We need to talk—about depression. The World Health Organization (WHO), has chosen depression as the focus of this year’s World Health Day on April 7, 2017, The theme is “Depression: Let’s Talk.” For years, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has encouraged open discussion about mental health through efforts like community conversations. SAMHSA applauds WHO’s efforts to take this discussion global.
Depression is more common than ever—not only in the United States, but around the world. In Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates, WHO reports that an increasing number of people in low-to-middle income nations experience depression and anxiety. However, more people experience depression (5.9%) and anxiety (6.3%) in the United States than the global averages (4.4% and 3.6%, respectively). To help achieve the important goal of linking people to treatment, the U.S. Preventive Task Force recommends universal depression screening for adolescents and adults, even for people who have no obvious risk factors.
Depression is becoming increasingly common among younger Americans, creating an urgent need to respond systematically. In 2015, 10.3% of adults aged 18 to 25 experienced a major depressive episode, compared to 8.3% in 2011. Of even greater concern, 12.5% of adolescents experienced a major depressive episode, compared to only 8.2% in 2011.
The good news is that depression is treatable, and recovery is possible. In October 2016, WHO launched a yearlong global discussion about depression, intended to inform the public about depression and suicide, encourage people to seek help, and teach friends and family how to provide support.
When we talk about depression and treatment, it’s important to realize that treatment can take many forms. Also, each person’s path to recovery is as unique as their circumstances. Some people, like pregnant and parenting women, older adults, and youth, may need specialized treatment and support. That’s why SAMHSA sponsors the Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator and National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357). For those in crisis, SAMHSA sponsors the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
When people have access to treatment and support, recovery is possible! As part of WHO’s campaign, newscaster James Chau shares his remarkable story of depression, treatment, and recovery. His recovery began with finding someone to listen to him and support him. “Something went right when I opened up—when I chose to speak,” he says. So, let’s talk!Depression, International, NSDUH, Recovery, World Health OrganizationRead More
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health, today announced that three scientists have been selected to receive the 2017 Avant-Garde Award for HIV/AIDS Research. The winning proposals focus on a variety of novel approaches, including: improving HIV prevention through effective gene therapies; enhancing innate (natural) immunity against HIV and other related viruses; and developing new small-molecule drugs to treat HIV-1 infection. The three scientists will each receive $500,000 per year for five years to support their research, subject to the availability of funds. NIDA's tenth annual Avant-Garde Award competition is intended to stimulate high-impact research that may lead to groundbreaking opportunities for the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS in drug users.
"With nearly 37 million people living with HIV worldwide, it is essential that researchers continue to develop effective prevention and treatment strategies for those suffering from this devastating disease, including people with substance use disorders," said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. "These scientists are pioneering exciting new approaches aimed at preventing and treating new cases of HIV and helping people at risk live longer, healthier lives."
Awardees are listed below:
Michael Farzan, Ph.D.,
The Scripps Research Institute
Project: A safety switch for an effective HIV-1 vaccine
Dr. Farzan plans to use preclinical models to explore safe and effective gene therapies for the long-term prevention of HIV infection in high-risk populations, such as injection drug users. He will use an adeno-associated virus to deliver broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs) or eCD4-Ig, proteins that prevent HIV-1 from infecting cells. His group will also explore safety switch mechanisms to control bNAbs and eCD4-Ig, thereby increasing safety during long-term exposure to these molecules.
Eric M. Poeschla, Ph.D.,
University of Colorado Denver
Project: Novel Approaches to Innate Immunity Against HIV-1 and Other Co-infection Viruses
Dr. Poeschla will use animal and human cells to explore the use of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) to enhance broad-spectrum (innate) immunity against various viruses, including HIV-1. Evidence suggests that this stable innate immune system activation does not trigger autoimmunity or inflammatory pathways. This approach may also protect against viruses that infect people with addiction.
Peter S. Kim, Ph.D.,
Project: Making the HIV-1 gp41 pocket amenable to small-molecule drug discovery
Dr. Kim’s group proposes a strategy that alters the HIV-1 gp41 region, thereby increasing structural rigidity in this region. This will enhance testing of new therapeutics that target the gp41 pocket to prevent HIV infection. Because the pocket is structurally similar across different HIV-1 strains, these therapeutics could treat patients, including people with substance use disorders, who are at higher risk of developing resistance to one or more classes of anti-HIV drugs.
The Avant-Garde Awards are modeled after the NIH Pioneer Awards and are granted to scientists of exceptional creativity who propose high-impact research that could open new avenues for prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS among people with substance use disorders.
For information about NIDA’s AIDS Research Program, including the Avant-Garde Award Program for HIV/AIDS Research, go to www.drugabuse.gov/AIDS. Read about selected highlights of past Avant-Garde awardees.
Drs. Farzan, Poeschla and Kim are funded under grant numbers DA043912-01, DA043915-01 and DA043893-01, respectively.Read More