October 31, 2006 21:18 - Music Helps Improve Depression and Schizophrenia
A study, conducted by Dr. Mike Crawford and published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, compared the effectiveness of treatment for schizophrenia using antipsychotic medications and using music therapy. Although medications are known to be effective they have many side-effects.
The patients in this study were inpatents that were actively experiencing symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, depression, anxiety, withdrawal, and hearing voices. Previous studies have focused on patients that were stable with minimal symptoms.
In this study patients were divided into two groups. One group was treated using medication. The other group received medication and music therapy. The music therapy consisted of having patients express themselves with musical instruments for 8 to 12 sessions.
Dr. Crawford and the researchers found that the treatment with the musical component was more effective in reducing depression, anxiety and other symptoms of schizophrenia than just the medication alone.
My Two Cents Worth
Schizophrenia is a very difficult disorder. The side-effects of antipsychotic medication make the treatment almost as miserable as the disorder. Being able to use music to reduce the depression and other symptoms is very good news.
This was a small study and the results need to be researched further. Nevertheless, these results hold promise of a treatment that can be enjoyable -- playing music.
If you are experiencing depression, anxiety or schizophrenic symptoms, you may receive benefit from playing music. Other artistic ways of expressing your feelings, such as painting, dancing, and writing, may also be helpful. Give one or more of these a try and see what happens.
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October 31, 2006 21:27 - Major depression is a brain disorder
Researchers as Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City have found that a dysfunction in the brain of individuals with depression keeps them from experiencing some positive emotions.
Brain imaging studies have found an area of the brain, known as the ventral striatum in the region of the nucleus accumbens, does not function properly in the brains of those with major depression.
This area of the brain is related to experiencing reward, motivation and salience. When the area is not activated individuals do not experience these positive experiences. The result is a lack of interest and pleasure in daily activities, or anhedonia, a common symptom of major depression.
This study was lead by Drs. David Silbersweig, Emily Stern, Jane Epstein, James Kocsis, and Hong Pan at Weill Cornell's Department of Psychiatry. They had study subjects silently read positive, neutral, and negative emotional words from a screen as their pattern of brain activity was measured.
By analyzing the brain's response to the different words, researches were able to determine how the ventral striatal function related to positive emotional experiences.
This information is further evidence that depression is in fact a brain disorder.
My Two Cents Worth
The more we understand about what causes depression the better we will be able to help those experiencing the disorder. This study shows that a very specific part of the brain is not functioning properly in some of those who are experiencing depression.
If you are experiencing depression, studies such as this one should give you hope. Such information will lead to targeted and more effective treatments.
October 31, 2006 21:30 - Suicide higher than thought among U.S. Blacks
It has long been thought that suicide among blacks is lower than among whites. It was thought that religious beliefs held since slavery times resulted in lower rate of suicide in this group.
A study conducted at the University of Michigan and lead by researcher Sean Joe, found this belief to be a myth. Suicide among blacks is similar to that of whites.
In this study suicidal behavior among Africian-Americans and Caribbean Americans was the focus. The research found depression to be an important factor in suicide by whites; anxiety was a more common problem for suicidal blacks.
My Two Cents Worth
It is important that suicide prevention efforts focus on high risk groups. Previously, some did not consider blacks to be high risk. Now it is clear that they are. Further, anxiety is a indicator that suicide may be an issue.
If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts -- regardless of your race -- please seek help immediately. One good place to start in the USA is by calling 800-SUICIDE.
For more information click here.