Giving birth to depression, one psychiatrist for half a million people and other stories

Asian Psychiatry, Media releases

Today at the 3rd World Congress of Asian Psychiatry in Melbourne this week, we explore treating mental illness with exercise, diet, mindfulness, meditation, complementary medicines and seafood. Is it time to go back to basics in treating mood disorders?

More on the Congress below.

Please note: we’re running a limited media program for the psychiatry congress this week and we haven’t had the opportunity to check that all the speakers are good talent. But we’ll do what we can to line up speakers.

For interviews please call AJ on 0433 339 141.

The links below take you straight to the abstract for each story.

One psychiatrist for half a million people, mentally ill patients chained up

How can we create affordable mental health services in the Pacific?

Australia is blessed with psychiatric support by comparison to our neighbours in the South Pacific. There is one psychiatrist for every 6,000 Australians. In the Pacific Islands there’s only one psychiatrist per half million people. Some countries have no psychiatrists and it’s common for patients with acute mental illness to be kept in police cells or chained in villages. Abstract at

Identify mental disorders early in young adults, improve lives and save billions.

Patrick McGorry, former Australian of the Year, says identifying mental disorders early in young adults will improve lives and save billions of dollars.

Most of our effort in healthcare is focussed on children and older adults. Yet 75% of people who develop adult-type mental disorders do so in their 20s. If we could reach them with appropriate interventions we could dramatically improve their quality of life and save health dollars over their lifetime. McGorry, Director of the ORYGEN Research Institute, says that’s one of our greatest opportunities and challenges in the field of psychiatry.

The neurobiology of child abuse and the implications for treatment

Adverse early-life experiences have a profound effect on the developing brain. These neurobiological changes can lead to lifelong psychiatric consequences. For example children who are exposed to sexual or physical abuse or the death of a parent are at higher risk of developing depressive and anxiety disorders later in life.

But what can we do about it? Charles Nemeroff will report on what changes happen in response to stress in early life and how identification of the nervous tissues that are affected by adverse experiences in early life should lead to the development of more effective treatments for these disorders.

Treating depression with seafood

A panel of researchers from Asia and Australia today provided clinical evidence to the 3rd World Congress of Asian Psychiatry indicating that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the symptoms of depression.

Rats with low levels of omega-3 show subtle changes in behaviour, such as in learning when young and in drinking as they age, says Prof Andrew Sinclair of Deakin University. These impacts can be reversed by restoring omega-3 or providing non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, both of which act on inflammation of the nervous system.

Omega-3, a constituent of seafood, could well be useful as an adjunct treatment for depression, Prof Sinclair says. But some people respond better than others, according to Prof Michael Maes from Bangkok, who has been studying genetic variation in two enzymes involved in omega-6 metabolism.

Giving birth to depression

Between 8 and 20 per cent of depression in young men and women aged 18 to 23 is associated with pregnancy loss or complications, according to that latest analysis of the 30-year Mater Hospital longitudinal study of mothers and children by Dr Kaeleen Dingle of the University of Queensland. The increase in depression is not related to whether a pregnancy is terminated by abortion or by miscarriage. About 30 per cent of young women and a quarter of young men are affected by pregnancy difficulties, Dr Dingle says. The study is following about 6700 mothers and their children.

Other topics:

  • Borderline personality disorder – how do we define it, how do we treat it?
  • Understanding brain connectivity in autism: Implications for early intervention, Valsamma Eapen, Australia, no abstract
  • Treating mental illness with exercise, diet, mindfulness, meditation and complementary medicines. Is it time to go back to basics in treating mood disorders? Jerome Sarris, Australia and Felice N Jacka, Australia
  • Trauma and children: lessons from the Queensland floods and other traumas, Brett McDermott, Mater Hospital, University of Queensland;  Vanessa Cobham, Kids in Mind Centre, Mater Hospital, Australia.

For more information:  call Niall Byrne on 0417 131 977,
or AJ Epstein on 0433 339 141 or email

Congress media pages: