Sydney: Young men with a poor diet saw a significant improvement in their symptoms of depression when they switched to a healthy Mediterranean diet, a new study has shown.
Mediterranean diet, which consists of fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and grains, caused significant impact on young men's mental health.
According to researchers from the University of Technology Sydney, the study is the first randomised clinical trial to assess the impact of a Mediterranean diet on the symptoms of depression in young men aged 18-25.
The team conducted a 12-week randomised control trial, where the men were asked to switch to foods rich in colourful vegetables, legumes and wholegrains, oily fish, olive oil and raw, unsalted nuts from their regular as well as fast foods.
The findings, published in the peer-reviewed American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, suggested that doctors should recommend patients to a nutritionist or dietician as part of their treatment plan, the researchers said.
"The primary focus was on increasing diet quality with fresh wholefoods while reducing the intake of 'fast' foods, sugar and processed red meat," said researcher Jessica Bayes, a candidate in the UTS Faculty of Health.
"There are lots of reasons why scientifically we think food affects mood. For example, around 90 per cent of serotonin, a chemical that helps us feel happy, is made in our gut by our gut microbes.
"There is emerging evidence that these microbes can communicate to the brain via the vagus nerve, in what is called the gut-brain axis," Bayes said.
"The results showed that nearly all our participants stayed with the programme, and many were keen to continue the diet once the study ended, which shows how effective, tolerable and worthwhile they found the intervention," the researchers said.
The study "suggests that medical doctors and psychologists should consider referring depressed young men to a nutritionist or dietitian as an important component of treating clinical depression", she said. (Agency)
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Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which accounts for 8.7 per cent of all blindness worldwide, is the most common cause of anxiety, and depression seen among people older than 60 years, health experts said on Monday.
AMD is a disease where abnormal blood vessels grow in the macula - centre part of the retina - causing damage to the central vision and making it difficult to cope.
Recent projections estimate that globally the number of individuals suffering with AMD will reach 288 million in 2040. In India, the overall prevalence of AMD currently ranges from 1.4 per cent to 3.1 per cent.
The earliest symptom of AMD is difficulty in seeing at night. At a later stage, AMD patients see blind spots and their ability to read, watch television, drive and recognise faces gets affected. It later progresses to blindness.
The impaired vision disturbs the routine of the patients, makes them dependent and also increases functional disability.
"People suffering from AMD, who have lost over 80 per cent of their central vision are more likely to have anxiety and depression. This is mainly as they have plans to retire smoothly, and find it difficult to read and perform recreational activities at this stage in life, which causes frustration and discomfort. Their life involves multiple visits to hospital accompanied with expensive treatments, which adds to deterioration in the quality of life," Dr. Indu Singh, Consultant Retinal surgeon and Director, Dr Daljit Singh Eye Hospital, Amritsar, told IANS.
A recent study by International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health also confirmed that AMD has a negative psychological impact, and it reduces the quality of life to levels comparable to severe illnesses like cancer and stroke.
While it is important to go for walks, supervise things at home, to manage depression, Dr. Vishali Gupta, Professor, Vitreoretinal and Uvea, Advanced Eye Centre, PGIMER, Chandigarh suggested the patients to engage in activities that they can do within the comfort zone of their vision.
"These patients should use magnifiers, iPads or other low vision aid devices that can help them read the script. Today there are apps that can read books to them. The idea is to keep oneself busy and feel useful," Gupta told IANS.
Another way to fight AMD related stress is to go for regular screening in order to avoid worsening of vision. Early diagnosis of AMD can help early treatment and also halt progression to vision loss.
Dr. Daraius Shroff, a retina specialist at Shroff Eye Centre in Delhi, suggested patients with AMD share with family and friends their anxieties to help relieve mental stress as well as to gain support to find solutions to alleviate depression.
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New York: You do not need to hit the gym, and lift heavy weights, but small doses of physical activity, such as brisk walking, may substantially help lower the risk of depression, suggests a study.
The study, led by a team of international researchers including from Universities of Cambridge and Sydney, showed that about 1.25 hours of brisk walking per week could yield an 18 per cent lower risk of depression compared with not exercising.
"Most benefits are realised when moving from no activity to at least some," the study authors wrote, in the paper published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.
"Our findings have important new implications for health practitioners making lifestyle recommendations, especially to inactive individuals who may perceive the current recommended target (of exercise) as unrealistic," they added.
The team conducted a meta-analysis of 15 studies involving over 190,000 people to determine how much exercise was needed to reduce depression.
