Emory Brain Health Center

Innovative Research: Freezing the Hunger Nerve in the Brain for Weight Loss

Dr J David Prologo with a patientAccording to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the obesity epidemic is at an all-time high, with almost 40 percent of Americans qualifying as obese.

It’s no surprise that the diet industry has capitalized on this startling statistic. Each year, more than 45 million Americans go on diet plans or utilize diet products, making it a $70 billion industry. Experts estimate that only about five percent of dieters can keep the weight off long-term.

Many dieters wish there was a way to “turn off” the hunger signal – and, thanks to David Prologo, MD, interventional radiologist at Emory University School of Medicine, freezing the hunger nerve in the brain might soon become an innovative new treatment option for adults who need to lose weight.

Can the Hunger Signal in Your Brain be Turned Off?

Dr. Prologo – who is also board certified in obesity medicine – first came up with the idea when he was using cryoablation to help alleviate debilitating nerve pain in his patients. Cryoablation is a process that essentially freezes the nerve using hollow needles cooled by thermally conductive fluids. Once the probe gets close to the affected nerve, it drops the temperature of the nerve, effectively silencing the nerve ending signals for pain.

Dr. Prologo decided to apply his interventional radiology skill set to obesity medicine. One of the main causes that people quit their diet is hunger – that overwhelming feeling of being too hungry to wait for your next meal. This hunger signal is transmitted through the vagus nerve that runs from the brain to the belly. One of the vagus nerve’s primary duties is alerting the brain when the stomach is both full and empty. Dr. Prologo wondered if using cryoablation to freeze the vagus nerve would quiet those hunger signals for good.

Cryoablation to Curb Hunger (CATCH) Inside the Brain

To move his hypothesis forward, Dr. Prologo took evidence from previous cryoablation studies and presented them to the FDA for a new application – to freeze part of the vagus nerve. Dr. Prologo calls it the CATCH procedure – Cryoablation to Curb Hunger.

The FDA approved a pilot study and the first patient was Melissa Donovan, a maternity nurse at Emory Johns Creek Hospital. Melissa had struggled on and off with her weight all of her life and was ready to get off the roller coaster of diet plans with inconsistent results.

The day after Melissa’s 30-minute procedure to freeze a section of her vagus nerve, she called Dr. Prologo and asked if the procedure was a placebo – for the first time, she had forgotten to eat. She also explained that with the CATCH procedure, she could easily stop eating when she was full. She credits the procedure for changing her life and helping her lose – and maintain a loss of – more than three sizes and 30 pounds.

CATCH Results

Melissa was one of 20 participants in the CATCH pilot study. The participants were not given guidance on diet, calorie restriction, exercise or lifestyle change – and they were all aware that within a year, the frozen section of their vagus nerve will have completely thawed. However, the study showed that the frozen vagus nerve had allowed the participants to take control of their hunger cues – and in turn, their weight.

Six months post-procedure, the participants reported:

  • 18 out of 20 people lost weight
  • 85% of participants reported that their appetite was less than before
  • 50% had cut 460 calories a day from their diet
  • 47% were eating 500 fewer calories a day
  • 24% had cut a whopping 1,000 calories per day

Dr. Prologo believes that freezing the vagus nerve for just a year gives people time to change their bodies – and their lives.

Please note: Emory has reached the maximum number of participants for the CATCH study and is not enrolling patients at this time.

 

About Your Fantastic Mind

Emory University and the Emory Brain Health Center have partnered with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB) on a television series, Your Fantastic Mind, which features compelling stories on brain-related health and wellness.

Your Fantastic Mind will begin airing season 2 in late March 2020 on GPB’s statewide television network. The news magazine-style show highlights patient stories and reports on cutting-edge science and clinical advances in the areas of neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry, sleep medicine and rehabilitation medicine.

Season 1 of Your Fantastic Mind examined topics including video gaming disorder, which has been named as a real mental health disorder by the World Health Organization, sleep apnea, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, PTSD, Huntington’s disease and migraines, among others.

Jaye Watson is the show’s executive producer, writer and host. She is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning veteran Atlanta journalist and video producer for the Emory Brain Health Center.

