October 17, 2012


National mental health research award goes to U-M duo

Huda Akil, Ph.D., and Stan Watson, M.D., Ph.D., co-directors of the U-M Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute, members of the Depression Center, professors of psychiatry, and husband-and-wife research collaborators since the mid-1970s, have been named the winners of the 2012 Sarnat Prize. The Institute of Medicine bestows this honor to salute outstanding work in mental illness and addiction. For Akil and Watson, the prize recognizes decades of work that have revealed key aspects of the molecules and neurobiological circuitry behind pain and stress and substantially expanded understanding of mood disorders, addiction, and other conditions, findings that have pointed the way to new targets for treatment and prevention. Read more...

Bocknek receives 2012 Ouida Clinical Scholar Award

Congratulations to Erika London Bocknek, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in the Women and Infants Mental Health Program in the Department of Psychiatry, who is the 2012 recipient of the Todd Ouida Clinical Scholar Award. These awards are designed to further the work of outstanding young researchers working in childhood anxiety and depression. Read more...



Survivors of suicide support group forming

The U-M Depression Center and Department of Psychiatry are now organizing a support group for adults who have lost a loved one to suicide. These meetings will be held twice-monthly for cycles of eight sessions.” . This support group will offer opportunities to:

- Develop a caring support network
- Learn healthy coping and healing skills
- Provide a safe place for survivors to share thoughts and feelings
- Learn about bereavement and grief and their impact on us

The group will meet at U-M’s Turner Senior Resource Center the second and fourth Thursday of each month from 7-8:30 p.m. The support group is free, but pre-registration is required, and only adults 18 years or older may attend. Sessions will be professionally facilitated by social workers from U-M’s Psychiatric Emergency Services. Contact Kim Ballard at 734-936-4855 to register or learn more.

Autism Spectrum Disorders parent education seminars

The U-M Department of Psychiatry's Autism Spectrum Disorders Program now offers a free monthly educational seminar for parents. The seminars are intended to provide evidence-based education on diagnosis, treatment, access to care, and coping strategies to caretakers of children and young adults with an autism spectrum disorder. Seminars are held at the Rachel Upjohn Building on the fourth Wednesday of each month from 6-7:30 p.m.; please contact Sue Wonnacott at 734-764-0250 for more information and the schedule of upcoming topics. The first seminar will take place on October 24.



Depression on College Campuses Conference: Save the Date!

The 11th-annual Depression on College Campuses Conference will be held February 26-27, 2013 at the Rackham Graduate School (Ann Arbor). This year's conference explores the theme of "Moving Toward Healthy Self-Care," with information on new research findings and model programs to help campuses better identify students with depressive illnesses who may be using unhealthy coping mechanisms to manage their symptoms, and better support these students in moving toward healthy self-management and effective treatment.

National Research Summit on Reserve Component Military Families

This two-day interdisciplinary forum will stimulate discussion and understanding of the latest research, effective mental health interventions, and dissemination strategies specific to the needs of National Guard and Reserve families. The summit will be held April 25-26, 2013 at the Michigan League on U-M’s Ann Arbor campus.  Please mark your calendars; registration will open in December and will be limited.  Please email Patty White with any questions or to receive event-related announcements.



Depression can make distinguishing between negative emotions difficult

People with clinical depression can have a hard time telling the difference between negative emotions such as anger and guilt, a new U-M study has found. Recently published in Psychological Science and featured on HealthCanal.com, the study team included Depression Center Associate Director Patricia Deldin, Ph.D. The ability to differentiate between various emotional experiences affects how people deal with life stressors, and being unable to distinguish certain emotions from each other might lead to someone choosing an action that is not appropriate, thus exacerbating the problem, the authors maintain.

Helping graduate students find resources for depression

The journal Nature interviewed Depression Center member Daniel Eisenberg, Ph.D., associate professor of health management and policy, in an article about efforts by universities to find graduate and postdoctoral students the help they need to manage depression and anxiety, as many do not seek it out themselves. “Students have competing priorities, from academic deadlines to social activities, that make it easy to put off caring for yourself — whether consciously or unconsciously,” Eisenberg said.

