depression

New knowledge could help predict and prevent depression

January 31, 2019

Science Daily/Aarhus University

Researchers have demonstrated that people with the highest genetic propensity are over two and a half times as likely to be treated in a psychiatric hospital for depression compared to people with the lowest propensity. This knowledge could be utilized to strengthen preventative efforts for those who are at risk.

 

In Denmark, 15.5 per cent of woman and nine per cent of men receive treatment for depression at a psychiatric hospital at some stage of their lives. Depression is a common but very serious condition which is very costly for both the individual and society as a whole.

 

Researchers have now completed a study in which they followed 34,500 Danes for up to 20 years and measured their genetic risk for developing depression.

 

"The study showed that the risk of being treated for depression at a psychiatric hospital was more than two and a half times higher for people with a high polygenic risk score," explains professor at iPSYCH and contributor to the study Esben Agerbo.

 

Polygenetic means that the disease is not connected to only one disease gene, but to many genes. Put another way, it means there are many genes that determine whether a person is predisposed to developing depression.

 

Easier to identify people

 

"We know that depression is partly determined by genetic factors, and today it's possible to measure the genetic propensity directly -- rather than having to rely on family history as a way of guessing at genetic disposition for developing depression," explains Esben Agerbo.

 

The polygenetic score was not related to factors such as mild, moderate, severe or psychotic symptoms, treatment setting or age at the first hospital visit, which could mean that these aspects are determined more by environmental factors.

 

The results of the study have just been published in the scientific journal JAMA Psychiatry.

 

"Our hope is that by utilising genetic information in conjunction with known risk factors in the environment, we will be able to develop better methods to identify people who are at risk of developing depression," says postdoc at iPSYCH, Katherine L. Musliner, who is behind the study.

 

However, the results also show that the relationship between genetics and mental illness is complex. There is no ' depression gene' and even those with the highest genetic propensity will not necessarily develop depression.

 

"The ability to identify people with an increased risk of developing depression is useful, because it will make it possible for us to target preventative efforts towards the people who will benefit most from them," says Katherine L. Musliner.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/01/190131101047.htm

Stopping exercise can increase symptoms of depression

March 22, 2018

Science Daily/University of Adelaide

PhD student Julie Morgan from the University of Adelaide's Discipline of Psychiatry has reviewed the results of earlier studies that examined the effects of stopping exercise in regularly active adults.

 

The results of her review are now published online ahead of print in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

 

"Adequate physical activity and exercise are important for both physical and mental health," says Ms Morgan.

 

"Current public health guidelines recommend being active on most if not all days of the week. At least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week is recommended to maintain health and prevent depression, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity exercise for added health benefits.

 

"An extensive body of clinical evidence shows that regular exercise can reduce and treat depression. However, there is limited research into what happens with depressive symptoms when exercise is stopped," she says.

 

Ms Morgan reviewed studies that investigated the cessation of exercise in 152 adults. They had each undertaken at least 30 minutes of exercise, three times a week, for a minimum of three months.

 

"In some cases, ceasing this amount of exercise induced significant increases in depressive symptoms after just three days," says Professor Bernhard Baune, Head of Psychiatry at the University of Adelaide and senior author on the paper.

 

"Other studies showed that people's depressive symptoms increased after the first one or two weeks, which is still quite soon after stopping their exercise."

 

Professor Baune says the depressive symptoms arising from stopping exercise occurred in the absence of the typical biological markers commonly involved with depressive symptoms.

 

"This suggests some kind of novel effect in these cases, although we should add some caution here, as the number of people included in the studies we examined was small. Such findings would need to be replicated in additional trials," he says.

 

Professor Baune says the lack of research in this specific area points to the need for further studies, to help better understand the way in which stopping exercise affects depressive symptoms.

 

"For now, it is important that people understand the potential impact on their mental well-being when they suddenly cease regular exercise," he says.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180322112720.htm

Grape-derived compounds may promote resilience against depression

New study used DNA epigenetic mapping to analyze novel inflammatory mechanisms influencing brain circuitry associated with depression

February 2, 2018

Science Daily/The Mount Sinai Hospital / Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Researchers have analyzed novel grape-derived compounds, dihydrocaffeic acid (DHCA) and malvidin-3'-O-glucoside (Mal-gluc), which might be developed as therapeutic agents for the treatment of depression. Their study results indicate that these natural compounds may attenuate depression by targeting newly discovered underlying mechanisms of the disease.

 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, each year approximately 16 million individuals in the United States have a major depressive episode. Conventional pharmacological treatments are estimated to produce temporary remission in less than 50 percent of patients, and they are often associated with severe adverse effects. Thus, there is an urgent need for a wider spectrum of novel therapeutics.

 

Depression is associated with a multitude of pathological processes, including inflammation of the peripheral immune system, a set of biological structures and processes in the lymph nodes and other tissues that protect against disease and abnormalities involving synapses, the structures that permit neurons to pass an electrical or chemical signal to other neurons. However, currently available antidepressants are largely restricted to targeting the systems that regulate serotonin, dopamine, and other related neurotransmitters, and these treatments do not specifically address inflammation and synaptic maladaptations that are now known to be associated with MDD.

 

Previous research has found that grape-derived polyphenols have some efficacy in modulating aspects of depression, yet the mechanisms of action had largely remained unknown until now. The new study, led by Giulio Maria Pasinetti, PhD, Saunders Professor of Neurology, and a team of investigators from the Center for Integrative Molecular Neuroresilience at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, found that a bioactive dietary polyphenol preparation -- a combination of three grape-derived polyphenol products, including a select Concord grape juice, a select grape seed extract, and trans-resveratrol -- was effective in promoting resilience against stress-induced depression in mice.

 

Specifically, researchers found that DHCA and Mal-gluc can promote resilience in mouse models of depression by modulating inflammation and synaptic plasticity, respectively. DHCA reduces interleukin 6 (IL-6), a pro-inflammatory substance secreted by T cells and macrophages to stimulate immune response, by epigenetically modulating the non-coding sequence of the IL-6 gene. Mal-gluc modulates histone acetylation of the Rac1 gene and allows transcription activators to access the DNA for increased transcription in the brain, which influences the expression of genes responsible for synaptic plasticity. Researchers also demonstrated that DHCA/Mal-gluc treatment was effective in attenuating depression-like phenotypes in a mouse model of increased systemic inflammation induced by transplantation of cells from the bone marrow of stress-susceptible mice.

