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According to today’s Guardian
“The use of antidepressants has risen by more than a quarter in England in just three years, amid fears that more people are suffering from depression due to the economic crisis. The number of prescriptions for antidepressants increased by 28% from 34m in 2007-08 to 43.4m in 2010-11, according to the NHS information centre”.
But elsewhere of course there are doubts regarding the usefulness of such treatments, for example according to a “meta-analysis carried out by evolutionary psychologist Paul Andrews, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. His findings suggest that people who have not taken medication for depression are at a 25 per cent risk of relapse, compared to 42 per cent or higher for those who have taken and gone off an anti-depressant”.
Furthermore “Paul believes that anti-depressants interfere with the brain’s natural self-regulation of serotonin and other neurotransmitters, and that the brain can overcorrect once medication is suspended, triggering new episodes.”
“Misery Has More Company Than People Think,” a paper in the January issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, draws on a series of studies examining how college students evaluate moods, both their own and those of their peers. Led by Alex Jordan, who at the time was a Ph.D. student in Stanford’s psychology department, the researchers found that their subjects consistently underestimated how dejected others were–and likely wound up feeling more dejected as a result. Jordan got the idea for the inquiry after observing his friends’ reactions to Facebook: He noticed that they seemed to feel particularly crummy about themselves after logging onto the site and scrolling through others’ attractive photos, accomplished bios, and chipper status updates. “They were convinced that everyone else was leading a perfect life”.
Maybe it’ll be something to do with the size of your anterior cingulate cortex:
“Previously, some psychological traits were known to be predictive of an individual’s political orientation,” said Ryota Kanai of the University College London. “Our study now links such personality traits with specific brain structure.”
Kanai said his study was prompted by reports from others showing greater anterior cingulate cortex response to conflicting information among liberals. “That was the first neuroscientific evidence for biological differences between liberals and conservatives,” he explained.
There had also been many prior psychological reports showing that conservatives are more sensitive to threat or anxiety in the face of uncertainty, while liberals tend to be more open to new experiences. Kanai’s team suspected that such fundamental differences in personality might show up in the brain”
Interesting range of online experiments involving bio-motion here
December 6, 2010 by Adrian Frost.
It is proposed that happiness be classified as a psychiatric disorder and be included in future editions of the major diagnostic manuals under the new name: major affective disorder, pleasant type. In a review of the relevant literature it is shown that happiness is statistically abnormal, consists of a discrete cluster of symptoms, is associated with a range of cognitive abnormalities, and probably reflects the abnormal functioning of the central nervous system. One possible objection to this proposal remains–that happiness is not negatively valued. However, this objection is dismissed as scientifically irrelevant.
via null device
December 2, 2010 by Adrian Frost.
For a quarter-century, women have outnumbered men at Scrabble clubs and tournaments in America, but a woman has won the national championship only once, and all the world champions have been men. Among the world’s 50 top-ranked players, typically about 45 are men.
The top players, both male and female, point to a simple explanation for the disparity: more men are willing to do whatever it takes to reach the top. You need more than intelligence and a good vocabulary to become champion. You have to spend hours a day learning words like ‘khat,’ doing computerised drills and memorising long lists of letter combinations, called alphagrams, that can form high-scoring seven-letter words.
. . .
The guys who memorise these lists have a hard time explaining their passion. But the evolutionary roots of it seem clear to anthropologists like Helen Fisher of Rutgers University.
‘Evolution has selected for men with a taste for risking everything to get to the top of the hierarchy,’ she said, ‘because those males get more reproductive opportunities, not only among primates but also among human beings. Women don’t get as big a reproductive payoff by reaching the top. They’re just as competitive with themselves – they want to do a good job just as much as men do – but men want to be more competitive with others.’”
From New York Times
Images from Adverblog