Health and Fitness

Pitt Researchers Say Caregivers Of ICU Patients Are Collateral Damage Of Critical Illness

Intensive care unit patients are not the only ones likely to be severely depressed in the aftermath of hospitalization. Family and friends who care for them often suffer emotional and social hardship, too, according to a prospective study from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine that is the first to monitor patients and caregivers during a one-year period for predictors of depression and lifestyle disruption. The findings, published this month in Chest, indicate that the informal caregivers of ICU survivors endure even more stress than those caring for Alzheimer's disease patients, noted senior author Michael R. Pinsky, M.D., professor and vice chair for academic affairs, Department of Critical Care Medicine. "Caregiver depression is the collateral damage of these stressful ICU admissions, " he noted. "This research reveals that loved ones of critically ill patients have profound and unmet needs for assistance even after hospital discharge. The emotional and economic burden is enormous, and these issues must be addressed.

Electrical Stimulation Offers New Hope For Depression Treatment

Approximately ten to thirty percent of patients with depression do not respond to drug treatments commonly used for the disorder, and this has spurred a search for alternatives. According to Kalorama Information's report "Electrical and Magnetic Neurostimulation, " electrode devices that stimulate nerves have emerged as a solution and there is competition among notable device companies to provide the most effective stimulator. Between 15 and 20 million people in the U.S. alone suffer from depression and Kalorama estimates the patient population corresponds to a potential market value of $16 billion annually for all cases of depression and a $4-5 billion potential market for drug refractory cases. This potential has attracted the notice of pharmaceutical, medical device and microelectronics companies. Although the device route is limited by its cost, which at the current time exceeds that of drug therapy, the cost differential could be reimbursed through savings in antidepressant drug costs.

Innovative University Of Queensland Tai Chi Program Treats Depression, Diabetes And Obesity, Australia

Promising results from an innovative UQ Tai Chi-based study show depression, diabetes and obesity can all be improved through a gentle mind-body therapeutic program. The proportion of participants with clinical levels of depression decreased from 60 percent to 20 percent. BMI and waist circumference also significantly decreased by 4 percent and 3 percent respectively. This specific program may be the first exercise program that has scientifically shown significant effects of exercise alone on both depression and diabesity (diabetes and obesity). Dr Liu Xin, a UQ scientist and a renowned expert in the field of mind-body therapy, developed this unique program for the control of depression and diabesity. The three month pilot study, funded by the Diabetes Australia Research Trust, was conducted at The University of Queensland. "Without involvement of any dietary intervention and high intensity training, it was very encouraging to see such impressive results over a short period of time, " Dr Liu said.

Treating Depression By Stimulating The Pleasure Center

Even with the best of available treatments, over a third of patients with depression may not achieve a satisfactory antidepressant response. Deep brain stimulation (DBS), a form of targeted electrical stimulation in the brain via implanted electrodes, is now undergoing careful testing to determine whether it could play a role in the treatment of patients who have not sufficiently improved during more traditional forms of treatment. A major challenge of this work is determining the best region of the brain to stimulate. Some researchers stimulate the subgenual prefrontal cortex, a brain region implicated in depressed mood states, while others stimulate a region called the "anterior limb of the internal capsule", a nerve pathway that passes through the basal ganglia, a lower brain region. Physicians publishing a new report in Biological Psychiatry now describe findings related to the stimulation of the nucleus accumbens, a brain region the size of a hazelnut associated with reward and motivation that is implicated in processing pleasurable stimuli, sometimes referred to as the "pleasure center" of the brain.

Tea And Exercise May Affect Depression In Breast Cancer Patients

Breast cancer patients who exercise and drink tea on a regular basis may be less likely to suffer from depression than other patients, according to a new study led by Xiao Ou Shu, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Medicine, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center. Xiaoli Chen, M.D., a post-doctoral fellow, was first author of the study published in the January issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The study, conducted in collaboration with investigators from the Shanghai Institute of Preventive Medicine, examined 1, 399 women enrolled in the Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study in China. Each woman was interviewed about her exercise and diet habits six months following a breast cancer diagnosis. The women were interviewed again approximately 18 months after diagnosis and they also reported on their depressive symptoms. Twenty-six percent of the women reported depression during the follow-up survey: 13.4 percent had mild depression and 12.6 percent had clinical depression. Depression may reduce a patient's quality of life, increase the length of hospital stays and affect compliance with cancer therapy.

