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1.  Perception of depressive symptoms by the Sardinian public: results of a population study 
BMC Psychiatry  2013;13:57.
With the exception of bereavement, the diagnosis of major depressive disorder in the DSM-IV does not take into account the context in which symptoms occur. Recent criticism has maintained that common sense suggests making a distinction between depression as mental disorder and sorrow as ‘normal’ reaction to social stress. Results of a study from Vienna support this view. This study sets out to examine whether these results can be replicated in a different cultural setting.
In 2012, a population-based survey was conducted by phone in Sardinia (n = 1,200). A fully structured interview was carried out which began with the presentation of a vignette depicting a diagnostically unlabeled case of depression, with or without provision of information about preceding stressful life events.
In general, as compared to the people from Vienna, the Sardinian public was much less prone to define depressive symptoms as expression of mental illness and more reluctant to recommend professional help. However, similar to Vienna, respondents presented with vignettes containing information on loss events were less likely to define depressive symptoms as indication of a psychiatric illness. They were also less willing to recommend professional help and relied more on self-help and support by family members and close friends.
We were able to replicate the result of the previous study that the public tends to perceive depressive symptoms differently depending on the context in which they occur. This lets us conclude that the divide between the public’s view of what depression is and the view of DSM-IV is not limited to a particular culture but seems to represent a more general phenomenon. In consequence, one might rethink the diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder in order to reconcile both views.
PMCID: PMC3606840  PMID: 23414262
Diagnosis; Help-seeking; Major depressive disorder; Population study
2.  Investigating the Effects of Simulated Martian Ultraviolet Radiation on Halococcus dombrowskii and Other Extremely Halophilic Archaebacteria 
Astrobiology  2009;9(1):104-112.
The isolation of viable extremely halophilic archaea from 250-million-year-old rock salt suggests the possibility of their long-term survival under desiccation. Since halite has been found on Mars and in meteorites, haloarchaeal survival of martian surface conditions is being explored. Halococcus dombrowskii H4 DSM 14522T was exposed to UV doses over a wavelength range of 200–400 nm to simulate martian UV flux. Cells embedded in a thin layer of laboratory-grown halite were found to accumulate preferentially within fluid inclusions. Survival was assessed by staining with the LIVE/DEAD kit dyes, determining colony-forming units, and using growth tests. Halite-embedded cells showed no loss of viability after exposure to about 21 kJ/m2, and they resumed growth in liquid medium with lag phases of 12 days or more after exposure up to 148 kJ/m2. The estimated D37 (dose of 37 % survival) for Hcc. dombrowskii was ≥ 400 kJ/m2. However, exposure of cells to UV flux while in liquid culture reduced D37 by 2 orders of magnitude (to about 1 kJ/m2); similar results were obtained with Halobacterium salinarum NRC-1 and Haloarcula japonica. The absorption of incoming light of shorter wavelength by color centers resulting from defects in the halite crystal structure likely contributed to these results. Under natural conditions, haloarchaeal cells become embedded in salt upon evaporation; therefore, dispersal of potential microscopic life within small crystals, perhaps in dust, on the surface of Mars could resist damage by UV radiation.
PMCID: PMC3182532  PMID: 19215203
Halococcus dombrowskii; Simulated martian UV radiation; LIVE/DEAD staining; Halite fluid inclusions; UV transmittance and reflectance; Desiccation

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