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Patients with clinical depression “stopped seeking treatment” during the COVID waves

In the first study of its kind, German researchers have shown that the COVID pandemic saw a huge drop in the number of patients being admitted to hospital…



In the first study of its kind, German researchers have shown that the COVID pandemic saw a huge drop in the number of patients being admitted to hospital for clinical depression. Independently of these national statistics, the researchers found that the number of outpatients they dealt with increased over the same period in their department. As inpatient treatment offers more intensive levels of care, this implies that many patients did not receive care appropriate to their condition. It is not yet known if this shift in treatment is also seen in other countries.

Credit: Mareike Aichholtzer

In the first study of its kind, German researchers have shown that the COVID pandemic saw a huge drop in the number of patients being admitted to hospital for clinical depression. Independently of these national statistics, the researchers found that the number of outpatients they dealt with increased over the same period in their department. As inpatient treatment offers more intensive levels of care, this implies that many patients did not receive care appropriate to their condition. It is not yet known if this shift in treatment is also seen in other countries.

The researchers, from the University Hospital in Frankfurt, looked at German national databases. They found that during the first COVID wave new hospitalisations for first time clinical depression dropped by 57.5%, from 13457 in January 2020 down to 5723 in April 2020. In the same period, the number of patients being hospitalised for recurrent depression dropped by 56.3%, from 22188 down to 9698.

Lead researcher, Dr Mareike Aichholzer said “We also saw a decrease in inpatient treatment of recurrent depression in our own hospital in Frankfurt. In addition to the stricter admission rules, this rather seemed to be due to a drop in demand from the patients themselves”.  

In contrast, the number of new outpatients being treated for clinical depression at the University Hospital in Frankfurt remained stable and the number of patients with recurrent depression showed a significant increase between 2019 and 2021.  However, Dr Aichholzer notes “This is data from a single centre, so we need to wait to see what other centres say”.

She continued, “The results indicate that patients who have repeatedly suffered from depression during their lives were less likely to be admitted to hospital during the pandemic. However, these patients are often so severely affected by depression that outpatient treatment alone is not sufficient to bring about a satisfactory improvement in symptoms. The result is that patients lose their quality of life in the long term. The actual reason for this observation is unclear. Although our study was not designed to identify the reasons for those changes, we however suspect that clinically depressed patients in particular withdraw more often from society/their friends/their family and that this behaviour was more common during the times of the lock-down and the strict hygiene guidelines. Moreover, we suspect, that clinically depressed patients avoided the hospital, because they were afraid of being infected with COVID-19 on the ward.

The data from our hospital in Frankfurt indicates that patients with clinical depression seem to have withdrawn themselves, rather than seeking adequate mental health help. To be prepared for the winter with potentially increasing COVID numbers, we have to provide easily accessible help and raise awareness for this topic”.

Clinical depression, also known as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) is a serious mental illness, affecting more than 6% of Europeans at any one time. The majority of sufferers can be treated with pharmaceuticals and/or counselling, although a minority of patients don’t respond to treatment.

Commenting, Professor Brenda Penninx, Professor of psychiatric epidemiology at the Department of Psychiatry, University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, said:

“The figures found by the Frankfurt team confirm a familiar pattern. We have recently found that quite a few countries are beginning to report a decreased pattern of mental health care use during the first pandemic years. It is extremely important that in the next few years we follow whether postponed treatments may result in increased mental health problems. This also illustrates that mental health care deserves adequate clinical attention during future pandemics”. 

This is an independent comment, Professor Penninx was not involved in this research.


Poster P.0127  Impact of covid-19 on German treatment numbers of patients with depression – a gap in care for the mentally ill? (researchers M. Aichholzer, C. Schiweck, C.Uckermark, T.Hamzehloiya, C.Reif-Leonhard, A. Reif, and S. Edwin Thanarajah) will be presented at the 35th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology annual conference, which takes place in Vienna and online from 15-18 October, see Up to 5000 delegates are expected to attend. The ECNP is Europe’s main organisation working in applied neuroscience.

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Analysts issue unexpected crude oil price forecast after surge

Here’s what a key investment firm says about the commodity.



Oil is an asset defined by volatility.

U.S. crude prices stood above $60 a barrel in January 2020, just as the covid pandemic began. Three months later, prices briefly went negative, as the pandemic crushed demand.

