Please see below selected recent depression-related change.
- What's New? - Depression
- What's Changing? - Anxiety
- What's Changing? - Health
- What's Changing? - Isolation
- What's Changing? - Pain
- What's Changing? - Self-Esteem
- What's Changing? - Therapy
- Stanford researchers discovered that certain brain signals actually flow the wrong way in people with treatment-resistant depression - and that magnets could potentially correct the misdirection and help patients feel better. “This is the first time in psychiatry where this particular change in a biology - the flow of signals between these two brain regions - predicts the change in clinical symptoms,” said Nolan Williams, senior author of a paper detailing the discovery.
- Biopharma startup MindMed, along with University Hospital Basel and the University Hospital of Psychiatry, announced top line data from a trial testing LSD as a treatment for major depressive disorder. The trial found that LSD had “significant, rapid, durable, and beneficial” effects on major depressive disorder (MDD), reducing depression symptoms compared to a control group.
- In The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Cecily Whiteley of the London School of Economics described depression as an altered state of consciousness. She suggested that thinking in this way has important implications for a neuroscientific understanding of depression and the emerging field of psychedelic psychiatry. According to Whiteley, depression involves entrance into a distinct “global state” of consciousness, which involves a major change in the range and quality of a subject’s conscious experiences. It can be regarded as a state of mind similar to dreaming and the psychedelic state, as well as disorders of consciousness such as minimal consciousness and vegetative states.
- A meta-analysis published in The Lancet and led by researchers at the University of Oxford, looked at the results from 522 studies over 37 years and found that although some antidepressant drugs were more effective than others, all were more effective than placebos when treating adults with a major depressive illness. Although the exact mechanism of action isn’t fully understood, many antidepressants appear to work by increasing levels of chemical neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, in the brain
- Maria Popova noted that, in her darkest hours, what saved her again and again was some action of unselfing - some instinctive wakefulness to an aspect of the world other than herself: a helping hand extended to someone else’s struggle.
- “The grey drizzle of horror induced by depression takes on the quality of physical pain,” William Styron wrote in his account of depression. The pain can feel interminable. It is a lifeline to remember that it is not - that there is an other side,
- A growing number of studies suggest that antidepressants are less effective than thought. Drug companies often publish the results of clinical trials selectively, withholding those in which the drugs turn out not to work well. When the results of all trials submitted to America’s medicines regulator between 1979 and 2016 were scrutinised by independent scientists, it turned out that antidepressants had a substantial benefit beyond a placebo effect in only 15% of patients.
- Psyche noted that people who’ve never been through depression might assume it’s just an extreme form of feeling low. Yet, accounts of people with depression point in a different direction. As a person said to the psychologist Dorothy Rowe, recorded in her book The Experience of Depression (1978): "I awoke into a different world. It was as though all had changed while I slept: that I awoke not into normal consciousness but into a nightmare". Such reports support the idea that depression stands apart from other forms of everyday experience, as the philosopher Matthew Ratcliffe emphasised in his book Experiences of Depression (2015). Depressed people often say it involves a fundamental shift, like entering a different ‘world’ – a world detached from ordinary reality and other people. Perhaps it is even a distinct state of consciousness, and can, in turn, reveal something about the nature of consciousness itself.
- In 2021, the Healthy Minds Study found that, at a sample of colleges and universities in the United States, 41% of students experienced symptoms of moderate or severe depression, following a steadily increasing percentage over the past few years.
- Further reading:
- 19 Celebrities With Depression - WebMD
- A personalised alternative to antidepressants is on the way - Psyche Ideas
- Creatine might help treat depression - Big Think
- How to connect with depressed friends - TED
- How to make better use of antidepressants - The Economist
- The anatomy of melancholy: can depression be good for you? - TEDx
- Working with Depression - Events - Confer Online
- Zuranolone: New antidepressant helps patients in three days - Big Think
- The ‘feel better’ effect of exercise has been touted since as far back as the 1960s, and terms such as ‘endorphin high’ and ‘runner’s high’ are well established in the public lexicon. Anecdotes of feeling euphoric after exercise are supported by empirical evidence from the general population. If people with depression can experience the same feel-good effect of exercise, even a limited amount of exercise might have a rapid, short-term effect on some of the symptoms of depression.
