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Non-Prescribing Mental Health Professionals Can Help Meet Psychiatric Needs in Emergency Departments

Jan 21 2021
More and more people are seeking psychiatric care in emergency departments, leading to strains on staff and resources — and this trend will likely continue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The American Association for Emergency Psychiatry (AAEP) supports the use of psychiatric emergency clinicians (PECs), which include non-prescribing mental health professionals such as licensed clinical social workers and clinical psychologists, to help meet this growing need. The AAEP recognizes the training and expertise of PECs in addressing psychiatric crisis situations, and offers recommendations for integrating them into emergency department care across the country. To learn more, see the article in Psychiatric Services.

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Majority of Parents Value Teen Peer Support Leaders in Schools

Jan 18 2021
Peer support is an important part of mental health recovery, and its availability in school settings may be a lifeline for teens experiencing mental health issues for the first time. According to a recent national poll, more than three-quarters of parents (76%) believe peer leaders in schools would better understand students’ mental health challenges than teachers or counselors. Most (72%) also think access to peer support in schools would encourage students to speak up when they need help. Although parents raise concerns about training and the emotional toll on young peer leaders, overall support may inspire a new strategy to address student mental health. To learn more, see the report from C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.

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Small Study Finds Repeated Ketamine Infusions Safe and Effective for Treatment of Chronic PTSD

Jan 05 2021
One dose of intravenous ketamine can provide significant and rapid relief for symptoms of major depressive disorder and PTSD when other treatments have failed. Researchers recently conducted a randomized controlled trial to determine the drug's efficacy and safety for the treatment of PTSD when administered repeatedly over the course of two weeks. Thirty participants with chronic PTSD received six infusions of either intravenous ketamine or placebo over the study period. After two weeks, the ketamine group showed a significant reduction in symptom severity compared to the control group, without serious adverse effects. To learn more, see the study in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Depressive Symptoms Associated with Increased Risk of Cardiovascular Diseases

Dec 15 2020
Understanding the relationship between mental and physical health is critical to improve quality of life for people living with mental illness. According to findings from an international team of researchers, depressive symptoms – even those that do not meet the threshold for diagnosis of a depressive condition – may play a role in future poor heart health. Researchers analyzed data from over 500,000 individuals and found that the presence of depressive symptoms showed a modest association with heart problems such as coronary heart disease and stroke, even after accounting for additional risk factors like smoking and diabetes. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.

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Content Analysis of Rap Music Shows Increased References to Mental Health

Dec 07 2020
Awareness and visibility of mental health have increased across popular culture, and new research demonstrates that this trend includes rap music. Researchers conducted a content analysis of 125 rap songs popular in the U.S. between 1998 and 2018 and found that mental health references increased significantly over the 20-year period. Overall, 28% of the songs referenced anxiety, 22% referenced depression, 6% referenced suicide, and 21% used a mental health metaphor. As many of the artists whose music was analyzed were younger Black men, this increased visibility of mental health issues could represent an important shift in discourse in a particularly vulnerable population. To learn more, see the study in JAMA Pediatrics.

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Multimodal Machine-Learning Models May Improve Predictability of Transition to Psychosis

Dec 02 2020
Early identification can improve outcomes for individuals at high risk of developing psychosis, and multimodal machine-learning models may be able to help. In a study comparing participants with clinical high risk syndromes or recent-onset depression to healthy volunteers, researchers used a machine-learning model incorporating clinical and neurocognitive data, structural magnetic resonance imaging (sMRI), and polygenic risk scores for schizophrenia to predict development of psychosis. The model accurately predicted transition to psychosis in 85.9% of cases, compared to 73.2% of cases predicted by clinicians. The model showed greater predictive accuracy than any individual predictive factor alone. To learn more, see the study in JAMA Psychiatry.

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Specific Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder May Predict Suicide Attempts

Nov 18 2020

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a challenging and often misunderstood illness, and is associated with a high risk for attempted suicide. Reducing this risk requires more detailed understanding to improve screening and intervention. New research sought to explore the symptoms of BPD and determine which most contribute to increased risk of suicidal behavior. Using 10-year longitudinal data, researchers found that specific symptoms such as identity disturbance, frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, and feelings of emptiness were the most highly correlated with suicide attempt. The researchers note that these symptoms are often under-studied in the context of suicide, compared to symptoms such as impulsivity. To learn more, see the study in JAMA Psychiatry.

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Rodent Model Shows Cannabis Use During Pregnancy May Impact Offspring Cognitive and Social Function

Nov 15 2020
As cannabis use rises in popularity, it is increasingly important to understand its health impacts. To create a realistic simulation of human cannabis use, researchers delivered vaporized cannabis to a population of pregnant rats using e-cigarette technology. Offspring exposed to vaporized cannabis exhibited higher degrees of emotional reactivity and social timidity as juveniles, and anxiety-like behaviors in adulthood, compared to those exposed to vehicle exhaust vapor or no vapor. While this study provides early information on prenatal exposure to cannabis, more research is needed to draw reliable conclusions about long-term health effects. To learn more, see the study in Neuropharmacology.

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COVID-19 Infection Associated with Increased Incidence of Psychiatric Symptoms

Nov 09 2020

As we learn more about COVID-19, it is becoming clear that its effects extend beyond physical health. Based on analysis of nearly 70 million electronic health records, researchers found that COVID-19 patients have an increased risk of developing psychiatric symptoms in the 14 to 90 days following diagnosis, compared to people who have experienced other health issues like the flu or a broken bone. Over 18% of COVID-19 patients received a psychiatric diagnosis within 90 days; 5.8% of which were first-time diagnoses. Past-year psychiatric illness was also associated with increased risk of COVID-19 infection, suggesting a complex relationship between the disease and mental health. To learn more, see the study in The Lancet.

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Modified Exposure Therapy with Unconscious Exposure Reduces Fear in Specific Phobia

Nov 01 2020

Exposure therapy is a well-known and effective strategy for reducing symptoms of anxiety disorders. However, directly confronting the object of one’s fears can be extremely distressing. New research suggests that a “very brief exposure” (VBE) therapy may be equally effective with a lower burden of distress. Researchers exposed a group of young women with arachnophobia to a rapidly-changing set of images that included hidden images of spiders. Although the images appeared too quickly for participants to consciously detect, VBE reduced avoidance responses when participants were later presented with a live spider. To learn more, see the study in The Lancet.