These concise summaries highlight the latest findings and potential remedies.
Mental health behaviors trending in adolescents, nutritional supplements offer no pick-me-up, brain stimulation therapy shows promise-these and other developments highlight the latest discoveries in major depressive disorder (MDD) research. Click through the slideshow above to find concise summaries of key findings and potential remedies.
Mental health behaviors trending in adolescents. In a recent population cohort comparison study, adolescents had more depressive symptoms, self-harm, parent-reported emotional difficulties, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and peer problems in 2015 than in 2005. They also spent less time sleeping and had higher body mass index, and a greater proportion perceived themselves as overweight. Less common or no different were substance use, sexual activity, and antisocial behaviors.
More suicidal thoughts, attempts, and deaths among youths. Rates of major depressive episodes in the last year increased 52% from 2005 to 2017 among adolescents aged 12 to 17 years and 63% from 2009 to 2017 among young adults aged 18 to 25 years. Serious psychological distress in the last month went up by 71% and suicide-related outcomes in the last year increased among young adults aged 18 to 25 years from 2008 to 2017. The trends are weak or nonexistent among adults aged 26 years and older.
Physical activity jogs depression prevention. Physical activity has been shown to reduce depression risk, but the causality and direction are not clear, so investigators examined bidirectional relationships with a genetically informed method for assessing potential causal inference. Robust evidence in their findings supported a protective relationship between objectively assessed physical activity and the risk of MDD. There was no significant relationship with self-reported activity.
Team sports have antidepressant effect in very young.Researchers used structural MRI scans and questionnaires to analyze children aged 9 to 11 years who engaged in team sports to assess the effects of exercise on hippocampal volume and depression in preadolescence. Sports involvement was positively correlated with hippocampal volume in both boys and girls, but it interacted with sex to predict depressive symptoms, as did hippocampal volume, with a negative relationship in boys only.
Nutritional supplements offer no pick-me-up. In the MooDFOOD trial, multinutrient supplementation and food-related behavioral activation therapy had no significant effect on prevention of a new episode of MDD in overweight and obese adults with subsyndromal depressive symptoms. During 12-month follow-up, MDD developed in similar percentages of patients in placebo with and without therapy and supplement with and without therapy groups. None of the strategies affected MDD onset.
Intervention trims both obesity and depression. Weight loss and depressive symptoms improved significantly in adults who had obesity and depression with a collaborative care intervention that integrated behavioral weight loss treatment, problem-solving therapy, and as-needed antidepressant medications. Mean 20-item Depression Symptom Checklist scores declined from 1.5 to 1.1 at 12 months among intervention patients compared with a 1.5 to 1.4 decline among usual care patients.
Fathers, too, have postpartum symptoms. A qualitative study assessed why many fathers experience the symptoms of postpartum depression. Six themes were identified: (1) fathers’ needing education, (2) adhering to gender expectations, (3) repressing feelings, (4) being overwhelmed, (5) resentment of baby, and (6) the experience of neglect. The authors suggested the information might help providers better understand paternal postpartum depression and families better cope with its challenges.
Brain stimulation therapy shows promise. Targeting oscillations with transcranial alternating current stimulation (tACS) could provide an effective therapeutic intervention for MDD. In 10 Hz-tACS, 40 Hz-tACS, and active sham stimulation groups, there was no significant interaction between treatment condition and session for symptom improvement. But after the intervention, the 10 Hz-tACS group had more responders and a significant reduction in alpha power over the left frontal regions in EEG.
Cancer communication intervention cuts anxiety and depression. A quality-improvement intervention designed to enhance communication between oncology clinicians and patients with advanced cancer did not improve goal-concordant care and peacefulness, the coprimary outcomes. But there were significant reductions in moderate to severe anxiety and depression symptoms among intervention patients at 14 weeks. Anxiety reduction was sustained at 24 weeks, but depression reduction was not.
Laughter offers a lift. Humor can be an adaptive tool for persons who are vulnerable to depression in dealing with negative responses to aversive events, and it may reduce their potential to trigger depressive episodes. In a laboratory computer experiment, humor decreased patients’ negative emotions, increased positive emotions, and enhanced the distance from adversity. Humor was more effective than spontaneous emotion regulation and just as effective as positive reappraisal. Cheers!