Emory Brain Health Center

The Emory Brain Health Center combines neurology, neurosurgery, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, rehabilitation medicine and sleep medicine in a unique, integrated approach and transforms patient-centered care for brain and spinal cord conditions through research and discovery. Bringing these specialties together, allows more than 400 researchers and clinicians from different areas to work in collaboration to more rapidly predict, prevent, treat or cure devastating diseases or disorders of the brain. These unique collaborations are demonstrated in some of the more than 20 centers and programs within the Brain Health Center, such as the Epilepsy Center, Pituitary Center, Stroke Center, Treatment-Resistant Depression Program, and Veterans Program.

Emory’s multidisciplinary approach is transforming the world’s understanding of the vast frontiers of the brain, harnessing imagination and discovery to address 21st-century challenges.

Learn more about the comprehensive, diagnostic and innovative treatment options at the Emory Brain Health Center.

 

Using Virtual Reality as Therapy for PTSD

virtual reality exposure therapy for ptsdJune is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month and Emory Healthcare Veterans Program would like to share how it uses Prolonged Exposure therapy and Virtual Reality Exposure therapy to heal invisible wounds. Our highly skilled team of professionals is led by world-renowned Emory clinical psychologist Barbara Rothbaum, Ph.D., who has been working in the PTSD field since 1986 and pioneered Virtual Reality Exposure therapy as a treatment for PTSD in veterans and service members. In exposure therapy, we help people confront reminders of the traumatic event, but in a therapeutic manner so that their distress decreases.

Prolonged Exposure Therapy

There are many approaches to treating PTSD, and after several decades of research, our program has determined Prolonged Exposure therapy to be the most successful in healing invisible wounds. This process treats PTSD by asking the patient to recall the memory repeatedly, and in a therapeutic manner, so that he/she will feel more comfortable with the memory and gain a sense of mastery over the experience, rather than experiencing anxiety and avoidance. Avoidance is a common behavior for those suffering from PTSD, and although facing the memory head-on appears intimidating, revisiting the wound is the only way to heal it.

“This form of treatment is successful because the trauma needs to be emotionally processed so it can become less painful. The process is similar to the grief process. When a loved one dies, it is extremely distressing, but by expressing that hurt (say, through crying), it gradually becomes less upsetting. Eventually, we can think about that person without crying, although the loss will always be sad. Those with PTSD devote much effort to avoiding thinking about the trauma because they mistakenly view the process of remembering as too agonizing to tolerate,” said Dr. Rothbaum.

Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy

Sometimes recalling the memory is difficult because it has been locked away for so long. Virtual Reality Exposure therapy is an extension of Prolonged Exposure therapy, which immerses the patient in a virtual world that is reminiscent of his or her traumatic memory. As the patient describes the memory to the therapist, the therapist is able to recreate scenes of the memory, complete with smells, vibrations, and landscapes.

“VR is a tool that helps to extend what we already do effectively, which is exposure therapy for PTSD and anxiety disorders. It helps to resolve some of the barriers we can sometimes encounter, like if a person is unable to connect fully with their traumatic memory, we can use VR to help strengthen that connection,” said Dr. Liza Zwiebach, a clinical psychologist with Emory Healthcare Veterans Program.

Dr. Rothbaum first used Virtual Reality Exposure therapy to help people overcome their fear of heights, then in helping her patients gain control over their fear of flying in airplanes. This innovative process proved just as effective as the standard practice of using an actual airport and airplane in treatment. In follow-ups months after therapy ended, 93 percent of treated patients reported flying in real airplanes. She then used Virtual Reality Exposure therapy to treat Vietnam veterans suffering from PTSD and developed the program Braveheart, which later became the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program.

“We wanted to see if the Virtual Reality Exposure therapy would have anything to offer them—as another treatment alternative. And it did. They got better,” said Dr. Rothbaum. “They’ve reported that it didn’t bother them anymore, these experiences that have been haunting them for decades.”

To learn more about the Emory Healthcare Veterans Program, sign up for our newsletter.

Caregiver Stress and Depression: A Silent Health Crisis

Caregiver StressWith April comes warmer weather and sunnier days, but there also comes a time to shine a light on one of America’s biggest issues: stress. April marks National Stress Awareness Month, and as our society becomes more fast-paced, it’s important to step back and take a deep breath.

Stress management has become the focal point for many health and wellness professionals. From meditation, frequent exercise and a good night’s rest, most of us know how to handle the stressors of daily life. Knowing how to handle stress can be helpful in maintaining overall well-being.

