Depression

Parkinson’s disease + anxiety/depression: Stigma-busting for Mental Health Month

Stress. Anxiety. Depression. Have you experienced any of these along with Parkinson’s disease (PD)? As National Mental Health Month comes to a close, we’re highlighting how common these non-motor symptoms and mental health issues are among people with PD. Plus, see some new research on the prevalence of feeling demoralized (vs. depressed) with PD, and explore how members of the PatientsLikeMe community try to manage their mental health. Research shows that the vast majority of people with PD have non-motor symptoms (NMS) — with psychiatric symptoms (like anxiety, depression and psychosis) accounting for 60 percent of NMS in one large-scale study. “That’s why taking action is important,” says Andrew Ridder, M.D., a movement disorders specialist at Michigan Health. “If you or a loved one has had a new diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease, we recommend an immediate evaluation for depression, mood and cognitive problems. Frequent monitoring should also be done throughout the course of the disease.” Dr. Ridder cites some key stats: About 5 to 40 percent of people with Parkinson’s disease have a clinical diagnosis of anxiety Between 17 to 50 percent of patients with Parkinson’s have depression “Anxious mood” and “depressed mood” are commonly reported symptoms of PD on PatientsLikeMe. Hundreds of members have reported a diagnosis of PD …

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Cannabidiol (CBD) oil and product FAQs: Fad or effective? Legal or not?

Trending: Cannabidiol (CBD) oil, gummies, tinctures and more. Why are cannabis products gaining popularity as medical treatments and in general? As more states have legalized medical marijuana, more people have shifted their views on cannabis treatments (like former Speaker of the House John Boehner’s recent change of heart). And last month, an advisory panel at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) unanimously recommended a medication made from CBD for some forms of epilepsy. CBD comes from cannabis/marijuana but has some key differences. So, let’s take a closer look at CBD products and some FAQs, like, do they work and are they legal? What is CBD? Short answer: Cannabidiol (pronounced canna-bid-EYE-ol) or CBD is a chemical found in cannabis plants that does not produce a “high.” More info: Cannabis plants can produce more than 100 different types of cannabinoids, a type of chemical that reacts with receptors in the brain. The two most common cannabinoids found in medical marijuana are THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol). THC is responsible for producing the mental and physical effects of medical marijuana. CBD has many of the same therapeutic qualities as THC, but without psychoactive effects. (For even more info, read our report called “Weed 101: How and why patients use medical marijuana.”) …

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Lights out: Bedtime tips to help you sleep through the night

Do you have a bedtime routine? Sleep is a challenge for many members in the mental health community — over 3,000 PatientsLikeMe members say they have difficulty sleeping through the night. Establishing a regular bedtime and better sleep hygiene is one way to help manage restless nights. Check out some pointers from around the web, and hear from other members about their nighttime rituals. Setting aside “worry time” and other sleep hygiene reminders Along with getting into a consistent sleep-and-wake cycle, building these habits into your nightly ritual might help: Set aside worry time— A few hours before you go to bed, take time to address and contemplate all you have on your mind (vs. letting it keep you up later). Go to bed only when you feel tired enough to sleep Prepare your brain and body for sleep with a signal it’s time to wind down, whether that’s a warm bath, dimming the lights or listening to soothing music Stop screens (phones, tablets and computers) an hour before bedtime. If you can it might be a good idea trying to make sure that none of these devices are in your bedroom. If you’ve just brought yourself something like a new corner TV …

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Can ketamine help when antidepressants don’t? A closer look at the off-label drug that’s in the spotlight

You may have seen ketamine making headlines recently as a promising drug therapy for treatment-resistant depression, or “TRD.” (What’s TRD? Health care professionals define it as receiving at least two different antidepressants– for at least six weeks in a row, and at an adequate dosage – but experiencing less than a 50% improvement in depressive symptoms.) So, how does it work and what does the research show so far? Get the facts below — plus find some helpful insight on side effects and more from PatientsLikeMe members who have tried ketamine.   Let’s back up — what is ketamine? Ketamine has been around since the 1960s, and over the years it has been used as an anesthetic, treatment for some types of pain and a sedative in certain instances. It’s also been abused as a “party drug” due to its hallucinogenic high. But in the 2000s, researchers discovered that ketamine could also have rapid antidepressant effects — in as little as 24 hours — for those with TRD when administered in a small, single dose IV infusion. A number of clinical trials have since linked the effects of ketamine with improvement in symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD), as researchers continue to …

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Health news: What’s making headlines this month

Let’s stay on top of the latest health news — in case you missed it, check out this round up of some of the stories making headlines in May. ALS May is ALS awareness month: Later this month, advocates from across the U.S. will head to Capitol Hill to meet with their legislators. Check out how you can get involved and join the fight against ALS. Congress passes $3 billion increase in NIH funding: $140 million of the increase will go to the BRAIN Initiative research projects that contribute to the knowledge and understanding of ALS. More info. Lupus May is Lupus Awareness Month: Nearly two-thirds of people know little or nothing about lupus beyond the name, according to the Lupus Foundation of America, which is promoting the “Go Purple” campaign. Get ideas for boosting awareness. A link between the “mono” virus and lupus? A new study published in Nature Genetics shows that the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) — known for causing mononucleosis — may increase the risk of lupus and six other autoimmune diseases by changing how some genes are expressed. Check it out. Parkinson’s Disease “Suspect” Parkinson’s drug faces scrutiny: Following reports of hundreds of deaths and adverse events, the FDA is re-examining the safety of Nuplazid (pimavanserin), which …

