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A newly developed universal blood test can help to predict if a person is at high suicide risk. Indiana University researchers say the test is unique as it can be given to everyone. The scientists also report the development of personalized blood tests for different subtypes of suicidality, and for different psychiatric high-risk groups.
Researchers explain that two apps — one based on a suicide risk checklist and the other on a scale for measuring feelings of anxiety and depression – have been designed to be used in conjunction with the blood tests to enhance the precision of tests and to suggest lifestyle, psychotherapeutic, and other interventions.
The scientist have also identified a series of medications and natural substances that could be developed for preventing suicide.
“Our work provides a basis for precision medicine and scientific wellness preventive approaches,” said Alexander B. Niculescu III, M.D., Ph.D., professor of psychiatry and medical neuroscience at IU School of Medicine.
The article, “Precision medicine for suicidality: from universality to subtypes and personalization,” appears in the online edition of the journal, Molecular Psychiatry.
The research builds on earlier studies from the Niculescu group.
“Suicide strikes people in all walks of life. We believe such tragedies can be averted. This landmark larger study breaks new ground, as well as reproduces in larger numbers of individuals some of our earlier findings,” said Dr. Niculescu.
There were multiple steps to the research, starting with serial blood tests taken from 66 people who had been diagnosed with psychiatric disorders, followed over time, and who had at least one instance in which they reported a significant change in their level of suicidal thinking from one testing visit to the next.
The candidate gene expression biomarkers that best tracked suicidality in each individual and across individuals were then prioritized using the Niculescu group’s Convergent Functional Genomics approach, based on all the prior evidence in the field.
Next, working with the Marion County (Indianapolis, Ind.) Coroner’s Office, the researchers tested the validity of the biomarkers using blood samples drawn from 45 people who had committed suicide.
The biomarkers were then tested in another larger, completely independent group of individuals to determine how well they could predict which of them would report intense suicidal thoughts or would be hospitalized for suicide attempts.
The biomarkers identified by the research are RNA molecules whose levels in the blood changed in concert with changes in the levels of suicidal thoughts experienced by the patients. Among the findings reported in the current paper were:
Source: University of Indiana/EurekAlert
Competitive situations can lead to a strong display of feelings, including the chance of heated arguments and disputes. However, as emotions get hot, not everyone reacts in the same way.
A new study finds that men respond differently to women, and the reactions of individuals are dissimilar to those of groups of persons.
In the research, psychologists at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) examined the correlations between competitiveness, aggression, and hormones.
Participants in a laboratory study were required to master competitive tasks over 10 rounds. They competed against each other either as individuals or as teams, and one side lost the competition while the other side won.
Participants were allowed to give full rein to their aggressive impulses during the competition.
For this purpose, at the beginning of each round, they were asked to specify how loud an unpleasant noise would be that the opponent would be required to listen to through headphones if they lost the round.
Saliva samples were collected from the participants prior to and after the competition in order to document changes to hormone levels.
Dr. Oliver Schultheiss and Dr. Jonathan Oxford found that men tended to behave more aggressively than women, that losers were more aggressive than winners, and that teams were more aggressive than individuals.
Furthermore, the researchers also detected a correlation between aggression and levels of the stress hormone cortisol; the more aggressively a person behaved, the lower their cortisol level was.
The study appears in the journal PLOS ONE.
“Our results show that the usual suspects are the ones who become aggressive — namely participants who are male and frustrated.
“But our analysis also revealed that it was easier for participants who were part of a team to attack others than it was for individuals. At the same time, elevation of stress hormones when encountering a threat that cannot be mastered is in actual fact associated with less aggression,” explains Schultheiss.
A unique aspect of the study included close inspection of female subjects.
Interestingly, researcher’s discovered the hormonal reaction to victory or defeat that occurred in women or female teams was significantly dependent on their personal thirst for power.
Women with a particularly marked thirst for power had higher levels of the sex hormones testosterone and estradiol after a victory than after a defeat.
This reaction was not recorded in women who have a less pronounced power-orientated outlook. Experts believe this hormonal reaction is the reason dominant behavior in women is intensified by a victory, and then subdued by a defeat.
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New research confirms what many Americans already know — that their jobs are hard and draining, and it is difficult to separate work from home.
The new study finds that workers frequently face unstable work schedules, unpleasant and potentially hazardous working conditions, and an often hostile social environment.
The findings stem from research conducted by investigators at the RAND Corporation, Harvard Medical School and University of California, Los Angeles. Investigators analyzed responses from the American Working Conditions Survey, one of the most in-depth surveys ever done to examine conditions in the American workplace.
Remarkably, more than one in four American workers say they have too little time to do their job, with the complaint being most common among white-collar workers.
In addition, workers say the intensity of work frequently spills over into their personal lives, with about one-half of people reporting that they perform some work in their free time in order to meet workplace demands.
Despite these challenges, American workers appear to have a certain degree of autonomy on the job, most feel confident about their skill set and many do report that they receive social support while on the job.
“I was surprised how taxing the workplace appears to be, both for less-educated and for more-educated workers,” said lead author Dr. Nicole Maestas, an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and an adjunct economist at RAND.
“Work is taxing at the office and it’s taxing when it spills out of the workplace into people’s family lives.”
Researchers say that while eight in 10 American workers report having steady and predictable work throughout the year, just 54 percent report working the same number of hours on a day-to-day basis.
One in three workers say they have no control over their schedule. Despite much public attention focused on the growth of telecommuting, 78 percent of workers report they must be present at their workplace during regular business hours.
