Antidepressants May Not Cause Autism, and Other News

Mother holding sleeping baby on shoulderA study published in 2015 linked antidepressant use during pregnancy to a small increase in the risk of having a child with autism. But a new study suggests antidepressant use during pregnancy is linked with neither autism nor ADHD. Scientific research is often a process of testing, adjusting, and correcting previous research, so more research will likely be necessary to conclusively examine the link between antidepressant use and developmental and mental health issues in offspring.

Previous studies, including the 2015 research on autism and antidepressant use during pregnancy, have not fully accounted for differences between women who use antidepressants and those who do not. Some research points to a link between mental health diagnoses during pregnancy and an increased risk of giving birth to a child with autism.

The latest study attempted to control for these factors by looking at data on children from a number of Massachusetts hospitals. Researchers compiled data on more than 1,200 children on the autism spectrum, then compared them to 3,500 demographically matched children with no mental health diagnosis. Researchers also compared about 1,700 children with ADHD to a demographically matched group of about 3,800 children without ADHD.

When researchers controlled for the mother’s mental health history, they found no evidence that antidepressants directly caused autism or ADHD. Instead, mothers who underwent psychotherapy and those who took antidepressants both saw an increased risk of giving birth to a child with ADHD or autism. Because both factors are correlated with a mental health diagnosis, the findings suggest depression and other mental health issues—not antidepressant use or therapy—may be linked to an increased risk of ADHD or autism.

Why I Taught Myself to Procrastinate

Eighty percent of college students say they struggle with procrastination, which is associated with mental health diagnoses such as ADHD and depression. According to this op-ed, though, procrastination may not always be a bad thing. It can help spur creativity by allowing procrastinators to slow down, stop obsessing over productivity, and permit ideas to naturally flow.

Chicago Teens and Combat Veterans Join Forces to Combat Trauma

Nearly 3,000 people were shot in Chicago last year. This—combined with high poverty, family turmoil, and similar sources of stress—exposes teenagers to high rates of trauma.

The Urban Warriors program aims to help Chicago teens and Iraq and Afghanistan veterans cope with their trauma by talking to each other. Eddie Bocanegra, the program’s founder, hopes to help both groups process their emotions and move forward with their lives. Bocanegra himself has experience doing precisely that, after spending time in a gang. Bocanegra later went to prison on federal murder charges, but today he is co-executive director of the youth safety and violence prevention programs at the YMCA.

Overconfident Students Major in Political Science

A study published in PLOS One of 711 first-year university students looked at personality traits, then compared them to the students’ majors. Students were labeled “overconfident” if they overestimated their performance on a knowledge test. The most overconfident students were most likely to major in political science, followed by law, business administration, and economics. Students who majored in the humanities were more likely to underestimate their performance, with natural science and medicine majors also exhibiting less confidence.

Study Finds No Proof of ‘Seasonal’ Depression

Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which has been recognized and treated for 30 years, might not be based on objective data, according to a new study. Researchers found no evidence for depression that recurs seasonally. They say the structure of studies may affect the rates of seasonal depression. They also suggest the “invention” of a new type of depression provided a new market to which pharmaceutical companies could offer new drugs. Some experts say SAD may exist, but it might only account for a small fraction of all depression cases.

Social Media Use in Young Adults Linked to Sleep Disturbance

According to a study of 1,788 participants ages 19-32, higher rates of social media are correlated with more sleep issues. On average, participants used social media 61 minutes per day, visiting their social media accounts 30 times per week. The 30% who reported high rates of sleep disturbances were more likely to report high rates of social media use.

Being Married Might Hurt Your Chances of Weight Loss After Surgery

According to a review of 13 studies on weight-loss surgery, married people lose less weight than single people after weight-loss surgery. Married couples also often suffer from relationship difficulties after surgery. The study’s authors theorize this may be due to the important role food plays in family life. Planning healthy meals can be challenging, and many family interactions are arranged around meals.

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  • Collin

    January 29th, 2016 at 10:51 AM

    I don’t think that slowing down to be creative has to mean that you are procrastinating.It just means that you may be taking a little more time with a project to ensure that you are doing the best job possible. That is not the same thing as waiting until an hour before something is due to get started.

  • Marie

    January 29th, 2016 at 1:11 PM

    If there is no such thing as seasonal depression then how can we account for the high numbers of people who are depressed during this time of the year and not any other? There are too many people who legitimately struggle with this for someone to now come along and say that this is not their reality.

  • Jose

    January 30th, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    So this is going to make mothers everywhere feel both better and worse.
    The ones who have had to take antidepressants will not have to feel bad about having to take medication.
    But now mothers who do have a history of mental illness like depression are going to be made to feel like something that they have contributes.
    I am still not sure that I buy into that. I still tend to believe that there has to be something environmental causing the upswing in autism numbers.

  • jay

    January 30th, 2016 at 6:30 PM

    Hey! I was a poli sci major what you trying to say? ;)

  • vee

    January 31st, 2016 at 10:34 AM

    Married people are usually heavier anyway, their bad habits are things that feed off of one another so I do not find it surprising at all that they may not have great results with weight loss surgery

  • Oliver

    January 31st, 2016 at 2:37 PM

    Even though u wouldn’t at first think that the teens and vets working together would be a natural fit, I bet that after just a bit they discovered commonalities that the rest of us could not even imagine.

  • victor

    February 2nd, 2016 at 3:16 PM

    Being married may hurt your chances for losing weight but in the end married couples are happier and healthier overall. So just resolve to be fat and happy together :)

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