Tag Archives | Depression

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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Today Is The Most Depressing Day Of The Year

Vincent van Gogh's 1890 painting At Eternity's GateAccording to the UK’s Daily Mail, you have a ready-made excuse if you were too depressed to show up for work today. In America of course, it’s Martin Luther King Day, so some people have the day off anyway (not at disinformation’s offices though…):

If you think life is a grind and you’d rather be doing anything other than going to work, you’re not alone.

Today is officially Blue Monday – the most miserable day of the year.

A combination of Arctic temperatures, Christmas debt and the next pay day feeling like it’s months away leaves many of us depressed and unable to face work.

And to make matters worse, you probably can’t afford to take time off sick thanks to the recession or because you’ve already had days off as a result of the snow.

The gloomy research was carried out by FirstCare, a company that helps firms tackle absenteeism.

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Sen. Byron Dorgan, Who Predicted Financial Collapse Ten Years Ago, Retiring

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.
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On CNBC, Strategist Says Dollar Will be ‘Utterly Destroyed’; We Are Moving Toward ‘New World Order’

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."
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