Category Archives: Depression

Drinking coffee may protect against depression

People suffering from depression are often told to cut down on the amount of coffee they drink but now it seems that drinking a few cups of coffee may not be such a bad thing after all.

20 percent reduced risk

New research from America has found that drinking four or more cups of coffee cut the risk of depression by around 20 percent when compared to drinking only one cup or less of caffeinated coffee a week.

The protective benefit of coffee was also linked to dose, for example, two or three cups of coffee reduced the risk by 15 percent.

The results took into consideration other potential risk factors such as medical conditions, smoking, amount of exercise and even marital status.

10 year study

The research involved Over 50,700 women who had taken part in the Nurses’ Health Study which began in the late 90’s and lasted 10 years.

During the course of the study just over 2,600 of the participants developed depression although none of the women had depression at the start of the study. More of the women who developed depression drank little or no coffee.

More research needed

Coffee is known to have an effect on brain function as a result of the caffeine but the researchers say they can’t be certain of a causal link between coffee and reduced risk of depression and more research is needed to confirm their findings.

A similar link was not found with decaffeinated coffee or with chocolate or even other sources of caffeine such as tea and soft drinks.

Dr Michael Lucas, from the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston wrote:

 

“Our results support a possible protective effect of caffeine, mainly from coffee consumption, on risk of depression

“Further investigations are needed to confirm this finding and to determine whether usual caffeinated coffee consumption may contribute to prevention or treatment of depression”.

The findings have been reported in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

A previous study from Finland also found a link between coffee consumption and a reduced risk of suicide.

Two former depression sufferers launch service to help others

A free online mentoring service has been launched by two women; both of who share a history of depression, reported the Daily Mail recently.

Jayne Hardy (30) and Samantha Hadadi (25) wanted to provide a safe and welcoming place for others affected by depression to share their feelings openly.

One in four

Depression is extremely common and will affect one in four of us at some point in our lives. For most who visit their doctor for help, the answer is likely to be anti depressants or a lengthy wait for therapy.

Some who have been prescribed drugs for depression will find that they either don’t work or that the side effects make their lives even more miserable.

 

“Doctors often didn’t have time to help, and the antidepressants they prescribed made me worse” Jayne told the Daily Mail.

Ashamed of being depressed

Others may feel isolated and alone, reluctant to talk about it to anyone. This is the tragedy of depression. Despite massive awareness campaigns, there is still stigma attached to mental health problems.

“Because I’d become withdrawn and isolated, I’d have felt too intimidated to walk into a selfhelp group of strangers. I felt ashamed of being depressed” said Jayne.

Samantha’s first experience of depression came whilst she was studying at university and for her the drugs did work.

“My mum urged me to seek help. I was lucky. My doctor was understanding, antidepressants did help, as did the counselling my doctor lined up” says Samantha.

“But I know I would never have considered joining a group, even if I’d known they were there. I think many young people would be similarly reluctant, which is why I think our online mentoring could prove especially helpful”.

You can find Jayne and Samantha’s mentoring service at blurtitout.org.

Other ways to help beat depression include:

Diet

Many people with busy lives live on processed foods and takeaways. Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, cut down on red meats and eat more fish.

Fish contains important Omega 3 fatty acids that are known to be essential for healthy brain function and studies have shown they can help alleviate the symptoms of depression. If you don’t want to eat more fish try fish oils.

Exercise

Exercise releases ‘feel-good’ hormones and allows more oxygen to reach the brain. If you’re not a fitness fanatic, don’t worry, studies have shown that taking a walk, particularly in a “green space” has proved to be helpful for depression.

Relaxation

We all need time to recharge our batteries and allow our bodies and brains some time to recover from the stresses and strains of life. Prolonged stress releases Cortisol, the stress hormone, which over time can be harmful to health. Spend some time each day doing something that you enjoy whether it’s reading, taking a bath, or listening to music.

Don’t suffer in silence

The most important thing to remember is that depression is treatable, too many people are afraid to seek help and suffer unnecessarily either because they don’t want to admit they are depressed to themselves or to others or because they are afraid. Don’t suffer in silence.

Could lactose intolerance be stress, anxiety or depression in disguise?

According to recent research from Italy, the symptoms of lactose intolerance and other food allergies are all in the mind and are more likely to be a result of depression, anxiety or stress.

This may be hard to swallow for anyone currently suffering but that is actually what a study by researchers from the University of Milan revealed.