Depression and bipolar research clearinghouse launches nationally

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and the U-M Depression Center proudly announce the national launch of WeSearchTogether.org, an initiative that strives to bridge the gap between researchers and individuals living with depression or bipolar disorder, helping them work together to create a better future for people with these illnesses. WeSearchTogether.org provides answers to general questions about mental health research, stories from real research participants and researchers, guides to help individuals make informed decisions about participating in research, and a database of mood disorder studies that can connect people across the U.S. to relevant studies in their geographic area.

Visit WeSearchTogether.org to find out more and get involved.

Poor sleep can put teens’ health at risk

Depression Center member Roseanne Armitage, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry, was quoted in an article in the Ottawa Citizen about the major health risks facing teens with poor sleep habits. These include memory issues, an increased risk of depression, anxiety, and thoughts of suicide, and a greater likelihood of substance abuse. In the article, Armitage also offers some tips for teens to improve the quantity and quality of their sleep.

Giving thanks for opportunities to focus on wellness

Our Depression Toolkit provides reflections on the origins of harvest festival traditions and the lessons they can offer for managing depression during stressful holiday periods.

Breast cancer’s emotional toll

In addition to the pain and other physical discomforts that women with breast cancer often have to manage, the disease can also contribute to significant psychological issues, which may emerge in the form of anxiety, depression, substance misuse, or other distress that may come with having to cope with life not being the way it used to be. A Detroit Free Press article about the importance of finding support for emotional as well as physical health when dealing with breast cancer quoted Michelle Riba, M.D., M.S., director of the PsychOncology Program at the U-M Comprehensive Cancer Center, and an associate director of the Depression Center. The Free Press also lists southeast Michigan community support resources available to people and their loved ones coping with cancer.

Changes to Medicare mental health coverage

Depression Center member Kara Zivin, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, was quoted in a Detroit Free Press special report on changes to Medicare benefits, which include some expanded coverage for medications used to treat anxiety and insomnia and some other chronic mental disorders. “A lot of seniors retire and are happy and are living out their lives,” Zivin said. “But for others, depression, anxiety and sleep disorders – they interact with other health problems. It’s really important that these medications are covered the same way [medications for] physical disabilities are covered.”

Exploring depression’s genetic basis

A column in the Cape Gazette discussed a seminal 2011 metaanalysis conducted by a team led by Depression Center member Srijan Sen, M.D., Ph.D., which found that people with a certain variation of a serotonin transporter gene may be more susceptible to depression when under stress.

Outreach for depression and suicide awareness

Eric Hipple recently spoke with FOX11-Green Bay about his son’s depression and eventual suicide, which helped lead Hipple to his current work with the Depression Center in promoting depression and suicide awareness through outreach. He also discussed common signs of depression and suicidal behaviors in young people as well as promising emerging trends in stigma reduction around mental health. Hipple was also recently interviewed by the Akron Legal News.

Smoking while pregnant

Last week, Michigan Radio’s State of Opportunity spoke with Depression Center member Katherine Gold, M.D., M.S.W., assistant professor of family medicine and obstetrics and gynecology. Gold’s focus group research has found that many women continue to smoke during their pregnancy, but do not inform their healthcare providers.



October 20: Military Family Support Forum (ANN ARBOR)

October 23: Bright Nights Community Forum
Understanding Bipolar Disorder

October 24: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

November 3: Military Family Support Forum (CLINTON-MACOMB)

November 7: Family Education Workshop

November 8: Growing through Grief workshop

November 12: 6th Annual Prechter Lecture
Stem Cells and Ethics

November 14: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

November 16: Depression Center Colloquium
Stress sensitivity as a biological marker for depression

November 17: Military Family Support Forum (ANN ARBOR)

November 27: Bright Nights Community Forum
The Adolescent Brain: A Work in Progress

November 28: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

December 5: Family Education Workshop

December 8: Military Family Support Forum (CLINTON-MACOMB)

December 12: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

December 13: Growing through Grief workshop

December 15: Military Family Support Forum (ANN ARBOR)

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




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