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Teens with Slow Cognitive Response Suffer from Depression, Anxiety Later as Adults: Study

Those who are slow in performance due to less cognitive speed suffer with anxiety and depression when they grow up into adults, says a new study conducted by Edinburgh University on 705 participants.

The study, led by Catharine R. Gale, and his team found that teenagers who showed slower processing speed turn to be more at risk of suffering from anxiety and depression, proving that the lower cognitive ability is a key contributor to depression, if not a direct cause.

The study that involved following up the 705 participants since 16 years of age with a simple cognitive speed test that also factors in the reaction time taken by the participants in pressing keys corresponding to numbers (1 to 4) flashed on a screen.

depressionIt also showed that those who are slower in their cognitive processing speed at the age of 16 suffered from increased anxiety and depression symptoms at age 36. After due consideration, the researchers found that there is a strong relationship with the mental health questionnaire called the General Health Questionnaire, though it is not linked to the other Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale.

The researchers have also studied the role of the cumulative effects of stress over time called “allostatic load” calculating the variables for measuring stress, blood pressure and general inflammation.

They found the allostatic load also accounts partially for the reaction time and anxiety and depression symptoms later in life. But this link is not definitive and depends on various factors and may vary from person to person and depending on circumstances, after adjustment for other factors.

The study has been published in the American Psychosomatic Society.

Depressiion and anxiety are disorders of the brain linked to weakened cognitive abilities. Some parts of the brain react to it affecting the mood, thinking, sleep, appetite, and behaviour, which can be corrected with medical intervention.

Some types of depression run in families but not confined to hereditary factors alone. Some recent genetics research findings indicate that risk for depression results from the influence of several genes acting together with environmental or other factors.

Apart from this, some extraneous factors such as loss of a loved one, a difficult relationship, or any stressful situation may trigger a depressive episode, which researchers say occurs with or without a direct trigger.

Symptoms of Depression/Anxiety:

  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feeling
  • Feeling of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feeling of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Irritability, restlessness
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
  • Fatigue and decreased energy
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
  • Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
  • Overeating, or appetite loss
  • Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
  • Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
Depression is currently one of the most common mental disorders in the United States and elsewhere. Each year about 6.7% of U.S adults experience it while 70% of them are women who are more prone to it than men, say studies.

According to an ethnic-based study, non-Hispanic blacks are 40% less likely than non-Hispanic whites to suffer from depression during their lifetime and the average age of its onset is around 32 years.

But 3.3% of 13 to 18 year olds have also experienced a serious depression in their early age, according to some studies in the past. Another finding suggests two apples a day to lower the depressive feeling in adults.

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