By June 2022 the price rebounded all the way to $120, as fiscal and monetary stimulus boosted the economy. The price fell back to $80 in September 2022. Since then, it has bounced between about $65 and $90.

Over the past two months, the price has climbed 15% to $82 as of March 20.

Oil prices often trade in a roller-coaster fashion.

Bullish factors for oil prices

The move stems partly from indications that economic growth this year will be stronger than analysts expected.

Related: The Fed rate decision won't surprise markets. What happens next might

Vanguard has just raised its estimate for 2024 U.S. GDP growth to 2% from 0.5%.

Meanwhile, China’s factory output and retail sales exceeded forecasts in January and February. That could boost oil demand in the country, the world's No. 1 oil importer.

Also, drone strokes from Ukraine have knocked out some of Russia’s oil refinery capacity. Ukraine has hit at least nine major refineries this year, erasing an estimated 11% of Russia’s production capacity, according to Bloomberg.

“Russia is a gas station with an army, and we intend on destroying that gas station,” Francisco Serra-Martins, chief executive of drone manufacturer Terminal Autonomy, told the news service. Gasoline, of course, is one of the products made at refineries.

Speaking of gas, the recent surge of oil prices has sent it higher as well. The average national price for regular gas totaled $3.52 per gallon Wednesday, up 7% from a month ago, according to the American Automobile Association. And we’re nearing the peak driving season.

Another bullish factor for oil: Iraq said Monday that it’s cutting oil exports by 130,000 barrels per day in coming months. Iraq produced much more oil in January and February than its OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) target.

Citigroup’s oil-price forecast

Yet, not everyone is bullish on oil going forward. Citigroup analysts see prices falling through next year, Dow Jones’s Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) reports.

More Economic Analysis:

The analysts note that supply is at risk in Israel, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Venezuela. But Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait, and Russia could easily make up any shortfall.

Moreover, output should also rise this year and next in the U.S., Canada, Brazil, and Guyana, the analysts said. Meanwhile, global demand growth will decelerate, amid increased electric vehicle use and economic weakness.

Regarding refineries, the analysts see strong gains in capacity and capacity upgrades this year.

What if Donald Trump is elected president again? That “would likely be bearish for oil and gas," as Trump's policies could boost trade tension, crimping demand, they said.

The analysts made predictions for European oil prices, the world’s benchmark, which sat Wednesday at $86.

They forecast a 9% slide in the second quarter to $78, then a decline to $74 in the third quarter and $70 in the fourth quarter.

Next year should see a descent to $65 in the first quarter, $60 in the second and third, and finally $55 in the fourth, Citi said. That would leave the price 36% below current levels.

U.S. crude prices will trade $4 below European prices from the second quarter this year until the end of 2025, the analysts maintain.

Related: Veteran fund manager picks favorite stocks for 2024

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Disney remote jobs: the most magical WFH careers on earth?

Disney employs hundreds of thousands of employees at its theme parks and elsewhere, but the entertainment giant also offers opportunities for remote w…



The Walt Disney Co. (DIS)  is a major entertainment and media company that operates amusement parks, produces movies and television shows, airs news and sports programs, and sells Mickey Mouse and Star Wars merchandise at its retail stores across the U.S.

While most of the jobs at the multinational entertainment conglomerate require working with people — such as at its theme parks, film-production facilities, cruise ships, or corporate offices — there are also opportunities for remote work at Disney. And while remote typically means working from home, with Disney, it could also mean working in a non-corporate office and being able to move from one location to another and conduct business outside normal working hours.

Related: Target remote jobs: What type of work and how much does it pay?

What remote jobs are available at Disney?

Many companies, including Disney, have called employees to return to the office for work in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the bulk of the company’s positions are forward-facing, meaning they involve meeting with clients and customers on a regular basis. 

Still, there are some jobs at the “most magical company on earth” that are listed as remote and don’t require frequent in-person interaction with people, including opportunities in data entry and sales.

While thousands work in forward-facing positions, such as greeting customers at Disney’s theme parks around the world, there are some positions with the Walt Disney Co. that allow work to be done remotely.