Caregiving, while rewarding in many ways, also brings significant stress, especially when the care receiver has a dementia diagnosis.  Many lives have been changed by transitioning into a new caregiver role. Within the United States, the Alzheimer’s Association estimates that dementia affects around 5 million people, a number projected to rise to 16 million by 2050. They also estimate that more than 15 million Americans are providing unpaid care to loved ones living with a dementia diagnosis. With this high of an estimate, it is crucial to learn how to properly take care of oneself as a care partner.

Caregiver Stress and Depression

When people hear about the effects of memory loss, most automatically think of the stress on those diagnosed with a type of dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease. However, care partner stress also has been proven to lead to a decline in both mental and physical health. Providing care for a loved one can be challenging as is, but adding the complexities of memory loss can present its own set of unique challenges.

In a study done by the National Alliance for Caregiving and the Alzheimer’s Association, 30 to 40 percent of those providing care for people with cognitive impairment showed signs of depression and extreme emotional stress. Care partners consistently report higher levels of depressive symptoms and mental health issues than their non-caregiving peers. This stress can begin with a lack of knowledge or experience in caregiving. Most are ill-prepared with little to no support.

Unfortunately, this stress not only may lead to depression and anxiety but can also manifest in physical ailments as well. This is largely in part because, while caring for others, the family care partners put themselves second and don’t listen to their own bodies. Those providing care are less likely to engage in preventive health behaviors and over half reported eating and exercising habits worsening after becoming a caregiver.

Although this stress is a reality for many, caregiving doesn’t have to end in health deterioration. That’s why Emory is taking innovate steps to improve the quality of life for these dyads, the patient and care partner affected by memory loss.

Support for Caregivers and Patients with Memory Loss

Emory Brain Health Center’s Integrated Memory Care Clinic (IMCC) provides nationally recognized primary care for those living with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. This clinic exists to create a space for patients with cognitive impairment to receive individualized care in one place. The goal is to alleviate stress for care partners by decreasing the number of doctor and hospital visits patients have to endure. IMCC also provides multiple educational resources to specifically serve established patients and caregivers.

When beginning to provide care for a loved one, the transition can be very lonely. That’s why IMCC provides a supportive and encouraging community for patients and their caregivers. Classes are offered at least twice a year for early, middle and late-stage dementia education. These classes help caregivers address typical questions such as assistance programs, financial issues or difficult behavior patterns in patients.

“Our various resources provide peace of mind for family care partners, knowing that this team of specialists are always ready to help,” says Laura Medders, IMCC Administrative Director, and Social Worker.

IMCC has same-day appointment availability and an after-hours call line for established patients so that care providers can feel supported at any time.

Although memory loss is extremely common, caregiver stress can go unnoticed because of the disease’s gradual changes. With dementia, patients’ cognitive decline can be slow, so many care partners may not recognize the toll that caregiving takes on their own well-being. That’s why it’s important to seek out and take advantage of community resources from the beginning. Like any other stress, self-awareness is key to management of symptoms. If you are a caregiver and have experienced extreme stress, remember to take care of yourself. If you are experiencing caregiver burnout, here are some tips that can help you manage stress.

  • Remind yourself that your work has value.
  • Find ways to mass communicate with family and friends.
  • Join a support group.
  • Invest in positive relationships.
  • Give yourself a break.
  • Talk to a health care provider about any anxiety and/or depression.

If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with dementia, call 404-712-6929 to schedule an appointment or visit emoryhealthcare.org/imcc for more information.

Learn more about the Integrated Memory Care Clinic

Getting Help for Dementia in Your Community

Getting Help for Dementia in Your CommunityAt Emory’s Integrated Memory Care Clinic (IMCC), we know that caring for family members or loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias can be challenging, especially on your own. Thankfully, options for care exist within the community. Different options will be right for different patients, as some patients in the early stages of dementia won’t need nearly as much assistance or supervision as people with advanced dementia. We’ve included several options for community-based care below, ranked from the options with the least restrictions that provide the lowest amount of hands-on care to those with increased security and restrictions that provide the highest level of hands-on care.

Senior Centers

The Older Americans Act (OAA), originally enacted in 1965, provides resources for Senior Centers. There are currently more than 10,000 centers in the U.S. serving more than a million adults each day. These centers offer services like meal and nutrition programs, health, fitness, and wellness programs, transportation programs, social activities, education and arts programs and public benefits counseling. These are a good option for people in the very early stages of Alzheimer’s or related dementias.

