Monthly Archives: October 2019

World Mental Health Day- A Call To Action

Today is recognized as World Mental Health Day throughout the world, with the focus this year on suicide prevention. According to the World Health Organization, about 800,000 people die by suicide worldwide each year. In addition, the week of October 6-12 is recognized as Mental Illness Awareness Week in the U.S.  This will be our 100th post, and I can’t think of a more worthy health issue for this milestone. Today’s post will focus on just published research on depression in adolescents, a group at particularly high risk for suicide.

Data from the CDC from 2014 indicate about 11% of American youth had a major depressive disorder during the previous year, with the 2014 rate being a higher prevalence than the rate reported just ten years earlier (9%). Nearly 45,000 lives were lost to suicide in 2016. Between 1999 and 2016 suicides rates increased in most states. In Idaho for example, the suicide rate rose 43.2%. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for those in the 15-24 age range.

A recently published study from India looked at the prevalence of depression among teenagers in West Godavari India. The Beck Depression Inventory, a validated self-reported screening tool was used. The Beck Depression Inventory was first published in 1961 by Dr. Adam T. Beck, and revised in 1978 and 1996. A total of 1015 subjects participated in the study between October 2018 and July 2019. Participants were roughly divided evenly between boys and girls. The higher the score on the Beck Inventory, the more severe depressive symptoms are indicated. The participants were queried regarding their feelings during the prior two weeks.

33.9% of subjects scored in the “minimal” range, and 21.9% in the “mild” range. The results of the study for the more severely impaired subjects were quite startling, with 29.5% scoring in the “moderate” range, and 14.7% scoring in the “severe” range. The prevalence of severe depression was statistically higher in females.

The results of this study show an incredibly high prevalence of depression among teenagers in India. Data from the CDC indicate similar findings in the U.S., with about 7.6% of Americans age 12 and over suffering from depression in any two week period. The symptoms of depression in teenagers can be subtle, and are often confused with the moodiness which is common in this age group. 

Today is also National Depression Screening Day. Interestingly, more than half of the individuals who die by suicide do not have a known mental health diagnosis. This may be because they have not yet sought medical help. If you or someone you care about is exhibiting signs of depression such as lack of energy, issues with sleep or eating, withdrawal from friends or lack of concentration, please seek help from a medical or mental health professional. A simple office visit may be all that’s needed to be evaluated and determine a treatment plan and begin the path to feeling better. This may well be the best way to honor World Mental Health Day.

“Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.”–  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

(Source- International Journal of Scientific Research, Volume 8, Issue 9, September 2019)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

Acupuncture for Depression- Part II

October 10th is World Mental Health Day, and this week is Mental Illness Awareness Week. In recognition of this our posts this week will focus on mental health topics. Today’s post will examine recently published research on the use of acupuncture for depression.

Statistics from the NIH indicate that over 17 million adults in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode, which is about 7% of all U.S. adults. The prevalence was higher in females (8.7%) than males (5.3%). An estimated 2/3rds of the adults with major depression combined treatment with medication with treatment from a healthcare professional. Interestingly, about 35% of those adults with major depression did not receive any type of treatment.

An international group of researchers completed a review and meta-analysis of the existing research of the effects of acupuncture on depression. 29 studies and nearly 2300 subjects were included in the analysis. They studied the effects of acupuncture compared to usual care, to sham or fake acupuncture, to psychologist treatment, and commonly used medications (such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors). The studies included subjects from China, Hong Kong, Australia, the U.S. and UK.

After completing their analysis the researchers concluded that acupuncture was found to have clinically relevant benefit in reducing the severity of depression, when compared to usual care alone, to sham or fake acupuncture, and to medication alone. Importantly, the researchers also found a trend between greater acupuncture treatment frequency and reduction in the severity of depression.

As noted above over a third of those with major depression do not seek any treatment. Some of these individuals may well be trying alternative treatments. Given the results of this analysis perhaps some of those who do not currently seek treatment could benefit from acupuncture, or consideration of acupuncture as an add-on therapy to conventional treatment may offer additional help.

“The pain of severe depression is quite unimaginable to those who have not suffered it, and it kills in many instances because its anguish can no longer be borne.The prevention of many suicides will continue to be hindered until there is a general awareness of the nature of this pain.”–  William Styron

(Source- Journal of Clinical Medicine 2019, 8, 1140)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

Pro-Inflammatory Diet Associated With Depression Among Women

This week is designated Mental Illness Awareness Week. In addition, October 10th is World Mental Health Day. In recognition, our post today will examine research on the effect of diet upon depression in women.

Data from the NIH from 2017 estimate 11 million U.S. adults had at least one episode of major depression with severe impairment, which represents 4.5% of all U.S. adults. Even more alarming are the statistics on U.S. adolescents aged 12-17 years. For 2017 it is estimated that 3.2 million adolescents had at least one major depressive episode, representing 13.3% of the U.S. adolescent population.  

An international research group including researchers from Harvard University, Canada and Germany performed a prospective analysis of the relationship between dietary pattern and risk of depression. The researchers looked at participants from the Nurses Health Study (NHS). The NHS included nearly 122,000 U.S. female registered nurses, who were age 30-55 years at enrollment in the study in 1976. At two year intervals, the participants were asked to provide updated information about their health. The subjects diets were assessed by a food-frequency questionnaire. Inflammatory markers such as c-reactive protein and interleukin-6 were also measured.

The researchers looked at what they termed an “inflammatory dietary pattern” (IDP). The high inflammatory dietary pattern included high intake of such things as diet soft drinks, margarine, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

The researchers discovered that worsening IDP scores were associated with an increased risk of developing depression.

A pro-inflammatory diet has been shown to be associated with cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It should probably be no surprise that a pro-inflammatory diet would also be associated with an increased risk of depression. Given the alarming statistics above regarding depression, particularly among adolescents in the U.S., all potential therapeutic strategies should be considered. Incorporating a diet low in inflammatory foods seems a simple way to lower one’s risk of developing depression.

“If you are in a bad mood, go for a walk. If you are still in a bad mood go for another walk.”–  Hippocrates

(Source- Brain, Behavior, and Immunity 36 (2014)46-53)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.

 

 

Acupuncture for Post-Stroke Depression

October 10th is World Mental Health Day, while this week is designated Mental Illness Awareness Week, and so this week’s posts will address mental health topics. Today’s post will examine research on the use of acupuncture for post-stroke depression.

Statistics from the CDC indicate that nearly 800,000 Americans have a stroke each year. Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke. These strokes result in nearly 140,000 deaths annually. The risk of stroke is nearly twice in blacks compared to whites. In those that survive their stroke, post-stroke depression is common, with the prevalence estimated at 29-35%.

A group of researchers from China performed a meta-analysis of existing randomized controlled trials, examining the effects of acupuncture therapy as a treatment for post-stroke depression. They included seven random controlled studies in their analysis, totaling over 500 participants. Those in the control group received medications which are often given for depression, such as citalopram and fluoxetine. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression was used to evaluate the degree of depression.

The researchers concluded that acupuncture therapy resulted in improved depressive symptoms in the post-stroke subjects, compared to medicine alone. It is important to note that there were no observed adverse effects from the acupuncture therapy.

Stroke is common in the U.S., and worldwide. Depression following stroke is common as well. Given the results of this study, acupuncture treatment may be worthy of consideration for treatment of post-stroke depression.

“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear.”–  C.S. Lewis

(Source- Medicine (2019) 98:22)

This blog is a review of published medical and scientific literature, and should only be used for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical or health advice, nor does it create a physician-patient relationship with anyone. Discuss any health concerns with your personal physician.