- Antidepressants usually take about a month before people show any signs of improvement - assuming they’ve found the right one. For some people, antidepressants don’t work at all. Scientists are therefore constantly looking for new strategies to treat depression, ideally, a drug that is fast-acting and with fewer side effects. Now, according to a study in mice, scientists have identified an antidepressant compound that works differently from any other on the market and takes effect in as little as two hours.
- Researchers claimed that AIs could accurately predict the response of specific patients to anti-depressant medication. A paper showed how an AI could predict response to the antidepressant Sertraline with 84% accuracy.
- A recent study concluded that an imbalance of serotonin in the brain is not the cause of depression. This was widely misreported in the media, which interpreted the conclusion to mean that antidepressants do not work. Antidepressants are more effective than placebo, even if we do not understand why the drugs work, argued Big Think.
- Psyche explained that, in order to exert control over their future unwell self, a set of instructions could be drawn up by depressed/bipolar individuals while well. This is known as a ‘self-binding directive’, ‘precommitment’, or a ‘Ulysses clause’. In the Odyssey, Odysseus – or Ulysses by his Roman name - orders his crew to bind him to the mast of his ship, knowing that his mind will be powerless to resist the deadly lure of the sirens’ song. Similarly, a self-binding directive allows a person to request that, during future periods of severe illness, when they are unable to control their decision-making, their refusal of treatment can be overruled. Although it will very likely be against their will at that time and could involve enforced hospitalisation, when they are severely unwell, they will receive the treatment they require in order to get through the episode of illness safely and recover to their former, well self
- Reviews have shown that people with depression have higher levels of inflammatory markers than non-depressed people and participants in ‘immune challenge’ trials, in which they are exposed to compounds that trigger an immune response, develop depressive symptoms. The severity of depressed mood elicited in these studies is associated with the concentration of cytokines (inflammatory signalling molecules) measured in the blood. Cytokines have demonstrable effects on a range of depression-related features.
- The closer a person adheres to their nation’s guidelines for a healthy diet, the lower their risk of later development of depression. What’s interesting about this research is that it is not advocating for any individual ‘superfoods’ – wherever you are in the world, the message seems to be that a whole-food, plant-heavy, fibre-rich diet that is low in added sugar, trans fats and processed meat products is associated with protection from depression. Nutritional psychiatry, the discipline that looks at the role of food and nutrients in mental health, is relatively young, but the idea that these things are connected is not new.
- While antidepressants are widely used to treat depression, their effectiveness has been controversial. A study found that patients with depression who use antidepressants do not experience improved health-related quality of life compared to patients who don't use antidepressants. The finding suggests that doctors may want to consider non-pharmaceutical interventions, like therapy and lifestyle improvements, before prescribing antidepressants - at least for patients with mild depression.
- Further reading:
- Apathy and depression have a lot in common, such as low energy or a lack of motivation. However, unlike apathy, depression is a psychological condition requiring a diagnosis using a specific set of criteria. According to the US Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition, for a diagnosis of depression one must experience five or more symptoms of depression (one of which must be either depressed mood or a loss of interest or pleasure - or both) for at least two weeks. The symptoms of major depression can include: fatigue; disrupted sleep; depressed mood; feelings of guilt or shame; changes in appetite or weight; decreased concentration and suicidal ideation.
- There are two different definitions of depression - one used by the American Psychiatric Association as laid out in its diagnostic manual (the latest version being the DSM-5) and the other devised by the World Health Organisation for the rest of the world (the latest version, ICD-11, came into effect in January 2022). The two approaches have in common that five or more of 10 depression-related symptoms must be present most of the day for at least two weeks to diagnose major depression.
- Psyche noted that people who have written and spoken openly about their use of antidepressants include the eminent biologist Lewis Wolpert in Malignant Sadness (1999); the writer Andrew Solomon in The Noonday Demon (2001) and, more recently, the science writer Alex Riley in A Cure for Darkness (2021).
- A cold shower may help relieve symptoms of depression. A proposed mechanism is that, due to the high density of cold receptors in the skin, a cold shower sends an overwhelming amount of electrical impulses from peripheral nerve endings to the brain, which may have an anti-depressive effect.
