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Health briefs: Great Recession linked to rise in depression

The Great Recession saw the number of adults in the United States suffering from major depression rise significantly and remain higher, according to a new Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine study touted as the first to examine the recession’s impact on mental health.

Writing in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, the researchers said it’s not a stretch to think that the impact of the recession, which officially began in December 2007 and lasted 18 months, on economic security contributed to that.

“The impact of the economic downturn on depression prevalence should be considered when formulating future policies and programs to promote and maintain the health of the U.S. population,” the researchers — led by Dr. Murali Rao, who chairs Loyola’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences — wrote.

Analyzing data from 24,182 adults who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they found the prevalence of major depression rose from 2.33 percent of the U.S. adult populace during 2005-2006 to 3.49 percent in 2009-2010 to 3.79 percent in 2011-2012. Most affected were people living in poverty and without even a high school diploma.

LGBT health research center opens on North Side

What’s touted as the country’s first LGBT health research center opened last week at the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted St.

It’s a partnership between the Center on Halsted and the IMPACT LGBT Health and Development Program at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The two organizations said the research center aims to provide services for young people who are HIV-positive and to continue work on research “aimed at improving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender health, promoting HIV prevention and treatment and developing new training initiatives for health care professionals.”

Walking found to help after prostate cancer

Three hours a week of easy walking — or 90 minutes of brisk walking — could help limit some side effects of prostate cancer treatment, reducing fatigue and depression, Northwestern University researchers have found.

“This study shows that you don’t have to engage in high-impact, vigorous activities to improve your quality of life after a prostate cancer diagnosis,” said Siobhan Phillips, a kinesiologist and assistant professor of preventive medicine who was lead author of the study, reported in the Journal of Cancer Survivorship: Research and Practice. “Since many prostate cancer survivors might find vigorous activities hard to stick with, the good news is that simply focusing on walking more may be enough to make them feel better.”

She found walking helped with hormone function and vitality, though not with side effects involving bowel, urinary or sexual function that also can follow prostate cancer treatment.