Kids, Activity and Depression

July 13, 2004

A recent study of 4594 followed from the start of 7th grade to the end of 8th grade shows that increases in physical activity were related to a decrease in depression. The more active the middle-schoolers, the less likely to be depressed. The possibility exists that increasing depression causes decreasing activity, however studies in adults show that increasing physical activity helps alleviate depression and that exercise increases levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters include norepinephrine and serotonin, two main targets that are increased by antidepressant drugs. Neurotrophin levels are also increased by exercise. Neurotrophins are chemicals in the brain that help protect nerve cells, and help the nerves work better in parts of the brain that affect mood. The study appears in the latest edition of Psychosomatic Medicine.

Snoring and Children

Children who frequently snore have a poorer quality of sleep. It was assumed by many physicians that only sleep apnea - a temporary stoppage of breathing during sleep, and not simple snoring, would be a cause for concern. This habitual snoring is enough, according to a new study, to decrease their thinking ability, language, spatial judgment, and even decrease their attention span, cause social problems and increase their risk of suffering anxiety, depression, or display hyperactivity. The study appears in the July issue of the journal Pediatrics.

New Guidelines Call for Lower Blood Levels of Cholesterol

The NCEP (National Cholesterol Education Program) has released new guidelines for cholesterol levels. The Heart Protection Study provided strong-new evidence linking LDL-cholesterol and heart disease. Based on this and other new findings (sometimes based on results of statin drug trials) the NCEP authors recommend an LDL level of 100 or less for high-risk patients and sometimes possibly lower than 70 for very high risk patients. For moderately high risk patients 130 or less may be acceptable. The report is published in the July 13th issue of Circulation.