March 4, 2005
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Legislation would force mental health coverage
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Volunteers Needed for Stanford Study of Drug for Mild Depression.
Business Wire; 3/2/2005
STANFORD, Calif. -- Having trouble making decisions? Struggling with feelings of hopelessness? Suffering from low self-esteem?
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine need volunteers who are suffering from these and other symptoms to test the safety and efficacy of a drug for the treatment of dysthymia, a low-grade and long-lasting type of depression.
Dysthymia is defined as chronic sad or depressed mood, accompanied by additional symptoms such as sleep disturbances, low self-esteem, difficulty concentrating or making decisions, low energy, feelings of hopelessness and/or weight or appetite change. It affects 3 to 6 percent of the adult population in the United States and differs from "regular depression" -- what is commonly referred to as major depression -- in having fewer symptoms present at one time (three to five vs. five to 12). Dysthymia sufferers are less likely to go to college, complete college and get a job consistent with their educational level, and the condition is associated with increased loss of work time as well as decreased life satisfaction.
Volunteers will be prescreened and, if eligible, will receive the drug duloxetine for 12 weeks. Eli Lilly & Co, the maker of duloxetine, is funding the study. While the Food and Drug Administration has approved this drug for the treatment of depression, it has not been approved for treatment of dysthymia. The drug acts to increase the availability of two chemical messengers in the brain, serotonin and norepinephrine, both of which are involved in the abnormal physiology that gives rise to depression and dysthymia.
"Since dysthymia usually starts before age 21, most people who have it think it's just 'part of my personality -- I have always been that way,'" said Lorrin Koran, MD, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences. "In fact, it is not part of personality at all. It is just an illness that starts early in life and persists."
Koran, lead investigator on the study, said he believes treatment is important to relieve unnecessary suffering, to improve functioning in work and family roles, to allow normal enjoyment of life's rewards and to prevent the onset of major depression, with its great risk of total disability and suicidal behaviors.
This is an open-label study with no placebo, meaning that everyone in the study will receive the drug.
Participants are required to make 10 visits to the clinic over a period of 13 weeks, and participants will be interviewed at those times. Each visit should last about an hour, except for the initial screening visit, which will last approximately three hours and will include a physical examination and laboratory tests that involve providing a blood sample.
To be eligible for the study, subjects must be age 18 or older, and in relatively good health. They cannot be pregnant or breastfeeding, have problems with drugs or alcohol or have other major psychiatric diagnoses such as bipolar disorder.
To sign up or to obtain additional information, please contact the research study line at (650) 725-5180.
Stanford University Medical Center integrates research, medical education and patient care at its three institutions -- Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford Hospital & Clinics and Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. For more information, please visit the Web site of the medical center's Office of Communication & Public Affairs at http://mednews.stanford.edu.
COPYRIGHT 2005 Business Wire
Mental health advocate dies.
The Fresno Bee (Fresno, CA); 3/2/2005; Coln, Vanessa
Byline: Vanessa Coln THE FRESNO BEE
Mary Evelyn McGehee, called by some the Mother Teresa of Fresno mental health, will be laid to rest Thursday.
Mrs. McGehee helped the mentally ill for more than 30 years, doing everything from offering meals to running boarding homes for people suffering from schizophrenia, paranoia and bipolar disorder.
She died Feb. 23 at age 87.
"She was a very gracious woman. ... No one got turned away who needed a meal. Sometimes she got paid, and sometimes she didn't," said Michael Derby, a friend and the division manager of Fresno County's Public Guardian's Office.
Born in Missouri, Mrs. McGehee was diabetic with osteoporosis and had undergone two open-heart surgeries.
She began assisting the mentally ill in the 1970s, when she was director of Kenmar Village, a residential care facility. She later left Kenmar to run her own boarding homes.
Mrs. McGehee would get up early in the morning and work seven days a week to help residents begin their day. She made coffee and passed out spending money, as well as cigarettes to people who wanted to smoke.
She ran her homes with such rules as no drugs, no fighting and no alcohol.
"With a cookie and a cigarette she could do so much. She could calm them down. ... It was amazing what she could do," said Donna Nunes, a friend and mental health consumer advocate for the county's department of behavioral health.
"She was our Mother Teresa."
Mrs. McGehee served as president of the Mental Health Association of Greater Fresno and volunteered her time to the group as vice president.
She sometimes threw Christmas parties at her home and invited patients, staff and friends, Derby said.
"She was tireless. She was always there for the patient," Derby said.
Mrs. McGehee is survived by her husband, Paul L. McGehee; two sons, Michael Cummings of Fresno and Patrick Cummings of Oxnard; eight grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.
The visitation will be held from 2 to 7 p.m. today at Tinkler Funeral Chapel and Crematory in Fresno. A funeral service will follow at 2 p.m. Thursday at the chapel, at 475 N. Broadway in Fresno.
Memorial contributions may be sent to Mary's Heart Houses, c/o Washington Mutual, 796 E. Shaw Ave., Fresno, CA 93710.
The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (559) 441-6313.
COPYRIGHT 2005 The Fresno Bee. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the Dialog Corporation by Gale Group.