January 2013

What Can We Learn about Major Depression and Facebook?

Do you ever wonder how logging into social networks affects your mental health? When you browse Facebook, do you find support and companionship or something less helpful?  Researchers at the University of Michigan endeavor to answer these questions with a current study that aims to better understand how Facebook use relates to emotions and behaviors in people with and without Major Depressive Disorder. This study lays the groundwork for future studies that will look at how social networks can be beneficial to people with MDD.

While social media and new technologies emerge as areas of interest for researchers, these tools also enable more ways for potential research participants to take part in research, regardless of where they’re located, how easily they can travel, or how many hours a day they’re available. Participants can get involved in the University of Michigan’s Facebook study without ever leaving their homes. The study includes one brief phone screening, followed by a clinical diagnostic interview (1.5–2 hours) conducted in-person for area residents and over the phone for others. If eligible, participants will complete the study through online surveys, text-message questionnaires, and by allowing the research team to observe the participant’s Facebook wall.

All information provided by participants will be stripped of personally identifying information to ensure privacy, and researchers will also de-identify the participant’s Facebook wall posts from friends and others so that no one’s privacy is violated.

Answering questionnaires may cause participants to learn something new about themselves at the same time that they’re helping researchers. But that’s not the only benefit. Participants will also receive up to a total of $80 for their time, and will be entered into a raffle to win an iPod Nano upon successful completion of the study.

Find out more about the study and see if you’re eligible to participate.

Remote Roundup

WeSearchTogether connects you to studies you can do from anywhere—no travel required! Check out the latest remote-participation studies:

  • Feelings in the Family Study
    Researchers want to know how family members get along when a parent experiences depressive feelings. This study is looking for mothers who are experiencing depressive feelings and who have at least one child between the ages of 6 and 12. Participants will answer questionnaires by mail and be interviewed over the phone. They’ll be paid $25 for their time.
  • Romantic Relationships and Bipolar Disorder
    Do romantic partners help you stay well while managing bipolar disorder or do they sometimes get in the way? Whether you’re single, dating, or married, this study invites you to share your relationship stories through an online survey. Your stories will shape tools for fostering supportive romantic relationships for others who are living with bipolar disorder. 

Report Shows Promise of Creatine as Natural Way to Enhance SSRIs for Women with Major Depressive Disorder

Women are about twice as likely as men are to develop depressive disorders. According to data collected by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 23% of women in their 40s and 50s take a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) medication (Celexa, Lexapro, Prozac, Luvox, Paxil, or Zoloft) to treat a mood disorder. SSRIs help symptoms of depression by increasing the amount of serotonin available to the brain. Unfortunately, it usually takes several weeks for a person prescribed the medication to feel relief from their symptoms. Many people become discouraged by the lack of change and stop taking their medication, causing a dangerous cycle.

Anyone who has experienced the onset of a mood disorder understands the urgency to relieve the overwhelming symptoms. Dr. Lyoo, from the Brain Research Center of the 21st Century Frontier Research Program, has discovered a tool that could shorten the waiting period for people prescribed SSRIs for major depressive disorder. His study suggests that when women with major depressive disorder took a supplement called creatine in combination with the SSRI medication, they reported feeling significantly improved by as early as 14 days. Creatine is naturally produced in the human body from amino acids. This study suggests that taking creatine with SSRIs as a woman with major depressive disorder may make the therapeutic benefits of the medicine take effect sooner than without creatine. Read more about this study.

Getting Personal with Dana

Why participate in research? In this installment, research volunteer and WeSearchTogether outreach specialist Dana Parker-Mathis tells her personal story of what led her to participation and how participation changed her life. Watch the video.

Social Center

What do you think mental health researchers should study next about mood disorders?

Tweet your answers to @WeSearch2gether with the tag #researchnext so we’ll be sure to see what you think!

Head to our social media accounts to give your opinion on this and other questions about mood disorder research. Like and follow our Facebook and Twitter so that you’ll know when a new question goes out. We’ll be offering a chance to win free WeSearchTogether swag for your answers, and we may feature your answer in our next WeSearchTogether e-News.