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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Toronto, Aug 10 (IANS) Depression and anxiety symptoms have doubled in children and adolescents when compared to pre-pandemic times, according to an alarming study.Researchers at the University of Calgary conducted a meta-analysis, pooling together data from 29 separate studies from around the world, including 80,879 youth globally.The findings, published in the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, showed that an alarming percentage of children and adolescents are experiencing a global-wide mental crisis due to the Covid-19 pandemic."Estimates show that one in four youth globally are experiencing clinically elevated depression symptoms while one in five have clinically elevated anxiety symptoms," said lead author Dr Nicole Racine, a postdoctoral associate, and clinical psychologist at the varsity. More alarmingly, these symptoms are compounding over time.The study -- which incorporates 16 studies from East Asia, four from Europe, six from North America, two from Central and South America and one from the Middle East -- also shows that older adolescents and girls are experiencing the highest levels of depression and anxiety."We know from other studies that rates of depression and anxiety in youth tend to ebb and flow with restrictions. When more restrictions are imposed, rates go up. Being socially isolated, kept away from their friends, their school routines, and social interactions has proven to be really hard on kids," said Dr Sheri Madigan, a Calgary varsity clinical psychologist.Older teens in particular have missed out on significant life events such as graduations, sporting events, and various coming of age activities."These kids didn't imagine that when they graduated, they'd never get to say goodbye to their school, their teachers or their friends, and now they're moving on to something new, with zero closure," Racine said. "There's a grieving process associated with that."While mental health symptoms in youth are rising, more mental health support should be put in place to help children and adolescents in this time of need."If we want to mitigate the sustained mental health effects of Covid-19, because of the chronic stressors our youth experienced, we have to prioritise recovery planning now. Not when the pandemic is over, but immediately. Because kids are in crisis right now," Madigan said.--IANSrvt/vd
Seoul, July 15 (IANS) South Korea's ICT ministry said on Thursday the country plans to invest nearly $26.2 million over the next three years to research digital treatment for depression in a move to find new ways to help the growing number of people suffering from the mental disorder.The number of depression patients in South Korea reached 790,000 in 2019, up 5.9 percent on-year, and the number is expected to rise as the pandemic restricts social activities and triggers economic uncertainty.Digital treatment methods, such as games and virtual reality software, have recently drawn attention as a possible alternative to treat and prevent mental health disorders without direct physical care.The Ministry of Science and ICT said it has earmarked 14 billion won until 2024 for the research programme, while the private sector will invest 14.9 billion won, reports Yonhap news agency.The research aims to develop a digital service that offers personalised depression diagnoses based on real-time collection and analysis of user data, as well as a service that provides preventative measures against the disease by using smartphones and other mobile devices.Experts across various fields, from artificial intelligence to mental health, will take part in the research, including Kim Hyung-sook, a cognitive science professor at Hanyang University.Naver Cloud, the cloud arm of South Korea's internet giant Naver Corp., will also participate in the program to build a cloud infrastructure for the digital platforms.--IANSna/
Washington, June 26 (IANS) More than 30 per cent public health workers have reported symptoms of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), because of the prolonged demand for responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To evaluate mental health conditions among the health care workers, the agency conducted a nonprobability-based online survey during March 29 to April 16, 2021.
Among 26,174 respondents, 53 per cent reported symptoms of at least one mental health condition in the preceding 2 weeks.
About one in three each reported symptoms of depression (32.0 per cent), anxiety (30.3 per cent), PTSD (36.8 per cent), while nearly 10 per cent reported of planning suicide.
The highest prevalence of symptoms of a mental health condition was among young workers below 29 years (47.4 per cent) and transgender or nonbinary persons of all ages (65.5 per cent) and those being unable to take time off from work.
"Implementing prevention and control practices that eliminate, reduce, and manage factors that cause or contribute to public health workers' poor mental health might improve mental health outcomes during emergencies," the CDC said, in its weekly MMWR report on Friday.
Most (92.6 per cent) respondents reported working directly on Covid-19 response activities; the majority (59.2 per cent) worked more 41 hours in a typical week since March 2020. Workers who could not take time off had a two-fold greater risk of reporting at least one mental health condition than those who could take time off.
"The prevalence of all four mental health outcomes and the severity of symptoms of depression or PTSD increased as the percentage of work time spent directly on Covid-19 response activities and number of work hours in a typical week increased," the CDC said.
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