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Heartbroken: Is Depression a risk factor for heart disease?

While clinical depression is classified as a mental illness, it can nonetheless give rise to a number of somatic (physical) symptoms. From headaches to weight loss, depression’s effects on the body are numerous and well documented. Now, according to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, we can count coronary heart disease among the physical conditions with a correlation (but not causative effect!) to depression.   

“Living in a Material World:” Materialistic People More Likely to be Depressed?

We’ve all heard Madonna’s famous and catchy eighties single “Material Girl” with a tongue-in-cheek declaration of herself as a material girl. Most of us would agree that in today’s consumerist society, we are indeed “living in a material world.”  While stores are churning out the latest high-priced products, and advertisements plastered across every medium are screaming out for our attention, we are rapidly amassing material possessions. But do they actually make our lives any better? A recent study conducted at Baylor University, and published inPersonality and Individual Differences, points to the very opposite; researchers found that individuals who were more materialistic had lower levels of life satisfaction, and were more likely to be depressed. 

“Narrative Enhancement Cognitive Behavioral Therapy”

There is no doubt that a stigma towards depression and mental illness exists in society, but when the stigma that is prevalent is internalized, there can be serious negative outcomes. Internalized stigma can lead to many complications, and can worsen the symptoms of already existing consequences of mental illness. Scientific evidence that shows that in 1 out of every 3 people suffering from mental illness, the rate of internalized stigma is higher, which compromises the outcomes of recovery (Yanos). 

An Unlikely Epidemic

Every two years, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) releases data about the prevalence of Spectrum Disorders. In their latest report, data demonstrates a significant change in the number of diagnoses from 2008 to 2010: a noteworthy 30% increase in prevalence in the United States.  As of 2010, 1 in 68 children is reported to have been diagnosed with an ASD (Biao 2014). The large spike in numbers, however, is likely not due to drastic changes in air quality or new diets of the next generation. They are also probably not caused by radical changes in gene pools or environmental factors. Though it may be unnerving at first glance, these numbers don’t necessarily indicate a significant increase in the disorder. In fact, the hike in numbers may point towards a positive trend: progress in the levels of ASD awareness (Bloudoff-Indelicato 2014).    

Starting Early

The brain changes at a rapid pace in young children, as they experience a newfound world—a domain outside the amnion—and discover the capabilities and potentials of their bodies. The sensations they are bombarded by and the reactions they employ are all chronicled in the increasing connectivities of their brains. Since not every child experiences his/her surroundings in the same light, there are bound to be differences in the progression of mental developments. In the case of ASDs, there seems to be recognizable disparities in the brain connectivity of an autistic child relative to one without any symptoms of ASDs.