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Music can reduce depression says Finnish Study

An interesting study by researchers from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland, has found that music therapy can be beneficial in the treatment of depression. The results of the study revealed that in the short term at least, those who received music therapy alongside standard therapy, showed a greater improvement in symptoms of depression than those receiving standard therapy alone.

The Study

The study, which was led by Professor Jaakko Erkkilä and Professor Christian Gold, involved 79 people aged between 18 and 50, each of whom had been diagnosed with depression. Of the 79 participants, 33 were given individual music therapy sessions twice a week as well as their standard treatment, and the rest of the participants just received the standard treatment alone. Standard treatment included anti depressant medication and counselling/psychotherapy sessions.

After a follow up at 3 months, those who had received music therapy showed a greater improvement than the others and had fewer symptoms of depression. There was no statistical difference after six months.

Specific qualities

“Our trial has shown that music therapy, when added to standard care including medication, psychotherapy and counselling, helps people to improve their levels of depression and anxiety” said Professor Gold.

“Music therapy has specific qualities that allow people to express themselves and interact in a non-verbal way – even in situations when they cannot find the words to describe their inner experiences.”

Cathartic experience

According to Professor Erkkilä people were able to express their inner pressure and feelings by drumming and that some described it as “cathartic”.

“Our findings now need to be repeated with a larger sample of people, and further research is needed to assess the cost-effectiveness of such therapy” said professor Erkkilä

Improve mood and general functioning

The findings of the Finnish study have been published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Dr Mike Crawford, a specialist in Mental Health Services Research, Imperial College, London, wrote in an editorial in the same journal:

“This is a high-quality randomised trial of music therapy specifically for depression, and the results suggest that it can improve the mood and general functioning of people with depression. Music-making is social, pleasurable and meaningful. It has been argued that music making engages people in ways that words may simply not be able to.”

Antidepressants , Depression , Pregnacy and Autism Link

A recent report in the Archives of General Psychiatry highlighted a slight increase in the risk of a child developing an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) if the mother takes a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) during pregnancy, particularly in the first trimester, reports Science Daily.

The connection

According to the authors of the report, the number of autistic spectrum disorders has increased over recent years along with a rise in the number of women using anti depressant medication during pregnancy.

Naturally, this prompted concerns that exposure to antidepressants during pregnancy could increase the risk of an autistic spectrum disorder.

Medical records examined

Professor Lisa Croen of Kaiser Permanente Northern California and her colleagues studied the medical records of almost 300 children with ASD and over 1500 ‘control’ children who were involved in the Childhood Autism Perinatal Study. They also examined the medical records of the mothers.

Out of the 300 children with ASD, twenty mothers had been prescribed antidepressants, 13 of whom had received SSRIs only, 2 who had received a combination of SSRIs and another antidepressant and 5 who had received a non SSRI only.

Of the 1500 control group 50 mothers had been prescribed at least one antidepressant, half of these had received an SSRI only, 9 had been prescribed a combination of SSRIs and another antidepressant, and 16 had received a non SSRI only.

More than twice as likely

After making adjustments for maternal and birth factors, the researchers found that mothers of children with an autistic spectrum disorder were twice as likely to have been prescribed at least one anti depressant in the year before the child’s birth.

When the researchers compared this with women who had no anti depressants prescribed during the twelve month period up to the child’s birth, they found that women who had received a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) were more than twice as likely to have a child diagnosed with an autistic spectrum disorder later on.

The same association was not seen for women who had a received an antidepressant but not an SSRI.

“Although the number of children exposed prenatally to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors in this population was low, results suggest that exposure, especially during the first trimester, may modestly increase the risk of ASD,” the authors conclude.

More studies needed

The researchers recommend that their findings be treated with caution pending results from more studies designed to “address the very complex question of whether prenatal exposure to SSRIs may be etiologically linked to later diagnoses of ASDs in offspring.”

young drivers and anxiety and depression

A new Australian study has discovered that youngsters who take risks when driving are more likely to be suffering from anxiety and depression.

The study was led by Birdie Scott-Parker and colleagues at Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety.

Over 760 young drivers who were still driving on a provisional licence took part in the research. Mrs Scott-Parker said that anxiety and depression accounted for 8.5 percent of the risky driving reported by those taking part in the study.

“The association was greater in women than in men, with 9.5 per cent being explained by psychological distress in women compared with 6.7 per cent in men” Mrs Scott-Parker said.

“We already know that psychological distress, such as anxiety and depression, has been linked to risky behaviour in adolescents including unprotected sex, smoking and high alcohol consumption.

“What this study sought to do was look at whether or not psychological distress could also be linked to risky driving behaviours in young people, such as speeding, not wearing a seat belt and using a mobile phone while at the wheel.”

According to Mrs Scott-Parker, one of the benefits of carrying out this research is that it can be used in future to identify youngsters who are more at risk of anxiety and depression and who present a greater financial risk on the road as a result of their risky driving.

“Young people presenting to medical and mental health professionals could be screened for current psychological distress particularly if they have incurred injury through risky behaviour” she said.

“These drivers could be targeted with specific road safety countermeasures and efforts made to improve their mental wellbeing by monitoring them for signs of depression and anxiety.”

Mrs Scott-Parker also said that up until now the link between risky driving and psychological distress had not been clearly identified and quantified and that “Identifying at risk individuals is vital” she said.

“Once identified, interventions could be tailored to target particular groups of at-risk drivers and also from a mental health perspective this may result in improved well-being for the adolescent young driver,” said Mrs Scott-Parker.

The study has been published in the International Journal Injury Prevention.

New Treatmeant For Depression ? Nasal Spray could treat depression

Imagine squirting a spray up your nose instead of popping a pill for depression. Current treatment for depression is usually some form of antidepressant medication or perhaps a type of talking therapy or counselling, or a combination of these.

None of these options provide fast relief, however, with some anti depressant drugs taking several weeks before the full effect can be felt, and as for therapy, even the waiting list for access to this type of treatment can extend to months and even if you can begin right away, there are likely to be several sessions at least before seeing any improvement.

Now, scientists from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York have developed a nasal spray which apparently could be effective within as little as 2 hours.

It’s all to do with a certain type of neuropeptide known as neuropeptide Y, a brain chemical that plays a role in how the nerve cells in the brain communicate with each other. This neuropeptide is found alongside another chemical known as norepinephrine which is believed to be involved in how the brain regulates mood and anxiety.

Although it is has already been suggested that neuropeptide Y could be effective in the treatment of depression, it isn’t easy for the larger sizes molecules in this chemical to pass through the blood-brain barrier, which exists to stop harmful chemicals entering the brain.

The logic behind the nasal spray is that it would work well because the upper part of the nose, the area dealing with smell, gives easy access to the brain and the central nervous system without having to pass through the blood brain barrier.

A new study is now taking place involving 15 participants aged from 25 to 45 to compare the results of the nasal spray containing neuropeptide Y to one containing a placebo.

A spokesperson for the mental health charity ‘Mind’ said “”This research is at an early stage and it remains to be seen whether this trial will lead to a new treatment.

“It is important to recognise that alternative approaches to antidepressants, such as talking therapies and exercise, can also have positive results.”

Depression is common, and researchers reckon that between one and four women and one in ten men will undergo treatment for depression at some point in their lives so finding an effective and faster treatment option will offer a better quality of life to many people sooner.

Phone Therapy Useful in Overcoming Miscarriage Aftermath

Although a small study, the findings of this pilot cannot be undervalued with regards to depression research.

The findings of a small USA pilot are now suggesting that some of the symptoms of depression women suffer after miscarrying can be overcome by giving mental health counseling via the phone line. To date ‘subsyndromal depression’ (post miscarrying depression) has been difficult to treat adequately.

This form of depression is not as bad as clinical depression itself, but it is not without damaging symptoms. It can throw a woman’s world upside down in many ways, affecting appetite, drive and energy, and leave the woman feeling hopelessly in despair.

The real beauty of over the phone counseling is that there are a range of factors that would keep a woman from attending face to face counseling sessions, lack of time and reluctance being the main reasons.

Cardiac patients who are suffering the effects of depression, The Bright Side is Looking Good

Cardiac patients who are suffering the effects of depression can change their state of affairs by ‘looking on the bright side’ according to scientists from Duke University Medical Centre. Over a 15 year survival study on the outcomes of heart patients, it is now understood that a mental attitude that exudes optimism and positivity is as effective as medicine, even taking into account the severity of their condition.

The author of the new lead study, John barefoot PHD has noted how the uniqueness of their study is based on demonstrating the ‘double impact’ of the attitude of the individual patient in the recovery phase. Getting back into the swing of things and returning into some semblance of a normal lifestyle were key effects of adopting such an attitude. A positive outlook doubly improves survival chances over the long haul improving long term health.

Their study involved the cataloging of 2,800 heart patient progress post leaving hospital. Taking patients who had their blood flow in the heart analysed through coronary angiography, the study encountered the astounding results. Previous studies of course have gauged how expectations held by patients influence recovery, yet the findings that longevity and physical health is improved through positive expectancy and attitude, is a new finding.
Psychological questionnaires were filled in by the 2,800 patients where their own expectations were catalogued with regard to their recovery and return to normal. The long term assessment has shown that in the 15 years since the survey was conducted 1,637 of these patients have passed away, with 54% of that number from cardiovascular disease.
Barefoot PHD said: “We know there is a relationship between depression and increased rates of mortality. These findings demonstrate the magnitude of the impact of patient expectations on the recovery process above and beyond depression and other psychological or social factors.”

Those who had shown a higher expectancy and positive attitude towards recovery showed a significantly better survival rate, and lasted longer than those who didn’t. There are several things that favour them according to the authors of the survey. The positive people showed a better instance of compliance with their treatment recommendations and schedule, whilst the ‘pessimism’ displayed by many was rewarded with damage to their health.

EPA Fish Oil Cancer, Muscle Mass

Related topics: Omega-3, Research, Nutritional lipids and oils, Cancer risk reduction, Weight management

Omega-3 rich fish oil supplements may help cancer patients to prevent the muscle loss and malnutrition which commonly accompanies chemotherapy, according to new research.

EPA rich omega-3 supplements may help chemotherapy patients, say researchers.

The study, published in Cancer, found that patients supplemented with 2.2 grams of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) per day maintained weight, muscle mass, and adipose tissue throughout approximately 10 weeks of chemotherapy, despite having a mean weight loss of 6.3 percent over the previous 6 months.

In the same time, patients receiving standard treatment with no supplementation were found to loose an average of 2.3 kilograms.

“Fish oil may prevent loss of weight and muscle by interfering with some of the pathways that are altered in advanced cancer . This holds great promise because currently there is no effective treatment for cancer-related malnutrition,” said Dr. Vera Mazurak, from the University of Alberta, Canada, who led the study.

The researchers said that a nutritional intervention with two grams of fish oil (in the form of EPA) per day may provide a benefit over standard care, by allowing cancer patients to maintain weight and muscle mass during chemotherapy.

Omega-3 for the big C?

Chemotherapy can cause cancer patients to lose muscle mass and become malnourished, leading to fatigue, decreased quality of life, an inability to receive necessary treatments, and shorter survival.

The researchers explained that previous studies have suggested that supplementing the diet with fish oil – which contains omega-3 fatty acids such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) – may help patients maintain or gain muscle mass.

To test the theory the team compared the effects of fish oil with that of standard care (with no supplementation) on weight, muscle, and fat tissue in newly referred non-small cell lung cancer patients.

