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Jul 01 2022
New research suggests that noninvasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS), a form of brain stimulation therapy, may help train the brain to more appropriately respond to threats. Researchers conducted a randomized controlled trial among participants without mental health conditions to measure their reaction time and response levels to images. Participants who received nVNS had quicker reaction times overall, increased responsivity to negative images, and decreased responsivity to positive images. In other words, participants’ “fight or flight” response was efficient and appropriate based on the stimulus they were viewing. Future research should focus on testing nVNS in individuals with mental health conditions, particularly those related to stress and threat perception, such as PTSD and anxiety. To learn more, see the study in Brain Stimulation.
Jun 15 2022
Individuals with opioid use disorder (OUD) are often prescribed treatment with methadone, which requires travel to specialized facilities and strict supervision. Recent findings from a randomized controlled trial suggest treatment with buprenorphine/naloxone that can be taken from home may produce similar results with increased flexibility. Patients in the buprenorphine/naloxone group were shown to have improved outcomes in opioid-free urine drug screens compared to those in the control group treated with methadone. Both groups had comparable rates of retention and adverse events.While the findings are promising, further research is needed to develop and evaluate accessible options for treating OUD. To learn more, see the study in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
Jun 03 2022
New research suggests a potentially important role for the microbiome-gut-brain axis in treating individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). In a randomized controlled trial, 21 patients were given a probiotic supplement in conjunction with antidepressants for one month. Compared to the control group, those given a probiotic showed greater improvement in depressive symptoms and emotional processing based on neural imaging. Further research should continue exploring the benefits of probiotic supplementation for managing symptoms of depression. To learn more, see the study in Translational Psychiatry.
Jun 02 2022
To understand how COVID-19 affects youth mental health outcomes, researchers analyzed over 3 million records of children with no prior history of mental illness who had received either a positive diagnosis or negative test of COVID-19. Overall, 7.1 % of children with a positive COVID-19 diagnosis experienced onset of a mental illness – twice the rate of those without a COVID-19 diagnosis. The findings further detail the mental health implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and emphasize the need for appropriate supports in response. To learn more, see the study in Psychiatric Services.
May 05 2022
This month, The Trevor Project released results from its fourth annual National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health in which it surveyed 34,000 youth aged 13-24. Almost half (45%) of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide last year, with youth of color reporting higher rates of suicide attempts. More than half (60%) of LGBTQ youth wanted mental health care in the past year and were unable to receive it. The report also found that having access to affirming homes and schools as well as supportive parents, caregivers and friends, serve as protective factors against suicidality. To learn more, see the results from the 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health.
May 03 2022
A recent study found a significant decrease in the number of mental health services offered in Spanish despite the growth of the Hispanic population nationwide. Between 2014 and 2019, there was a 17.8% decrease in the proportion of mental health treatment facilities offering services in Spanish, impacting 44 out of the 50 states. These changes coincide with an upward trend in mental health disorders among Hispanics with a 60% increase in serious mental health conditions and 34% increase in major depressive episodes. The study concludes that offering more mental health services in Spanish is one way to deliver culturally responsive health care and promote equity across populations. To learn more, see the study in Psychiatric Services.
Apr 13 2022
A recently published study investigated the experiences of 8,500 veteran patients between 2015 and 2020 in primary care who were referred to behavioral and/or mental health care programs. After controlling for variables, White veterans were nearly two times more likely to be prescribed antidepressants in primary care settings compared to Black veterans. This holds true for those with severe depression as well. These findings emphasize the disparity and bias in quality of treatment Black patients face despite having access to care. Future research should continue exploring these disparities and identify methods to combat them. To learn more, see the study in Psychiatric Services.
Apr 13 2022
A systematic review and meta-analysis examined 13 studies to better understand how the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns influenced the symptoms and treatment plans of individuals with eating disorders (EDs). Selected studies included populations from the U.K., U.S., and other countries. During the pandemic, about 60% of individuals with EDs reported a worsening of symptoms such as binge eating, purging, food restriction, and concerns surrounding food intake, as well as increases in anxiety and depression related to their ED. The researchers also found that individuals with EDs may have difficulties engaging with telehealth – one of the key methods of health care access during the pandemic. To learn more, see the study in the Journal of Eating Disorders.
Apr 01 2022
This month, the CDC released results from the 2021 Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey (ABES), the first national survey analyzing the wellbeing of high school students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report shows how high school students’ mental health has worsened with 37.1% reporting poor mental health during the pandemic. A sense of school connectedness to peers and adults – even virtually – was identified as a protective factor against poor mental health, feelings of hopelessness, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. The report highlights the pivotal role schools can play in supporting youth mental health outcomes and calls for increased support. To learn more, see the reports from the 2021 Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey.
Mar 16 2022
For individuals with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), psychotherapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are often the first approaches to treatment. Medication or a combination of psychotherapy and medication may be introduced if significant improvement does not occur. In a recent review of treatment guidelines and prior research, the authors note that combination therapy may also be used as a first line treatment, primarily when symptoms are severe. Evidence suggests this protocol may be appropriate due to the potential effectiveness of combination therapy over monotherapy. However, more research is needed to determine which therapeutic approach is appropriate at various points in a person’s treatment. The authors indicate that early diagnosis may be a key factor in treatment success and outcomes. To learn more, see the study in Comprehensive Psychiatry.