Tag Archives: mental health

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.

 

 

 

Acupuncture for Insomnia

Insomnia Awareness Day is Monday, March 11th. This is an appropriate designation for the day after Daylight Saving Time begins for the year. In recognition of this day, today’s post will examine the use of acupuncture for primary insomnia.

Insomnia is a common disorder among adults. It is estimated that about 30% of adults have brief periods of insomnia, and upwards of 10% of adults have chronic insomnia, lasting more than three months. It has also been estimated that greater than $60 billion is lost yearly in work production due to insomnia. Insomnia is felt to be a factor in worsening mental health disorders, as well in medical disorders such as hypertension and diabetes mellitus type II.

A recently published study looked at using a short course of acupuncture as an intervention for primary insomnia. 72 subjects with primary insomnia were randomized into either a acupuncture treatment group or a sham (fake) acupuncture group. For the acupuncture treatment group, points were used on the scalp, wrist and lower leg. For the sham acupuncture group the same points were used, but the needle tube was only tapped to give the sensation of a needle being placed. The participants wore eye masks so they could not see whether or not needles were in place.

Participants were treated three times each week, for four weeks. Each treatment session lasted thirty minutes. Questionnaires were filled out every two weeks for a total of eight weeks. The primary outcome measure was the Insomnia Severity Index (ISI). The ISI is a validated assessment tool, consisting of 7 questions, and scored on a scale of 0 (no significant insomnia) to 28 (severe insomnia). The subjects also completed self-rating anxiety and depression scales, to assess their mental health.

Results of the study showed that the Insomnia Severity Index was significantly improved after receiving acupuncture treatment. Sleep efficiency was improved in the acupuncture group beginning at two-weeks post-treatment. Also, sleep awakenings were significantly lower in the acupuncture group, beginning at four weeks post-treatment.

It also appears that acupuncture can improve mental health, as participants in both groups had lower scores on the self-rating scales for both anxiety and depression, compared to baseline scores. It is also important to note that no one withdrew from the study due to some possible adverse side effect from acupuncture.

The study authors did a good job in setting up the sham or placebo acupuncture in a way to keep it blinded to patients. It would be helpful to know how long these beneficial effects of acupuncture on insomnia last, and if there is a certain frequency or schedule that would be optimal. These may be topics of future research.

We have a seemingly low risk treatment for insomnia, that is worthy of consideration. Perhaps consider acupuncture rather than medication for insomnia next time around.

“The best cure for insomnia is to get a lot of sleep.”–  W.C. Fields

(Source- Sleep Medicine 37 (2017), pp. 193-200)

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.

 

 

 

Sauna Good For Mental Health

This is the third and final post in recognition of Helsinki Sauna Day, which is March 9th. We will again look at some of the benefits of sauna baths, this time in the realm of mental health.

The sauna continues to be an important part of Finnish culture. The sauna cuts across socio-economic classes- the prime minister has a sauna at his/her disposal as do most companies. Saunas are felt to be very egalitarian.

This particular study again utilizes the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease cohort and is a prospective study. Over 2100 men completed the study, ages 42-61 years. None of the men had any history of psychotic disorders at the time of enrollment. Participants completed a questionnaire that assessed smoking history, use of alcohol, physical activity levels, medical and medication history. The weekly frequency and duration of sauna bathing sessions was also collected. The men were followed for nearly 25 years, on average.

Results of the study showed that frequent sauna bathing is strongly associated with a decreased risk of psychosis, in middle age males.

It would be helpful to carry out a similar study in females. It would also be useful to perform the study amongst a more diverse population, such as we have in the United States.

It is felt that the sauna baths promote relaxation and decrease stress, and perhaps in doing so increase mental health. Saunas are also an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, which also promotes wellness. Given these results, and the low risk nature of sauna bathing, perhaps you may want to consider incorporating this as part of an overall healthy lifestyle.

“A sauna- the poor man’s pharmacy.”–  Finnish Proverb

(Source- Medical Principles and Practice, Sept. 2018)

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.

 

Curcumin Helps With Depression- Part Two

Today’s post is the 4th in a series covering topics in mental health, in recognition of National Mental Health Month.

A group of researchers from Murdoch University in Western Australia examined the use of curcumin, as well as a curcumin/saffron combination, in treating major depression. Curcumin is an active ingredient of the Asian spice turmeric, which is a member of the ginger family. Turmeric is a widely used spice in South Asian and Middle Eastern cooking and is grown in India, Nepal, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and elsewhere. Turmeric is also used in Ayurvedic Medicine, and is currently being studied in Western Medicine for possible uses. Curcumin has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

The study was a randomized double-blind placebo controlled trial, which ran for 12 weeks. There were 123 participants in the trial, all of which were diagnosed with major depression. There were four different groups- a placebo group, a low-dose curcumin group, a high-dose curcumin group, and a low-dose curcumin/saffron combination group. The score on the Inventory of Depressive Symtomatology was the primary outcome measure.

