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How Watching ‘Caddyshack’ Helps Me Stave Off Depression

To escape the world into a Caddyshack screening while I’m depressed means suspending time and entering another world. In this world, body and mind, self and soul, coexist side-by-side, not naturally, but as conjoined twins. In this world, I need beginnings, middles, and endings. Inside this world, I need Kenny Loggins overtures, bromances, cliffhangers, sight-gags, dumb homunculi and military-grade explosions. In this world I need Caddyshack.

Stimulating the entorhinal cortex (Ent) suppresses depression

Yun identified a protein in the Ent-hippocampal pathway, called TRIP8b, that increases during stress, and inhibits cell firing. In the current study, the researchers used mice genetically engineered to “knock down” or eliminate TRIP8b in Ent neurons. Ent neurons in those mice were more likely to fire, and produced new hippocampal neurons at a faster rate.

How Harry Potter virtual running groups helped me conquer my depression

I dread solo runs the way the average person hates tax time. The solitary nature of the run forces me to turn inward, and as a goal-oriented overachiever with a fear of failure, I hate the introspection that these runs cultivate. The thought of spending hours wrestling with my body, willing it to keep going, with no distractions and no community support makes me question my sanity. I've tried all of the recommended tips and mental tricks, as well as fitness gadgets and apps to make solo running for long distances better. Only one thing has done the trick: virtual runs.

Sitting-Time, Physical Activity, and Depressive Symptoms in Mid-Aged Women - American Journal of Preventive Medicine

In main effects modeling, women who sat >7 hours/day (OR=1.47, 95% CI=1.29, 1.67) and women who did no physical activity (OR=1.99, 95% CI=1.75, 2.27) were more likely to have depressive symptoms than women who sat ≤4 hours/day and who met physical activity guidelines, respectively. In interaction modeling, the likelihood of depressive symptoms in women who sat >7 hours/day and did no physical activity was triple that of women who sat ≤4 hours/day and met physical activity guidelines (OR 2.96, 95% CI=2.37, 3.69).

The Science of Sleep: Dreaming, Depression, and How REM Sleep Regulates Negative Emotions – Brain Pickings

The more severe the depression, the earlier the first REM begins. Sometimes it starts as early as 45 minutes into sleep. That means these sleepers’ first cycle of NREM sleep amounts to about half the usual length of time. This early REM displaces the initial deep sleep, which is not fully recovered later in the night. This displacement of the first deep sleep is accompanied by an absence of the usual large outflow of growth hormone. The timing of the greatest release of human growth hormone (HGH) is in the first deep sleep cycle. The depressed have very little SWS [slow-wave sleep, Stages 3 and 4 of the sleep cycle] and no big pulse of HGH; and in addition to growth, HGH is related to physical repair. If we do not get enough deep sleep, our bodies take longer to heal and grow. The absence of the large spurt of HGH during the first deep sleep continues in many depressed patients even when they are no longer depressed (in remission). The first REM sleep period not only begins too early in the night in people who are clinically depressed, it is also often abnormally long. Instead of the usual 10 minutes or so, this REM may last twice that. The eye movements too are abnormal — either too sparse or too dense. In fact, they are sometimes so frequent that they are called eye movement storms.

Jeroen van Werkhoven Uses VR To Strengthen Body And Mind

JVH: BOX VR helped me a lot so far. I don’t have the most healthy job and I’m aware of that; I sit long hours behind a desk and it can be quite stressful at times. Mentally I struggle in many areas and have to work hard to keep my anxiety and depression in check. So BOX VR is not only a way to keep my body in shape, but also to cope with my anxiety and depression and turn it into more positive energy.  I usually do my workouts during the weekend, but sometimes when I feel a lot of negative energy I jump into BOX VR to release some tension just because it’s fun!

Attention deficit disorders could stem from impaired brain coordination: Researchers uncover link absent between brain regions in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia -- ScienceDaily

When the researchers attached probes to the mice to measure brain activity, they found mice without ErbB4 had brain regions that were acting independently, rather than together in synchrony. In particular, the researchers studied the prefrontal cortex -- normally associated with decision-making -- and the hippocampus -- a region that supports memory. These two regions coordinate for a variety of brain tasks, including memory and attention. "We found top-down attention, previously thought to be controlled by the prefrontal cortex, also involves the hippocampus in a manner where the two regions are highly synchronized when attention is high," says Mei. "Our findings give importance to synchrony between the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus in top-down attention and open up the possibility that attention deficit disorders, like ADHD, might involve impairments in the synchrony between these two regions." According to the new study, ErbB4 coordinates a cascade of brain signals that "bridge" the two regions. ErbB4 itself encodes a receptor found on the surface of brain cells. The study found that when a protein (neuregulin-1) attaches to the ErbB4 receptor, it triggers a chain reaction that ultimately determines neurotransmitter levels in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. Without ErbB4, neurotransmitter levels go awry. The researchers discovered mice lacking ErbB4 have low levels of a particular neurotransmitter -- GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid -- in their brain. Low GABA levels can lead to impaired top-down attention in the prefrontal cortex, and impairs how the prefrontal cortex can efficiently coordinate with the hippocampus. The researchers concluded that ErbB4 helps link the two brain regions to maintain attention.

Association of Playing High School Football with Cognition and Mental Health Later in Life | BrainLine

Among the 3904 men in the study, after matching and model-based covariate adjustment, compared with each control condition, there was no statistically significant harmful association of playing football with a reduced composite cognition score or an increased modified Center for Epidemiological Studies’ Depression Scale depression score. After adjustment for multiple testing, playing football did not have a significant adverse association with any of the secondary outcomes, such as the likelihood of heavy alcohol use at 65 years of age. Cognitive and depression outcomes later in life were found to be similar for high school football players and their nonplaying counterparts from mid-1950s in Wisconsin.

Total sleep deprivation increases extracellular serotonin in the rat hippocampus. - PubMed - NCBI

Sleep deprivation exerts antidepressant effects after only one night of deprivation, demonstrating that a rapid antidepressant response is possible. In this report we tested the hypothesis that total sleep deprivation induces an increase in extracellular serotonin (5-HT) levels in the hippocampus, a structure that has been proposed repeatedly to play a role in the pathophysiology of depression. Sleep deprivation was performed using the disk-over-water method. Extracellular levels of 5-HT were determined in 3 h periods with microdialysis and measured by high performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrochemical detection. Sleep deprivation induced an increase in 5-HT levels during the sleep deprivation day. During an additional sleep recovery day, 5-HT remained elevated even though rats displayed normal amounts of sleep. Stimulus control rats, which had been allowed to sleep, did not experience a significant increased in 5-HT levels, though they were exposed to a stressful situation similar to slee-deprived rats. These results are consistent with a role of 5-HT in the antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation.

This is your brain on exercise: Vigorous exercise boosts critical neurotransmitters, may help restore mental health -- ScienceDaily

The researchers measured GABA and glutamate levels in two different parts of the brain immediately before and after three vigorous exercise sessions lasting between eight and 20 minutes, and made similar measurements for a control group that did not exercise. Glutamate or GABA levels increased in the participants who exercised, but not among the non-exercisers. Significant increases were found in the visual cortex, which processes visual information, and the anterior cingulate cortex, which helps regulate heart rate, some cognitive functions and emotion. While these gains trailed off over time, there was some evidence of longer-lasting effects. "There was a correlation between the resting levels of glutamate in the brain and how much people exercised during the preceding week," Maddock said. "It's preliminary information, but it's very encouraging." These findings point to the possibility that exercise could be used as an alternative therapy for depression. This could be especially important for patients under age 25, who sometimes have more side effects from selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), anti-depressant medications that adjust neurotransmitter levels.

Electroshock before exercise?!

Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier that treatment can begin, the more effective it is. Depression is usually treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) and other brain stimulation therapies may be options to explore.

Men and women have opposite genetic alterations in depression: A study examines the sex-specific molecular changes in major depressive disorder -- ScienceDaily

Most of the genes that had altered expression were changed in only men or only women. However, genes that were altered in both men and women were changed in opposite directions. Women had increased expression of genes affecting synapse function, whereas men had decreased expression of the same genes. Women had decreases in genes affecting immune function, whereas men had increased expression of these genes. Additionally, the researchers applied their methods to data from a different set of subjects and replicated the opposing changes.

