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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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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

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