Health/Sci-TechLifestyleVolume 13 Issue # 06

Depression increases chance of early death by 30pc

Depression increases the risk of an early death by up to three times, new research reveals. Men’s risk of a premature passing increases three-fold when suffering from the mental health condition, while women’s risk is heightened by up to 51 percent, a study found.


The findings were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Previous research reveals depression causes the release of stress hormones that suppress the immune system, putting sufferers at an increased risk of conditions such as cancer. People with the mental health condition may also be more likely to have unhealthy lifestyle habits, including a poor diet, inactivity and excessive alcohol intake, past studies have shown. Lead author Stephen Gilman from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Maryland, said: “For some individuals depression can be very serious condition.It is very important to seek treatment for depression and to be vigilant about recurrences.”


How the research was carried out. The researchers analyzed 3,410 adults between 1952 and 1967, 1968 and 1990, and 1991 and 2011. The study’s participants’ had an average age of 50 when the trial started. Results reveal depression increases the risk of an early death by up to three times. Men’s risk increases three-fold, while women’s peaks at 51 percent. The risk is greatest in the years following a depressive episode.

Previous research has linked depression to the release of stress hormones that suppress the immune system, putting sufferers at increased risk of disorders including multiple sclerosis, arthritis and even certain cancers. People with depression may also neglect their physical health through lifestyle habits such as a poor diet, inactivity, smoking and excessive alcohol intake.

The mental health condition is more prevalent in women, however, past findings suggest men suffer the effects of it more as they are often less inclined to seek help.

Is your social media use harming your mental health?

When it comes to social media, most of us routinely use at least one or two social media platforms. Whether you are a fan of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or any of the other social networks out there, it is undeniable that social media is ingrained in our daily lives and can aid in keeping us strongly and quickly connected to our family and friends with just a click of a button. As wonderful as it may seem, to always feel connected and keep abreast of what everyone in your social network is up to, there can sometimes be a downside or pitfall to constant social media use.


Extreme and excessive use of social media has become an enormous problem for many people. I’m sure we all know of someone who essentially bases their entire life existence on social media, to the extent that their online identity has become their only identity. It’s a huge sign that your social media use is problematic when you begin to lose your sense of self and no longer have or can maintain any actual real-life relationships. Nonetheless, it is key to really grasp the various ways social media overuse can have a damaging effect on your mental health and well-being.


Research has associated considerable social media use with depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation, especially in young adults. At the core of the problem is what some psychologists cite as the phenomenon of social comparison. Perhaps you see a post from a colleague, relative, or friend showcasing their incredible success, and all that is running through your mind is, “Wow, they’ve really made it! Do I measure up? Can I ever measure up?” We have this tendency to compare ourselves and our social standing with that of others, especially in the world of social media. These constant comparisons may unfortunately begin to gnaw away at one’s self-esteem and psyche.

Potassium may play vital role in heart health

Many people know potassium’s role in helping prevent muscle cramping, especially leg cramps, but a new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham is showing promise for this important mineral in maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.

The study showed the correlation between low potassium intake and hardening of the arteries. Unlike most minerals, there is technically no recommended daily allowance, so that makes it tough to determine how much daily potassium is needed. The amount generally considered adequate can vary by quite a bit, anywhere between 1,600 mg to 4,700 mg daily, depending on who you’re asking.


Taking a daily potassium supplement can help, but finding a potassium supplement much above 99 mg will likely involve a doctor’s prescription. Though uncommon in healthy adults, for certain individuals, high potassium supplementation can have risks like muscle fatigue, and in serious cases, abnormal heartbeat. Check with your doctor before supplementing with higher doses of potassium if you have any cardiovascular or kidney issues.


Many healthy fruits and vegetables, like avocados, spinach, bananas, sweet potatoes and broccoli, have high potassium content. Other sources include coconut water, vegetable juices, green juices or powders and blackstrap molasses. Making a high potassium smoothie, using coconut water as your liquid, adding a handful of spinach, using a banana or blackstrap molasses as your sweetener, and avocado to make it creamy, can make for a tasty way to get a good bit of dietary potassium all in one place. Add cacao powder and a pinch of cinnamon for a spiced dark chocolate flavor.


Potassium is a very important, yet sometimes overlooked mineral, but by paying attention to your diet, low potassium levels can be a thing of the past.

When “healthy eating” ends up making you sick

People, it seems, have never been so afraid of their food and, say some experts, an obsession with healthy eating may paradoxically be endangering lives.


Twenty-nine-year-old Frenchwoman Sabrina Debusquat recounts how, over 18 months, she became a vegetarian, then a vegan eschewing eggs, dairy products and even honey -– before becoming a “raw foodist” who avoided all cooked foods, and ultimately decided to eat just fruit. It was only when her deeply worried boyfriend found clumps of her hair in the bathroom sink and confronted her with the evidence that she realised that she was on a downward path. “I thought I held the truth to food and health, which would allow me to live as long as possible,” said Debusquat.


For some specialists, the problem is a modern eating disorder called orthorexia nervosa. Someone suffering from orthorexia is “imprisoned by a range of rules which they impose on themselves,” said Patrick Denoux, a professor in intercultural psychology at the University of Toulouse-Jean Jaures. These very strict self-enforced laws isolate the individual from social food gatherings and in extreme cases, can also endanger health. Paris nutritionist Sophie Ortega said she had one patient who was going blind due to deficiency of vitamin B12, which is needed to make red-blood cells.


B12 is not made by the body, and most people get what they need from animal-derived foods such as eggs, dairy products, meat or fish or from supplements. “A pure, unbending vegan,” her patient even refused to take the supplements, said Ortega. “It was as if she preferred to lose her sight… rather than betray her commitment to animals.”