David Foster Wallace, the talented young author who recently committed suicide, battled depression for 20 years. And people who take many days of sick leave for psychiatric reasons are twice as likely to die from cancer as healthier employees. Finally, since so many anti-depression medicines have turned out to be placebos, researchers have discovered that an old herbal remedy really DOES work: but only if you speak German!

In CNN.com, Elizabeth Landau quotes psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as saying, “The arts are more dangerous [than other professions] because they require sensitivity to a large extent. If you go too far you can pay a price?you can be too sensitive to live in this world.”

BBC News reports that a study in the UK that tracked the careers of 6,500 office workers found that those who had taken a longer period of sick leave were twice as likely to die from cancer than healthier employees. Did their bodies somehow “know” what was going on?

The herbal medicine St. John?s wort appears to work just as well as some prescribed antidepressants for treating patients with major depression. However, patients in German-speaking countries might experience the best benefits. In Germany, doctors commonly prescribe it for mild symptoms, and researchers found that studies with German patients did, in fact, have the best results.

Researcher Klaus Linde warns that “there is no patent protection on herbs; therefore, more or less anyone can market [them]. The products on the market vary enormously in their quality and content in active ingredients.” Consumers should be aware that many St. John’s wort products on the market have very low concentrations (such as dosages of less than 300 milligrams per day), and therefore, probably act only by placebo effects.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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