Adult Day Programs

These programs offer a place for your loved one with dementia to go, interact with others, socialize and engage. These programs typically exist in a secure environment so patients can’t wander off and leave the facility. This becomes important for patients with cognitive impairment who could become lost in unfamiliar settings. The programming at facilities like these is created specifically for people with limited attention spans and cognition, so your loved one won’t become frustrated, and will be able to enjoy the activities.

Adult Day Programs are focused either on a medical or social model. Most programs are the social version. Adult Day Programs designed with a medical model can provide a higher level of care. For example, patients experiencing urinary incontinence will typically need to be in a program with a medical model.

Hours and days of the week vary by program, some offer weekday care only and others offer care on weekends. These programs typically offer a more affordable option to in-home care, as you can expect to pay anywhere from $35-$80 a day vs. paying in-home help a higher hourly rate.

Adult Day programs help keep dementia patients in their homes longer by keeping them socially engaged and giving them a structured routine. This may help your loved one sleep better, improve their health and give caregivers like you a much-needed break.

Respite Care: Residential or in-home

Respite care is very time-limited and can happen either in-home or in a residential facility. It provides temporary care when family members or caregivers need a break, has an emergency or needs to travel. You can arrange for shifts with home care to ensure coverage while you’re gone, and some assisted living or personal care homes do offer respite care in their facility. In this scenario, the patient would move into the community for a set amount of time, sometimes into a fully furnished room. Expect to pay for this out of pocket.

Assisted Living/Personal Care Home

These facilities can vary in size and in the level of care they provide. They can be large 100-apartment senior living communities or small 4-bed home with one person providing care. The biggest difference between the two is the ability of assisted living facilities to provide more help for people needing a higher level of care. And while these facilities can provide care for a loved one who needs more socialization or is difficult to care for at home, they still feel like homes, not skilled nursing communities. Larger communities can have activity directors with daily programming. These homes can have secure memory care units that include extra staff and increased security.

Skilled Nursing

Long-Term Skilled Nursing facilities (SNF) provide nursing home level care and are staffed by nurses and a medical director. These are usually the last option for many families, but they can be the best option for medically complicated patients or patients who can’t walk, transfer and ambulate. For bed-bound patients living outside their home, this level of care is almost required.

When IMCC patients move to Long-Term skilled nursing facilities like these, we transfer their medical care to the facility. From that point on, the SNF medical director manages all of the patient’s care. Medicare does not cover custodial care, and it can be expensive. Medicaid can pay for care in a skilled nursing facility. This can become the only option available for many families.

Use the link below or call 404-712-6929 to learn more about how the Integrated Memory Care Clinic can help.

Learn more about the Integrated Memory Care Clinic


The Integrated Memory Care Clinic

The Integrated Memory Care Clinic (IMCC) is a nationally recognized patient-centered medical home that provides primary care individualized for someone living with dementia and is designed to replace your current primary care provider. Our goal is to provide the best dementia-sensitive primary care. If you’d like to learn more about the IMCC, or think one of your patients or family members could benefit from our services, please contact our patient services coordinator at 404-712-6929.

To learn more, please visit Integrated Memory Care Clinic.

Help at Home for People with Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias

Dementia, Memory careAt the Integrated Memory Care Clinic, we often field questions from family members and caregivers who are confused about the types of in-home care available for their loved one with Alzheimer’s or related dementia. It can be difficult to know where to start. But you’re already on the right path—learning more about the types of care available is a great first step. If you’ve already decided to support your loved one with care in their home, there are many great services available to give you much needed support. We’ve outlined the differences in types of care available below, and are happy to help our patients and their families navigate the options.

Home Care

Home Care is the basic level of 24/7 care that many people with dementia need. This companion care typically involves making sure your loved one has meals, gets to where they need to go, and can involve help with feeding, getting up and around, and personal care like showers and hygiene.

Medicare does not cover Home Care. You will have to pay for this privately, but it may be covered by long-term care insurance policies or VA benefits. Medicaid waiver programs also provide vouchers for in-home care for low-income patients and families.

Home Care can be hired privately or through an agency. Each has benefits and drawbacks. When hiring through a Home Care agency, you’ll have a large pool of people to pull from, so if your caregiver has an illness or needs to miss work, other team members can fill that shift. The agency will handle the liability insurance, payroll, and other issues that come with hiring an employee. You will, however, pay more for these added benefits.