 

"Our research shows that combination treatment with the two compounds can promote resilience against stress-mediated depression-like phenotypes by modulating systemic inflammatory responses and brain synaptic plasticity in a mouse model of depression," says Jun Wang, PhD, Associate Professor of the Department of Neurology and first author on the paper.

 

The Mount Sinai study provides, for the first time, novel preclinical evidence supporting the targeting of multiple key disease mechanisms through DNA epigenetic modification for the treatment of depression. This study strongly supports the need to test and identify novel compounds that target alternative pathologic mechanisms, such as inflammation and synaptic maladaptation, for individuals who are resistant to currently available treatment.

 

"Our approach to use a combination treatment of DHCA and Mal-gluc to simultaneously inhibit peripheral inflammation and modulate synaptic plasticity in the brain works synergistically to optimize resilience against chronic stress-induced depression-like phenotypes," said Dr. Pasinetti. "The discovery of these new, natural grape-derived polyphenol compounds targeting cellular and molecular pathways associated with inflammation may provide an effective way to treat a subset of people with depression and anxiety, a condition that affects so many people."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180202153207.htm

Targeting the mind/body connection in stress

Researchers combine genetic testing and brain imaging to determine vulnerability to PTSD

February 4, 2016

Science Daily/American Friends of Tel Aviv University

New research used cutting-edge brain imaging technologies to determine that the brain function responsible for regulating our stress response can also produce a personal profile of resilience to stress. These findings may lead to a future blood test that would facilitate early intervention in professions prone to high stress or trauma such as combat soldiers and policemen.

 

Our ability to cope with stress depends on how efficiently our body and mind regulate their response to it. Poor recovery from extremely stressful encounters can trigger post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, or even chronic somatic dysfunction (such as pain and fatigue) in some people. Insight into the multi-level sequence of events -- from cellular changes to brain function, emotional responses, and observed behavior -- will help medical professionals make more informed decisions concerning interventions.

 

A new Tel Aviv University study published in PLOS ONE provides it. Researchers have used cutting-edge genetic research and brain imaging technologies to determine that the brain function responsible for regulating our stress response intertwines with molecular regulatory elements to produce a personal profile of resilience to stress. Their findings may lead to a future blood test that would facilitate preventive or early intervention in professions prone to high stress or trauma (combat soldiers and policemen, for example).

 

The research was led jointly by Prof. Talma Hendler of TAU's Sagol School of Neuroscience and the Director of the Functional Brain Center at Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Dr. Noam Shomron of TAU's Sagol School of Neuroscience and Sackler School of Medicine. Research for the study was conducted by TAU doctoral students Dr. Sharon Vaisvaser and Dr. Shira Modai.

 

The biological complexity of stress

 

"We can't look at one measurement at one point in time and think we have the whole picture of the stress response," Prof. Hendler explained. "This is perhaps the first study to induce stress in the lab and look at resulting changes to three levels of the stress response -- neural (seen in brain imaging), cellular (measured through epigenetics), and experience (assessed through behavioral report)."

 

"We found that vulnerability to stress is not only related to a predisposition due to a certain gene," said Dr. Shomron. "The relevant gene can be expressed or not expressed according to a person's experience, environment, and many other context-related factors.

 

"This type of interaction between the environment and our genome has been conceptualized lately as the 'epigenetic process.' It has become clear that these processes are of an utmost importance to our health and well being, and are probably, in some cases, above and beyond our predispositions."

 

The research for this study was conducted on 49 healthy young male adults. Researchers integrated the analysis of fMRI images of brain function during an acute social stress task and also measured levels of microRNAs -- small RNAs that exert potent regulatory effects -- obtained in a blood test before and three hours after the induced stress. Dr. Vaisvaser explains, "Twenty minutes after the stress drill ended, we had two groups: the sustainers, those still stressed, and the recovered, those no longer stressed. The sustainers either didn't go back to baseline or took much longer to do so."

 

The researchers found that a specific alteration in the expression of the microRNA miR-29c was greater among the stress sustainers, implying a marker of slow recovery. Intriguingly, this change corresponded with modified connectivity of a major stress regulation node in the brain, the vento-medial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC).

 

The researchers were able to interpret functions in the brain through RNA molecules tested in the blood. They found that miR-29c played a mediating role, linking the enhancement of vmPFC connectivity with the anterior insula, a core node in the saliency network, sustaining the feeling of stress.

 

From basic research to practical treatment

 

"We all need to react to stress; it's healthy to react to something considered a challenge or a threat," said Prof. Hendler. "The problem is when you don't recover in a day, or a week, or more. This indicates your brain and'or body do not regulate properly and have a hard time returning to homeostasis (i.e., a balanced baseline). We found that this recovery involves both neural and epigenetic/cellular mechanisms, together contributing to our subjective experience of the stress.

 

"Knowing the brain metric that corresponds to such genetic vulnerability will make it possible to develop a personalized plan for brain-guided treatment based on a blood test."

 

"If you can identify through a simple blood test those likely to develop maladaptive responses to stress, you can offer a helpful prevention or early intervention," Dr. Shomron added.

 

"Conducting a collaborative interdisciplinary study is a great challenge," said Dr. Vaisvaser. "But the challenge is worth it, opening up new ways of looking at dynamics between concurrent factors contributing to the overall experience of stress."

 

The researchers are currently taking the study forward to look for the dynamic oscillations in the epigenetic markers of people suffering from stress disorders to confirm whether they can be modified via brain-targeted treatments.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/02/160204111636.htm

Workplace sexual harassment 'a chronic problem,' says expert

More research needed to help predict who will harass, assess effective prevention strategies

November 16, 2017

Science Daily/American Psychological Association

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a pervasive, chronic problem that can cause enduring psychological harm, according to an expert.

 

"Sexual harassment in the workplace is a significant occupational health psychology problem," said APA President Antonio E. Puente, PhD. "Psychological research has offered understanding into the causes of workplace harassment, as well as some strategies for preventing or reducing it. However, there is limited research regarding the characteristics of harassers, which makes it difficult to predict who will do it and where and when it might happen. What we do know is that harassers tend to lack a social conscience and engage in manipulative, immature, irresponsible and exploitative behaviors."

 

Research has shown that sexual harassment is primarily aimed at women, but men are also targets of such behavior. Perpetrators of sexual harassment in the workplace are not only supervisors/superiors but are also coworkers, subordinates, customers and clients, Puente said.

 

According to the 2017 article "Sexual Harassment: Have We Made Any Progress?" published in APA's Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, women tend to report more adverse effects than men after experiencing workplace sexual harassment. These may include anxiety, depression, eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, post-traumatic stress and a lower level of overall happiness.

