Sleep deprivation treatment can rapidly reduce the symptoms of depression — but why?
Almost two-thirds of patients experienced 50 percent decreases in their moderate-to-severe depression symptoms.
The more mental health problems people had early on, the greater their memory problems in later life.
Episodes of depression early in life are linked to memory loss later on, research finds.
People who experience depression and anxiety in their 20s, 30s and 40s tend to develop memory problems in their 50s.
It suggests depression might lead to dementia in later life.
Tackling depression and anxiety in young adulthood may help to reduce memory problems as well as the risk of dementia.
Approaches such as meditation, exercise and maintaining strong relationships can all help.
Dr. Darya Gaysina, study co-author, said:
“We found that the more episodes of depression people experience in their adulthood, the higher risk of cognitive impairment they have later in life.
This finding highlights the importance of effective management of depression to prevent the development of recurrent mental health problems with long-term negative outcomes.”
The conclusions come from a study that followed over 18,000 babies born in 1958, who have been followed into adulthood.
The results showed that the more mental health problems people had early on, the greater their memory problems in later life.
A single episode of depression or anxiety had little effect later on.
However, two or three episodes in their 20s, 30s or 40s were linked to worse memory function in their 50s.
Ms Amber John, the study’s first author, said:
“We knew from previous research that depressive symptoms experienced in mid adulthood to late adulthood can predict a decline in brain function in later life but we were surprised to see just how clearly persistent depressive symptoms across three decades of adulthood are an important predictor of poorer memory function in mid-life.
…this research should be a wake up call to do what you can to protect your mental health, such as maintaining strong relationships with friends and family, taking up physical exercise or practicing mindfulness meditation—all of which have been shown to boost mental health.”
The study was published in the The British Journal of Psychiatry (John et al., 2019).
If it works so well, why do so few people do it?
Over 80 percent of people experiencing depression say exercise improves their mood and anxiety most of the time.
Yet only around one-third actually reach the recommended exercise levels of at least 150 minutes per week.
Unfortunately, around half of people find that low mood makes it difficult to get motivated to exercise.
Dr Carol Janney, who led the study, said:
“Physical activity has been shown to be effective in alleviating mild to moderate depression and anxiety.
Current physical activity guidelines advise at least 30 minutes, five days a week to promote mental and physical health, yet many of those surveyed weren’t meeting these recommendations.”
Exercise not emphasised
The survey of 295 people receiving treatment at a mental health clinic found that over half were open to paying more for a personal trainer.
Many said exercise was not emphasised by their physician as a treatment for depression.
Professor Marcia Valenstein, study co-author, said:
“This is a missed opportunity.
If we can make it easier for both therapists and their patients to have easier access to physical activity services, then we are likely to help more patients reduce their depression and anxiety.”
Few people with depression are given a comprehensive exercise plan by their health provider.
Dr Janney said:
“Offering physical activity programs inside the mental health clinics may be one of many patient-centered approaches that can improve the mental and physical health of patients.
Mental health treatment programs need to partner with fitness programs to support their patients’ willingness to exercise more.
This support might come from integrating personal trainers into mental health clinics or having strong partnerships with the YMCA or other community recreational facilities.”
Dr Janney continued:
“Mental health providers such as psychiatrists and therapists may not have the necessary training to prescribe physical activity as part of their mental health practice.
But by teaming up with certified personal trainers or other exercise programs, it may help them prescribe or offer more recommendations for physical activity in the clinic setting.”
The study was published in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry (Janney et al., 2017).
Overthinking is one of the factors that makes depression relapse so common.
Posting this type of image online is linked to depression.
People who are depressed can be identified from their social media photos 70 percent of the time, research finds.
Depressed people have a tendency to post (literally) darker pictures.
They are also more likely to use a filter to convert their images to black-and-white.
Dr Christopher Danforth, who co-authored the study, explained the signs to look for:
“Our analysis of user accounts from a popular social media app revealed that photos posted by people diagnosed with depression tended to be darker in color, received more comments from the community, were more likely to contain faces and less likely to have a filter applied.
When they did select a filter they were more likely to use the filter that converted color images to black and white.
People diagnosed with depression also posted at a higher frequency compared to non-depressed individuals.”
The relatively high rate of accuracy is impressive.
Especially given that it is a considerably higher rate than general practitioners, who only manage the correct diagnosis 42 percent of the time.
Dr Danforth imagines an app that will suggest a check-up when it detects you might be depressed:
“With an increasing share of our social interactions happening online, the potential for algorithmic identification of early-warning signs for a host of mental and physical illnesses is enormous.
Imagine an app you can install on your phone that pings your doctor for a check-up when your behavior changes for the worse, potentially before you even realize there is a problem.”
The study included 43,950 photos from 166 users of the social media app Instagram.
Around half of them had a clinical diagnosis of depression.
The photos were then analysed by a computer program to see if it could work out who was depressed.
Dr Andrew Reece, who co-authored the study, said:
“Although we had a relatively small sample size, we were able to reliably observe differences in features of social media posts between depressed and non-depressed individuals.
Importantly, we also demonstrate that the markers of depression can be observed in posts made prior to the person receiving a clinical diagnosis of depression.”
The study was published in the journal EPJ Data Science (Reece & Danforth, 2017).
Ketamine’s ability to reduce depression may be all expectation in patients’ minds.
This aspect of dreaming may help doctors predict who will become depressed.
People who start dreaming sooner after falling asleep are at greater risk of depression, research finds.
The effect runs through families, with those starting to dream within 60 minutes of falling asleep twice as likely to experience depression.
The more common range for entering dream sleep for the first time is around 90 minutes after falling asleep.
Professor Donna Giles, the study’s first author, said:
“This is the first physiological marker that predicts the onset of depression even in someone who has never had the illness.
While doctors know that depression in one’s family can make a person more prone to the disorder, understanding the link in detail has been difficult.
Right now, doctors can’t predict who will become depressed.”
Dream sleep — known as REM, or Rapid Eye Movement sleep — is the fifth of five stages of sleep we cycle through during the night.
In all the other four stages our brain winds down, but when it hits REM sleep it kicks into high gear to produce the strange phenomenon we call dreams.
Professor Giles said:
“In REM sleep, brain activity looks just as it does when we’re awake, but our muscles are inhibited.
It’s also known as paradoxical sleep, because the brain behaves as if we’re awake.”
The speed a person goes into REM sleep is difficult for someone to know themselves, said Professor Giles:
“You wouldn’t know you have it unless you were tested in a sleep laboratory.
Your sense of time is mixed up when you sleep, so you can’t really remember how fast you fell asleep and started dreaming.”
The study involved analysing the sleep patterns of 352 people in 70 families.
The study found that a family history of depression added to falling quickly into dream sleep doubled the depression risk.
In those who have family members who are depressed, it could be a way of predicting mental illness and taking preventative measures, said Professor Giles:
“With this information, a person might be able to take some protective measures, such as becoming more educated about the first symptoms of depression.”
The study was published in The American Journal of Psychiatry (Giles et al., 1998).
What’s more likely to kill you: little hassles or major stressful life events?
Participants taught this technique were less likely to remember negative memories.