Paul Krugman talks with Rachel Maddow:
Paul Krugman talks with Rachel Maddow:
Large-scale strikes have hit China in recent weeks, as workers resentful about low salaries or lay-offs face off with employers juggling high costs and exports hit by lower demand from the debt-burdened West.
Politburo member Zhou Yongkang said authorities needed to improve their system of “social management”, including increasing “community-level” manpower.
“In the face of the negative impact of the market economy, we have not formed a complete system of social management,” Zhou said in a Friday speech to officials reported by the state Xinhua news agency at the weekend.
“It is urgent that we build a social management system with Chinese characteristics to match our socialist market economy.” China’s economy grew by 9.1 percent in the third quarter, down from 9.5 percent in the previous quarter. Manufacturing — a key engine of growth — slumped to its lowest level in nearly three years last month, amid slowing demand from the European Union and the United States.
As a fetus grows, it’s constantly getting messages from its mother. It’s not just hearing her heartbeat and whatever music she might play to her belly; it also gets chemical signals through the placenta. A new study, which will be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that this includes signals about the mother’s mental state. If the mother is depressed, that affects how the baby develops after it’s born.
In recent decades, researchers have found that the environment a fetus is growing up in — the mother’s womb — is very important. Some effects are obvious. Smoking and drinking, for example, can be devastating. But others are subtler; studies have found that people who were born during the Dutch famine of 1944, most of whom had starving mothers, were likely to have health problems like obesity and diabetes later.
Via Science Daily:
Young people who are genetically vulnerable to depression should be extra careful about using cannabis: smoking cannabis leads to an increased risk of developing depressive symptoms. This has emerged from research carried out by Roy Otten at the Behavioural Science Institute of Radboud University Nijmegen that is published in the online version of the scientific journal Addiction Biology. Two-thirds of the population have the gene variant that makes one sensitive to depression.
Many young people in the Netherlands use cannabis. Nearly 30% of 16-year-olds indicate that they have used cannabis on at least one occasion, and 12% that they have used it during the past month. Besides worse performances at school, the use of cannabis also increases the risk of developing schizophrenia and psychosis. Smoking hashish and weed were thought to increase the risk of depression but no conclusive evidence for this was available to date.
The percentage will only increase, with an aging population, the stresses of modern life, et cetera, which leads to the question: What happens when the majority of the public across an entire continent are classified as ‘mentally ill’? Via Reuters:
Europeans are plagued by mental and neurological illnesses, with almost 165 million people or 38 percent of the population suffering each year from a brain disorder such as depression, anxiety, insomnia or dementia, according to a large new study.
With only about a third of cases receiving the therapy or medication needed, mental illnesses cause a huge economic and social burden — measured in the hundreds of billions of euros — as sufferers become too unwell to work and personal relationships break down.
“The immense treatment gap … for mental disorders has to be closed,” said Hans Ulrich Wittchen, director of the institute of clinical psychology and psychotherapy at Germany’s Dresden University and the lead investigator on the European study.
In a paper that is likely to ignite new controversy in the hotly debated field of depression and medication, evolutionary psychologist Paul Andrews concludes that patients who have used anti-depressant medications can be nearly twice as susceptible to future episodes of major depression.
Andrews, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, is the lead author of a new paper in the journal Frontiers of Psychology.
The meta-analysis suggests that people who have not been taking any medication are at a 25 per cent risk of relapse, compared to 42 per cent or higher for those who have taken and gone off an anti-depressant.
Andrews and his colleagues studied dozens of previously published studies to compare outcomes for patients who used anti-depressants compared to those who used placebos.
They analyzed research on subjects who started on medications and were switched to placebos, subjects who were administered placebos throughout their treatment, and subjects who continued to take medication throughout their course of treatment.
Which came first, the music or the depression? They say classical music boosts your baby’s brain activity. And music has been known to soothe the savage beast. Now music may play a hand in your teenager’s depression. Via PsychCentral:
The link between media exposure and adolescent emotional health continues to be a hot research area. In a new study, researchers found that teens who spend more time listening to music, rather than reading books, are more likely to be depressed.
Researchers said this study was unique as it sampled the behaviors of study participants in real time using a technique called ecological momentary assessment.
The method is more reliable than standard surveys and helped researchers recognize this large association between exposure to music and depression, said Brian Primack, M.D., Ed.M., M.S., assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at Pitt’s School of Medicine, who led the study.
Some 106 teens were involved in the study, 46 of whom were diagnosed with major depressive disorder.
The U.S. military continues to experience a disturbingly high suicide rate, arguably the deadliest hazard that troops now face. Via Congress.org:
For the second year in a row, the U.S. military has lost more troops to suicide than it has to combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The reasons are complicated and the accounting uncertain — for instance, should returning soldiers who take their own lives after being mustered out be included? But the suicide rate is a further indication of the stress that military personnel live under after nearly a decade of war.
Overall, the services reported 434 suicides by personnel on active duty, significantly more than the 381 suicides by active-duty personnel reported in 2009. The 2010 total is below the 462 deaths in combat, excluding accidents and illness. In 2009, active-duty suicides exceeded deaths in battle.
Last week’s figures, though, understate the problem of military suicides because the services do not report the statistics uniformly.
Alice Park reports on a gene that may prove to trigger depression in some people, for TIME:
As powerful as genes are in exposing clues to diseases, not even the most passionate geneticist believes that complex conditions such as depression can be reduced to a tell-tale string of DNA.
But a new study confirms earlier evidence that a particular gene, involved in ferrying a brain chemical critical to mood known as serotonin, may play a role in triggering the mental disorder in some people.
Researchers led by Dr. Srijan Sen, a professor of psychiatry at University of Michigan, report in the Archives of General Psychiatry that individuals with a particular form of the serotonin transporter gene were more vulnerable to developing depression when faced with stressful life events such as having a serious medical illness or being a victim of childhood abuse. The form of the gene that these individuals inherit prevents the mood-regulating serotonin from being re-absorbed by nerve cells in the brain.
I would think the number one problem is that Japan has the highest suicide rate in the world, not the fact that it’s hurting the economy. BBC reports:
The government in Japan says suicides and depression cost its economy almost 2.7tn yen ($32bn; £21bn) last year.
The figures refer to lost incomes and the cost of treatment. It is the first time Japan has released such figures.
Japan has one of the world’s highest suicide rates, with more than 32,000 people killing themselves last year. PM Naoto Kan sees it as proof of an economic and emotional downturn.
The government is setting up a task force to try to reduce the rate.
From Friday, it will run a video clip of a footballer from the J-league on its website, urging people to be more aware of the problem.