According to a new study from some Bowling Green State University researchers, teens and young adults who either fall victim to or commit what they term as "intimate partner violence" are more likely to experience increased depression symptoms.
To carry out the study into how violence within relationships might influence depression, the team examined data from the Toledo Adolescent Relationships Study.
Altogether four interviews were done, with the first being conducted in 2001. In this first interview, the participants were aged 12 to 19. The followup interviews were done every two years. And, at the time of the final interview, the study participants were aged 17 to 24.
To learn about the patterns of violence in the participant's relationships, the researchers asked the participants for their own reports, including whether they were the victim or the instigator of the violence or it was mutual. They were also asked about whether they were the victim of any earlier violence by family members or their peers.
One of the things that the researchers found during their interviews was that most did not report having a continual pattern of violence across all relationships. It tended to be only present in one or two relationships.
The team further found that being involved in intimate partner violence, no matter whether the person was the victim or the perpetrator, was associated with increased depression symptoms.
Both men and women were affected by this depression, according to the authors. Although generally women tend to experience more depression symptoms, intimate partner violence seems to have just as much effect on both genders.
The study authors note that while it might seem intuitive that being a victim of violence would be connected to depression, being a perpetrator of violence is also linked to worsening mental health. The researchers suggest that this may be because the relationship has greater conflict and negativity in general.
The study authors suggest that the effects of intimate partner violence can be long-term, affecting how well people make the transition into adulthood. It can break down a person's self-confidence and sense of self-worth, they note, affecting the life choices that they make.
They also note that repeated exposure to intimate partner violence with different partners does not appear to make depression symptoms worse. These symptoms seems to be dependent upon the current relationship only.
The study was published in the March issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior (JHSB).
According to the study's author, Jens Ludwig, this study was a followup long-term analysis of families who participated in Moving to Opportunity. Moving to Opportunity was a residential-mobility program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. It was designed to allow families to use housing vouchers in order to move out of poor areas into those with less poverty and crime. The goal of the program was to improve both educational opportunities and economic self-sufficiency. Altogether, HUD enrolled 4,604 low-income families from Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York into the program, randomly assigning half of the participants to receive the vouchers. The program was carried out between 1994 and 1998.
Ten and 15 years later, followups were conducted, making those participants who were children when the project began teenagers at the time of the followups. The children were assessed to see how their mental health was impacted by being in the program.
The research team found that the girls who were in the program had much lower rates of depression (6.5 percent compared to 10.9 percent) and conduct disorder (0.3 percent compared to 2.9 percent) compared to the control group who had not been given housing vouchers. The boys appeared to be affected quite differently, however. Their rates of depression were significantly higher than the control group (7.1 percent versus 3.5 percent). In addition, their rates of PTSD and conduct disorder were much higher (6.2 percent versus 1.9 percent and 6.4 percent versus 2.1 percent, respectively).
Ludwig says that the most surprising thing that they discovered was the size of their findings. Not only did the move out of a high-poverty area affect girls and boys in a very different way, but the effects on the children were quite large. He compared the effect on the boys to the type of increase in PTSD that one might see among combat veterans. However, the decrease in depression among the girls was just as great.
"Qualitative evidence suggested these differences were due to girls profiting more than boys from moving to better neighborhoods because of sex differences in both neighborhood experiences and in the social skills needed to capitalize on new opportunities presented by their improved neighborhoods," the authors write in their report.
Ludwig believes that this study shores up the idea that scientific research is necessary in order to make informed public policy decisions. "This work demonstrates that the effects of housing mobility interventions are more complicated than one might expect," he notes.
The study appears in the March 5, 2014 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.
One of the most important things that people with diabetes need to do is to keep their blood sugar in good control. Unfortunately, the symptoms of depression often make it difficult for them to comply with their doctor's recommendations. To help these patients, a group of researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital decided to investigate the use of a cognitive behavioral therapy intervention to help with both depression as well as diabetes self-care compliance to see if it would help those with poorly-controlled diabetes.
The research team enrolled 87 adults with poorly-controlled type 2 diabetes in the study who were also suffering from clinical depression. At the beginning of the study, these individuals met with a nurse educator to talk about goals for blood sugar monitoring. They also met with a dietitian to discuss a plan for diet and exercise. Finally, the spoke with a counselor to create strategies for meeting these goals.
Out of this group, 45 people were randomly selected to receive an additional intervention involving nine to 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy where they worked on problem solving and mood tracking as well as discussing how well they had been meeting their treatment goals. These sessions were tailored to the patients' needs as far as their illness.