 

Women are more likely to report sexual harassment than men, according to the article, but "studies indicate that men may be at a higher risk of mental health issues and depression." Men in the military are 10 times more likely to experience sexual harassment than civilian men, but an estimated 81 percent of military men who are harassed do not report it, the articles added.

 

Organizational climate is a strong predictor of workplace sexual harassment and can include situations where men outnumber women, where supervisors are predominantly male, and where there is a sense among employees that complaints will not be taken seriously. Research has shown that hierarchical power dynamics are at the root of sexual harassment.

 

"Psychology can help, in the form of sexual harassment training, but it only works if it is part of a comprehensive, committed effort to combat the problem," Puente said. "Most research points to sanctions as the primary way that organizations can be less tolerant of harassment.

 

"Organizations need to be proactive in establishing policies prohibiting sexual harassment, raising employee awareness, establishing reporting procedures and educating employees about these policies. More research is needed to identify the antecedents to harassment that will help employees and managers identify and respond appropriately."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171116142131.htm

Clear effect of art therapy on severe depression

November 6, 2017

Science Daily/University of Gothenburg

Create a picture of how you are feeling on this particular day, said the first exercise in the art therapy. After ten treatments the patients who suffered from severe or moderately severe depression had shown more improvement than the patients in the control group, shows research.

 

"The conclusion is that it was the art therapy that facilitated their improvement," says Christina Blomdahl, PhD at the institute of health and care sciences, licensed occupational therapist and art therapist.

 

As part of her dissertation she has allowed 43 patients with severe or moderately severe depression to undergo a manual-based art therapy that she has developed herself. The control group consisted of 36 people who all suffered from the same medical condition.

 

In parallel with this, all participants were given different combinations of medication, cognitive behavioral therapy, psychodynamic therapy and physical therapy. The majority of the participants were so affected by their depression that they were unable to work.

 

The individual art therapy took place in psychiatry or primary care and was conducted by a specially trained therapist. Each session began with a short briefing and a relaxation exercise. After that it was crayons, water colors and creation that was on the agenda, all based on a predetermined setup.

 

"They followed the manual I had created in order to ensure that it was scientific, but although everyone was given the same theme to go on the patients responded very differently to the exercises. The materials were simple, allowing people to doodle and feel free to express themselves the way they wanted to, and then they would talk about the picture and its significance to the participant," explains Christina Blomdahl.

 

After ten hour-long treatment sessions the patients had improved on an average of almost five steps on a rating scale used for depression. A large leap that entails a considerable change to everyday life, and sometimes it may also mean that a patient is able to return to work.

 

Anxiety, sleep, ability to take initiative and emotional involvement are some of the factors that are assessed. In the control group that had not undergone art therapy there was no definite change.

 

"The focal point was that people felt like they were meeting themselves; that the picture served as a mirror where you could see and make new discoveries about yourself, a bit like coming to life, says Christina Blomdahl.

 

"Even the people who did not experience any direct benefit from the treatment had shown improvement. Painting pictures based on themes and discussing the pictures with the therapist promotes self-reflection and brain stimulation that takes place outside of the conscious mind," she continues.

 

"It is my hope that art therapy will be used in healthcare again. Based on evidence requirements it has been more or less scrapped by psychiatry, but this is one of the largest studies that has been conducted in this area and it is a step that may lead to more people being trained in it and the method being used again," Christina Blomdahl concludes.

Further information: https://gupea.ub.gu.se/handle/2077/52419

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171106100128.htm

Depressed fathers risk not getting help

November 6, 2017

Science Daily/Lund University

Postnatal depression among new mothers is a well-known phenomenon. Knowledge about depression in new fathers, however, is more limited. A new study shows that depression among new fathers may be more common than previously believed. There is also a major risk that it remains undetected using today's screening instruments, and that fathers do not receive the help they need.

 

Detecting depression in new parents is crucial -- not only for their own sake but also because depressed parents often become less perceptive to the needs of their child, particularly if the child cries a lot. Babies of depressed parents tend to receive less stimulation which, eventually, could lead to slower development. In some cases, depression may lead to neglect of the child or inappropriately forceful behaviors.

 

"These behaviours are not unusual -- depression does not only involve major suffering for the parent, but also a risk for the child," says Elia Psouni, associate professor of developmental psychology and co-author of the study, together with psychologists Johan Agebjörn and Hanne Linder.

 

All new mothers are screened for depression, and an estimated 10-12 per cent of women are affected during their first year after giving birth. Fathers, however, are not screened, but previous international studies claim that the proportion of depressed fathers amounts to just over 8 per cent.

 

The study of 447 new fathers showed that the established method of detecting depression (EPDS, Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale) works poorly on men.

 

"This means that current statistics may not tell the whole truth when it comes to depression in new fathers," says Elia Psouni. "The screening method does not capture symptoms which are particularly common in men, such as irritation, restlessness, low stress tolerance, and lack of self-control."

 

Although one-third of the depressed fathers in the study had thoughts of hurting themselves, very few were in contact with the healthcare system. Among those who were classified being moderately to severely depressed, 83 per cent had not shared their suffering with anyone. Although difficult to know, the corresponding figure for new mothers is believed to be 20-50 per cent.

 

"Telling people you feel depressed is taboo; as a new parent, you are expected to be happy. On top of that, previous research has shown that men are often reluctant to seeking help for mental health issues, especially depression; therefore it's doubtful that they would reveal their suffering to a paediatric nurse," says Elia Psouni.

 

Elia Psouni, Johan Agebjörn and Hanne Linder hope that their study will lead to improved screening methods in accordance with their suggestions, delivered so that it can reach all fathers. The method they developed, which combines questions from EPDS and GMDS (Gotland Male Depression Scale), proved to be well-suited for capturing dads with multiple symptoms of depression.

 

When it comes to screening depression in fathers, Elia Psouni thinks that the period to consider should be longer than the 12 months currently applied in studies of new mothers.

 

"Among dads, depression is common even at the end of the first year, which may be due to the fact that they rarely get help, but there may be other explanations. Whatever the reason, it is important to monitor dads' wellbeing as their part of the parental leave usually occurs towards the end of the child's first year of life."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/11/171106112238.htm

Depression is on the rise in the US, especially among young teens

October 30, 2017

Science Daily/Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health

Depression is on the rise in the United States. From 2005 to 2015, depression rose significantly among Americans age 12 and older with the most rapid increases seen in young people. This is the first study to identify trends in depression by gender, income, and education over the past decade.

