Saturday, May 11, 2013

Rethinking Depression: Charles Raison at TEDxTucson

Dr. Charles Raison with the Dalai Lama.

Dr. Charles Raison is the Barry and Janet Lang Associate Professor of Integrative Mental Health with the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences at the University of Arizona (with a joint position in the School of Medicine and the Department of Psychiatry).

Dr. Raison joined the UA to further his research in mind-body medicine with hopes of joining his expertise in immune/neuroendocrine functioning to the strengths in psychiatry in neuroimaging and autonomic nervous system functioning, with the goal of conducting cutting edge work examining how interdependent processes at all levels, "from the genes to society itself," contribute to health and well-being.

Prior to joining the UA, Dr. Raison was with Emory University in Atlanta, Ga., where he was an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, clinical director of the Emory Mind Body Program, and director of the Behavioral Immunology Clinic.

Here is a little bit about Raison's work when he was at Emory (prior to coming to the U of A):
Dr. Raison is looking at both sides of a cycle that goes like this: stress and chronic illness activate the immune system and increase inflammation. The increased inflammation can contribute to the development of depression. Depression increases inflammation, even in people who are medically healthy. The increased inflammation can then contribute to the development of chronic illnesses. Dr. Raison is working to identify how the cycle can be interrupted and inflammation can be decreased so that both physical and mental health can be restored and maintained. 
In a recent research project, Dr Raison teamed up with Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, lecturer at Emory’s Department of Religion and the president and spiritual director of Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta, to study the effects of a regular practice of compassion meditation on inflammation. The two worked together under the auspices of Emory’s Mind-Body Institute to study the effects of practicing a form of compassion meditation on Emory students. 
For the purposes of the study, Negi developed a variation on the traditional practice of compassion meditation. The new meditation removed references to religious beliefs but retained visualizations that were intended to enhance the students’ perceptions of social support. The experiment sought to build on previous research that showed correlations between health, happiness, and the perception of inclusion within a supportive social network.
The meditation model Raison and Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi developed is called Cognitively Based Compassion Training (CBCT). This model has been shown, as in the study above, to reduce inflammation, and as Raison has been showing is work over the years, depression is an inflammatory illness (in part) caused by stress and a lack of social supports.

Here are a few relevant publications on CBCT (a couple with Dr. Raison):
  • Ozawa-de Silva, B. & Dodson-Lavelle, B. (2011) An education of heart and mind: Practical and theoretical issues in teaching cognitive-based compassion training to children. Practical Matters,Spring 2011, Issue 4.
  • Ozawa-de Silva, B., Dodson-Lavelle, B., Raison, C.L., and Negi, L.T. (2012) “Compassion and Ethics: Scientific and Practical Approaches to the Cultivation of compassion as a Foundation for Ethical Subjectivity and Well-Being.” Journal of Healthcare, Science & the Humanities. Volume 2(1): 145-164.
  • Pace, T.W., Negi L.T., Adame, D.D., Cole, S.P., Sivilli, T.I., Brown, T.D., et al. (2008). Effect of compassion meditation on neuroendocrine, innate immune and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress. Psychoneuroendocrinology 34 (1) 87-98.
  • Pace TW, Negi LT, Sivilli TI, Issa MJ, Cole SP, Adame DD et al. (2009). Innate immune neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress do not predict subsequent compassion meditation practice time. Psychoneuroendocrinology 35(2) 310-5.
  • Reddy, S., Negi, L.T., Dodson-Lavelle, B., Ozawa-de Silva, B., Pace, T.W., Cole, S.P., Raison, C.L., and Craighead, L. (2012) “Cognitive-Based Compassion Training: A promising prevention strategy for at-risk adolescents.” Journal of Child and Family Studies
At the bottom is a bonus video of Dr. Raison at TEDxAtlanta talking about knowing our enemies.

Rethinking Depression: Charles Raison at TEDxTucson

Published on May 11, 2013

Charles Raison, MD, holds a joint appointment as associate professor with the Department of Psychiatry at the UA College of Medicine - Tucson, and as the Barry and Janet Lang Associate Professor of Integrative Mental Health with the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. Dr. Raison is internationally recognized for his studies examining novel mechanisms involved in the development and treatment of major depression and other stress-related emotional and physical conditions. The recipient of several teaching awards, Dr. Raison has received research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition to his activities at University of Arizona, Dr. Raison is the mental health expert for
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TEDxAtlanta - Dr. Charles Raison - We're Fighting The Wrong Enemy

Uploaded on Oct 13, 2011 
Dr. Charles Raison believes our survival as a species depends on finding better ways to deal with our enemies. But who is the real enemy? Thank you to Definition 6 for providing in-kind video editing services for TEDxAtlanta.

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