World Renowned Mental Healthcare in Our Backyard
It would be difficult to exaggerate the statistics on mood disorders. Depression, for example, is the most commonly diagnosed disorder in the world and the third most common cause of hospitalization for Americans 18 to 24 years old. Every year, major depressive disorder affects almost 15 million American adults (7 percent of the population).
The good news is that depression and another commonly diagnosed mood condition, bipolar disorder, are highly treatable. Almost 80 percent of patients treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms within four to six weeks when they receive treatments that can include medication, psychotherapy, support group meeting or a combination of these, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Bipolar disorder treatments show similar success once a proper diagnosis has been made.
Despite the widespread prevalence of mood disorders and the availability of effective, modern treatment options, two out of three people suffering with depression and bipolar disorder do not seek treatment. Dr. Paul Crosby, Lindner Center of HOPE’s chief medical officer, cites this statistic as a major challenge for mental health professionals. “Mood disorders are very treatable, and treatments are well-tolerated, but we have to be able to identify and diagnose folks first.”
The stigma surrounding mental illness is a big part of why so many people refrain from seeking treatment. It is difficult for many people to admit to their immediate family or even to medical professionals that they need help. Other factors include confusion about whether insurance will cover treatment, uncertainty about where to start and previous misdiagnoses.
Lindner Center of HOPE has been battling these factors since it opened in 2008, building an impressive mental health resource along the way. Today, the facility is overseen by a world-class staff of professionals who are at the top of their fields. Dr. Susan McElroy, chief research officer, for example, is internationally recognized for her research in bipolar disorder, eating disorders, obesity, impulse control disorders and pharmacology. Dr. Paul Keck, Jr., president and CEO, is a leading researcher in the fields of bipolar disorder and psychopharmacology.
Dr. Crosby, a highly regarded psychiatrist in his own right, says many local residents may not realize a mental health facility of this caliber is in the Greater Cincinnati area.
“The exciting thing about working here is that I can prescribe any kind of treatment right here,” he says. “That’s really unique and really special to be able to deliver that kind of service to people all under the same roof.”
Those treatments include traditional options like medication, behavioral therapy and support groups, but the facility also offers state-of-the-art treatments like TMS (transcranial magnetic stimulation) and ECT (electroconvulsive therapy). TMS therapy delivers gentle pulses of electricity through a magnet placed over specific parts of the brain, while ECT directs electric shock into the brain through electrodes attached to the scalp. Lindner Center of HOPE was one of the first in the country to offer TMS and is one of seven charter
members of the National Network of Depression Centers. “This means we have as much experience doing this as anyone in the country,” Dr. Crosby says. “The use of TMS is increasing because the results have been so compelling, and insurance companies are increasingly recognizing it as a covered treatment.”
Jennifer Pierson, senior director of marketing and outreach, says Lindner Center of HOPE is also at the forefront of the use of genetic analysis to develop treatment plans that are specifically tailored to patients, especially those who may not be responding well to their prescribed medications. “Genetic testing can provide insight to physicians and their patients so they can get more information about what works well in their bodies.”
Dr. Crosby cites genetic analysis as a useful tool that can help to elevate the expert level of psychopharmacology services. “We all focus very strongly on reaching the correct diagnosis and prescribing evidence-based treatment options, but often the first attempt isn’t exactly right,” he says. “That’s just part of this process, so it’s important to know what to do next. Sometimes, there’s a genetic variant – the way a patient metabolizes or responds to medications. Our partner at Assurex out of Mason can provide the results of a very useful battery of genetic tests in about a week.”
Genetics come into play with Lindner Center of HOPE’s research into bipolar disorder, as well. Dr. McElroy’s work with the Mayo Clinic’s Bipolar Disorder Biobank is helping to identify the genes involved with this diagnosis, which Pierson says may ultimately help to create better treatment options and one day, strategies for treating the disorder from a preventive standpoint.
Another major focus is mood disorder diagnosis and treatment in adolescents. This area of expertise represents a crucial local need. As has been widely reported, Hamilton County has experienced a spike in youth suicides over the past year.
“Unfortunately, adolescence is a time when we first start to see the development of mood disorder symptoms in many people, and it can be difficult to diagnose and treat people in this age range, especially because of the stigma,” Pierson says. “It’s a crucial time for diagnosis and treatment, however, so a person can grow up knowing how to manage their diagnosis.”
Pierson says it is vital that the community is made aware that resources are available. “Successful treatment means intervening at an early age,” she says. Adolescent treatment plans can include a multi-week residential program at Lindner Center’s Williams House, where patients undergo a comprehensive diagnostic assessment and receive an individualized treatment plan. A host of additional, non-residential options are available to adolescents, all designed to meet the unique needs of patients in this age range.
Many times, mood disorders are diagnosed alongside other issues, especially substance abuse, anxiety and personality disorders. “When we’re looking at comorbidities, it is especially important that folks are getting the right diagnosis,” Dr. Crosby says. “We can do that here. Mood disorders can present diagnostic challenges, but they are also very treatable. Help is available.”
Lindner Center of HOPE is located at 4483 US Route 42, Mason, OH 45040. For more information, call 513.536.HOPE or visit lindnercenterofhope.org.