- A study at the University of Chicago demonstrated that larger cities in the United States actually have substantially lower rates of depression than smaller cities. Lower rates of depression in larger cities seem to be a consequence of how cities are built and can be explained by a new scientific view of cities called urban scaling theory. Studies show that, in general, cities foster greater social interaction, diversity, culture and generation of ideas. It is known that the number of social contacts people have is strongly associated with the risk for depression: the more people you interact with, the lower your risk of experiencing depressive symptoms and therefore depression rates tend to be lower in larger cities.
- Suicidal thoughts and behaviours are a major public health problem: worldwide, we lose approximately 700,000 people to suicide every year. (For more, see also What's Changing? - Death.)
- Psyche noted that people who’ve never been through depression might assume it’s just an extreme form of feeling low. Yet, accounts of people with depression point in a different direction. As psychologist Dorothy Rowe, recorded in her book The Experience of Depression (1978): ‘I awoke into a different world. It was as though all had changed while I slept: that I awoke not into normal consciousness but into a nightmare". Such reports support the idea that depression stands apart from other forms of everyday experience, as the philosopher Matthew Ratcliffe emphasised in his book Experiences of Depression (2015). Depressed people often say it involves a fundamental shift, like entering a different ‘world’ – a world detached from ordinary reality and other people.
- A large psilocybin trial suggested that the psychedelic is effective in treating serious depression. Compass Pathways revealed that psilocybin was highly efficacious as a therapy for treatment-resistant depression. Its phase 2b study was the largest randomised, controlled, double-blind trial of psilocybin, the psychedelic compound in magic mushrooms. The company said it found that patients who were given the highest dose, 25 milligrams, had a significant decrease in depressive symptoms compared with those given 1 milligram, which is such a low dose it functions as a placebo.
- McKinsey asked why is it acceptable not to perform a regular depression screening for employees, or a regular psychosis screening in teenagers? Effective, evidence-based treatments exist that can allow people with behavioural-health conditions to live productive and fulfilling lives. Hopes comes from the fact there is growing attention for mental health globally -increased philanthropy and public-sector funding, a greater number of successful public figures sharing their struggles, and greater priority given to behaviour-health conditions in research agendas and leadership agendas. For example, a majority of employers report that they are increasing their mental-health resources following the pandemic.
- A Lancet study showed how widespread the impact of the pandemic has been on the world's mental health. Across 204 countries, cases of major depressive disorder and severe anxiety increased by more than a quarter between 2019-2021, with women and younger adults more likely to deal with these issues. Frontline workers also faced higher levels of burnout, and there aren’t enough behavioural health professionals to meet the demand. But there’s also reason for optimism, the WHO says, as more countries invest in mental health services.
- Large cities are often viewed as cold, fast-paced environments where crime rates are high and interpersonal interactions are fleeting - a combination that makes them detrimental to mental health. But a 2021 research paper, Evidence and theory for lower rates of depression in larger US urban areas, provided evidence for the opposite: The socioeconomic networks and built environments of larger urban areas can actually predict lower rates of psychological depression.
- Sadness, anxiety, lethargy, dejection, discontentment, torpor, perplexity, horror, shame, suspicion, anguish, diffidence, weariness, languishing, misanthropy, despair: such emotions and dispositions live in our present, but they have long been observed in human nature. Four hundred years ago, surveying a world that had evidently succumbed to debilitating passions, the Oxford scholar Robert Burton declared an epidemic of melancholy. In his view, melancholy had become “a disease so frequent… in our miserable times, as few there are that feel not the smart of it.”
- The lifetime prevalence of major depression is roughly 20 percent or 1 in 5. Many suffer in silence. Of those who seek help, some 15 percent do not respond to standard antidepressants, a condition known as treatment-resistant depression. A recent study may offer hope: researchers suggested that a small dose of nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”) could provide relief from depressive symptoms for up to two weeks.
- Research cited by CNBC noted that that early risers are at less risk of depression than those burning the midnight oil. There may be plenty of reasons for this, including a better grip on work-rest cycles, as well as longer exposure to light for those who get up early.
- About one in five adults in Great Britain experienced some form of depression during the second peak of coronavirus in early 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). The figure was a rise from November 2020 - when 19% experienced depressive symptoms - and double that seen before the pandemic - when it was 10%. Younger adults and women were the groups most likely to experience some form of depression, with more than 40% of women aged 16-29 affected. This compared with 26% of men of the same age.
