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Video Games May Help Combat Depression in Older Adults


ScienceDaily (Feb. 25, 2010) — Research at the Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests a novel route to improving the symptoms of subsyndromal depression (SSD) in seniors through the regular use of “exergames” — entertaining video games that combine game play with exercise. In a pilot study, the researchers found that use of exergames significantly improved mood and mental health-related quality of life in older adults with SSD.


The study, led by Dilip V. Jeste, MD, Distinguished Professor of psychiatry and neurosciences at UCSD School of Medicine, Estelle and Edgar Levi Chair in Aging, and director of the UC San Diego Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, appears in the March issue of the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.


SSD is much more common than major depression in seniors, and is associated with substantial suffering, functional disability, and increased use of costly medical services. Physical activity can improve depression; however, fewer than five percent of older adults meet physical activity recommendations.


“Depression predicts nonadherence to physical activity, and that is a key barrier to most exercise programs,” Jeste said. “Older adults with depression may be at particular risk for diminished enjoyment of physical activity, and therefore, more likely to stop exercise programs prematurely.”


In the study, 19 participants with SSD ranging in age from 63 to 94 played an exergame on the Nintendo Wii video game system during 35-minute sessions, three times a week. After some initial instruction, they chose one of the five Nintendo Wii Sports games to play on their own — tennis, bowling, baseball, golf or boxing.


Using the Wii remote — a wireless device with motion-sensing capabilities — the seniors used their arm and body movements to simulate actions engaged in playing the actual sport, such as swinging the Wii remote like a tennis racket. The participants reported high satisfaction and rated the exergames on various attributes including enjoyment, mental effort, and physical limitations.


“The study suggests encouraging results from the use of the exergames,” Jeste said. “More than one-third of the participants had a 50-percent or greater reduction of depressive symptoms. Many had a significant improvement in their mental health-related quality of life and increased cognitive stimulation.”


Jeste said feedback revealed some participants started the study feeling nervous about how they would perform in the exergames and the technical aspects of game play. However, by the end of the study, most participants reported that learning and playing the videogames was satisfying and enjoyable.


“The participants thought the exergames were fun, they felt challenged to do better and saw progress in their game play,” Jeste said. “Having a high level of enjoyment and satisfaction, and a choice among activities, exergames may lead to sustained exercise in older adults.” He cautioned, however, that the findings were based on a small study, and needed to be replicated in larger samples using control groups. He also stressed that exergames carry potential risks of injury, and should be practiced with appropriate care.


Additional authors include Dori Rosenberg, Jennifer Reichstadt, Jacqueline Kerr and Greg Norman, UCSD Department of Family and Preventative Medicine; and Colin A. Depp, Ipsit V. Vahia and Barton W. Palmer, UCSD Department of Psychiatry.


The study was funded in part by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the UCSD Sam and Rose Stein Institute for Research on Aging, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.


 

Husbands’ Hostile, Anti-Social Behaviors Increase Wives’ Symptoms Of Depression, MU Researchers Find


In the United States, nearly 10 percent of the population suffers from a depressive disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. While the causes of depression vary, a new study at the University of Missouri reveals that marital hostility is a contributing factor. MU researcher, Christine Proulx, found that husbands’ hostile and anti-social behaviors increased their wives’ symptoms of depression over time.


“In the study, husbands’ marital hostility was significantly related to increases in wives’ symptoms of depression,” said Proulx, assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. “The more hostile and anti-social behavior exhibited by husbands, the more depressed their wives were after three years. These findings suggest that husbands’ treatment of their wives significantly impacts their psychological well-being and that hostile behavior has a lasting effect on couples that continues throughout their marriages.”


The researchers found no significant relationship between wives’ hostile behavior and husbands’ depression, unless significant life events, such as a death in the family or a job loss, were present. Additionally, warm, positive behavior from husbands lessened the negative impact of their hostile behavior.


Anti-social behaviors are those that are self-centered, defiant or show a lack of constraint; hostile behaviors are those that are angry, critical or rejecting. To measure hostile and anti-social behaviors, the researchers watched and coded twenty-minute videos of couples interacting in their homes. Symptoms of depression were self-reported by those in the study.


“It’s critical that professionals ask people experiencing depression about their close relationships and recognize that their spouse’s behavior influences how they feel about life and themselves, especially among women,” Proulx said. “It is important to intervene at the couple level and make spouses aware that how they act toward each other has a long-term effect on their emotional and physical well-being.”


The study, “Moderators of the Link between Marital Hostility and Change in Spouses’ Depressive Symptoms,” was recently published in the Journal of Family Psychology.


Source:
Emily Martin
University of Missouri-Columbia


http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/180086.php


Belief in Benevolent God Aids Depression Care


 

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on February 24, 2010


A new study by Rush University Medical Center suggests patients diagnosed with clinical depression have better outcomes to medical treatment if they have belief in a concerned God.


The investigation expands earlier research that found a religious belief can help protect against symptoms of depression.


A total of 136 adults diagnosed with major depression or bipolar depression at inpatient and outpatient psychiatric care facilities in Chicago participated in the study.


The patients were surveyed shortly after admission for treatment and eight weeks later, using the Beck Depression Inventory, the Beck Hopelessness Scale, and the Religious Well-Being Scale – all standard instruments in the social sciences for assessing intensity, severity and depth of disease and feelings of hopelessness and spiritual satisfaction.


Response to medication, defined as a 50 percent reduction in symptoms, can vary in psychiatric patients. Some may not respond at all. But the study found that those with strong beliefs in a personal and concerned God were more likely to experience an improvement.


Specifically, participants who scored in the top third of the Religious Well-Being Scale were 75 percent more likely to get better with medical treatment for clinical depression.


The researchers tested whether the explanation for the improved response was linked instead to the feeling of hope, which is typically a feature of religious belief. But degree of hopefulness, measured by feelings and expectations for the future and degree of motivation, did not predict whether a patient fared better on antidepressants.


“In our study, the positive response to medication had little to do with the feeling of hope that typically accompanies spiritual belief,” said Patricia Murphy, PhD, a chaplain at Rush and an assistant professor of religion, health and human values at Rush University.


“It was tied specifically to the belief that a Supreme Being cared.”


“For people diagnosed with clinical depression, medication certainly plays an important role in reducing symptoms,” Murphy said.


“But when treating persons diagnosed with depression, clinicians need to be aware of the role of religion in their patients’ lives. It is an important resource in planning their care.”


The paper is published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.


Source: Rush University Medical Center

http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/02/24/belief-in-benevolent-god-aids-depression-care/11678.html


7 Depression Busters for Caregivers

 

By Therese J. Borchard

 

Nearly one-third of people caring for terminally ill loved ones suffer from depression according to research from Yale University. About one in four family caregivers meet the clinical criteria of anxiety. And a recent study found that 41 percent of former caregivers of a spouse with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia experienced mild to severe depression up to three years after their spouse had died.


Caregivers are so vulnerable to depression because they often sacrifice their own needs while tending to their loved one and because of the constant stress involved. Here, then, are 12 tips to help protect you from anxiety and depression and to guide you toward good mental health as you care for a relative.


1. Acknowledge it.


If you haven’t already, say this out loud: “This sucks.” Call a spade a spade. Granted, you don’t want to ruminate on negative thoughts for too long. But suppressing your emotions–forcing that positive cap on each and every thought–can actually do more harm than good. For example, a recent study in the journal Psychological Science reported that people with low self-esteem who told themselves positive statements (“I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, Gosh darn it, people like me!”) actually ended up grumpier and with less self-esteem than before they started. What does this mean? Sometimes the best thing that we can do for our mental health is to be honest. And if you’re a caretaker, that means acknowledging that your situation, well, simply sucks.


