Using Ketamine to Treat Severe Depression

Depression affects a lot of people and research into dealing with depression has taken on a lot of forms over the years. Recently there has been growing use of “party drugs” to treat those with depression. People with severe depression don’t react to treatments the same as others, which has led researchers to look for more diverse options.

Ketamine, used in veterinary clinics and in hospitals, has been used to treat depression and the results are rather impressive – 75% of people treated with ketamine showed positive results!

Since 2006, dozens of studies have reported that it can also reverse the kind of severe depression that traditional antidepressants often don’t touch. The momentum behind the drug has now reached the American Psychiatric Association, which, according to members of a ketamine task force, seems headed toward a tacit endorsement of the drug for treatment-resistant depression.

Experts are calling it the most significant advance in mental health in more than half a century. They point to studies showing ketamine not only produces a rapid and robust antidepressant effect; it also puts a quick end to suicidal thinking.

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The Unstoppable Renewable Revolution

For years naysayers have been arguing that renewable energy isn’t a good idea because the electrical input fluctuates too much on the grid. Now we have more evidence that those naysayers have nothing to back up their argument.

Over at Climate Progress they have a good post on key factors that make the renewable revolution unstoppable. One reason is the ability of technology to make up for perceived (and in some cases, real) shortcomings of renewable energy production.

A key point, though, is that new technology is increasingly making it less and less likely for there to be an unexpectedly cloudy or windless day. As a 2014 article on “Smart Wind and Solar Power” in Technology Review put it, “Big data and artificial intelligence are producing ultra-accurate forecasts that will make it feasible to integrate much more renewable energy into the grid.”

It’s already happening: “Wind power forecasts of unprecedented accuracy are making it possible for Colorado to use far more renewable energy, at lower cost, than utilities ever thought possible.” The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder makes these forecasts “using artificial-intelligence-based software … along with data from weather satellites, weather stations, and other wind farms in the state.” And that helped Xcel Energy, a major power producer in the state, set a remarkable record in 2013 — “during one hour, 60 percent of its electricity for Colorado was coming from the wind.”

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Damn Those Dams

Dams were a popular way (and still are in some places) to manipulate water reserves for people and as a way to generate energy. The problem with this naturally flowing water being dammed is that it kills fish and negatively impacts other wildlife. Dams cause a huge amount of damage on their local ecosystem and this cascades to more damage with each additional flow blockage.

It’s time to teardown the dams.

There are other reasons to reconsider dams: many of them, like our roads and bridges, are aging. The US Army Corps of engineers estimates that a third of the dams it monitors pose a “high” or “significant” hazard. The same week I traveled to Yosemite, severe rain in South Carolina washed out 14 dams and weakened 62 others. Nineteen people died. It was a grim reminder that some of our dams are already coming down, without our help.

Over the last two decades, organizations like the Sierra Club and American Rivers have spearheaded a movement to remove nuisance dams. Their campaign has been remarkably successful: between 2006 and 2014, over 500 dams were removed from American rivers — more than were taken down over the entire century prior.

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Lessons on Happiness From the Happiest Man Alive

What’s the key to happiness? Not thinking about yourself.

Matthieu Ricard is a Tibetan Buddhist monk who has been deemed the world’s happiest man. Researchers scanned his brain to prove it. He has used his training to hone his brain to be ‘light’ and not carry burdens – something we can all learn from. A fundamental aspect of his approach is that he tries his best to not think about himself and to be as caring to others as he possibly can.

6. You can then use meditation to gain some space from negative emotions. Ricard says: ‘You can look at your experience like a fire that burns. If you are aware of anger you are not angry you are aware. Being aware of anxiety is not being anxious it is being aware.’ By being aware of these emotions you are no longer adding fuel to their fire and they will burn down.

7. You will see benefits in stress levels and general wellbeing as well as brain changes with regular practise in a month. Those who say they don’t have enough time to meditate should look at the benefits: ‘If it gives you the resources to deal with everything else during the other 23 hours and 30minutes, it seems a worthy way of sending 20 minutes,’ Ricard says

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What You Study Changes Your Personality

There are stereotypes around who studies what and what those people turn out to be when they’re done their education. One example of this is that MBA students tend to be immoral upon graduation. That, and other stereotypes do have a basis in reality according to new research out of Denmark. What’s really interesting about this is that career counsellors may want to suggest fields based of a person’s personality rather than other metrics.

According to a new meta-analysis, there are significant personality differences between students in different academic majors. For the review paper, Anna Vedel, a psychologist from Aarhus University in Denmark, analyzed 12 studies examining the correlation between personality traits and college majors. Eleven of them found significant differences between majors. The review examined the so-called “Big Five” traits: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

Vedel writes that she hopes her findings can help college counselors guide students into the best majors for their personalities. That, she thinks, might help reduce drop-out rates. At the very least, it might help certain English majors understand why they never can seem to remember to do their stats homework, even though they worry about it constantly.

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