Depression

The low-grade existential despair inflicted by your day-to-day cubicle farm existence may actually be making you dumber: A team of Yale scientists have discovered that stress and depression can actually cause your brain to atrophy.

The research team analyzed tissue of depressed and non-depressed patients donated from a brain bank and looked for different patterns of gene activation. The brains of patients who had been depressed exhibited lower levels of expression in genes that are required for the function and structure of brain synapses. Lead author and postdoctoral researcher H.J. Kang discovered that at least five of these genes could be regulated by a single transcription factor called GATA1. When the transcription factor was activated, rodents exhibited depressive-like symptoms, suggesting GATA1 plays a role not only in the loss of connections between neurons but also in symptoms of depression.

Maybe the makers of Joe vs. The Volcano were on to something:


Writes Stephanie Pappas on LiveScience:

People prone to depression may struggle to organize information about guilt and blame in the brain, new neuroimaging research suggests.

Crushing guilt is a common symptom of depression, an observation that dates back to Sigmund Freud. Now, a new study finds a communication breakdown between two guilt-associated brain regions in people who have had depression. This so-called “decoupling” of the regions may be why depressed people take small faux pas as evidence that they are complete failures.

“If brain areas don’t communicate well, that would explain why you have the tendency to blame yourself for everything and not be able to tie that into specifics,” study researcher Roland Zahn, a neruoscientist at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, told LiveScience…










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…






At the risk of becoming depressed, here’s a report from the Yorkshire Evening Post on a British study tying internet use and depression (if you watched Doug Rushkoff’s excellent Frontline documentary ‘Digital…


By Irving Kirsch, Professor of Psychology at the University of Hull in the UK and author of The Emperor’s New Drugs: Exploding the Antidepressant Myth, writing for the Huffington Post:

Antidepressants are supposed to be the magic bullet for curing depression. But are they? I used to think so. As a clinical psychologist, I used to refer depressed clients to psychiatric colleagues to have them prescribed. But over the past decade, researchers have uncovered mounting evidence that they are not. It seems that we have been misled. Depression is not a brain disease, and chemicals don’t cure it.

My awareness that the chemical cure of depression is a myth began in 1998, when Guy Sapirstein and I set out to assess the placebo effect in the treatment of depression. Instead of doing a brand new study, we decided to pool the results of previous studies in which placebos had been used to treat depression and analyze them together. What we did is called a meta-analysis, and it is a common technique for making sense of the data when a large number of studies have been done to answer a particular question…



How easily we forget this whole mess started under a Democratic president, Bill Clinton, with the repeal of the Depression-era Glass-Steagall Act in 199. Here’s Huffington Post from a few months ago that sums up why a guy like this retiring is a big deal. Dan Froomkin writes:

He got it right last time.

Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota, was one of eight senators who stood up to oppose the repeal of the Glass-Steagall act in 1999. That repeal, which was signed into law by President Clinton exactly 10 years ago today, broke down the barriers between commercial banking and investment banking, and led to the growth of behemoth financial firms that were able to take enormous risks with impunity, because they were “too big to fail.”

“I think we will in 10 years’ time look back and say we should not have done this,” Dorgan said back then. The video of his speech has become something of a cult favorite for wonks — ten years, a $700 billion bailout and a major financial crisis later.


Wow, this was on CNBC:

The dollar will get “utterly destroyed” and become “virtually worthless”, said Damon Vickers, chief investment officer of Nine Points Capital Partners.

“We don’t have resources. Neither does a lot of Asia to be quite frank,” Vickers said on CNBC’s Asia Squawk Box. “Countries that have resources — the Brazils, the Canadas, Australia — their currencies are doing well.” Vickers noted that their stock markets have done the best year-to-date.

“They have stuff. They’ve got resources. They export real things. The United States exports ‘promises’ and ‘pretty paper’,” he added.

Due to the huge wage disparities between the United States and emerging markets like China, Vickers said that may resolve itself in some type of a global currency crisis.

“If the global currency crisis unfolds, then inevitably you get an alignment of a global world government. A new global currency and a new world order, so we may be moving towards that,” he said.

Vickers added that this is the time where investors should be making money when the trend is developing. “Oil looks higher, gold looks higher, currencies look weaker.”



“Real science points to one conclusion. “Modern cosmetic pharmacology focuses so heavily on eliminating depression that it entirely misses one essential point: depressed people are suffering from a lack of fun.” Fun…



Paul W. Andrews and J. Anderson Thomson, Jr. write in Scientific American (via Theoretick): Depression seems to pose an evolutionary paradox. Research in the US and other countries estimates that between 30…