2. Educate yourself.


Relieve some of your stress by reading up on your loved one’s condition. I say that because if you’re like me, you’re probably scared. You don’t know what’s coming down the pike. You detest surprises, and ever since your loved one fell ill, your life has been full of these shockers.


There’s no way of eliminating all the surprises, of course, but if you understand the illness(es) of the person you’re nursing, then you can better predict his behavior, and can prepare yourself for what may happen in a month or in a year. You might also consider attending a caregiver training program. A recent study showed significant improvement in the quality of life of caregivers who received training. Finally, two books I recommend are The Caregiver Handbook: Powerful Tools for Caregiving and Caregiving: The Spiritual Journey of Love, Loss, and Renewal.


3. Grab your own oxygen mask.


It always goes back to the ten-second spiel you get right before your plane takes off (or crashes). “In the event of an emergency, an oxygen mask will drop from the compartment above you. Please fasten your own mask before assisting others.” Or, on Southwest airlines, they say, “Now would be a good time to choose your favorite kid.”


Taking caring of your own needs is really as important as grabbing your oxygen mask first because you’ll be running out of breath early in the inning if you hold off on breathing until everyone is well. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that stressed-out older caretakers tending to a sick spouse had a 63 percent risk of death compared to the non-stressed-out caregivers or to lucky folks who don’t have to fetch anyone a glass of water all day long.


4. Schedule a break.


Give yourself a break every day. That DOES NOT mean that you go about your day and grab whatever free 15 minutes you can get–before the meatloaf is done or the jello is solid–at which time you sit down to read some depressing headlines in the paper, hoping for no interruptions. That DOES mean scheduling one half-hour every day at the same time of day that you can, guilt-free, put out your “Off Duty” sign, and during that break no one is allowed to bother you with requests. By taking the same half-hour every day, you have a better shot at convincing your ill loved one that you really are serious about needing some time to yourself.


5. Label your guilt.


I’m not going to tell you to get rid of your guilt. Get real, I’m Catholic! But I am going to advise you to label your guilt as helpful or unhelpful, because I bet you think you’re supposed to own all of it. The negative intrusive thoughts that tell you that you are a loser for not doing more for your loved one? Bye-bye. The voice that says you could be managing all of this mayhem a tad more effectively? Try to tease out some specific suggestions. They might help you come up with ways to better delegate responsibilities or to clean up messes without using so many cuss words.


6. Get organized.


If caregiving is anything like parenting–and I think it is, except for the fact that kids eventually grow up (a truth that I cling to in moments of desperation)–a small bit of organization can go a long way.


My June Cleaver role became a tad easier when I implemented some simple household rules like: no TV before 5 pm, one treat a day, no snacks after dinner, and so on. I initially resisted this kind of structure–it’s so not my style–but I have found that it really does facilitate managing kids (and I’ll add in sick ones) … because they both want things all the time, and that can become very wearisome. If my kids know they can’t watch SpongeBob SquarePants before 5 pm–and I follow up consistently on that rule (the hard part)–then they will eventually stop asking. The same goes with a sick mother or wife: if she knows dinner is at 6 every evening, and that Wednesday is pizza day, then you’ve just given her one less thing to whine about. Theoretically, of course.


7. Get out of the house.


I know what it’s like to be captive inside your home, to be a prisoner locked in a dark and frightening cell. It will drive you straight to the community room of a psych ward. At least that’s where my isolation period ended up. When my kids were babies, I didn’t do anything but nurse, change diapers, watch Baby Einstein videos, and clean up squash stains on every piece of clothing I owned.


Today I make myself sign up for swim clubs and community programs even if I don’t want to, because I know that the time spent outside of the home with other human beings is as crucial to my mental health as eating the right foods and exercising and getting support.