Previous research has already found that as many as nine in ten people in Britain who really believe they have a food allergy or intolerance are actually perfectly healthy the MailOnline reports, and that although 20 percent of men and women claim they are suffering from food allergies, the reality is that that less than 2 percent actually do.

The Italian study was led by Dr Guido Basilico and involved more than 100 people who were showing signs of lactose intolerance which include symptoms such as stomach pain, bloating, and loose bowels. Dr Basilico and his team carried out tests to discover whether they really had a problem breaking down the sugar in lactose.

Part of the study also involved asking the participants about their mental and physical health and any aches and pains they experienced.

According to Dr Basilico, most people tested in the study were not lactose intolerant at all as they were perfectly capable of digesting lactose and the symptoms they experienced were more likely to be a result of stress, anxiety or depression rather than the milk in their coffee.

Dr Basilico is not saying that lactose intolerance doesn’t exist of course, as there are cases where a person’s genetic makeup may make it difficult for them to tolerate lactose; however, he is saying that for a large majority, the symptoms of lactose intolerance have more of a psychological basis rather than a physiological one. Just as stress can cause headaches, it can also cause tummy problem.

Believing yourself to be lactose intolerant when you’re not has implications on health as a shortage of dairy products could leave people severely short of calcium, increasing the odds of brittle bones, falls and fracture in old age so Dr Basilico is urging people to think twice before cutting out dairy products.

“Excluding dairy products should be discouraged and doctors should pay more attention to the psychological problems of their patients” he said.

Could “Hazy Recall” or an “Overgeneral Memory” signal future depression?

According to an article in the New York Times, studies into depression are revealing that the way we actually remember things could indicate future depression.

It’s all to do with a phenomenon called “overgeneral memory” which basically means that during memory recall, we miss out the details of past experiences, and a tendency to make a habit out of missing out the details has been linked to depression.

For example, participants in a study carried out at Oxford, Northwestern University in Illinois, were given a cue word and had 30 seconds to come up with a specific memory of a single event. One cue word was “rejected” and a specific response to that cue word was “A few weeks ago, I had a meeting with my boss and my ideas were rejected”.

On the other hand a vague or hazy response by another participant was “my brothers are always talking about going on holiday without me”. You can see that this second response was not a specific memory at all but referred to something that happened on more than one occasion.

Overgeneral memory is “an unsung vulnerability factor for unhelpful reactions when things go wrong in life,” said Mark Williams, the clinical psychologist who has been leading the Oxford studies.

According to the NYT Dr Williams first discovered overgeneral memory purely by chance back in the 80’s when he asked research subjects to write down memories after giving them certain cues but thought he hadn’t made the instructions clear enough when some of them left the page blank. He also found in a previous study that inducing an overgeneral memory style in participants made them less able to solve problems.

Research is now being carried out by Oxford University on thousands of youngsters to see whether those who display overgeneral memory traits are more likely to suffer from depression in the future.

“Based on everything we know of memory specificity and depression, there’s a good chance we will find these effects,” said Dirk Hermans, a research psychologist at the University of Leuven in Belgium who collaborates with Dr. Williams.

Of course sometimes it’s helpful to have an overgeneral memory as it could be a way to lessen painful or traumatic memories but the problems seem to begin when it becomes the norm to do so.

“If you’re unhappy and you want to be happy, it’s helpful to have memories that you can navigate through to come up with specific solutions,” Dr. Williams said. “It’s like a safety net.”

According to Dr. Williams overgeneral memory can be helped by “mindfulness”, a form of meditation that encourages us to accept negative thoughts rather than trying to avoid them as by becoming more tolerant of negative memories we are less likely to try to escape them, a tendency which can lead to overgenerality.

Childhood Mental Ailments Targeted With New Treatments

The causes which underlie childhood obsessive compulsive disorder along with Tourette’s are to be targeted by new treatment options.

To date there have been many similarities in how these two disorders have been treated, pertaining to their sharing of similarities in their psychiatric features, the genetic factors inherent, and the environment in which they present themselves.

But more effective treatments are now being put forward.

The Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology is a peer-reviewed journal that in its latest issue contains the new ideas. The Guest Editor, one Barbara J. Coffey, MD, MS concludes that “studies are still few, and validated predictors, moderators and mediators of treatment response are still very much needed.”

Riluzole

Promise has been shown for the treatment of the conditions by Riluzole, a drug used for the treatment of neurodegenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It is evidential from clinical trials taking place that it can also be used for treatment of OCD in children, however there is further study needed to access the side effects. The potential of this drug being used in this way is outlined by Jane Song, Paul Grant, and Susan Swedo of the National Institute of Mental Health as, being of potential benefit in helping to control the symptoms of OCD.

Pancreatitis

This benefit is possible based on Riluzole’s ability to block the releasing of glutamate from nerve cells. It has been used at therapeutic doses, yet there have been instances of pancreatitis in children to date as a side effect of use, which is causing concern obviously.

Tourette’s Breakthrough

The vocal tics associate with Tourette’s have undergone new study too, with the avenue of new treatments the goal. It has been determined that these vocal tics occur because of how neural networks, brain circuits, and chemical neurotransmitters behave in the affected person.

Brain Images

It is now expected that new brain scanning technology will help to find a better treatment allowing for more specific targeting of brain regions as can be pin pointed through the brain imaging.

Infectious Disease Onset

It is also being discussed in this new edition of the journal how infectious diseases may lead to the onset of such conditions, with Streptococcus becoming increasingly linked with certain Paediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders.

There is a push given for the link between infectious diseases and these conditions to be further explored, and a panel of experts setup for the exploration of new treatments based on the infectious disease mechanism.

Background

Tourette’s syndrome affects the brain. It is mainly evident in its causing movements outside of the control of the individual and leading to the development of nervous tics. In milder cases it is less likely that the condition will ever be diagnosed.

In the main if Tourette’s is to present itself in the individual then it will do so when the child is quite young, usually between the ages of five and seven years old.

Therapies

There are new behaviour therapies for Tourette’s increasingly becoming available. These can be in the restraining therapy form, which can serve to counter the nervous tic associated with the condition.

Exposure and response therapy is another method of treatment which has the same function. Talking therapy has been found to deal with the condition also. Here it is evident that just talking through the condition with a psychotherapist, may lead to the individuals’ ability to cope with their condition.

The bulk of the medicines currently in use to better the condition are along the lines of neuroleptics, they do however come with certain side effects which may leave the individual having a ‘jerk’ response giving the illusion that the condition is getting worse and not better. This is only at first however and the condition will become less severe with time.

Genetics Plays a Part in Depression

Those with a genetic predisposition to lower production rates of a certain chemical of the brain, one that denotes a regulation of appetite and stress, could be at a heightened risk of suffering from the severer forms of depression, new research has concluded.

It is believed that the findings will open the door for understanding just how depression can affect some people more than others, and may lead to a paving of the way for an individualised form of treatment.

New Therapies

New therapies may be created as a result, according to researchers at the University of Michigan. They have stated, “We’ve identified a biomarker, it is genetic variation, one that is linked with increased risk of major depression.” This was said by the senior author of the study Jon-Kar Zubieta, who is a professor of psychiatry and radiology.

Also stated was that, “This appears to be another mechanism, independent of previous targets in depression research, such as serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine.”

Negative Inputs

Measurably stronger responses in the brain have been concluded to occur when there are negative inputs to those persons, this relates also to their psychological response to the domain of physical pain. This occurs in people who produce neuropeptid Y (NPY) a brain molecule to a lesser degree than is normal in the individual.

It has been determined also that a large proportion of these people are amongst the population who have been diagnosed with a mental disorder in particular a major depressive one.

The methods of the study were as follows:

Three methods.

First: The participants in the study were broken down into three different groupings. They were segregated based on the levels of this brain molecule they produce, low medium and high.

Second: Magnetic Resonance brain imagery was used to gain a view of the brain activity of these subjects. These images were taken as certain words were read by the subjects. The words were neutral, negative, and positive e.g. material, murderer, hopeful. The study reported that, “In response to negative words, subjects in the low NPY group showed strong activation in the prefrontal cortex, which is involved with processing emotion, while subjects with high NPY demonstrated a much smaller response.”

The second trial allowed a different means of assessment. The subjects were given a stress challenge, and asked to give a description of their mental state preceding, and in the wake of the challenge. The stress test involved a saline solution being injected into their jaw muscles, a precursor to the experience of short term pain.

Pain Anticipation

It was found that those with the lower levels of the bran molecule experienced more negativity from the stress than those with normal levels. This was pre and post the stress test. The result showing that in them there was a heightening in not only the anticipation of the pain, but also upon receipt of the pain there was more negativity regarding the reflection upon the pain itself.

