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Category: depression

A treatment for severe depression that has received a lot of coverage over the past few years has suffered a setback, John Horgan reports in his Cross-...

A treatment for severe depression that has received a lot of coverage over the past few years has suffered a setback, John Horgan reports in his Cross-Check blog at Scientific American. A multi-center trial of deep-brain stimulation was halted, raising questions about a treatment that, in trials with a handful of patients, had shown remarkable results.

The treatment was pioneered by Helen Mayberg of Emory University. She was the one who had shown a few dramatic reversals of depression in patients by means of electrical stimulation of a particular part of the brain.

"I've always had doubts about Mayberg's claims," Horgan writes, on the grounds that her initial studies had only a few patients and that she has links to a medical-device company that makes the...

While researchers are evaluating ketamine, "possibly the biggest advance in the treatment of depression for 50 years," it is being pushed by "a bunch of white coats with the same grassroots energy that has propelled the medical marijuana movement," Gary Stix...

While researchers are evaluating ketamine, "possibly the biggest advance in the treatment of depression for 50 years," it is being pushed by "a bunch of white coats with the same grassroots energy that has propelled the medical marijuana movement," Gary Stix reports in his Scientific American blog, Talking Back.

In a three-part post (here, here, and...

If Kim Tingley had written a spot news story about suicide in which she interviewed only one source, I would argue that she should have talked to at least one or two others to make sure that what she was reporting wasn't disputed by someone else. That is standard practice in science reporting....

If Kim Tingley had written a spot news story about suicide in which she interviewed only one source, I would argue that she should have talked to at least one or two others to make sure that what she was reporting wasn't disputed by someone else. That is standard practice in science reporting. Just as it's wise for a political reporter to talk to a Republican as well as a Democrat (and perhaps a few people outside the Beltway), it's essential for a science writer to report more than one point of view.

What is one to say, then, when Tingley writes a single-source story that is more than 6,000 words long? "The Suicide Detective," in the June 30th issue of The New York Times Magazine, is about Matthew K. Nock, a clinical psychologist at Harvard who is trying to understand and prevent suicide. A few people make...

A careful and important blog post about a new research initiative at the National Institute of Mental Health has become,...

A careful and important blog post about a new research initiative at the National Institute of Mental Health has become, in the hands of New Scientist, a "bombshell" that "denounced" the forthcoming update of the psychiatric diagnostic manual.

This histrionic description seems out of character for New Scientist, which is ordinarily a very good science magazine. Here's the lede:

The world's biggest mental health research institute is abandoning the new version of psychiatry's "bible" – the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, questioning its validity and stating that "patients with mental disorders deserve better." This bombshell comes just weeks before the...

Some journalists have taken a beating lately over coverage of neuroscience, and some critics have blamed all journalists for the misdeeds of a few.

While some journalists are certainly guilty of some transgressions, it's also true, as Deborah Blum...

Some journalists have taken a beating lately over coverage of neuroscience, and some critics have blamed all journalists for the misdeeds of a few.

While some journalists are certainly guilty of some transgressions, it's also true, as Deborah Blum pointed out here not long ago, that scientists can be guilty of hype themselves. So I was a little cautious as I approached a guest post at Mind the Brain, a group blog at PLOS. The post was written by Adrian Preda, a psychiatrist at the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. Its headline: "The Antidepressant Wars, a Sequel: How the Media Distort Findings and Do Harm to Patients."...

In November, I praised "a chilling story" by Peter Whoriskey in The Washington Post [that] shows how drug companies have misused their influence and their expertise to corrupt...

In November, I praised "a chilling story" by Peter Whoriskey in The Washington Post [that] shows how drug companies have misused their influence and their expertise to corrupt and distort research on new drugs." It was an important piece.

Now he is back with another pharmaceutical industry story, which leads with whether antidepressants should be prescribed to people suffering from grief such as that produced by the loss of a spouse. This time, I think Whoriskey has missed something important.

Both stories are part of a Post special report entitled "Can Medical Research Be Trusted?" These are important stories, and we need this kind of tough reporting on the powerful pharmaceutical industry. The stories detail suspicious practices by the pharmaceutical industry that have led to increased profits--sometimes at the...

Ed Yong, in a post on his blog Not Exactly Rocket Science (now at Discover,...