According To New Study, Psychodynamic Psychotherapy Brings Lasting Benefits

Psychodynamic psychotherapy is effective for a wide range of mental health symptoms, including depression, anxiety, panic and stress-related physical ailments, and the benefits of the therapy grow after treatment has ended, according to new research published by the American Psychological Association. Psychodynamic therapy focuses on the psychological roots of emotional suffering. Its hallmarks are self-reflection and self-examination, and the use of the relationship between therapist and patient as a window into problematic relationship patterns in the patient's life. Its goal is not only to alleviate the most obvious symptoms but to help people lead healthier lives. "The American public has been told that only newer, symptom-focused treatments like cognitive behavior therapy or medication have scientific support, " said study author Jonathan Shedler, PhD, of the University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine. "The actual scientific evidence shows that psychodynamic therapy is highly effective.

Health Workers Trained To Take Emotions More Seriously May Prevent Depression Among Patients

For most women, having a baby is a joyful experience. But it is not unusual for new mothers to be hit by grief, anxiety and depression. Global figures suggest that between 13 and 16 percent of women giving birth for the first time are struck by depression. For the second birth, figures boost to a worrying 30-40 percent. Associate professor Kristin Akerjordet at the University of Stavanger, surveyed 250 postnatal women for her PhD thesis. Of the 30 women she interviewed, 15 had experienced depressive emotions in connection with pregnancy and birth. "The health services often fail to recognise women who suffer from postnatal depression or anxiety. Many of the women I interviewed had experienced rejection and a lack of understanding from health personnel, " Akerjordet says. Since 2006, the Department of Health Studies at the University of Stavanger has investigated ways in which the health services could improve safeguarding women's mental health. Akerjordets thesis offers an important clue: By training health personnel in emotional intelligence, they will be better equipped to prevent women from developing depressive illnesses.

More Than 2 Million In NIH Grants To Barrow Researchers For Nicotine Studies

Four scientists at Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center have been awarded more than $2.2 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to research the effects of nicotine and develop new tobacco-related drug therapies. The grants will fund three separate research projects at the Phoenix-based institute in the next several years. Ronald J. Lukas, PhD and Vice President of Research at Barrow, is one of the world's leading experts on nicotine and has spent much of his research career studying its impact. Lukas' research lab, shared by Paul Whiteaker, PhD, is the main recipient of the funding. The Barrow laboratories of Jie Wu, MD, PhD, and Yongchang Chang, MD, PhD, also will receive funding from the grants. Lukas said these Barrow-led projects also will benefit a number of other researchers around the country who will receive collaborative NIH funding of more than $5 million for their participation in the studies. The newly-funded Barrow studies range from understanding how nicotine may reduce depression, to how it creates addiction, to how nicotine addiction is related to lung cancer.

African American Dads Suffering From Depression Are Less Likely To Be Involved With Their Children

African-American fathers who do not live with their sons and who suffer from depression are less likely to spend time with them, according to a University of Michigan study. Dads who don't live with their children can still have a positive impact in their kids' lives however, and treating their depression could help them play a more active and positive role in their lives, says U-M pediatrician R. Neal Davis, M.D., a fellow with the Child Health Evaluation and Research unit and a lead author in the study which appeared in the December issue of Pediatrics. Davis and his colleagues analyzed data for 345 participants in the CDC-funded program Fathers and Sons. The program is for pre-teen boys and African-American fathers who did not live with their children. The program's goal is to prevent unhealthy behaviors in adolescent boys by increasing positive involvement with their fathers. Data collected from those participants found that 36 percent of fathers in the program suffered from moderate depression and 11 percent had severe depression.

Despite Treatment, Depressed Workers Have Decreased Productivity

Employees with depression have higher costs related to short-term disability and absenteeism-even after receiving antidepressant therapy, reports a study in the February Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). Led by Suellen Curkendall, Ph.D., of Thomson Reuters Healthcare, Washington, D.C., the researchers used insurance claims and employee health and productivity databases to look at the relationship between antidepressant treatment and productivity costs. The results suggested that employees with depression were about twice as likely to use short-term disability leave, compared to workers without depression. For workers with severe depression, the short-term disability rate was three times higher. Employees with depression also missed more work days. "Even after receiving antidepressant treatment, patients with depression still have significant productivity deficits, " Curkendall and colleagues write.

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