May 3, 2004

Nemeroff writes Peace of Mind Rx with book    

By Kathi Baker

Although mental health experts know far more about the basis for psychiatric disorders than ever before, people are tragically unaware of symptoms and treatment options. The stigma and lack of knowledge continue to keep the majority of sufferers from identifying their problem and receiving the care they need.

Charles Nemeroff, Reunette W. Harris Professor and chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and Dennis Charney, chief of the Mood and Anxiety Disorder Research Program at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), have dedicated their careers to the study and treatment of major psychiatric disorders. Now they have combined their collective years of research and clinical experience in a book for patients and their families, The Peace of Mind Prescription, published by Houghton Mifflin and due in stores May 5.

In Peace of Mind, patients and their families are guided through a detailed, yet plain-spoken description of the world of depression and anxiety. The book explains and illustrates the biological basis of mood and anxiety disorders, and it provides a chart listing medications that may cause or increase anxiety, including such familiar (and often self-prescribed) drugs as decongestants, sleeping pills, heartburn medications, amphetamines, statins and birth control pills. It outlines treatment options, explains promising lines of research and gives anecdotal experiences of real patients who have successfully battled depression and anxiety.

“One of the leading causes of death in the United States is suicide,” Nemeroff said. “Until everyone has a clear understanding of mental illness, the stigma will continue to keep people from seeking treatment and could lead to the very real possibility of their doing harm to themselves.”

Additionally, The Peace of Mind Prescription includes information on how to find help from local churches, medical centers, professional associations and support groups.

“As scientists, we have come a long way in identifying the sources of mental illness and finding acceptable treatments for our patients,” Nemeroff said. “It is just as important to inform those patients, their families, physicians in general, and the rest of society.”

During his career, Nemeroff has concentrated on the biological basis of major neuropsychiatric disorders, including affective disorders, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. He came to Emory as chair of psychiatry and behavioral sciences in 1991.

In 1999, NIMH awarded him a $13 million grant to establish the Emory Conte Center for the Neuroscience of Mental Disorders. Led by Nemeroff, the center includes a large team of neuroscientists from Emory, the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Princeton University who are studying the effects of early-life adverse stress.

Nemeroff is editor-in-chief of the journal Neuropsycho-pharmacology and co-editor
of the American Psychiatric Association’s Textbook of Psychopharmacology, now in its third edition. He has served on the editorial boards of several leading scientific publications, including the American Journal of Psychiatry, Biological Psychiatry and Synapse. He has published more than 750 research reports and reviews and has made several hundred scholarly presentations. In 2002, Nemeroff was elected into the Institute of Medicine, and in March of this year he was the recipient of the National Education Institute’s first Lifetime Achievement Award in Psychopharmacology.