Ed Yong, in a post on his blog Not Exactly Rocket Science (now at Discover, but moving next week to National Geographic), does a nice job of sorting out what's going on in a pair of studies that seem to show contradictory findings about depression and certain neurons in a particular region of the brain.

In one study, a "depressed" mouse--one that's been exposed to chronic stress and now seems timid and less likely to seek out rewards--recovered almost instantly when cells in its ventral tegmental area, or VTA, were activated. (This was done by modifying the mouse so that a flash of light would activate only those cells--a technique called optogenetics.)

A potential new treatment for depression...

Benedict Carey at The New York Times has done a nice job threading his way through the complexities and controversies surrounding the approval of the new edition of the psychiatrists' diagnostic manual, known as the DSM-5...

Benedict Carey at The New York Times has done a nice job threading his way through the complexities and controversies surrounding the approval of the new edition of the psychiatrists' diagnostic manual, known as the DSM-5. In a story headlined "A Tense Compromise on Defining Disorders," he focuses on three revisions that caused particular concern among both professionals and activists. Those revisions concerned the diagnosis of depression, autism, and pediatric bipolar disorder.

He explains the changes and the significance of those changes. In each case, the revisions could mean that some people diagnosed with those disorders by the criteria in DSM-4 will no longer have them when evaluated by the criteria in the DSM-5. And, he notes, the reverse is...

David Dobbs, the talented blogger and science writer whose work appears...

David Dobbs, the talented blogger and science writer whose work appears The New York Times Magazine, Nature, Wired.com, National Geographic, and others, put down his pen and stepped in front of a microphone in The Bell House in Brooklyn on May 22nd of this year. He was there to tell a story.

Here is how he began:

Six years ago this month I was walking down the front steps of my house in Montpelier, Vermont to drive my kids to preschool. I had my keys in my hand. The kids were already buckled into the car--they said, "C'mon, Dad!"--when I suddenly stopped on the front steps because I realized I had no idea how to actually get to the preschool. This was odd, because I had driven them to preschool and picked...

Wit and cleverness are wonderful things, but sometimes it's best to just tell the story as it...

Wit and cleverness are wonderful things, but sometimes it's best to just tell the story as it is.

An Aug. 4 post by Andrea Walker for The Baltimore Sun begins this way:

Are people taking antidepressants when they don't need the drugs?

Are we becoming a nation who needs drugs to wipe away our sorrows?

A new study by Johns Hopkins researchers suggests we could at least be headed that way.

That's a clever start. And witty. But misleading. The study that Walker is reporting doesn't say where we're heading, whether people who don't need antidepressants are getting them, or what we...

Let's face it, primary care doctors don't know much about treating psychiatric disorders. If...

Let's face it, primary care doctors don't know much about treating psychiatric disorders. If they were lucky, they had one, brief clinical rotation through psychiatry during medical school, and even if they did, they didn't learn much, and they've long since forgotten it.

Yet with the acute shortage of psychiatrists in this country, primary care doctors are treating many, many cases of depression, anxiety, and other serious psychiatric ailments. So where do they turn for help? Among other sources, to reference books written by the pros--working psychiatrists.

The chairman of the psychiatry department at Emory University would seem like a reliable source. Especially if he were a widely recognized researcher who had been honored with a long string of...

UPDATE: See...

UPDATE: See Mayberg's response to Bass's post.

Alison Bass posted an interesting item on her eponymous blog regarding Helen Mayberg's Sunday morning talk at ScienceWriters2010. The talk was on the use of deep-brain stimulation to treat depression--a potentially breakthrough technology (and I don't use that word lightly) that is in its earliest tests.

In her item--headlined "Keynote scientist at ScienceWriters conference dances around the truth"--Bass says Mayberg's talk was too anecdotal, left out "a few salient details,"...

Women who are depressed while pregnant are more likely than others to have kids who are physically aggressive as teenagers.

...

Women who are depressed while pregnant are more likely than others to have kids who are physically aggressive as teenagers.

What wonderful news for parents. A mother is depressed during her pregnancy, and she and the child's father have 13 years to worry about whether the child she's carrying will turn out to be a thug as a teenager.

But here at the Tracker, we don't let sentimental concerns about parents' worries interfere with our search for the truth. If the bad news is true, we suck it up.

But is it true?

Live Science, by way of msnbc.com, reports the association without qualification in its lede, as I did above.

...