and maybe people don’t change in the way we’d like them to change, but no one is static.

When we’re drunk, the world might seem OK. When we’re high, we can’t help laughing. When we’re at work six days a week, 10 hours a day, we are accomplishing something and stressing about something that has nothing to do with us. We’re running on a hamster wheel that we perceive is protecting us, but we’re not feeling what’s actually going on around us.

It’s not by accident that transitions—birthdays, breakups, funerals, graduations—are often surrounded with alcohol. We’re scared during these times, even if the transitions lead to something exciting. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this. Fear can be adaptive when we’re actively taking part in the transition to something new. It’s unhealthy, however, when we’re OK with being stuck on the hamster wheel.

© Copyright 2015 by Justin Lioi, LCSW, therapist in Brooklyn, NY. All Rights Reserved.

Original Article: http://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/staying-numb-means-staying-unchanged-0910154

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2015 in General, Mental Health

 

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Mindfulness Therapy May Help Prevent Depression Relapse

Mindfulness Therapy May Help Prevent Depression RelapseRelapse is a common and devastating aspect of major depression, a mental illness that affects roughly 15 million Americans. The usual preventative treatment is long-term or maintenance use of antidepressants.

Now a large new study published in The Lancet suggests that mindfulness therapy can be just as effective in preventing relapse.

The relapse rates are high: More than half of those who suffer from one episode of major depression will relapse at least once in their lifetimes, and roughly 80 percent of those who have had two episodes will experience another recurrence.

Yet as Dr. Richard Byng, a psychologist at the U.K.’s Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry and one of the study’s authors, noted, “There are many people who, for a number of different reasons, are unable to keep on a course of medication for depression. Moreover, many people do not wish to remain on medication for indefinite periods, or cannot tolerate its side effects.”

The study, conducted from the U.K.’s University of Exeter, compared the results of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) with those of maintenance antidepressant use among 424 adults with recurring major depression.

Researchers asked half of the participants to stay on their medications, while the other half tapered off medication and underwent a course of MBCT. Those in the MBCT group attended two-hour-plus weekly group sessions for eight weeks, consisting of guided mindfulness practices, group discussion and other cognitive behavioral exercises. They were also given daily home practice and, after the group sessions ended, had the opportunity to attend four follow-up sessions over the course of the next year.

Regular assessments for major depressive episodes over the following two years found similar relapse rates among the MBCT group (44 percent) and the antidepressant group (47 percent).

How does MBCT work? Using meditation, individuals learn to separate themselves from the sway of their immediate moods. They learn to recognize negative thought patterns and to respond productively, rather than spiraling downward into obsessive thoughts and relapsing into depression.

Dr. Zindel Segal, a University of Toronto psychologist and the co-developer of MBCT, explained that short-circuiting negative thoughts allows people to find joy in the present moment.

“MBCT, at its core, is teaching people to practice mindfulness,” Segal, who was not involved in the study, told The Huffington Post. “And what mindfulness teaches people is how to work more wisely with their emotions. It’s a meditation that is really well suited to helping people encounter difficult states of mind and turning around how they work with them, so that they can choose more adaptive responses rather than habitual responses.”

Segal expressed enthusiasm about the new findings, which he said offer further clinical evidence that mindfulness-based therapies can rival traditional psychotherapy and pharmaceutical intervention in treating major depression.

“This study gives us a lot more confidence in telling people that if, for some reason, they can’t stay on their antidepressants for the next three or five more years,” said Segal, “there is now a credible and scientifically supported alternative to help them stay well.”

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/23/depression-mindfulness-therapy_n_7107394.html?ir=Healthy%20Living&ncid=newsltushpmg00000003

Related Online Continuing Education Courses:

Mindfulness: The Healing Power of Compassionate PresenceMindfulness: The Healing Power of Compassionate Presence is a 6-hour online continuing education (CE/CEU) course for mental health professionals that gives you the mindfulness skills necessary to work directly, effectively and courageously, with your own and your client’s life struggles. Compassion towards others starts with compassion towards self. Practicing mindfulness cultivates our ability to pay intentional attention to our experience from moment to moment. Mindfulness teaches us to become patiently and spaciously aware of what is going on in our mind and body without judgment, reaction, and distraction, thus inviting into the clinical process, the inner strengths and resources that help achieve healing results not otherwise possible. Bringing the power of mindful presence to your clinical practice produces considerable clinical impact in the treatment of anxiety, depression, PTSD, chronic pain, high blood pressure, fibromyalgia, colitis/IBS, and migraines/tension headaches. The emphasis of this course is largely experiential and will offer you the benefit of having a direct experience of the mindfulness experience in a safe and supportive fashion. You will utilize the power of “taking the client there” as an effective technique of introducing the mindful experience in your practice setting. As you will learn, the mindfulness practice has to be experienced rather than talked about. This course will provide you with an excellent understanding of exactly what mindfulness is, why it works, and how to use it. You will also develop the tools that help you introduce mindful experiences in your practice, and how to deal with possible client resistance. Course #60-75 | 2008 | 73 pages | 27 posttest questions

DepressionDepression is a 1-hour introductory online continuing education (CE/CEU) course that provides an overview to the various forms of depression, including signs and symptoms, co-existing conditions, causes, gender and age differences, and diagnosis and treatment options. Everyone occasionally feels blue or sad. But these feelings are usually short-lived and pass within a couple of days. When you have depression, it interferes with daily life and causes pain for both you and those who care about you. Depression is a common but serious illness. Many people with a depressive illness never seek treatment. But the majority, even those with the most severe depression, can get better with treatment. Medications, psychotherapies, and other methods can effectively treat people with depression. Some types of depression tend to run in families. However, depression can occur in people without family histories of depression too. Scientists are studying certain genes that may make some people more prone to depression. Some genetics research indicates that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors. In addition, trauma, loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode. Other depressive episodes may occur with or without an obvious trigger. Course #10-72 | 2014 | 14 pages | 10 posttest questions

Professional Development Resources is approved by the American Psychological Association (APA) to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Professional Development Resources maintains responsibility for all programs and content. Professional Development Resources is also approved by the National Board of Certified Counselors (NBCC); the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB); the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA); the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA); the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR); the California Board of Behavioral Sciences; the Florida Boards of Social Work, Mental Health Counseling and Marriage and Family Therapy, Psychology & School Psychology, Dietetics & Nutrition, Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and Occupational Therapy Practice; the Ohio Counselor, Social Worker & MFT Board; the South Carolina Board of Professional Counselors & MFTs; and by theTexas Board of Examiners of Marriage & Family Therapists and State Board of Social Worker Examiners.

 

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