During the year that the study was going on, all participants continue with any existing depression treatment. If their symptoms became worse, they received a referral for additional therapy or changes in their medication regimen.
In order to track how well participants were following their diabetes treatment plan, an electronic monitoring system was used to detect when their pill bottle was opened as well as their compliance with their glucose monitoring.
Four months into the study, it was found that those receiving cognitive behavioral therapy were more successful at meeting their diabetes treatment goals. They also exhibited better blood sugar control. Similar success was seen at the eight- and 12-month points.
The cognitive behavioral therapy group also had faster improvement of their depression. While both groups had similar improvement at the eight- and 12-month points, the therapy group had greater improvement in symptoms early on at the four-month assessment.
Study author Dr. Steven Safren says he is hopeful that this approach will help in other illnesses with co-existing depression as well. He notes that it is also important to determine whether the improved blood sugar control to be gained by such an approach will bring about long-run cost savings.
Safren says that previous studies attempting to combine depression and diabetes management have had mixed results. This particular study was an attempt to adapt an approach which had had good results in HIV/AIDS patients as far as improvement of the patients' self-management of their illness.
The study was published in the March issue of Diabetes Care.
A new study indicates that certain antidepressant side effects - such as suicidal thoughts, sexual dysfunction and emotional numbness - could actually be much more common than was once realized.
For the study, University of Liverpool researcher named John Read, surveyed 1,829 people in New Zealand who had antidepressants to treat their depression within the past five years. Each survey participant filled out a questionnaire dealing with about twenty different antidepressant side effects. They survey also collected information about their current level of depression and asked them to discuss how they felt while using an antidepressant.
What he found was that over half of survey takers who were between the ages of 18 and 25 reported having had suicidal urges. In addition, out of the entire sampling of people, there were a large number who reported having sexual problems (62 percent) and feeling emotionally numb (60 percent). Other psychological effects that were commonly reported included: "feeling not like myself" (52 percent), "reduction in positive feelings" (42 percent), "caring less about others" (39 percent) and "withdrawal effects" (55 percent).
Despite all of these negative effects, 82 percent of survey respondents did feel that the medication can helped with their depression.
Percentages for other effects included: 'feeling not like myself' (52%), 'reduction in positive feelings' (42%), 'caring less about others' (39%) and 'withdrawal effects' (55%). However, 82% reported that the drugs had helped alleviate their depression.
Read notes that while many side effects of antidepressants - like weight gain and nausea - are well-documented, the psychological effects often get ignored. Unfortunately, they may be even more common than has previously been thought.
Read says that he feels that the medicalization of sadness has reached "bizarre levels," noting that one out of every ten people in some countries are being prescribing antidepressants each year.
Read concluded by saying that these type of psychological effects are "of major concern." He also noted that many people are not being told about these side effects. In addition, he said, about a third of the people taking the survey reported feel suicidal, a finding which suggests that other studies have underestimated this problem.
An expert panel composed of 12 members, including Drs. Robert M Carney and Kenneth E. Freedland, who are psychiatry professors at Washington University School of Medicine, has made a recommendation to the American Heart Association that depression be added to its list of heart disease risk factors.
Other risk factors include obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and smoking.
The recommendation is based upon a review of the available scientific literature dealing with depression and heart disease.
Altogether, the review panel examined hundreds of studies dealing with the association between depression and heart disease, finding that in the majority of studies depression appeared to make people more likely to have a heart attack as well as to die from heart disease.
According to Carney, these findings were not surprising. He says that many studies have reported that depression is predictive of dying from heart disease.
Both Carney and Freedland were asked to be a part of the review board due to their extensive experience in the area, having studied how depression affects heart disease for over 25 years. Hundreds of studies have been conducted since their initial observation of a heart disease and depression link. Most have confirmed their early findings.
What is still lacking, according to Carney, is research showing whether treating depression will reduce a person's risk.
Carney notes that only study has been done so far that was large enough to determine whether treating depression could lower the risk of having a heart attack or dying from a heart problem. In this particular study, treatment did not seem to help reduce risk. However, given that this is the first study of its kind, it is too preliminary to draw any sort of conclusion from it. More studies will be necessary before a trend appears.
Carney and Freedland point out that one problem with depression treatment is that it simply doesn't work for all people. Only about 50 percent of patients respond to even the best treatments, they say.
Carney expresses confidence that better depression treatments will improve heart disease survival and says that he and Freedland have plans to conduct a new study to determine whether taking a different approach to treating depression will be more successful, both in relieving depression symptoms as well as reducing heart disease risk.
The pair stress, however, that more research is needed before they will know for certain that depression treatment can reduce risk.
Their findings from the review can be found online as a statement in the medical journal Circulation.
If you are an older adult you may be at greater risk for depression if you have a slightly overactive thyroid, even if you fall within the normal range, according to new research.
The thyroid is a gland which regulates an individual's metabolism. In addition to this role, it also has an impact on a person's mood. In fact, previous studies have discovered links between thyroid disease (both under- and overactive glands) and depression. This study, however, was the first to reveal that even variations in activity within the normal range can influence a person's risk for developing depression.
To conduct the population-based cohort study, the researchers analyzed data from 1,503 people who were an average age of 70. Those who were selected for inclusion in the study had no depression symptoms during their first visit. Depression symptoms were detected using a standardized questionnaire. During followup visits, the team of researchers conducted assessment to see if study participants had developed any symptoms of depression throughout the course of the study.
In order to assess thyroid activity, the team took measurements of the study participant's thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH). TSH is a hormone which tells the thyroid gland that more thyroid hormones need to be produced. Low levels of TSH mean that the gland is active and making enough hormone. Levels of TSH were tested at the beginning of the study.
The study subjects were then placed into one of three groups, based upon their TSH test results.
In addition to measuring TSH, they also tested the subjects' thyroid hormone levels to provide further confirmation that their thyroids were indeed active.
According to the one of the study's authors, Dr. Marco Medici of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, older people who had thyroid activity at the upper end of normal (indicated by the fact that they had low normal levels of TSH) had a greater risk for developing depression over a period of eight years than those who fell at a lower point within in the normal range. In Medici's opinion, this means that even small changes in thyroid activity can exert the same effects on mood as thyroid diseases such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
"These results provide insight into the powerful effects thyroid activity can have on emotions and mental health," Medici said. "This information could influence the process of diagnosing and treating depression, as well as treatments for individuals with thyroid conditions."
The results of the study will be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
If you've ever sought out "beautiful but sad" music when you are feeling depressed, you may have stumbled upon something that was recently discovered by psychologists at the Universities of Kent and Limerick: this type of music can help you feel better.
In the study, the researchers examined the reasons that sad people chose what they felt to be sad music. While people made their selections for a variety of reasons, it was only if they chose it for its aesthetic value that they reported feeling less depressed after having listened to it.
Altogether, the researchers asked 220 individuals to remember an event which had made them feel sad. Then, they were asked to listen to music which they perceived to be sad.
The study was a followup to previous work done by the team which found that people do prefer to listen to sad music when they are feeling depressed.
According to Dr Annemieke van den Tol, other factors which affected music selection, other than its perceived beauty, were the fact that it triggered memories or a particular event or time as well as the message conveyed by the music.
She adds that people's music choices are linked to their expectations for listening to music and how it will affect them. If a person listens to sad music with the intention of feeling less depressed, this effect is often brought about by them being distracted from their worries, rather than it being a direct effect of listening to the music. If a person selects music with the goal of triggering memories, it often has the effect of worsening their mood. The only time when the music selection had a direct effect of making people feel better, says van den Tol, is when they selected it based upon its beauty.
So, what's the take away message from this study? If you're drawn to hauntingly beautiful music when you feel depressed, embrace it. It's simply a way of helping yourself cope with those bad feelings.
A group of British scientists have identified a potential biomarker for depression in teen boys, a finding which could allow for prevention or early treatment of the condition.
The University of Cambridge research team found that teen boys who have both symptoms of depression and elevated levels of morning cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, had as much as 14 times greater risk of developing major depression than those who exhibited neither trait.
However, their study results suggest that gender plays a role in how depression develops. The teenage girls studied were only four times as likely to develop major depression when these two traits were present.
To arrive at these conclusions, the team took several early morning samples of saliva over the course of a week from over 1,850 teenagers. They then repeated the test a year later. The samples were tested for cortisol. In addition, the teens were asked about their depression symptoms.
The teens were then divided into four groups, ranging from those who had normal cortisol and low depression symptoms (Group 1) up to the those having elevated cortisol and high depression symptoms (Group 4). When they were divided in this manner and comparisons were made, those who were in the group with high cortisol and high reported depression symptoms had 14 times greater risk than those in the group with normal cortisol and low depression symptoms.
In addition, after tracking the group of teens for three years, the researchers found that, on the average, Group4 had seven times the risk of those in Group 1. They were also two and three times more likely to have major depression than Groups 2 and 3, who were intermediate between the other two groups.
