Depression

ramonmercado

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Source: Rockefeller University
Date: 2006-01-07
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/20 ... 131350.htm

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Scientists, Linking Gene With Serotonin And Depression, Offer Insights To New Treatments

For the more than 18 million Americans who suffer from depressive illnesses, the best pharmacological treatments are those that increase levels of serotonin, the brain chemical that regulates mood, sleep and memory. New research by an international team of scientists, led by Rockefeller University researchers in Paul Greengard's laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience, shows that a gene called p11 is closely related to serotonin transmission in the brain -- and may play a key role in determining a person's susceptibility to depression.

The newly discovered link between depression and the serotonin system, reported in the January 6 issue of the journal Science, could lead to new treatments for these mental disorders.

"We have shown that a gene called p11 is involved in the multiple complex changes that underlie depression," says Per Svenningsson, a research assistant professor and first-author on the paper. "Our findings demonstrate that patients with depression, and mice that model this disease, have decreased levels of p11 protein, and they suggest that drugs that increase p11 are likely to have anti-depressant properties."

Serotonin binds to 14 different receptors on a cell's surface. One receptor in particular, known as 1B, plays a crucial role in regulating serotonin transmission in the brain. Recent studies have suggested a role for the serotonin 1B receptor in depression, as well as in obsessive-compulsive disorder, drug addiction, anxiety, aggression and sleep.

Intrigued by these studies, Svenningsson and colleagues at Rockefeller, the Karolinska Institute, the University of Rouen in France and Eli Lilly and Company, used a blind screen called a yeast two-hybrid screen to identify proteins that associate with the serotonin 1B receptor. They found an association with a protein called p11, a protein previously identified as a regulator of the localization of several proteins on the cell's surface.

The researchers analyzed tissue from a mouse model of depression as well as post-mortem tissue from depressed human patients, and found decreased levels of p11 protein in both cases. On the other hand, p11 levels increased in rats and mice that were treated with anti-depressant medications or electroconvulsive therapy.

To further test the connection, Svenningsson and his colleagues genetically engineered two strains of mice: one that produced more p11 than normal and another that produced no p11 at all. They found that mice that overexpress p11 were hyperactive and, in a test designed to identify depression in rodents, acted just like mice that were on anti-depressant medication. Mice that lacked p11, meanwhile, acted depressed and showed less responsivity to anti-depressant medications.

Taken together, the findings point to p11 as a new target for developing depression treatments.

"In addition to exploring ways to increase p11 in depressed patients, it may also be possible to develop peptide-based compounds that can mimic the action of p11 to achieve a new class of anti-depressant compounds," Svenningsson says.

In addition to Svenningsson and Greengard, the study's other authors are Ilan Rachleff and Marc Flajolet at Rockefeller; Karima Chergui and Xiaoqun Zhang at Karolinska; Malika El Yacoubi and Jean-Marie Vaugeois at the University of Rouen; and George G. Nomikos at Eli Lilly.



###
This study was supported by the U.S. Public Health Service and the Swedish Research Council.
 

rynner2

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I find it depressing that someone who has achieved as much as Hugh Laurie can still suffer from depression. What hope then for the rest of us run-of-the-mill depressives? :(
HUGH LAURIE

It's a caterpillar to butterfly-type media metamorphosis. The man best known in his homeland for portraying bumbling, English upper-class twits has become a sex symbol in the US for his role as a brooding, brilliant, blue-eyed American doctor in the hit series House.

The Washington Times has described Hugh Laurie's performance as Dr Gregory House as "perilously close to perfection". This week, it won him a Golden Globe in the best TV actor category.

Yet, not even his estimated £240,000 per episode has made him entirely happy. Producers working on the show have remarked that he is seldom content and more often morose and despondent.

And it's not just because the intense filming schedule has meant him not being with his wife and three children at home in London.

In 1996, Hugh Laurie first admitted he was clinically depressed. He diagnosed this himself when, during a charity stock car race, with cars flying and exploding around him, he felt bored.

Psychotherapy eventually confirmed his condition.

His insecurities stemmed, it would seem, from a mother who continually criticised him, having set goals for him that he could never attain. With typical British understatement, he has described her as "contemptuous of the goal of happiness".

Hugh Laurie was born in Oxford, in 1959, the youngest of four children. His father was a GP and Hugh was expected to follow him into the profession. He felt guilty that this didn't come about. The irony that he has achieved worldwide fame through being a doctor, albeit on TV, has not escaped him.


Laurie's friends

He went to Eton and then to Cambridge where he studied anthropology and archaeology, but made a bigger splash, so-to-speak, by rowing in the Boat Race. That Cambridge lost by a mere five feet still rankles.

But his career in showbiz was forged in the Cambridge Footlights, the theatre group that has been the springboard of success for such stars as Peter Cook, Alan Bennett, Sir David Frost and John Cleese.

Laurie's year had a particularly talented intake. His fellow Footlighters included Stephen Fry, Emma Thompson, Tony Slattery and Kenneth Branagh. Their student days were recalled in the movie, Peter's Friends.

Laurie formed a double-act with Stephen Fry, first in theatre revue and later, on television. Fry once described his comedy partner as "phenomenally intelligent with a fantastic brain".

Though something of a foil for Fry, Hugh Laurie was establishing himself as a comic actor. Other talents were also evident, not least his accomplishment on the piano. And could there be a better impersonator of the trumpet?

The piano wasn't his only musical outlet. He played guitar in a rock band named Poor White Trash. He is also a keen pilot and skydiver.

More comic acting success continued with his portrayal as the chinless wonder Bertie Wooster in Jeeves and Wooster, again with Stephen Fry. Then there was more aristocratic fooling around in the role of the gormless Prince Regent in Blackadder.

But Laurie decided it was time to turn aside from the image of a buffoon. He worked so hard on his accent that the producers of House assumed he was American when he bowled them over at his LA audition for House.

The exaggerated mannerisms of his comic characters somehow lend themselves well to the quirkiness of Dr Gregory House. The accent, though, is so different it could almost be dubbed.

The show is currently one of the most popular on American television and is becoming a cult here. If ever there was vindication for Hugh Laurie's decision to go to Hollywood to escape type-casting in Britain, this is it.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4631772.stm

Psychotherapy eventually confirmed his condition.
Laurie: I feel depressed.

Therapist: Ah! I diagnose you are suffering from depression. That will be $20,000.

8)
 

Quake42

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In 1996, Hugh Laurie first admitted he was clinically depressed. He diagnosed this himself when, during a charity stock car race, with cars flying and exploding around him, he felt bored.
Umm... I'm no mental health expert but I have had a couple of people close to me who have suffered from serious depression and it is a rather different beast to what is described above! In my experience clinical depression is a debilitating condition which can make it impossible for people to work, have relationships, get out of bed or indeed have any sort of a normal life.

Feeling a bit bored at a stock car race just sounds like celebrity ennui to me... :roll:
 

rynner2

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Quake42 said:
Umm... I'm no mental health expert but I have had a couple of people close to me who have suffered from serious depression and it is a rather different beast to what is described above! In my experience clinical depression is a debilitating condition which can make it impossible for people to work, have relationships, get out of bed or indeed have any sort of a normal life.

Feeling a bit bored at a stock car race just sounds like celebrity ennui to me... :roll:
...a debilitating condition which can make it impossible for people to work, have relationships...
(My italics)

But a lot of people do have succesful careers despite their depression.

And I certainly can understand this:
His insecurities stemmed, it would seem, from a mother who continually criticised him, having set goals for him that he could never attain. With typical British understatement, he has described her as "contemptuous of the goal of happiness".
I can't remember ever being praised by my mother for anything, which has led to a lifetime of insecurity, which in turn led to a chequered working career.

As for relationships, I have no close friends (just you lot! :D ) and am mostly out of touch with my family.

Oh well, time for Sunday lunch down the pub, one beacon of pleasure in a gloomy life...!
 

Rrose_Selavy

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In 1996, Hugh Laurie first admitted he was clinically depressed. He diagnosed this himself when, during a charity stock car race, with cars flying and exploding around him, he felt bored
Sounds like anhedonia - the inability to enjoy the things you would normally - what used to be pleasurable leaves you numb or disinterested- a classic but less obvious symptom of depression. I'm sure that wasnt the only reason for the diagnosis




-
 

ruffready

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He just needs (with his money he can) to get a place were he can get a bunch of animals to take care of and he won't have time to get depressed. the end
 

Quake42

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Quote:
...a debilitating condition which can make it impossible for people to work, have relationships...
(My italics)

But a lot of people do have succesful careers despite their depression.
Yes sorry I wasn't trying to offend anyone - I just think that a diagnosis of serious mental illness when, in fact, it just sounds like Hugh was bored and needed a change of direction trivialises the whole issue. I do think that nowadays there is a tendency for doctors (who of course have a vested interest!) to medicalise perfectly normal behaviour.

See my rants on other threads about food allergies, dyslexia and some of the ludicrous definitions of "binge drinking" or "alcoholism" which are currently floating about in the media.

I suppose what I'm saying is that we all have times in our lives when we are not desperately happy, feel stuck in a rut etc. But that's perfectly normal and it really doesn't compare with the suicidal despair that the seriously depressed often feel.
 

rynner2

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Quake42 said:
I suppose what I'm saying is that we all have times in our lives when we are not desperately happy, feel stuck in a rut etc. But that's perfectly normal and it really doesn't compare with the suicidal despair that the seriously depressed often feel.
True.

Suicide? Been there, done that. (Failed, obviously.)

It's the fact that Laurie and I have had similar 'mother' problems that makes me think that we're both on a similar part of the depression spectrum.
 

Leaferne

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I find it depressing that someone who has achieved as much as Hugh Laurie can still suffer from depression. What hope then for the rest of us run-of-the-mill depressives?
It's an organic disease, ryn, like diabetes or cancer--indeed, substitute either of those words for "depression" in your statement and see how much sense it makes. It doesn't matter how rich or good-looking or successful or thin you are; it's a problem with brain chemistry, not outlook, and the difference between clinical depression and everyday blues is like the difference between New Orleans circa September 2005 and an overflowing bathtub.
 

Graylien

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If depression is purely an organic disease - like cancer - then surely that would make psychotherapy totally irrelevant?
 

Anome

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Ah, but it's not purely organic. There is an organic component, but there is frequently a psychological trigger for the depression.

If it were purely organic, as you say, there would be little need for psychotherapy. Just take the pills, and it will all work out. But the most effective treatment seems to be a combination of medication and the talking cure.
 

Leaferne

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Cognitive therapy is brilliant for both panic and anxiety; it helps you change the way you think/feel/react to things.
 

Niall114

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Have to admit, not dying in a car crash absolutely cured me.

Whether that's repeatable & diagnostic I don't know
 

ramonmercado

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I know it inovles octupuses (octopi?) but its about depression, so I'm putting it here.

Using Octopuses To Understand Depression
13 Feb 2007

Researchers often use animals to help them resolve problems that can be applied to people. Dr. Jean Boal, a biology professor at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, is developing a new and unique way to research the causes and effects of depression with the help of octopuses.

Boal, along with Dr. Anne-Sophie Darmaillacq, a visiting postdoctoral fellow from Universite de Caen in France, is performing behavioral experiments with octopuses. Darmaillacq will be working with Boal through February 16.

"Along with biology student, Katherine Heldt, we will be researching the effects different conditions have on the octopuses to gain information on depression," explained Boal.

She explained that the first part of the research will include training the octopuses to distinguish between white and black rods and reward it with food if it goes to one rod and no reward if it goes to the other. Next, for two weeks they will house half the octopuses in enriched conditions and the other half in impoverished conditions and then reverse the housing for another two weeks.

"My prediction is that if the octopuses are like rats (or people), the octopuses moved from impoverished to enriched conditions should be 'happy' and 'optimistic,'" said Boal. "The octopuses moved from enriched to impoverished conditions should be 'sad' and 'pessimistic.' We can test this by presenting them with rods that have black-and-white stripes. Optimistic animals will see the striped rods as like the ones they were rewarded with. Pessimistic animals will see the striped rods as like the ones that had no reward."

"Darmaillacq's primary goal is to collaborate with me on these behavioral experiments," said Boal. "Her secondary goals are perfecting her English and getting to know the United States."

Boal will be traveling to France this summer to work with Darmaillacq in her home setting. They will conduct the same type of studies, but with cuttlefish instead of octopuses.

Along with their student collaborator, they will present the results of their experiments at an international behavior meeting and publish their results in a peer-reviewed journal.

Millersville University
http://www.millersville.edu/


http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/medical ... wsid=62847
 
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Ria777

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all this research to tell us what all already know.
 

glamour_dust

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And stressing out the poor octopuses. Besides , i don't think the researchers know much about depression if they assume moving the creatures into better conditions will necessarily make them happier. Depression doesn't always work that way in humans, so i'm guessing neither in animals.
 

ramonmercado

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Well theres always the chance that an octopus will strangle a researcher. Or do the biologists eat them after the study concludes?
 
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sunsplash1

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'splash looks at black and white striped pole

Meh...
:(
 

rynner2

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A roll in the dirt...

Health and happiness is all down to a roll in the dirt
John Elliott, Social Affairs Correspondent

FORGET the spring-cleaning. A study has found evidence that bacteria common in soil and dirt could improve people’s spirits.

According to the research, the action of Mycobacterium vaccae (M vaccae) on the brain is similar to that of some commonly used antidepressants.

The bacterium, which is related to the microbe that causes tuberculosis, appears to work by stimulating the body’s immune system. This, in turn, prompts certain cells in the brain to produce more serotonin, a hormone associated with feelings of wellbeing.

“These studies help us to understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health,” said Dr Chris Lowry, a neuroscientist at Bristol University who carried out the research.

“They also leave us wondering if we shouldn’t all spend more time playing in the dirt.”

The finding follows separate research by other scientists into the impact of bringing children up in “overhygienic” conditions.

They found evidence that exposure to a wide range of common microbes in early life helped to promote healthy development of the immune system.

Without such exposure, the immune system seems more likely to mistake the body’s own cells as invaders and launch attacks on them. This could be one of the mechanisms underlying the surge in conditions such as asthma and eczema.

The research by Lowry and a team of 12 scientists at Bristol and University College London (UCL) takes this “hygiene hypothesis” a step further by linking exposure to the microbes found in dirt with good mental, as well as physical, health.

Interest in the project arose after human cancer patients being treated with M vaccae unexpectedly reported increases in their quality of life.

This could have been caused by the microbe having indirectly activated the brain cells that produce serotonin.

The researchers injected some mice with the bacteria while others were made to inhale it. They then analysed the blood and brains of the infected mice to see what effect the microbes might have had on their immune systems and on serotonin levels.

Details will be published in Neuroscience, an academic journal, this week.

The study is highly unlikely to lead to new therapies for depression in the near future but it does build on the growing body of research showing the importance of the human immune system in regulating even the subtlest aspects of health.

There are a range of studies supporting the hygiene hypothesis and the idea that exposure to microbes is good for long-term health.

In families with several children, the youngest often has the least allergies, most likely because it picks up the elder siblings’ infections so activating the child’s immune system.

Graham Rook, a professor of immunology at UCL who worked with Lowry, has already published research into the link between exposure to microbes and subsequent development of allergies.

Rook and two of his co-researchers are also working with S R Pharma, a company looking into whether M vaccae could become the basis of treatments for conditions such as asthma.

