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Managing depression treatment and patient expectations in the digital age

Ellen Frank, PhD

Description: More than ever, patients in the digital age are equipped with information about their diseases and available treatments, including not only the benefits but also side effects. This has implications for the management of depression, among other conditions. Patients wish for their doctor to integrate their needs and expectations into their treatment plans. Dr. Frank argues that placing the patient at the center of treatment and adopting a collaborative decision-making approach may improve outcomes such as quality of life and function.

A healthy mind begins with a healthy body

David Castle, MD

Adopting a healthy lifestyle may help treat depression; while this may sound obvious, getting solid evidence from clinical trials is not so straight-forward. However, there is increasingly compelling evidence that lifestyle interventions are effective in treating depression. Dr. Castle discusses the benefits of a Mediterranean-style diet and provides general lifestyle recommendations, including regular and vigorous exercise, good sleep hygiene, natural light exposure, as well as avoidance of alcohol and substance abuse.

The resilient brain

Nic J.A. van der Wee, MD, PhD

There is a growing interest in the neurobiology of resilience and the neural underpinnings of interventions that can enhance positive adaptation and resilience. Dr. van der Wee reviews neuroimaging studies in patients exposed to trauma, comparing resilient subjects to other groups. He discusses the brain circuitry involved in resilience, as well as the differences in connectivity in relevant neural networks between these groups.

Overcoming taboos, misconceptions and stigma

Ana González-Pinto, MD

Treating major depressive disorder (MDD) remains a major challenge for psychiatrists and novel, innovative therapies are urgently needed. Dr. González-Pinto provides an overview of systematic treatment approaches for treatment-resistant depression and overall unmet needs in MDD treatment, then discusses some of the taboos and misconceptions associated with suicidality that could become roadblocks in MDD treatment.

Expert science exchange - Pathways to recovery: matching symptoms with brain circuits for personalised treatment of major depressive disorder

Brain structure and function: early life stress and neuronal development

Aniko Korosi, PhD

Early-life stress (ES) – in the form of maltreatment, malnutrition, and infection – can lead to cognitive impairment and vulnerability to psychopathology in adulthood. Dr. Korosi discusses the interplay between stress, nutrition, and neuroinflammation in early life programming. Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA’s) play key roles in neuronal development, neurogenesis, and immune modulation.

Start by asking the right questions

Koen Demyttenaere, MD, PhD

The variability in the items included in clinician- and patient-administered rating scales reflect the heterogeneity of depression, and whether assessments should be largely observer-rated, self-rated, or both remains a matter of debate. The key questions of whether the scales reflect patient goals and expectations remain. Dr. Demyttenaere discusses the need for rating scales to assess outcomes that are meaningful to patients, and talks about the Leuven Affect and Pleasure Scale in that regard.

Depression is not all in your head

Brenda Penninx, PhD

Psychopathology is still perceived as emerging predominantly – if not exclusively – from the brain. However, recent findings suggest that adopting a more comprehensive brain-body-environment approach would further our understanding and the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Dr. Penninx discusses new major advances in the study of psychiatric disorders with a comprehensive perspective, spanning from the synapse to the patient’s living conditions. She also discusses lifestyle interventions that may be beneficial for people with depression.

The future of MDD treatment: more focused, more precision

Siegfried Kasper, MD

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is associated with a heavy burden for both patients and society. Despite a range of pharmacotherapy options, achieving asymptomatic remission and complete functional recovery remains challenging. Dr. Kasper discusses the importance of treating MDD early in disease course and highlights the clinical use of Precision medicine, which considers both MDD symptomatology and its causes in a holistic manner.

This webpage is developed in collaboration with Pfizer Inc.