According to Professor Ian Goodyer, who lead the study, these findings could potentially help reduce the number of people who suffer from depression since it would allow for earlier detection and treatment of the condition.
The findings from the study dealing with depression in teen boys and girls and a possible biomarker for risk were published this month in Proceedings of the National Academies of Science (PNAS).
A new study has found links between depression and impulse control disorders - especially eating disorders - and diabetes. And these statistical links exist even after adjusting for whether study subjects have other co-existing mental disorders.
The study, which was conducted by Dr. Peter de Jonge and colleagues, seems to confirm previous research indicating that depression is an independent risk factor for diabetes. In addition, it provides evidence that impulse control disorders might also be risk factors. It is the first study to find such a link between diabetes and impulse control disorders.
Previous studies have examined a possible link between diabetes and depression, but have certain limitations. Among these are:
- Studies have been done primarily in Europe and the U.S., while worldwide prevalence of the disease tends to vary, so more studies of a global nature are needed
- Depression is often co-morbid with several other mental health conditions
To address these concerns, the new study investigated the association between first onset of a variety of mental health disorders - including anxiety, mood, impulse control (including eating disorders) and substance use disorders - and diabetes. The study made use of a large sample containing data from 19 different countries, including Belgium, China, Colombia, France, Germany, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, the Netherlands, the UK and the US. The study included more than 50,000 individuals.
The researchers found 2,580 cases of adult-onset diabetes in the group. While all 16 mental health disorders (identified by DSM-IV criteria) were associated with a diagnosis of diabetes, after the results were adjusted for the presence of other mental health conditions, this link no longer held true. Only depression, intermittent explosive disorder, binge eating disorder and bulimia nervosa remained as being independently associated with diabetes.
While the link between diabetes and depression was similar to that reported in other studies, the link between impulse control disorders and diabetes is not one that has ever been reported before.
If these conditions are found to be true risk factors for diabetes, it could mean that early intervention into mental health conditions like depression and eating disorders could prevent quite a few cases of diabetes.
The study was published on January 30, 2014 in Diabetologia, the journal of The European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
A recent study indicates that higher vitamin D levels appear to be linked to improvements in both cognition and mood in those with Parkinson's disease.
The researchers did a cross-sectional analysis of 286 patients with Parkinson's disease, finding that higher levels of vitamin D in the plasma of these individuals correlated with less severe symptoms, better cognition and less depression. While the link held true across the entire group, the effects were even stronger in those who were not suffering from dementia.
According to Dr. Amie L. Peterson of the Oregon Health and Sciences University, about 30 percent of those with Parkinson's disease suffer from dementia and impaired cognition. In addition, dementia is associated with being placed in a nursing home and a shorter life expectancy. Since it is known that mild cognitive impairment is predictive of the future development of dementia, interventions which slow its development may improve the course of the disease, she notes.
The study, which was an add-on to an ongoing longitudinal study of neuropsychiatric function in patients with Parkinson's disease, the patients were administered tests measuring depression, executive function, global cognitive function, semantic verbal fluency and verbal memory. At the same time, they had their serum Vitamin D levels assessed.
Out of the 286 patients, 61 were considered to have dementia according the criteria of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th Edition). In addition, 225 did not meet these diagnostic criteria.
For the group as whole, there was a significant association between higher levels of vitamin D and less severe disease. Disease severity was measured by both the Hoehn and Yahr Scale and the United Parkinson's Disease Rating Scale motor section. Average vitamin D3 levels were higher in those without dementia, although the differences were not statistically significant.
The team of researchers also found that the group in its entirety exhibited greater fluency in naming animals and vegetables, as well as in immediate and delayed recall on a verbal learning test when they had higher levels of serum vitamin D3.
When the group was split into those with or without dementia, significant findings with vitamin D were found for fluency and verbal learning only in those who did not have dementia. This suggests that earlier intervention before the patient has become demented may be most effective, according to Dr. Peterson.
The team also found a significant association between higher levels of vitamin D and less depression, which they evaluated using the Geriatric Depression Scale, for both the entire group and for the group without dementia. However, no significant link was found in those with dementia.
The study authors note that causation cannot be determined in a cross-sectional study so it is not possible to say that vitamin D levels affect cognition or mood, only that those two factors are linked together in some manner. For example, it could be that patients with Parkinson's disease and decreased cognitive abilities are less likely to get outside and get adequate sun exposure, causing their vitamin D levels to decrease.
Another limitation of the study that authors note is that no effort was made to account for whether patients were taking supplemental vitamin D.
The study was published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease.