January 22, 2013


The promise of depression biomarkers

What is a “biomarker?” Generally speaking, these are biological characteristics that can be measured in the human body. When measured in the clinic or lab, biomarkers can signal the presence of a disease or the risk of developing one. They can help health care professionals assess the likelihood that an illness will respond to a specific treatment, monitor disease progression or treatment success, or predict long-term outcomes. Several studies at the U-M Depression Center are examining potential biomarkers that offer the greatest promise for improving the detection, evaluation, and treatment of depression and related illnesses. Read more...

Getting to know our patients

This post on the "Mott blog" talks about the secret to providing great care for teens, and celebrates one man - Dr. David Rosen - who has taught us all a lesson in the importance of understanding someone’s “spirit.” Rosen is a U-M adolescent medicine physician and a long-time Depression Center member who recently opened an innovative new clinic at U-M offering much-needed treatment and care for children and young adults with eating disorders – the only day-treatment program of its kind in Michigan. After more than 20 years at U-M, Dr. Rosen is no longer seeing patients in order to spend time with his family while addressing health concerns. Read more...

Postpartum depression presents health risks for moms and babies in low-income countries

Maternal depression has been linked to poor infant nutrition and growth, diarrhea, respiratory illness, and problems with sleep, behavior, and attachment in low- and middle-income nations.  A recently published U-M study found that two-thirds of mothers of ill newborns in Ghana were at high risk for symptoms of clinical depression, which means these babies are more likely to face some of these additional significant health risks. While postpartum depression in Africa appears to be as and perhaps even more common than in high-income countries, very little research has looked at maternal mental health in developing nations. Efforts to reduce child mortality and improve infant growth, health, and nutritional status in less-developed countries must address the mental health of new moms, suggests the study, led by Depression Center member Katherine Gold, M.D., M.S.W., M.S., assistant professor of family medicine and of obstetrics and gynecology. Read more...

Understanding depression in teens

Michigan Radio’s Stateside recently discussed suicide among young people and the symptoms of depression in teens with Richard Dopp, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry and a Depression Center member, and Eric Hipple, Depression Center outreach coordinator. Both guests emphasized the importance of taking any signs of teen depression seriously, while also acknowledging the challenges of distinguishing those symptoms from typical teen behavior. Listen to the segment or read the transcript here.

Helping children cope with tragic news

Following the horrific events in Newtown, Conn., last month, Depression Center members Kate Rosenblum, Ph.D., and Julie Kaplow, Ph.D., provided information to various media outlets for parents to help their children cope with and understand the news of the tragedy. Rosenblum contributed a piece to the Mott Children’s blog, was interviewed by Wisconsin Public Radio on At Issue with Ben Merens, The Register Citizen (Litchfield County, Conn.), and WDIV- Detroit (Channel 4), while Kaplow spoke with AnnArbor.com.

Kaplow and Rosenblum are the director and co-director (along with co-director Cheryl King, Ph.D.) of U-M’s Trauma and Grief (TAG) Clinic for Youth within the Department of Psychiatry, a designated Community Treatment and Services Center of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Violent behavior – a difficult prediction

Even for highly trained mental health professionals, assessing an individual’s potential for committing future violent acts is a complex exercise with many uncertainties. In the wake of the  Newtown, Conn., school shooting, Depression Center member Alan Teo, Ph.D., who recently published an evaluation of a tool for assessing imminent risk of violence by patients in acute psychiatric care settings, spoke with the LA Times’ "Booster Shots" health blog about the difficulties in predicting anyone’s propensity for violence over the long-term, and the hazards of assuming that mental illness by itself makes an individual more likely to engage in violent behavior. Teo, a psychiatrist at U-M, also spoke with NPR’s Morning Edition about his study, which found that even experienced psychiatrists were wrong about which patients would become violent about 30 percent of the time. These findings are particularly relevant in light of recently passed New York state legislation aimed at preventing gun violence by requiring mental health professionals to report patients they consider likely to do harm to themselves or others.

The hoop-la over head injuries in basketball

A recent article on ESPN.com profiled Depression Center member Jeffrey Kutcher, M.D.’s role in developing and implementing new head injury protocols for the NBA. Kutcher says that while pro basketballers don’t receive the repetitive hits experienced by athletes in football or hockey or other collision-based sports, blows to the head in basketball are far more common – and injuries far more serious – than many people realize. “To be able to monitor brain health over the course of the season and a career is something that we have to do regardless of the level of impact,” Kutcher, who directs Michigan NeuroSport, said. Read more...

Football and mental health – a complex mosaic

Head injury is just one of many factors that may have played a part in recent suicides among former NFL players. Eric Hipple, Depression Center outreach coordinator and a former NFL quarterback, recently spoke with Sports Illustrated’s Peter King about the need to address depression, chronic pain, and a host of career transition issues that players may face upon their retirement. The focus on chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative condition often caused by multiple blows to the head, as a contributor in some recent high-profile suicides can overshadow other common post-retirement challenges that can influence the well-being of former players, King and Hipple maintain. (Evidence of CTE was recently discovered in the brain of retired NFL linebacker Junior Seau, who committed suicide last May). Rather, CTE “should be part of a mosaic of the post-career player issues. But it shouldn't be the only thing experts study when lives go so tragically wrong,” King writes. Read more...