Orlando Sentinel/Getty Images

On Disney’s career website, there are limited positions available where the work is completely remote. One listing, for example, is for a “graphics interface coordinator covering sporting events.” This role involves working on nights, weekends, and holidays — times when corporate offices tend to be closed — and it may make sense for the company to hire people who can work from home or to travel and work in a location separate from the game venue.

Some of the senior roles that are shown on the website involve managers who can oversee remote teams, whether that be in sales or data. Sometimes, a supervisor overseeing staff who work outside corporate offices may be responsible for hiring freelancers who work remotely.

On the employment website Indeed, there are limited positions listed. A job listing for a manager in enterprise underwriting for a federal credit union indicates weekend duty, working outside of an 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, and being able to work in different locations. The listed annual salary range of $84,960 to $132,000, though, is well above the national annual average of around $50,000.

Internationally, Disney offers remote work in India, largely in the field of software development for its India-based streaming platform, Disney+ Hotstar.

The company also offers some hybrid schemes, which involve a mixture of in-office and remote work. For a mid-level animator position based in San Francisco, the role would involve being in the office and working from home occasionally.

How much do remote jobs at Disney pay?

Pay for remote jobs at Disney varies significantly based on location. A salary for a freelance artist in New York City, for example, may be higher than for the same job in Orlando, Florida. 

Disney lists actual salary ranges in some of its job postings. For example, the yearly pay for a California-based compensation manager who works with clients is $129,000 to $165,000.

In an online search for “remote jobs at Disney,” results range from $30 to $39 an hour, for data entry, or $28.50 to $38 an hour for social media customer support.

How can I apply for remote jobs at Disney?

You can look for remote jobs on Disney's career site, and type “remote” in the search field. Listings may also appear on career-data websites, including Indeed and Glassdoor.

How many employees does Disney have?

In 2023, Disney employed about 225,000 people globally, of which around 77% were full-time, 16% part-time, and 7% seasonal. The majority of the workers, around 167,000, were in the U.S.

Disney says that a significant number of its employees, including many of those who work at its theme parks, along with most writers, directors, actors, and production personnel, belong to unions. It’s not immediately known how many remote workers at the company, if any, are union members. 

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The Digest #194

Poor Charlie’s Almanack, Ben Graham, GAAP accounting, John Templeton, AI dystopia, Inflation, Bloomstran on Berkshire, Intuitive Surgical, The lessons…



Poor Charlie’s Almanack

Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Essential Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger was first published in 2005 as a “coffee table” style book. It was beautifully presented but came with a high price tag. It was also heavy, somewhat unwieldy to read, and not very portable. The book’s format and price probably limited its reach. 

Stripe Press published a new edition of the book shortly after Mr. Munger died last year at the age of ninety-nine. Amazon and other vendors instantly sold all available inventory. After waiting for three months, I finally received my copy last week. 

Peter Kaufman is the editor of all editions of the book and I suspect that his main goal two decades ago was to honor Charlie Munger’s wisdom in a format that was not expected to “go viral.” In 2005, Charlie Munger was well known in the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder community and in the value investing world, but he was not as prominent as he became during his final decade. The clear purpose of the new edition is to disseminate his ideas as widely as possible. 

The new edition is abridged to reduce repetitive content and I will withhold judgment about the wisdom of this abridgment until I finish reading the book. Since the heart of the book is comprised of speeches given by Charlie Munger, there are definitely cases where the same ideas are presented again and again. 

Great books can be read many times while remaining highly relevant. I found this to be the case when I reread Charlie Munger’s Harvard School commencement address delivered in June 1986 when his youngest son was among the graduates. In the speech, Mr. Munger “inverts” the typical advice delivered in such speeches by explaining how the graduates should go about guaranteeing a life of failure and misery through time-tested strategies such as ingesting drugs and indulging in envy and resentment. 

I am not sure how many graduates were convinced by Charlie Munger on that early summer day, but I suspect that most of them remember the speech because it was so unconventional. In contrast, I have no recollection of the commencement addresses when I graduated from high school or college, or even who the speaker was.


