Friday August 17, 2018

Molecule Deficiency May Help Diagnose Severe Depression

LAC levels were also lower among those patients reporting a childhood history of abuse, neglect, poverty or exposure to violence

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Depression
Depression is a common mental disorder. Flickr
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Scientists have identified a substance in blood as a biomarker for depression, a finding that could open a novel way to a new class of antidepressants that could have no side-effects and faster-acting functions than those in current use.

Depression is a common mental disorder, with more than 300 million people of all ages suffering from the disorder globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

The findings showed that people with a particular type of depression have decreased blood levels of the molecule acetyl-L-carnitine (LAC), also widely available as a nutritional supplement in drugstores.

Those with severe or treatment-resistant depression, or whose bouts of depression began earlier in life, have particularly low blood levels of the substance.

LAC is a crucial mediator of fat metabolism and energy production throughout the body, plays a special role in the brain, where it works at least in part by preventing the excessive firing of excitatory nerve cells in brain regions called the hippocampus and frontal cortex.

The results are “an exciting addition to our understanding of the mechanisms of depressive illness”, said Natalie Rasgon, Professor at the Stanford University.

Depression
Those with severe or treatment-resistant depression, or whose bouts of depression began earlier in life, have particularly low blood levels of the substance.

“In patients with depression, something is causing a problem in the mechanisms related to the biology of LAC,” said Carla Nasca, from the Rockefeller University in New York City.

“And, surprisingly, the deficiency in LAC is even stronger in patients that don’t respond to standard antidepressants,” Nasca added.

The study, published in the journal PNAS, involved 20 to 70-year-old men and women, diagnosed with depression and, amid episodes of acute depression, and had been admitted for treatment.

The patients’ LAC blood levels were found to be substantially lower in both men and women, regardless of age.

Also Read: Greening Vacant Lots can reduce Depression in Urban Areas

LAC levels were also lower among those patients reporting a childhood history of abuse, neglect, poverty or exposure to violence.

However, Rasgon cautioned against rushing to the store to pick up a bottle of acetyl-L-carnitine and self-medicating for depression. (IANS)

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Taking Care of Mental Health Problems in Children, may Boost Parent’s Mental Health Too

When the severity of a teenagers's depression lessened, so did similar symptoms in the parent, regardless of what treatment was used: Study

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walking, was associated with good self-perceived general health
walking, was associated with good self-perceived general health. Pixabay

The bond between parent and child extends far beyond sharing similar looks or behaviours as a new study suggests that treating depression in teenagers may benefit their parents’ mental health too.

The findings suggest that when a teenager’s depression improved through treatment, so did the depression experienced by his or her parents.

“Depression is a massive public health concern that will take a variety of approaches to better manage. We believe our study is among the first to evaluate how the emotional health of a child can impact that of the parents,” said co-author Mark A. Reinecke from the Northwestern University in the US.

For the study, presented at American Psychological Association’s 126th Annual Convention, the research team involved 325 teenagers who had been diagnosed with depression and 325 of their parents or caregivers.

The teenagers were randomly assigned to one of three groups — those who received cognitive behavioural therapy, those who took anti-depressants or those who used a combination of both.

Depression
More young people today are reporting persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and suicidal thoughts. Flickr

The first treatment period ran for nearly one year, with an additional year of follow-up visits, the researchers said.

One-quarter of the parents who participated also reported moderate to severe levels of depression before the treatment period, the researcher added.

The treatment process was not family-based, though some portions included the parent.

The researchers found a positive ripple effect because when the severity of a teenagers’s depression lessened, so did similar symptoms in the parent, regardless of what treatment was used.

Also Read: Molecule Deficiency May Help Diagnose Severe Depression

“More young people today are reporting persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness and suicidal thoughts,” said Kelsey R. Howard from the varsity.

“This research may help health care providers as we grapple as a nation with how to address these alarming trends,” Howard noted. (IANS)