Thursday October 18, 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.

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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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Depression in Children Stay Undetected by Parents and Teachers- Study

The gold standard for identifying children who might be at risk for developing depression later in life is to ask the children themselves

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Studies: More Green Space, Less Crime, Depression in Poor Areas Pixabay

Parents and teachers may find it difficult to detect depression in young children, that can affect their social skills and academics, a new study shows.

According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, as many as 2-3 per cent of children aged between 6-12 might have a major depressive disorder.

But parents and teachers face difficulties in recognising depression in children.

The findings, appearing in the Journal of School Psychology, showed that children who show mild to severe symptoms of depression in second and third grades are six times more likely to have skill deficits, such as difficulties with social skills or academics, than children without symptoms.

However, when teachers and parents were asked to rate a child’s level of depression, there was only about 5-10 per cent overlap in their ratings.

Depression
Parents and teachers face difficulties in recognising depression in children. Pixabay

“Some people would view that overlap as the truth about a child’s well-being and areas of disagreement as errors, but we need to explore the possibility that each of them are seeing different aspects of children’s behaviour and mental health,” said Keith Herman, professor in the University of Missouri (MU), College of Education.

For the study, the team completed profile analyses of 643 children in early elementary school to explore how patterns between student, teacher and parent reporting can be used to gain a holistic picture of a child’s mental health.

Herman suggested that mental health professionals could work with teachers and parents to identify depressive symptoms early by including self reports from children in mental health evaluations.

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“The gold standard for identifying children who might be at risk for developing depression later in life is to ask the children themselves,” noted Herman.

“However, even if a child doesn’t say they feel depressed, certain outward behaviours might provide clues to the state of the child’s mental health. It’s important for teachers and parents to catch these behaviours early to prevent long-term problems that occur with depression,” he said. (IANS)