In a medical breakthrough, based on 25 years’ research, scientists have found that people who carry a particular gene are more likely to suffer depression regardless of their life experiences. A study, to be published in the British Journal of Psychiatry this week, shows that people who carry a short serotonin transporter gene are predisposed to depression. Those who carry a long version of the gene are less susceptible to the illness.The gene has been implicated in depression before, but this study is the first and most conclusive evidence of its true role in the disease. Around 43 percent of the population is believed to carry the short version of the gene.
The breakthrough comes in the wake of a series of high-profile cases of depression, including: Art Buchwald, Sigmund Freud , Greg Louganis , Abraham Lincoln , Shawn Colvin , Terry Bradshaw , Jeff Reardon , Robert Munsch , Kerry Katona , Bill Styron , Marilyn Monroe , Alanis Morissette , Brooke Shields , Dan Cody, Pat Cash , Robbie Williams , Phil Spector , Steven Morrissey , Mike Wallace , Ted Turner , Lionel Aldridge , Kieron Dyer, Brian Wilson , Carmen Electra , Stephen Fry , Jordan . . .
The breakthrough could potentially help doctors and their patients more confidentially diagnose the condition or could be used to pre-warn carriers of their susceptibility and possibly take early preventative treatment. The serotonin transporter gene, which is responsible for our uptake of “feel good” serotonin and mood control, has been implicated in depression before – but this is the first and most conclusive evidence of its true role.
One person’s story . . .
A life full of loneliness is all that’s ahead
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Dear Annie: I frankly expect no answer to this message, but writing might release a little bit of my emotions, so, here goes. I am a never-married 42-year-old academic woman undergoing a midlife reappraisal. Low-level depression is part of my daily life. My physician says there is nothing wrong with me physically. I have no friends – anyone I ever thought was a friend turned out to be false due to my own bad judgment. Same thing with men. I ended my last relationship two years ago and have since realized no one is ever, ever going to be in my life again. I have no children.
I truly believe there is nothing to look forward to for the rest of my life. I’ve been through counseling, but it wasn’t any help. Everything is a temporary fix. The reality for me, and for a lot of other single people, is we desperately want love, but no love exists for us. How am I going to make it through the next few decades? My parents are pretty much the only reason I get up every morning. After they are gone, no one else will be there.
I have done everything I can to make a life. I try to be social and make friends, but I keep picking the wrong ones. When I die, no one will know what to do with any leftover family pictures or keepsakes. If you saw me on the street, you wouldn’t guess I feel so awful. I put on a happy face. If anyone reads this message, thanks for listening.
Dear Done: Your letter saddened us. We’re sure you speak for many singles who despair that love has passed them by. We’re more concerned, however, that you haven’t been able to form long-lasting, loyal friendships. There is something amiss in what attracts you, or in your expectations, and this is where counseling efforts should be focused. Please return to your counselor and work hard on this specific area. We’ll be thinking of you.
And, on the lighter side . . . .
Fight depression by adding color, whimsy to your decor
By Claire Whitcomb HomeStyle
As a cure for what he calls “seriousitis,” Jonathan Adler pairs his own designs — a white floor lamp and striped vase — with a bright Bertoia chair and a faux zebra rug. I f your dreams are lackluster, your routines dull and your relationships fraught, Jonathan Adler has three words for you: Change your house.
He doesn’t mean that you should buy a McMansion. He means take a little time and create a space where you and the people you love can experience joy, creativity and fun. “Your home should be like a good dose of Zoloft,” says Adler, a hip New York potter turned product interior designer.He’s such a strong believer in decorating’s positive effects that he’s created everything a home therapist would need: couches, lamps, rugs, bedding and tableware.And he’s penned “My Prescription for Anti-Depressive Living” (Regan Books, $34.95), a blast of optimism that combines Adler’s bright, modern look with advice on how to have a bright, modern outlook.
The first step: Assess how your house makes you feel. Forget style. Focus on the impression you get when you come in the front door at the end of a long day. According to Adler, that moment should be like “hearing your favorite song on the car radio, a first kiss, running into your ex-boyfriend and he’s fat.” If it feels more like “Sunday night, doing your taxes, eating fiber or getting your teeth cleaned,” he recommends living more colorfully — literally. Dress up a ho-hum chair with a lemon yellow pillow. Hide bright sheets under a tame bedcover. Paint your bathroom persimmon. “It’s almost impossible to be stressed out in a sage green breakfast room,” says Adler, who calls color “the most accessible over-the-counter, mood-altering substance I can think of.”
Some colors, of course, alter moods better than others. Baby blue and brown are Adler’s signature combination. He also likes waspy lime green paired with pink or brown or white. But the color that he turns to whenever he needs a dose of happy chic is orange. What Adler calls “the poppiest color” is great for dining rooms because it creates the seductive ambience of red, but with a more modern edge.
It’s also great as an accent color. Try an orange plastic lamp from Artemide ( www.artemide.com ). Or an orange hat stand, spray-painted with Safety Orange from Krylon, a hue Adler considers perfect. While you’re on a color kick, rethink the presence of white in your rooms. Maybe it’s time for a new neutral on the walls, perhaps camel, olive or baby blue. And what’s happening with your floors? Adler dislikes pale wood and has no patience with parquet. If you stain your floors a dark color, he promises that you can sit back and “watch everything in the room come to life.”
If you need more short-term decorating therapy, try Adler’s additional antidepressive tips:
- Start collections of quirky objects, such as other people’s high-school yearbooks.
- Stock guest rooms with “The Valley of the Dolls” and “Sex and the Single Girl.”
- Scour eBay for Vera and Hermes scarves from the ladies-who-lunch era. Use them to cover pillows.
- Have fun. Hang a chandelier in your closet. Put paintings over your bookcases.
- Check out www.thinkbigny.com . This famous company makes a 6-foot-long red toothbrush that you can use for a bathroom shelf or towel bar.
- Go grandiose. Name your house something like Balmoral Arms and order monogrammed napkins and stationery. “This is an especially good idea if you live in a studio apartment or a suburb of Buffalo,” Adler says.
- Celebrate TV. Adler recommends putting one in every room and playing “A Clockwork Orange” on a closed loop when you have a party.
- Think outside the box. “Dangle a hanging chair in your living room,” says Adler. “Put beaded curtains in doorways.”
And above all, don’t worry about getting things wrong. When Adler received his first decorating commission — a modernist beach house owned by a friend — he did a meticulous plan and then tossed it out the window. “Everything ended up in a different zone than I had envisioned it,” he recalls. “But it all worked perfectly.” Like any other creative endeavor, decorating doesn’t just happen. “You have to massage your rooms,” Adler insists. You have to putter and tweak and rearrange your possessions until your house passes the ultimate litmus test: You walk in the front door and you feel happy.