Using Facebook to predict depression

New research uses over half a million Facebook status updates to predict depression diagnoses in people at risk.

Depression is one of the most widespread mental health problems in the United States, with over 16 million adults having experienced at least one major depressive episode in their lifetimes.

Worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that unipolar depressive disorders will be “the leading cause of the global burden of disease” by 2030.

Full story at Medical News Today

 

Higher risk of alcohol- and suicide-related death in diabetes

A new study uncovers a worrying association: people who have any form of diabetes are more likely to die by suicide, causes related to alcohol consumption, or due to an accident.

Researchers at the Universities of Helsinki and Tampere, and from Helsinki University Hospital — all in Finland — conducted a large population study investigating the relationship between diabetes and the risk of death due to factors such as alcohol, suicide, and accidents.

Both type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes place people at a heightened risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack and stroke, as well as cancer and kidney disease.

Full story at Medical News Today

Marijuana worse for teen brains than alcohol, study finds

Teen brains are more vulnerable to the effects of marijuana than alcohol, a new study finds.

Adolescents who begin using marijuana regularly may suffer lasting repercussions in their thinking ability, according to scientists at the University of Montreal.

The study, published Wednesday in the American Journal of Psychiatry, followed over 3,800 adolescents from 31 Montreal-area schools over four years. The teens, who started participating in the study when they were 13, agreed to provide annual reports of how frequently they used marijuana and alcohol. They also took computer-based cognitive tests that measured recall memory, perceptual reasoning, inhibition and short-term memory.

Full story at NBC News

Bipolar disorder: A good diet may boost treatment

Diet quality can affect many aspects of one’s physical health and psychological well-being. New research investigates whether or not these factors can also affect the effectiveness of treatments for mood disorders — particularly bipolar.

The moods of people who have bipolar disorder fluctuate between two extremes.

These are the “highs,” during which the person feels euphoric and may engage in dangerous behaviors, and the “lows,” characterized by depression and lethargy.

Since two opposite mood extremes characterize this disorder, it is often difficult to treat both the “highs” (or “manic episodes”) and the “lows” (or “depressive episodes”) with the same efficacy.

Full story at Medical News Today

A Brain Scientist Who Studies Alzheimer’s Explains How She Stays Mentally Fit

As a specialist in Alzheimer’s prevention, Jessica Langbaum knows that exercising her mental muscles can help keep her brain sharp.

But Langbaum, who holds a doctorate in psychiatric epidemiology, has no formal mental fitness program. She doesn’t do crossword puzzles or play computer brain games.

“Just sitting down and doing Sudoku isn’t probably going to be the one key thing that’s going to prevent you from developing Alzheimer’s disease,” she says.

Instead of using a formal brain training program, she simply goes to work.

Full story at npr.org

Opioid overdoses, depression linked

The link between mental health disorders and substance abuse is well-documented. Nearly one in 12 adults in the U.S is depressed, and opioid-related deaths are skyrocketing. As these numbers continue to climb, some mental health professionals have started to wonder if there’s a link between the two.

According to a new study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, the link is strong.

“For every additional 1 percent of the population that has a depression diagnosis, we see between a 25 and 35 percent increase in the number of opioid overdose deaths,” said Laura Schwab Reese, an assistant professor of health and kinesiology at Purdue University, who led the study. “We thought maybe suicide was driving this, but we sectioned out unintentional overdose and found that the relationship continued.”

More than 72,000 Americans died of drug overdoses in 2017, mostly from opioids. The Trump administration declared the crisis a public health emergency in October 2017, but the end is still out of sight. This, coupled with rising rates of depression and a lack of access to mental health care for many, is proving to be deadly.

Full story at Science Daily

What lies at the dark core of the human psyche?

Certain personality traits are linked to a tendency toward exceedingly selfish behaviors. There may be a huge gap between the selfishness of a narcissist and that of a psychopath, but current research shows that all negative personality traits share the same dark core.

Egoism, Machiavellianism, moral disengagement, narcissism, psychological entitlement, psychopathy, sadism, self-interest, and spitefulness are all negative personality traits recognized in psychology.

Some of them, such as sadism, rely on other people’s pain and discomfort for personal satisfaction.

Full story at Medical News Today

Postnatal depression could be linked to fewer daylight hours during late pregnancy

Women in late pregnancy during darker months of the year may have a greater risk of developing postpartum depression once their babies are born. This is consistent with what is known about the relationship between exposure to natural light and depression among adults in the general population. Deepika Goyal of San José State University in the US is the lead author of a study published in a special issue “Post-partum Health” in Springer’s Journal of Behavioral Medicine. The findings of Goyal and her colleagues should lead clinicians to encourage at-risk women to increase their exposure to natural daylight and vitamin D.

Although reduced exposure to natural light has been associated with depression among adults in the general population, there is not yet a consensus about whether light exposure or seasonality influences the development of depression during and after pregnancy.

In this study, Goyal and her colleagues at the University of California San Francisco analysed available information from 293 women who participated in one of two randomized controlled clinical trials about sleep before and after pregnancy. The participants were all first-time mothers from the US state of California. Data included the amount of daylight during the final trimester of their pregnancy, along with information about known risk factors such as a history of depression, the woman’s age, her socioeconomic status and how much she slept.

Full story at Science Daily

A behavioral intervention for cancer patients that works

This is a story about something rare in health psychology: a treatment that has gone from scientific discovery, through development and testing, to dissemination and successful implementation nationwide.

In a new study, researchers found that a program designed at The Ohio State University to reduce harmful stress in cancer patients can be taught to therapists from around the country and implemented at their sites, and effectively improves mood in their patients.

“It’s challenging to take a treatment and scale it up to where it will work with a diverse group of therapists and patients under a wide variety of circumstances,” said Barbara L. Andersen, lead author of the study and professor of psychology at Ohio State.

“This study documents a remarkable success story.”

Full story at Science Daily

Boosting emotional intelligence in physicians can protect against burnout

A Loyola Medicine study demonstrates that an educational curriculum for physicians in training improves their emotional intelligence, which may help protect against burnout.

Before and after completing this educational intervention, doctors took a test measuring their emotional intelligence. There were significant increases in their scores for overall emotional intelligence, stress management and overall wellness.

The study by Ramzan Shahid, MD, Jerold Stirling, MD, and William Adams, PhD, is published in the journal Advances in Medical Education and Practice.

Teaching emotional intelligence skills “may improve stress management skills, promote wellness and prevent burnout in resident physicians,” the researchers wrote.

Full story at Science Daily