I like it when I know celebrities, it makes me feel important. So imagine how excited I was when I went to my Epic personalization session yesterday and I was seated with that famous New York Times quoted psychiatrist, Dr. Adam Kaplin. Dr. Kaplin's work was discussed in a Well article earlier this week on the rise of suicide in the springtime, Clues in the Cycle of Suicide.
Dr. Kaplin studies depression in patients with multiple sclerosis, an autoimmune inflammatory disease. In M.S., he says, depression and inflammation feed each other: Even after accounting for the psychological effects of any serious illness, M.S. heightens depression risk, and depression amplifies the inflammation central to the disease’s central pathologies.
Driving this relationship, Dr. Kaplin suspects, are immune-system chemical messengers called cytokines. Some cytokines increase inflammation, while others curb it.
Inflammatory cytokines play crucial roles in fighting infection, but they can also cause problems. When people with hepatitis C are given the cytokine interferon to help fight the infection, for instance, up to 40 percent become depressed and one in 50 attempt suicide. Other studies suggest that inflammatory cytokine activity reduces levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin and halts the growth of new brain cells — two hallmarks of depression.
I couldn't tell if Dr. Kaplin was having more or less success navigating Epic than I was.
And for those who can't wait until Sunday, the New York Times Magazine will be featuring an article on a man who studies suicide. The Suicide Detective is a story about Harvard psychologist Matthew Nock, who is working on a word association test to improve detection of suicidality. Kim Tingley writes:
Nock began to talk about pain. He imagined the building was on fire and that leaping from the window was the only way out. He evoked piercing ear infections that no drug could touch. He said he knows what it is like to be in intense pain and have an urgent need for it to stop, though he has never been suicidal. But he knows from his research that in most cases, feeling suicidal — for whatever reason — is a state that comes and goes. This is what drives him to turn levers, to keep asking people who attempt suicide, “Why?” As individual as their responses are, they tend to share at least one detail. “Virtually all of them,” he said, “say, ‘I’m glad I didn’t die.’ ”