 

This is the first study to identify trends in depression by gender, income, and education over the past decade.

 

"Depression appears to be increasing among Americans overall, and especially among youth," said Renee Goodwin, PhD, of the Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, who led the research. "Because depression impacts a significant percentage of the U.S. population and has serious individual and societal consequences, it is important to understand whether and how the prevalence of depression has changed over time so that trends can inform public health and outreach efforts."

 

The results show that depression increased significantly among persons in the U.S. from 2005 to 2015, from 6.6 percent to 7.3 percent. Notably, the rise was most rapid among those ages 12 to 17, increasing from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 12.7 percent in 2015.

 

Data were drawn from 607,520 respondents to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, an annual U.S. study of persons ages 12 and over. The researchers examined the prevalence of past-year depression annually among respondents based on DSM-IV criteria.

 

The increase in rates of depression was most rapid among the youngest and oldest age groups, whites, the lowest income and highest income groups, and those with the highest education levels. These results are in line with recent findings on increases in drug use, deaths due to drug overdose, and suicide.

 

"Depression is most common among those with least access to any health care, including mental health professionals. This includes young people and those with lower levels of income and education," noted Goodwin. "Despite this trend, recent data suggest that treatment for depression has not increased, and a growing number of Americans, especially socioeconomically vulnerable individuals and young persons, are suffering from untreated depression. Depression that goes untreated is the strongest risk factor for suicide behavior and recent studies show that suicide attempts have increased in recent years, especialy among young women."

 

Depression frequently remains undiagnosed, yet it is among the most treatable mental disorders, noted the researchers. "Identifying subgroups that are experiencing significant increases in depression can help guide the allocation of resources toward avoiding or reducing the individual and societal costs associated with depression," said Goodwin.

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171030134631.htm

'Magic mushrooms' may 'reset' the brains of depressed patients

October 13, 2017

Science Daily/Imperial College London

Patients taking psilocybin to treat depression show reduced symptoms weeks after treatment following a 'reset' of their brain activity.

 

The findings come from a study in which researchers from Imperial College London used psilocybin -- the psychoactive compound that occurs naturally in magic mushrooms -- to treat a small number of patients with depression in whom conventional treatment had failed.

 

In a paper, published today in the journal Scientific Reports, the researchers describe patient-reported benefits lasting up to five weeks after treatment, and believe the psychedelic compound may effectively reset the activity of key brain circuits known to play a role in depression.

 

Comparison of images of patients' brains before and one day after they received the drug treatment revealed changes in brain activity that were associated with marked and lasting reductions in depressive symptoms.

 

The authors note that while the initial results of the experimental therapy are exciting, they are limited by the small sample size as well as the absence of a control group -- such as a placebo group -- to directly contrast with the patients.

 

Dr Robin Carhart-Harris, Head of Psychedelic Research at Imperial, who led the study, said: "We have shown for the first time clear changes in brain activity in depressed people treated with psilocybin after failing to respond to conventional treatments.

 

"Several of our patients described feeling 'reset' after the treatment and often used computer analogies. For example, one said he felt like his brain had been 'defragged' like a computer hard drive, and another said he felt 'rebooted'. Psilocybin may be giving these individuals the temporary 'kick start' they need to break out of their depressive states and these imaging results do tentatively support a 'reset' analogy. Similar brain effects to these have been seen with electroconvulsive therapy."

 

Over the last decade or so, a number of clinical trials have been conducted into the safety and effectiveness of psychedelics in patients with conditions such as depression and addictions, yielding promising results.

 

In the recent Imperial trial, the first with psilocybin in depression, 20 patients with treatment-resistant form of the disorder were given two doses of psilocybin (10 mg and 25 mg), with the second dose a week after the first.

 

Nineteen of these underwent initial brain imaging and then a second scan one day after the high dose treatment. Carhart-Harris and team used two main brain imaging methods to measure changes in blood flow and the crosstalk between brain regions, with patients reporting their depressive symptoms through completing clinical questionnaires.

 

Immediately following treatment with psilocybin, patients reported a decrease in depressive symptoms -- corresponding with anecdotal reports of an 'after-glow' effect characterised by improvements in mood and stress relief.

 

Functional MRI imaging revealed reduced blood flow in areas of the brain, including the amygdala, a small, almond-shaped region of the brain known to be involved in processing emotional responses, stress and fear. They also found increased stability in another brain network, previously linked to psilocybin's immediate effects as well as to depression itself.

 

These findings provide a new window into what happens in the brains of people after they have 'come down' from a psychedelic, where an initial disintegration of brain networks during the drug 'trip', is followed by a re-integration afterwards.

 

Dr Carhart-Harris explained: "Through collecting these imaging data we have been able to provide a window into the after effects of psilocybin treatment in the brains of patients with chronic depression. Based on what we know from various brain imaging studies with psychedelics, as well as taking heed of what people say about their experiences, it may be that psychedelics do indeed 'reset' the brain networks associated with depression, effectively enabling them to be lifted from the depressed state.

 

The authors warn that while the initial findings are encouraging, the research is at an early stage and that patients with depression should not attempt to self-medicate, as the team provided a special therapeutic context for the drug experience and things may go awry if the extensive psychological component of the treatment is neglected. They add that future studies will include more robust designs and currently plan to test psilocybin against a leading antidepressant in a trial set to start early next year.

 

Professor David Nutt, Edmond J. Safra Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology and director of the Neuropsychopharmacology Unit in the Division of Brain Sciences, and senior author of the paper, added: "Larger studies are needed to see if this positive effect can be reproduced in more patients. But these initial findings are exciting and provide another treatment avenue to explore."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/10/171013091018.htm

Spiritual retreat can lower depression, raise hope in heart patients

August 1, 2011

Science Daily/University of Michigan Health System

 

Attending a non-denominational spiritual retreat can help patients with severe heart trouble feel less depressed and more hopeful about the future, a University of Michigan Health System study has found.

Heart patients who participated in a four-day retreat that included techniques such as meditation, guided imagery, drumming, journal writing and outdoor activities saw immediate improvement in tests measuring depression and hopefulness. Those improvements persisted at three- and six-month follow-up measurements.

The study was the first randomized clinical trial to demonstrate an intervention that raises hope in patients with acute coronary syndrome, a condition that includes chest pain and heart attack. Previous research has shown that hope and its opposite, hopelessness, have an impact on how patients face uncertain futures.

