Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most common mood disorder in the United States with a lifetime prevalence of 14.4% (Kessler, Petukhova, Sampson, Zaslavsky & Wittchen, 2012)., but it wasn’t fully understood when my mother was in her early twenties having babies. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 5th edition (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), an individual is required to exhibit a minimum of five depressive symptoms every day for a period of at least two weeks, which are newly presented or clearly worsened prior to the onset of the depressive episode, in order to be diagnosed with MDD. One of these five symptoms must include a depressed mood (Criterion A1), which is described as being depressed, or having a loss of interest/pleasure in hobbies/activities that were considered pleasurable. In addition to one of these two symptoms, an individual must have four other depressive symptoms which may include significant changes in appetite or weight; sleep; psychomotor activity; loss of energy or fatigue; feelings of worthlessness; diminished ability to think or concentrate; or suicidal ideation. All of these symptoms, with the exception of weight loss/gain and suicidal ideation, need to be present every day for the two week period to meet the DSM-V criterion for MDD. Furthermore, depressive episodes must significantly impair social or occupational functioning (Criterion B). Lastly, episodes must not be attributed to substance abuse (Criterion C) or better explained by other psychological disorders (Criterion D and E) such as schizophrenia, bipolar, etc. Depressive episodes may appear at any age; however, MDD is most prevalent in adults (18-64 years) with a median age of onset in the 20s. For example, adults are twice as likely to be diagnosed with MDD as compared to both adolescents (13-17 years) and older adults (65+ years) (Kessler et al., 2003; Kessler et al., 2012). Read more
Within genetics, a special branch of DNA science—called quantitative, or biometrical, genetics—has emerged, which studies the heritability of such traits as intelligence, behavior, and personality. This branch focuses on the effects of polygenes in the creation of certain phenotypes. Polygenes, as the name implies, refer to the interaction of several genes; and phenotypes are certain variable characteristics of behavior or personality. Quantitative geneticists, therefore, study the effects of groups of genes on the development of personality and other abstract variables. They rarely, it should be noted, are able to pinpoint a behavior's genesis to a specific gene although certain genes have been found to cause a small number of diseases, such as Huntington's disease and other degenerative disorders. In 1988 a study of twins reared apart revealed the heritability of 11 common character traits. The findings, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, reported that social potency is 61% influenced by genes; traditionalism, 60%; stress reaction, 55%; absorption (having a vivid imagination), 55%; alienation, 55%; well-being, 54%; harm avoidance (avoiding dangerous activities), 51%; aggression, 48%; achievement, 46%; control, 43%; and social closeness, 33 percent. Other recent studies have compiled lists of traits most influenced by heredity. Physical characteristics that are most genetically determined include height, weight, tone of voice, tooth decay, athletic ability, and age of death, among others. Intellectual capabilities include memory, IQ scores, age of language acquisition, and reading disabilities. Emotional characteristics found to be most influenced by heredity were shyness, extroversion, neuroses, schizophrenia, anxiety, and alcohol dependence. It is important to note that these are tendencies and not absolutes. Many children of alcoholics, for instance, do not become alcoholics themselves. Many social and cultural factors intervene as humans develop, and the child of an alcoholic, who may be genetically vulnerable to acquiring the disease, may avoid drinking from witnessing the devastation caused by the disease. (For a fuller discussion of the role of environment, see Nature-Nurture Controversy.)
Read more: Heredity - Emotional Development, Extroversion, Genes, and Traits - JRank Articles
On June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments into law. For more information Click Here
The United States Women’s soccer team is still fighting for equal treatment and pay despite being the top team in international competition for years. “Amid its ongoing gender discrimination lawsuit with the United States Women’s National Team (USWNT), the USSF argued in a new court filing that the job performed by male soccer players “requires a higher level of skill based on speed and strength” and “more responsibility” than that of female players. The attorneys for the Federation also claimed that it is not "a 'sexist stereotype' to recognize the different levels of speed and strength required for the two jobs." Rather, "it is indisputable 'science,'" the attorneys said.
UPDATE! ON May 18, 2022, the US Soccer Federation announced a landmark deal to pay the men’s and women’s team players equally.
Although exercise is necessary for health, too much exercise can negatively affect the immune system. “Regular moderate exercise is associated with a reduced incidence of infection compared with a completely sedentary state. However, prolonged bouts of strenuous exercise cause a temporary depression of various aspects of immune function (e.g., neutrophil respiratory burst, lymphocyte proliferation, monocyte antigen presentation) that usually lasts 3–24 h after exercise, depending on the intensity and duration of the exercise bout.” “Immune Function in Sport and Exercise,” by Michael Gleeson. Journal of Applied Physiology, August 2007. Vol. 103, No. 2, 693-699.
