Depression Could Be an Allergic Reaction, and Other News

An unhappy man rests his head in his handA recent Guardian article highlights the mounting evidence that at least some forms of depression could be due not to an imbalance in brain chemistry, but to an allergic reaction. Some doctors believe that depression could be caused by inflammation in the body. Research suggests that cytokines—chemicals associated with inflammation—increase among people experiencing depression. Even stranger, a vaccine that temporarily causes an increase in inflammation can induce feelings of depression. There’s also evidence from a few studies that adding anti-inflammatory drugs to depression treatment could produce better results.

People experiencing inflammatory illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis tend to report higher levels of depression, causing at least one study to suggest re-labeling depression as a non-contagious infectious disease. However, infection isn’t the only thing that causes inflammation. Obesity and a diet high in trans fats can also cause inflammation. Research points to the role of Omega-3 fatty acids and curcumin in reducing inflammation and potentially combating depression.

Curcumin’s Ability to Fight Alzheimer’s Studied

Curcumin, a derivative of the spice turmeric, may help destroy the beta-amyloid plaques that contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Getting the treatment to cross the blood-brain barrier, though, has proven problematic. A new study suggests that by creating a curcumin atomizer, though, the treatment can travel to the brain. 

How Argentina’s ‘Loony Radio’ Is Changing Attitudes About Mental Health

Radio La Colifata, the first radio show broadcast from inside an Argentinian psychiatric hospital, has entertained listeners since 1991. The program offers comfort to both current and former residents, in addition to steadily working to break down mental health stigma. The show accepts calls from listeners, facilitating dialogue between residents and non-residents, and opening lines of communication between people who might otherwise never have interacted. 

Depression, Behavioral Changes May Precede Memory Loss in Alzheimer’s

According to a study of 2,416 seniors, depression and behavioral changes could be important early symptoms of Alzheimer’s. During the study, 1,218 people developed dementia. Those who developed dementia experienced depression at a rate of 30%, compared to 15% among those who didn’t develop dementia. Those who developed dementia were also 12 times more likely to experience delusions. 

ADHD Drug Might Help Treat Binge Eating Disorder, Study Suggests

Vyvanse, a stimulant drug used to treat ADHD, might also help curb binge eating. Binge eating can lead to rapid weight gain, serious nutritional imbalances, and even death, but no medications are currently available to treat the condition. According to a 14-week study of 260 people with binge eating issues, about half of those who took Vyvanse saw an improvement in symptoms, compared to just a fifth of those who took a placebo. 

iPhone Separation Anxiety is Real, Study Says

Anxiety when separated from your smart phone isn’t just a nervous habit or the product of a technology-saturated culture. Instead, a study has found that some people may view their iPhones as extensions of themselves, leading to anxiety and distress when they’re separated from their phones. 

‘Fear of Exercise’ Is Biggest Barrier to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Recovery

Chronic fatigue syndrome can prove debilitating, making even mundane daily tasks feel daunting. Exercise can help improve symptoms, but many people with the condition struggle to accept this reality, believing instead that exercise will make chronic fatigue worse. In fact, a study has found that fear of exercise can account for as much as 60% of the difference among patients who pursue treatment for chronic fatigue syndrome. By helping their clients see exercise as safe and part of the solution, therapists can aid the process of recovery from chronic fatigue. 

Bilingualism Changes Children’s Beliefs

Research suggests that most young children believe that our beliefs and abilities are innate; if you’re smart, you’re always smart. A new study of 48 kids suggests that children who are bilingual, though, abandon these beliefs. Researchers found that a child’s experience with learning a second language caused children to attribute more animal behaviors to experience and learning rather than innate tendencies.

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  • shannon

    shannon

    January 16th, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    Depression as an allergy or allergic reaction- now that’s one in all of my years as a nurse I can honestly say that I have never heard be fore!

  • Chelsea

    Chelsea

    January 17th, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    The program in Argentinian radio sounds great. Always great to see when lines of communication are being established who may not have had that opportunity before.

  • Mona

    Mona

    January 17th, 2015 at 1:15 PM

    All of my children are bilingual and I am sure that for us as a family of many people who speak many different languages, I don’t know that it necessarily changes what we believe about learning but I know that we all seem more open to learning and experiencing new things… far more so than one language families. This is just an observation that I have had, not true across the board I am sure.

  • Taji H.

    Taji H.

    January 17th, 2015 at 6:57 PM

    Great article! I am going to forward this to Dr. Taji H. she will get a kick out of this.

  • Taylor

    Taylor

    January 19th, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    I love reading about times when one med is used for something else and it still works, like the one for binge eating and ADHD. There is so much to wonder about still in the world of scientific research!

  • Franklin

    Franklin

    January 20th, 2015 at 10:53 AM

    You know what I think would be an interesting study? And maybe this has already been done but I would love to take a look at how people who have diets already high in that spice or that use it more than we do, how their populations fares when it comes to Alzheimer numbers. Do their numbers look about the same as ours or is it significantly lower?

  • Jennifer Newcomer, LCSW, LSCSW, MSW

    Jennifer Newcomer, LCSW, LSCSW, MSW

    January 21st, 2015 at 8:32 AM

    This connection is interesting. I also read an article recently about how gut bacteria is not only linked to immune system but to mental health. There may be multiple contributors to depression and anxiety in addition to chemical imbalances.

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