How a simple blood test could improve life for more than half of depression patients.

If you've tried antidepressants to treat your depression, you probably already know this, but finding the right one can be a trial.

There are many different antidepressants out there today, and each works differently. Photo from Joe Raedle/Getty Images.


About 1 in 5 Americans will experience major depression during their lifetime. Antidepressant medication, either alone or in combination with things like cognitive behavior therapy or exercise, can be a powerful tool to help people live with depression — if it works.

Unfortunately, the go-to antidepressants don't work for more than half of the people who try them.

And about a third of all patients never find their perfect fit. This lack of response to the medication isn't anyone's fault — our bodies just work differently. But if you're looking to get help and worry about finding the right medication, a pretty amazing new tool could help.

If you've gone through this, you know the trial and error process can be physically, mentally, and emotionally taxing. It can mean weeks or months of wondering what each new thought means: whether those couple of sleepless nights are a new side effect or just run-of-the-mill insomnia; whether the medication is having any effect at all.

Is this a side effect or just restlessness? At 3 a.m., the line can be hard to see. Image from iStock.

Wouldn't it be awesome if we could skip some of that trial and error?

That's what a group of researchers in England is working on. Their research was just published in The International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology.

Their idea is a premedication blood test that would help find the right medication faster.

Image from iStock.

Over the past few years, scientists have been figuring out more and more about how depression affects our bodies. This new blood test measures the level of two biomarkers — or chemical signals — that have previously been linked to poor medication responses.

What they found is that different people had different levels of these biomarkers. If you were above a certain threshold, you had a 99% chance that the go-to meds wouldn't work for you. With this test, these people could save the time they would have spent in the past trying meds that would never work for them to begin with.

This new test could help more than half of the people who suffer from depression jump weeks — or even months — ahead in their treatment.


Image from iStock.

It's not a crystal ball — patients and psychiatrists would still need to work together to figure out the specifics — but instead a frustrating period of trial and error, some patients could skip straight to different medications, combinations, or non-medication-based treatments altogether.

This might sound like a simple thing, but if you've gone through those weeks of trial and error yourself, you know how much a relief this would be.

Brian Dow of the nonprofit Rethink Mental Illness was reported by The Independent as saying, "We hope this new research creates a much needed shortcut to a future where it's no longer luck of the draw when it comes to vital medication."

The next step is to take this from proof-of-concept to clinical trial.

Now that the science seems to back up the idea, the next step for scientists is to actually try it out in a clinical setting and see if it truly does work better than current methods.

In the future, treating depression could become easier and faster, helping people avoid the hassle of trial and error and letting them focus on the most important thing: getting healthy.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
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Increasingly customers are looking for more conscious shopping options. According to a Nielsen survey in 2018, nearly half (48%) of U.S. consumers say they would definitely or probably change their consumption habits to reduce their impact on the environment.

But while many consumers are interested in spending their money on products that are more sustainable, few actually follow through. An article in the 2019 issue of Harvard Business Review revealed that 65% of consumers said they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability, but only about 26% actually do so. It's unclear where this intention gap comes from, but thankfully it's getting more convenient to shop sustainably from many of the retailers you already support.

Amazon recently introduced Climate Pledge Friendly, "a new program to help make it easy for customers to discover and shop for more sustainable products." When you're browsing Amazon, a Climate Pledge Friendly label will appear on more than 45,000 products to signify they have one or more different sustainability certifications which "help preserve the natural world, reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers," according to the online retailer.

Amazon

In order to distinguish more sustainable products, the program partnered with a wide range of external certifications, including governmental agencies, non-profits, and independent laboratories, all of which have a focus on preserving the natural world.

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In the hours before he was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, then-President-elect Biden was sent a letter signed by 17 freshmen GOP members of the House of Representatives.

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The letter reads:

Dear President-elect Biden,

Congratulations on the beginning of your administration and presidency. As members of this freshman class, we trust that the next four years will present your administration and the 117thCongress with numerous challenges and successes, and we are hopeful that – despite our ideological differences – we may work together on behalf of the American people we are each so fortunate to serve.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.