- A new wave of interest is psychedelics is reportedly sweeping through psychiatry; it’s believed psychedelics could prove useful for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. The WHO says depression is a leading cause of disability worldwide,
- Brazilian researchers found that religion alleviates depressive symptoms in believers. Published in the journal Trends in Psychology, the researchers asked 279 volunteers (72 percent female) to respond to an online questionnaire that focused on intrinsic religiosity, meaning in life, and levels of anxiety and depression. The team concluded, "intrinsic religiosity has a protective effect against depression symptoms; however, it occurs indirectly, via meaning in life." One defining symptom of depression is an inability to foresee a better future. This new research may entertain an intrinsic sense of belief in the sacredness of life as a natural antidepressant, as Robert Sapolsky phrased it. During a time of growing unease, the suspension of disbelief might be what the doctor ordered - for some at least.
- People diagnosed with Covid-19 in the previous six months were more likely to develop depression, dementia, psychosis and stroke, researchers found. A third of those with a previous Covid infection went on to develop or have a relapse of a psychological or neurological condition. But those admitted to hospital or in intensive care had an even higher risk. This is likely to be down to both the effects of stress, and the virus having a direct impact on the brain.
- Levels of stress, depression and anxiety among parents and carers increased with the pressures of pandemic lockdowns, research from the University of Oxford suggested. Issues include difficulty relaxing, feeling hopeless and being irritable. Many parents, especially those of secondary-age pupils, said hey were worried about their children's futures.
- According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), one in four Americans has a mental or substance use disorder. The National Center for Health Statistics noted a suicide-rate increase of some 35 percent between 1999 and 2018, with the rate growing approximately 2 percent a year since 2006. Suicide is now the tenth-leading cause of death in the United States. Depression increases suicide risk - about 60 percent of people who die by suicide have had a mood disorder.
- “A great deal of poetic work has arisen from various despairs,” wrote Lou Andreas-Salomé, the first woman psychoanalyst, in a consolatory letter to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke as he was wrestling with depression, nearly a century before psychologists came to study the nonlinear relationship between creativity and mental illness. A generation later, with an eye to what made Goethe a genius, Humphrey Trevelyan argued that great artists must have the courage to despair, that they “must be shaken by the naked truths that will not be comforted", noted Maria Popova.
- In the UK, nearly 20 per cent of adults experienced some form of depression in June 2020 -double the proportion before the pandemic hit, with younger adults suffering more than most. Average life satisfaction in the UK is now at its lowest since the official survey of the pandemic’s social impact started in late March, reported the Financial Times.
- Many COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, psychiatrists claimed, after a large study found 20% of those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days. Anxiety, depression and insomnia were most common among recovered COVID-19 patients in the study who developed mental health problems. The researchers from Oxford University also found significantly higher risks of dementia.
- Up to 10 million people in the UK alone could need mental health support in the wake of the pandemic. Around 8.5 million adults and 1.5 million children in England are likely to need help to deal with the fallout from coronavirus, including losing loved ones and jobs. They will mostly need help for depression and anxiety, according to analysis from the Centre for Mental Health, which consulted experts from the NHS.
- Harvard Business Review warned that stress makes people more susceptible to chronic illness and mental health conditions, such as depression. By some estimates, 60-80% of all doctor visits are for stress-related ailments and complaints. Stress is so harmful to employees that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has declared stress a hazard of the workplace. Stress takes a big bite out of productivity, as stressed-out people tend to make lower-quality decisions and are often less motivated, innovative, and productive in their work. Ultimately, unrelieved stress can lead to burnout, which is characterised by exhaustion, detachment, and poorer performance at work.
- With three fifths of employees experiencing mental health issues related to work, business leaders have acknowledged that the wellbeing of their staff is at least partly their responsibility. But, while there has been some improvement in the amount of support offered to workers, more needs to be done.
- Big Think pointed to an online survey that compared the impact of dating habits on the mental health of people who use swipe-based dating apps and those who don't. 20 percent of participants who use swipe-based dating apps reported a significantly higher level of psychological distress compared to those who didn't. 19 percent of current users reported more depressive symptoms as a result of swipe-based dating app use, compared to 9 percent of the people surveyed who did not use a dating app.
- Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. For example, one in five Americans are affected by mental health issues, with depression being the most common problem. A recent report by Blue Cross Blue Shield found that depression diagnoses are rising at a faster rate for millennials and teens than for any other generation. All told, the disorder is estimated to cost $44 billion a year in lost productivity in the U.S. alone
- A study found that six times more young people in England (aged four to 24) have psychological problems today than a generation ago, in 1995. Budget cuts to social work, youth services, the NHS and state schools over the last decade mean that many young people experiencing problems do not get any help at all before they reach university, where they meet a new set of challenges.
- It turns out that it's not the richest countries that suffer from the highest rates of depression, but the most violent, the poorest and the most unequal ones. The data comes from the study"Burden of depressive disorders (by Ferrari et al.), published in PLoS Medicine in 2013. The study showed that just over 4% of the world's population was clinically depressed at that time - but that rate varies greatly per country. For example, Afghanistan's abnormally high rate of depression shows - unsurprisingly - that decades of armed conflict and economic misery can have a devastating effect on the mental health of a population.
- A Quartz analysis showed that mentions of “depression” and “anxiety” have increased in pop and hip-hop songs, while use of the word “peace” has declined.
- A Pew survey found that anxiety and depression were now the biggest concerns for US teens, with 70% of respondents considering both to be a “major problem.”
- Given the global (reported) rise in depression, changes in diet may provide at least one level of prevention and therapy, according to Big Think (although it is unlikely that diet alone could cause such a spike in rates),Something as simple as altering food intake might help battle the consequences of symptoms such as low self-esteem, loss of meaning, anxiety, spoiled relationships, and at the extreme, suicide, whose rates have also been increasing. A recent study, published in World Journal of Psychiatry, investigated 34 nutrients, extracting data as it related to foods high in antidepressant nutrients.
- Globally, more than 300 million people suffer from depression, according to the World Health Organisation. Depression is the world’s leading cause of disability and it contributes to 800,000 suicides per year, the majority of which occur in developing countries.
- However, even in some developed countries only an estimated one in six people with depression receive effective treatment with doctors often “squeamish” to prescribe medication for mental health conditions. (This is despite the fact that major studies, like one published in The Lancet in 2018, which analysed data from 522 trials involving 116,477 people over six years old – tend to find that common antidepressants are much more effective at reducing symptoms of acute depression than dummy pills.)
- It’s hard for pregnant women to admit to depression. The pressure to feel joy keeps many from realising something’s just not right, claimed Quartz.
- Further reading:
- The Wall Street Journal found that while holistic approaches to mental as well as physical wellness often include nutrition, the connection between food and mental health is now gaining traction in the medical community, too. Research in the field of nutritional psychiatry supports the scientific claim that what you eat and how you feel may be connected, especially when it comes to managing anxiety and depression.
- The world’s first Global Ministerial Mental Health Summit took place. The multi-day event in London aimed to educate governments about best practices in addressing mental health issues and combating stigma.
- Montreal doctors can now prescribe art, reported Quartz. Like exercise and relaxation, a free trip to a museum is thought to help depression and diabetes.
- When researchers in the UK exposed depressed adolescents to happy or sad words and imaged their brains, they found that depression has different effects on the brain activity of male and female patients in certain brain regions. The findings suggest that adolescent girls and boys might experience depression differently and that sex-specific treatments could be beneficial for adolescents.
- The growing rates of depression worldwide mean that we are struggling to be happy. Are we doing something wrong, asked Aeon, before adding that painful times can confer other benefits that make us happier over the long term. For example, it is during adversity that we connect most closely with people. Experiencing adversity also builds resilience.
- Author Johann Hari discovered that, in reality, depression and anxiety are caused largely by crucial changes in the way we are living. Using vivid human stories and social science, he explained the evidence during at talk at the RSA.
- Using data from Sweden, a new study found that children of mothers who experienced a death in the family during their pregnancy are more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is one of the first studies to show the impact of in-utero stress on mental health later in life. The big takeaway, according Quartz: programmes aimed at easing the lives of pregnant women could help their children live healthier and more economically productive lives.
- People use various means in trying to overcome the "black dog" of depression.