Drug Targeting NMDA Receptor Rapidly Improves Depression Symptoms in Phase II Study

Biological and science test tubesFROM Psychiatric News Alert: In a phase II clinical trial, a new compound that targets the NMDA receptor was found to quickly and substantially reduce depression symptoms, with no severe side effects. At the highest dose tested, 72 percent of study participants displayed a clinically meaningful response to this compound, known as NRX-1074, within 24 hours, compared with 39 percent who responded to a placebo.

The findings are extremely encouraging, as current medications for depression can take up to six weeks to show effects, but there are still many hurdles to overcome in the development of this drug.

For one, this current clinical study employed an intravenous administration of NRX-1074, which would not be broadly applicable. However, with the dosage guidance gained from these results, Naurex, the makers of NRX-1074, are proceeding to a second phase II trial using an oral pill. The new study will also evaluate whether repeated daily doses provide a sustained effect, which is also critical if this compound can be a front-line treatment.

The concept of targeting NMDA receptors arose from studies showing that ketamine can rapidly improve depression symptoms, albeit with many risks. Several pharmaceutical companies have been working on compounds that can mimic the mood improvement without the negative side effects.

To learn more about research into ketamine and NMDA receptors for depression, see the recent Psychiatric News article “Researcher/Clinician Working to Unlock Ketamine’s Mysteries.

February General Meeting

Next Meeting Date Has Been Changed Due to the Holiday

The New Date is February 23rd

6: 00 P.M. Caring & Sharing Support Group

7:30 PM Speaker & General Meeting

Speaker: Helena Ditko, Program Director Consumer and Family Affairs, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health. As so many of us have experienced navigating the mental health system in Los Angeles County can be frustrating. Helena and her office are able to listen to family concerns and direct the family to the proper services. Helena will also update us as to any changes coming to the Department of Mental Health in the coming year.

FDA Approves First Drug for Binge-Eating Disorder

????????????????????????????????????????????????From Psychiatric News Alert: Vyvanse—a medication approved in 2007 for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—is the first medication to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) intended to treat binge-eating disorder.

“Binge eating can cause serious health problems and difficulties with work, home, and social life,” said FDA Division of Psychiatry Products Director Mitchell Mathis, M.D. “The approval of Vyvanse provides physicians and patients with an effective option to help curb episodes of binge eating.” The drug was reviewed under the FDA’s priority review program, which expedites the review process of drugs that are intended to treated serious conditions for which there are limited therapy options available.

The FDA approved Vyvanse based on data generated from two clinical trials with 724 adults with moderate-to-severe binge-eating disorder. The results showed that participants taking Vyvanse experienced a decrease in the number of binge-eating days per week and had fewer obsessive-compulsive binge-eating behaviors compared with those taking placebo. Most serious side effects reported by individuals taking Vyvanse included dry mouth, insomnia, increased heart rate, and anxiety.

Vyvanse’s Medication Guide notes the risks associated with the medication’s use, such as increased risk of psychotic or manic symptoms, even in individuals without a prior history of psychotic illness. The FDA emphasized that Vyvanse is not approved for, or recommended for, weight loss.

Vyvanse is marketed by Shire U.S. Inc.

View the FDA press announcement on Vyvanse. To read more about eating disorders and pharmacotherapies used to treat eating disorders, see the Psychiatric News article “Expert Hopeful About Future of Treatment for Eating Disorders.”

Image credit: Monkey Business | DPC

Each Mind Matters–Empowering Community Mental Health through Research, Practice, Policy and Advocacy

The 7th International “Together Against Stigma” Conference will be held February 18-20, 2015 in San Francisco. This conference will be the first to be hosted in the United States and underscores the fact that stigma of mental health challenges is not exclusive to any one country or culture: it is pervasive, encountered at all levels of society, institutions, among families and within the healthcare profession itself.

Learning Objectives

Understand Societal Injustices

  • Understand efforts and effective strategies to address pervasive myths and enduring challenges to reduce stigma and discrimination on an individual, institutional, and societal level.

Promote Cultural Responsiveness

  • Engage diverse communities and identify service needs and trends to address racial, ethnic, and cultural disparities so as to improve competency, responsiveness and acceptance of all cultures.

Expand your Global Perspective

  • Learn about what nations and cultures around the world are doing to advocate for stigma change and to increase quality of care to achieve equity of services.

 Network with Colleagues

  • Exchange knowledge, share resources, and collaborate regarding successes and challenges.


  • Disseminate emerging research to support innovative stigma reduction policies and practices to support diverse populations and future culturally diverse generations

Who should attend?

Those interested in mental health as it relates reducing societal injustices, promoting cross-cultural collaboration, and advocating for improved quality of services through research, policy, and practice on a systemic and community level.