"The study shows that a spiritual retreat like the Medicine for the Earth program can jumpstart and help to maintain a return to psycho-spiritual well-being," says study lead author Sara Warber, M.D., associate professor of family medicine at the U-M Medical School and director of U-M's Integrative Medicine program. "These types of interventions may be of particular interest to patients who do not want to take antidepressants for the depression symptoms that often accompany coronary heart disease and heart attack."

The findings were published in the July issue of Explore: the Journal of Science and Healing.

The retreat group was compared to two other groups: one received standard cardiac care and the other participated in a lifestyle change retreat run by the U-M Cardiovascular Center that focused on nutrition, physical exercise and stress management.

The spiritual retreat portion of the study was conducted at the Windrise Retreat Center in Metamora, Michigan, about 50 miles north of Detroit. In the Medicine for the Earth program, participants are encouraged to see themselves as part of an interconnected web of life. The approach is founded on the work of co-author Sandra Ingerman, M.A., who wrote the book Medicine for the Earth: How to Transform Personal and Environmental Toxins, which emphasizes principles of love, harmony, beauty, unity and peace.

The study used a number of standard mental and physical benchmarks to assess the success of the program.

The spiritual retreat group went from a baseline score of 12 on the Beck Depression Inventory, indicating mild to moderate depression, to an improved score of 6 immediately afterward, a 50-percent reduction. Their scores remained that low half a year later. The lifestyle group saw their scores drop from 11 to 7 and remain there. The control group's score started at 8 and went down to 6.

Participants also showed marked improvement in their scores on a test measuring hope. Scores on the State Hope Scale can range from 6 to 48, with higher scores indicating greater hope. All three study groups started with average scores between 34 and 36. After the spiritual retreat, participants' average scores rose and stayed at 40 or above, while the other two groups' averages remained significantly lower, ranging from 35 to 38, three and six months later.

"Our work adds an important spiritual voice to the current discussion of the importance of psychological well-being for patients facing serious medical issues, such as acute coronary artery disease," Warber says.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110801094724.htm

Mindfulness-based therapy helps prevent depression relapse

December 9, 2010

Science Daily/JAMA and Archives Journals

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy appears to be similar to maintenance antidepressant medication for preventing relapse or recurrence among patients successfully treated for depression, according to a new study.

 

"Relapse and recurrence after recovery from major depressive disorder are common and debilitating outcomes that carry enormous personal, familial and societal costs," the authors write as background information in the article. The current standard for preventing relapse is maintenance therapy with a single antidepressant. This regimen is generally effective if patients take their medications, but as many as 40 percent of them do not. "Alternatives to long-term antidepressant monotherapy, especially those that address mood outcomes in a broader context of well-being, may appeal to patients wary of continued intervention."

Zindel V. Segal, Ph.D., of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and colleagues studied 160 patients age 18 to 65 who met criteria for major depressive disorder and had experienced at least two episodes of depression. After eight months of treatment, 84 (52.5 percent) achieved remission. Patients in remission were then randomly assigned to one of three treatment groups: 28 continued taking their medication; 30 had their medication slowly replaced by placebo; and 26 tapered their medication and then received mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapy.

In this therapy, patients learn to monitor and observe their thinking patterns when they feel sad, changing automatic reactions associated with depression (such as rumination and avoidance) into opportunities for useful reflection. "This is accomplished through daily homework exercises featuring (1) guided (taped) awareness exercises directed at increasing moment-by-moment nonjudgmental awareness of bodily sensations, thoughts, and feelings; (2) accepting difficulties with a stance of self-compassion; and (3) developing an 'action plan' composed of strategies for responding to early warning signs of relapse/recurrence," the authors write.

During the 18-month follow-up period, relapse occurred among 38 percent of those in the cognitive behavioral therapy group, 46 percent of those in the maintenance medication group and 60 percent of those in the placebo group, making both medication and behavioral therapy effective at preventing relapse.

About half (51 percent) of patients were classified as unstable remitters, defined as individuals who had symptom "flurries" or intermittently higher scores on depression rating scales despite having a low enough average score to qualify for remission. The other half (49 percent) were stable remitters with consistently low scores. Among unstable remitters, those taking maintenance medication or undergoing cognitive behavioral therapy were about 73 percent less likely to relapse than those taking placebo. Among stable remitters, there were no differences between the three groups.

"Our data highlight the importance of maintaining at least one active long-term treatment in recurrently depressed patients whose remission is unstable," the authors write. "For those unwilling or unable to tolerate maintenance antidepressant treatment, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy offers equal protection from relapse during an 18-month period." It is unclear exactly how mindfulness-based therapy works, but it may change neural pathways to support patterns that lead to recovery instead of to deeper depression, they note.

 

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101206161734.htm

 

Compassion Meditation May Improve Physical and Emotional Responses to Psychological Stress

October 7, 2008

Science Daily/Emory University

Data from a new study suggests that individuals who engage in compassion meditation may benefit by reductions in inflammatory and behavioral responses to stress that have been linked to depression and a number of medical illnesses.

 

"While much attention has been paid to meditation practices that emphasize calming the mind, improving focused attention or developing mindfulness, less is known about meditation practices designed to specifically foster compassion," says Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi, PhD, who designed and taught the meditation program used in the study. Negi is senior lecturer in the Department of Religion, the co-director of Emory Collaborative for Contemplative Studies and president and spiritual director of Drepung Loseling Monastery, Inc.

 

This study focused on the effect of compassion meditation on inflammatory, neuroendocrine and behavioral responses to psychosocial stress, and evaluated the degree to which engagement in meditation practice influenced stress reactivity.

 

"Our findings suggest that meditation practices designed to foster compassion may impact physiological pathways that are modulated by stress and are relevant to disease," explains Charles L. Raison, MD, clinical director of the Mind-Body Program, Emory University's Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory School of Medicine, and a lead author on the study.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081007172902.htm

Depression affects the brains of males and females differently

New findings suggest that adolescent girls and boys might experience depression differently and that sex-specific treatments could be beneficial for adolescents

July 11, 2017

Science Daily/Frontiers

Depressed adolescents were exposed to happy or sad words and their brains imaged. Through this study, researchers found that depression has different effects on the brain activity of male and female patients in certain brain regions. The findings suggest that adolescent girls and boys may experience depression differently and that sex-specific treatments might be beneficial for adolescents.

 

When researchers in the UK exposed depressed adolescents to happy or sad words and imaged their brains, they found that depression has different effects on the brain activity of male and female patients in certain brain regions. The findings suggest that adolescent girls and boys might experience depression differently and that sex-specific treatments could be beneficial for adolescents.