Rook believes that improved cleanliness may be a contributory factor in diseases such as asthma, eczema and hay fever, along with autoimmune diseases such as Type 1 diabetes and inflammatory bowel disorders such as Crohn’s disease. He said: “We’ve known for a couple of decades now that a whole group of chronic inflammatory disorders are becoming much commoner in the rich developed world.”

The body’s response to such inflammatory diseases is regulated by immune cells which, said Rook, need to encounter harmless bacteria early in life in order to work out how to respond effectively to real threats.

Without these encounters, he said, the regulatory cells can malfunction, leading to health problems.

Mark Pepys, professor of medicine at UCL, said that there was “quite a lot of evidence” to support the hygiene hypothesis but said he would be cautious about extending the theory to mental wellbeing.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_a ... 596735.ece
Probably explains why I liked goal-keeping when younger! :D
 

beakboo

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And why I get seriously weird if I don't have access to a garden.
 

Xanatico

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I must admit to wonder about if depression is real. People who claim to get depression always seem to get it at bad times. If your wife dies, being in a bad mood for ages is perfectly reasonable. I´ve had something which might have been depression, but again it happened at a time when everything in my life was shit. It makes more sense with Hugh Laurie being depressed, seeing as things are going so well for him.

But it sounds good if a character such as House is becoming a sex symbol I think, a man so rational and intelligent. I thought it was just my friend Rachel who was drooling over him.
 

BouncingAyatolla

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I'd agree here, to think of such things as "alcoholism" and "depression" as purely organic is dangerous. I quote them not to be flippant but to emphasise the nebulous nature of their diagnosis.

If you are told by a person you rate as "professional", or of seemingly more existential import than yourself that what you suffer is physiological it can lock you in. You can use it as a form, then, of WoodenLeg ("Oh I always do this, because I'm <whatever> you see").

I know I harp on about it, but Transactional Analysis (amongst other more esoteric systems) view these kinds of things as being completely and totally curable. As mentioned, CBT also sees the possibility of change. There's freedom.

Which would you rather have, a system that says: "This is how you are, it is a fixed part of your biology for ever. Take these pills." or "We can examine this, find out the causes, find out how you have developed a life script to choose to be like this and change it."?
 

Rrose_Selavy

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Xanatico said:
I must admit to wonder about if depression is real. People who claim to get depression always seem to get it at bad times. If your wife dies, being in a bad mood for ages is perfectly reasonable. I´ve had something which might have been depression, but again it happened at a time when everything in my life was shit. It makes more sense with Hugh Laurie being depressed, seeing as things are going so well for him.



Depression is very real. Grief and bereavement is normal but in some individuals life (or death) events can be a trigger to reactive depression. Clinicians distinguish this from the common normal experience of "feeling really bad when Shit things are happening" .One theory is the mental "coping mechanism" is faulty - and this has physiological implications - rather like the body's immune system ability to fight off mild or severe infection - so one is more susceptible to breakdown rather than eventually bouncing back as most people seem to do..

The other endogenous type , just seems to be there regardless of normally positive events happening, someone can seem to have it all and still be suicidal.

There can be physical and psychological factors (eg personal history) that cause one to be more vulnerable to either type but the brain chemistry (why and how some anti depressants work and some don't) is still not well understood.
 

BouncingAyatolla

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Depression is very real.
Just in case it was misconstrued, I didn't mean to imply that depression is not real. It happens, as in there are observable detrimental behaviours, symptoms and effects.

I just wanted to point out that in my opinion different takes on what that "real" means - the causatic factors, or the "mechanism" of it is - have their own associated implications and that perhaps some of these diagnoses offer the sufferer more freedom of escape from depression than others.

