Antidepressant continuation studies have used 2 different designs. In the placebo substitution design, all patients are initially treated with active medication in an open-label fashion, and then treatment responders are randomized to continue with medication or switch to placebo in a double-blind manner. In the extension design, patients are randomized to a double-blind placebo-controlled acute study at the outset, and responders to active treatment and placebo are continued on the treatment to which they initially responded.
Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry
OBJECTIVES: The "neurotrophin hypothesis" of depression posits a role of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in depression, although it is unknown whether BDNF is more involved in the etiology of depression or in the mechanism of action of antidepressants. It is also unknown whether pre-treatment serum BDNF levels predict antidepressant response. METHODS: Thirty un-medicated depressed subjects were treated with escitalopram (N=16) or sertraline (N=14) for 8 weeks. Twenty-five of the depressed subjects completed 8 weeks of antidepressant treatment and had analyzable data.
Depression has been likened to a state of "accelerated aging," and depressed individuals have a higher incidence of various diseases of aging, such as cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome, and dementia. Chronic exposure to certain interlinked biochemical pathways that mediate stress-related depression may contribute to "accelerated aging," cell damage, and certain comorbid medical illnesses.
Position in the social hierarchy is a major determinant of health outcomes. We examined the associations between aspects of social hierarchy and depressive symptoms with a specific focus on one potential psychological mechanism: emotion suppression. Suppressing negative emotion has mental health costs, but individuals with low social power and low social status may use these strategies to avoid conflict. Study 1 assessed perceived social power, tendency to suppress negative emotion, and depressive symptoms in a community sample of women.
BACKGROUND: Premature shortening of leukocyte telomere length has been proposed as a novel mechanism by which depression may confer increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events. Prior studies demonstrating associations of depression and depressive symptoms with shorter leukocyte telomere length were small, included selected psychiatric outpatients, were based on convenience samples, and/or adjusted for a limited number of possible confounding factors.
BACKGROUND: This study examined the effects of brief daily yogic meditation on mental health, cognitive functioning, and immune cell telomerase activity in family dementia caregivers with mild depressive symptoms. METHODS: Thirty-nine family dementia caregivers (mean age 60.3 years old (SD = 10.2)) were randomized to practicing Kirtan Kriya or listening to relaxation music for 12 min per day for 8 weeks. The severity of depressive symptoms, mental and cognitive functioning were assessed at baseline and follow-up.
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, and Allied Disciplines
BACKGROUND: Genotype x environment interaction (G x E) arises when genes influence sensitivity to the environment. G x E is easily recognized in experimental organisms that permit randomization of genotypes over fixed environmental treatments. Genotype-environment correlation (rGE) arises when genetic effects create or evoke exposure to environmental differences.
Depression is a condition with a complex biologic pattern in etiology. Environmental stressors modulate subsequent vulnerability to depression. In particular, early adversity seems to induce heightened reactivity to stress through several possible mechanisms, both biologic and psychologic. This increased reactivity results in an enhancement of biologic stress-response mechanisms, especially the HPA axis.
The Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
The purpose of this paper was to selectively review the literature on the role of epigenetics in mental illnesses. Aberrant epigenetic regulation has been clearly implicated in the aetiology of some human illnesses. In recent years a growing body of evidence has highlighted the possibility that epigenetics may also play a key role in the origins and expression of mental disorders. Epigenetic phenomena may help explain some of the complexity of mental illnesses and provide a basis for discovering novel pharmacological targets to treat these disorders.
OBJECTIVE: Catechol-O-Methyltransferase (COMT) and Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) had been reported to relate to depression but with inconsistent results. The basal ganglia are also important in the pathophysiology of affective disorder via connections with limbic system and prefrontal cortex. The authors examined the relationship between an interaction of COMT/MTHFR polymorphisms and volumes of putamen in depressed and nondepressed elders. METHODS: Participants included 170 depressed and 83 nondepressed subjects aged 60 years or older.