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"In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story."
-- Walter Cronkite

The following articles are provided courtesy of NIMH - National Institute of Mental Health. For more news and information, visit NIMH - Press Room.



Placebo, Antidepressant May Lift Depression Via Common Mechanism
Whether it's a widely prescribed medication or a placebo, a successful treatment for depression must trigger a common pattern of brain activity changes, suggests a team of researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

Preventive Sessions After Divorce Protect Children into Teens
Divorcing families who participated in a prevention program markedly reduced the likelihood of their children developing mental disorders as adolescents, say NIMH-funded scientists. Structured group sessions for mothers and children later halved rates of mental disorders in the teen years, among other benefits, in the first study to document long-term effects of such preventive interventions using a randomized experimental trial.

Psychiatric Disorders Common Among Detained Youth
Among teens in juvenile detention, nearly two thirds of boys and nearly three quarters of girls have at least one psychiatric disorder, a federally funded study has found. These rates dwarf the estimated 15 percent of youth in the general population thought to have psychiatric illness, placing detained teens on a par with those at highest risk, such as maltreated and runaway youth.

Scans Link 2 Key Pieces of Schizophrenia Puzzle
Using functional brain imaging, National Institute of Mental Health scientists for the first time have linked two key, but until now unconnected, brain abnormalities in schizophrenia. They have shown that the less patients' frontal lobes activate during a working memory task, the more the chemical messenger dopamine, thought to underlie the delusions and hallucinations of schizophrenia, rises abnormally in the striatum, a relay station deep in the brain. Together with other evidence, this suggests that the excess dopamine activity that antipsychotic drugs quell may be driven by a defect in the prefrontal cortex, the brain's executive control center...

Scientists Suspect New Genetic Risk Factor for Late Onset Alzheimer's Disease
Three new, separate research studies suggest that a gene or genes on chromosome 10 may be risk factors for late onset Alzheimer's disease (AD). The findings, reported in the December 22, 2000, issue of Science, are important new evidence that more than one gene may play a role in development of AD later in life.

Study Boosts Confidence in Potential Screening Tool for Alzheimer's Disease
A major study has confirmed the value of potential markers for identifying people with Alzheimer's disease. Scientists at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) found that levels of two key indicators in spinal fluid distinguished clinically diagnosed Alzheimer's patients from controls with 89-92 percent efficiency. This matches or exceeds current clinical diagnostic methods, such as doctor's evaluation of medical history, cognitive testing, and brain scans. However, the potential telltale signs, or biomarkers, won’t be ready for use as predictive and diagnostic tools until completion of long-term studies now underway. Trey Sunderland, M.D., Chief, NIMH Geriatric Psychiatry Branch, and colleagues, report on their study -- which included both direct examination of 203 patients and controls and a meta-analysis of world literature -- in the April 23, 2003 Journal of the American Medical Association.

Study Shows St. John's Wort Ineffective for Major Depression of Moderate Severity
An extract of the herb St. John's wort was no more effective for treating major depression of moderate severity than placebo, according to research published in the April 10 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.1 The randomized, double-blind trial compared the use of a standardized extract of St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum) to a placebo for treating major depression of moderate severity. The multi-site trial, involving 340 participants, also compared the FDA-approved antidepressant drug sertraline (Zoloft®) to placebo as a way to measure how sensitive the trial was to detecting antidepressant effects.

Teens With Schizophrenia Lose Gray Matter in Back-to-Front Wave
Brains of teens with early onset schizophrenia are ravaged by a back-to-front wave of gray matter loss that parallels the progression from hallucinations and delusions to thinking and emotional deficits, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) - supported scientists have discovered. This loss of critical working brain tissue begins in rear perception processing areas, and over 5 years engulfs frontal areas responsible for functions like planning and reasoning...

Timing of Chemical Signal Critical for Normal Emotional Development
A signaling protein suspected of malfunctioning in anxiety and mood disorders plays a key role in the development of emotional behavior, report researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. Mice lacking it in frontal brain circuits during an early critical period fail to develop normal reactions in anxiety-producing situations.

Treatment for Minor Depression
In a new approach to research on minor depression, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a four-year study to determine the safety and effectiveness of St. John's wort, a common herbal supplement, and citalopram, a standard antidepressant, compared to placebo.

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