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June 3, 2006 22:30 - Too Much Work Contributes to Canadian Depression

All work and no play makes Jack a depressed Canadian.

A telephone survey of 1,501 Canadian adults found them to be working more and more. The survey was conducted by SOM Surveys, Opinion Polls and Marketing.

Sixty-two percent of those who took the survey reported that they go to work even when sick. They do not take-off because of concerns over lost wages and falling behind in job responsibilities.

Wireless devices were reported to increase work involvement. Cell phones and notebook computers are suppose to make life easier and less stressful. However, 83 percent of those who used these in their work reported that they made life more stressful.

What is the impact of this over-commitment to work...
  • Fifty-nine precent reported that work demands caused them to give-up personal activities; this had a negative impact on their relationships with family and friends.
  • Employees were more distracted. This contributed to reduced productivity.
  • Medical problems triggered by psychological issues were reported by 21 percent.
  • Increased stress, anxiety, and depression were reported to be a result.
To learn more about job burnout and how you can cope with too much work, click here.

For source, click here.

June 4, 2006 00:03 - Brain Abnormalities Cause Children With Bipolar Disorder To Misinterpret Facial Expressions

Research conducted by Dr. Ellen Leibenluft of the National Institute of Mental Health's Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program has found that children with bipolar disorder misread facial expressions. They misinterpret neutral facial expressions as being hostile. This results in an increase in neural reactions.

Researchers used functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging -- technology that monitors activity in different parts of the brain -- to measure the brain activity of 43 children. Twenty-two of the children had bipolar disorder and twenty-one were healthy.

The children were asked to rate hostility in facial expressions. They were also asked to rate non-emotional features.

The amygdala of children with bipolar disorder registered fear when they were rating neutral facial expressions compared to when they rated non-emotional features. The amygdala is a part of the brain that is involved in emotional responses to danger.

These children also saw emotion when the healthy children did not. Their brains were more reactive. Other areas of their brains that responded abnormally were the nucleus accumbens, putamen, and left prefrontal cortex.

When the children were rating non-emotional features, there was no difference in the brain activity of those with bipolar disorder and the healthy children. Thus, the abnormalities were found to relate to emotional processes.

These results suggested that bipolar disorder may be caused by impaired development of specific brain circuits.

Research is now being done with healthy children who have a genetic risk for developing the disorder to learn if they have the same brain activity abnormalities.

This research may, in the future, help us diagnose bipolar disorder earlier and treat the disorder more effectively.

To learn more about bipolar disorder, click here.

For source, click here.

June 11, 2006 14:33 - Antidepressant Medication May Increase Your Risk For Developing Type 2 Diabetes.

Antidepressant medication is related to the development of diabetes. This is the conclusion of research conducted by Richard Rubin, associate professor of medicine and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

The study involved 3,187 participants in a Diabetes Prevention Program. When the study began 5.7 percent of the subjects were taking antidepressants; 13.5 percent took antidepressant medication at some time during the study.

These individuals were divided into three groups. One group was a placebo group -- they received no treatment. A second group used changes in lifestyle to manage the risk of diabetes. The third group took the diabetes medication metformin (Glucophage).

Initial analysis of the research data in 2002 found that a person who is at high risk for getting type 2 diabetes could reduce the risk by losing excess weight and exercising. The data was recently re-analyzed and results found that participants in the placebo and lifestyle groups that took antidepressants were two-to-three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes compared to those who were in the metformin group.

The increased risk was not attributable to weight gain, less physical activity or increased insulin resistance, although each of these can increase one's proclivity for developing the disease.

It was found that any kind of antidepressant could boost the risk of diabetes including SSRIs and tricyclic antidepressants. It is not known why antidepressants increase the diabetes risk. Nor is it known why metformin protected study participants from the increase in risk.

Rubin said that the results of this study did not indicate that antidepressants cause diabetes. Rather they showed a relationship between taking antidepressants and increased risk. Some unknown factor may be the cause. Clearly, much more research is needed.

Rubin also said that if you are taking antidepressants, you should not stop because of the increased risk of diabetes. If you are high risk for developing diabetes, you should talk with you doctor and monitor blood glucose carefully.