To put it another way, escape from depression is very real too, and I'd like to see all sufferers know this.
 

rynner2

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Long article here:
How we learned to stop having fun

We used to know how to get together and really let our hair down. Then, in the early 1600s, a mass epidemic of depression broke out - and we've been living with it ever since. Something went wrong, but what? Barbara Ehrenreich unpicks the causes of our unhappiness

Monday April 2, 2007
The Guardian

Beginning in England in the 17th century, the European world was stricken by what looks, in today's terms, like an epidemic of depression. The disease attacked both young and old, plunging them into months or years of morbid lethargy and relentless terrors, and seemed - perhaps only because they wrote more and had more written about them - to single out men of accomplishment and genius. The puritan writer John Bunyan, the political leader Oliver Cromwell, the poets Thomas Gray and John Donne, and the playwright and essayist Samuel Johnson are among the earliest and best-known victims. To the medical profession, the illness presented a vexing conundrum, not least because its gravest outcome was suicide. In 1733, Dr George Cheyne speculated that the English climate, combined with sedentary lifestyles and urbanisation, "have brought forth a class of distemper with atrocious and frightful symptoms, scarce known to our ancestors, and never rising to such fatal heights, and afflicting such numbers in any known nation. These nervous disorders being computed to make almost one-third of the complaints of the people of condition in England."

To the English, the disease was "the English malady". But the rainy British Isles were not the only site visited by the disease; all of Europe was afflicted.
The disease grew increasingly prevalent over the course of the 20th century, when relatively sound statistics first became available, and this increase cannot be accounted for by a greater willingness on the part of physicians and patients to report it. Rates of schizophrenia, panic disorders and phobias did not rise at the same time, for example, as they would be expected to if only changes in the reporting of mental illness were at work. According to the World Health Organisation, depression is now the fifth leading cause of death and disability in the world, while ischemic heart disease trails in sixth place. Fatalities occur most dramatically through suicide, but even the mild form of depression - called dysthemia and characterised by an inability to experience pleasure - can kill by increasing a person's vulnerability to serious somatic illnesses such as cancer and heart disease. Far from being an affliction of the famous and successful, we now know that the disease strikes the poor more often than the rich, and women more commonly than men.

Just in the past few years, hundreds of books, articles and television specials have been devoted to depression: its toll on the individual, its relationship to gender, the role of genetic factors, the efficacy of pharmaceutical treatments. But to my knowledge, no one has suggested that the epidemic may have begun in a particular historical time, and started as a result of cultural circumstances that arose at that time and have persisted or intensified since. The failure to consider historical roots may stem, in part, from the emphasis on the celebrity victims of the past, which tends to discourage a statistical, or epidemiological, perspective. But if there was, in fact, a beginning to the epidemic of depression, sometime in the 16th or 17th century, it confronts us with this question: could this apparent decline in the ability to experience pleasure be in any way connected with the decline in opportunities for pleasure, such as carnival and other traditional festivities?

There is reason to think that something like an epidemic of depression in fact began around 1600, or the time when the Anglican minister Robert Burton undertook his "anatomy" of the disease, published as The Anatomy of Melancholy in 1621. Melancholy, as it was called until the 20th century, is of course a very ancient problem, and was described in the fifth century BC by Hippocrates. Chaucer's 14th-century characters were aware of it, and late-medieval churchmen knew it as "acedia". So melancholy, in some form, had always existed - and, regrettably, we have no statistical evidence of a sudden increase in early modern Europe, which had neither a psychiatric profession to do the diagnosing nor a public health establishment to record the numbers of the afflicted. All we know is that in the 1600s and 1700s, medical books about melancholy and literature with melancholic themes were both finding an eager audience, presumably at least in part among people who suffered from melancholy themselves.

Increasing interest in melancholy is not, however, evidence of an increase in the prevalence of actual melancholy. As the historian Roy Porter suggested, the disease may simply have been becoming more stylish, both as a medical diagnosis and as a problem, or pose, affected by the idle rich, and signifying a certain ennui or detachment. No doubt the medical prejudice that it was a disease of the gifted, or at least of the comfortable, would have made it an attractive diagnosis to the upwardly mobile and merely out-of-sorts.

But melancholy did not become a fashionable pose until a full century after Burton took up the subject, and when it did become stylish, we must still wonder: why did this particular stance or attitude become fashionable and not another? An arrogant insouciance might, for example, seem more fitting to an age of imperialism than this wilting, debilitating malady; and enlightenment, another well-known theme of the era, might have been better served by a mood of questing impatience.

