C. Rose Brain Series #9: Mental Illnesses

Charlie Rose Brain SeriesEpisode 9 of the Charlie Rose Brain Series focused on major brain/mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. With series co-host Eric Kandel, their panel includes two experts who are also patients: (from the available transcript)

Kay Redfield Jamison is a world renowned authority on bipolar disorder, a disease she has struggled with throughout her adulthood. She is a professor at Johns Hopkins University and co-director of Johns Hopkins Mood Disorder Center.

Elyn Saks was diagnosed with schizophrenia as a young woman. After keeping the disease private for most of her adult life, she publicly revealed her illness in 2007. She is a professor at the University of Southern California Gould School of law and founder of the Saks Institute of Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics at USC.

Jeffrey Lieberman studies the neurobiology of schizophrenia and related psychotic disorders. He is a professor at Columbia University and director of the New York State Psychiatric Institute.

Stephen Warren’s research helped isolate the gene responsible for fragile x syndrome. He is now studying the genetic basis of the major psychiatric disorders.

Helen Mayberg uses scanning technology to isolate the brain regions involved in clinical depression. She has performed studies that illustrate the positive effects of deep brain stimulation on depressed patients.

Some highlights discussed in the 17-minute excerpt below:

  • Whereas grief is an emotion that virtually every human will experience and is therefore accepted and supported by societies, severe depression is not suffered by everyone and therefore usually results in patients feeling isolated. Grief is a natural human condition that people can normally deal with; depression requires treatment.
  • Mental illness continues to carry a social stigma, which is reflected in discriminatory insurance reimbursement restrictions.
  • The most effective treatments for mental illnesses are usually a combination of drugs and psychotherapy.
  • Recent research confirms that the benefits of psychotherapy result in actual biological changes in the brain, as do pharmaceutical treatments.
  • Mental illnesses result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
  • The biological effects of depression can be evidenced by brain imaging.

View the full episode online at the Charlie Rose site.