Depression

courtesy of Dr. Monica Coleman

Monica Coleman has an impressive resume (bachelor’s degree from Harvard, master’s of divinity from Vanderbilt, Ph.D. from Claremont School of Theology), and she doesn’t shy away from talking about tough or deeply personal things.

She’s spoken out about her own trauma of having been raped and her disappointment with the inept and sometimes callous response from church leaders to victims of sexual violence.

But as open as Coleman has been about her experience as a victim of sexual assault, there was another part of herself she kept hidden for years — her struggle with debilitating depression.

Kaytee Rlek / Flickr

Seattle scientists have zeroed in on a part of the brain that seems to have an interesting job: motivating the brain’s owner to exercise. The findings could have implications for understanding depression.

The dorsal medial habenula is a little structure tucked inside the brain, above the brainstem. Psychiatrist Eric Turner of Seattle Children’s Research Institute knew it had something to do with regulating mood, but not a lot more.

“People asked me, 'Well, what does it do?' And I actually didn’t know. And when I looked it up I found that very little is known about this area of the brain,” he said.

iFly Seattle

You might think you’d have to be crazy to jump out of an airplane or scale a mountain with no ropes, but new research suggests extreme sports could actually have some therapeutic benefits for people with mental illness.

A Seattle-area therapist is hoping that action sports can help troubled young people find some relief, just as they helped him with his own struggles.

Finding the right treatment for depression can be a struggle. People find relief with the first treatment only 40 percent of the time. Trying different antidepressants or therapies can take months, which means months of suffering.

Scientists are trying to better the odds by searching for signals in the body or in behavior that could be signposts to the right treatment. Researchers at Emory University say that PET scans of the brain may help predict which people do better on SSRI antidepressants, and which would benefit most from cognitive behavioral therapy instead.

There's no quick fix for severe depression.

Although antidepressants like Prozac have been around since the 1970s, they usually take weeks to make a difference. And for up to 40 percent of patients, they simply don't work.

As a result, there are limited options when patients show up in an emergency room with suicidal depression.

The doctors and nurses at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston say they see this problem every day.

Rachel Solomon

Jenny Solomon has an entire room in her house dedicated to arts and crafts. She usually has 10 projects going on at the same time, and right now, she’s knitting a balloon animal, beading jewelry and learning to draw.

Solomon is wearing a necklace and bracelet she made, too. And in the free time she has left over, she plays the harp, a hobby she picked up from her childhood.

A Washington State University researcher says new findings about the emotions of rats could lead to treatments for mental illness in humans. Jaak Panksepp writes in the latest issue of the journal, Science.

He was reacting to a new study showing that rats demonstrate empathy and altruism toward a fellow rat who was stuck in a trap.