 

Men and women appear to suffer from depression differently, and this is particularly striking in adolescents. By 15 years of age, girls are twice as likely to suffer from depression as boys. There are various possible reasons for this, including body image issues, hormonal fluctuations and genetic factors, where girls are more at risk of inheriting depression. However, differences between the sexes don't just involve the risk of experiencing depression, but also how the disorder manifests and its consequences.

 

"Men are more liable to suffer from persistent depression, whereas in women depression tends to be more episodic," explains Jie-Yu Chuang, a researcher at the University of Cambridge, and an author on the study, which was recently published in Frontiers in Psychiatry. "Compared with women, depressed men are also more likely to suffer serious consequences from their depression, such as substance abuse and suicide." Despite this, so far, most researchers have focused on depression in women, likely because it is more common.

 

This motivated Chuang and her colleagues to carry out this latest study to find differences between depressed men and women. They recruited adolescent volunteers for the study, who were aged between 11 and 18 years. This included 82 female and 24 male patients who suffered from depression, and 24 female and 10 male healthy volunteers. The researchers imaged the adolescents' brains using magnetic resonance imaging, while flashing happy, sad or neutral words on a screen in a specific order.

 

The volunteers pressed a button when certain types of words appeared and did not press the button when others appeared, and the researchers measured their brain activity throughout the experiment. When the researchers flashed certain combinations of words on the screen, they noticed that depression affects brain activity differently between boys and girls in brain regions such as the supramarginal gyrus and posterior cingulate.

 

So, what do these results mean? "Our finding suggests that early in adolescence, depression might affect the brain differently between boys and girls," explains Chuang. "Sex-specific treatment and prevention strategies for depression should be considered early in adolescence. Hopefully, these early interventions could alter the disease trajectory before things get worse."

 

The brain regions highlighted in the study have been previously linked to depression, but further work is needed to understand why they are affected differently in depressed boys, and if this is related to how boys experience and handle depression.

 

Because depression is more common in girls, the researchers were not able to recruit as many boys in this study, and future experiments should compare similar numbers of girls and boys for more representative results. Chuang and her colleagues would like to explore this phenomenon further. "I think it would be great to conduct a large longitudinal study addressing sex differences in depression from adolescence to adulthood."

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/07/170711085522.htm

 

Screening for depression recommended for adults, including pregnant and postpartum women

January 26, 2016

Science Daily/The JAMA Network Journals

The US Preventive Services Task Force is recommending screening for depression in the general adult population, including pregnant and postpartum women, and that screening should be implemented with adequate systems in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate follow-up.

 

This recommendation is a USPSTF grade B recommendation, meaning that there is high certainty that the net benefit is moderate, or there is moderate certainty that the net benefit is moderate to substantial.

 

Depression is among the leading causes of disability in persons 15 years and older. It affects individuals, families, businesses, and society and is common in patients seeking care in the primary care setting, and also common in postpartum and pregnant women. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) reviewed the evidence in the medical literature on the benefits and harms of screening for depression in adult populations, including older adults and pregnant and postpartum women; the accuracy of depression screening instruments; and the benefits and harms of depression treatment in these populations. The USPSTF is an independent, volunteer panel of experts that makes recommendations about the effectiveness of specific preventive care services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications. This report is an update of a 2009 USPSTF recommendation statement. The USPSTF continues to recommend that adults 18 and older be screened for depression.

 

Detection, and Benefits of Early Detection, Intervention and Treatment

 

The USPSTF found convincing evidence that screening improves the accurate identification of adult patients with depression in primary care settings, including pregnant and postpartum women, and found adequate evidence that programs combining depression screening with adequate support systems in place improve clinical outcomes (i.e., reduction or remission of depression symptoms) in adults, including pregnant and postpartum women. The USPSTF found convincing evidence that treatment of adults and older adults with depression identified through screening in primary care settings with antidepressants, psychotherapy, or both decreases clinical morbidity. The USPSTF also found adequate evidence that treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) improves clinical outcomes in pregnant and postpartum women with depression.

 

Harms of Early Detection, Intervention and Treatment

 

The USPSTF found adequate evidence that the magnitude of harms of screening for depression in adults is small to none and that the magnitude of harms of treatment with CBT in postpartum and pregnant women is small to none. The USPSTF found that second-generation antidepressants (mostly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors [SSRIs]) are associated with some harms, such as an increase in suicidal behaviors in adults age 18 to 29 years and an increased risk of upper gastrointestinal bleeding in adults older than 70 years, with risk increasing with age; however, the magnitude of these risks is, on average, small. The USPSTF also found evidence of potential serious fetal harms from pharmacologic treatment of depression in pregnant women, but the likelihood of these serious harms is low. Therefore, the USPSTF concludes that the overall magnitude of harms is small to moderate.

 

Screening

 

The optimal timing and interval for screening for depression is not known. A pragmatic approach might include screening all adults who have not been screened previously and using clinical judgment in consideration of risk factors, comorbid conditions, and life events to determine if additional screening of high-risk patients is warranted. Positive screening results should lead to additional assessment that considers severity of depression and comorbid psychological problems, alternate diagnoses, and medical conditions.

 

Treatment and Interventions

 

Effective treatment of depression in adults generally includes antidepressants or specific psychotherapy approaches, alone or in combination. Given the potential harms to the fetus and newborn child from certain pharmacologic agents, clinicians are encouraged to consider evidence-based counseling interventions when managing depression in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

 

USPSTF Assessment

 

The USPSTF concludes with at least moderate certainty that there is a moderate net benefit to screening for depression in adults 18 years and older, including older adults, who receive care in clinical practices that have adequate systems in place to ensure accurate diagnosis, effective treatment, and appropriate follow-up after screening. The USPSTF also concludes with at least moderate certainty that there is a moderate net benefit to screening for depression in pregnant and postpartum women who receive care in clinical practices that have CBT or other evidence-based counseling available after screening.

 

Editorial: Recommendations for Screening for Depression in Adults

 

Michael E. Thase, M.D., of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, comments on the USPSTF recommendations in an accompanying editorial.

 

"Until there are better methods to match patients with specific forms of treatment, the best hope to improve on a B grade for patients with depression may be to adapt care systems to respond more flexibly and decisively to key events that are associated with nonadherence or treatment failure. For example, if the clinicians working within a collaborative care model could rapidly incorporate the information that an initial prescription was not filled or was not refilled, it may be possible to diminish the chances that nonadherence will compromise treatment outcome."

