December 4th, 2012
01:08 PM ET
CNN recently published a three-day series on the experimental use of the drug Ecstasy as part of treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder. Readers had a lot to say in response to scientists who are studying the effects of MDMA, the chemical name for pure Ecstasy, on patients with PTSD.
Many readers said they were familiar with past research that’s been done on these drugs and questioned why they are still illegal.
October 31st, 2012
11:53 AM ET
For years, pregnant women who suffer from depression have been told it's safer for them and their unborn child to continue taking antidepressants during pregnancy.
Now a new study is challenging that advice, suggesting the opposite is true and advocating against most women taking these drugs. If the depression is severe, however, the benefits might outweigh the risks, so it's best to check with your psychiatrist or physician.
Experts say about 13% of women take an antidepressant at some point during their pregnancy. Many drugs are called SSRIs, or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.
Taking these medicines while pregnant, however, may raise safety concerns, according to a review of existing research published Wednesday in the journal Human Reproduction. FULL POST
September 3rd, 2012
03:00 PM ET
We all know stress is bad for you, but just how bad?
It would be unethical to intentionally subject people to extreme psychological duress in the name of science. But ongoing military operations offer opportunities to see what happens to people exposed to stressful situations.
Researchers in the Netherlands found the brains of soldiers who go into combat show impairment in function and structure upon returning, but that these effects largely go away over time.
August 13th, 2012
04:18 PM ET
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. made headlines last month when he was said to be undergoing treatment for a mood disorder. Now, doctors have specified his condition: Bipolar II disorder.
This mental illness "is a treatable condition that affects parts of the brain controlling emotion, thought and drive and is most likely caused by a complex set of genetic and environmental factors," the Mayo Clinic said in a statement Monday.
Actress Catherine Zeta-Jones also has been treated for bipolar II.
July 5th, 2012
10:32 AM ET
In recent years, stories about transgender people have been front page news. The transformation of Chaz Bono, son of singers Sonny and Cher, from female to male is perhaps the most well known.
"In puberty, I felt like my body was betraying me," Bono said in an interview. Now the nation’s top psychiatrists are beginning to talk about developing treatment guidelines for transgender people.
June 26th, 2012
02:30 PM ET
Northwestern University researchers are validating procrasti-nappers everywhere – they say a 90-minute nap can actually help in learning a new skill.
At least when that skill is remembering a musical tune.
Participants in the study, published June 26 in the scientific journal Nature Neuroscience, learned two different musical sequences on a computer screen while watching moving circles that went along with them, similar to video games such as Guitar Hero and Dance Dance Revolution.
After practicing for 25 minutes, the participants took a 90-minute nap. The researchers monitored the participants’ brain activity, and when they entered the “slow wave sleep stage” - a period of deep sleep with occasional intervening periods of REM sleep - the psychologists played one of the two sequences quietly.
June 11th, 2012
05:45 PM ET
The trial of Jerry Sandusky has begun. Prosecutors accuse the former Penn State assistant football coach of abusing at least 10 boys, allegations that have become widely known.
What may be less familiar is a mental illness his lawyers are connecting with him: Histrionic personality disorder. The defense attorneys say they intend to offer expert testimony from a psychologist who "will explain that the words, tones, requests and statements made in the letters are consistent with a person who suffers from a Histrionic Personality Disorder," according to documents.
Histrionic personality disorder is part of a class of conditions called dramatic personality disorders, which are marked by unstable emotions and distorted self-images, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
June 5th, 2012
04:01 PM ET
Receiving psychotherapy over the phone is showing promise for people with depression, according to new research. A study published Tuesday found patients counseled over the phone were less likely to drop out of treatment compared to those who got face-to face counseling. Researchers also found people who talked to their therapist on the phone got better at the same rate as those who spent time on the counselor's couch.
"This research gives us a pretty clear indication that providing therapy via technology can be a useful strategy," says Lynn Bufka, assistant executive director, practice research and policy at the American Psychological Association.
Researchers at Northwestern University in Chicago conducted the study which was the first large trial comparing face-to-face therapy with telephone therapy. Their findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
May 24th, 2012
06:31 PM ET
Imagine the incessant, grating sound of buzzing in your ears - or constant beeping, whistling, dripping, or clicking. Imagine the chatter of crickets or birds resonating in your head all day long.
Then realize that there are no actual birds or crickets. No dripping faucet. No clicking or whistling happening in the vicinity.
That is a small glimpse of life with tinnitus: The perception of sound, that doesn't exist, manufactured by the brain.
"I hear tree frogs and crickets and bugs, and really loud noise on top of that," said Ginny Morrell, 60, who has suffered with tinnitus for two years. "It started one day and never went away. It never wavers, 24 hours a day."
May 10th, 2012
07:15 AM ET
The idea that learning a new skill - say juggling, cooking, or playing guitar - can be like an addiction is no joke.
I should know. As a college professor/scientist, who has written about the dynamics of narcotics and self-control, I have spent the last 3 1/2 years all but addicted to learning to play guitar. Despite lacking anything that might remotely resemble musical talent, I find no day is complete without at least a little bit of time on the guitar.
Even listening to music can be a little like a drug. A brain imaging study that came out last year proved what many scientists long suspected: Listening to music can lead the brain to release the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the brain's universal signal for pleasure, an internal system that tells the brain (sometimes rightly, sometime wrongly) that it is doing the right thing.
About this blog
Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.