Finally: The people who had a major depressive disorder in the group were compared for NPY genotypes against a control group. It was found again that there is in fact an overrepresentation amongst those in the group with depression.

Hope

Another of the lead authors of the study Brian Mickey has stated that the same can be found in the measure of the genetic features of just about any person. It is hoped by this man that the finding of this result will guide a path for researchers to assessing an individual’s risk for the development of anxiety and depression.

“These are genetic features that can be measured in any person,” said lead author Brian Mickey, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School. “We hope they can guide us toward assessing an individual’s risk for developing depression and anxiety.”

Adult Learning Benefits Depression and Anxiety Sufferers

Spending cuts to the adult leaning sector in the UK will prove a false economy according to The Mental Health Foundation.

They believe that the cuts will be counterproductive in tackling mental health issues in UK society.

There is grounding in their statement with evidence emerging from recent research that there is a significant improvement amongst sufferers of depression and anxiety through their attendance of adult learning courses.

Prevalent Mental Disorders

Anxiety and depression are by far the most prevalent mental disorders in the region. This of course has the result of a large duress being placed on the economy, along with the wellbeing of the population.

The latest stats report that 9% of adults suffer from mixed anxiety or depression. This 9% does not include a further 7.7% of the population who suffer from either general anxiety or have been diagnosed with some depression symptoms.

Economic Hit

Each year the economy suffers a loss of productivity as a result of this issue, with one fifth of all days lost to work due to the conditions. It is these statistics that the Mental Health Foundation are using to back up their plea for the use of good judgement in the austerity measures being put in place.

It has been determined in the aforementioned study learning for life that adult learning programmes demonstrated the effect of reducing depression and anxiety symptoms in adult students with the conditions, by 26% for depression sufferers and 22% for anxiety sufferers.

Even Better

When a follow up survey of participants took place, even more tremendous results were realised from the adult learning programs, with depression symptoms plummet reaching 35% and 31% respectively. This was against the levels which showed pre-commencement of the courses.

Necessity or Luxury?

The head of policy of the Mental Health Foundation Simon Lawton-Smith has gone on to state that the government are demonstrating that adult learning is not a necessity but a luxury. He pointed to the study Learning for Life findings’ to support his belief that they are very much a necessity.

It is demonstrated therein the real value of the courses, in benefitting those with mental health issues. He believes that if the cuts go ahead, there will be not only economic costs associated but human ones as well.

The implications of Learning for Life according to one of the lead authors Dr Dan Robatham is that the adult learning programmes can be very beneficial to combating both mild and moderate depression. It is possible here because there is no stigma attached to participation unlike in the traditional forms of treatment.

Cuts

This cut is just one of a series of cuts right across the board in Britain. Those cuts will be inflicted on the Health Service also, which will be required to make enhanced efficiencies. It has been noted when austerity measures such as these were applied in the past, that patient health suffered, and many who needed assistance were denied assistance.

Difficult

Whilst it is difficult for Government to look at the future benefits in economic terms, to keeping the adult learning initiatives in place at their current funding levels, it is fortunate that the recent study’s outcomes are there to help drive home the point.

That point being that there is a distinct economic advantage to keeping the levels at the point where they are, as a result of less work days lost and subsequent tax losses to the Exchequer as a result of depression.

So too, less depressed people means a decrease of drain on the limited medical resources in the United Kingdom, cuts of this manner are indeed a false economy. A statement from the Government in response to the argument has as yet not been made.

Economic Ups and Downs Drive Up and Down Suicide Numbers

There is a definitive connection between the economic environment and suicide rates it has been determined.

When the economy is going well incidents decrease, and whilst it is doing badly they increase.

This has been determined by a Centre for Disease Control and Prevention study that has just been published.

Stats Used

The study entitled Impact of Business Cycles on US Suicide Rates, 1928 -2007 took in key economic data pertaining to that 70 year period, and the cycles of boom and bust and suicide rise and fall that went along with them to conclude its findings.

It was determined by the study to seek out information also pertaining to the relationship between the ages of citizens, regarding the suicide rate in particular age brackets, coinciding with business cycles.

Prime Working Years

It was found that persons in the 25-64 year-old bracket i.e. prime working years, were most affected by business cycles with regard to their mental health.

Important Finding

The author of the study James Mercy PHD who is the acting director of CDC’s Injury Centres Division of Violence Prevention has declared that an important finding has been made with this research.

