Author: Sasha Hart

iFred, created to prevent depression

Focused on minimizing the impact of depression on the economy, an international foundation has created iFred, a system that offers training for executives and managers to identify this debilitating condition and prevent the effects of depression at a global scale. First of all, for those of you thinking that iFred is an electronic device, it’s not. It is actually short for The International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression. Its mission is to raise awareness on depression and determine corporate responsibility by implementing prevention programs. The founder of iFred, Kathryn Goetzke, a depression expert herself, explains that when it comes to money, nobody wants to lose them, from the everyday spender to the big producing companies. Even if some of the effects of depression may have been estimated before, this time, experts come with concrete figures: “Depression is estimated to have an annual toll on U.S. Business, which amounts to about $70 billion in medical expenditures, lost productivity and other costs”, says Goetzke. What iFred does is provide the companies’ managers means to identify and treat depression symptoms before escalating. This may save each company tens of thousands of dollars per employee. But iFred wasn’t created for corporate reasons only. It is the perspective of each individual confronting with depression that counts the most. According to the results of many studies, “nearly 75 percent of those suffering from...

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Poor mothers may act like having a mental illness

A study conducted on almost 5,000 people reveals that poor mothers may act like they are having a mental illness called “generalized anxiety disorder” (GAD), even if they are not ill. This is important because even if people living in poverty and dealing with a high level of stress are more prone to developing an anxiety disorder, there is no connection between the generalized anxiety present in poor mothers and this “internal malfunction” that they are suspected to have. Judith C. Baer, an associate professor in the School of Social Work, and her team of researchers have found out that generalized anxiety disorder in poor mothers is not because of an “internal malfunction.” Baer, along with two other researchers, Dr. MiSung Kim and doctoral candidate Bonnie Wilkenfeld, analyzed the data from 4,898 people participating in the ongoing Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. The results showed that poor mothers were more likely to be classified as having GAD, but that the path from anxiety to parenting stress was not supported. “This suggests that mothers can be poor and anxious, but still provide positive parenting for their children”, Baer explained. In other words, “anxiety in poor mothers is usually not a psychiatric problem but a reaction to severe environmental deficits.” The researchers believe that there should be paid more attention to a GAD diagnosis as it triggers a social stigma....

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Neglected children have less gray matter

Researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital have noticed that psychologically and physically neglected children have less gray matter. The study’s results show that there is a decrease in white matter as well, but this can “catch up” if the circumstances improve. A team of researchers at the Boston Children’s Hospital, led by Doctors Margaret Sheridan and Charles Nelson, have studied the brains of children that were institutionalized and, in time, were placed into quality homes. The children were part of a project called Bucharest Early Intervention Project (BEIP). The research included MRI scans of three groups of children, with ages from 8 to 11: • One group of 29 kids who have been reared in an institution • One group of 25 kids who were placed in quality homes • One group of 20 kids who have never been in an institution The MRI brain scans showed that the kids who spent time in an institution have smaller amounts of gray matter, even if, in time, they have been placed in quality homes. Of them, those who have never been placed in foster care showed a reduced amount of white matter, too. By comparison, the kids placed in quality homes, showed an increase in white matter, once they entered a family. “Increasingly we are finding evidence that exposure to childhood adversity has a negative effect on brain development”, says...

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Celebrities bank their babies’ cord blood

A number of celebrities have decided to bank their babies’ cord blood in hope of protecting them from future serious illnesses. Giuliana and Bill Rancic, Ana Ortiz, Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott, Alex Rodriguez, Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick are just a few of those celebrities believing that cord blood banking can guarantee for their kids a future in which spinal injuries, cartilage or brain injuries will not mean the end of a happy normal life. TV personalities Giuliana and Bill Rancic have recently announced that they are planning on stocking their future baby’s cord blood. The couple, who is expecting a first child, via surrogate, has received a blood banking kit during the baby shower. And they have recently been named ambassadors for the Cord Blood Registry. But Giuliana and Bill are not the only celebrities taking cord blood banking into consideration. “Ugly Betty” actress Ana Ortiz received a kit during her baby shower last year. And over the past two years, actress Tori Spelling and reality show star Kourtney Kardashian have been spotted carrying such kits, even though they never talked about it. Other celebrities involved in raising awareness on blood cord banking are New York Yankees player Alex Rodriguez, NASCAR pilot Jimmie Johnson and Australian “Big Brother” Chrissy Swain. According to the cord blood banks, storing your baby’s umbilical cord can lead to a lifetime of...

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Cat ladies, more likely to commit suicide

A recent study reveals that cat ladies are more likely to commit suicide. The researchers blame the drive of ending one’s life on a toxin found in cat excrements. The cliché of ending-up gathering around you a huge number of felines as a result of lack of human companionship at a certain age, has always been linked to depression and loneliness. However, a new study conducted in Denmark, shows that having too many cat pets increases the risk of suicide. How is that possible? At a first glance, you may think that a lonely person, who gathers so many cats can be struck at some point in their lives by how lonely they have become. The greater the number of cats, the emptier their existence. But it’s not the psychological impact that’s responsible for the suicide risk. The Danish experts have discovered the presence of Toxoplasma gondii, a parasite found in cat excrements and also in unwashed fresh food and uncooked meat. According to the researchers, the levels of Toxoplasma gondii can influence the violence of the suicidal act. The higher the parasite concentration in the blood, the higher the risk of jumping off buildings, stabbing or shooting oneself. People with severe infection have one and a half more chances of falling into despair and take their own lives. Teodor T. Postolache, a professor of psychiatry of Romanian origin,...

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