Taking time to enjoy a pastime isn’t a selfish act. It will help you be a better caregiver because it will elevate your mood — not to mention assisting you with concentration and patience–which will in turn help your loved one.


?Want to learn more?
Check out 5 more depression busters for caregivers or read the Psych Central article, Self-Care for Depression Caregivers.


http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2010/02/24/7-depression-busters-for-caregivers/

Study Shows For First Time That Screening Tools Accurately Identify Postpartum Depression


Article Date: 20 Feb 2010 – 1:00 PST


More than half of low-income urban mothers met the criteria for a diagnosis of depression at some point between two weeks and 14 months after giving birth, according to a study led by University of Rochester Medical Center researchers and published online by the journal Pediatrics.


This is the first study to describe the prevalence of depression among low-income urban mothers, who were attending well-child care visits, through the use of a diagnostic interview. It also is the first study of this population group to test the accuracy of three depression screening tools routinely used by physicians.


The screening tools have high accuracy in identifying depression, the researchers concluded, but cutoff scores may need to be altered to identify depression more accurately among low-income urban mothers.


The study involved 198 mothers who were 18 years of age or older and whose children were no older than 14 months. The mothers attended well-child visits at the outpatient pediatric clinic at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the Medical Center.


The researchers found that 56 percent of the mothers, after a diagnostic interview, met the criteria for a diagnosis of a major or minor depressive disorder.


“This is an unexpected, very high proportion to meet diagnostic criteria for depression,” said Linda H. Chaudron, M.D., associate professor of Psychology, Pediatrics and of Obstetrics and Gynecology. “This may be a group at high risk for depression. The message of this study is that pediatricians and other clinicians who work with low-income urban mothers have multiple screening tools that are easy to use and accurate. These tools can help clinicians identify mothers with depression so they can be referred for help.”


Many women experience the so-called “baby blues.” When the feelings persist or worsen it may be clinical depression. The symptoms include insomnia, persistent sadness, lack of interest in nearly all activity, anxiety, change in appetite, persistent feelings of guilt, and thoughts of harming oneself or the baby. Postpartum depression affects up to 14 percent of new mothers in the United States, with higher rates among poor and minority women.


The researchers evaluated three screening tools, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory II and the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale, using the diagnostic interviews for validation.


The three screening tools have been evaluated in many populations, but one of the reasons the study was done was to test the tools with a group for whom there is not much data – low-income women, especially African-American women, Chaudron said. The researchers also evaluated the validity of the screening tools at various times during the postpartum year.


“The screening tools are valid when used anytime during the postpartum year,” Chaudron said.


Use of traditional cutoff scores may not be as accurate as previously thought. Clinicians should be aware that scores two or three points below traditional cutoff scores may indicate a need for further evaluation, the researchers concluded.


The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.


In addition to Chaudron, the authors of the article included: Peter G. Szilagyi, M.D., M.P.H., professor of Pediatrics; Wan Tang, Ph.D., research assistant professor of Biostatistics and Computational Biology; Elizabeth Anson, M.S., of the University of Rochester School of Nursing; Nancy L. Talbot, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychiatry; Holly I.M. Wadkins, M.A., of the Department of Psychiatry; Xin Tu, Ph.D., professor of Biostatistics and Psychiatry; and Katherine L. Wisner, M.D., M.S., professor of Psychiatry, Obstetrics and Gynecology and of Epidemiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.


Source:
Michael Wentzel
University of Rochester Medical Center


http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/179739.php

Income Influences Postpartum Depression

 

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.


A new study discovers more than half of low-income urban mothers meet the criteria for a diagnosis of depression at some point between two weeks and 14 months after giving birth.


University of Rochester Medical Center researchers determined the prevalence of depression via a diagnostic interview performed when the low-income urban mothers were attending well-child care visits.


The study is the first of its kind to test the accuracy of three depression screening tools routinely used by physicians. The screening tools have high accuracy in identifying depression, the researchers concluded, but cutoff scores may need to be altered to identify depression more accurately among low-income urban mothers.