The research will now go on to be used for the development of policy, seeking to decrease the prevalence of suicide. James also noted how when the economy weakens, we now know that suicide will be more prevalent, this then gives us the impetus to ensure that additional suicide prevention measures are in place for a weakened economy.

Depression Time Boom Town

The main findings of the study were that in general the rate of suicide increases when there is a recession. This was determined through statistical analysis around the years of the Great Depression (1929-33) at the end of the New Deal (1937-38) and included the USA Double Dip Recession of (1980-82.)

So too it was found that the rate of suicide experienced a sharp drop during times where there was little economic hardship like the largest expansion period of the USA economy from (91-01.)

Largest Expansion

The Great Depression brought the largest expansion in suicide rates in USA history wherein the rate soared from 18 per 10,000 to 22.1 per 10,000. This was a massive 22% increase. The data demonstrated however, that the years of boom around the turn of the millennium had the lowest levels of suicide.

Age Change

The study also determined that amongst elderly groups (65-74 years and beyond but also including the middle aged to older groupings 55-64) these groupings saw the most significant decline in suicide rate levels during the period 1928-2007.

Impact on Self Worth

It was found that indeed economic problems can cause an impact to how people feel. It impacts how they are feeling about their future hopes. Economic downs play havoc with family and friends, combining to effect real negativity in the mindset. It can in effect disrupt the fabric of communities also.

How Data is to be Used

Feijun Luo PhD who is an economist in the Division of Violence Prevention, and also the key author of the study demonstrates how it is known that there is not just one reason behind suicide. A combination of a number of factors come together to illicit this negative response. He is positive however that there are a great many measures that can be applied to enact a change in these trends.

He pointed to the likes of prevention strategies and more of a focus on the making the individuals, families and neighbourhoods that are a part of wider communities capable of reducing the risk factor.

Social Support

These measures can include social support to those who have lost out as a result of economic malaise. Through offering counselling services to persons who have lost their jobs or their homes, change can be effected.

Protective Factors

So too a spirit of connectedness between individuals in communities can foster change. This can be done by formalising links to school and churches. The idea behind this is that the connectedness between people will put in place protective factors against suicidal behaviours and thoughts.

So too it is endeavoured that in the future there will be an increase in accessibility to services around prevention of suicide, like crisis centres. Those areas that are disproportionately affected by recession can be specifically targeted with prevention campaigns.

Head Trauma Leads To Depression

Under extensive analysis it has been determined, that up to 30% of patients who enter hospital with a traumatic brain injury will suffer from depression in the wake of the injury.

For the study, already existing data about blunt force trauma from falls, assaults, sporting injuries and motor vehicle accidents was taken.

This report was conducted by (AHRQ) the Agency for Healthcare Research.

In the United States more than 1 million emergency room visits each year are down to blunt force trauma, a quarter of these will need to be hospitalised.

Risk Factor

The study co author Oscar Guillamondegui M.D at Vanderbilt’s Division of Surgical Critical Care and Trauma, sees brain injury as a major risk factor for depression. This is in the long and the short term, with the co author also stating that his findings have determined that it is 30% right across the board, whether it is five years five months or five weeks after the accident.

It has been found by him that there is a very real risk of developing depression for anyone who has received a blunt force trauma to the head.

Medication

The reason why this analysis of data and study is important is that to date researchers and doctors have been looking to answer the question, if there are any medications that can be used to treat depression for those who have experienced brain injury.

To date there were only two studies of treatment for these persons conducted.  Many in the medical profession feel that it is not acceptable that given the number of traumatic brain injuries occurring in battle, and in civilian life that there is so little known about treating depression in these people.

Underreporting

The authors of the study reckon that there is an underreporting of traumatic brain injury, as many do not go to the emergency room when they assume they have just suffered a mild injury. It is families and friends the doctors point out, who are being relied on in this instance to see the changes demonstrated in demeanour after such an event.

Other Effects

It is not only depression that can be caused as a direct result of head trauma. A severe blow to the head can influence the mood of the individual in many ways. So too it can cause behaviour problems. Often depression as a result of a blunt force trauma to the skull is confused with loss of self esteem or frustration, yet these are merely symptoms of the condition.

Whiplash

It is not only when the head itself is hit hard that this depression has been observed. It can also occur when there is a strike of the brain against the inside of the skull. One of the main factors where this kind of strike is observed is during car accidents, when the occupant receives what is known as whiplash.

There is a severe problem with underreporting in this area, leading many not to link the later emergence of depression to the earlier head trauma.

