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Rare mutation of gene carried by Quebec family gives insight into how the brain is wired: Brain scans could further understanding of psychiatric disorders, brain's reward system -- ScienceDaily

By scanning the brain of 20 family members who share an altered copy of DCC, the researchers found less connectivity between the areas where dopamine neurons originate (the substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area) and their target sites, such as the striatum and frontal cortex. One of these target sites -- the striatum -- was also smaller. "It's very interesting because we were able to show that this DCC gene alteration induces similar changes to the brain in both mice and humans," says Cecilia Flores. Because the brain systems affected by the gene influence responses to rewards, it was not surprising to see that the family members with the DCC mutation also have lower impulsivity traits and are less likely to smoke cigarettes. Indeed, an increasing number of studies, including those by Professor Flores' team, link DCC to psychiatric conditions. "Because the gene affects the brain's dopamine pathways, which are implicated in schizophrenia, addiction and depression, our study potentially helps us understand how these disorders arise.

Early birds less prone to depression: Largest study yet links chronotype to mental health -- ScienceDaily

In 2009, all the participants included in the study were free of depression. When asked about their sleep patterns, 37 percent described themselves as early types, 53 percent described themselves as intermediate types, and 10 percent described themselves as evening types. The women were followed for four years to see who developed depression. Depression risk factors like body weight, physical activity, chronic disease, sleep duration, or night shift work were also assessed. The researchers found that late chronotypes, or night owls, are less likely to be married, more likely to live alone and be smokers, and more likely to have erratic sleep patterns. After accounting for these factors, they found that early risers still had a 12 -- 27 percent lower risk of being depressed than intermediate types. Late types had a 6 percent higher risk than intermediate types ( this modest increase was not statistically significant.) "This tells us that there might be an effect of chronotype on depression risk that is not driven by environmental and lifestyle factors," said Vetter.

A bad night's sleep linked to suicidal thoughts the following day in people with depression

The researchers found that short sleep duration and poor sleep quality both predicted higher severity of suicidal ideation on the following day, even after controlling for anxiety and depression symptom severity. “However, suicidal thoughts did not predict sleep problems the following night,” Littlewood noted.

Probiotic Shot May Alleviate Brain Stress | GEN

“Given the evidence for reduced immunoregulation and chronic low-grade inflammation in anxiety and trauma-related disorders, microbial interventions that increase Treg, promote immunoregulation, and increase anti-inflammatory signaling may have value in the prevention or treatment of these disorders,” the authors suggest. M. vaccae has previously been shown to increase induction of Treg production and anti-inflammatory cytokines. A previous study by CU Boulder scientists showed that mice given injections of a heat-killed M. vaccae preparation and then placed in housing with an aggressive male exhibited less anxiety-like behavior and were less likely to suffer colitis or peripheral inflammation than control animals. These findings suggest that immunoregulatory and anti-inflammatory treatments can “buffer against the proinflammatory effects of stress,” the researchers point out.  What hasn’t been studied before is whether M. vaccae has a direct impact on stress-induced neuroinflammation.

Insel and "digital phenotype"

His company is working on using the technique to pre-screen for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Their initial studies were able to link the digital features from participants' phones to how well they did on neural cognitive tests.

Chronobiological therapy for mood disorders: Expert Review of Neurotherapeutics: Vol 11, No 7

Alteration of the sleep–wake cycle and of the sleep structure are core symptoms of a major depressive episode, and occur both in course of bipolar disorder and of major depressive disorder. Many other circadian rhythms, such as the daily profiles of body temperature, cortisol, thyrotropin, prolactin, growth hormone, melatonin and excretion of various metabolites in the urine, are disrupted in depressed patients, both unipolar and bipolar individuals. These disrupted rhythms seem to return to normality with patient recovery. Research on circadian rhythms and sleep have led to the definition of nonpharmacological therapies of mood disorder that can be used in everyday practice. These strategies, named chronotherapeutics, are based on controlled exposures to environmental stimuli that act on biological rhythms, and demonstrate good efficacy in the treatment of illness episodes.

Reddit Has a Really Surprising Effect on Users' Mental Health, Study Shows

Using three other subreddits - r/happy, r/bodybuilding, and r/loseit - as their control group, the researchers determined that contributors to the mental health subreddits appeared to have trouble clearly communicating initially. However, over time, those users showed "statistically significant improvement" in both their lexical diversity and readability. "I started to notice that as they come in more, and they participate more, they're more calmed down, and they're articulating a little bit better," study author Albert Park told Healthcare Analytics News.

Reduced hippocampal volume observed in currently but not previously depressed older adults

By analyzing MRI brain scans, Calati and her colleagues observed hippocampal volume reduction in currently depressed participants compared to the healthy control group. But they found no significant difference between those with a history of past, but not current, depression and the healthy controls. “When we compared the three groups, we found left posterior hippocampal volume reduction in currently depressed individuals when compared to healthy subjects. This reduction was not present when we compared past depressed subjects to healthy controls,” Calati explained.

How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise When You Have Depression | Mind | US News

But for people with depression – a condition in which low motivation to do regular daily activities (say, taking a shower, getting dressed or going to work) is a prominent symptom – finding motivation to exercise can feel like a fool's errand. Indeed, in a study of 245 patients at a Michigan mental health outpatient clinic, 80 percent of patients wanted to exercise more, but most said their mood limited their ability to do so. "All people experience procrastination on tasks that feel like they're going to take a lot of effort – that's universal," says Rachel Hershenberg, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Emory University in Atlanta. "That urge to avoid – that's what gets magnified in depression."