Nearly three-fourths of American workers report either intense or repetitive physical exertion on the job at least a quarter of the time. While workers without a college education report greater physical demands, many college-educated and older workers are affected as well.
Emotional stress and challenges to mental health are a relatively common experience at the worksite. Researchers discovered more than half of Americans report exposure to unpleasant and potentially hazardous social environments.
Nearly one in five workers — a “disturbingly high” fraction, researchers said — say they face a hostile or threatening social environment at work. Younger and prime-aged women are the workers most likely to experience unwanted sexual attention, while younger men are more likely to experience verbal abuse.
The findings are from a survey of 3,066 adults who participate in the RAND American Life Panel, a nationally representative, computer-based sample of people from across the United States. The workplace survey was fielded in 2015 to collect detailed information across a broad range of working conditions in the American workplace, as well as details about workers and job characteristics.
Despite the importance of the workplace to most Americans, researchers say there is relatively little publicly available information about the characteristics of American jobs today.
The American Working Conditions survey is designed to be harmonious with the European Working Conditions Survey, which has been conducted periodically over the last 25 years among workers from a broad range of European nations.
The American Working Conditions Survey found that while many American workers adjust their personal lives to accommodate work matters, about one-third of workers say they are unable to adjust their work schedules to accommodate personal matters.
In general, women are more likely than men to report difficulty arranging for time off during work hours to take care of personal or family matters.
Jobs interfere with family and social commitments outside of work, particularly for younger workers who don’t have a college degree. More than one in four reports a poor fit between their work hours and their social and family commitments.
The report also provides insights about how preferences change among workers as they become older.
Older workers are more likely to value the ability to control how they do their work and setting the pace of their work, as well as less physically demanding jobs. Older workers are also generally less likely than younger workers to have some degree of mismatch between their desired and actual working conditions.
The survey also confirms that retirement is often a fluid concept. Many older workers say they have previously retired before rejoining the workforce, and many people aged 50 and older who are not employed say they would consider rejoining the workforce if conditions were right.
Other highlights from the report include:
Future reports will explore how conditions of the American workplace compare to those in Europe and in other parts of the world and selected findings from follow-up surveys using the same panel of participants.
Source: RAND Corporation
i thought i could never have a job interview again. and then i did.
i thought i would never be hired again. and then i was.
i thought i couldn’t tell my boss about my mental illness. and then i did.
i thought that i was the only one. and then i wasn’t.
i thought i couldn’t make it through one entire workday. and then i did.
i thought i couldn’t make it through the next one. i did that too.
i thought i couldn’t manage my anxiety and depression while holding down a job. and then i did.
i thought i could never be a trusted colleague again. and then i was.
i thought i could never be creative again. and then it came back.
i thought i could never see my colleagues from before my major episode again. and then i did.
i thought i would be judged. i was supported.
i thought i would be consumed with shame. and then i wasn’t.
i thought my old habits would kick in, that i couldn’t handle stress. and then i coped.
i thought that any setback would bring me down again. i got up. i kept going.
i thought i was out of options. i had choices.
i thought my confidence was gone for good. it was inside all along.
i thought my life was over. i’m still here.
i thought i would fail. i thought that i would fail. i thought that i would fail.
and then i flew.
Self-talk is common, a kind of an internal dialogue commonly used to moderate anxiety before a potentially stressful event. But not all self-talk is equally effective, and that is where the notion of “self-distancing” comes in.
New research suggest a self-distancing language, such as using the third person, can help us see ourselves through someone else’s eyes and can lead to improved confidence and performance.
“Being a fly on the wall might be the way to put our best foot forward,” said researcher Dr. Mark Seery, an associate professor in the University of Buffalo’s Department of Psychology and an expert on stress and coping.
“And one way to do that is by not using first-person pronouns like ‘I’. For me, it’s saying to myself, ‘Mark is thinking this’ or ‘Here is what Mark is feeling’ rather than ‘I am thinking this’ or ‘Here is what I’m feeling.’ It’s a subtle difference in language, but previous work in other areas has shown this to make a difference — and that’s the case here, too.”
Mark Seery, a University at Buffalo discovered that taking a “distanced perspective,” or seeing ourselves as though we were an outside observer, leads to a more confident and positive response to upcoming stressors than seeing the experience through our own eyes.
In the new study, investigators applied cardiovascular measures to test participants’ reactions while giving a speech. Researchers told 133 participants that a trained evaluator would assess a two-minute speech on why they were a good fit for their dream job.
The participants were to think about their presentation either with first-person (self-immersing) or third-person pronouns (self-distancing).
While they delivered their speeches, researchers measured a spectrum of physiological responses. Parameters included heart rate, and heart volume (how much blood the heart is pumping and the degree to which blood vessels dilated or constricted).
The data helped investigators correlate the self-talk perspective to data on whether the speech is important to the presenter and the presenter’s level of confidence.
“What this allows us to do is something that hasn’t been shown before in studies that relied on asking participants to tell researchers about their thoughts and feelings,” Seery said.
“Previous work has suggested that inducing self-distancing can lead to less negative responses to stressful things, but that can be happening because self-distancing has reduced the importance of the event. That seems positive on the face of it, but long-term that could have negative implications because people might not be giving their best effort,” he said.
“We found that self-distancing did not lead to lower task engagement, which means there was no evidence that they cared less about giving a good speech. Instead, self-distancing led to greater challenge than self-immersion, which suggests people felt more confident after self-distancing.”
The findings, with co-authors Lindsey Streamer, Cheryl Kondrak, Veronica Lamarche and Thomas Saltsman, are published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.
Source: University of Buffalo