Mood

Other mood changes that have been observed in these individuals as a result of head trauma were increases in irritability, so too it was likely that they would become increasingly aggressive. Panic attacks and an inability to control feelings are two other outcomes of a severe blunt force trauma to the head.

Elongated Recovery

Whilst the scars may heal, and the broken bones of injury mend, the onslaught of depression can be longer lasting than any of the physical repercussions. It is important that this is understood by the patient, and that treatment for the depression is sought out when the condition manifests.

Thankfully now that this information is out there, doctors will be informed to warn patients of the risks of developing depression after they have been in an accident where there was a blow inflicted to the skull.

Mood Disturbed by TV and Computers in the Bedroom

Light is a very powerful drug, or so it has been concluded by new research that determines it is indeed bad for your mental well being to leave the TV on while you rest, the same is true for computers or even your fancy phone. In effect doing this will put you at risk from suffering from depression, or if you are depressed it will be of zero benefit towards your recovery.

The research to this end has been conducted using hamsters, but it combines with other research that was conducted with humans and animals, this research has concluded that for all creatures of this ilk exposure even to a low level of light can lead to a plethora of ailments.

The health consequences are inclusive of some cancers, disorders pertaining to sleep and even weight gain.

Dark Shades

The author of the study one Tracy Bedrosian, a doctoral student of neuroscience at The Ohio State University in Columbus said, “We’ve set up a link between exposure to light at night with depression in these animals, If it does apply to humans, people might want to think about getting dark shades, not leaving the TV on all night long, and making sure to give themselves darkness when they go to sleep.”

Cause Unknown

Whilst it is evident that the numbers now suffering from depression has seen a steady growth in recent decades, it has been difficult for doctors to really pin point any one definitive reason for the increase. It has been suspected however that light disturbance may be one of these reasons.

It seems natural to follow on that this may be one of the problems behind the surge given that people have become increasingly exposed to different sources of light not natural in origin, over the past century. There is the constant whirring of computers in bedrooms and people are increasingly tending to fall asleep without turning off the TV.

Night Shift

It has been determined through investigation also that those who are earning their living working night shifts are far more likely to suffer from a sleep disorder than those who do not, and gain rest when they should be getting that rest as dictated by nature.

Hamsters

The test was conducted using 16 hamsters in all to find this link between depression and light. The Ohio state University researchers placed all of the animals under bright lights for 16 hours a day. Half of these hamsters were then allowed to experience true darkness whilst the other 8 were exposed to light that would be consistent with the glow of the television in a darkened room.

After 8 weeks it was found that those who were forced to withstand the low level light in conjunction with their 16 hours a day light outline scored lower in a number of mood tests. The results were made public at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego.

Less Enjoyment

The signs of mood are difficult to determine in animals but the hamsters drank 20% less sugar water than the group who were permitted a rest phase in absolute darkness. This lack of drinking it is suggested by the scientists is confirmation that the hamsters just weren’t getting the same enjoyment out of the things they used to enjoy, what you may recognise as a symptom of depression.

It was even noted that the low level light exposed hamsters actually gave up their swimming activities more readily than the other group also. Scans of the brains of the hamsters revealed a stark difference in the hippocampus region of the brain between the two groups.

Brain Images

The group who had the extra light had fewer of the hair like growths (dendric spines) growing in this region of the mind, indicative that there was not as much communication going on between the nerve cells pertaining to this region. This very same low density of hair like growths of the hippocampus has been observed in humans suffering from major depression.

Hormone

An explanation has been offered by the researches as to why this may be the case. It is they say in a hormone called melatonin. Once we are in a state of darkness production of this hormone heightens in the body, this hormone has broad influence on us. It has antioxidant qualities, it promotes a dropping off into sleep, it allows for other hormones to be released in a controlled fashion, and indeed it is a regulatory hormone for the circadian rhythms.

The wrong amount of this hormone can be released even after experiencing a small volume of ambient light at night time, so too what is produced might come to us when it is not needed, which can lead to many problems for the human as well as the animal. This is according to Phyllis Zee, director of the Sleep Disorders Program at Northwestern University in Chicago. Other studies have also implicated that problems are created in the body pertaining to mood disorders sleep disturbance and diabetes as a result of misappropriation of this hormone.

Powerful Drug

“They’re all somehow related, and perhaps melatonin helps explain why there is this very strong relationship between depression, sleep, and circadian rhythms, as well as obesity and metabolism. Light affects so many biological systems, light is a very powerful drug for the brain.”