New designer drug ban in Michigan

Kirk Brower, M.D., executive director of U-M Addiction Treatment Services (UMATS) and a Depression Center member, was quoted in an Ann Arbor.com article that describes Michigan’s move to ban a new class of psychotic, synthetic drugscalled Phenylethylamines, which includes common brand names like “Smiles.” Brower said approximately 60 to 80 percent of the teens evaluated in UMATS have either been offered a drug like Smiles or know how to get it.



Big Boy International partners with Prechter Bipolar Research Fund

Big Boy is a registered trademark of Big Boy Restaurants International LLC

From February 4 through March 31, Big Boy company-owned restaurants in Michigan and Ohio will promote bipolar disorder research efforts by providing informational materials and donation cans to benefit the Heinz C. Prechter Bipolar Research Fund’s projects.  “We are very grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Big Boy group in getting the word out about bipolar illness and its debilitating effects on so many people,” says Melvin McInnis, M.D., the Thomas B. and Nancy Upjohn Woodworth Professor of Bipolar Disorder and Depression, the principal investigator of the Prechter Research Program, and associate director of the Depression Center. Big Boy International is a restaurant chain headquartered in Warren, Michigan. Look for promotions at your local Big Boy soon!



Genetics repository continues to grow

At the close of 2012, the Prechter Bipolar Genetics Repository at U-M had recorded 1,714 samples collected from its five participating sites.  The repository, the largest privately funded bipolar genetics collection in the U.S., is also unique because of the depth of data and biological materials gathered on the research participants who contribute the samples, including imaging data, electrophysiology, nutrition, stem cells, sleep, medication data, and, coming soon, speech data. The repository data has a richness unlike any other collection of bipolar research data in the world.



“Are We There Yet?”  A Road Map for Parenting Challenging Children

Parenting is a journey for all of us. We face bumps in the road and at times wish we had a “road map” to help us to be the best parents we can be for our children. New two-part workshops, offered at locations in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, are designed to provide skills and information for parenting. Useful for all parents, these workshops may be particularly useful for parents of children with attention or behavioral challenges. See workshop dates and register here.

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 view the program flyer or contact Sue Wonnacott at 734-764-0250 for more information and the schedule of upcoming topics.



Student veteran peer support program receives major grant

The transition to college life can be particularly challenging for recently returned veterans; a new program connects these students to trained peer advisors (also student veterans) who can provide support and links to resources to help them achieve educational and personal goals. The Peer Advisors for Veteran Education (PAVE) Program will receive nearly $1 million over three years from the Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation. Read more...

2012 Rachel Upjohn Clinical Scholar Award winners

Congratulations to these Depression Center members, who recently received Rachel Upjohn Clinical Scholar Awards the support the following projects:

  • Kyle Burghardt, Pharm D
    The Epigenetics of Atypical Antipsychotic Associated Metabolic Syndrome in Bipolar Disorder
  • Richard Dopp, M.D.
    The GREAT (Groups Receiving Exercise As Treatment) Study
  • David Tai Hsu, M.D.
    Peer victimization, brain opioids, and the risk for major depressive disorder
  • Nestor Lopez-Duran, Ph.D.
    Early neuroendocrine markers of depression in adolescents: Vulnerability or Prodrome?  
  • Brian Mickey, M.D., Ph.D.
    GABA Biomarkers and Depression  
  • Maria Muzik, M.D.
    Sleep, stress, oxytocin and inflammation: Biomarkers of major depression among pregnant women enrolled in a stress reduction intervention

Second phase M-Cubed awards include eleven Center members

MCubed is a two-year seed-funding program designed to empower interdisciplinary teams of U-M faculty to pursue new initiatives with major societal impact. The second “cubing phase” of the program included 11 Depression Center members among the awarded projects, which require collaboration between three researchers from at least two different units:



January 23: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

January 23: Autism Parent Education Seminar
How Do Professionals Diagnose and Determine Treatment Recommendations?

January 29: Bright Nights Community Forum
Lean on Me: Helping a Loved One to Cope with Depression

February 6: Family Education Workshop

February 13: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

February 14:  Growing through Grief workshop

February 21 and 28: Parenting Challenges Workshop

February 27: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

February 27: Autism Parent Education Seminar
Early Intensive Intervention (Part 1)

March 6: Family Education Workshop

March 13: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

March 19:
Bright Nights Community Forum
Current Treatments for Adolescent Eating Disorders

March 14: Growing through Grief workshop

March 21 and 28: Parenting Challenges Workshop

March 27: Depression & Bipolar Support Groups

March 27: Autism Parent Education Seminar
Social Skills, Problem Solving, and Higher Order Language Abilities in ASD (Part 2)


January 24 and 25: Family-Based Therapy for Adolescent Eating Disorders Workshop

February 26-27:
Depression on College Campuses Conference

March 22: Depression Center Colloquium
New Advances in the Theory, Measurement, and Treatment of Childhood Grief

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




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