Nor can we be content with the claim that the apparent epidemic of melancholy was the cynical invention of the men who profited by writing about it, since some of these were self-identified sufferers themselves. Robert Burton confessed, "I writ of melancholy, by being busy to avoid melancholy." George Cheyne was afflicted, though miraculously cured by a vegetarian diet of his own devising. The Englishman John Brown, who published a bestselling mid-19th-century book on the subject, went on to commit suicide. Something was happening, from about 1600 on, to make melancholy a major concern of the reading public, and the simplest explanation is that there was more melancholy around to be concerned about.

And very likely the phenomena of this early "epidemic of depression" and the suppression of communal rituals and festivities are entangled in various ways. It could be, for example, that, as a result of their illness, depressed individuals lost their taste for communal festivities and even came to view them with revulsion. But there are other possibilities. First, that both the rise of depression and the decline of festivities are symptomatic of some deeper, underlying psychological change, which began about 400 years ago and persists, in some form, in our own time. The second, more intriguing possibility is that the disappearance of traditional festivities was itself a factor contributing to depression.

article continues...
http://lifeandhealth.guardian.co.uk/hea ... 69,00.html
 

crunchy5

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An interesting read Rynner, not sure I agree with some of the conclusions, I wonder if the plague might have caused an imbalance in the microbiological world that the depression critter stepped into and succeeded in the new niche helped by urbanisation and industrialisation then just starting.
 

crunchy5

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Some interesting suicide figures from the armed forces.

http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politi ... 411389.ece

More servicemen and women have committed suicide over the past two decades than have died in military action, according to new figures.

The latest death toll for those in the armed forces who have taken their own lives has risen to 687 compared with 438 killed during active service in major conflicts such as the Gulf, Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) figures released this weekend also reveal that the number of suicides among servicemen and women has risen by at least 49 in a year. This is more than three times the number of soldiers killed since the start of war in Afghanistan in 2001 and has raised fresh concerns about the mental welfare of troops. Those most at risk of taking their own lives are soldiers in their early 20s and teenage army recruits.

The suicide figures are based on research by the Government's Defence Analytical Services Agency (Dasa). Its latest report reveals that between 1984 and 2006, 687 armed-forces personnel killed themselves, a figure that includes 672 men and 15 women. This compares with 638 deaths between 1984 and 2005, and 624 up to 2004.

Dasa says male suicide rates in the forces are lower than in the general population, with the exception of army males under the age of 20. The Army has a higher rate of suicides than the Navy or RAF, particularly for those aged 25 and under. Male soldiers aged 20 to 24 and those aged under 20 have the highest rates of suicide, with 18 deaths and 16 respectively per 100,000 troops. This comes just weeks after opposition MPs demanded action following the disclosure that at least 17 personnel had taken their own lives after seeing action in the Gulf.

Last month, this newspaper highlighted the plight of traumatised troops returning from combat who feel abandoned by the state. Numerous public figures have signed up to The Independent on Sunday's campaign to achieve justice for the victims of post-traumatic stress.

Charities, including Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion, warn that figures of mental illness could rise and that doctors are poor at recognising conditions such as combat stress.

Clive Fairweather, a former SAS colonel, said there is "no doubt the modern Army is exposed to a lot more pressure because there are fewer soldiers".
 

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Oh depression is real.
I myself have had it. Although to be perfectly exact with me it was *Situational* depression due to the position I was in with money, a quite frankly awful 10-hours a day job where I was treated like crap. I ended up listless, unable to enjoy anything, just going home and lying in bed not beign able to face going out or indeed the next day... Once that perfectly normal upset goes beyond a certain nebulous level it becomes a situational depression and affects your brain chemistry I guess.
The doctor tried to give me beta blockers and all sorts but I resisted and opted for getting a different job as soon as I possibly could whereupon it got better...slowly. Even trying to get other jobs was a major undertaking I was so low.