If you hire someone privately for Home Care, you’ll probably pay less and have more flexibility. You may also have more options for a better personality fit when hiring privately. However, you also assume the responsibilities of an employer. You’ll need to have liability insurance, manage payroll and resolve the other issues that come with having an employee.

Home Health

This type of care requires a doctor’s order and may be provided by registered nurses and physical, speech, or occupational therapists. It includes services like changing IV fluids, injections, physical therapy, monitoring of vital signs and wound care. We often see a need for Home Health Care after a dramatic change in condition. Medicare does provide coverage for these kinds of services on a very time-limited basis.

Aging Life Care Managers

Aging life care management is a holistic, client-centered approach to caring for older adults or others facing ongoing health challenges. This service will be private pay. The service provider may act as a case manager that will coordinate care between doctor’s appointments, arrange for transportation, serve as a high-level patient advocate if needed, and even provide services like making sure there’s food in the house. This can be helpful when your loved one can’t always remember their doctor’s instructions or if you are providing long-distance caregiving. Visit the Aging Life Care Association’s website for more information.

Home Delivered Meals

This service can help keep your loved one in their homes longer, as people suffering from Alzheimer’s and related dementias often struggle following recipes and preparing meals. It will include delivery of hot, cold or frozen prepared meals. This service is not covered by insurance. Organizations like Meals on Wheels or other private community-based organizations will also deliver meals for low-income patients who cannot afford this service.

Use the link below or call 404-712-6929 to learn more about how the Integrated Memory Care Clinic can help.

Learn more about the Integrated Memory Care Clinic


The Integrated Memory Care Clinic

The Integrated Memory Care Clinic (IMCC) is a nationally recognized patient-centered medical home that provides primary care individualized for someone living with dementia and is designed to replace your current primary care provider. Our goal is to provide the best dementia-sensitive primary care. If you’d like to learn more about the IMCC, or think one of your patients or family members could benefit from our services, please contact our patient services coordinator at 404-712-6929.

To learn more, please visit Integrated Memory Care Clinic.

Inpatient Psychiatric Care

Inpatient Psychiatric CareFinding compassionate inpatient psychiatric care for mental and behavioral health conditions is every bit as important as finding a health provider for your physical health. Yet, because there’s a stigma surrounding mental health conditions, we often neglect ourselves the care we deserve.

Even if you’ve never experienced symptoms personally, chances are you know someone who has. One in five adults in our country has dealt with mental illness, and one in 25 experiences a serious mental condition at some point in their life. These serious mental conditions sometimes require temporary hospitalization.

At Emory University Hospital at Wesley Woods, we provide empathetic inpatient psychiatric care for mental and behavioral health conditions.

When is Inpatient Psychiatric Care Needed?

Inpatient psychiatric care may be needed if you or a loved one have:

  • Acute behavioral disorder, such as paranoia, delusions, hallucinations or schizophrenia
  • Co-occurring conditions, such as substance abuse
  • Mental illness that has temporarily worsened
  • Suicidal thoughts or the potential to harm others

A safe and supportive environment is essential. One where you or your loved one can be closely monitored. During the stay, a specially trained care team will work with you and your family to stabilize the condition and put you on the path to recovery. A care plan may include:

  • Addiction counseling
  • Family education
  • Group counseling
  • Help with life and coping skills
  • Medication Management
  • Psychotherapy
  • Psychiatric evaluation

If you’re a caregiver or family member, your support is critical to your loved one’s recovery. You will be considered a part of the care team and encouraged to participate in all aspects of their treatment.

If you’ve had to make the decision to hospitalize your loved one involuntarily, we know it wasn’t easy. But remember it’s actually more caring than it seems — inpatient psychiatric care may be the only way your loved one can get the care they need, especially if there is risk of suicide or harm to others.

What Happens After You’re Discharged?

After receiving short-term inpatient care, you can step down to outpatient treatment. We offer many outpatient behavioral health programs depending on your needs, including a Transitional Care Clinic. In this nurse-driven program, we will follow your recovery for 30 days. The program’s goal is to ensure you’re receiving the proper aftercare treatment and to prevent another hospitalization.

Take the Next Step

If you believe you or a loved one may need inpatient psychiatric care, please call us at 404-728-6222. Our licensed behavioral health evaluators are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Learn more about Inpatient Psychiatric Care at Emory.

