Do antidepressants work better than placebo?

Scientists have been debating the efficacy of antidepressants for decades. The latest paper to throw its hat into the ring concludes that there is little evidence to show that they perform better than placebos.

In 2017, around 17.3 million adults in the United States experienced an episode of major depression.

Alongside talking therapies such as psychotherapy, many people with depression take antidepressants.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 2011–2014 survey found that 12.7% of U.S. individuals aged 12 or above had taken antidepressant medication in the previous month.

Full story at Medical News Today

New psychosis treatment targets genetic mutation instead of symptoms

A novel treatment that targets the biological effects of a specific genetic mutation could help alleviate the symptoms of psychosis, a new study finds.

Deborah L. Levy, Ph.D. — from the McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA — led the new study, the findings of which now appear in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

It revealed that people who had additional copies of a certain gene, instead of the regular two, benefited from the treatment.

The mutation, called a copy number variant (CNV), affects the glycine decarboxylase gene.

Full story at Medical News Today

This herbal supplement ‘poses a public health threat’

Kratom, which is a plant-derived supplement, is growing in popularity. A new report provides further evidence of its adverse effects and calls for more research.

Kratom is an extract from the tropical tree Mitragyna speciosa, a relative of the coffee plant.

Historically, manual laborers in Southeast Asia have used the compound — either chewing the leaves or making them into tea — to soothe aches and pains and boost energy levels.

As it stands, kratom is not illegal in the United States, and people can easily purchase it online.

Full story at Medical News Today

Brain structure may play key role in psychosis

New research finds that having a larger choroid plexus, which is a vital brain structure, could be involved in psychosis.

Variations in the structure of the choroid plexus, which produces cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), could play a key role in psychosis.

A team that Dr. Paulo Lizano — of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA — led has now investigated this vital structure.

In doing so, they found that there could be a link between its size and the development of psychosis.

Full story at Medical News Today

Gene linked to cannabis abuse

New research from the Danish psychiatric project, iPSYCH, shows that a specific gene is associated with an increased risk of cannabis abuse. The gene is the source of a so-called nicotine receptor in the brain, and people with low amounts of this receptor have an increased risk of cannabis abuse.

Cannabis is the most commonly used illegal drug in both Denmark and internationally, and around one in ten users becomes addicted to the drug. Researchers from iPSYCH have discovered a gene that they associate with the abuse of cannabis.

“We discovered that the disorder was associated with a genetic variant. This variant affects how much of a certain nicotine receptor is formed in the brain,” explains Associate Professor Ditte Demontis from Aarhus University, who is behind the study.

Full story at Science Daily