Wednesday December 12, 2018

Healthy Sleep Key to Ward off Depression Later

This new research emphasises that we can make an investment in our health by prioritising sleep

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Sleeping too much can also affect your mental skills. Pixabay
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Don’t sleep deprive yourself as it may be a precursor for major depression as you reach adulthood – occurring before other symptoms of major depression and additional mood disorders hit you hard.

A genetic study of adult twins and a community-based study of adolescents has reported novel links between sleep duration and depression.

Both short and excessively long sleep durations appear to activate genes related to depressive symptoms.

“We were surprised that the heritability of depressive symptoms in twins with very short sleep was nearly twice the heritability in twins sleeping normal amounts of time,” said Nathaniel Watson, associate professor of neurology and co-director of the University of Washington Medicine Sleep Centre in Seattle.

This new research emphasises that we can make an investment in our health by prioritising sleep, added M. Safwan Badr, president, American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

A study of 1,788 adult twins is the first to demonstrate a gene by environment interaction between self-reported habitual sleep duration and depressive symptoms.

Results suggest that sleep durations outside the normal range increase the genetic risk for depressive symptoms.

Healthy sleep is a necessity for physical, mental and emotional well-being
Healthy sleep is a necessity for physical, mental and emotional well-being. Pixabay

Among twins with a normal sleep duration of seven to 8.9 hours per night, the total heritability of depressive symptoms was 27 percent.

However, the genetic influence on depressive symptoms increased to 53 percent among twins with a short sleep duration of five hours per night and 49 percent among those who reported sleeping 10 hours per night.

Another study of 4,175 individuals between age 11 and 17 is the first to document reciprocal effects for major depression and short sleep duration among adolescents using prospective data.

Sleeping six hours or less per night increases the risk for major depression, which, in turn, increases the risk for decreased sleep among adolescents, said the study.

Also Read: Even Light Exercises Have Health Benefits

Optimising sleep may be one way to maximise the effectiveness of treatments for depression such as psychotherapy.

“Healthy sleep is a necessity for physical, mental and emotional well-being,” said Badr.

According to Robert E. Roberts, professor of behavioural sciences at University of Texas, “sleep disturbance and hours of sleep should be part of the medical history of adolescents to ascertain risk”.

The studies were published in the journal Sleep. (IANS)

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Loneliness And Depression Can Be Linked to Social Media: Study

It is unclear if the depressing effects of social media will cross generational lines to older or younger people

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This photo taken March 22, 2018, shows apps for WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and other social networks on a smartphone. VOA

University of Pennsylvania researchers say that for the first time they have linked social media use to increases in depression and loneliness.

The idea that social media is anything but social when it comes to mental health has been talked about for years, but not many studies have managed to actually link the two.

To do that, Penn researchers, led by psychologist Melissa Hunt, designed a study that focused on Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

The results were published in the November issue of the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology.

Social media. Offensive Speech
An iPhone with Twitter, Facebook and other apps, May 21, 2013. U.S. internet companies are taking a harder look at their policies that have promoted free expression around the world.. VOA

How study worked

The study was conducted with 143 participants, who before they began, completed a mood survey and sent along photos of their battery screens, showing how often they were using their phones to access social media.

“We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid,” Hunt said. That term, ecologically valid, means that the research attempts to mimic real life.

The study divided the participants into two groups: The first group was allowed to maintain their normal social media habits. The other, the control group, was restricted to 10 minutes per day on each of the three platforms: Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.

The restrictions were put in place for three weeks and then the participants returned and were tested for outcomes such as fear of missing out (FOMO), anxiety, depression and loneliness.

Social Media
Chiara Valenzano, right, photographs her food as she has lunch with her friend Giulia Terranova at the ‘This is not a Sushi bar’ restaurant, in Milan, Italy, Oct. 16, 2018. At the restaurant, payment can be made according to the number of Instagram followers one has. VOA

Results of study

The results showed a very clear link between social media use and increased levels of depression and loneliness.

“Using less social media than you normally would leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness,” Hunt said. “These effects are particularly pronounced for folks who were more depressed when they came into the study.”

She calls her findings the “grand irony” of social media.

What is it about social media that’s just so depressing?

Hunt says that it’s two major things. The first is that social media invites what Hunt calls “downward social comparison.” When you’re online, it can sometimes seem that “everyone else is cooler and having more fun and included in more things and you’re left out,” she said. And that’s just generally demoralizing.

Social Media
The study was conducted with 143 participants, who before they began, completed a mood survey Pixabay

The second factor is a bit more nuanced.

“Time is a zero-sum game,” Hunt told VOA. “Every minute you spend online is a minute you are not doing your work or not meeting a friend for dinner or having a deep conversation with your roommate.”

And these real life activities are the ones that can bolster self-esteem and self worth, Hunt said.

What to learn

So what’s the takeaway?

social media
A girl uses her mobile phone in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 5, 2017. A researcher in Britain says her findings suggest young girls who are more active on social media have lower levels of well-being in their teens. VOA

People are on their devices, and that’s not going to change, she said. But as in life, a bit of moderation goes a long way.

“In general, I would say, put your phone down and be with the people in your life,” she added.

Also Read: Childhood Violence May Spur Puberty, Depression: Study

Hunt pointed out a few caveats to the study. First, it was done exclusively with 18- to 22-year-olds, and it is unclear if the depressing effects of social media will cross generational lines to older or younger people, Hunt said. But she expects her results should generalize at least for people through the age of 30.

Hunt says she is now beginning a study to gauge the emotional impact of dating apps. (VOA)