Depression, anxiety WAY high in graduate students, survey shows -- ScienceDaily

The disparity between graduate students and the general population proved to be about equal for both mental health conditions. On the respective scales utilized to test anxiety and depression, 41 percent of graduate students scored as having moderate to severe anxiety while 39 percent scored in the moderate to severe depression range. This compared with 6 percent of the general population as tested previously with those same scales.

People with depression have stronger emotional responses to negative memories: A study investigates the brain mechanisms underlying autobiographical memory disturbance in depression -- ScienceDaily

"This study provides new insights into the changes in brain function that are present in major depression. It shows differences in how memory systems are engaged during emotion processing in depression and how people with the disorder must regulate these systems in order to manage their emotions," said Cameron Carter, MD, Editor of Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. The personal memories used to evoke emotion in the study help tap into complex emotional situations that people with MDD experience in their daily lives. The 29 men and women with MDD included in the study reported higher levels of negative emotions when bringing negative memories to mind than 23 healthy comparison people. Using brain imaging, senior author Kevin Ochsner, PhD, of Columbia University and colleagues traced the elevated emotional responses to increased activity in an emotional hub of the brain, called the amygdala, and to interactions between the amygdala and the hippocampus -- a brain region important for memory.

Heart attack patients prescribed antidepressants have worse one-year survival -- ScienceDaily

After adjusting for baseline characteristics the researchers found that the rates of stroke and subsequent heart attacks were similar between the two groups, but patients prescribed antidepressants had significantly worse survival. The rate of all-cause mortality at one-year after discharge was 7.4% in patients prescribed antidepressants compared to 3.4% for those not prescribed antidepressants (p<0.001). Antidepressant prescription was an independent predictor for mortality, and increased the odds by 66% (odds ratio: 1.66; 95% confidence interval: 1.16 to 2.39).

Recap of sunlight with links

Although medical curiosity about the salubrious benefits of sunlight exposure can be traced to antiquity [1,2], contemporary clinical interest was ignited by the 20th-century discovery of a direct link between light exposure and circadian melatonin production [3,4]. An obvious initial candidate for bright light therapy (LT) was seasonal affective disorder [5] – a form of depressive illness typically triggered by light deprivation during the short, cold days of winter – and the intervention has proven to be efficacious across a large number of randomized controlled trials [6-8]. In fact, the efficacy of LT has now been supported across a range of other mood disorders, including non-seasonal depression [9,10,6], bipolar disorder [11,12], antepartum and postpartum depression [13,14], and premenstrual dysphoric disorder [15,16]. Light therapy (LT) has also been successfully applied to the treatment of sleep disorders [17-20], as well as circadian phase sleep disorders associated with jet lag [21,22] and shift work [23,24]. More recently, LT has shown promise as an intervention for obsessive-compulsive symptoms [25], behavioral disturbances and functioning in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease [26,27], primary and secondary features of Parkinson’s disease [28], attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [29], seasonal variations in eating disturbances associated with bulimia nervosa [30,31], and some symptoms of chronic anorexia [32].

Cumulative Head Impact Exposure Predicts Later-Life Depression, Apathy, Executive Dysfunction, and Cognitive Impairment in Former High School and College Football Players

The investigation of RHI has most commonly been in contact sports, such as American football. More than 4,500,000 amateur athletes participate in tackle football each year,12,13 and this sport has one of the highest rates of concussion.14,15 Surveys of high school and college athletes show that ∼50% of football players sustain a concussion each year, and >30% sustain multiple concussions.14,16,17 Subconcussive events are likely even more frequent, as helmet-based accelerometer studies estimate that amateur football players average 600 subconcussive impacts per season in high school and >1000 at the collegiate level.3 The high prevalence of concussive and subconcussive events in amateur football players is concerning, given their reported association with acute18–20 and chronic21–25 neurological consequences. Repetitive subconcussive blows (measured by helmet accelerometer sensors recording events that exceed 14.4g10) are associated with pre- to post-season cognitive decline,10,26 functional brain alterations (e.g., reduced neurophysiological health),10,26,27 and microstructural white matter brain changes28 in high school football players.

