Tuesday, May 29, 2007

migraine news roundup 33

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a Researchers have determined that therapy sessions by phone combined with taking anti-depressants can help ease the effects of depression.

Calls May Ease Depression

On top of that, half the group got eight sessions of phone therapy (on average, about 32 minutes per session) during the first six months and two to four additional sessions averaging about 18 minutes each in the next six months. The other half got usual care -- in this case, the antidepressants and whatever other help they sought on their own.

After 18 months, the phone-therapy group had better scores on a test measuring depression symptoms, and 77 percent said that their depression was "much" or "very much" improved. That compares with 63 percent of the other group. There was also a difference in the percentage of patients whose depressive symptoms disappeared entirely -- 48 percent in the phone group vs. 38 percent in the other group. While the former were also more likely to take their antidepressants as prescribed, they came out ahead, even accounting for the better compliance, says the study's lead author, Evette Ludman.

I think this could be a great way to reach people who desperately need help, myself included. The obstacles to getting help are probably most pronounced among those who are most desperately in need of that help.

a A Finish study found a link between smoking and depression:

Smoking May Have an Effect on Depression
HELSINKI, Finland, May 23 (UPI) -- Persistent smokers may have a higher risk of depression than those who have never smoked, according to a Finish study.

The researchers found that ex-smokers had an elevated risk of depressive symptoms in the short run, but in the long term the risk declines to the level of those who have never smoked, according to the study published in Psychological Medicine.

a We recently learned yoga may be helpful in treating migraines (read more about that here: yoga may help migraineurs). A study published in the Journal of Alternative & Complimentary Medicine indicates it may also help with depression and anxiety.

Depression, Anxiety May be Helped by Yoga
Boston researchers suggest that yoga may help those with depression and anxiety by elevating brain gamma-aminobutyric, or GABA, levels.

Scientists from the Boston University School of Medicine and McLean Hospital say that depression and anxiety disorders are associated with low GABA levels, and are currently treated with pharmaceutical agents designed to increase GABA levels. Lead author Dr. Chris Streeter used magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging to compare the GABA levels of eight subjects prior to and following one hour of yoga with the GABA levels of 11 subjects who did no yoga and read for one hour.

a Experts say those with depression should be screened for anxiety.

Undiagnosed Anxiety Worsens Depression

Dr. Naomi M. Simon, associate director of the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston. reported on comorbid anxiety and depression at the annual conference of the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.

Anxiety disorder comorbidity is common and can result in "longer depressive episodes, a more chronic course of major depressive disorder, worse psychosocial impairment, reduced chance of recovery from the initial episode of major depressive disorder, and an increased risk of suicide,” said Simon

a Psychiatrists at the meeting of the American Psychological Association reported that transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a treatment also being studied for migraines and chronic headaches, shows potential for treating difficult cases of depression.

The Magnetic Brain Stimulator Will See You Now

TMS can be done in an office setting and doesn't require anesthesia, which is needed for traditional ECT. Side effects include post-application headaches, muscle twitches and pain at the application site. The risk of seizure remains, but researchers worked very hard to avoid them, and they occurred very rarely.

Ten companies -- including five based in Europe, two American companies and two in Korea -- are now lined up to produce TMS headgear, which ranges in appearance from something like an ultrasound sensor mounted on a dental-drill arm to a cap resembling a beauty-parlor hair dryer.

Depression is increasingly recognized as a destructive, disabling, chronic illness with treatments that often fail patients. Studies yield conflicting results -- patients can respond well to placebos and exercise, while drugs can fail some and succeed for others. And short-term results often don't translate into long-term results as patients bolt from treatment because of side effects or lack of effect.

One of big problems in treating depression, where a bout is likely to lead to other bouts, is getting patients to stay on their therapy, studies show. And, while combinations of therapies initially seem to help the 30 percent and 40 percent of patients whose depression resists drug treatment, remission rates remain low and cures are elusive.

The downside is that it takes 20 to 30 sessions of 40 minutes each for at least six weeks to get a good result. But patients stick with TMS treatment better than with medication or electroshock, researchers say. It's also being tested for treating migraines.

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