Preventing Mental Illness

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To the Editor:“When Will We Solve Mental Illness?” (Science Times, Nov. 20) is correct in pointing out the need for new treatments but is wrong to say that billions in research funding have given doctors “little of practical value.” Recent advances in treatment include transcranial magnetic stimulation for depression and other conditions, early diagnosis and intervention for schizophrenia, including cognitive remediation, and the potential effectiveness of rapid-acting antidepressants, which are being studied. Regarding prevention, researchers are looking at the use of nutritional supplements during pregnancy to decrease the risk of the child’s developing schizophrenia and other illnesses. In addition, new technologies like optogenetics are helping scientists better understand the brain. The brain is our most complicated organ, but we spend much less on brain research than on cancer and other conditions. We need more investment in brain research to find the causes and develop cures and methods of prevention for psychiatric illnesses.Jeffrey BorensteinNew YorkThe writer, a psychiatrist, is president and chief executive of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation.