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TOPIC: depression


How Trauma Causes Premature Aging — With Fresh Evidence From Ukraine

The war in Ukraine has been going on for a year. Many have died, fled or been traumatized — day after day and night after night. Such harrowing experiences leave deep wounds. But there are ways to overcome traumatic experiences.

BERLIN — For Nathalia, New Year’s Eve was never good. The loud bangs of the fireworks shocked her so much that she ran as fast and as far as she could. She ran as if in a trance, not even realizing that she had left behind her husband, who was older and had a heart condition.

Nathalia — her name has been changed in this article — is almost 50 years old. About six months ago, her and her husband ran as fast as their feet could carry them, with just a few belongings they had quickly gathered. Away from the border with Russia, to Donbas, in the direction of Kyiv. Behind them, the sounds of Russian artillery bombardment, and bombs that seemed so close.

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They arrived in Poland on an overcrowded train from Kyiv, surrounded by exhausted people with fearful, desperate faces. In Poland, relatives waited to take them to Germany, and safety. But for their children, there was no escape from their fear.

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What's Spoiling The Kids: The Big Tech v. Bad Parenting Debate

Without an extended family network, modern parents have sought to raise happy kids in a "hostile" world. It's a tall order, when youngsters absorb the fears (and devices) around them like a sponge.


BOGOTÁ — A 2021 report from the United States (the Youth Risk Behavior Survey) found that 42% of the country's high-school students persistently felt sad and 22% had thought about suicide. In other words, almost half of the country's young people are living in despair and a fifth of them have thought about killing themselves.

Such chilling figures are unprecedented in history. Many have suggested that this might be the result of the COVID-19 pandemic, but sadly, we can see depression has deeper causes, and the pandemic merely illustrated its complexity.

I have written before on possible links between severe depression and the time young people spend on social media. But this is just one aspect of the problem. Today, young people suffer frequent and intense emotional crises, and not just for all the hours spent staring at a screen. Another, possibly more important cause may lie in changes to the family composition and authority patterns at home.

Firstly: Families today have fewer members, who communicate less among themselves.

Young people marry at a later age, have fewer children and many opt for personal projects and pets instead of having children. Families are more diverse and flexible. In many countries, the number of children per woman is close to or less than one (Singapore, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong among others).

In Colombia, women have on average 1.9 children, compared to 7.6 in 1970. Worldwide, women aged 15 to 49 years have on average 2.4 children, or half the average figure for 1970. The changes are much more pronounced in cities and among middle and upper-income groups.

Of further concern today is the decline in communication time at home, notably between parents and children. This is difficult to quantify, but reasons may include fewer household members, pervasive use of screens, mothers going to work, microwave ovens that have eliminated family cooking and meals and, thanks to new technologies, an increase in time spent on work, even at home. Our society is addicted to work and devotes little time to minors.

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Don't Look Back In Depression

"I did it all because basically, I’m an idiot."

Dottoré, when I look back at my life, I see only mistakes.

My job, my marriage, the children — even getting a dog ... I did it all because basically, I’m an idiot.

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Talking Risks: New Research Finds Psychotherapy Can Have Dangerous Side Effects

It has long been assumed that psychotherapy can do no harm at worst. But new research makes clear that for some people, it can have very serious, even life-threatening, consequences.

BERLIN — Until now, we have assumed that, at worst, psychotherapy has no impact whatsoever. However, new research shows that treatment can have serious risks. A few patients experience side effects — and sometimes even an increase in mental health problems.

Across Europe and the United States, experts and politicians alike are concerned that people’s mental health is suffering. Massimiliano Mascherini from Eurofound, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, has even said we are experiencing a “parallel pandemic in mental health”. U.S. President Joe Biden recently announced that mental health was one of his top priorities and his government would provide $300 million of funding for mental health and community projects.

Why? Well, one in five people in the U.S. has mental health problems. According to data from the Robert Koch Institute, even before the pandemic hit, one in 10 women and 8.1% of men in Germany were seeing a psychologist or psychiatrist.

The coronavirus crisis has made matters worse. According to data from the World Health Organization, since the start of the pandemic, the number of people diagnosed with anxiety and depression has risen by 25%. As a result, more people are seeking professional help.

“Even after three years of the pandemic, the demand for psychotherapy remains high,” says Gebhard Hentschel, president of the German Psychotherapists Association. In summer 2022, the number of patients seeking therapy was still around 40% higher than before COVID, which means waiting lists at practices and clinics are also long.

