Close to 6 million American adults live with bipolar disorder. The condition produces periods of frantic energy and optimism along with corresponding episodes of deep depression. The depressive episodes can be especially dangerous because the risk of suicide is high. Finding a treatment that can offer relief in a timely fashion is vitally important.
The stress and demands of a newborn can cause a new mom to feel “baby blues.” When a new mom doesn’t immediately experience elation she may wonder what’s wrong with her. It’s common for many women to take weeks or months to form a strong bond with their baby, but for some the symptoms can become serious postpartum depression.
Although young people are at high risk for depression perhaps because of the many physical and psychosocial changes they experience during adolescence and the teenage years, at the other end of life similar changes that take place. Older adults are at increased risk for depression, too.
Women and men have gender-specific differences in their rate of susceptibility to substance abuse, as well as differences in the types of substances that function as abuse targets. Other known influences on substance abuse risks include genetic inheritance and environmental influences encountered by each individual. In a study presented Aug. 18, 2014, to the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, researchers from Indiana University used information from a federally funded project called the Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism to further explore gender’s impact on the mixture of substance abuse risks for any given person.
Alcohol abuse and depression often go together and exist in a complicated relationship. In some cases, alcoholism causes depression or worsens the symptoms of an existing condition. For others, the symptoms of depression lead to drinking as a way to cope and self-medicate. Experts think there may even be a genetic link between depression and alcoholism, which would mean that having one condition would predict the other. Researchers are working to untangle the relationship and to develop treatments that will help with both.
Blood flow across different regions of the brain may help to distinguish between bipolar depression and ordinary “unipolar” depression, new research suggests. Although it’s a preliminary finding and a relatively small study, the existing difficulty in distinguishing between the two forms of depression and the invasive nature of positron emission tomography (PET scans) gives the approach the potential to become a regular feature in clinical practice. However, finding out the details of the study is essential to understanding which conclusions to draw from it.