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Study Suggests Pandemic Lockdown Restrictions May Not Have Impacted Mental Health

Nov 01 2022
Researchers from the University of California Irvine surveyed over 5,500 adults representative of the U.S. population during the spring of 2020 and later in the fall of 2020 about their experiences with mental health, COVID-19, isolation, loneliness, and distress. Researchers identified exposure to the COVID-19 virus, knowing someone who passed from COVID-19, and consuming hours of media related to COVID-19 as risk factors for experiencing psychological distress and loneliness. State-level mitigation practices, such as stay-at-home orders and public information campaigns, did not appear to affect mental health outcomes. The findings can help inform future public health responses designed to prioritize limiting loss of life, exposure to disease, and psychological distress. To learn more, see the study in Health Psychology.
 

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ACEs During COVID-19 Pandemic Associated with Poor Mental Health Outcomes Among High School Students

Oct 14 2022
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that occur during childhood and can negatively impact mental health and well-being into adulthood. Recent data from the 2021 Adolescent Behaviors and Experiences Survey (ABES) showed that nearly three-quarters (73%) of U.S. high school students reported at least one ACE during the COVID-19 pandemic. Students with four or more ACEs were about four times more likely to have poor current mental health and 25 times more likely to have past-year suicide attempts compared to those without any ACEs. Identifying vulnerable youth early and providing them with trauma-informed care can help address the mental health needs brought on by ACEs and the COVID-19 pandemic. To learn more, see the report from the CDC.
 

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Promoting Clozapine in A Community Mental Health Clinic

Oct 05 2022
Despite being effective for treatment-resistant schizophrenia, clozapine is underutilized. To increase prescriptions, a clozapine community clinic with a multidisciplinary team of health practitioners was established in 2015. Providers utilized the best practice alert (BPA) to identify ideal patient candidates for clozapine treatment and since its inception, the number of patients receiving clozapine treatment increased from 57 to 124. Patients received weekly group support, education, telehealth, and access to a centralized clozapine resource toolkit. Intervention programs also evaluated existing attitudes and awareness regarding clozapine and provided education to healthcare providers. To learn more, see the article in Psychiatric Services.
 

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Combination Ketamine-Behavioral Therapy Shows Heightened, Prolonged Antidepressant Effects

Sep 21 2022
Ketamine has been found to be highly effective for treatment-resistant depression, but its fast-acting effects typically do not last more than one to two weeks. A randomized clinical trial of 154 adults with moderate to severe depression measured how a behavioral therapy known as “active automated self-association training” (ASAT) influenced the antidepressant effects of intravenous ketamine infusion. After 30 days, adults who received a ketamine infusion with ASAT reported the lowest depression scores compared to either adults who received ketamine with placebo ASAT or sham ketamine with ASAT. The findings suggest that the antidepressant effects of ketamine may be strengthened and lengthened in combination with behavioral therapy. To learn more, see the study in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
 

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Mental Health Impacts Persist Five Years After Start of Flint, Michigan Water Crisis

Sep 20 2022
To understand how environmental disasters impact mental health outcomes, researchers surveyed nearly 2,000 residents from Flint, Michigan five years after the onset of the water crisis. Approximately one quarter of respondents met diagnostic criteria for depression (22%) and posttraumatic stress disorder (24%) within the past year. Despite the community’s growing need for psychological care, just over one third of Flint residents (35%) were offered mental health services. Individuals with prior exposure to traumatic events were also more likely to report higher rates indicating the cumulative effects of trauma. The findings emphasize the need to advocate for psychiatric support for victims of environmental disasters. To learn more, see the study in JAMA Network Open.
 

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Psychological Distress Increases Risk of Post-COVID-19 Complications

Sep 07 2022
A study of nearly 55,000 participants found that individuals with psychological distress markers before a COVID-19 diagnosis were nearly 1.5 times more likely to show symptoms of post-COVID-19 conditions (commonly referred to as long COVID). Depression, anxiety, worry about contracting COVID-19, loneliness and stress were associated with complications post-COVID-19 infection and impairment in daily living, even after adjusting for health-related factors. Individuals with two or more types of psychological distress were the most likely to present post-COVID-19 conditions. Future research should explore whether interventions to reduce psychological distress can help prevent or mitigate physical health conditions, such as long COVID. To learn more, see the study in JAMA Psychiatry.
 

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Higher Levels of Oxidative Stress Damage Found in Individuals with Psychiatric Disorders

Aug 03 2022
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 82 studies involving more than 20,000 people provides further insights into the interaction between psychiatric disorders and physical health at the molecular level. Compared to control individuals, those with psychiatric disorders had higher rates of biomarkers associated with DNA and RNA damage due to oxidative stress. These findings suggest that damage from oxidative stress may adversely influence the physical health of individuals with psychiatric disorders and contribute to disease co-morbidities and aging. To learn more, see the study in JAMA Psychiatry.

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Long-Acting Injectable Antipsychotics Associated with Improved Outcomes Compared to Oral Antipsychotics in Treatment of Schizophrenia

Jul 28 2022
New research from Hong Kong examines the effectiveness of schizophrenia treatment approaches by comparing the clinical impacts of long-acting injectable antipsychotics (LAIAs) versus oral antipsychotics. In an analysis of more than 70,000 Chinese individuals with schizophrenia, researchers found that LAIAs were associated with 48% fewer hospitalizations for psychiatric disorders, 47% fewer hospitalizations for schizophrenia, 44% fewer suicide attempts, and 37% fewer hospitalizations overall. Further analysis also showed that individuals who began treatment with LAIAs sooner in the course of illness experienced improved outcomes compared to those who began treatment with LAIAs later on. While further research is needed, LAIAs continue to show promise as an effective treatment approach for schizophrenia. To learn more, see the study in JAMA Psychiatry.

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Ongoing Improvements to Early Psychosis Research and Treatment

Jul 27 2022
Research has shown that treatment of early psychosis improves clinical outcomes. In 2018, the Early Psychosis Intervention Network (EPINET) was established with the aim of conducting practice-oriented research to develop high quality care for treatment of first-episode psychosis (FEP). Currently, eight regional networks function through a learning health care (LHC) framework with diverse stakeholders, a research hub, and coordinated specialty care (CSC) programs. A national repository has also been created for collaboration in developing evidence-based practices, standardizing data collection, and producing assessments to inform policy. Researchers express interest in expanding access to LHC resources to non-EPINET CSC programs and working with international partners. To learn more, see the article in Psychiatric Services

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Genetic Testing Shows Promise for Medication Selection for MDD

Jul 12 2022
Antidepressants are often one of the first treatment approaches for individuals with depressive disorders, but many struggle with side effects and finding the appropriate medication or dosage. Recent findings from a randomized controlled trial indicate that pharmacogenomic testing could be helpful in medication selection for patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). Participants who were prescribed medication and dosage based on their genetic testing results were less likely to present drug-gene interactions and more likely to experience remission over 24 weeks. However, the researchers note that the participants' improvements are not significant compared to the control group at the the 24-week mark. Pharmacogenic testing is an evolving field, and more research is needed to fully understand its efficacy for individuals with mental health conditions. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.