Hello and welcome to another edition of Best 5 Reads. Lets begin!
Backyard bullies have always been with us. We used to be able to spot bullies from blocks away. The swagger, jeers, taunts, and looks of disdain and aggression were on full display, and often the bully could be avoided by taking a different route home, or exiting school through a different door. The pleasure they took in shaming and intimidating others made their low empathy visible to all. The victim’s black eye or broken nose would provide evidence of the aggression. Fear and cries were seen and heard, and the bullying would stop.
Times have changed. In the digital age, there is a vast, invisible stage for bullying. Cyberbullying has reached epidemic proportions. Nearly half of all Internet users report being the target of some type of online mistreatment. The anonymous theater of the Internet guarantees that the Internet troll will see no signs of terror he inflicts.
In the past few decades substantial progress has been made in the research and development of treatments for major depression. Many different types of medications and psychotherapy are currently available and rigorous studies have shown that antidepressants are more effective than placebo, and several types of psychotherapies are more effective than waiting list or other controls. These findings suggest that many patients with depression can be successfully treated. Based on these significant and positive effects, many of these treatments are included in treatment guidelines and are widely used in clinical practice. However, not all patients with depression recover with available treatments and several important challenges need to be resolved to improve existing treatments and to increase the number of patients who benefit from them.
But one of the starkest examples of inequity, and one that in my opinion has received shockingly little attention until now, is the huge difference in longevity between people with serious mental illness and the rest of the population. People with severe depression, bipolar disorder and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia generally die 10-25 years earlier than the general population. The majority of these premature deaths are due to physical health conditions.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), access to comprehensive health services remain out of reach for the majority of people with severe mental disorders. Recognising this inequity, the organisation has released, for the first time, evidence-based guidelines on the management of physical conditions in adults with severe mental disorders.
Albert Camus was a French philosopher, author, and journalist. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. To examine Camus’ central ideas and views surely one must get back to one of his best works, The Myth of Sisyphus.
The central essay revolves around a portrait of the mythological figure of Sisyphus. Sisyphus, the king of Corinth, was infamous for his trickery, ultimately cheating death twice, which ultimately led Zeus to sentence him to an eternal punishment of rolling a boulder up a hill in the depth of Hades, only for the boulder to roll back down again.
Depression is a common and debilitating mental health condition whose underlying aetiology and pathophysiology is still relatively poorly understood. In this article, we first turn to the past and briefly review what neuroscientific investigations have taught us so far about depression. In doing so, we cover neurochemical, neuroendocrine, immunological, functional and structural anatomical, and cognitive levels of description. We then turn our attention to the future and discuss where the field might be moving in the years to come. We argue that future developments may rely on three important lines of enquiry: first, the development of an integrated neuroscientific model of depression and its treatment in which different levels of description can be mechanistically linked, and in which distinct pathophysiological trajectories leading to depressive symptomatology can be identified. Second, the continued search for potentially overlooked pathophysiological factors, especially outside the immediate boundaries of the brain. And third, the improvement in translation of neuroscientific insights to aid and advance clinical practice and research.
Thank you and see you tomorrow!