The ‘runner’s high’ can be attributed to the burst of endorphins released after prolonged or strenuous exercise, but recent research suggests that there may be another factor at play. Scientists have identified the role of endocannabinoids that are released into the bloodstream during exercise in reducing anxiety and inducing a feeling of calm. Endocannabinoids are related to cannabis but naturally produced in our bodies. Click Here
Drug overdose deaths and opioid-involved deaths continue to increase in the United States. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an including prescription. From 2000 to 2015 more than half a million people died from drug overdoses. 91 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose. We now know that overdoses from prescription opioids are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. Yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report. Click Here
“How Parents Trauma Leaves Biological Traces in Children,” by Rachel Yehuda; Scientific American; July 1, 2022. This article explores how trauma can be passed down from generation to generation. The author looks at a study that followed pregnant women who experienced 9/11 and found that many of the mothers had developed PTSD post-birth. In these women the babies, especially those whose mothers were in the third trimester at the time of the crisis, also exhibited similar chemical markers (low cortisol). This same finding has been reported in adult children of Holocaust survivors. The article is highly scientific and goes into the complicated mechanisms that impact our response to trauma either, while in the womb, or once we are born. Suffice it to say there are many factors at play. The interesting part to me is that the author’s own research indicates that “ offspring are not always passive recipients of their parents’ scars.” Children can develop physical adaptations to deal with any trauma. In addition, how traumatized parents interact with their children can influence their development. There is the potential to develop mechanisms “through which offspring become better equipped to cope with adversity.” Click Here
Students who have diagnosed learning disabilities are eligible for extra assistance. When Jade was in elementary school, she was officially given a 504 which under federal law allows for accommodations like extra time for tests and other assignments. This is considered a civil rights matter and was made a law in 1973 under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. It requires a school district to provide a free appropriate public education to each child with a disability in the district. Prior to this law children with severe disabilities were basically excluded from an education. One of the positive outcomes has been that even kids like Jade, whose disability was identified as difficulty with visual tracking, have been able to get more assistance.
Craniosacral therapy (CST) is a hands-on technique that uses a light touch to examine membranes and movement of the fluids in and around the central nervous system. Relieving tension in the central nervous system promotes a feeling of well-being by eliminating pain and boosting health and immunity. If you are looking for a traditional treatment, this is not it. I will admit, when I first was introduced to it, I thought it was voodoo, but I quickly became convinced of its effectiveness when many of my long term ailments were alleviated with treatment. My advice is to find a reputable practitioner and try it for yourself as this one is hard to explain unless you experience it.
The article in the following link discusses the pros and cons of CST. The bottom line is there is not much research out there to support the effectiveness of the therapy. I can only report my personal experience which has been only positive. It is something that I think is worth trying if you have not found effective treatment in more mainstream therapies. Source
I mention the Buddhist principle that longing is one of the three poisons. Another way to characterize this trait is greed. The other two poisons are hatred, and delusion or ignorance.
I recently heard a podcast with Susan Cain (author of Quiet) whose work I admire. She argues that longing/desire is one of the things that unites all humans and that grief is actually something that can bring us to a better place. I agree with this as I illustrate in my book with my response to my father’s death and Jade’s addiction. The sorrow of those events allowed me to reach a deeper place in myself. Grief when faced can be powerful.
I also agree that it is part of the human condition to want things and to strive for more. The problem is when this desire overtakes us and becomes our primary reason for living. When longing crosses over into craving, problems arise. The line is so slim. My mother craved to be loved and as a result, it controlled her versus the other way around.
Among Buddhist scholars, there is an ongoing discussion about this distinction. Some hol that any longing can lead to attachment which is something to be avoided to find true enlightenment. However, not wanting anything in our modern world can lead to inertia which is also not desirable.
Another expert, Marshall Goldsmith, author of The Earned Life: Lose Regret, Choose Fulfillment, and a renowned life coach offers another perspective that I believe makes Buddhist principles more applicable to everyday life in the modern world. He argues that you don’t have to stop attempting to achieve goals in life. But, you cannot get addicted to the outcome. Striving to better your circumstances by accomplishing meaningful things is actually a practical way to achieve happiness. It means that you must continually ask yourself if you are being the person you want to be in the pursuit of those goals. If you stray from that path then it is time to re-evaluate.
This could not be truer for me as I am now at a place where I continue to run and race, but in the midst of it, I am more present with myself and others. Listening to what my body says, paying more attention to my surroundings, and not being afraid to say no.
Each person’s spiritual path is going to be different. Some people will find the answers in organized religion. Others, like myself, will look to nature and movement for spiritual solace. However, we are all seeking the same thing: a sense of peace and fulfillment that does not come from material things.