With clinical depression I think the test is being miserable or depressed when everything otherwise is going great. Your mood affects your brain chemistry, there is a lot of truth in the old adage "laughter is the best medicine".
Sometimes depression can have a psychological cause, usually due to self-esteem issues entrenched from childhood in most of the people I have met who have it which affects brain chemistry and hormone levels etc. Sometimes it is caused from drug abuse (from the admitedly few people I have met who took oodles of them) and sometimes it is straight out physiological brain chemistry cause.
Sometimes it is possible for people to *unlearn* deep entrenched feelings that help fuel their long-term clinical depression but for some they cannot seem do that no matter how hard they try, counselling etc. And for some it is simply faulty brain mechanics.
 

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Soil Bacteria Work In Similar Way To Antidepressants
02 Apr 2007

UK scientists suggest that a type of friendly bacteria found in soil may affect the brain in a similar way to antidepressants.

Their findings are published in the early online edition of the journal Neuroscience.

Researchers from Bristol University and University College London discovered using laboratory mice, that a "friendly" bacteria commonly found in soil activated brain cells to produce the brain chemical serotonin and altered the mice's behaviour in a similar way to antidepressants.

They are suggesting this could explain why immune system imbalance could make some people vulnerable to mood disorders like depression.

Lead author, Dr Chris Lowry from Bristol University said, "These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health".

"They also leave us wondering if we shouldn't all be spending more time playing in the dirt," he added.

Dr Lowry and colleagues became interested in the project when they heard that cancer patients treated with the bacterium Mycobacterium vaccae reported increases in their quality of life. They speculated this could be because the bacteria were activating brain cells to release more serotonin.

When they treated mice with Mycobacterium vaccae they found that it did indeed activate a particular group of brain neurons that produce serotonin - in the interfascicular part of the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRI) of the mice, to be precise. They established this by measuring the amount of c-Fos in the area, a biochemical marker whose presence indicates that serotonin releasing neurons have fired.

Serotonin, also known as 5-HT (short for 5-hydroxytryptamine), is found in the gut, brain, nerves and blood of humans and other animals. There are 14 different receptors that bind to serotonin each working a different property of this highly multi-functional chemical messenger.

Apart from having a range of pharmacological actions, serotonin constricts blood vessels, sends messages between cells in the brain and within the central nervous system, regulates secretion of digestive juices, and helps to control the passage of food through the gut.

Different parts of the brain and the body need different levels of serotonin. In the brain for example, the hypothalamus (involved in mood regulation) needs a lot of serotonin while the cortex (involved in many complex processes like thinking, memory, attention, awareness and consciousness) only needs a little.

The brain keeps serotonin levels in balance using at least three mechanisms. One way is by releasing it, a second way is by inactivating it once it is released into the synaptic space between the nerve endings, and the third way is by absorbing it, a process known as "reuptake".

Low levels of serotonin are linked with a number of disorders including aggression, anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, irritable bowel and fibromyalgia.

Antidepressants work by increasing serotonin levels in particular areas of the brain. One type, known as monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors reduce the brain's ability to inactivate the free serotonin. Another type, called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) work by slowing down the reuptake process.

The friendly bacteria in this study appear to be having an antidepressant effect in a third way, by increasing the release of serotonin.

"Identification of an immune-responsive mesolimbocortical serotonergic system: Potential role in regulation of emotional behavior."
C.A. Lowry, J.H. Hollisa, A. de Vriesa, B. Pana, L.R. Brunetb, J.R.F. Huntb, J.F.R. Patonc, E. van Kampena, D.M. Knighta, A.K. Evansa, G.A.W. Rookb and S.L. Lightmana.
Neuroscience Available online 28 March 2007
doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2007.01.067

Click here for Abstract.

Click here for links to different types of antidepressant (from Wikipedia).

Written by: Catharine Paddock
Writer: Medical News Today

Article URL:
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/healthn ... wsid=66840
 
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