So far the biggest issue has been the lack of provision. But research is starting to highlight another problem that until now has gone under the radar: psychotherapy, just like other medical interventions, comes with its own risks. “Around 10% of psychotherapy patients experience serious and long-lasting side effects,” says Michael Linden, a neurologist, psychiatrist and psychotherapist at the Charité Hospital in Berlin.

Some patients even develop new, more serious anxieties, become dependent on their psychotherapists or experience a breakdown in relationships with family and friends. They end up in a worse situation than before, and in rare cases, therapy even ends in suicide.

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Benoît Georges

Listening For Illness: Your Voice May Soon Help Detect Health Problems

Applying Artificial intelligence to vocal cues is increasingly being used to detect a range of illnesses from COVID-19 to asthma and even depression. But such technology also comes with serious ethical concerns.

PARIS — Thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), your voice can already be used to dictate messages to your smartphone, give commands to your Bluetooth speakers, or chat with your car's dashboard. But soon, it may be able to evaluate the state of your health by detecting respiratory (asthma, COVID-19) or neurodegenerative illnesses. It could even pick up mental health struggles, such as depression or anxiety.

The concept is simple: every pathology that affects the lungs, the heart, the brain, the muscles, or the vocal cords can lead to voice modifications. By using digital tools to analyze a recording, it must be possible to detect vocal biomarkers, the same way vocal recognition algorithms learned to understand a spoken language based on millions of sound samples.

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Katie C. Reilly

Grief As Mental Illness? Some Hard Questions About 'PGD' Diagnosis

Prolonged Grief Disorder (PGD) has officially been recognized as a mental health disorder. The decision could do more harm than good.

The weekend that I graduated from law school, my mother told me that she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease, a neurological disease for which there is currently no cure. As I recalled in a recent essay, I spent the following year watching as her muscles atrophied until she died.

A year and a half later, my father was diagnosed with cancer. He successfully completed one round of chemotherapy, but then, less than two years later, the cancer returned, killing him within months. He died on Aug. 12, my mother’s birthday.

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Mariateresa Fichele

A Patient's Old Habits, A Doctor’s Call For Justice

Fifteen years ago, Francesco kept busy by scamming people. He was a regular visitor to the beaches of Terracina, south of Rome, where he was caught several times selling counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses. Then came the drugs, which fed a serious substance-induced psychosis and eventually he tested positive for HIV.

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Mariateresa Fichele

Don't Anger The Patron Saints Of Calcio

From St. Paul to St. Diego...

"Dottoré, I know you’re going to say I’m superstitious and strange, you always give rational answers ... but I have to ask you a question: Is it true that ever since our stadium was renamed after Maradona, Napoli doesn't win at home anymore?"


"Could it be that Saint Paul, to whom the stadium was initially dedicated, got offended and is making us lose now?"

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Mariateresa Fichele

The Real Estate Of Psychological Disorders

To each mental illness, its castle.

The bipolar patient builds castles in the air, and when depression arrives, no longer needs them and destroys them.

Instead, the psychotic has the castle built for him, and locks himself inside.

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Mariateresa Fichele

Something To Be Afraid Of

One day a patient, after listing all his phobias, asked me:

"Dottoré, be honest, who's worse off than me?"

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Mariateresa Fichele

Bygone Tips: My Not So Great Depression

“Dottoré, the reason why I am depressed is simple. But to explain it, I need an answer first. How much did you use to pay for a coffee?"

"Over the last few years, it was 80 cents, then 90 cents, and now one euro.”

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Jessica Berthereau

Parental Burnout Is Real — And Taking Leave Is Not An Option

Burnout doesn't just occur in the workplace. Pressured by unrealistic perfectionism and a cult of performance, parents are also increasingly affected by a similar weight at home that becomes too much to bear. Here's how to recognize the symptoms and act before before it's too late.

PARIS — “My story is long," Esther says in a soft voice, as if to apologize in advance. But every detail counts as she speaks: the difficult delivery, which ended in a large hemorrhage; the complicated beginnings of her breastfeeding; a baby who cried continuously; chaotic nights…

"One day, when she was about a year-and-a-half old, things calmed down a bit and, most importantly, we let go. I think I was already in burnout, but nobody was aware of it. I wanted to succeed so much; I wanted it to last so much," recalls the dance teacher, whose job forces her to practice at night. "And then we decided to have a second one. We said to ourselves that each child is different... And then again, it was a baby who cried all the time. Except that this time, I also had the first one to deal with all day because she wasn't going to school yet."

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