June 5, 2012


Announcing WeSearchTogether.org, a new research clearinghouse

A shortage of research participants is hindering the pace of research at U-M and nationwide.  To address this problem, the U-M Depression Center has joined forces with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) in launching the WeSearchTogether initiative, which aims to advance depression and bipolar disorder research by encouraging volunteer participation and enhancing community-researcher relationships. WeSearchTogether’s nationwide clearinghouse connects people living with mental health conditions to opportunities to participate in studies that are seeking volunteers. It also gives potential participants a say in the priorities, direction, and evaluation of mental health research.

This research needs you! Visit WeSearchTogether.org to learn more, and please pass this along to friends, family, and colleagues who may be interested. Volunteers living with depression or bipolar disorder as well as people not affected by these conditions are urgently needed.

Researchers are also encouraged to add their studies needing participants to the WeSearchTogether clearinghouse; this document will help you get started.

Also new from DBSA, the “Positive Six Campaign,” which challenges people to take positive actions over the next six months to work toward better mental health and strengthen connections to family, friends, and community. Visit postitive6.org to learn more...

Video profiles of Depression Center researchers

Our YouTube channel now features interviews with eleven Depression Center members discussing the work they do and their sources of inspiration. Visit YouTube.com and search for "Depression Center member” to watch the videos.

Sticking with your treatment plan

The summer issue of UPDATE (coming in July), the Depression Center’s quarterly print newsletter, will focus on treatment adherence, including strategies for overcoming common obstacles, and why following treatment plans is so important for managing depression and bipolar disorder. Our Depression Toolkit offers some tips for what you can do to help meet the goals that you and your providers establish for recovery and maintenance, whether your treatment plan involves medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, or a combination of these.



Bias seen in reporting of mental health drug research

When thousands of psychiatrists attend the American Psychiatric Association (APA) meeting, their field’s largest annual gathering, the presentations they hear about research into drug treatments report overwhelmingly positive results – and the results of industry-supported trials offer significantly ‘better news’ about the effectiveness of the medications tested. This bias could have an impact on prescribing patterns and could also diminish physicians’ awareness of the impact of generic medicines and “talk therapy,” says Depression Center member Srijan Sen, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry. Sen’s new study, which was published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology and is featured on PsychCentral, details the results of an analysis of the presentations given at two recent APA meetings.

Predicting depression treatment response through biomarkers

Depression researchers have long been trying to pinpoint which factors can predict how well a given treatment will work for a particular individual, with the goal of making treatment decisions more effective and more personalized.  As it is, most people with depression must try multiple treatment plans before finding one that improves their condition. A new study aiming to identify medical tests, or biomarkers, that can help determine which depression treatments will work best for which people was recently featured in the Huffington Post. The U-M Depression Center is one of the study sites. Read more...

Brittany Snow: Say it loud

The Spring 2012 issue of esperanza magazine profiles the advocacy work of actress and ‘Love is Louder’ founder Brittany Snow, who headlined the recent Depression on College Campuses conference at U-M (watch her keynote address with Love is Louder director Courtney Knowles here). Her story echoes the Mental Health Month theme for May 2012: Trauma can affect anyone, and healing is possible for everyone. Read more...

Students create powerful depression awareness projects

Saline High School

Seven high school teams developed comprehensive depression awareness campaigns -- which included several videos -- through their participation in the 2011-2012 Peer-to-Peer (P2P) program with the Depression Center. Shadi Ahmadmehrabi (who was also a finalist for the 2012 Young Citizen of the Year Award from Ann Arbor.com!) of Community High’s P2P team described this year’s projects in an article in the online version of The Communicator, Community High’s newspaper, where team videos are also posted.

Discussing feelings, recognizing warning signs could save children’s lives

Articles in the Detroit Free Press and USA Today reporting on the recent suicide of a seven-year-old boy quoted Depression Center member Polly Gipson, Ph.D. "Any time a child makes a threat or engages in talking about suicide, it should always be taken seriously," said Gipson, a child psychologist at U-M's Center for the Child and the Family and a research investigator in the Department of Psychiatry. “We shouldn't think that because a child is a child, there's no way (he or she) can act on those behaviors.”

Providing help to athletes in transition

The recent suicide of former Patriots linebacker Junior Seau brought renewed attention to the mental health of professional athletes, both active and retired. The Depression Center’s professional athlete evaluation program, a partnership with the NFL Players Association, was mentioned in a Boston.com article that discussed Seau’s case and the difficulties many players have returning to a “normal” life post-retirement. The Detroit News’ Chris McCosky also wrote an incredibly powerful piece in the aftermath of Seau’s death, which moved him to discuss his own struggles with depression and thoughts of suicide.