The findings revealed that moving up to an "activity volume equivalent to 2.5 hours of brisk walking per week was associated with 25 per cent lower risk of depression.
The findings are consistent with previous studies that found people who exercised had about 43 per cent fewer days of poor mental health.
"Even just walking just three times a week seems to give people better mental health than not exercising at all," study author Adam Chekroud, an assistant adjunct professor of psychiatry at Yale University, was quoted as saying to CNN.
Exercising in 45-minute sessions three to five times a week was the most beneficial for improving mental health, the 2018 study found. However, even doing household chores reduced poor mental health days by about 10 per cent, the study said.
Another study published in 2020 found that even light exercise helped protect children against developing depression. The 2020 study revealed that 60 minutes of simple movement each day at age 12 was linked to an average 10 per cent reduction in depression at age 18.
The types of movement included running, biking and walking, as well as activities like doing chores, painting or playing an instrument, CNN reported.
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London: A psychedelic compound found in psilocybin, commonly known as magic mushrooms, can help to "open up" depressed people's brains, enabling brain regions to talk more freely to one another, finds a study.
Psilocybin is one of a number of psychedelics being explored as a potential therapy for psychiatric disorders. Several studies have trialled a synthesised form of the drug to treat patients with depression and anxiety, with promising results.
A team at Imperial College London's Centre for Psychedelic Research believes to have untangled how psilocybin exerts its therapeutic effects on the brain.
The new results, taken from two combined studies including about 60 adults, reveal that people who responded to psilocybin-assisted therapy showed increased brain connectivity not just during their treatment, but up to three weeks afterwards.
This "opening up" effect was associated with self-reported improvements in their depression.
However, similar changes in brain connectivity were not seen in those treated with a conventional antidepressant (called escitalopram), suggesting the psychedelic works differently in treating depression.
According to the team, the findings, published in the journal Nature Medicine, are a promising advance for psilocybin therapy, with the effects replicated across two studies.
They explain that patterns of brain activity in depression can become rigid and restricted, and that psilocybin could potentially help the brain to break out of this rut in a way that traditional therapies cannot.
"The effect seen with psilocybin is consistent across two studies, related to people getting better, and was not seen with a conventional antidepressant," said Professor Robin Carhart-Harris, from University of California, San Francisco.
"In previous studies we had seen a similar effect in the brain when people were scanned whilst on a psychedelic, but here we're seeing it weeks after treatment for depression, which suggests a acarry over' of the acute drug action," Carhart-Harris, who was former Head of the Imperial Centre for Psychedelic Research.
The researchers added that while follow-up data is still being analysed for participants, initial changes in brain activity one day following treatment were a good predictor of whether a person would still show improvement at six months.
However, they cautioned that patients with depression should not attempt to self-medicate with psilocybin, as taking magic mushrooms or psilocybin in the absence of safeguards may not have a positive outcome. (Agency)
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London: People bedridden for seven days or more with Covid-19 showed a higher rate of depression and anxiety, compared to those who were infected but never bedridden, according to a new study published in The Lancet Public Health.
The findings suggest that, on the whole, non-hospitalised patients with a SARS-CoV-2 infection were more likely to experience depressive symptoms up to 16 months after diagnosis compared to those never infected.
While symptoms of depression and anxiety mostly subsided within two months for non-hospitalised patients, those bedridden for seven days or more continued to be 50-60 per cent more likely to experience depression and anxiety upto 16-months.
The quicker recovery of physical Covid-19 symptoms may explain in part why mental health symptoms decline at a similar rate for those with a mild infection. However, patients with severe Covid-19 often experience inflammation which has previously been linked to chronic mental health effects, particularly depression.
"The higher occurrence of depression and anxiety among patients with Covid-19 who spent seven days or longer bedridden could be due to a combination of worrying about long-term health effects as well as the persistence of physical long Covid symptoms well beyond the illness that limit social contact and may result in a sense of helplessness," said Ingibjorg Magnusdottir, from the University of Iceland.
To capture long-term mental health impacts, the researchers looked at symptom-prevalence of depression, anxiety, Covid-19 related distress, and poor sleep quality among people with and without a diagnosis of Covid-19 from 0-16 months (mean follow-up 5.65 months).
The analysis drew upon data from 247,249 people in seven cohorts across Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and the UK.
Overall, participants diagnosed with Covid-19 had a higher prevalence of depression and poorer sleep quality compared to individuals who were never diagnosed.
"Our research is among the first to explore mental health symptoms after a serious Covid-19 illness in the general population up to 16 months after diagnosis. It suggests that mental health effects aren't equal for all Covid-19 patients and that time spent bedridden is a key factor in determining the severity of the impacts on mental health," said Professor Unnur Anna Valdimarsdottir, from the varsity.
