Tag Archives | Depression

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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Depression Link to Processed Food

To the surprise of, well, hardly anyone, the BBC reports on a link between eating a lot of processed foods and depression. As if we needed any more reasons not to eat junk (for more on that see the disinformation documentary film Killer at Large)…

Eating a diet high in processed food increases the risk of depression, research suggests. What is more, people who ate plenty of vegetables, fruit and fish actually had a lower risk of depression, the University College London team found.

Data on diet among 3,500 middle-aged civil servants was compared with depression five years later, the British Journal of Psychiatry reported. The team said the study was the first to look at the UK diet and depression.

They split the participants into two types of diet – those who ate a diet largely based on whole foods, which includes lots of fruit, vegetables and fish, and those who ate a mainly processed food diet, such as sweetened desserts, fried food, processed meat, refined grains and high-fat dairy products.

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Does Depression = Lack of Fun?

“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 (and adventure) produce both adrenaline and dopamine, while “Having fun with other humans in a social setting stimulates serotonin and oxcytocin, two neurochemicals essential to feelings of security and being loved.” This oversight “will be viewed by future generations as one of the greatest failures of medicine,” argues this article (which appeared in the fall issue of the science magazine H+), concluding that science “has barely scratched the surface on fun.

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Machines Designed to Change Humans

I remember how my mom used to yell at my dad because he was always trying to explain how we’re being farmed.

The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab creates insight into how computing products — from websites to mobile phone software — can be designed to change what people believe and what they do.

Yes, this can be a scary topic: machines designed to influence human beliefs and behaviors. But there’s good news. We believe that much like human persuaders, persuasive technologies can bring about positive changes in many domains, including health, business, safety, and education. We also believe that new advances in technology can help promote world peace in 30 years. With such positive ends in mind, we are creating a body of expertise in the design, theory, and analysis of persuasive technologies, an area called “captology.”

By arriving at this page, you’ve reached the main website for our research lab, directed by Dr.Read the rest

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Depression’s Evolutionary Roots

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 to 50 percent of people have met current psychiatric diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder sometime in their lives. But the brain plays crucial roles in promoting survival and reproduction, so the pressures of evolution should have left our brains resistant to such high rates of malfunction. Mental disorders should generally be rare — why isn’t depression? [...]

In an article recently published in Psychological Review, we argue that depression is in fact an adaptation, a state of mind which brings real costs, but also brings real benefits. [...]

So what could be so useful about depression? Depressed people often think intensely about their problems. These thoughts are called ruminations; they are persistent and depressed people have difficulty thinking about anything else.

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