A walk in the park can provide mental boost to those with depression

Nature walks can improve memory, concentration, and mood for people with clinical depression, according to a recent study that involved U-M researchers (and was conducted in Ann Arbor's downtown area and arboretum!). The research is part of a cognitive science field known as Attention Restoration Theory (ART), which proposes that interacting with natural settings helps refresh cognitive abilities by diminishing external distractions that can interfere with focus and memory.

Ask Dr. Nandi premiere features U-M addictions specialist

Depression Center member Dr. Stephen Strobbe, addictions nursing specialist at the University of Michigan Addiction Treatment Services (UMATS) and adjunct clinical assistant professor at the U-M School of Nursing, appeared in the premiere episode (on May 16) of Ask Dr. Nandi, now airing Wednesdays at 11am on WADL TV 38 (Detroit). On his new show, Dr. Partha Nandi, who completed his gastroenterology fellowship at U-M, aims to provide patients with practical advice and solutions for their medical problems; the first episode discussed prescription drug abuse.

Self-injury among teens

David Rosen, M.D., M.P.H., a professor of psychiatry, pediatrics, and internal medicine and a member of the Depression Center, was quoted in a Pocono Record article discussing the warning signs of self-mutilation among adolescents, and how parents can find help if they suspect a problem.

Neurosurgeon appears on The Doctors

Depression Center member Parag Patil, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of neurosurgery, anesthesiology, and biomedical engineering, appeared on The Doctors to demonstrate how deep brain stimulation (DBS) was used to treat a patient with Parkinson’s disease. View the segments of the show here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. Dr. Patil is also involved in research at U-M investigating DBS as a potential treatment for severe depression.

Resiliency in early teens can protect against later substance use

Resiliency is a measure of people’s ability to flexibly adapt their behaviors to fit the surroundings in which they find themselves. Low resiliency during childhood has been linked to later alcohol/drug problems during the teenage years. A new study authored by several researchers from the Department of Psychiatry and the Depression Center has examined brain function and connectivity to assess linkages between resiliency and working memory, finding that higher resiliency may be protective against later alcohol/drug use. Read more...

Celebrity viewpoints and scientific merit

Why are celebrities’ opinions on matters of scientific debate often granted equal or greater airtime than the views of the experts in those fields?  An article in Time.com about this disproportionate exposure (“Why Jenny McCarthy Doesn’t Matter”) quoted Depression Center member Gary Freed, M.D., M.P.H., chief of the division of general pediatrics and director of the Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit at U-M’s C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, who said, “Celebrities are juxtaposed to medical experts as credible sources of information by the media. As long as that continues to occur, the public will continue to assume they are as credible as credible sources really are.”


Geographic variation in unnecessary medical procedures

The Washington Post , NPR, and other media quoted Marianne Udow-Phillips, a member of the Depression Center’s National Advisory Board and director of the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation (CHRT), on a CHRT report on cardiac procedures in Michigan that showed regional variation in certain types of treatments.

Photo Credit: David Goldman - AP



Following his recent gift to benefit innovative stem cell research conducted by the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Program, Carl Stern of Solano Beach, California, has provided additional financial support to posttraumatic stress disorder research led by Dr. Israel Liberzon, and to the Buddy-to-Buddy veteran mentorship program (an M-SPAN initiative). He also continues to support the stem cell research.  We thank Mr. Stern for providing critical funding to these important projects!



Ongoing : Workshops and support groups

The U-M Depression Center and Ambulatory Psychiatry offer free workshops and support groups for patients and families to help everyone learn more about risk factors, treatment options, communications skills, healthy living, and more.
June 9: Military Family Support Forum (ANN ARBOR)

June 23: Military Family Support Forum (CLINTON-MACOMB)

July 21: Military Family Support Forum (ANN ARBOR)

July 28: Military Family Support Forum (CLINTON-MACOMB)


Stem cells and ethics the focus of Annual Prechter Lecture

John Kelsoe, M.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Diego, will deliver the keynote presentation at the 6th Annual Prechter Lecture on Monday, November 12, 1-5pm in the Rackham Amphitheater, 4th floor. Dr. Kelsoe will discuss the ethical implications of stem cells. Please mark your calendars!

Save the date for the 2012 Ann Arbor “Out of the Darkness” Walk

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s annual “Out of the Darkness” walk in Ann Arbor will take place Sunday, September 23, 2012 at Gallup Park. You can register for this and other community walks on the Out of the Darkness website. AFSP walks are held nationwide during the fall months to raise funds and awareness for suicide prevention. Interested in volunteering to help organize the 2012 walk? Contact Karen McLaurin.



Welcome desk seeks volunteers

Patients, families, and other visitors to the Department of Psychiatry and Depression Center in the Rachel Upjohn Building are now greeted by a volunteer concierge seated at a newly installed desk at the building's front entrance. Interested volunteers should contact Luann Stewart at 232-3385. Each potential volunteer concierge will need to complete training through UMHS Volunteer Services.

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




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