"As we enter the third year of the pandemic, increased clinical vigilance of adverse mental health among the proportion of patients with a severe acute disease of Covid-19 and follow-up studies beyond the first year after infections are critical to ensure timely access to care." (agency)
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These days everywhere you look, you spot people talking about things not going right or how they feel stressed and "depressed". Depression has hit society in the worst way ever - right from adults to kids being impacted by it at different intensities. Research shows that 1 in every 5 people goes through depression or mental health issues in any given year.
Before we understand what depression is, let's clarify at the outset what it isn't. Depression is not feeling sad or feeling depressed momentarily. Unknowingly, we stereotypically portray depression as sadness with the extensive usage of the word.
Dr. Chandni Tugnait, a psychotherapist, life and business coach, and founder-director of Gateway of Healing says, depression is not being unhappy; it is not anger, fear or loneliness - it is none of these individually and yet it is all of these and much more.
Depression is being numb. It is nothingness. It is exhausting. It takes away all motivation and leaves a feeling of hopelessness. There is a lack of energy - it's more like a void where nothing grows or changes, where time does not exist, where there is nothing and no one. Of course, it is difficult for the person trying to cope with it as well as for the people around them.
Sometimes depression is chronic and evident but a lot of times one isn't aware of it and sometimes one is even able to camouflage it in the garb of routine & forced positivity - this last type, by the way, is the worst as sometimes we lose them to suicide - just like that - no warning, no sign, as per Dr. Tugnait.
The line between clinical depression and feeling depressed is quite fragile and often we find inappropriate self-diagnosis in this regard. Clinical depression is accompanied by a feeling of impending doom without any reason, every day, for over two weeks continuously along with fatigue, loss of interest, insomnia, etc. However, one may feel depressed for a while due to a difficult event like losing a job/loved one, etc. and may confuse it for depression and begin to pop pills. It's important to be aware of the difference - the ability to get up and fight back against these feelings, instead of accepting them or thinking that they will simply go away on their own or never go away.
The deeper the roots of depression, the more time it takes for a person to heal. It keeps a person in the loop of ï¿½being low' and makes them self-damaging. The symptoms could range from crying all day to being unable to get up from the bed to work, bathe, or even eat.
Then there are the happy and high functioning depressed people who have smiling depression. A high functioning depressed person appears energetic, carefree and cheery on the outside, most of the time and people close to them never get to know that on the inside they are being sucked into a black hole. Strangely, they would go out of their way to keep others happy, masking their own sadness.
When alone, they cry, contemplate suicide and feel exhausted from all the pretending. Why do they pretend? Well, it's funny that each time we ask someone, "How are you?", we are looking at "I am fine, thank you" as the response because if someone starts sharing how they really are, we are quick to tell them not to sulk or look at the bright side. Sharing and sulking are two different things. The fear of being judged is deeply ingrained in our beings and hence it seems like a better proposition to endure the depression in silence than to voice it out.
Contrary to what most people feel, you can't lose depression simply by 'looking at the bright side'. You may be able to camouflage your feelings to save others from getting bothered (or to save yourself from the guilt of it all) but this is plain masking and not copying or healing. People suffering from depression can't "cheer up" and that adds to more frustration.
With every depressed person (and even those suffering from anxiety or other mental health issues) there is a constant 'need' to be themselves or be how they were earlier or be how their friends and family would like them to be. This chase to "be that person" is precisely why most people, despite all the efforts and therapy, are unable to snap out of it.
Dr. Tugnait lists some ways to deal with depression-
Acceptance- Accept self and others (with or without depression) without asking for a change. This is the first step in healing. You can't change something if you resist it as the resistance keeps the energy flowing in that same direction that you wish to alter. Haven't you fought enough already? Let's change the dynamics and accept it, to release it.
Compassion- Choose compassion. Choose the wholeness of being instead of viewing yourself as someone who needs 'fixing'.
Routine- Fix a morning routine to take time to feel gratitude, meditate, read a few pages of a book while sipping tea, exercise, write a journal, sleep for 7-8 hours daily and take a cold shower.
Seek Support- Ask for help and seek professional support from a therapist in case the situation is extreme despite the self-help, positive lifestyles changes and support from family and friends. There's no shame in seeking help to be healthy!
Everyone should be more accepting of mental health issues without any judgments. Take the leap of faith when you feel ready. Until then, just breathe! You are doing fine. Depression is real but so is hope and recovery.
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