Cognitive dysfunction in major depression and bipolar disorder: Assessment and treatment options - MacQueen - 2016 - Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences - Wiley Online Library

Exercise may have positive effects on cognition in healthy people and is being investigated as a possible strategy for maintaining cognitive function throughout aging. It also improves symptoms of depression.[76-79] The degree to which it actually improves cognitive function in those with a mood disorder is not well known.[80] High-dose exercise was associated with improvement in spatial working memory while other cognitive domains, including attention, visual memory, and spatial planning, improved regardless of dose in one study.[81] Another study included a subset of patients with BD (3/12, while the other participants had schizophrenia) and found that intense circuit training was associated with improvement in memory and processing speed; depressive symptoms also improved.[82] There are therefore a variety of factors that require investigation to understand how to maximize the benefits of exercise on cognition in patients with mood disorders. These include better understanding of the individual variability in response to training, optimal dosing or training schedules, the synergistic effects of exercise in combination with other interventions[83] and the actual mechanisms through which exercise works on the neural circuits that are disrupted in depression.

Decision-Making and Depressive Symptomatology

Depressed individuals have difficulties making decisions (e.g., Klerman 1980; Nezu and Perri 1989). Indecisiveness is a symptom common enough in depressed individuals to have been included in the criteria for the disorder (APA 2000). The choices made by depressed persons may also be sub-optimal. Studies have shown that depressed, relative to non-depressed persons, make qualitatively different decisions (Chambers et al. 1996; Kulin et al. 1998; Suri et al. 2004), leading many doctors and psychotherapists to suggest to their patients that they should avoid making major life choices while in a depressed state.

Self-compassion may protect people from the harmful effects of perfectionism -- ScienceDaily

The researchers administered anonymous questionnaires to assess perfectionism, depression, and self-compassion across 541 adolescents and 515 adults. Their analyses of these self-assessments revealed that self-compassion may help uncouple perfectionism and depression. The replication of this finding in two groups of differently-aged people suggests that self-compassion may help moderate the link between perfectionism and depression across the lifespan. The authors suggest that self-compassion interventions could be a useful way to undermine the effects of perfectionism, but future experimental or intervention research is needed to fully assess this possibility. "Self-compassion, the practice of self-kindness, consistently reduces the strength of the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and depression for both adolescents and adults," says lead author Madeleine Ferrari.

Timing is everything, to our genes -- ScienceDaily

Using RNA sequencing, the research team tracked gene expression in dozens of different non-human primate tissues every 2 hours for 24 hours. The team found that each tissue contained genes that were expressed at different levels based on the time of day. However, the number of these "rhythmic" genes varied by tissue type, from around 200 in pineal, mesenteric lymph nodes, bone marrow and other tissues to more than 3,000 in prefrontal cortex, thyroid, gluteal muscle and others. In addition, genes that were expressed most often tended to show more rhythmicity, or variability by time. Of the 25,000 genes in the primate genome, nearly 11,000 were expressed in all tissues. Of those (which mostly govern routine cellular functions, such as DNA repair and energy metabolism), 96.6 percent were particularly rhythmic in at least one tissue, varying drastically by when they were sampled.

Brief depression questionnaires could lead to unnecessary antidepressant prescriptions -- ScienceDaily

Of the 545 patients who did not complete brief depression questionnaires during their doctors' office visits, 10.5 percent were diagnosed with depression and 3.8 percent were prescribed antidepressants. Of the 50 patients who completed brief depression questionnaires during their doctors' office visits, 20 percent were diagnosed with depression and 12 percent were prescribed antidepressants.

