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Charles L. Raison, MD

Charles L. Raison, MD

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New findings provide powerful evidence that inhibition of inflammation or its downstream effects on mood may open up a host of new approaches to treatment for depression, especially for patients with treatment-resistant depression.

Lecturing around the country has left us with the powerful impression that both primary care physicians and psychiatrists are hungry for new ways to think about and manage depression and the myriad symptoms and syndromes with which it is associated—including attention-deficit disorder, insomnia, chronic pain conditions, substance abuse, and various states of disabling anxiety.

We would suggest that psychiatry has spent so many years taking its diagnostic categories as God-given that it has become inured to the fact that these categories tell us very little about the etiology and fundamental nature of the conditions they purport to encompass.

Lecturing around the country has left us with the powerful impression that both psychiatrists and primary care physicians are hungry for new ways to think about and manage depression and the myriad symptoms and syndromes with which it is associated—including attention deficit disorder, insomnia, chronic pain conditions, substance abuse, and various states of disabling anxiety.

Lecturing around the country has left us with the powerful impression that both psychiatrists and primary care physicians are hungry for new ways to think about and treat depression and the myriad symptoms and syndromes with which it is associated—including attention deficit disorder, insomnia, chronic pain conditions, substance abuse, and various states of disabling anxiety. Primary care physicians also seem especially excited to learn that depression is not just a psychiatric illness but a behavioral manifestation of underlying pathophysiological processes that promote most of the other conditions they struggle to treat—including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, and dementia.1,2

The fact that treatment with interferon (IFN)-α has become the world’s foremost human model for studying how the innate immune system promotes depression points to a disturbing clinical truth: patients who elect to receive (IFN)-α therapy for any of the several disease states to which it is applied face a high likelihood of experiencing a multitude of psychiatric symptoms severe enough to affect their social and occupational functioning and overall well-being.1

On October 20, 2007, leading researchers in the fields of mood disorders and meditation discussed the promise—and limitations—of meditation for the prevention and treatment of major depression. Participating in a day-long symposium titled "Mindfulness, Compassion, and the Treatment of Depression" was His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

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