My Two-Cents Worth

I certainly agree that depression must be treated. However, as is shown by much of the research cited at, you can often help depression without medication. Exercise, nutrition, developing coping skills, and changing the attitudes and the thinking that encourages depression can all help.

It seems that physicians often only want to use medication despite the fact that antidepressants have numerous side-effects and can pose other health risks, as is demonstrated in this study.

Antidepressant medication may be necessary to help your depression. Considering the risks involved, why not give other treatments and self-help options a fair trail first. Maybe you can get better without medication. If so, you will probably be healther and happier in the long run.

To read more about antidepressant medication, click here.

June 12, 2006 20:53 - Botox For Depression

Botox has been found to help depression in a small study conducted by Dr. Eric Finzi, a cosmetic surgeon in Chevy Chase, Md.

The study only involved 10 people. Thus, it was too small to conclude that Botox can be used as a treatment for depression. Nevertheless, the results are interesting and may hold the promise of a new approach to depression treatment.

In the study, ten women with depression were given Botox injectiions into the frown lines around the mouth and the forehead furrows. Botox is a muscle-paralyzing toxin. When injected into the muscles used to frown it made frowning impossible.

As a result two months later nine women had experienced an elimination of depression symptoms. One had experienced a reduction of depression symptoms.

There has been a lot of research that indicated smiling can help you feel less depressed. Research has also demonstrated that frowning can cause you to feel worse. It did not seem to matter if the facial expressions were sincere or insincere -- they had the same impact either way.

Why facial expressions can cause a change in mood is a matter of some debate.

One theory was proposed by psychologists William James and Carl Lange in the late 1800s. The James-Lange theory proposes that you respond to different situations with different physiological changes in your body. Your brain notices the changes and produces emotions to match the changes.

Another similar and more modern theory -- called the facial feedback theory -- suggests that when you smile or frown the sensations from muscle and skin movements are registered in the brain and interpreted to mean that you are feeling the related emotion.

A third theory suggests that when the brain experiences physiological changes the environment is used to interpret the changes and assigns a related emotion. This view is called the cognitive appraisal theory of emotions. It was first proposed by psychologists Stanley Schachter and Jerome Singer in the earily 1960s. Schachter and Singer supported their ideas with research evidence. They showed that subjects that were given an injection of adrenaline (that caused arousal in their nervous systems) and then were placed in a happy situation reported feeling happy. Those placed in an angry situation reported feeling angry. The nervous system arousal caused by the adrenaline was interpreted to mean different emotions were being experienced in different social situations.

Some believe that when a person smiles,others around the person respond favorably. This gives the person environmental feedback that is interpreted to mean, "I am happy." On the other hand, when the person frowns, other respond negatively. This gives the person environmental feedback that is interpreted to mean, "I am sad." This is called the social feedback theory.

Regardless of what caused facial expressions to affect moods, there is little doubt that the expressions had an impact. Research has shown that facial expressions can also impact heart rate, skin temperature and blood volume as well as emotions. These are physiological indicators of emotion.

One of the study participants, Kathleen Delano stated, "It was like I had Botox one night, woke up the next day and said, 'Hallelujah, I'm cured,'"

My Two-Cents Worth

Although I am all for any treatment that helps reduce depression, the question that comes to my mind is why people with depression are not just told to smile? Even if they do not feel like smiling -- and if they are depressed, they will not feel like smiling -- going through the motions will likely improve their mood.

In fact, one well known approach to therapy -- called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy -- uses a "half-smile" as a treatment intervention to modify negative emotions. Dialectical Behavioral Therapy was developed by Marsha Linehan in the early 1900s. Dr. Linehan and her followers teach their clients that if they put on a half-smile when feeling down their mood will improve.

Surely, consciously and purposefully smiling, even when you feel depressed is easier, less costly, and less risky (all medications have side-effects) than receiving Botox injections.

Having worked with hundreds of depressed people, I know that faking a smile when depressed is hard. Nevertheless, it can be done and it may help ease the depression.

So if you are depressed, smile. Give it a fair trial; that is keep on smiling for a period of time. See what happens. If it works you have another tool to help you cope with depression. If it doesn't, you are no worse off.

