Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes have determined how specific circuitry in the brain controls not only body movement but also motivation and learning, providing new insight into neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson's disease - and psychiatric disorders such as addiction and depression. Previously, researchers in the laboratory of Gladstone Investigator Anatol Kreitzer, PhD, discovered how an imbalance in the activity of a specific category of brain cells is linked to Parkinson's. Now, in a paper published online in Nature Neuroscience, Dr. Kreitzer and his team used animal models to demonstrate that this imbalance may also contribute to psychiatric disorders. These findings also help explain the wide range of Parkinson's symptoms - and mark an important step in finding new treatments for those who suffer from addiction or depression.
"The early detection of children who are showing psychiatric symptoms or are at the risk of a mental disorder is crucial, but introducing " mental health checkups" as part of health care in schools is not altogether simple, " says David Gyllenberg, MD, whose doctoral dissertation "Childhood Predictors of Later Psychotropic Medication Use and Psychiatric Hospital Treatment - Findings from the Finnish Nationwide 1981 Birth Cohort Study" was publically examined at the University of Helsinki on 13 April 2012. In Gyllenberg's study, the mental wellbeing of nearly 6, 000 Finnish children of the age of eight was charted through a survey carried out in 1989. After this, the use of psychotropic medication and psychiatric hospital periods of the same children from the age of 12 to 25 was followed up.
A baby whose mother is depressed is more likely to be woken up needlessly, and consequently suffer from disrupted sleep patterns, compared to otherwise healthy mothers, researchers from The Pennsylvania State University and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine reported in the journal Child Development. Co-author, Douglas M. Teti, said: "We found that mothers with high depressive symptom levels are more likely to excessively worry about their infants at night than mothers with low symptom levels, and that such mothers were more likely to seek out their babies at night and spend more time with their infants than mothers with low symptom levels. This, in turn, was associated with increased night waking in the infants of depressed mothers, compared to the infants of non-depressed mothers.
A blood test that measures a set of genetic markers has been developed which diagnoses major depression in teenagers, researchers from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine reported in Translational Psychiatry. Currently, diagnosing depression relies on subjective data in which the patient describes symptoms and the health care professional attempts to interpret them. The authors say that diagnosing depression in teenagers can be especially challenging, partly because moods tend to fluctuate anyway during adolescence. However, prompt and accurate diagnosis during this age period is important. In what the authors describe as a "major breakthrough", this blood test can also distinguish between major depression and depression combined with anxiety disorder - i.e. it can tell different subtypes of depression apart.
A Northwestern Medicine scientist has developed the first blood test to diagnose major depression in teens, a breakthrough approach that allows an objective diagnosis by measuring a specific set of genetic markers found in a patient's blood. The current method of diagnosing depression is subjective. It relies on the patient's ability to recount his symptoms and the physician's ability and training to interpret them. Diagnosing teens is an urgent concern because they are highly vulnerable to depression and difficult to accurately diagnose due to normal mood changes during this age period. The test also is the first to identify subtypes of depression. It distinguished between teens with major depression and those with major depression combined with anxiety disorder. This is the first evidence that it's possible to diagnose subtypes of depression from blood, raising the hope for tailoring care to the different types.