Originally found on https://www.medicaldaily.com/national-depression-screening-day-8-things-you-didnt-know-about-depression-306503
Dr. Douglas Jacobs, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, founded Screening for Mental Health Inc. after he realized screening for mental illness is just as effective as screening for other diseases, like cancer and diabetes. On the program’s website, Jacobs cited research from the University of Connecticut that found “55 percent of participants who completed an online depression screening, and who agreed to participate in a follow-up survey, sought depression treatment within three months of the screening.”
So, the purpose of these screenings is ultimately to rebuke the persistent stigma surrounding mental disorders. We no longer live in a time where depression means a man or woman is “mad,” that “something is wrong with them,” and that they’re not “normal.” They are, in fact, normal; they just suffer from a chemical imbalance that a doctor and treatment can help to make right over time.
Here are more of the lesser-known facts and information about depression.
Mental Health Keeps A Schedule
Crisis Text Line (CTL) is a subsidiary site of DoSomething.org, a campaign for social change that’s targeted toward teens. Recently, CTL culled the data they had collected since launching last year, pinpointing the time, day, and even states where teens are most likely to struggle with a mental disorder like anxiety and depression. Suicidal thoughts occurred more on Sunday, while sexual abuse was more common in Mississippi, Iowa, and Montana.
If there’s anything these maps show, it’s that poor mental health impacts anyone, anywhere, and anytime. Sites like CTL help tear down the mental health stigma while also providing a source of light, and treatment information, for troubled teens.
Certain Personalities Are Prone To Depression
To say a person’s personality influences their mental health isn’t totally right, but it’s also not totally wrong. The truth is depression is caused by either a chemical imbalance in the brain or a reaction to a stressful, traumatic event, and the chemical imbalance occurs whether you’re, say, an introvert or extrovert.
Introverts, however, made up 74 percent of the depression population cited in a 2002 study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research. Teens, transgendered people, and creative types have all been associated with the disorder.
Circadian Rhythms Disrupt Depression
The body’s internal clock heeds external signals and cues to inspire mood, appetite, and sleep, A studypublished in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found this clock is severely disrupted in individuals with depression.
What this means: A depressed person’s brain mistakes the morning for night, so they’re at an increased risk for sleep deprivation. Not getting optimal sleep comes with its own set of problems, but it mostly throws sleep and hunger hormones off balance, which then ups a person’s risk for weight gain.
Brain Size Matters
Yale University confirmed earlier this year that the claims depression shrinks a person’s brain are, in fact, true. The research suggested that when a person lacks a protein called REDD1, the brain structures that connect neurons together (the ones that prompt a person to think, feel, react, even taste) shrink.
These structures are called dendrites, and when they’re reduced down, pleasure and happiness are not felt in the same way. The longer a person struggles with depression, the more shrinkage they’ll exhibit in their brain.
The Real Problem With Carbohydrates
There are good and bad carbs (thanks for reminding us of that, BronBron). But regardless of the type you typically reach for, pasta and other carbohydrates have been linked to being diagnosed with depression.
In one study, women who ate red meat and refined grains, such as bread, pasta, and chips, were up to 49 percent more likely to either be diagnosed with depression or receive treatment for the disorder. The exact connection has yet to be determined, but other foods, like olive oil, coffee, fish, and certain vegetables have a more positive impact on a person’s health.
Blood Tests Can Determine Clinical Depression
In addition to screenings, a simple blood test may (soon) be able to detect clinical depression in adults. Researchers from Northwestern University found biomarkers for the disorder can be seen in samples of a person’s blood.
After 18 weeks of their study, researchers were able to effectively determine which patients would respond well to therapy. This was a groundbreaking departure from the existing one-on-one observations doctors do when consulting patients, and it’ll be better able to tailor treatments so patients can get the best results.
Depression Isn’t Even The Worst Of It
A study published in Molecular Psychiatry found that people suffering from major depressive disorder were also at greater risk for age-related disease, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. “Psychological distress, as experienced by depressed persons, has a large, detrimental impact on the ‘wear and tear’ of a person’s body, resulting in accelerated biological aging,” study author Josine Verhoeven, a researcher at the Free University in Amsterdam, told Live Science.
Aging shortens telomeres, which prevent the chromosomes from fraying at their ends and fusing together. And shorter telomores researchers found, can be even shorter depending on the severity of a person’s depression.
Antidepressants Aren’t Enough
Antidepressants work to correct the off-balance chemicals in a person’s brain. But, for as much relief as they can provide, they boast some negative side effects. More science is finding that these prescriptions should be paired with cognitive behavioral therapy.
Two is better than one, right? This idea works the same when it comes to depression. Therapy allows patients to identify and work on their self-destructive behavior, ultimately lessening the severity of their symptoms. Talk therapy, which is similar to CBT, has also been found to work better than antidepressants in patients suffering from social anxiety disorder.
The only thing you should feel when going to get screened for depression (you know, before the blood test is available) is empowerment, not shame. It’s, as you can tell, a mental disorder that’s out of your control. But science and therapy has advanced so that the disorder isn’t something you, or someone you love, has to battle with forever.
Written by Stephanie Castillo