February 26, 2006
More evidence is discovered for a genetic link to depression.
A group of Australian researchers have found that a specific gene, called the serotonin transporter gene, is related to the development of depression. Results of their study will be published this week in British Journal of Psychiatry.
Serotonin is one of several brain chemicals that carry nerve signals from one nerve cell to another. It is involved in regulating one's mood and has been called the "feel good" brain chemical.
About 43 percent of people have a short serotonin transporter gene; others have a long serotonin transporter gene. Those with the short gene are more likely to development depression than those with the long version.
It is very important to remember that having a short serotonin transporter gene does not guarantee that you will develop depression. But it does seem to predispose you to depression. Nevertheless, there is still a great deal that you can do to help yourself if you experience depression.
February 25, 2006
The Internet can help you overcome depression.
Recently, a group of researchers found that Internet-based interventions can help reduce depression symptoms.
One study lasted 16 weeks and involved 255 people who were experiencing depression. One hundred were placed in a control group that received "treatment as usual." The other 155 were in the Internet-based treatment groups.
Those in the Internet groups used a self-help Website to learn how to better manage their depression. The Internet-based treatment was found to reduce depressions symptoms better than the "treatment as usual."
In a second study, two different Internet-based treatments were compared.
This study involved 525 individuals with depression. One hundred and sixty-six of these used a psychoeducational Website to learn information about depression. One hundred and eighty-two learned cognitive-behavioral coping skills. The remaining 178 were in a control group that received an "attention placebo." Both treatments were found to be effective in reducing depression better than the control group.
It is interesting that in this second study, those individuals with more severe depression received greater benefits.
These studies again show that there is a great deal that a depressed person can do to help himself or herself.
February 24, 2006
Researchers at Yale University bring hope to teenagers with bipolar disorder.
Bipolar is a mood disorder that causes severe mood swings. It is often called manic-depressive illness. To read more about this disorder click here.
People with the disorder often begin having symptoms during their teenage years. The disorder, then, progressively gets worse into the adult years.
Recent research at Yale has shown that there are brain changes that occur as the disorder progresses. These changes happen in the ventral prefrontal cortext.
The ventral prefrontal cortext is located above the eyes. It is involved in regulating emotions.
The Yale scientists also learned that mood-stabilizing medication taken during the teenage years can diminish these changes. It is speculated that this research may, someday, lead to treatments that can stop the disorder from progressing.
For information about medication for mood disorders click here.
August 24, 2005
The real tragedy...
Many of our high school students are not being adequately prepared for college.
A report issued by the college testing company, ACT, Inc., indicated that many college-bound high school graduates do not have the academic skills needed to be successful in college. The ACT is a test taken by students as a part of the entrance requirements for most colleges and universities.
Results of tests taken during the past year found about half of high school graduates deficient in reading comprehension. Many other students were deficient in the social science, algebra, biology, and English composition.
This is sad, but this is not the real tragedy. The real tragedy is that many of our high school graduates are not being adequately prepared for life.
A survey recently conducted by the American Psychiatric Association found that 10% of college students have considered suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among college students -- 1,100 in the United States.
A 2003 study done at Kansas State University found that the number of mental health problems reported by college students doubled between 1988 and 2001.
In addition to academic skills, students need to learn coping skills. They need to know how to handle the ups, downs and stresses of life. Not teaching students these vital life skills is our real failure -- and the real tragedy.
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