July 2013

Can insomnia treatment combat suicidal ideation?

Many individuals who experience depression also have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and one study wonders if treating this particular symptom could reduce the occurrence of another serious symptom of depression—suicidal ideation.

A new study seeks to determine if treatment for insomnia in individuals who live with depression will reduce the incidence of suicidal thoughts. Researchers at Duke University in Durham, NC are conducting a study that pairs antidepressants with insomnia medication and examines the sleep patterns and moods that result.

The study involves seven study visits, three of which are telephone visits, and may take up to twelve weeks to complete. All study participants will receive an antidepressant; half of all participants will also take a medication for insomnia and the other half will receive a placebo.

Individuals with depression who are interested in participating will begin with an initial screening to ensure qualification. Then, individuals will take a home test that monitors breathing and oxygen saturation during sleep to determine if the individual has sleep apnea. On the next visit, the individual will find out whether they have sleep apnea or not. At that point, if the participant qualifies for all study criteria, they’ll come in and be fitted with a painless device called an actiwatch—it’s a bit like a wrist watch. The actiwatch is a movement detector that records your daily activity. In addition to having your daily activity recorded, you’ll complete questionnaires about sleep and mood during your visits, and you’ll maintain a sleep diary. You’ll also get phone calls to check up on your well-being.

Find out more about the study and see if you’re eligible to participate.

Remote Roundup

WeSearchTogether connects you to studies you can do from anywhere—no travel required! Check out the latest remote-participation studies:

  • Romantic Relationships and Bipolar Disorder
    Do romantic partners help you stay well while managing bipolar disorder or do they sometimes get in the way? Whether you’re single, dating, or married, this study invites you to share your relationship stories through an online survey. Your stories will shape tools for fostering supportive romantic relationships for others who are living with bipolar disorder.

Brain Scans May Suggest Best Course of Treatment for Depression

Finding the right treatment for depression can be a struggle. People find relief with the first treatment only 40 percent of the time. Two to three months of ineffective treatments can lead to lost productivity, higher risk of suicide, and continued distress for individuals and their families. A new study suggests that for people with depression, brain activity can predict whether talk therapy or medication will better relieve their symptoms.

In the study, published last month (June 12, 2013) in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, people whose brain scans showed an overactive insula (a brain region involved in emotional processing) tended to improve with medication, but not talk therapy; the reverse was true for those with an underactive insula. If the results are confirmed in a larger trial, the technique could be used to help guide treatment decisions for people with depression, the researchers said.

The study makes the worthwhile point that some brains just seem to be set up differently, which affects how they respond to treatment. This is particularly relevant since, as the authors point out, when a medication doesn’t work for an individual, they are often put on another one rather than being switched to psychotherapy. An evaluation of a depression patient, in a doctor's office, "doesn't really help us to know very well whether they should receive talk therapy or a medication," said study co-author Dr. Boadie Dunlop. “Our goal is not just to get patients well, but to get them well as fast as possible, using the treatment that is best for each individual." Read the study at JAMA Psychiatry.

Getting Personal with Dr. Deldin

What motivates researchers to study mental health conditions? In this installment, researcher Dr. Patricia Deldin addresses why she studies mental health conditions and how important research volunteers are to helping researchers improve the lives of individuals living with a mood disorder—and to eventually find a cure. Watch the video.

Social Center

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