Category Archives: Papers

Is the ‘default mode network’ responsible for the mental health crisis in youth?

(Note: I wrote up this blog as a commentary, which is now published in the same journal as response to the editorial. PDF, DOI 10.31234/ The very short answer is: no, youth mental health problems are not generally due to the default mode network (DMN). But the editorial in Current Psychiatry that claims it may… Read more »

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 »

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 »

Common problems of factors models in psychopathology research

I recently stumbled across the paper “A metastructural model of mental disorders and pathological personality traits”, authored by Aidan Wright and Leonard Simms in 2015. I enjoyed reading it: it’s a strong methodological paper, using state-of-the-art exploratory structural equation models (ESEM). It would have been a pleasure for me to review this paper: a very… 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 »

The genetics of major depression remain elusive

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Nature didn’t want our commentary ;) … so we publish it here instead. A commentary by Eiko Fried, Sophie van der Sluis, and Angelique Cramer (PDF) A recent study published in Nature by the CONVERGE consortium1 identified two Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) that replicated across two samples of Han-Chinese women with… Read more »