Hyperintensities in deep brain structures are associated with depressive symptoms

Damage to specific parts of the human brain are associated with a greater risk of depression in older people – but keeping fit and intelligence can reduce symptoms, according to new research. Scientists at Aberdeen University used MRI scans and statistical modelling to find the link between areas of brain damage, intelligence, physical fitness and depression. Scotsman

A Murray et al Brain hyperintensity location determines outcome in the triad of impaired cognition, physical health and depressive symptoms: A cohort study in late life Archives of Gerontology and Geriatics 2016 Volume 63, Pages 49–54

(Hyperintensity is a term used in MRI reports to describe how part of an image looks on MRI scan. Most MRIs are in black/white with shades of gray. A hyperintensity is an area that appears lighter in colour than the surrounding tissues.)


Virtual compassion therapy may reduce depression

Self-criticism is a ubiquitous feature of psychopathology and can be combatted by increasing levels of self-compassion. However, some patients are resistant to self-compassion. This study investigated whether the effects of self-identification with virtual bodies could be exploited to increase self-compassion in patients with depression. The results indicate that interventions using immersive virtual reality may have considerable clinical potential.

CJ Falconer et al Embodying self-compassion within virtual reality and its effects on patients with depression British Journal of Psychiatry Open Feb 2016, 2 (1) 74-80


CBT and antidepressants equally effective

Second generation antidepressants and CBT have evidence bases of benefits and harms in major depressive disorder. This meta-analysis concluded available evidence suggests no difference in treatment effects of second generation antidepressants and CBT, either alone or in combination, although small numbers may preclude detection of small but clinically meaningful differences.

HR Amick et al (2015) Comparative benefits and harms of second generation antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapies in initial treatment of major depressive disorder: systematic review and meta-analysis BMJ 2015;351:h6019


Light therapy for non-seasonal depression

Bright light therapy is an evidence-based treatment for seasonal depression, but there is limited evidence for its efficacy in nonseasonal major depressive disorder (MDD).  This study found that bright light treatment, both as monotherapy and in combination with fluoxetine, was efficacious and well tolerated in the treatment of adults with nonseasonal MDD. The combination treatment had the most consistent effects.

RW Lam et al (2015) Efficacy of Bright Light Treatment, Fluoxetine, and the Combination in Patients With Nonseasonal Major Depressive Disorder JAMA Psychiatry


Early childhood depression alters brain development

The brains of children who suffer clinical depression as preschoolers develop abnormally, compared with the brains of preschoolers unaffected by the disorder, according to new research at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. EurekAlert

JL Luby et al (2015) Early childhood depression and alterations in the trajectory of gray matter maturation in middle childhood and early adolescence? JAMA Psychiatry


Antidepressant use during pregnancy and the risk of autism spectrum disorder in children

The association between the use of antidepressants during gestation and the risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in children is still controversial. The aetiology of ASD remains unclear, although studies have implicated genetic predispositions, environmental risk factors, and maternal depression.

This study found the use of antidepressants, specifically selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, during the second and/or third trimester increases the risk of ASD in children, even after considering maternal depression.

T Bouhkris et al (2015) Antidepressant use during pregnancy and the risk of autism spectrum disorder in children JAMA


Early life adversity linked to changes in brain structure and depression

Tough experiences before age six, like family instability or abuse, are tied to changes in brain structure and to a higher risk of anxiety or depression, according to a study of mother-son pairs. Business Insider

SKG Jensen et al (2015) Effect of Early Adversity and Childhood Internalizing Symptoms on Brain Structure in Young JAMA



Depression and problematic use of mobile phone

Depressed people may rely on mobile phone to alleviate their negative feelings and spend more time on communication activities via mobile phone, which in turn can deteriorate into problematic use of mobile phone. However, face-to-face communication with others played a moderating role, weakening the link between use of mobile phone for communication activities and deterioration to problematic use of mobile phone.

Jung-Hyun Kim et al  Alleviating depression only to become problematic mobile phone users: Can face-to-face communication be the antidote?  Computers in Human Behavior 2105


Depression raises the risk of death among people with heart failure

Depression raises the risk of death among people with heart failure, according to recent research. “Our results show that depression is strongly associated with death during the year following discharge from hospital after an admission for the exacerbation of heart failure; we expect that the link persists beyond one year.”  Psych Central

Navidian, A. et al. The Effect of Self-Care Education on the Awareness, Attitude, and Adherence to Self-Care Behaviors in Hospitalized Patients Due to Heart Failure with and without Depression. PLoS One, 19 June 2015


Depression common among men with autism

Most men with autism have psychiatric disorders such as depression, finds a study of 50 men diagnosed with the disorder roughly 20 years ago. The findings highlight the range of challenges for adults with autism, many of whom lack the help they need. SFARI

IC Gillberg et al Boys with Asperger Syndrome Grow Up: Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Disorders 20 Years After Initial Diagnosis Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders 2015