The study, found online in the journal Pediatrics, involved 198 mothers who were 18 years of age or older and whose children were no older than 14 months. The mothers attended well-child visits at the outpatient pediatric clinic at Golisano Children’s Hospital at the Medical Center.


The researchers found that 56 percent of the mothers, after a diagnostic interview, met the criteria for a diagnosis of a major or minor depressive disorder.


“This is an unexpected, very high proportion to meet diagnostic criteria for depression,” said Linda H. Chaudron, M.D., associate professor of Psychology, Pediatrics and of Obstetrics and Gynecology.


“This may be a group at high risk for depression. The message of this study is that pediatricians and other clinicians who work with low-income urban mothers have multiple screening tools that are easy to use and accurate. These tools can help clinicians identify mothers with depression so they can be referred for help.”


Many women experience the so-called “baby blues.” When the feelings persist or worsen it may be clinical depression.


The symptoms include insomnia, persistent sadness, lack of interest in nearly all activity, anxiety, change in appetite, persistent feelings of guilt, and thoughts of harming oneself or the baby. Postpartum depression affects up to 14 percent of new mothers in the United States, with higher rates among poor and minority women.


The researchers evaluated three screening tools, the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory II and the Postpartum Depression Screening Scale, using the diagnostic interviews for validation.


The three screening tools have been evaluated in many populations, but one of the reasons the study was done was to test the tools with a group for whom there is not much data—low-income women, especially African-American women, Chaudron said. The researchers also evaluated the validity of the screening tools at various times during the postpartum year.


“The screening tools are valid when used anytime during the postpartum year,” Chaudron said.


Use of traditional cutoff scores may not be as accurate as previously thought. Clinicians should be aware that scores two or three points below traditional cutoff scores may indicate a need for further evaluation, the researchers concluded.


The study was funded by a grant from the National Institute of Mental Health.


Source: University of Rochester

http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/02/19/income-influences-postpartum-depression/11591.html

Mood Influences Shopping Decisions

 

By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.


Emerging research expands the investigation of how mental status influences consumer spending. In a new study, scientists discover a proud consumer won’t necessarily make the same purchase as a contented one.


“Previous research shows that positive feelings produce a ‘rose-colored glasses effect,’ leading products to appear more desirable,” write authors Vladas Griskevicius (University of Minnesota), Michelle N. Shiota, and Stephen M. Nowlis (both Arizona State University).


“But we find that rose-colored glasses come in different shades.”


Although positive feelings of all sorts have often been lumped together into general categories such as “happiness” or “good mood,” the researchers found that different positive emotions had drastically different effects, including making some products somewhat less appealing.


Since participants in the authors’ studies were not aware that emotions were affecting their preferences, the effects were largely unconscious.


The authors studied how product preferences changed depending on whether a person was feeling pride, contentment, or a neutral emotional state. Some participants read a short story in which they imagined doing well on an exam, which is known to elicit pride.


“We found that pride enhanced desire for public display products,” the authors write.


“Feeling pride led people to want nice watches, shoes, and clothing for going out. However, pride did not enhance desire for home products.”


In contrast, the emotion of contentment led people to want products for their homes.


“When people felt contentment, they were more attracted to products such as beds, dishwashers, and clothing for lounging around the house,” the authors write. They were less enthusiastic about public display products.


“Our findings suggest that shoppers are likely to want to buy different products depending on the specific emotions that they are feeling,” the authors write.


“If a retailer is selling products that allow the consumer to ’show off’ to other people, this retailer may want to induce feelings of pride through store atmospherics or advertising. In contrast, a retailer selling primarily home furnishings might want to try to induce feelings of contentment.”


The research is found in the Journal of Consumer Research.


Source: University of Chicago Press Journals

http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/02/18/mood-influences-shopping-decisions/11552.html




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