  • People with Lived Experience, Family Members, and other Community Stakeholders
  • Researchers
  • Mental Health Professionals
  • Behavioral Health Administrators and Policymakers
  • Community and faith-based organizations
  • Health Care Administrators, Planners, Providers
  • Criminal Justice professionals
  • Public Health Administrators, Planners, Providers
  • Primary Care professionals
  • Education Administrators
  • Treatment Providers and Counselors
  • Veteran Service Providers
  • Educators and community leaders

Directing Change Student Film Contest has extended the submission deadline to midnight PST February 16, 2015!

directing changeStudents throughout California are invited to Direct Change by submitting 60-second films in two categories: “Suicide Prevention” and “Ending the Silence about Mental Illness”. The winning teams and their associated schools will win prizes, receive mental health or suicide prevention programs for their schools, get to participate in a meeting with state legislators on these topics, and attend the award ceremony at the end of the 2014-15 school year. Visit the campaign website for contest rules and information: www.directingchange.org .

Submission Deadline has been extended to: February 16, 2015.

NAMI California is also now seeking judges to help us select the winning films. Do you have expertise/interest in directing, writing, editing, acting, journalism, public service announcements, video production, suicide prevention and/or mental health? Become a judge today! The entire process would take less than 2 hours of your time, all of which can be done online from home. Judges:

  • Participate in a brief 30-45 minute judging orientation in (via phone or webinar) in January or February 2015.
  • Review up to 12 sixty-second film submissions and complete an online scoring form for each (time commitment of less than two hours.) The judging period will be taking place in mid-March 2015.
  • Are invited (but not required) to attend the award ceremony in Sacramento on May 19th 2015.
  • Are recognized on the contest website and in the award ceremony program.

Want to stay updated with all things Directing Change? Subscribe to The Advocate: Directing Change Newsletter! The Newsletter features updates about Directing Change and monthly educational films about topics on mental health and suicide prevention.

DVDs of the 2014 finalists and promotional flyers are available upon request.

Please contact Lauren Hee if you have questions, need outreach materials, or have judge inquiries at lauren@namica.org or 916-567-0163.

Conference Presenters: Deadline for Proposals Extended to February 13th

0cb9926c-3944-4165-a01f-ea4e881410c0NAMI California’s 2015 Annual Conference will be returning to Newport Beach on August 21st through the 22nd.

NAMI California is seeking proposals for presentations for our upcoming conference. NAMI California highly encourages workshop applications that incorporate and address diverse communities through dynamic strategies and programs including:

  • Multimedia
  • Education/Training
  • Personal Stories
  • Advocacy
  • Diversity.

Below you will find a brief description of each of the categories. Applications can be found HERE.

You can send your completed proposal to conference@namica.org.


This year NAMI California is excited to announce that its program will include 6 tracks for its attendees to choose from.

Transitional Aged Youth (T.A.Y.)

Workshops will focus on strategies and best practices for educators, early identification and intervention, and reducing stigma and discrimination for ages 18-24.

Criminal Justice

Workshops will focus on strategies around incorporating and partnering with the law enforcement, the Justice system, and other criminal justice sectors.

Strengthening NAMI

Workshops will focus on best practices in Board development, organizational financial management, and expanding access to NAMI education programs through technology.

Consumer and Family Engagement/Recovery practices

Workshops will focus on strengthening our voice as a unified organization of lived experiences, increase visibility and impact, and promote mental health wellness and recovery.


Workshops will focus on new and innovative ways to advocate, current policies and their impact on all levels (local, state and nation wide), and training tools to effectively utilize grassroots advocacy efforts.


Workshops will be focused on strength-based approaches and best practices to engage diverse communities, increase access to programs and services, and reduce the stigma and discrimination among diverse populations.

Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) Programs Discussed at MHSOAC Services Committee Feb. 11, RAND Report Shows Efforts Make a Difference

The Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC) Services Committee is scheduled to meet on Wednesday February 11, 2015 from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.

The Services Committee is tasked with making recommendations regarding the quality of Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) programs and services. As the MHSOAC develops key Prevention and Early Intervention (PEI) regulations, the Committee is responsible for adherence of services to regulatory guidelines, identifying relevant implementation issues, and assuring consistency of reporting for evaluation.

The PEI regulations move California toward a proactive, integrated response to helping people with mental illness before their symptoms are acute.

The meeting will take place at the MHSOAC offices, 1325 J Street, Suite 1700, Sacramento, CA.

The Call-in Number is 866-810-5695 and the access Code is 9546397

In other news about PEI programs, CalMHSA’s RAND report shows that statewide initiatives are “reaching targeted California populations, reducing mental illness stigma, increasing the number of Californians with the skills to intervene with and refer individuals with mental health challenges, and disseminating evidence-based practices through online resources and strategic collaborations.”