Researchers at the University of Liverpool have found that children who have experienced severe trauma are three times as likely to develop schizophrenia in later life. The findings shed new light on the debate about the importance of genetic and environmental triggers of psychotic disorders. For many years research in mental health has focused on the biological factors behind conditions such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and psychotic depression, but there is now increasing evidence to suggest these conditions cannot be fully understood without first looking at the life experiences of individual patients. The research, conducted by teams at Liverpool and Maastricht University in the Netherlands, is the first of its kind to bring together and analyse the findings from more than 30 years of studies looking at the association between childhood trauma and the development of psychosis.
The experience of killing in war was strongly associated with thoughts of suicide, in a study of Vietnam-era veterans led by researchers at the San Francisco VA Medical Center (SFVAMC) and the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). The scientists found that veterans with more experiences involving killing were twice as likely to have reported suicidal thoughts as veterans who had fewer or no experiences. To evaluate the experience of killing, the authors created four variables - killing enemy combatants, killing prisoners, killing civilians in general and killing or injuring women, children or the elderly. For each veteran, they combined those variables into a single composite measure. The higher the composite score, the greater the likelihood that a veteran had thought about suicide.
Depression is common in adolescents, although many are reluctant to seek professional help. According to a study published in BMJ, specialized computer therapy is just as effective as one-to-one therapy with a clinician for adolescents suffering from depression. In order to determine whether a new computerized cognitive behavioral therapy intervention called SPARX is as effective at reducing depressive symptoms than usual care, researchers from the University of Auckland, New Zealand conducted a randomized controlled trial involving 187 adolescents aged 12 to 19 years. SPARX is an interactive 3D fantasy game which contains 7 modules designed to be completed over a 4 to 7 week period. In the game, a single user takes on a series of challenges in order to restore balance in a virtual world dominated by Gloomy Negative Automatic Thoughts (GNATs).
A reaction to the antidepressant Zoloft that Princeton University researchers observed in yeast cells could help provide new answers to lingering questions among scientists about how antidepressants work, as well as support the idea that depression is not solely linked to the neurotransmitter serotonin. In findings published this week in PLoS ONE, researchers based in the lab of Ethan Perlstein, a research fellow in Princeton's Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, report that sertraline - trademarked as Zoloft - accumulated in the membranes of yeast cells. This accumulation occurred between the two lipid layers that make up the cellular membrane, causing a swelling and sharp curvature of the internal membrane. Interestingly, Perlstein said, yeast cells lack serotonin, which is the primary target of antidepressants.
A five year study conducted with thousands of local teenagers by University of Montreal researchers reveals that those who used speed (meth/ampthetamine) or ecstasy (MDMA) at fifteen or sixteen years of age were significantly more likely to suffer elevated depressive symptoms the following year. "Our findings are consistent with other human and animal studies that suggest long-term negative influences of synthetic drug use, " said co-author FrÃ dÃ ric N. BriÃ¨re of the School Environment Research Group at the University of Montreal. "Our results reveal that recreational MDMA and meth/amphetamine use places typically developing secondary school students at greater risk of experiencing depressive symptoms." Ecstasy and speed-using grade ten students were respectively 1.7 and 1.6 times more likely to be depressed by the time they reached grade eleven.