Genetics and the Ides of March

The change of seasons has long been known to cause changes in mental health. Is there a genetic component?

Lifestyle Interventions for Depression

Clinical depression is a complicated condition. Stress of course is known and easily accepted to be the main cause, but two people may endure the same stress with only one developing depression. What lifestyle factors can make us more resilient, and why?

Diet, Depression, and the Microbiome

The next generation of treatments for depression may include diet changes and probiotics.

Sunshine and Suicide

Sunshine is nature's antidepressant, and like most antidepressants, it can make you irritable and agitated before you start feeling better. This fact may explain why a short burst of sunny days increases the risk of suicide, while a long stretch decreases the risk.

A Gene For Violence?

Are we genetically programmed to be timid or violent? Earlier this week a study was published in Molecular Psychiatry. Two groups of Finnish prisoners had their genes tested, and in a brute force hack comparing behavior and genotype it turns out that the most violent offenders had a greater risk of having certain key genes.

Magnesium and the Ketamine Connection

It’s great to see an interesting compound like ketamine be taken seriously and thoroughly studied for its action in serious, resistant depression. However, I'd love to see the mineral magnesium studied, particularly as an adjunct treatment for depression and anxiety.

The Ketamine Key

The drug ketamine acts on certain brain communications networks, rapidly reversing one of the most disabling symptoms of depression, the inability to experience pleasure. The more we can understand about these brain systems and how they interact, the better a chance we have to develop sophisticated tools to fight depression.

A Bold New Experimental Treatment for Alzheimer's Dementia

A dietary supplement called a ketone ester could possibly be the first truly effective treatment for Alzheimer's Dementia. A fascinating case study explains the science and the results.

Is Gluten Causing Your Depression?

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity may not exist as a cause of irritable bowel, but a small study induces depressed feelings in people with gluten. If you feel better on a gluten-free diet, you might want to experiment with low FODMAP diet as well.

New Insights Into the Genetics of Schizophrenia

Last month, a new veil was lifted from the mysterious and devastating disease of schizophrenia. If this research holds true on reexamination, we might be taking the first steps toward isolating the pathology of a major psychiatric disorder, as infectious disease doctors did a hundred and fifty years ago with the development of germ theory.

Ele-Mental Health

One need only look at the first several rows periodic table to find some elements essential to good mental health. Human brains need minerals to function normally, and a diet high in processed foods will lower mineral content, so that mineral levels in the body suffer. Zinc, magnesium, lithium, iron, chromium, and calcium all influence our moods and resiliency.

Human Microbiota and Depression

The microbiota are a crucial part of our immune system and regulate inflammation, they are also intrinsically linked with the hypothalamic pituitary axis and stress response system of the body. A new study finds links between species of microbiota and depression in humans.

A Tangled Web: Wheat, Schizophrenia, and Infection

A new generation of researchers have taken up the mysteries linking Toxoplasma infection, gluten antibodies, and schizophrenia.

Evolutionary Psychiatry 101

Distilling the important parts of a paleo diet and lifestyle and mental health.

The Gut-Brain Connection, Mental Illness, and Disease

The 100 trillion organisms of our microbiome have an enormous effect on our immune system, stress response, and resiliency. How well our gut bacteria work with our immune system can make a difference in mental health, autoimmune disease, and even cancer. The consequences are profound, and we are just only beginning to understand it.

Tylenol in Pregnancy and ADHD

Tylenol use during pregnancy correlates with a linear increased risk of ADHD in offspring. Should the use of Tylenol as a "safe" painkiller during pregnancy be reconsidered?

Targeted Diet Interventions in Autistic Spectrum Disorders

The autism spectrum disorders are mysterious as they are devastating, frustrating parents, physicians, and researchers looking for a cause and a cure. However, a recent paper from Greece gives us some amazing clues that could open future treatment options for families.

Raise a Glass to Cooperation and Mutual Trust

The neurotransmitter serotonin is a powerful and sometimes misunderstood molecule. It is secreted from a tiny percentage of neurons in the brain, yet it controls mood, appetite, grooming, and even violent behavior and suicidal tendencies.

Brains, Spirituality, and Depression

A number of heavy-hitting psychiatry journals have published articles about a lower risk of depression in people who are religious or spiritual. Could the findings have biologic underpinnings?

The Self-Cleaning Brain

Why is sleep so important? As much as we know about the brain and the importance of sleep, much of what goes on to make sleep replenishing and vital remains a mystery. Last week, a new paper was published in Science, “Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain” that may give us enormous insight into some of the basic physiology of sleep.

Depression and a Broken Heart

An intriguing link between mind and body can be found by tracking the beats of the heart. People struggling with clinical depression often have an altered heart rhythm compared to people who are not having symptoms. With proper recovery and self-care, we can undo some of the ravages of chronic stress and keep ourselves functional and resilient.

Zinc: an Antidepressant

Zinc is an essential mineral which may be lacking in modern processed and strict vegetarian diets. Learn how it modulates depression and immune response and the best foods to keep your zinc levels up to par.

Coffee and Suicide

Do you ever wake up in the morning and think, hmmm, this would be a great week to try cutting out coffee.? No? Well, I have some good news for you.

Folate and Negative Symptoms in Schizophrenia

Folate, found in meat and leafy greens, is an important vitamin for neuron function. In some cases, it may be even more important for those whose brains are struggling with energy regulation, such as in dementia or schizophrenia.

Zoo Humans

How much of our anxiety and psychopathology come from being “zoo humans?” One aspect of our environment that we do have a modicum of control over is our diet. It is a worthwhile endeavor to stick to human-appropriate foods the majority of the time.

A Psychosis Caused By Our Immune System

Over the past several years, it has become clear that some psychopathology is caused by issues with the immune system, particularly when the immune system attacks our own body, called autoimmune disease.

Sunlight and ADHD

What sorts of differences in our modern lifestyle are causing problems with our bodies and brains that are primarily evolved for a Stone Age lifestyle? Sunlight exposure and sleep are also extremely important to our health. A recent study probes a remarkable association between sunlight intensity in a region and the diagnosis.

Yoga (ba) GABA

One of my standard recommendations for people who have anxiety or depression is to practice yoga. Part of treating anxiety is to bring people down from the state of constant alertness. Yoga, through the process of holding (sometimes) uncomfortable positions and breathing through the stress, is a direct physical practice teaching you to get through a psychological stress.

Eat Your Egg Yolks

Recently in the American Journal of Psychiatry, a new paper was published tying nutrient supplementation in pregnant women to positive changes in the brains of their offspring and perhaps even reduced risk of schizophrenia. One of the nutrients that may be less predominant in our modern diets than in traditional diets is the phospholipid known as choline.

Suicide and Vitamin D

A while back I wrote a post called Omega 3s and Suicide in the Military which traced the link between low omega 3 status and victims of suicide in the US active forces. There is a linear relationship between the amount of healthy, necessary omega 3 in the cell membranes and the risk of suicide, and the active members of the armed forces seem to be quite low.