Category Archives: Depression

Treatment-resistant depression: clarifications and important steps forward

I wrote this commentary together with Adam Chekroud. You can find a PDF version of this commentary here. Introduction The largest and longest investigation of treatment-resistant depression (TRD) to date, the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D), was conducted in four stages. Each stage comprised a different medication, and patients moved to the next… Read more »

New paper: the 52 symptoms of major depression

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I published a new paper in the Journal of Affective Disorders entitled “The 52 symptoms of major depression: Lack of content overlap among seven common depression scales” (PDF). The paper examines content overlap of 7 common depression scales, and concludes that the scales feature 52 distinct depression symptoms that are listed in the main Figure… Read more »

New paper on responsiveness of depression rating scales

After reviewing the paper “The relative responsiveness of test instruments can be estimated using a meta-analytic approach: an illustration with treatments for depression” by Kounali et al. 2016, the editor invited me to write a response because I raised the point that a large amount of researchers seem to misunderstand the concept of scale responsiveness…. Read more »

Ketamine as promising treatment for suicidal thoughts?

Imagine you are a group of scientists and want to find out whether a novel drug X works on a specific problem Y. You run the following study: You enroll a small sample of 14 participants who have the problem Y. You give these 14 participants your novel drug, but you do not enroll a… Read more »

Adjunctive Nutraceuticals as depression treatment

(Series: critical commentaries on depression trials. Prior posts: 1, 2, 3, 4) Antidepressants only marginally outperform placebos (Khan & Brown, 2015) – which has led to a number of novel strategies to try to improve treatment for patients suffering from depressive disorders. Adjunctive Nutraceuticals present one such strategy: providing patients with specific forms of dietary… Read more »

Hyperthermia as depression treatment

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A few months back, a study was published in JAMA Psychiatry claiming that whole-body hyperthermia is an effective treatment for depression (UPDATE: the paper was published in full now on August 6th 2016, some time after the online first print). For those who don’t know psychiatric journals very well, JAMA Psychiatry is currently ranked highest… Read more »

Adjunctive Brexpiprazole as depression treatment?

Dr. Fava and colleagues have published an antidepressant trial on adjunctive Brexpiprazole, a novel atypical antipsychotic drug that was developed to treat schizophrenia, in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. The trial consisted of 4 steps: The authors carefully selected 50 patients who had not shown improvements with their current antidepressant. These patients received 2 more… Read more »

Is Seasonal Affective Disorder really just a “Folk Construct”?

Unpublished commentary. PDF, DOI 10.13140/RG.2.1.5149.7362. By: Eiko I. Fried, University of Leuven, Belgium Lauren M. Bylsma, University of Pittsburgh, USA Randolph M. Nesse, Arizona State University, USA After submitting the commentary to Clinical Psych Science, the Editor wrote us that they generally do not publish commentaries, despite the website stating they do. Unfortunate … we’ll… Read more »

Prescribing antidepressants to depressed pregnant women

Dr Payne, director of the Women’s Mood Disorders Center and an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University, has written a commentary on the website of the American Psychiatric Association entitled “Yes or No: Prescribing Antidepressants to Pregnant Patients”. Her main argument is summarized in the abstract of the article:

Common depression scales are neither unidimensional nor measurement invariant

We published a new study in Psychological Assessment a few days ago, and I would like to take the time to explain what these results imply. You can find the full text here. Let me summarize the findings first. We examined 2 crucial psychometric assumptions that are part of nearly all contemporary depression research. We… Read more »

Molecular Psychiatry commentary: Fried & Kievit 2015

On December 15th, Molecular Psychiatry published our commentary “The volumes of subcortical regions in depressed and healthy individuals are strikingly similar: a reinterpretation of the results by Schmaal et al”. You can find the full text PDF in the above link if you have a subscription to the journal, otherwise see the project’s open science… Read more »

Overinterpretation of SSRI study results: Halaris et al. 2015

Halaris and colleagues published a paper in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in which they studied the impact of the SSRI antidepressant escitalopram (ESC) in a group of 30 depressed patients. Only 20 participants completed the trial, and there was no placebo group. The authors tracked the level of a number of inflammatory markers and… Read more »

How to not interpret novel drug results: Fava et al. 2015

Imagine you are the editor of, or reviewer for, a very prestigious scientific journal, and you receive a paper about the efficacy of a novel drug for, say, cancer or HIV. You know that current drugs only work for about 1 out of 3 patients, so there are certainly large incentives to develop new drugs…. Read more »

New overview article in The Psychologist

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The folks at The Psychologist were kind enough to publish a short overview piece that summarizes the current problems we are facing in depression research, the problematic assumptions the research community holds about depression that have contributed to this dramatic lack of progress that has gone on for over half a century now, and solutions… Read more »