Post Of The Week – Saturday December 12th 2015

1) TED – Daniel Levitin On Stress

In this video, Daniel Levitin explains what stress does to our thinking and explains what we might do about it. Along the way, he refers to NNT, Number Needed To Treat, a concept from medical statistics which we use when looking at therapies for Depression.


2) Researching Anti-Stigma Campaigns

We have spent some time this week thinking about the Time To Change campaign as an example of minority social influence: a small group with a consistent but flexible message to which they are committed try to influence the attitudes, beliefs and behaviour of a larger group. It is reasonable to ask whether such interventions work, particularly at a time when mental health represents such a substantial disease burden across the globe.

This article reviews what is known. Anti-stigma campaigns work in general and work on attitudes and knowledge more than on behaviour. In which particular settings they work and how they actually reduce stigma is less clear. Getting rid of stigma is not just about making the world a nicer place. Stigma stops people accessing therapy and getting better.


3) Major Depression And Inflammation

Biological explanations of depression based on the serotonin system are increasingly seen as inadequate. There is no real evidence that depression comes about through lack of serotonin. Other attempts to explain depression biologically are therefore in play.

This article refers to research about the effects of inflammation on the brain. As with other such explanations, once we know why something happens, we can begin to treat it.


4) CBT and IPT

IPT sometimes gets treated as the poor relation in he resources we use in our course. It’s the one you have to do alongside CBT, which is much more common and rather better researched.

This article considers the effectiveness of IPT and CBT for young people aged between 6 and 18 years who suffer from depression. Both IPT and CBT work. IPT seems to be a bit better in the long term and also to be more acceptable to people. What’s most interesting here is the type of advanced meta-analysis which is used which incorporates connections between different types of data. Pim Cuijpers, whose work we use on the course, is one of the authors of the original paper.


5) NPR On Obesity

NPR has been running some pieces on obesity this week. Here is a piece on  the food industry manipulates the types of food we eat.

Here’s Francis Collins of NIH on interventions for obesity.

Collins has something to say about concordance in twins for obesity and about the genetic basis of obesity.


6) BPS Research Digest

The digest which this blog imitates is 10 years old and there is a report about a birthday party and some other fine links on this week’s edition.

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