A Memorial for Charlie Munger by John Harvey Taylor, March 12, 2024. This is a brief account of a recent memorial service for Charlie Munger at Harvard-Westlake School. “We learned Sunday that someone once asked if he knew how to play the piano. ‘I don’t know,’ he said. ‘I’ve never tried.’ Yet he tried and finished so much in his century. Imagine what he is making of eternity.” (Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles)

Benjamin Graham: Big Moments on the Way to Big Earnings, March 2024. Ben Graham’s granddaughter reflects on the challenges Graham experienced when he applied for college. “Most graduating seniors make their college plans in advance, but Ben Graham had no money for tuition. All through the long days of arduous farm labor, my grandfather dreamed of winning a Pulitzer Scholarship.” (Beyond Ben Graham)

Graham’s “Unpopular Large Caps” Part 2: Thoughts on Diversification by John Huber, March 19, 2024. “I would segment these ideas into two groups: core operating investments and bargain assets. In the former, you want to be very selective in picking a relatively small number of companies you intend to own for the long term. In the latter, you’d want to think like the insurance underwriter, buying as many as you can to ensure that the law of large numbers is on your side.” (Base Hit Investing)

Warren Buffett Minds the GAAP by Donald E. Graham, March 13, 2024. “I have a challenge for the FASB and the SEC: If you believe today’s accounting rules present a clearer picture of Berkshire’s results, put it to a test. Ask Berkshire’s shareholders if they prefer the present method of reporting earnings over the status quo ante. I don’t believe a single informed shareholder would say so. The rule is confusing and uninformative.” (WSJ)

  • Berkshire Hathaway’s Distorted Quarterly Results, August 7, 2022. “Berkshire’s net income figure has been totally useless for analytical purposes since 2018. This is true on an annual basis and even more true on a quarterly basis.” (The Rational Walk)

Sir John Templeton: The Gentleman Bargain Hunter by Kingswell, March 12, 2024. “Templeton, who passed away in 2008, arrived on the investing scene with a series of uber-profitable contrarian bets in the early days of World War II — and continued to outwit Mr. Market with maddening consistency for the next several decades.” (Kingswell)

They Praised AI at SXSW—and the Audience Started Booing by Ted Gioia, March 19, 2024. Many recent innovations seem to have a dystopian aura. Apparently, this sentiment is not restricted to the usual luddites (old men shouting at clouds) but is shared by some of the attendees of SXSW. What seems cool to tech bros in Silicon Valley might not seem so cool to those outside tech culture. (The Honest Broker)

We Still Don’t Believe How Much Things Cost by Rachel Wolfe and Rachel Louise Ensign, March 12, 2024. People tend to focus on the aggregate amount of inflation over the past few years and interpreted transitory to mean that price spikes would reverse. Of course, politicians and economists only meant that the rate of inflation would decrease, not that prices would ever return to pre-pandemic levels. (WSJ)

My 2023 Apple Report Card by John Gruber, March 18, 2024. A solid report card overall from a widely read technology blog. (Daring Fireball)


Christopher Bloomstran on Buffett, Berkshire, Munger, and China, March 19, 2024. 1 hour, 1 minute. Video. Also be sure to check out the latest Semper Augustus client letter which has a lengthy section on Berkshire Hathaway. (Value After Hours)

Renaissance Technologies, March 18, 2024. 3 hours, 10 minutes. Notes“Renaissance Technologies is the best performing investment firm of all time. And yet no one at RenTec would consider themselves an ‘investor’, at least in any traditional sense of the word. It’d rather be more accurate to call them scientists — scientists who’ve discovered a system of math, computers and artificial intelligence that has evolved into the greatest money making machine the world has ever seen.” (Acquired)

Intuitive Surgical: Robotic Precision, March 20, 2024. 1 hour, 6 minutes. Transcript“Intuitive creates robotic products to assist minimally invasive surgeries. Its Da Vinci system is a pioneer in this area as it increases the efficiency & accuracy of surgery and reduces the burden on the surgeons themselves.” (Business Breakdowns)

The Lessons of History (Will & Ariel Durant), March 18, 2023. 53 minutes. Notes“In every age men have been dishonest and governments have been corrupt.” (Founders)

A Classicist Believes that Homer Directly Dictated the Iliad, and Was Also an Excellent Horseman, March 14, 2024. 53 minutes. “The Iliad is the world’s greatest epic poem—heroic battle and divine fate set against the Trojan War. Its beauty and profound bleakness are intensely moving, but great questions remain: Where, how, and when was it composed and why does it endure?” (History Unplugged)

Triumph of Achilles

Triumph of Achilles by Franz von Matsch, 1892 (public domain)

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