SciBites: Week of April 3rd

SciBites: Week of April 3rd

New definition of depression aims to improve treatment

Around the world, many people with depression don’t seek care for their symptoms and don’t benefit from new knowledge on how to treat depression. A recent essay by Vikram Patel of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in London, U.K., introduces a staged model that redefines depression and aims to match people with the care they need. The proposed model has four stages: wellness (the absence of distressing emotional experiences), distress (mild to moderate distressing experiences of short duration), depressive episode or disorder (severely distressing experiences lasting at least two to four weeks with impairment of social functioning), and recurrent or refractory (depression that doesn’t respond to routine treatments). A key barrier to the new model, Patel says, is the continuing low rate of detection of depression. However, this model could be an alternative approach to current methods of boosting detection rates.

Shared ancestry influences marriage choices, population genetics

The choice of whom you marry may be related to the tendency to marry someone who shares your same ancestry — a trend that can have important effects on the genetics of different populations, according to a new study in PLOS Genetics. This is the first investigation into mating patterns across multiple generations within a U.S. population. The researchers explored genetic similarity between spouses from three generations of white people in the Framingham Heart Study, an ongoing examination of heart health in the residents of Framingham, Massachusetts, which began in 1948. The study involved over 800 spouse-pairs and showed that individuals of Northern European, Southern European and Ashkenazi ancestry preferentially chose spouses of the same background. However, the researchers also noticed that in each successive generation, individuals were less likely to choose a spouse with the same ancestry. The findings from this study reflect demographic patterns and how they have changed over time.

Image Credit: Depression by Ryan Melaugh via Flickr

Author

Jen is the Editorial Media Manager at PLOS. Before her time at PLOS, she's worked in broadcast news, radio and online media.

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