Tag Archives | Depression

Anti-Depressant Patients Are More Likely to Suffer Depression Relapse

Prozac Pills

Photo: Tom Varco (CC)

From ScienceDaily:

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.

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Are Teens Into Music More Likely To Be Depressed?

Photo: Nishauncom

Photo: Nishauncom

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.

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For Second Straight Year, Military Suicides Outnumber Combat Deaths

AfghanistanThe 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.

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Depression May Stem From Your DNA

Albrecht Dürer's 'Melencolia I'

Albrecht Dürer's 'Melencolia I'

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.

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Suicides In Japan Cost Economy $32bn

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.

Continues at BBC News

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Using Psychedelics To Treat Depression

Ecstasy (MDMA)

Ecstasy (MDMA)

It’s been a long struggle, more or less since the days of Timothy Leary and Albert Hofmann in the ’60s, but doctors and scientists are finally being allowed to treat depression with some of the most effective drugs known to them: psychedelics. Anne Harding reports for CNN/Health.com:

Pamela Sakuda, 57, was anxious and depressed. After two years of intensive chemotherapy for late-stage colon cancer, and having outlived her prognosis by several months, she’d finally lost hope. She was living in fear and was worried how her impending death would affect her husband.

Sakuda’s doctor prescribed antidepressants, but they didn’t do any good. So, at her wits’ end and feeling that she had nothing to lose, Sakuda volunteered for an experimental depression treatment being studied at UCLA.

In January 2005, with a pair of trained therapists at her side, Sakuda took a pill of psilocybin — a hallucinogen better known as the active ingredient in “magic mushrooms.”

It may seem far-fetched that a psychedelic drug associated with muddy hippies at Woodstock would help a cancer patient at a university hospital.

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Eating Chocolate Leads To Depression

Photo: André Karwath (CC)

Photo: André Karwath (CC)

Call me strange, and many have, but I’ve never liked chocolate. I’ve never been seriously depressed, either. Now it appears there may be a link between the two, reported here by the BBC:

People who regularly eat chocolate are more depressive, experts have found. Research in Archives of Internal Medicine shows those who eat at least a bar every week are more glum than those who only eat chocolate now and again.

Many believe chocolate has the power to lift mood, and the US team say this may be true, although scientific proof for this is lacking. But they say they cannot rule out that chocolate may be a cause rather than the cure for being depressed.

In the study, which included nearly 1,000 adults, the more chocolate the men and women consumed the lower their mood. Those who ate the most – more than six regular 28g size bars a month – scored the highest on depression, using a recognised scale.

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Head Case: Can Psychiatry Be A Science?

DSM-IVLouis Menand writes in the New Yorker:

You arrive for work and someone informs you that you have until five o’clock to clean out your office. You have been laid off. At first, your family is brave and supportive, and although you’re in shock, you convince yourself that you were ready for something new.

Then you start waking up at 3 A.M., apparently in order to stare at the ceiling. You can’t stop picturing the face of the employee who was deputized to give you the bad news. He does not look like George Clooney. You have fantasies of terrible things happening to him, to your boss, to George Clooney.

You find — a novel recognition — not only that you have no sex drive but that you don’t care. You react irritably when friends advise you to let go and move on. After a week, you have a hard time getting out of bed in the morning.

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Internet Use and Depression Linked

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 Nation’ this news won’t be in the least bit surprising):

A “dark side” to the internet suggests a strong link between time spent surfing the web and depression, say psychologists. British scientists found that the longer people spent online, the less likely they were to be happy.

A small group of the worst affected individuals were both depressed and addicted. But it was not clear whether using the internet causes mental health problems, or whether people with mental health problems are drawn to the internet.

More work is needed to answer this “chicken and egg” question, say the researchers.

Study leader Dr Catriona Morrison, from the Institute of Psychological Sciences at the University of Leeds, said: “The internet now plays a huge part in modern life, but its benefits are accompanied by a darker side.”…

[continues in the Yorkshire Evening Post]

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Antidepressants: The Emperor’s New Drugs?

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...
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