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Mental Health Information Centre - Southern Africa

Research Participants Wanted

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Take a look at some of our exciting new research studies currently underway at the US/UCT MRC Unit on Anxiety and Stress Disorders.

You can help us

① learn more about specific mental illnesses

② increase public awareness of these conditions

③ reduce stigma that sufferers still experience today

We can help you with

① a comprehensive diagnostic assessment that is cost free

② a discussion of possible treatment options (including participation in treatment trials)

③ an appropriate referral for treatment elsewhere

A study on cognitive training in obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

wash-handsEveryone double-checks things sometimes, but people with OCD feel the need to check things repeatedly, or have certain thoughts or perform routines and rituals over and over. The thoughts and rituals associated with OCD cause distress and get in the way of daily life. OCD is a condition that is often associated with the impairment of certain functions of the brain. One such problem relates “working memory”, which is linked to a person’s control over his/her thoughts and behaviour. This treatment study involves playing a simple “brain game” on your phone or computer that trains this specific function of the brain, and to see whether this method can improve self-control in people with OCD. We are looking for individuals over 18 years old who a) have been diagnosed with OCD or suspect that you may have OCD, or b) healthy controls (i.e. you do not have OCD).

For more information about the study, please contact Dr Samantha Brooks on tel 021 404 5427 or email drsamanthabrooks@gmail.com; or Prof Christine Lochner on tel 021 938 9179 or email cl2@sun.ac.za

A study on cognitive training in hair-pulling disorder (trichotillomania, or HPD)

hair-pullingMost people pull, pluck, and pick at their hair, skin and nails at times. But when emotions and frustrations cause these behaviours to become excessive, it is called HPD and can cause a lot of distress and interfere with normal life. People with HPD often have problems with “working memory”, which is linked to a person’s control over his/her thoughts and behaviour. This treatment study (which will most likely be launched in January 2016) involves playing a simple “brain game” on your phone or computer that trains this specific function of the brain, and to see whether this method can improve self-control in people with HPD. We are looking for individuals over 18 years old who have been diagnosed with HPD or suspect that you may have HPD.

For more information about the study, please contact Ms Derine Sandenbergh on tel 021 940 4400 or email Derine.Sandenbergh@westerncape.gov.za or Prof Christine Lochner on tel 021 938 9179 or email cl2@sun.ac.za

A treatment and brain imaging study on social anxiety disorder/ social phobia (SAD)

social-disorderMany people sometimes feel nervous around others, such as speaking in front of a group of people. However, people with SAD get very anxious around others in everyday social situations, and they are worried they will do or say something stupid or that other people will think badly of them. The condition is so severe and disabling that it interferes with their lives. In this study we are interested in networks in the brains (neural networks) of SAD sufferers and whether they differ from those without this disorder, as well as studying the effect of a treatment on these networks. We are looking for right handed individuals with SAD over the age of 18 years, as well as healthy controls (i.e., without SAD).

For more information about the study, please contact Dr Alex Doruyter doruyter@sun.ac.za or tel 021 938 5290 or Prof Christine Lochner on tel 021 938 9179 or email cl2@sun.ac.za

A study on gambling disorder (GD)

gambling-disorderCompulsive gambling, also called GD, is a condition where people have an uncontrollable urge to keep on gambling even when they know their gambling is hurting themselves or their loved ones. Gambling can stimulate the brain’s reward system much like drugs such as alcohol can, leading to addiction. GD is also often associated with depression, substance abuse and dependence, and difficulties with interpersonal relationships, however, the causality or “working” of this condition is not yet fully established. This study includes clinical, genetic, brain imaging, and computerised cognitive assessments. Participation involves attendance of 2 sessions, with the first session comprising a screening interview, filling out of self-report questionnaires and taking a blood sample for genetic analysis. If suitable for brain imaging, participants are scanned during a subsequent session.

For more information about the study, please contact Prof Christine Lochner on tel: 021 938 9179 or cl2@sun.ac.za or Ms Natascha Horak, on 021 938 9762 or e-mail nhorak@sun.ac.za

A study on methamphetamine use disorder (MUD)                                              

MUDAddiction to methamphetamine or “tik” is a growing epidemic in the Western Cape, and contributes significantly to the national burden of disease. Methamphetamine is a stimulant drug that over-activates the neural reward system so that compulsive behaviours become more prominent. The use of this drug can lead to a decreased ability to sustain attention, and poor performance on verbal memory, motor function, working memory, and processing speed. This study includes clinical, genetic, brain imaging, and computerised cognitive assessments. Participation involves attendance of 2 sessions, with the first session comprising a screening interview, filling out of self-report questionnaires and taking a blood sample for genetic analysis. If suitable for brain imaging, participants are scanned during a subsequent session.

For more information about the study, please contact Prof Christine Lochner on tel: 021 938 9179 or cl2@sun.ac.za or Ms Natascha Horak, on 021 938 9762 or e-mail nhorak@sun.ac.za

Mental Illness and Stigma in South Africa

If you, a family member or a significant other of yours have been diagnosed with a mood- (e.g. depression, bipolar disorder), anxiety- (e.g. panic, social anxiety, PTSD, OCD) or substance use disorder you are invited to take part in our research study “Mental Illness and Stigma in South Africa”. We believe that your experience of stigmatization (or not), may make a significant contribution to our research. To complete the survey, please click on the following link

http://esurv.org/?u=MHICStigma

For more information, please contact Janine Roos on tel: 021 938 9229 or mhic@sun.ac.za


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Mental Health Topics

In partnership with:

University of Stellenbosch
South African Medical Research Council
University of Cape Town
International Brain Research Organization