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Mental Health in the News: July 14, 2022


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Welcome to Madison Avenue TMS & Psychiatry’s Mental health in the News weekly update. Below are some current news events relating to mental health and mental health treatments.

How Depression Affects Cardiovascular Health

Depression, a mood disorder characterized by sadness and lack of interest in activities, is one of the most common mental health disorders in the US. It stems from a variety of possible causes, including genetics, mood regulation, outlook, and stress, and prevents people from doing things they want or need to do.

While depression can deeply affect someone’s mental health, it can also have a negative impact on their cardiovascular health. When people suffer from depression, they often stop taking good care of themselves and can form bad health habits. They may stop exercising, taking medication, or sleeping well, resulting in complications like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and obesity, which puts them at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

Studies have shown a positive correlation between depression and a condition called endothelial dysfunction (an irregularity in the lining of the arteries that regulates blood flow to the heart). Endothelial dysfunction can lead to a buildup of a substance called plaque in the arteries that reduces bloodflow. Abnormal sleep can result in a lack of necessary rest and recovery for the heart. Lack of exercise means the heart gets weak, and stress builds up. Lack of energy or motivation to do enjoyable activities with others can lead to feelings of isolation.

Talk therapy can offer relief to those suffering from depression. Social support can offer connection in times of loneliness and encouragement to engage in healthy behavior. Medication can provide a new perspective to people with depression, allowing them to return to meaningful activities.

The stigma surrounding depression can prevent people from talking about their symptoms and seeking help. As we begin to return to work and other activities following the pandemic, which had a significantly negative effect on depression rates and severity, it is important that depression gets normalized as a health condition and that individuals suffering from depression get the help they need. Social support, talk therapy, and medication can assist people with depression in getting back to a healthier lifestyle, and therefore can help improve cardiovascular health.

To read the original news article, click here.

Studies Show Ketamine May Lead to Better Antidepressants

Antidepressants can improve and save lives. However, certain types, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, take as long as months to start working and don’t work for more than one in three patients. While we don’t understand exactly how it works yet, studies show that ketamine has positive effects, in a single dose, on depressed patients by using neural pathways that researchers had yet to discover until now. Ketamine has traditionally been used for decades as an anesthetic. However, new research shows that it can help relieve symptoms of depression. 

Ketamine treatment increases insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a molecule that produces an antidepressant effect, promoting connectivity in the prefrontal cortex (a region of the brain associated with depression). Studies on mice have confirmed that IGF-1 is essential for the antidepressant properties of ketamine, and acts separately from other antidepressant molecules in ketamine, such as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), known to be increased by ketamine consumption. 

Ketamine itself is problematic for regular consumption due to risks of side effects like dependence, hallucinations, and delusions. For this reason, ketamine is only administered under the direct supervision of a physician. 

Further study with ketamine and IGF-1 could lead to the development of better, fast-acting antidepressants.

To read the original news article, click here.

As COVID-19 Challenges Mental Health, GCASA CEO Applauds Staff and Community Efforts 

At the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse annual meeting in May, the agency’s leaders paid tribute to the GCASA board of directors, staff, and scholarship recipients. The meeting was held at Terry Hills Restaurant with 80 people in attendance. Leaders presented Friends of GCASA awards to four people and one business from their community; recipients included Mickey Edwards, Hon. Sanford A. Church, Joy Mercer, and Charlotte Crawford, in addition to One World Projects. They also awarded $1000 scholarships to four students of substance abuse prevention/treatment; the recipients were Kendra Lonnen, Sarah Volpe, Samantha Kabel, and Tess Pettit.

GCASA CEO, John Bennett, applauded the efforts of GCASA staff and their community. When interviewed, Bennett expressed concerns over the effects of COVID-19 on mental health, as the field has seen significant increases in mental health problems like anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder, while simultaneously seeing professionals leaving the workforce with few stepping in to replace them. Bennett says that finding new equilibrium in the aftermath has been hard, but he praised his staff and fellow officials for their work and passion, calling them “the heart and soul of this organization.”

Recent elections in the GCASA yielded a new president, Tim Batzel, who took up the mantle from the previous President, Virginia Taylor, Ph.D., having served 6 years in the role. Others elected were Vice President Katie Cotter and Secretary-Treasurer Fred Rarick. Elected to three-year terms were board members Jerry Ader, Don Allport, Gary Graber, Gretchen Rosales, and Jennifer Wakefield.

In 2021, the work of the GCASA led to 812 substance use disorder evaluations. Its prevention educators served 28,938 youth and adults. 
To read the original news article, click here.

Dr. Woo has been seeing patients in private practice since 2002, always with the goals of combining evidence-based medicine with psychodynamic psychotherapy and collaborating with other mental health professionals to ensure the best possible outcomes for his patients. He has been certified to administer TMS at his practice since 2017. His greatest clinical interests include helping patients suffering from depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder.


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