Computed tomography (CT), a form of medical imaging that can precisely quantify skeletal muscle, was used by the researchers to assess the effects of EPA supplementation on skeletal muscle in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

“The efficacy of fish oil to prevent muscle loss has been the focus of several studies, but to the best of our knowledge the current study is the first to use CT images to provide a direct measurement of the effect of fish oil on skeletal muscle and adipose tissue depots,” said the researchers.

They added that the study was also unique in using an early intervention in newly referred patients -with the goal of preventing weight and muscle loss during chemotherapy.

Study details

Mazurak and her colleagues reported that 40 patients completed the study; with 16 receiving EPA fish oil supplementation (at a dose of 2.2 grams of EPA per day), and 24 patients receiving standard care.

Skeletal muscle and adipose tissue were measured using CT images, whilst blood was collected and weight was recorded at baseline and throughout chemotherapy.

The authors reported that patients receiving standard care experienced an average weight loss of 2.3 kilograms, whereas patients receiving EPA supplementation maintained their weight.

Blood analyses revealed that the patients with the largest rise in bloodstream EPA concentrations also had the greatest muscle mass gains.

Mazurak and co-workers reported that nearly 70 percent of those in the fish oil group either maintained their pre-chemotherapy muscle mass or gained mass. By comparison, less than 30 percent of the non-fish oil group maintained their original muscle mass, they added.

Fishy benefit

They research team said the results of the study indicate that supplementation with EPA fish oil reduces muscle and adipose tissue wasting in lung cancer patients, and provides a benefit over patients treated with standard care and receiving chemotherapy.

Mazurak and her colleagues noted that fish oil may be beneficial to patients with other forms of cancer and other chronic diseases that are associated with malnutrition, as well as to elderly individuals who are at risk for muscle loss. However, they noted that the results of the current study “require verification in larger randomized trials.”

Source: Cancer
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/cncr.25933
“Supplementation with fish oil increases first-line chemotherapy efficacy in patients with advanced nonsmall cell lung cancer”
Authors: R.A. Murphy, M. Mourtzakis, Q.S.C. Chu, V.E. Baracos, T. Reiman, V.C. Mazurak

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Early marijuana use linked to increased risk of depression later in life

A new study suggests that those who smoke marijuana during their early teens are at greater risk of suffering from depression later in life.

It’s important to note that the study didn’t identify marijuana as the cause of the depression, only that youngsters who smoke it are more likely to develop depression and depression related conditions than those who don’t.

The study which was published in the American online Journal of Epidemiology, involved researchers looking at data concerning more than 50,000 adults spanning 17 different countries, all who took part in a World Health Organisation (WHO) study into mental health.

The results showed a moderate association between smoking marijuana before reaching the age of 17 and developing depression, and a 50 percent increase in the risk of developing a depressive episode after the age of 17 if marijuana was smoked before they reached 17.

However, the association was somewhat weakened when the researchers took into account childhood problems like playing truant, shoplifting and getting into fights.

Lead Researcher in the study, Dr. Ron de Graaf, of the Netherlands Institute of Mental Health and Addiction in Utrecht, told Reuters Health in an email that this type of conduct could “partially” explain the relationship between early marijuana use and later depression.

The study did have limitations, one of which was that the screening for depression took place only at one single point in time and didn’t follow the participants over a period of time. As such, it isn’t clear whether the depression came first, or the use of marijuana.

The results came from the participants self reported symptoms of a depression spell that lasted for at least two weeks and they had to remember when that occurred.

Around 9,647 of those who took part said they were over the age of 17 when they had their first “spell” of depression and around 41,000 said they had not experienced a spell of depression.

Of those who had experienced depression, 9 percent had smoked marijuana before reaching the age of 17 whereas only 7 percent of the control group had. The indications are that in general, if you smoke marijuana before you are 17 you have a greater chance of developing depression later in life.

“Early cannabis (marijuana) use may have important consequences for later mental health,” de Graaf told Reuters.

De Graaf does acknowledge that more studies are needed, particularly those that follow young people over a period of time.