 

"Likewise, given evidence that nonresponse is predicted by a lack of symptom improvement during the first 14 days of therapy, web-based monitoring of symptoms early in the course of therapy may enable physicians and other mental health professionals to intervene more rapidly and reduce the chances of treatment failure. The same approach to ongoing care could be used to facilitate a more timely transition through treatment algorithms and more expeditious referral to specialty care."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160126125228.htm

Put the cellphone away: Fragmented baby care can affect brain development

Maternal infant-rearing link to adolescent depression

Science Daily/January 5, 2016

University of California - Irvine

Mothers, put down your smartphones when caring for your babies! That's the message from researchers, who have found that fragmented and chaotic maternal care can disrupt proper brain development, which can lead to emotional disorders later in life.

 

While the study was conducted with rodents, its findings imply that when mothers are nurturing their infants, numerous everyday interruptions -- even those as seemingly harmless as phone calls and text messages -- can have a long-lasting impact.

 

Dr. Tallie Z. Baram and her colleagues at UCI's Conte Center on Brain Programming in Adolescent Vulnerabilities show that consistent rhythms and patterns of maternal care seem to be crucially important for the developing brain, which needs predictable and continuous stimuli to ensure the growth of robust neuron networks. Study results appear today in Translational Psychiatry.

 

The UCI researchers discovered that erratic maternal care of infants can increase the likelihood of risky behaviors, drug seeking and depression in adolescence and adult life. Because cellphones have become so ubiquitous and users have become so accustomed to frequently checking and utilizing them, the findings of this study are highly relevant to today's mothers and babies ... and tomorrow's adolescents and adults.

 

"It is known that vulnerability to emotional disorders, such as depression, derives from interactions between our genes and the environment, especially during sensitive developmental periods," said Baram, the Danette "Dee Dee" Shepard Chair in Neurological Studies.

 

"Our work builds on many studies showing that maternal care is important for future emotional health. Importantly, it shows that it is not how much maternal care that influences adolescent behavior but the avoidance of fragmented and unpredictable care that is crucial. We might wish to turn off the mobile phone when caring for baby and be predictable and consistent."

 

The UCI team -- which included Hal Stern, the Ted & Janice Smith Family Foundation Dean of Information & Computer Sciences -- studied the emotional outcomes of adolescent rats reared in either calm or chaotic environments and used mathematical approaches to analyze the mothers' nurturing behaviors.

 

Despite the fact that quantity and typical qualities of maternal care were indistinguishable in the two environments, the patterns and rhythms of care differed drastically, which strongly influenced how the rodent pups developed. Specifically, in one environment, the mothers displayed "chopped up" and unpredictable behaviors.

 

During adolescence, their offspring exhibited little interest in sweet foods or peer play, two independent measures of the ability to experience pleasure. Known as anhedonia, the inability to feel happy is often a harbinger of later depression. In humans, it may also drive adolescents to seek pleasure from more extreme stimulation, such as risky driving, alcohol or drugs.

 

Why might disjointed maternal care generate this problem with the pleasure system? Baram said that the brain's dopamine-receptor pleasure circuits are not mature in newborns and infants and that these circuits are stimulated by predictable sequences of events, which seem to be critical for their maturation. If infants are not sufficiently exposed to such reliable patterns, their pleasure systems do not mature properly, provoking anhedonia.

 

With her UCI team, Baram is currently studying human mothers and their infants. Video analysis of care, sophisticated imaging technology to measure brain development, and psychological and cognitive testing are being employed to more fully understand this issue. The goal is to see whether what was discovered in rodents applies to people. If so, then strategies to limit chopped-up and unpredictable patterns of maternal care might prove helpful in preventing emotional problems in teenagers.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160105132724.htm

Forgiving others protects women from depression, but not men

Results may help counselors develop gender-appropriate interventions

September 1, 2015

Science Daily/University of Missouri-Columbia

Researchers studied how different facets of forgiveness affected aging adults' feelings of depression. The researchers found older women who forgave others were less likely to report depressive symptoms regardless of whether they felt unforgiven by others. Older men, however, reported the highest levels of depression when they both forgave others and felt unforgiven by others. The researchers say their results may help counselors of older adults develop gender-appropriate interventions since men and women process forgiveness differently.

 

Forgiveness is a complex process, one often fraught with difficulty and angst. Now, researchers in the University of Missouri College of Human Environmental Sciences studied how different facets of forgiveness affected aging adults' feelings of depression. The researchers found older women who forgave others were less likely to report depressive symptoms regardless of whether they felt unforgiven by others. Older men, however, reported the highest levels of depression when they both forgave others and felt unforgiven by others. The researchers say their results may help counselors of older adults develop gender-appropriate interventions since men and women process forgiveness differently.

 

"It doesn't feel good when we perceive that others haven't forgiven us for something," said Christine Proulx, study co-author and an associate professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science. "When we think about forgiveness and characteristics of people who are forgiving -- altruistic, compassionate, empathetic -- these people forgive others and seem to compensate for the fact that others aren't forgiving them. It sounds like moral superiority, but it's not about being a better person. It's 'I know that this hurts because it's hurting me,' and those people are more likely to forgive others, which appears to help decrease levels of depression, particularly for women."

 

Proulx and lead author Ashley Ermer, a doctoral student in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, analyzed data from the Religion, Aging, and Health Survey, a national survey of more than 1,000 adults ages 67 and older. Survey participants answered questions about their religion, health and psychological well-being.

 

Proulx said they studied forgiveness among an older population because of the tendency among older individuals to reflect on their lives, especially their relationships and transgressions, both as wrongdoers and as those who had experienced wrongdoing.

 

"As people get older, they become more forgiving," Ermer said. "Our population also predominately was Christian, which may influence individuals' willingness to forgive and could function differently among individuals with different beliefs."

 

The researchers found men and women who feel unforgiven by others are somewhat protected against depression when they are able to forgive themselves. Yet, the researchers said they were surprised to find that forgiving oneself did not more significantly reduce levels of depression.

 

"Self-forgiveness didn't act as the protector against depression," Proulx said. "It's really about whether individuals can forgive other people and their willingness to forgive others."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/09/150901135117.htm

Moderate exercise not only treats, but prevents depression

October 28, 2013

Science Daily/University of Toronto

Physical activity is being increasingly recognized as an effective tool to treat depression. PhD candidate George Mammen's review published in the October issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine has taken the connection one step further, finding that moderate exercise can actually prevent episodes of depression in the long term.

