If you or someone you care about has been diagnosed with depression, bipolar disorder, or a related condition, the road ahead may seem overwhelming.  Depressive illnesses can challenge every aspect of life, and although treatment can be highly effective, it is not an easy journey for anyone involved. 

If you’re curious about what to expect from a support group, the types of groups you might find in your community, and how to evaluate whether a particular group could be right for you, read on.

A military psychiatrist’s Afghanistan experience

The story of how Thomas Fluent, M.D., clinical assistant professor of psychiatry, medical director of ambulatory psychiatric services at U-M., and a captain in the U.S. Navy Medical Corps with more than 20 years of active duty and reserve service, balanced treating Afghan detainees and U.S. troops during his recent stint as chief of mental health services at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.

Help us help you!

Using research to piece together the puzzle of depression, bipolar disorder, and related illnesses

Participating in research is one of the most powerful ways to make a difference in improving mental health care, and there are many ways to get involved. We asked several researchers at the Depression Center to provide their perspectives on research participation based on their many years of experience developing studies and working with participants.



Brain chemistry and mental health

Huda Akil, Ph.D., co-director of the Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, co-director of the U-M node of the Pritzker Neuropsychiatric Research Consortium, and the Gardner C. Quarton Distinguished Professor of Neurosciences in the Department of Psychiatry, appeared on Seattle’s KUOW NPR “Weekday” radio program last week.  Akil discussed the relationship between depression and pain, addiction, and stress, treatments for depression, and how the complexities of brain function are involved in depression and related illnesses. Download the podcast or listen here.

Internet forums help support women through pregnancy loss

Nearly one in six pregnancies end in miscarriage or stillbirth, but parents’ losses are frequently minimized or not acknowledged by friends, family, or the community. A study led by Katherine J. Gold, M.D., M.S.W., M.S., a Depression Center member, assistant professor of family medicine, and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology, explored how Internet communities and message boards increasingly provide a place for women to share feelings about these life-altering experiences. Findings from the anonymous survey of more than 1,000 women will be published in Women’s Health Issues and were featured on MSN Health and CNET.com.

Good sleep can help ward off sickness

Leslie Swanson, Ph.D., clinical lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry and a Depression Center member, was quoted in an article that appeared on MSN.com and CNN.com about ways to prevent getting sick this winter. Inadequate sleep can make it more difficult for the immune system to function, but as Swanson noted, “For many of us, the only quiet time we have to think through things is when we’re lying down at bedtime. Unfortunately, problem-solving in bed interferes with sleep.”

Medical marijuana for anxiety?

K. Luan Phan, M.D., was quoted in a Detroit News article about recent petitions to expand the list of conditions allowed under Michigan’s cannabis law. Phan, a Depression Center member and an associate professor of psychiatry, noted that while current studies are examining the effects of the active ingredient in marijuana to help ease anxiety, no conclusive evidence supports its use as an effective treatment for anxiety disorders at this time.

Preschoolers understand threats in household violence

Results of a U-M study suggest that preschool-aged children in families experiencing recent intimate partner violence are able to meaningfully respond to statements about their parents’ conflicts. The study, authored by Laura Miller, graduate student in psychology, Kathryn Howell, a postdoctoral psychiatry student, and Sandra Graham-Bermann, Ph.D., a Depression Center member and professor of psychology and psychiatry, appears in the current issue of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence and is featured on HealthCanal.com.

U-M Athletic Director offers congrats on UMDC’s 10th anniversary, calls for more depression education within athletics

On October 14, David Brandon, U-M director of athletics, met with members of the Depression Center’s National Advisory Board and Scientific Advisory Board. To help provide a framework for the Depression Center’s launch of its 10th anniversary, Mr. Brandon, a former CEO of Domino’s Pizza, discussed how organizations align priorities and develop strategies to achieve their vision. Following the meeting, in his blog Mr. Brandon offered his congratulations to the Depression Center on its work over the last 10 years, and called for greater depression awareness within athletics.



November 9: 16th Annual Raymond Waggoner Lecture on Ethics and Values in Medicine
"On Becoming a Physician: Stresses and Strengths of Physicians-in-Training."

November 15: Bright Nights – Partnering for Research: The Search for New Knowledge in Mental Health
7:00-8:30pm, Ann Arbor District Library, Downtown Branch

November 17: Depression Center Colloquium
“Is Depression Contagious? New Findings on how Mental Health Evolves in Social Networks and Populations”

November 18: Michigan Summit on Military Families
Registration is now closed, but conference organizers are keeping a waiting list.



Registration now open for the 10th Annual Depression on College Campuses Conference

March 7-8, 2012
Rackham Graduate School

Many protective factors can help individuals at risk of depressive illnesses to maintain wellness and prevent relapse, including resilience, social connections, mindfulness, and positive thinking. How can we reframe the campus mental health mission to include prevention of depression through a focus on student strengths?

Join us for the 10th Annual Depression on College Campuses Conference to learn about new research findings and innovative strategies to help college campuses integrate prevention, resilience, and positive mental health into their ongoing efforts for students.

Registration is now open online and is FREE for all students from any campus, and $130 for non-students (before February 1). For more information, please visit our website or contact Trish Meyer at 734-763-7495 or meyerpa@umich.edu.

Phil Jenkins Awards for Innovation in Depression Treatment

The U-M Depression Center is pleased to announce the availability of funds to foster innovative ideas for treatment or self-management of depression, to improve the quality of life for people living with depressive illnesses and their families, and to develop innovative strategies to sustain wellness once achieved.

Applications for the Phil Jenkins Award for Innovation in Depression Treatment are being accepted from U-M graduate students, residents, post-doctoral fellows, or junior faculty. The award is intended to empower students and faculty to bring creative ideas to life, such as new diagnostic tests, treatment strategies, clinical monitoring approaches, or emerging products that would improve overall wellness. $10,000 in award funds will be given out to one or more applicants for a one-year period. Visit our website for more information on the awards and how to apply, and to download the Request for Proposals. The 2011 application deadline is December 15.

Prechter honored as a 2011 “Ambassador of the Year”

The November/December 2011 issue of Ambassador magazine profiles Waltraud “Wally” Prechter, the founder of the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund at the U-M Depression Center.  The article commends Prechter’s success in bringing together public and private sectors to provide support bipolar research and describes some of the fund’s promising new initiatives, such as  using induced pluripotent stem cells to study the mechanisms of bipolar disorder. Read the entire article here.

We welcome suggestions about the content and format of this publication – please email lhutchen@umich.edu with your feedback.

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