Blood Test for Depression

Peter Forster Basic Science, Diagnosis, Major Depression, Psychobiology, Testing, Treatments of Depression

How many times has a new patient in the clinic asked, “isn’t there a blood test for depression?” Always in the past we had to say that there were no reliable tests that could identify depression. There was some evidence that functional brain imaging could do so but the technique was expensive and experimental. In an article published in the …

Predicting Bipolar Disorder

Peter Forster Diagnosis, Testing

Predicting bipolar disorder might allow early intervention that could change the course of the condition, or prevent at risk adults or adolescents from developing severe mood swings. But is predicting bipolar disorder a reasonable goal? What is the science behind this effort? The August 2014 issue of Bipolar Disorders (the official journal of the International Society for Bipolar Disorders) has …

TMS Improves Memory

Peter Forster Psychobiology, Treatments of Depression

TMS improves memory. According to a study published in the Aug. 29 issue of the journal Science, “electrically stimulating a portion of the brain that coordinates the way the mind works can enhance memory and improve learning.” The researchers used Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) to indirectly stimulate activity in the hippocampus, a key part of the brain involved in the storage …

Lithium Benefits for Health – NYT Article

Peter Forster Bipolar Treatment

Does lithium have benefits for health when it is found at small doses in the water? This is the subject of a recent article in the New York Time (september 13th, 2014). The article captured the attention of many readers of this blog and the companion one I write about mood disorders (moodsurfing.com). It was tantalizingly entitled,”Should We All Take a Bit …

Cortisol and Depression

Peter Forster Psychobiology

A middle aged man with depression came in today for his first psychiatric evaluation. He had lots of questions about the relationship between cortisol and depression, because his first serious depression, at age 45, occurred in the context of a severe work stress. And this work stress was associated with many physical manifestations of stress – fatigue, severely disrupted sleep, …

Virtru

Peter Forster GPS Update

I am writing to update you about the security systems that we have been implementing at Gateway Psychiatric to ensure the safety of your data. As you know, the safety of data stored on the net cannot be taken for granted. I was reminded of this when I got an email from WordPress saying that hackers had published the email …

Huge Victory on Mental Health Parity in California

Peter Forster Costs of Treatment, Policy

On September 10th the California Supreme Court let stand a California Appeals Court decision that the California mental health parity law requires coverage of treatment that may have no equivalent in other medical specialties. Specifically, the Appeals Court held that Blue Shield of California must cover residential treatment for eating disorders. The Court noted that residential treatment was among the …

Early Lithium Treatment for Bipolar – Better Outcomes?

Peter Forster Bipolar Treatment

Does early lithium treatment for bipolar lead to better outcomes? This is the question that researchers sought to answer by looking at a Danish database of health information. The Danish registry is a set of nearly complete health information on the population of Denmark (hence, studies using this database are more representative of the general population than studies from many …

Weight Gain with Atypical Antipsychotics – A Review of Strategies

Peter Forster Bipolar Treatment, Physical Conditions and Health

Many antipsychotics, especially some atypical or second generation antipsychotics, like olanzapine (Zyprexa) or quetiapine (Seroquel), cause significant weight gain, as well as insulin resistance (diabetes) and elevated lipids. What to do if the medication is helping (much more than alternatives) but the patient is developing these serious adverse effects? Two recent articles review the literature on strategies for managing these …

Social Intelligence and Oxytocin

Peter Forster Basic Science, General

The nucleus accumbens (NAc) (or ventral striatum) is a central part of the reward system. The reward system has been the focus of much interest and research because of its role in the development and maintenance of addiction and depression. The reward system evolved to motivate survival behaviors and behaviors linked to reproduction and health. Evidence from research in a great number of animal species suggests that social intelligence …