Trudi Jane Wyatt, MA, RP, CCC
Registered Psychotherapist

Psychotherapy for individual male and female adults in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOT ACCEPTING NEW CLIENTS AT THIS TIME; PLEASE RETURN TO YOUR REFERRAL SOURCE.

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416-901-0994 No text; if emergency 911; see ‘Resources’.
130 Adelaide St. W. (weekdays)
By appointment only

“Network” model of mental health issues?

Many people wonder why they’re feeling so [sad, anxious, stressed, angry, etc.]. The model that primarily guides my work, “cognitive behavioural therapy” (“CBT”), explores 4 aspects of an experience like sadness—the emotion for sure, but also the related thoughts, behaviour, and events (both external and internal). Especially in light of the latter aspect, internal events, I always encourage my clients to run their mental health issues by their physicians in case of any factors the physician might identify.

Regarding internal events as well, I recently became aware of a couple of interesting articles from peer-reviewed journals exploring these events. One of the articles, in Behavioral and Brain Sciences1, is entitled, Brain disorders? Not really: Why network structures block reductionism in psychopathology research.” (Note, “reductionism” is “the belief that mental disorders can be explained ultimately in terms of specific dysfunctional neurobiological conditions”.) The article points out that while biological and genetic correlates for mental health issues are being found* (*see second-last paragraph of this post), it is “insufficient to merely identify neural correlates of psychiatric conditions” to set “up a reductive explanation of mental disorder.” This is the case for such reasons as “some neural correlate is guaranteed to exist for any behavioral measure” (which I take to mean that even something like talking has a neural correlate but does that make it a “disorder”?), and, it “is unclear for most correlates whether they are realizations, causes, or effects of psychiatric symptomatology”. They also point out that symptom connections within “disorders” classified in the “DSM-5”2 often have interpretive, rational connections, that vary with culture, this too being another challenge to the reductionistic explanation.

As an alternative to the reductionistic view thus, the authors interestingly propose a “network” view of mental health issues that does not deny the reality of these issues, but describes them rather as patterns of connections between one’s biology/genetics, and also one’s behaviour, thoughts, and environment (much like the CBT model I think). For example, they explain that if someone keeps the light on at night, this behaviour could in turn impact circadian rhythm gene expression–i.e., a behaviour impacting one’s genetics.

The second article appeared in the American Journal of Psychiatry3 and is entitled, “No Support for Historical Candidate Gene or Candidate Gene-by-Interaction Hypotheses for Major Depression Across Multiple Large Samples”. While I only had access to the Abstract, the article seems to call into question the accuracy of some of the previous findings that were thought to lend support to the theory of an association between genes and depression.

Please ask a physician if you have any questions related to the above. For CBT assistance, please contact myself or another local mental health clinician.

(1) Borsboom D, Cramer AOJ, Kalis A. (2019) Brain disorders? Not really: Why network structures block reductionism in psychopathology research. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 42, e2: 1–63. doi:10.1017/S0140525X17002266

(2) DSM-5TM. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition. American Psychiatric Association, 2013.

(3) ABSTRACT OF: Border, Johnson, Evans, Smolen, Merley, Sullivan, & Keller (2019) No Support for Historical Candidate Gene or Candidate Gene-by-Interaction Hypotheses for Major Depression Across Multiple Large Samples. American Journal of Psychiatry. (https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.18070881)

Note that this post is not psychotherapy / counselling; please contact me or another professional if you require these services. If you need urgent support, consider Toronto Distress Centres at 416.408.4357. If you need immediate help, call 911 or go to your local Emergency Room. Note this post is for information only, does not imply that a professional relationship has been established with readers, is not advice of any kind (including it is not medical advice or any other type of advice; please see a physician if you need medical advice), and does not imply intent to provide professional services to readers. Intended audience: Current adult residents of the Canadian province of Ontario only.

Trudi Jane Wyatt © 2019