Depression’s Tipping Point

first_imgSomeday, a smart phone app that asks what you’re feeling 10 times a day may be able to tell you if you’re edging closer to depression—and recommend that you seek preventive therapy or drugs. Scientists have discovered that how quickly someone bounces back from negative feelings, over hours or days, can predict whether that person is at risk of an episode of major depressive disorder.“The holy grail of depression epidemiology is that we want to intervene early to prevent people from having depressive episodes,” says social scientist Stephen Gilman of Harvard University, who was not involved in the study. “Where this work is headed is making an advance in that direction, toward early detection and therefore early intervention.”Researchers asked more than 600 people—some healthy and some with a diagnosis of depression—to track their emotions for 5 or 6 days. Ten times a day, at random intervals, a watch would beep and the subjects would record how strongly they identified with each of four emotions: cheerful, content, sad, and anxious. Six to 8 weeks later, participants filled out a more detailed questionnaire that rated their levels of clinical depression.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*)By the end of the follow-up period, about 13% of the subjects had experienced a shift toward being more depressed, a number consistent with what would be expected in the general population. Trends in the daily mood records, the team discovered, could predict whether a previously healthy person would make that shift toward depression.Mathematically, it turns out, the shift from a healthy state to a depressed state resembles other so-called tipping points—moments of critical mass where a system, such as changes to Earth’s climate or a social trend—shift rapidly from one state to another. Theories on tipping points suggest that as a system nears a tipping point, it becomes less resilient.“In any system, if you push the system a little bit out of equilibrium, then the closer it is to the tipping point, the longer it takes to return to equilibrium after that perturbation,” explains Ingrid van de Leemput, an ecologist at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands who led the new work. Indeed, the longer a patient took to recover from feelings of sadness and anxiety, the more likely they were to be more depressed by the end of the study, suggesting that they were closer to a tipping point between health and depression, her team reports online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The results matched with a mathematical model that the researchers had previously created to represent how emotional swings could signal an impending tipping point.“If a healthy person has an unpleasant call with their employer, they will be unhappy about it and dwell on it for 10 or 20 minutes but be done with it fairly quickly,” says psychiatry researcher Angelique Cramer of the University of Amsterdam, who collaborated with Van de Leemput. “What you see in people who are about to become depressed is that the next day, they are still sad about a phone call the day before.” Over time, she says, various symptoms of depression—negative mood, fatigue, and concentration problems, for example—can create a negative feedback loop that causes full-blown psychiatric disease. Cramer says the new research could lead to new ways for psychiatrists to track their patients’ well-being.“I think this could open up new avenues of research in many ways,” Gilman says. He’d like to see the work expanded to include more variables that are already known to increase depression risk—such as family history, previous episodes of major depression, and social factors. “Really what we want to know is where on the distribution of sadness and mood is the dividing line between a serious depressive episode and nondepression. And are there factors that can push people further from or towards that dividing line?”last_img read more

EA to acquire PopCap Games for 1 billion

first_imgWhen larger companies want to expand into new markets they usually just end up buying a company that’s already established in said market. When it comes to video games there are few bigger companies than EA, and it looks as though the company wants to take a bigger role in mobile and casual gaming.PopCap Games is thought to be up for acquisition with the purchase price set at $1 billion or above. Not that many companies could afford to spend that much, but EA can, and it is thought to be the frontrunner for picking up PopCap.While $1 billion sounds like a lot of money, PopCap is no ordinary games company. Every game they release seems to hit gold and be a money printer by becoming an instant classic. Who doesn’t know the names Bejewelled, Zuma, Chuzzle, Peggle, Bookworm, and of course Plants vs. Zombies?Although EA is a frontrunner for the acquisition there are other companies out there who’d love to take control of PopCap’s IP. The most obvious has to be Zynga whose whole business revolves around being very popular in the casual gaming market. Also, if EA is showing an interest then Activision Blizzard could get involved just to head off what its rival is doing.Regardless of who does end up acquiring PopCap, the back catalog of popular games coupled with market penetration in casual, digital downloads, and increasingly mobile platforms should make that billion-dollar investment easy to recoup. However, past performance is no guarantee of future success so there’s sure to be some strict deals in place to ensure the talent doesn’t leave the company for a few years once an acquisition is completed.With a $1 billion valuation it’s no surprise that PopCap laughed at Microsoft back in 2002 when it offered to buy the company for $5 million.via TechCrunchlast_img read more