Treatments Studies for Childhood Onset Bipolar Illness ­Are Inadequately Funded

November 5, 2010 · Posted in Political Commentary · Comment 

It was remarkable that at the Pediatric Bipolar Conference hosted by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and the Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation this past March in Cambridge, Massachusetts, none of the plenary talks, although they were excellent and given by leaders in the field of child psychiatry, dealt directly with the topic of the conference–childhood-onset bipolar disorder. There were also no reports of systematic placebo-controlled clinical trials evaluating treatment approaches in any of the subsequent presentations or posters.  A number of open and uncontrolled studies examined new treatment possibilities.

It is notable that the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) no longer sponsors this conference, as it did for many years. Moreover, STEP-BD, an NIMH-sponsored research program on the course and treatment of adult-onset bipolar disorder, is now defunct, and the head of STEP-BD and one of the most productive researchers in bipolar illness, Andrew Nierenberg from the MGH, has been forced to search for other funding opportunities.
These developments highlight the ongoing deficient funding and study of both childhood-onset and adult-onset bipolar disorder despite the enormous public health impact, extraordinary morbidity, and early mortality from suicide and medical illnesses like cardiovascular disease that are associated with these disorders.

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Help the Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation win $250,000!

November 1, 2010 · Posted in Political Commentary · Comment 

The Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation (CABF) has launched a campaign for votes to win the Pepsi Refresh Project and a $250,000 grant to aid families and children living with bipolar disorder and depression. CABF has been chosen to compete for the top grant during the month of November. Winners are decided by total votes cast via Internet and text messages throughout the month.

If selected by popular vote, CABF will use an innovative
social media awareness effort to:

  • Elevate awareness about bipolar disorder & depression in children;
  • Educate parents & the public about the symptoms;
  • Explain the best treatment options & ways to reduce teen suicide;
  • Expand the number of children receiving treatment;
  • Eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness;
  • Extend hope to families struggling with mental illnesses.

Supporters can vote for CABF 3 times a day, once from
each of the following sources:

1. Pepsi Refresh website
2. Facebook
3. Texting – Text 104174 to PEPSI (73774) (Normal text
rates apply).

5 Myths About Unipolar Depression

November 1, 2010 · Posted in Political Commentary · Comment 

Newsweek coverEarly this year, news stories such as Newsweek’s “The Depressing News About Antidepressants” and “Antidepressant Drug Effects and Depression Severity” in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) created an inadequate picture of the seriousness of clinical depression, and the importance of preventing recurrent episodes with long-term antidepressant treatment. (For a rebuttal, see Psychiatric Times.)

The consequences of this distorted depiction of depression and its treatment are potentially dire for individuals’ health. Some of the popular myths about depression deserve critical review so that patients can make more informed decisions about their own treatment.

Myth 1: Depression is all in your mind
Myth 2: Depression is over-treated
Myth 3: Antidepressant efficacy barely exceeds that of placebo
Myth 4: Antidepressants should be stopped as soon as possible
Myth 5: Depression is a minor medical problem

Myth 1: Depression is all in your mind

This might seem valid, since depression is classified as a mental illness. But depression is not abstract, imaginary, or lacking a solid physical foundation. There is now overwhelming evidence that depression coincides with disturbances in multiple brain and body systems.

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