Tag Archives: depression

Mental Health
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How to Practice the Elements of Self-Care

“Self-care” is a term used by social workers and psychologists, and it usually refers to activities that are pleasurable. Helping professionals often suggest a walk in nature, a yoga class, or a bubble bath. In a recent article on The Mighty, contributor Mawiyah Patten writes about her own experience of depression and the role of self-care.

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Disease
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What You Should Know about High-Functioning Depression

Amanda Leventhal looks like any other college student. She maintains a high grade point average, sings in her campus choir, and hangs out with a group of good friends. It is unlikely anyone would identify her as depressed. When she wrote an essay on her private battle with anxiety and depression, her friends were shocked.

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Mental Health
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Researchers Discover The Surprising No. 1 Predictor of Mental Illness

31020940_sMental illness is still in large part a mystery and very little has been done to figure out what causes it or who may be more susceptible. Now, new research may be taking us one step closer to assessing the origins of this debilitating disease and opening new doors to the prevention of it.

Recently, scientists from the Washington University of St. Louis ran a 12 year long study of 145 preschool age children. These children were assessed for feelings of guilt and depression through the ages of 3-6. Later, during their 7th to 13th years, these same children were given fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) brain scans every year and a half. Although the initial findings of this study has already been published, these children will continued to be studied for the next 5 years.

The study concluded an interesting and intricate relationship between feelings of guilt, depression and future mental illness. 47 of the 145 preschoolers were found to have feelings of depression. Of these 47 children, over half of them showed feelings of pathological guilt. On the other hand, of the non depressed children, only 20% of them displayed guilt.

The rather shocking discovery was that the children who dealt with guilt, whether or not they also had depression, had a smaller volume in their anterior insula – the part of the brain that has been connected to mental illness such as schizophrenia and mood and anxiety disorders. The anterior insula is also responsible for the regulation of emotion and self perception. Small anterior insula volume is already known as an indicator of later occurring depression. Accordingly, the children with the smaller anterior insula volume were also more likely to have recurring episodes of depression in their future.

This study is the first of its kind to link childhood guilt to actual changes in brain matter. What is exciting about this research is that it shows that with early intervention, it might be possible to stave off mental illness in a person’s future. This research promises to develop some crucial tools for assessing children at risk and empowering their caretakers to recognize early symptoms and take steps to change their life.

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Blog, Immune System
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Science Shows The Most Common Mental Illness May Simply Be An Allergic Reaction

18732519_sAccording to the CDC, an estimated 1 in 10 adults in the US suffer from depression – an alarmingly high statistic. Depression has been attributed in the past to many causes – among the – genetics, substance abuse or certain medications, life circumstances and even lack of sunshine. Now, new research has surfaced with the interesting discovery that this pervasive and far spread mental illness could be a symptom of inflammation in the body.

When we are sick, injured or have foreign compounds enter our bodies, our system responds by triggering the release of specific cells and proteins into our bloodstream and inducing inflammation. This includes cytokines – a special class of proteins that handle intercellular communication. They are known to modulate brain neurotransmitters and a part of the brain called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, which are both disturbed in depression. People with depression have high levels of cytokines and usually, cytokine levels shoot very high when depressive episodes are occurring.

This has led to new research connecting the dots between depression and inflammation – namely, that depression could actually be nothing more than a side effect of inflammation. This knowledge could open up a whole new world of possible new treatments for the condition. But to expand on this knowledge, scientists need to discover the root of the inflammation. There is currently one camp of researchers who believe that the inflammation is typically caused by reaction to poor eating and the whole epidemic that comes along with it – obesity and toxicity from processed foods and chemicals. Another camp of researchers believe that this particular inflammation comes from outside stress due to circumstantial situations such as loneliness, bullying or rejection.

In the initial trials, good results have been reported when anti-inflammatory drugs were added to the antidepressants.

Caroline Williams, Guardian reporter, said,

The good news is that the few clinical trials done so far have found that adding anti-inflammatory medicines to antidepressants not only improves symptoms, it also increases the proportion of people who respond to treatment, although more trials will be needed to confirm this. There is also some evidence that omega 3 and curcumin, an extract of the spice turmeric, might have similar effects. Both are available over the counter and might be worth a try, although as an add-on to any prescribed treatment – there’s definitely not enough evidence to use them as a replacement.

Although it will be a few years before this groundbreaking research has been sorted out to determine an exact cause, this discovery should go a long way toward improving the outlook for the millions who suffer depression – by prescribing not only a healthy supportive lifestyle with medication if needed, but also introducing anti-inflammatory foods and medicines to complement traditional treatment.

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