ABCB1 Gene Predicts Antidepressant Response

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

An article that will soon appear in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that it may be possible to predict who will respond to different antidepressants using a genetic test. The study looked at whether by testing for specific genetic variants of a protein involved in transporting drugs and other potentially toxic substances into and out of cells and across the blood …

Beta Catenin and Depression

Peter Forster Basic Science, Major Depression, Psychobiology

Beta catenin is a molecule that may play a key role in preventing depression in those exposed to stress, at least if mice and humans share the same biology. Beta catenin is involved in a number of quite different functions in the cell. To give you an idea, it may be involved in the development of cancer (it is a …

Melatonin and Sleep

Peter Forster Basic Science, Insomnia, Insomnia Treatment, Psychobiology

What is the relationship between melatonin and sleep? And why are the results that people have from taking melatonin supplements to help induce sleep so variable? A recent article has suggested that the two melatonin receptors, melatonin one (M1) and melatonin two (M2) that have been shown to existing humans may have different effects on sleep. A quick review may …

TMS Mechanism of Action – Changes in Brain Connectivity?

Peter Forster Basic Science, Treatments of Depression

TMS’s mechanism of action has been unclear. Transcranial magnetic stimulation affects activity locally in the region of the brain that is stimulated, but does that explain how it works? Since it affects local activity in every patient, why does it not work for everyone? A new article in Biological Psychiatry suggests that it may be changes in brain connectivity that …

Ketamine for Depression – Mechanism of Action

Peter Forster Basic Science, Major Depression, Treatments of Depression

Ketamine for Depression: How does it work? We ran across a useful review of the basic science literature in an interview of David Nichols on the Psych Congress Network. http://www.psychcongress.com/video/ketamine-quick-guide-receptors-19116 Although ketamine blocks the NMDA subtype of glutamate receptors (blocks an excitatory neurotransmitter) the net effect seems to be an increase in excitatory neurotransmission. This image from Nature may help …

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 …

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 …