After 12 weeks researchers found that the 3 groups treated with curcumin all had significantly greater improvements in depressive symptoms compared to the placebo group. The response rate in the groups treated with curcumin was 28% versus only 13% in the placebo group. 

Interestingly, the addition of saffron to the curcumin did not seem to improve the efficacy of the curcumin. Also, a comparison of the high and low doses of curcumin did not appear to show any major differences in efficaciousness.

This study adds to the growing body of evidence indicating potential benefits of curcumin for depression.

(Source- Journal of Affective Disorders 207 (2017))

This blog is a review of 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.

Healthy Diet Reduces Risk For Depression

Today’s post is our third in recognition of National Mental Health Month. Today’s post will examine recently published research from Australia.

Researchers performed a meta-analysis on existing research regarding the association between dietary habits and the risk of depression. They were able to identify 21 studies (20 observational and one random controlled trial) that met their inclusion criteria. These studies were from Europe, the U.S., Australia, Japan, Taiwan and the UK, and involved thousands of patients, with ages between 20 and 94 years.

 After compiling data from these 21 different studies and performing the analysis, researchers concluded that a healthy diet composed of high consumption of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, poultry and fish was associated with a statistically significant reduction in the odds of depression.

The  World Health Organization has concluded that depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. It is estimated that more than one out of twenty Americans ages 12 and older will report moderate to severe depression symptoms over a given two-week period. With statistics like these, a healthy dietary approach seems like a beneficial primary prevention strategy for depression.

 (Source- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2014;99)

This blog is a review of 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- More Evidence

May is National Mental Health Month in the U.S., and today’s post is the 2nd in a series addressing mental health issues.

Today’s post highlights research published earlier this year, which examined acupuncture and counseling for depression. The research was conducted in the UK, and was designed to determine both the clinical effectiveness and cost effectiveness of a short course of acupuncture or counseling for depression, compared to usual care. 

Patients were recruited into the study from the primary care population in the UK. Patients were adults and had been seen in the past 5 years for depression and were continuing to experience symptoms of depression. Patients needed to score in the moderate to severe depression range to be considered for entry into the study.

Up to 12 sessions of acupuncture or counseling were offered, usually on a weekly schedule. The primary endpoint of the study was at 3 months. Data was collected at baseline, and again at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months.The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) was used. The PHQ-9 is a validated tool used to diagnose as well as monitor treatment for depression.

Results of the study showed statistically significant improvements in depression at 3 months with both acupuncture and counseling, when compared to usual care. 33% of the acupuncture patients and 29% of the counseling patients achieved a successful treatment outcome. Only 18% of the usual care group achieved this result. In addition, acupuncture was found to be a cost-effective treatment for depression.

This well-designed study shows that acupuncture is a well-tolerated and cost-effective treatment for depression, over the short to medium time frame. Given the worldwide burden of depression, acupuncture seems an option worthy of consideration for treatment.

(Source- Programme Grants for Applied Research 2017, Vol. 5 No.3)

This blog is a review of the 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.

High Glycemic Index Diet a Risk Factor for Depression in Post-Menopausal Women

May is National Mental Health Month in the U.S., and in recognition several of this month’s posts will address mental health topics.

In 2015 a group of researchers associated with a number of universities including Columbia, Duke, the University of Minnesota, NYU, Stony Brook University and UC-Davis published a prospective cohort study examining the high glycemic diet as a possible risk factor for depression in post-menopausal women. The research group examined data from the Women’s Health Initiative Observational Study, which included over 80,000 women enrolled at over 40 clinical centers across the U.S.

Participants in the study completed a food frequency questionnaire at baseline, which consisted of 145 items. Participants also completed the Burnam 8-item questionnaire which measured depressive symptoms, both at baseline and then again at 3 year follow-up.

Results of the study showed that a higher glycemic index diet was associated with increasing odds of depression incidence in this group of post-menopausal women. In addition, researchers found that added sugars were strongly associated with depression incidence.

There were some other interesting findings of the study. Increased consumption of lactose, a sugar found in milk, was associated with significantly lower odds for depression incidence. Lactose is a lower glycemic index sugar. Also, both higher dietary fiber content and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables were also associated with lower odds for depression.

The glycemic index (GI) ranks carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100, based on how they raise glucose levels after eating them. Glucose is given a score of 100. GI scores for some common foods for comparison purposes include 36 (apples), 13 (peanuts), 56 (potato chips), and 111 (baked russet potatoes, a favorite of Idahoans), based on a standard serving size. 

It has been established that diets high in sugars and refined starches are a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and increased inflammation, and it is perhaps through this relationship that the risk for depression is increased. 

Depression is a common problem world-wide. The World Health Organization estimates as many as 300 million adults suffer from depression, and it is more common in women. This well-designed study incorporates a large group of women across multiple study sites in the U.S. The results would seem applicable to a large group of post-menopausal women. Monitoring and reducing the glycemic index of one’s daily diet appears to be a simple way to lower the risk for developing depression.

(Source- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2015; 102)

This blog is a review of 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.