Brain Scans Show 4 Different Types of Depression

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Scientists say they’ve found neurological evidence of four different subtypes of depression—a discovery that may someday help doctors select the best treatment for their depressed patients. The research was published in the journal Nature Medicine.

Depression is an exceptionally slippery beast. Unlike ailments located elsewhere in the body, mental illnesses are classified and diagnosed not by concrete physical signs, or biomarkers, but by patients’ behavior. There are a lot of problems with this approach, including the fact that a lot of different illnesses can cause the same symptoms—and that the same illness can cause different symptoms in different people.

What we call “depression” is an experience that likely has many different causes, co-author Conor Liston of Weill Cornell Medical College told Scientific American. “The fact that we lump people together like this has been a big obstacle in understanding the neurobiology of depression.”

Liston and his colleagues analyzed functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans from 17 different research sites around the world. They took in scans from 1188 people, about 40 percent of whom had depression, and were able to look closely at an astounding 258 brain regions in each person.

The team had expected to find some differences between the brains of people with depression and without. They found those, but they also found differences within the group of depressed people. Differences in brain activity and connectivity revealed four distinct subtypes among people with depression.

Most excitingly, these brain-activity subtypes matched up with different medical profiles. Patients in subtypes 1 and 2 described feeling more fatigue, while people in subtypes 3 and 4 had trouble feeling pleasure.

The subtypes also responded differently to treatment techniques. People in subtype 1, for example, were more likely to experience relief with transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), a non-pharmaceutical method that uses electromagnetic impulses to stimulate a sluggish brain.

More research is needed, but these findings are both heartening and promising, Liston says. Depression “is not just one biological thing.”

[h/t Scientific American]

Ground Beef Targeted by Massive Recall Might Still Be in Your Freezer

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More than 132,000 pounds of ground beef produced by Cargill Meat Solutions were recalled on September 19 due to a risk of E. coli O26, according to a news release from the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service. The affected beef was produced and packaged on June 21, so you may want to check your freezer for any burger patties or homemade bolognese sauce you stored away over the summer.

“FSIS is concerned that some product may be frozen and in consumers’ freezers,” the agency said in a statement. “Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”

Cargill Meat Solutions is based in Colorado, but these products have been shipped across the country. One death and 17 illnesses have been linked to the outbreak so far, with the dates of illness ranging from July 5 to July 25. According to the FSIS, people usually become ill within three to four days of exposure to E. coli O26. Symptoms include diarrhea (often bloody) and vomiting.

The recalled products have the establishment number “EST. 86R” inside the USDA inspection mark on the package. To see the 12 varieties of ground beef that were affected, click the following link [PDF].

The 'Pet First Aid' App From the Red Cross Prepares Pet Parents for Almost Any Situation

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People who have owned a cat or dog for years know intimate facts about their pet's health—like how many pairs of shoes they can eat without getting sick, or how many hours a day they can sleep without warranting a trip to the vet. But pet parents just starting out are often left in the dark when it comes to decoding their fur baby's behaviors. The Red Cross aims to demystify the process of raising a pet with a new app called Pet First Aid.

As Life Hacker reports, the first aid app is designed to prepare pet parents for a range of situations regarding their pet's health. If your dog is panting particularly hard after a long walk, the app will tell you if their breathing rate is normal; if your cat looks dehydrated, it can show you how to test its capillary refill time.

The resource is best used as a study tool, so if a pet health emergency does occur, you'll be prepared for it. After reading up on guides detailing pet CPR and how to treat a pet that's bleeding, you can test your animal-care knowledge with built-in quizzes.

The Red Cross makes it clear that its app is no replacement for a licensed medical professional, and even gives you the option to upload your vet's phone number or search for nearby animal hospitals within the app. Hopefully, the app's features for non-emergency situations, like its pet-friendly hotel locator, will get the most use.

You can download Pet First Aid for free from the Google Play store.

[h/t Life Hacker]

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