Depression Research Update

Feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life. But when emptiness and despair take hold and won’t go away, it may be depression. More than just the temporary “blues,” the lows of depression make it tough to function and enjoy life as you once did. Hobbies and friends don’t interest you like they used to; you’re exhausted all the time; and just getting through the day can be overwhelming.

The subject of depression is highlighted frequently in the news . High profile sufferers  have brought the subject to the fore and awareness is at an all time high. I have often written about the so-called “cancer of mental health” on this blog but the true extent of the effects of depression can only be felt by sufferers themselves. The way it affects self-confidence, reduces quality of life and plagues everyday activities are just some of the consequences. There are as many triggers and causes of depression as there are types of depression but some new  research has shed a new light on some of the beliefs held about depression.

A study conducted at the University of Rochester’s Sleep and Neurophysiology Research laboratory concluded that depressed seniors grappling with insomnia were 17 times more likely to continue being depressed a year later than those without insomnia. Sleep disorders have long been cited as a symptom of depression, but new research suggests insomnia may in fact lead to depression. A second study at the clinic found that seniors who weren’t depressed, but experienced insomnia, were six times more likely to be depressed at some point in their lives than seniors who were not insomniacs. “What we know is that insomnia is a risk factor for depression, it precedes depression and it seems to make depression resistant to treatment,” said lab director Dr. Michael Perlis.

In new research published in Psychological Science, Charles et al. (2013) looked at people’s reactions to everyday stressors and how this played out a decade later. Participants were asked about their daily stressors over eight days and generally how they felt. People reported having all the usual sorts of stressors like having arguments, a fridge breaking down or being late for an appointment. Then, 10 years later, they were revisited and asked whether they had been treated for anxiety, depression or any other emotional problems in the last year. What the results showed was that how people reacted to the little stressors of everyday life predicted whether they developed psychological problems a decade later (incidentally, the number who did report a disorder was almost one in five).This fits in with other recent studies which have also shown that people’s reactions to ordinary stressors predict depressive symptoms (e.g. Parrish et al., 2011).

A lot of research has recently been carried out on suicide: why do people take their lives? What is the relationship between suicide and depression? Now a Swedish report, published in the British medical journal The Lancet claims that the likelihood of a person committing suicide is partly determined as early as before birth. The Swedish team looked at 700,000 adults and found low birth weight and being born to a teenage mother meant a two-fold rise in suicide risk. The report also said risk increased for shorter babies. The authors, from the National Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention in Stockholm, said it proved genetics played an important role in suicides. The researchers followed the adults, who were all born between 1973 and 1980, and assessed the proportion of suicides and attempted suicides between 10 and 26 years of age. The overall suicide rate in Sweden in 1999, when the follow-up exercise finished, was around 20 per 100,000 of the population. Babies weighing 2 kg or less were more than twice as likely to commit suicide as adults than those weighing between 3.25kg and 3.75kg, according to the findings. Children born to mothers under 19 years old were also more than twice as likely to commit suicide as those born to women aged 20 to 29.

The old expression, “You are what you eat,” may go a long way towards  explaining what research increasingly says is a causal link between diet and  depression. The good news for depression sufferers; however, is that  because diet may be affecting your mood, your condition is very treatable  naturally. A recent meta-analysis of 11 longitudinal studies  involving unipolar depression and/or symptoms of depression in adults between  the ages of 18-97 years found a distinctive link between said depression and  diet. Follow-up for these studies ranged from two to 13 years, according to  Diet and the risk of unipolar depression in adults: systematic review of  cohort studies. “Researchers found an inverse association between  depression risk and folate, omega-3 fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids,  olive oil, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Results indicate that  diet and nutrition may influence depression risk,” says an abstract of the  findings by a team of researchers from Oxford University in Great  Britain.

Dr. Nicholas Jenner is a Counseling psychologist in private practice working with individuals,couples,  groups and companies globally. Online therapy is, in my experience, effective for treating a number of major conditions. Are you having issues that you need to talk through? I have a range of plans that can help you get the help you need.  Online Therapy details : Here ……

  12 comments for “Depression Research Update

  1. April 24, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Great post! Hugs Paula. Xxx

  2. April 24, 2013 at 10:22 am

    Interesting stuff. I was taught an acronym in the clinic: “HATS”. It’s really good at evaluating and hence dealing with your mood before you go down: Hungry;Angry;Tired;Sad. I’ve found that if I’m feeling down I can usually identify at least one of these triggers and deal with them before things get out of hand.
    Suicide stuff interesting too. Just about to blog about it!
    Many thanks for disseminating. Ken.

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    April 26, 2013 at 4:56 pm

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  4. April 26, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    The link between depression and diet is interesting. My husband ate a very limited diet, because he was always concerned about acne. He had bad acne as a teenager, although most people who knew him as an adult never noticed any problem with his skin. There were very few vegetables he would eat, very few proteins. I tried to introduce variety into his diet, but he was very resistant. Ultimately, there were a lot of factors that led to his suicide, but it does make me wonder if this might be another piece of the puzzle.

    • April 27, 2013 at 1:16 am

      Hi Aimee…could possibly be. I think the advice is always to eat a balanced diet. However, I also found other studies that disputed the link.

      • April 27, 2013 at 5:07 am

        As one who is constantly “on my guard” against a depressive episode I have learned that a well balanced diet works for me. I also enjoy everything connected with preparing a good meal: planning; shopping for ingredients; getting stuff from the allotment; cooking; and eating! Glad I’ve got a dishwasher though!

      • April 27, 2013 at 5:15 am

        That’s another aspect that can be seen as a mood-lifter….not just eating but preparing.

  5. April 28, 2013 at 5:42 pm

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