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What depression, trauma can do to your age and appearance.

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A new study has found that people living with major depressive disorder are biologically older than people without depression, and that childhood trauma exacerbates this effect. The results illuminate the epigenetic mechanisms that might explain this discrepancy.

Major depression is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States.

In fact, more than 16 million adults will have had at least one major depressive episode during the past year.

The condition has been linked to various other adverse outcomes, from a shorter lifespan to a higher risk of cardiovascular problems.



New research shows that major depression may also mean premature aging. Scientists led by Laura Han — from the Amsterdam University Medical Center in the Netherlands — studied the DNA structure of people with depression and made an intriguing discovery.

 Han and colleagues found that the DNA of people with major depression is older by 8 months, on average, than that of people who do not have the condition.

The researchers presented their findings at the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology conference, held in Barcelona, Spain, and they published their study in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

This effect of premature aging was more significant in people who had had adverse childhood experiences, such as violence, trauma, neglect, or abuse.

In the U.S., almost 35 million children have experienced some form of trauma, according to a national survey. That is almost half of the nation’s child population. 

Studying how depression affects DNA

Han and colleagues examined the DNA of 811 people with depression and 319 people without. The participants were enrolled in the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety.

 Using blood samples, the researchers examined how the participants’ DNA changed with age. The study revealed that epigenetic changes took place more quickly in people with depression.

Epigenetics is the study of the changes in gene expression that do not affect the DNA sequence. Such changes can occur as a result of many factors, including environment and lifestyle.

One of the mechanisms through which epigenetic change occurs is called DNA methylation — that is, when a methyl group is transferred and added to the DNA.

Overall, the scientists saw that people with major depressive disorder had a degree of methylation and epigenetic change that was indicative of an older age. More specifically, this means that those with depression were biologically older, by 8 months, than people without depression.

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In some severe depression cases, this biological age was 10–15 years older than the chronological age.

 The study also found that those who had had childhood trauma were biologically 1.06 years older, on average, than people who had not experienced trauma.

The researchers replicated their findings by examining brain tissue samples.

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‘Epigenetic clock runs faster’ in depression

Han comments on their findings, saying, “The fact that we saw similar results in both blood samples and postmortem brain tissue helps support the belief that this is a real effect we are seeing.”

“This work shows,” she explains, “that methylation levels at specific loci increase and decrease with age, and so this pattern of methylation is a good indicator of biological age. This difference becomes more apparent with increasing age, especially once people move into their 50s and 60s.”

The results highlight the biological effect of early-life trauma and the importance of early preventive and therapeutic measures when it comes to depression and adverse childhood experiences.

However, she also points out that more research is needed to strengthen the findings. “Of course,” she says, “these are associations, so we need long-term linked studies (longitudinal studies) to be able to draw any conclusions whether the trauma causes the epigenetic aging.”

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Health & Lifestyle

Climate change forces El Paso to make treated sewage water turn into drinking water

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As the global climate changes and water becomes an increasingly scarce resource, a number of cities such as India, Australia has earlier express their concern to reduce water shortage.



The authorities has disclosed to her citizens stating that “What we are seeing is a systematic increase in temperature, so we’re seeing the snow-melt runoff earlier…and more rapid melt than average. And again, for a given level of snow-pack, less runoff actually reaching the river and reaching our reservoir.

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However, in a bid to mitigate the water shortages,  El Paso is set to become one of the first cities in the US to treat sewage water and turn it into drinking water.

Chief technical officer of El Paso Water, Mr Gilbert Trejo said that the facility to treat sewage water with multiple steps of filtration such as carbon and UV filtration to make sure no pathogens or microbes are present.

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Adding that It will help to solve a major supply problem in the city and what’s more, some locals even say it tastes better.

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Food & Cuisine

Satellites warn African farmers of pest parasitic diseases

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Prof Charlotte Watts, chief scientific adviser for the UK’s Department for International Development, which funds the plant doctor scheme, says a new initiative with CABI and the UK Space Agency (UKSA) will use the network to prevent, rather than just reduce infestations.



When speaking to the newsmen, she expressed that the idea is to use satellite data collected by the UKSA to develop a system that is able to predict when pest infestations will strike a week or more in advance.

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It is also designed to inform the farmers through mobile phone alert for them to take precautions, adding that it will help boost farmers incomes and mitigate poverty rate.

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The modern forecast is being used in Kenya, Ghana and Zambia and will be rolled out soon to other part of the world.

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