 

This is the first longitudinal review to focus exclusively on the role that exercise plays in maintaining good mental health and preventing the onset of depression later in life.

 

Mammen -- who is supervised by Professor Guy Faulkner, a co-author of the review -- analyzed over 26 years' worth of research findings to discover that even low levels of physical activity (walking and gardening for 20-30 minutes a day) can ward off depression in people of all age groups.

 

Mammen's findings come at a time when mental health experts want to expand their approach beyond treating depression with costly prescription medication. "We need a prevention strategy now more than ever," he says. "Our health system is taxed. We need to shift focus and look for ways to fend off depression from the start."

 

Mammen acknowledges that other factors influence a person's likelihood of experiencing depression, including their genetic makeup. But he says that the scope of research he assessed demonstrates that regardless of individual predispositions, there's a clear take-away for everyone. "It's definitely worth taking note that if you're currently active, you should sustain it. If you're not physically active, you should initiate the habit. This review shows promising evidence that the impact of being active goes far beyond the physical."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131028163003.htm

Older Adults Who Sleep Poorly React to Stress with Increased Inflammation

March 1, 2012

Science Daily/University of Rochester Medical Center

Older adults who sleep poorly have an altered immune system response to stress that may increase risk for mental and physical health problems, according to a study led by a University of Rochester Medical Center researcher.

 

In the study, stress led to significantly larger increases in a marker of inflammation in poor sleepers compared to good sleepers -- a marker associated with poor health outcomes and death.

 

"This study offers more evidence that better sleep not only can improve overall well-being but also may help prevent poor physiological and psychological outcomes associated with inflammation," said Kathi L. Heffner, Ph.D., assistant professor of Psychiatry at the Medical Center.

 

Poor sleepers reported more depressive symptoms, more loneliness and more global perceived stress relative to good sleepers. Poor sleepers did not differ from good sleepers when IL-6 was measured before the tests began. Across the group, the participants showed increases in IL-6. However, poor sleepers had a significantly larger increase in IL-6 in response to the stressful tests compared to good sleepers, as much as four times larger and at a level found to increase risk for illness and death in older adults.

 

A further analysis of the results for the impact of loneliness, depression or perceived stress on IL-6 levels found no association. Poor sleep stood as the predictor of elevated inflammation levels.

 

"We found no evidence that poor sleep made them deal poorly with a stressful situation. They did just as well on the tests as the good sleepers. We did not expect that," Heffner said. "We did find that they were in a worse mood after the stressor than a good sleeper, but that change in mood did not predict the heightened inflammatory response."

 

As people age, a gradual decline in the immune system occurs along with an increase in inflammation. Heightened inflammation increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and other illnesses, as well as psychiatric problems.

 

While relatively little is known about the pathways through which poor sleep impacts circulating levels of inflammatory proteins, the study led by Heffner provides a clinical target for preventing poor outcomes for older adults.

 

"There are a lot of sleep problems among older adults," Heffner said. "Older adults do not have to sleep poorly. We can intervene on sleep problems in older adulthood. Helping an elderly person become a better sleeper may reduce the risk of poor outcomes associated with inflammation."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/03/120301103758.htm

 

Depression and chronic stress accelerates aging

November 10, 2011

Science Daily/Umeå University

People with recurrent depressions or those exposed to chronic stress exhibits shorter telomeres in white blood cells.

 

The telomere is the outermost part of the chromosome. With increasing age, telomeres shorten, and studies have shown that oxidative stress and inflammation accelerates this shortening. On this basis it has been suggested that telomere length is a measure of biological aging, and telomere length has subsequently been linked to age-related diseases, unhealthy lifestyle, and longevity.

 

The research team shows that shorter telomere length is associated with both recurrent depression and cortisol levels indicative of exposure to chronic stress.

 

"The test revealed that cortisol levels indicative of chronic stress stress are associated with shorter telomeres in both depressed and healthy individuals," says Mikael Wikgren, a doctoral candidate in the research group.

 

The fact that depressed patients as a group have shorter telomere lengths compared to healthy individuals can be largely explained by the fact that more depressed people than healthy people have disturbed cortisol regulation, which underscores that cortisol regulation and stress play a major role in depressive disorders.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111109093729.htm

 

Childhood stress fuels weight gain in women

July 7, 2015

Science Daily/Michigan State University

When it comes to weight gain for women, childhood stress appears to be a bigger culprit than stress during adulthood, finds an American national study. Interestingly, though, neither childhood nor adult stress was associated with weight gain for men.

 

Interestingly, though, neither childhood nor adult stress was associated with weight gain for men.

 

The federally funded study, which appears online in the journal Social Science & Medicine, is the first to examine such lifelong consequences of stress on weight change.

 

"These findings add to our understanding of how childhood stress is a more important driver of long-term weight gain than adult stress, and how such processes differ for men and women," said Hui Liu, MSU associate professor of sociology and an expert in statistics, population-based health and family science.

 

Liu and her longtime collaborator, Debra Umberson from the University of Texas, analyzed the data from the Americans' Changing Lives, a national survey in which participants were interviewed four times in a 15-year period. The study encompassed 3,617 people (2,259 women and 1,358 men).

 

Childhood stress was measured on a range of family-related stressors that occurred at age 16 or younger such as economic hardship, divorce, at least one parent with mental health problem and never knowing one's father. Adult stress included such factors as job loss, death of a significant other and parental and care-provider stress.

 

Liu said women who experienced higher levels of childhood stress gained weight more rapidly than women who experienced less childhood stress. Change in body mass is a process that unfolds throughout life, she noted, and childhood may be a critical period for establishing patterns that have a long-term impact on women's weight over time.

 

As far as stress not significantly affecting men's weight, Liu said men and women respond to stress differently.

 

It may be that women eat more to cope with stress, whereas men are more likely to engage in less weight-related strategies such as withdrawing or drinking alcohol, she said. Gender differences in depression may also help explain the difference. Depression is associated with emotion-driven eating and weight gain, and females are more likely than males to be depressed after adolescence.

 

The findings highlight the need for treatment and policies designed to reduce stress in childhood.

 

"Given the importance of body mass on health and disability," Liu said, "it's important that we consider the sex-specific social contexts of early childhood in order to design effective clinical programs that prevent or treat obesity later in life."

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/07/150707120214.htm

Member Login
Welcome, (First Name)!

Forgot? Show
Log In
Enter Member Area
My Profile Not a member? Sign up. Log Out