Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have identified a set of modifiable factors from a field of over 100 that could represent valuable targets for preventing depression in adults. In a study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, the team named social connection as the strongest protective factor for depression, and suggested that reducing sedentary activities such as TV watching and daytime napping could also help lower the risk of depression. "Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, but until now researchers have focused on only a handful of risk and protective factors, often in just one or two domains," says Karmel Choi, PhD, investigator in the Department of Psychiatry and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of the paper.
The study demonstrates an important new approach for evaluating a wide range of modifiable factors and using this evidence to prioritize targets for preventive interventions for depression. "Depression takes an enormous toll on individuals, families, and society, yet we still know very little about how to prevent it," says Smoller. "We've shown that it's now possible to address these questions of broad public health significance through a large-scale, data-based approach that wasn't available even a few years ago. We hope this work will motivate further efforts to develop actionable strategies for preventing depression." The study's two-stage approach could also be used to inform the prevention of other health conditions.
In Leanne O’Sullivan’s poem “Leaving Early,” the poet writes to her ill husband, entrusting him into the care of a nurse named Fionnuala. As the novel coronavirus sweeps the globe, many of us can’t physically be there for loved ones who are sick. Instead, it is the health care workers — and all involved in the health care system — who are tirelessly present, caring for others in spite of exhaustion and the risk it brings to their own wellbeing. We offer this episode of Poetry Unbound in profound gratitude toward all who are working in healthcare right now.
Memories linked with strong emotions often become seared in the brain.
Most people can remember where they were on 9/11, or what the weather was like on the day their first child was born. Memories about world events on Sept 10, or lunch last Tuesday, have long been erased.
Why are memories attached to emotions so strong?
"It makes sense we don't remember everything," says René Hen, PhD, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. "We have limited brain power. We only need to remember what's important for our future wellbeing."
With graduation ceremonies, weddings, funeral, annual parades, and many other gatherings called off, it is apparent that our lives are filled with rituals. UConn Assistant Professor of Anthropology Dimitris Xygalatas studies rituals and how they impact our health. In research published today in Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Xygalatas and collaborators from Masaryk University, Czech Republic, including former UConn student Martin Lang, examine the important roles rituals play in reducing our anxiety levels.
Social media sites aren't the only things that keep track of your social network -- your brain does, too. But loneliness alters how the brain represents relationships, according to new research published in JNeurosci. A brain region called the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) maintains a structured map of a person's social circles, based on closeness. People that struggle with loneliness often perceive a gap between themselves and others. This gap is reflected by the activity patterns of the mPFC. Courtney and Meyer used functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine participants' brain activity while they thought about the self, close friends, acquaintances, and celebrities.
Over the past few months at least half of the world's population has been affected by some form of lockdown due to COVID-19, and many of us are experiencing the impact of social isolation. Loneliness affects both mental and physical health, but counterintuitively it can also result in a decreased desire for social interaction. To understand the mechanics of this paradox, UCL researchers based at the Wolfson Institute and the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre investigated social behaviour in zebrafish. Their results are published in eLife.
New and diverse experiences are linked to enhanced happiness, and this relationship is associated with greater correlation of brain activity, new research has found. The results, which appear in the journal Nature Neuroscience, reveal a previously unknown connection between our daily physical environments and our sense of well-being. "Our results suggest that people feel happier when they have more variety in their daily routines -- when they go to novel places and have a wider array of experiences," explains Catherine Hartley, an assistant professor in New York University's Department of Psychology and one of the paper's co-authors.
Traumatic stress can cause aggression by strengthening two brain pathways involved in emotion, according to research recently published in JNeurosci. Targeting those pathways via deep brain stimulation may stymie aggression associated with post-traumatic stress disorder. The consequences of traumatic stress linger long after the stress ends. People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder often display heightened aggression, caused by unknown changes in the amygdala.
I am a bereavement counselor at a hospice. I have a client who has done amazing work after the death of her husband. She is in her mid-60’s and very healthy. She and her husband had counseling before his death, and she continued after his death. She has written, and written, and read everything she can get her hands on. She has recently met a man in whom she is romantically interested who is concerned she has not grieved enough.
Rumination is common in individuals experiencing suicide bereavement and is unique compared with the responses to bereavement for other reasons. Suicide, the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, is on the rise. In 2016, nearly 45,000 Americans 10 or older died by suicide, up by 30% since 1999. An individual’s death by suicide has far-reaching effects on a wide range of people, including immediate and extended family, friends, acquaintances, and healthcare and mental health professionals.
No one ever tells you that begging for a dog as an 11-year-old could affect you deeply as an adult. They just make you promise to clean up after the animal. But when Rainbow was 10, my parents moved abroad, and she came to live with me in New York. At first, she couldn’t figure out how to pee on concrete; she cried a lot, so I cried a lot. Eventually we learned how to communicate, even as she lost her vision, her hearing, her continence.