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March 16, 2000

WPIC gets $6.9 million NIMH grant

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has awarded a five-year, $6.9 million grant to the Intervention Center for Late-Life Mood Disorders at UPMC Health System's Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (WPIC).

The WPIC center is recognized as one of only three NIMH centers of excellence for research and treatment of elderly depression.

The grant will be used to develop and test new methods for treating late-life depression, anxiety, grief and insomnia; train researchers, and disseminate information on new treatments.

Originally funded in 1995, the center focuses on medications and therapies that relieve symptoms of elderly depression and strategies to improve recovery response time and prevent suicide among depressed elderly.

"When we started this center five years ago, we set out to learn how best to help the depressed elderly," said Charles F. Reynolds III, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience. "It's gratifying to know that NIMH recognizes that our work is helping people live better lives."

Research studies at the center assess methods to lower the suicide rate among the depressed elderly, examine the impact of stress on family caregivers of patients with dementia, use brain imaging to study physical changes brought on by aging and evaluate new drugs for safety and effectiveness. The center also provides services, such as evaluations and consultations, and treatment courses that stress both medication and talk therapy.

Participants for the center's studies must be age 60 or older and experiencing depression, anxiety, grief or insomnia.

This spring, the center expects to begin publishing a newsletter titled Aging Upbeat to inform patients, doctors and legislators about new developments in treating depression.

For information about research studies or treatment or to receive a copy of Aging Upbeat, call 624-1886.

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