For source, click here.

June 16, 2006 16:30 - Prozac for European Children

The use of Prozac and other antidepressants to treat children and adolescents with depression has been very controversial.

This is because of reports that SSRI antidepressant medications can cause suicidal thoughts in children. Prozac is an SSRI.

No suicides have been attributed to these medications. Nevertheless, an increase in suicidal thinking was found in young patients taking Paxil -- another SSRI.

It is not clear if the suicidal thoughts were caused by the medication or the depression that was being treated by the medication. Regardless, The Food and Drug Administration in the US issued requirements of a "black box" warning that describes an increased risk of "suicidality" in children and adolescents given antidepressant medications.

Prozac is approved by the Food and Drug Administration as a treatment of depression for children and adolescents. Caution and close monitoring for suicidal thoughts is recommended.

This week, the European Medicines Agency also approved Prozac as a treatment for depression in children as young as eight. The agency stated that the benefits of Prozac outweigh the risks involved when the children have failed to respond to psychotherapy.

The agency also recommended that the medication should only be used along with on-going psychotherapy. Further, it was recommended that the use of Prozac be reconsidered if no clinical improvement is seen after nine weeks of treatment.

In the UK, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency previously stated that SSRIs were not suitable for use in those under 18. This agency has also reconsidered and now says that the benefits of Prozac outweigh the risks. The use of the medication to treate childhood and adolescent depression has been approved.

My Two Cents Worth

To be depressed is miserable. No one -- adult, adolescent, or child -- should have to experience depression if a helpful treatment is available.

Nevertheless, the European Medicines Agency and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency are wise in emphasizing the use of psychotherapy before and along with medication. Doctors in the US should learn from this.

In my experience, medication is overused and psychotherapy is underused in the US. I see clients frequently that have been taking antidepressant medication for years with limited effectiveness.

They report that their doctors have not provided them with psychotherapy. Furthermore, the doctors have not recommended or refered their patients for psychotherapy.

Given the research that shows how effective psychotherapy can be in treating depression, to not use it in treatment should be considered malpractice in my opinion.

If you are receiving treatment from a physician for depression, and psychotherapy has not been suggested, ask for a referral to a therapist. If the doctor will not refer you to a qualified psychotherapist, seek one out on your own.

To read more about treatment for depression, click here.

For source, click here.

June 26, 2006 21:52 - Will Your Antidepressant Medications Cause You To Become Suicidal?

As was addressed in the 6/16/2006 post, there has been much controversy over the use of SSRI antidepressants -- such as Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft -- to treat depression. This is because of a possible link between the medications and suicide risk.

A new study sheds some light on this concern. The study was conducted by Dr. Julio Licinio and funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Dana Foundation.

Dr. Licinio was the director of the Center for Pharmacogenomics and Clinical Pharmacology at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA when he did this research. Now he is chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine.

In the study, suicide rates and sales of Prozac in the United States were analyzed. The data showed that suicide rates remained steady from 1973 through 1988, when Prozac was introduced. From 1988 through 2002 the sales of Prozac increased and suicide rates decreased.

According to Licinio, this data suggests that the use of SSRIs has helped to reduce suicides in the US.

My Two Cents Worth

There is little doubt that antidepressant medications help depression. I have seen the impact of depression medication over and over in my practice.

SSRIs are among the safest and most effective of the antidepressant medications. If you are suffering from depression, I recommend that you and your doctor consider using medication and a resource.

If you are having suicidal thoughts, you need to seek help from a qualified psychologist, psychiatrist, or other mental health professional immediately. One good resource is 1-800-SUICIDE.

Your treatment may involve the use of SSRIs or other antidepressants. This is a good thing.

However, you need to keep in mind that medications are only one resource to help you deal with your depression. And these medications are not without risks and side-effects.

There are other resources and activities that will also help. You are cheating yourself if you are relying only on medications to manage your depression. offers many suggestions concerning how you can help your depression. Read the articles with pencil in hand. Write down the recommended actions that you read about and then start doing them.

When you find a resource or activity helpful, go to the Depression Help Online Support Forums and share your success story. By doing so you will help your own depression and may, also, help someone else.

For source, click here.

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