environmental effects on mental illness

August 2, 2007

Environmental Connections: A Deeper Look into Mental Illness

I love when I see articles discuss environment/biology in ways that are cutting-edge, instead of “nature versus nurture” or even “nature and nurture are both important”.  This one is a good one.


insomnia predicts future anxiety but not future depression

July 9, 2007

Based on two surveys 11 years apart headed up by Dag Neckelmann of Haukeland University Hospital in Norway. Reuters article. Via Spikol. Insomnia at time 1 predicted anxiety disorder at time 2, but not depression, although depression and insomnia co-occurred.

I thought the fact that it wasn’t significantly predicting depression (despite predicting anxiety) was pretty interesting, since insomnia and depression are widely known to be related (and anxiety and depression can both co-occur and each cause the other). Maybe insomnia is a byproduct of early anxiety that isn’t yet diagnosable? Maybe it’s a version of the same phenomenon where lack of sleep can make bipolar people hypo/manic?

Depression and spatial cognition: Computer games

July 6, 2007

I wanted to title this entry “Duke Nukem Helps Detect Depression” but that would have been an exaggeration.  However, the game in question was modeled after Duke Nukem, and it shows group differences in spatial cognition between depressed and normal people (but it is not sensitive enough to diagnose an individual).

Suicide Attempts Decline After Depression Treatment, Study Finds

July 2, 2007

In a study of more than 100,000 patients treated for depression, suicide attempts declined during the first month of treatment–whether that treatment consisted of medication, psychotherapy, or both. The findings, published by Group Health researchers in the July American Journal of Psychiatry, show a similar pattern for populations of adolescents and young adults (up to age 24) as for older adults.

Suicide attempts, overall, are not raised by medication, either for adults or adolescents/young adults. Nonetheless, some people do become suicidal despite never having been so before. The prof suggests that this is due to subgroups (duh, some of the 30-40% of bipolar patients who get hypo/manic/mixed, but I wonder if there’s anyone else – maybe we’ll find out eventually).

I do wonder, though, if some of the improvement isn’t regression to the mean – people frequently don’t start treatment until they’re quite bad off, and mood episodes tend to pass with time.