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Defining “good” health care: 2 new studies reveal patient perspectives

Do you feel you’re getting the best possible care from your doctor? In two recent studies, PatientsLikeMe members answered this question and shared their perspectives on the health care they’re receiving. The results show that while patient opinions about care and provider performance vary according to condition, diverse patient groups agree on the top factors that define “good” care. Here’s the full scoop… Poll results: Good care is harder to get for some conditions Last month, 2,559 PatientsLikeMe members took part in a 6-question poll about doctor-patient relationship and what it means to get “good care.” The results suggest that patients with certain conditions, especially those living with fibromyalgia, PTSD and MDD, are less satisfied with their care. The poll also found that patients with these conditions are less likely to: Believe their provider has fully explained treatment options. Just 47% of fibromyalgia and PTSD patients and 53% of MDD patients agree their provider has done so, compared to 63% of patients living with ALS, MS and Parkinson’s disease. Report that they are receiving the best possible health care for their condition. Only 40% of fibromyalgia patients, 49% of PTSD patients and 45% of MDD patients believe they are receiving the best possible care, …

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Living with a mental health condition? See these helpful pointers for your next job interview

Unsure of how to navigate that job interview? You’re not alone. Members have exchanged their experiences and strategies here on PatientsLikeMe — from worrying about how to control nervous twitches to advice about not oversharing. Read on for more info about what you need to disclose to your potential employer, and hear how other members get through their interview jitters. To disclose or not disclose? Sharing your mental health condition “I’m damned if I’m open about it, and I’m damned if I try to hide it,” writes a person living with schizo-affective disorder in this Fast Company article. Weighing whether to disclose your condition and risk not getting the job against the stress of hiding a condition while performing a job isn’t easy. But Art Markman, PhD, professor of psychology and marketing at the University of Texas at Austin, offers some guidance: While you don’t have to disclose your mental health condition during the interview, Markman recommends that you should at some point set up supports at work for success. To get protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), you must tell your employer about your condition to get accommodations before there are any issues. This also enables your employer to structure your job in a way …

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Getting out of bed: The “One hour rule” and other tips

Does getting out of bed in the morning ever seem like an overwhelming task? You’re not alone. PatientsLikeMe members are talking about it a lot in the mental health forum. Read on to learn what’s worked for others on difficult mornings. Give yourself no more than an hour Elyse Raffery, contributor to The Mighty, shared her strategy for the “One Hour Rule” to get out of bed on the days she’d rather not move from beneath the covers: “Within one hour of waking up, I have to be out of my bed. If I look at the clock when I wake up and it is 9 a.m., by 10 a.m., I cannot still be lying in bed. I am a competitive person, and even some gentle competition with my own brain helps me sometimes.” Louder alarms, brighter lights and more tips from PatientsLikeMe members Check out these practical morning tips from other members in the forum: “I got a much louder alarm. I went back to the classic two bell analog alarm clock… so loud that my cat bolts from the room.” “Now I have a routine where I get up, turn the light on, and listen to the radio for ten …

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Is seasonal affective disorder real? Some call it “folk psychology”— others say it’s legit

Mental health experts first recognized seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — or depression that follows a seasonal pattern — in 1987. Some recent research has called SAD into question. What’s with the clashing theories? What do U.S. healthcare experts say, as of today? And how do people treat SAD? Read on. Questioning SAD Both culturally and clinically, most people have accepted SAD as a type of depression since it was added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) about 30 years ago. But in January 2016, the journal Clinical Psychological Science published the results of a large-scale U.S. survey that questioned the validity of SAD. The authors’ conclusion? “Depression is unrelated to latitude, season, or sunlight. Results do not support the validity of a seasonal modifier in major depression. The idea of seasonal depression may be strongly rooted in folk psychology, but it is not supported by objective data.” The authors recommended that mental health professionals should possibly stop officially recognizing a seasonal aspect in the diagnosis of major depression. The DSM (diagnostic manual) still includes SAD, but the 2016 survey led some psychological experts to declare that there’s “no evidence that levels of depressive symptoms vary from season to season.” It also …

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Light therapy for depression: What is it, and how does it work?

Bright light therapy is a treatment that’s become increasingly common for treating seasonal affective disorder, a condition that impacts many during the winter months. We sat down with our in-house research specialist to discuss light therapy – what it is, how it works and if it can help treat other types of depression in addition to seasonal affective disorder. What is light therapy? Light therapy, sometimes called blue light therapy or light box therapy, involves sitting or working, for a prescribed amount of time, near a device that gives off light that mimics daylight. It’s thought to ease symptoms of depression by impacting brain chemicals linked to mood and sleep. Light therapy effectiveness: What the research says While additional studies are needed to fully understand the role of light therapy, so far results from clinical trials investigating the effectiveness of this treatment on people with major depressive disorder (MDD) have been generally positive. One study, involving 50 inpatients with severe MDD, found that when researchers combined the antidepressant venlafaxine with light therapy, recipients experienced “significantly lower HDRS depression scores” than those only taking the antidepressant. The HDRS (Hamilton Depression Rating Scale) is a questionnaire that helps provide an indication of depression severity. Another 8-week …

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