Thursday, 30 January 2014

It's all the Neanderthal's fault...

"It's tempting to think that Neanderthals were already adapted to the non-African environment and provided this genetic benefit to (modern) humans," said Prof David Reich, from Harvard Medical School, co-author of the paper in Nature.

But other gene variants influenced human illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, long-term depression, lupus, billiary cirrhosis - an autoimmune disease of the liver - and Crohn's disease. In the case of Crohn's, Neanderthals passed on different markers that increase and decrease the risk of disease.

Asked whether our ancient relatives actually suffered from these diseases too, or whether the mutations in question only affected the risk of illness when transplanted to a modern human genetic background, Mr Sankararaman said: "We don't have the fine knowledge of the genetics of Neanderthals to answer this," but added that further study of their genomes might shed light on this question.

Joshua Akey, from the University of Washington, an author of the Science publication, added: "Admixture happened relatively recently in evolutionary terms, so you wouldn't expect all the Neanderthal DNA to have been washed away by this point.

"I think what we're seeing to a large extent is the dying remains of this extinct genome as it is slowly purged from the human population."

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Good early fall, bad winter

My writing here dropped off late summer, early fall. I was feeling good, and I didn't have much to say on the blog.

My writing here has been low if not completely absent during the winter. But for completely opposite reasons to earlier on.

From about a week before I went back to Stockholm over christmas & new year's and through the entire trip back home I've been crashing out a lot. We're talking daily emotional crashes. I don't know why, and I didn't end up having quite enough time to go see my psychiatrist about my medication levels.

I have an ambition of getting in touch with the student's mental health clinic when I get back to Minneapolis. I should be doing more about my health than I am doing right now. But logistics seems to dictate I wait until this summer to see if tweaking my medication is needed.

Now (today) things are well; I'm jetlagged and headed into the largest conference I regularly attend at all for the entire rest of the week. But I'm keeping stable.

A less crazy New Year?

Happy New Year Depressed Academics,

I know it's only January, but I can feel in my bones that this year is going to be different. Maybe that's just optimism speaking, but really, I'm actually excited to see what this year brings.

A little update since my last post: My doc is swapping one of my old time mood stabilizers for a different one with less side effects and specifically, it has no weight gain side effects. Anytime I have a medication change, I feel uneasy. What if this medication isn't as effective? What if I feel worse? Would if I have to go back on the Depakote and my efforts amount to nothing? I had a week to think about whether I wanted to try this different medication, and I figured I might as well try it. I mean after all, a medication with less side effects is always going to appeal to me more than one with more.

The thing is the Depakote has always been a staple in my (most) stable med combo. Also, I have been on this medication before. It's called Tegretol and for me, it was a little less potent than the Depakote but I was also on it with a couple different meds than I am on now. So who knows! All I know is I am willing to try and if it doesn't work it out, so be it. I figure if I remain the same as I am now on the Tegretol and without the Depakote, I'll be content. If I crash, I know I am resilient and can always go back on the Depakote. My mum pointed out one outcome I didn't think of: Would if I actually feel even better than I do now? All I can do is marvel at that idea. We will see.

Now, onto this New Year business... I don't like the notion of New Year resolutions. It seems like a set up for failure or a trap to only plan your self-improvement projects for a once a year time frame. And that's silly to me. I am just telling myself to do what makes me feel good: restful sleep, exercise, healthy foods, routine. With those aspects in line, the rest will fall in place.

So maybe it will be a less crazy year. Maybe not. I still have to figure a lot of things out. I am aiming to complete my Masters thesis by March. Around that same time, I plan to notify of my potential return to my studies. It's really not a lot of time before March, and just thinking of these two things brings me stress! And then I simply remind myself to breathe and do only one thing at a time.