VIEW INPATIENT PSYCHIATRIC CARE

 

Adult Autism: Beyond the School Years

Adult Autism ImageMost people think of high school graduation as an exciting new beginning. But to parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), it’s often a time of confusion, stress and flat-out fear. They must confront the reality and challenges of their kid’s adult autism. Depending on the state, educational supports and services received under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will disappear. Dr. Cubells, Director of Medical and Adult Services at Emory Autism Center, says “What now?” is one of the most common questions that he hears.

Loss of Supports with Adult Autism

In the U.S., federal laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) ensure that children with ASD (and other disabilities) receive school-based supports to help them succeed. Supports may include speech or occupational therapy, a personal aide in the classroom and other interventions. Unfortunately, once school ends, so do these added supports.

Leaving the school system can be the beginning of an arduous journey as families try to navigate their way through the adult world. The loss of support and services for young adults with ASD leaving high school is abrupt, and there are few legal provisions mandating help for adults with disabilities, including adult autism.

The Challenge of Independence

It’s impossible to generalize about the lives of adults with ASD. Obviously, not everyone on the spectrum shares the same challenges or experiences. Some may be able to live independently, and even make important contributions to science, music, and other fields. Others will need daily care throughout their lives. Many will land somewhere in-between and may need to rely on their families or social services in ways that extend well beyond the norm.

Life Skills

If we reflect on what a typical happy and healthy adult life entails, core issues such as a good job, safe place to live and the ability to make choices about our lives are all important. Unfortunately, some of the challenges commonly associated with adult autism can interfere with the life skills needed to establish this kind of life.

Employment

Gainful employment tends to be a barrier to independence for people with ASD. According to a 2015 report (compiled by Anne M. Roux, Paul Shattuck, and colleagues at Drexel University), only 32% of young adults with ASD in the U.S. worked for pay within the first two years after leaving high school, and only 30% attended any type of college or other post-secondary education.

Emory Autism Center Adult Services

The Emory Autism Center’s adult programs work to address some of the challenges faced by adults with ASD. Our programs emphasize the inclusion of people with adult autism in their own communities and facilitating positive interactions with neurotypical peers.

Psychopharmacology Clinic

Our medication management clinic currently serves more than 300 adults with ASD and related neurodevelopmental disorders. There are no medications available that target the “core” manifestations of ASD, such as difficulties in social communication, repetitive behaviors and disabling focus on specific areas of interest. However, we use a “target symptom” approach to identify and treat conditions that commonly occur with adult autism, such as anxiety, depression, and psychosis.

myLIFE

myLIFE is an active social skills program where adults with ASD mingle with others of similar age and cognitive level, as well as with neurotypical volunteers and staff. To provide a “real life” atmosphere, much of the myLIFE program occurs in a two-bedroom apartment or community setting (recreational centers or food courts) rather than in the clinic building. This enables participants to cook and share meals together, engage in enjoyable social interactions and relax in a safe and accepting atmosphere. In this setting, adults with ASD can learn valuable skills that will serve them well on the job and in their own communities. The goal of myLIFE is to help adults with ASD achieve a fulfilling life in their own home communities.

View myLife Program

Emory Autism Center is the only university-based center in Georgia that serves people with autism of all ages. For more information, please call us at 404-727-8350.

View Emory Autism Center


Joe Cubells, MD, PhD
Director of Medical and Adult Services
Emory Autism Center

Break the Stigma: Let’s Talk About Mental Illness

1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental illness. Break the silence and seek treatment for a healthier you from the experts at Emory.The words mental illness often bring specific ideas or images to mind. But, the reality is that mental illness affects far more people than you imagine. According to the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately 1 in 5 Americans suffer from a mental illness. Those are friends, family members, colleagues and neighbors, or it could be you.

Many factors can contribute to the development of a mental illness such as our genetics (inherited characteristics), our environment and certain life events. While we all experience fear, anxiety and stress from time to time, mental illness is something more — causing disruption to our everyday lives and lasting longer than a typical emotional reaction.

Know the Signs of Mental Illness

Since there are many types of mental illness and since each person is affected differently, it can be hard to recognize the signs. But here are few things to watch for:

  • Changes in work or school performance
  • Excessive worry, fear or sadness
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Inability to handle daily stress
  • Avoiding family, friends and social situations
  • Irritability or aggression
  • Hyperactivity
  • Significant changes in sleeping patterns

A note about treatment resistant depression and anxiety

While depression and anxiety are only a few of many mental health conditions that can be debilitating, they are the most common. These two disorders alone affect more than 16 million adult Americans each year and are the leading cause of disability worldwide. But here’s the good news — they’re treatable. Taking an anti-depressant or going to counseling will ease symptoms for most. But for some, depression and anxiety persist despite these treatments.