How social isolation transforms the brain: A particular neural chemical is overproduced during long-term social isolation, causing increased aggression and fear -- ScienceDaily

Confirming and extending previous observations, the researchers showed that prolonged social isolation leads to a broad array of behavioral changes in mice. These include increased aggressiveness towards unfamiliar mice, persistent fear, and hypersensitivity to threatening stimuli. For example, when encountering a threatening stimulus, mice that have been socially isolated remain frozen in place long after the threat has passed, whereas normal mice stop freezing soon after the threat is removed. These effects are seen when mice are subjected to two weeks of social isolation, but not to short-term social isolation -- 24 hours -- suggesting that the observed changes in aggression and fear responses require chronic isolation.

Association of Efficacy of Resistance Exercise Training With Depressive Symptoms: Meta-analysis and Meta-regression Analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials | Depressive Disorders | JAMA Psychiatry | JAMA Network

Resistance exercise training significantly reduced depressive symptoms among adults regardless of health status, total prescribed volume of RET, or significant improvements in strength. Better-quality randomized clinical trials blinding both allocation and assessment and comparing RET with other empirically supported treatments for depressive symptoms are needed.

Association of Depressive Symptoms and Heart Rate Variability in Vietnam War–Era Twins: A Longitudinal Twin Difference Study | Cardiology | JAMA Psychiatry | JAMA Network

The association between depression and autonomic dysregulation, indexed by HRV, is bidirectional, with stronger evidence suggesting that autonomic function affects depression risk rather than vice versa. The opposite causal pathway from depression to lower HRV is mostly driven by antidepressant use. These findings highlight an important role of autonomic nervous system in the risk of depression and contribute new understanding of the mechanisms underlying the comorbidity of depression and cardiovascular disease.

Tick tock: Study links body clock to mood disorders |

or the new study, an international team led by University of Glasgow psychologist Laura Lyall analysed data -- taken from the UK Biobank, one of the most complete long-term health surveys ever done -- on 91,105 people aged 37 to 73. The volunteers wore accelerometers that measured patterns of rest and activity and had this record compared to their mental history, also taken from the UK Biobank. Individuals with a history of disrupting their body's natural rhythm -- working night shifts, for example, or suffering repeated jetlag -- also tended to have a higher lifetime risk of mood disorders, feelings of unhappiness, and cognitive problems, the researchers found.

Surprising Finding About ‘Shock Therapy’ for Depression Suggests More Patients Should Try It Sooner - Neuroscience News

Ross notes that the team had not expected ECT to come out as cost-effective for third-line use – they had expected this to be true for fifth- to sixth-line treatment. The findings suggest that if patients and physicians decide to try a third, fourth or fifth antidepressant or psychotherapy course, or combinations of medicine and therapy before they opt for ECT, the latter would will still be most cost-effective the sooner they decide to try it.

How parents cause children's friendships to end -- ScienceDaily

Results from the study found clear support for their hypothesis that negative features of parenting, such as depression and psychological control, increase the risk that best friendships would end. For children with clinically depressed parents, the risk of best friendship dissolution increased by up to 104 percent. There was a similar, although not quite as dramatic, increase in the risk of best friendship dissolution for children with psychologically controlling parents.

Effectiveness of theta burst versus high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation in patients with depression (THREE-D): a randomised non-inferiority trial - The Lancet

In patients with treatment-resistant depression, iTBS was non-inferior to 10 Hz rTMS for the treatment of depression. Both treatments had low numbers of dropouts and similar side-effects, safety, and tolerability profiles. By use of iTBS, the number of patients treated per day with current rTMS devices can be increased several times without compromising clinical effectiveness.

Brain stimulation reduces suicidal thinking in people with hard-to-treat depression: Findings indicate promising directions to prevent suicide across mental illnesses -- ScienceDaily

A non-invasive form of brain stimulation, rTMS directs magnetic pulses at a targeted area of the brain. In these studies, rTMS was applied to the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, an area in the frontal lobes, five times a week for either three or six weeks. Participants were randomized to receive rTMS in one of three ways: to both the right and left frontal lobes (bilateral rTMS), the left frontal lobe only (unilateral rTMS) or, as a comparison group, sham rTMS, which is similar to a placebo. Bilateral rTMS showed the biggest effect, and outperformed both other types. Forty per cent of people who received bilateral rTMS reported that they no longer experienced suicidal thoughts by the study end. By comparison, 27 per cent of those who received unilateral rTMS, and 19 per cent of those who received sham rTMS no longer experienced suicidal thoughts. Bilateral rTMS was also the most effective at preventing the development of suicidal thoughts in people who were not experiencing suicidal thinking at the start of the study.

What Went Wrong In The First-Ever Clinical Trial Of Deep Brain Stimulation For Depression? - Digg

Finally, Mayberg has long offered her patients comprehensive, personally tailored programs of psychiatric and social-service support to help them rebuild their lives. After years of deep depression, most patients' lives, relationships and ways of thinking have been entrenched in illness and disability long and deeply enough that surgery alone was unlikely to make them whole. Like a patient with a knee repair, says Mayberg, "they need rehab to get well again." So her team helps them get psychotherapy, occupational or physical therapy to rebuild skills or physical health, and other assistance to connect them to needed social services.

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.