Depression increases risk of early death in older adults

A research team designed a study to investigate the role depression symptoms play in an increased risk of death over time. The team also examined the role heart disease and stroke play in the link between depression symptoms and increased risk of death.

As we age, we become more likely to experience symptoms of depression. Research shows that depression’s symptoms can be linked to a higher risk for death. Yet often, older adults’ symptoms of depression may be missed by healthcare professionals.

What’s more, symptoms of depression have been linked to heart disease and stroke in middle-aged and older adults. Researchers suggest that the depression-heart disease link could play a role in the increased risk of death among older adults who have symptoms of depression. There’s also a known link between depression and deaths from cancer and falls in older adults. These connections might contribute to an increased risk of death for older adults, researchers suggest.

Full story at Science Daily

What to know about marijuana withdrawal

Whether they use marijuana for recreational or medicinal purposes, people can develop withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it.

Marijuana, or cannabis, is the “most commonly used illicit drug in the United States,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In recent years, more states have legalized the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana. However, based on a 2018 survey from Washington State, legalization does not seem to have significantly increased marijuana use. That said, marijuana use has been gaining a lot of attention.

Full story at Medical News Today

SCREENS MIGHT BE AS BAD FOR MENTAL HEALTH AS … POTATOES

PSYCHOLOGISTS CAN’T SEEM to agree on what technology is doing to our sense of well-being. Some say digital devices have become a bane of modern life; others claim they’re a balm for it. Between them lies a shadowy landscape of non-consensus: As the director the National Institutes of Health recently told Congress, research into technology’s effects on our thoughts, behaviors, and development has produced limited—and often contradictory—findings.

As if that uncertainty weren’t vexing enough, many of those findings have sprung from the same source: Giant data sets that compile survey data from thousands or even millions of participants. “The problem is, two researchers can look at the same data and come away with completely different findings and prescriptions for society,” says psychologist Andrew Przybylski, director of research at the Oxford Internet Institute. “Technological optimists tend to find positive correlations. If they’re pessimists, they tend to find negative ones.”

Full story at Wired

Have researchers found a new risk factor for schizophrenia?

Scientists have located an intriguing link between schizophrenia and the Epstein-Barr virus, a type of herpes virus. Now, they need to determine which way the risk lies.

Schizophrenia, a condition characterized by a confused perception of reality, delusions, and altered behavior, affects more than 21 million people globally.

In a new study, specialists from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, MD, and the Sheppard Pratt Health System in Townson, MD, found evidence that links schizophrenia with the Epstein-Barr virus.

This is a herpes virus that causes infectious mononucleosis, or glandular fever.

Full story at Medical News Today

Brains of people with schizophrenia-related disorders aren’t all the same

A new multi-site brain imaging study in The American Journal of Psychiatry shows that sub-groups of people use their brains differently when imitating emotional faces — a task that reflects their ability to interact socially. Interestingly, individuals with schizophrenia do not have categorically different social brain function than those without mental illness, but fall into different sub-groups that may respond to different types of treatments. These findings call into question the most common research approaches in mental health.

“We know that, on average, people with schizophrenia have more social impairment than people in the general population,” says senior author Dr. Aristotle Voineskos in the Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto. “But we needed to take an agnostic approach and let the data tell us what the brain-behavioural profiles of our study participants looked like. It turned out that the relationship between brain function and social behaviour had nothing to do with conventional diagnostic categories in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders).”

Full story at Science Daily

Post-natal depression in dads linked to depression in their teenage daughters

Fathers as well as mothers can experience post-natal depression — and it is linked to emotional problems for their teenage daughters, new research has found.

Almost one in 20 new fathers suffered depression in the weeks after their child was born, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry and co-authored by Professor Paul Ramchandani of the Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge.

The research, based on a sample of more than 3,000 families in Bristol, UK, also identified a link between post-natal depression in men and depression in their daughters as they reached adulthood.

At 18, girls whose fathers had experienced depression after their birth were themselves at greater risk of the condition, researchers found. The “small but significant” increased risk applied only to daughters; sons were not affected.

Full story at Science Daily

Dynamic Associations Among Motor Activity, Sleep, Energy, and Mood Could Suggest New Focus for Depression Treatment

Current theories of depression suggest that sleep problems, low energy, and low activity levels result from depressed mood, but a new study looking at interactions among these factors in people with bipolar disorder or depression suggests that the opposite may be true—that instability in activity and sleep systems could lead to mood changes. The findings, published online December 12 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, suggest new targets for depression treatment.

Previous research has shown the interrelated nature of many of the homeostatic systems of the body. For example, the regulation of motor activity has been found to be linked with other systems, such as those regulating sleep, activity, and emotional states. While dysregulation in these systems is often seen in people with mental disorders, it can be challenging for researchers to examine both the interrelationships between multiple systems and their directional influences using traditional clinical assessments based on retrospective recall.

Full story at NIMH

Hyperconnectivity in a brain circuit may predict psychosis

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-funded scientists have discovered a pattern in the way a brain circuit works that may help predict the onset of psychosis. High levels of chatter, or “hyperconnectivity,” in a circuit involving the cerebellum, thalamus, and cortex emerged as a potential “neural signature” in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) study by Tyrone Cannon, Ph.D.of Yale University and colleagues.

The degree of hyperconnectivity within this circuit predicted the length of time it took for an individual to convert from a state of risk to full psychosis – hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized thought and behavior. The researchers also found this same pattern of hyperactivity in a separate group of individuals with schizophrenia.

Full story at NIMH

Letter from the Editor: Love your mind

Fairy lights are gracing the shop windows and Michael Bublé is dominating the airwaves with his rendition of “Winter Wonderland.” The holiday season is well and truly in full swing.

“Are you all set for the holidays?”

I’ve been asked this question three times this week — a classic example of festive chitchat in the United Kingdom. The short answer? No.

With fewer than 4 weeks to go, I’ve purchased a total of three gifts, including one box of candy that will undoubtedly be opened prior to its intended date of consumption and will need to be replaced.

Full story at Medical News Today

Older adults’ abstract reasoning ability predicts depressive symptoms over time

Age-related declines in abstract reasoning ability predict increasing depressive symptoms in subsequent years, according to data from a longitudinal study of older adults in Scotland. The research is published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“Mental health in later life is a topic of increasing importance given aging populations worldwide,” says researcher Stephen Aichele of the University of Geneva. “Our findings suggest that monitoring for cognitive decrements in later adulthood may expedite efforts to reduce associated increases in depression risk.”

Many adults will experience some degree of cognitive decline in the latter decades of life. Research has also shown that cognitive impairments and depression are correlated in older adults — generally, as cognitive abilities decline, depressive symptoms increase. Yet, researchers have not been able to conclusively determine the direction of causation. That is, does cognitive decline lead to depression, does depression lead to cognitive decline, or do the phenomena mutually reinforce each other?

Full story at Science Daily