Insomnia and depression: Japanese hospital workers questionnaire survey : Open Medicine

Chronic insomnia is the one of the factors influencing the development of mental illness. In this survey, we tried to clarify the relationship between chronic insomnia and various factors. Although there is no certainty about other possible independent variables, multiple regression analyses suggested that chronic insomnia is an important factor for depression. Koyama et al. found that subjects who suffered from severe sleeping disorders, not just during depression, tended to have decreased blood flow in the frontal lobe of the brain [2]. When SIGH-D was used to evaluate sleeping disorders, an IS of 3 or higher showed that its severity and the reduced blood flow in the frontal lobe are significantly correlated. Based on this biological finding, preliminary research was conducted with 108 working participants, which included healthy participants and patients with mild to moderate depressive episodes. The result showed that the IS was significantly correlated with the severity of depression, subjective fatigue, sadness, and suicidal thoughts. Thus, an IS evaluation has the possibility of identifying depression based on a questionnaire survey related to direct mood changes [3]. There have been robust findings concerning the biology underlying the close relationship between sleep disorders and depression. For example, Buckley has found that a protracted sleep disorder, not depression, induces hyperactivity of the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) system [14]. Furthermore, exposure to extreme stress causes the excessive secretion of corticotropin releasing hormone (CRH) —a cerebral mechanism for stress adaptation. This release of CRH inhibits the activities of the serotonin pathway in the nervous system that extends from the dorsal raphe nucleus to the prefrontal area via the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system [15]. It is also known that CRH has a stimulant effect [14]. Therefore, it is inferred that a substantive lack of sleep will lead to a sustained activation of the HPA system once again, thus establishing a vicious cycle. On the other hand, the decline in frontal lobe function due to depression has been established by several earlier studies, including those that used functional brain imaging [15,16,17,18]. The protraction of a sleep disorder activating the HPA system and inhibiting the serotonin nervous system in the frontal lobe is believed to elicit a clinical condition similar to depression. Furthermore, the finding that the hyperactivity of the HPA system increases cortisol secretion, which inhibits the HPA system and damages hippocampal cells, further strengthens the suggested relationship between sleep disorders and depression. This biological finding strengthens the theory that a lack of sleep due to insomnia, exposure to stress, and overwork, leads to depression because of the accumulation of mental fatigue.

On the Couch... with Dick Cavett | Psychology Today

I would spend days reading "The Variety of Religious Experiences" by William James from beginning to end - and not remembering at all what I read. Serani: Oh, I know what that's like. The cognitive fog and slowed thinking. Just terrible. Cavett:  Yeah, I would get three or four sentences into a paragraph and not get it. I'd try again and still couldn't get it. But making the effort to read was better than sitting in my apartment doing nothing or sleeping all day. One day, I'll have to give old William James another try again.

How exercise training promotes a sound mind in a sound body -- ScienceDaily

In the earlier study, the researchers were able to show that trained muscles help to clean the blood in a way similar to the kidneys and liver. Through exercise training, the muscles can convert the stress marker kynurenine into kynurenic acid. High levels of kynurenine have been measured in people with depression and mental illness. For this present study, the researchers further examined the function of kynurenic acid. Using mice fed on a fat-rich diet that made them overweight and raised their blood sugar levels, they found that a daily dose of kynurenic acid stopped the mice putting on weight and gave them better glucose tolerance, despite no change in their food intake. The researchers posit the explanation that kynurenic acid activated the cell receptor GPR35, which is found in both fat cells and immune cells. This led in the former to a conversion of white fat into energy-burning brown fat, and in the latter to an enhancement of their anti-inflammatory properties

The Roles of BDNF in the Pathophysiology of Major Depression and in Antidepressant Treatment

Animal studies have demonstrated that stress reduces BDNF expression or activity in the hippocampus and that this reduction can be prevented by treatment with antidepressant drugs. A similar change in BDNF activity occurs in the brain of patients with major depression disorder (MDD). Recently, clinical studies have indicated that serum or plasma BDNF levels are decreased in untreated MDD patients. Antidepressant treatment for at least four weeks can restore the decreased BDNF function up to the normal value. Therefore, MDD is associated with impaired neuronal plasticity. Suicidal behavior can be a consequence of severe impaired neuronal plasticity in the brain. Antidepressant treatment promotes increased BDNF activity as well as several forms of neuronal plasticity, including neurogenesis, synaptogenesis and neuronal maturation. BDNF could also play an important role in the modulation of neuronal networks. Such a neuronal plastic change can positively influence mood or recover depressed mood.