Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Can Brain Training and Biofeedback Help Prevent Depression

In two inno­v­a­tive pilot stud­ies, Ian Gotlib and his col­leagues at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, Cal­i­for­nia, showed that brain train­ing can be used to help elim­i­nate depres­sion, even before it starts. They stud­ied young girls (10 to 14 year old) whose moth­ers were depressed and who thus were at high­er risk of devel­op­ing depres­sion them­selves lat­er-on. The girls had not expe­ri­enced depres­sion per se but already showed behav­iors typ­i­cal of depressed brains, such as over­re­ac­tion to neg­a­tive stim­uli. Read the rest of this entry »

Does cognitive therapy work; should the NHS provide more of it for depression?

Excel­lent arti­cle in the UK’s news­pa­per The Inde­pen­dent on the grow­ing adop­tion of cog­ni­tive-behav­iour­al ther­a­py (CBT) by the Nation­al Health Ser­vice (NHS). Very rel­e­vant to the US too, giv­en that a grow­ing num­ber of insur­ers are offer­ing com­put­er­ized CBT. Quotes:

Why are we ask­ing this now?42-15315934

There is grow­ing frus­tra­tion among GPs at the dif­fi­cul­ty they face in pro­vid­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal ther­a­py for patients with men­tal prob­lems includ­ing depres­sion. A sur­vey by the Roy­al Col­lege of Gen­er­al Prac­ti­tion­ers (RCGP) pub­lished at the week­end found almost two-thirds of respon­dents said they were “rarely” able to obtain treat­ment for patients with­in two months. Get­ting help for chil­dren who had suf­fered abuse or trau­ma was even more dif­fi­cult. Pro­fes­sor Steve Field, the pres­i­dent of the RCGP, said: “Peo­ple should have access to approved treat­ments, and this has to be a wake-up call.”

What does this mean for patients?

Where­as in the past, GPs might have pre­scribed Prozac or oth­er anti­de­pres­sants, cog­ni­tive-behav­iour­al ther­a­py (CBT) is now the treat­ment of first choice – where it is avail­able – for the mil­lions who turn up com­plain­ing they can­not cope. In 2007, the Gov­ern­ment ear­marked £173m to train 3,600 extra ther­a­pists by 2010.

So why the short­age of ther­a­pists?

The cash is no longer ring-fenced and has alleged­ly been siphoned away to pay for oth­er projects. The RCGP and Mind, the men­tal-health char­i­ty, are cam­paign­ing for a com­mit­ment from all three main polit­i­cal par­ties to ring-fence cash for talk­ing ther­a­pies. The Nation­al Insti­tute for Health and Clin­i­cal Excel­lence (Nice) says CBT should be the first-line treat­ment for mild to mod­er­ate depres­sion, fol­lowed by drugs only if it proves unsuc­cess­ful.”

Keep read­ing  The Big Ques­tion: Does cog­ni­tive ther­a­py work – and should the NHS pro­vide more of it for depres­sion? (The Inde­pen­dent)

The Future of Computer-assisted Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

The Wall Street Jour­nal had a very inter­est­ing arti­cle yes­ter­day, titled To Be Young and Anx­i­ety-Free, focused on the val­ue of cog­ni­tive behav­ioral ther­a­py to help chil­dren with high lev­els of anx­i­ety learn how too cope bet­ter and pre­vent the snow­ball sce­nario, when that anx­i­ety grows and spi­rals out of con­trol result­ing in depres­sion and sim­i­lar

- “…new research show­ing that treat­ing kids for anx­i­ety when they are young may help pre­vent the devel­op­ment of more seri­ous men­tal ill­ness­es, includ­ing depres­sion and more debil­i­tat­ing anx­i­ety dis­or­ders.”

- “Of course, most kids have fears with­out hav­ing a full-blown anx­i­ety dis­or­der. And some anx­i­ety is healthy: It makes sense, for exam­ple, to be a lit­tle ner­vous before a big test. Doc­tors and psy­chol­o­gists do cau­tion that the increased focus on child­hood anx­i­ety could lead to an over­diag­no­sis of the prob­lem. What makes anx­i­ety a true ill­ness is when it inter­feres with nor­mal func­tion­ing or caus­es seri­ous emo­tion­al and phys­i­cal dis­tress.”

- “But the use of anti­de­pres­sants in chil­dren has come under fire because Read the rest of this entry »

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