Hope for Depression Blog

Guest Bloggers

  • Louisa Benton

    Executive Director

  • Steven P. Roose, M.D

    Professor of Clinical Psychiatry

  • Huda Akil, Ph.D

    DTF Chair

WSJ on New Depression Treatments,
June 5, 2015

This week the Wall Street Journal published a thought-provoking article about the need for new depression treatments: “To Treat Depression, a New Approach Tries Training the Brain,” June 2nd.

The piece describes a number of newly emerging treatments that actually use computer games to target specific mood centers in the brain and rehabilitate them through exercising the neural circuits within.

Explains writer Andrea Petersen: a growing number of researchers are coming into the view that the brain of the depressed individual should be treated “like a muscle that is atrophied.” Computer games – often combined with electric stimulation of other brain regions – can specifically target the brain circuits that go awry in depression and coax them back into shape.

Can these emergent treatments offer promise to the millions who struggle with resistant depression?  It is too early to tell.  As the article clearly states, studies testing the new treatments have had mixed results and the sample size was very small.

HDRF Board member Dr. Steven Roose of Columbia University echoed this point: “We always have to be cautious when someone claims to have a breakthrough new treatment. The studies were small and they are far from meeting the burden of proof required.”

However, Dr. Roose added: “The idea that there is structural damage in the brain during depressive illness is well-established scientifically.  When we talk about depression, we are talking about a brain disorder that does indeed involve structural damage.”

“That is why it is so critical to treat depressive episodes or prevent them altogether,” he said. “To arrest the illness before further damage to brain tissue can occur.”

What’s clear: the need for more basic research into the brain. That is why the work of Hope for Depression Research Foundation – and your support – really matters.

We need a far more sophisticated understanding of the brain’s complex mood centers so we can assuredly intervene when something goes wrong.  And that, of course, is the mandate of our acclaimed Depression Task Force and their bold research plan.

We look forward to much progress and leading the way to a new era of treatment.

Andrew Solomon’s Thoughtful New York Times article,
June 1, 2015

We’d like to bring to your attention Andrew Solomon’s article from New York Times Magazine: “The Secret Sadness of Pregnancy With Depression.”

A longstanding member of HDRF’s Leadership Committee, Andrew is a friend and author for whom we have great respect.

His thoughtful discussion of mood disorders in pregnancy is a welcome example of the kind of media coverage that elevates national conversation about depression and makes it safe to speak out and get help.

The fact that the article points out a discrepancy in reliable information for pregnant mothers managing depression is important.  It underscores the need for research and HDRF’s critical mission.  Every mother needs access to sophisticated, evidence-based information in order to make the best choices for herself and her baby.

The studies of our Depression Task Force are designed to lead us to an advanced understanding of all mood disorders, including postpartum depression.  With your help, we are working tirelessly to yield new knowledge and new answers that can come to bear on the most important and personal decisions of our lives.

The Economist on Mental Health Awareness,
April 28, 2015

We’re writing to share an excellent article from the Economist, April 25: “Out of the Shadows: The stigma of mental illness is fading. But it will take time for sufferers to get the treatment they need.”

It’s a heartening read.  Campaigns by governments and charities around the world are raising awareness and making it safe for people from all walks of life to open up about psychiatric illness.  HDRF has been working to end stigma since our founding in 2006, and your support has helped us lead the call for change in the United States.

Click here to read the full article…

Dr. Fredric Brandt and the Warning Signs of Suicide,
April 8, 2015

Once again depression is in the headlines with the shocking and sad news about the suicide of famous skin-care pioneer Dr. Fredric Brandt.

I am particularly stunned because I knew Dr. Brandt personally.  He was a genuinely kind and caring person with great creativity and talent.  I did not know he struggled with depression.

I just saw Dr. Brandt last week and detected nothing different about his demeanor — no clue or tip that he was suicidal.  Even with the knowledge that I’ve gained as HDRF Chair, I am at a loss to understand how a doctor at the top of his field could see patients and friends on one day, and end his life a few days later.

Click here to read the full article…

Germanwings and the Search for Answers,
March 31, 2015

We are all reeling from the terrible crash of Germanwings Flight #9250.  The public cry for answers has been fierce since investigators revealed the crash was deliberate, and the media continues to reveal both new details and speculation about pilot Andreas Lubitz’s mental and physical health.

That Mr. Lubitz struggled with depression is now a detail that looms over this tragedy.  For that reason we’ve received many calls and emails seeking comments regarding depression and suicidal behavior.  However, please know that as of yet there has been no verification of Mr. Lubitz’s actual diagnosis or specifics of his treatment or condition.

Click here to read the full article…