Emory’s Treatment Resistant Depression Program was developed to help patients with complex and difficult-to-treat mood disorders. The program has been life changing for many patients who’ve been trying to treat their depression for years. Sadly, because of the stigma surrounding mental illness, far too few will even try to seek help or treatment of any kind.

Do you want to learn more about the Emory Treatment Resistant Depression Program? Yes, I want to learn more now.

Modern Treatments for Depression – Live Chat Takeaways

depression-emailDepression that doesn’t respond to the standard medication or psychological counseling therapies, may be classified as treatment resistant depression (TRD). If you have tried the standard treatments and they have not relieved your symptoms, or your symptoms improve for a time but keep coming back it may be time to ask your doctor about referring you, for a consultation, to a specialist who can diagnose and treats major depression. Members of the TRD program evaluate an individual’s symptoms and current treatment course to see if other newly proven therapies that may offer relief.

We hosted a live chat on Tuesday, September 13 with the care clinicians and psychiatrists from Emory’s Treatment Resistant Depression program. Participants had the opportunity to ask questions and get real-time answers about depression and new treatment options that may be able to help you manage this often chronic condition and improve the quality of your daily life. We received a lot of great questions. Below you can find some highlights from questions we were asked before and during the live chat. You can read the full chat transcript here.

 

Question: I have tried many of the “available” mess for depression with very little result. Is there a difference in depression and bi- polar depression. If so, what are some meds geared toward bipolar depression?

TRD Program Team: Yes, there is a difference between people diagnosed with bipolar depression and, unipolar depression. Bipolar depression has both highs (in the form of manic and hypomanic episodes) and lows in the form of depression. The lows for bipolar and unipolar depression are similar, but treating a person with bipolar depression with an antidepressant puts them at risk of developing mania. So treating a person with bipolar depression can be more difficult.

Persons with bipolar depression may get put on a lot of medications- some for mania, some for depression and some for anxiety. Treating bipolar depression can be challenging and getting expert treatment may involve a comprehensive evaluation, and sometimes using fewer medications rather than more, and using other therapeutic treatments such as psychotherapy is the best option. Our Treatment Resistant Depression program may be an option for someone who has been under psychiatric care with little or no relief, you can find more information on our program here.

 

Question: What is late onset depression, and how can it be treated besides drugs?

TRD Program Team: Late onset depression is depression that starts after the age of 50. Often depression that starts after the age of 50 has a medical cause, so the patient should be evaluated carefully. Psychotherapies are as effective as medications in late-onset depression. You can read more about late-life depression in general here: http://fuquacenter.org/depression

Besides medication and psychotherapies, there are also non-medication treatments available. Treatment options for late-late depression can be found here: http://fuquacenter.org/treatmentoptions

 

Question: My son said he heard Ketamine might help with my depression. Is this true?

TRD Program Team: Yes, Ketamine is an off-label treatment for depression that has been shown to be effective, but it is not widely available and is not an FDA-approved treatment at this time. You can learn about one woman’s story with Ketamine here.

If you are seeking Ketamine treatment through Emory, your psychiatrist can make a referral to our TRD program. You can learn more about that here.

 

Read the full chat transcript here.

Ask the Experts: Modern Treatments for Depression- September 13, 2016

Depression that doesn’t respond to the standard medication or psychological counseling therapies, may be classified as treatment resistant depression (TRD).Do you or a loved one suffer with depression? Has coping with depression been an ongoing challenge with little relief?

Depression that doesn’t respond to the standard medication or psychological counseling therapies, may be classified as treatment resistant depression (TRD). If you have tried the standard treatments and they have not relieved your symptoms, or your symptoms improve for a time but keep coming back it may be time to ask your doctor about referring you, for a consultation, to a specialist who can diagnose and treats major depression. Members of the TRD program evaluate an individual’s symptoms and current treatment course to see if other newly proven therapies that may offer relief.

Join care clinicians and psychiatrists from Emory’s Treatment Resistant Depression program, for a live web chat Tuesday, September 13 at 12noon. You will have the opportunity to ask questions and get real time answers about depression and new treatment options that may be able to help you manage this often chronic condition and improve the quality of your daily life.

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