DR. CHARLES RAISON
Dr. Charles Raison, CNNhealth's mental health expert, is the Barry and Janet Lang Associate Professor of Integrative Mental Health at the University of Arizona in Tucson. He has a joint appointment in the College of Medicine and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and serves as Director of the Mechanisms of Emotion, Social Relationships and Health in the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences. Prior to coming to the University of Arizona, Raison was an associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Georgia. He also serves as clinical director of the mind-body program and co-director of the Collaborative for Contemplative Studies.
His research focuses on how the brain and body work together, especially as related to depression in the medically ill, and on harnessing scientific understanding of the mind and body to enable more of us to enjoy happiness and health. He says that many people don't understand that the way they structure their thoughts, their relationships, and their physical conditioning will - over time - either promote well-being or contribute greatly to sickness and depression. His specific areas of study include how our immune systems play a key role in our emotional lives and using compassion meditation to prevent depression in college students by reducing stress-related inflammatory activity. He receives research funding from the National Institute of Mental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"I am convinced that genuine happiness - because it makes people more peaceful, more giving, and more effective - has the power to change the world," Raison says. "True happiness depends on our ability to turn down stress and immune pathway activity in the brain and body - doing so allows us to take full advantage of the tremendous evolutionary advantage offered to species with a capacity for cooperation, compassion and altruism. So I am obsessive about studying ways to safely turn down activity in those pathways, whether it's pharmacological, psychological or spiritual."
Raison is also internationally recognized for his expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of interferon-alpha-induced depression and anxiety.