Research News

Research News Image

Survey Demonstrates Significant Rise in Psychological Distress During COVID-19 Pandemic

Jun 03 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant grief, disruptions to daily life and economic hardship. To measure how these conditions are affecting mental health, researchers conducted a nationwide survey of U.S. adults and compared the results to a similar survey conducted in 2018. Overall rates of psychological distress more than tripled from 2018 to April 2020, with some groups showing especially dramatic increases: 24% of young adults (18-29) reported experiencing psychological distress, compared to 3.7% in 2018. As the pandemic continues, communities and providers must prepare to support a greater need for mental health treatment. To learn more, see the report from JAMA.

Research News Image

Researchers Identify Pathway Connecting Chronic Stress, Inflammation and Mood Disorders

May 22 2020
Researchers are beginning to understand exactly how chronic stress plays a role in the development of conditions like anxiety and depression. Past studies have connected chronic stress to inflammation in the brain. And now, using a specialized mouse model, researchers have demonstrated that stress only leads to behavior change, like social withdrawal and memory deficits, when receptors for the inflammatory compound Interleukin-1 are active in the hippocampus. If future studies replicate this pathway in humans, it may lead to new, specialized treatment options. To learn more, see the study in Molecular Psychiatry.

Research News Image

Report Highlights Importance of Peer Acceptance for Young LGBTQ Asian American/Pacific Islanders

May 13 2020
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ) youth are significantly more likely to report depression and suicidality than their straight/cisgender peers. A new report focuses on Asian American and Pacific Islander (API) youth, who are often excluded from studies. The report shows that API youth are significantly less likely to be open about their LGBTQ identity with their parents but are equally as likely as non-API youth to share their identity with friends. Critically, sexual orientation acceptance from straight friends reduced the risk of suicide among API LGBTQ youth by more than half. To learn more, visit the Trevor Project website.

Research News Image

Health Care Workers Report Significant Mental Health Burden During COVID-19 Pandemic

May 08 2020
Measuring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on front-line workers is critical to developing interventions to support them. Health care workers (HCWs), including physicians, nurses, clinical and non-clinical support staff, face physical and emotional stress that can have significant and lasting impact on their mental health and well-being. A new study of over 30,000 HCWs shows that at least 20% are experiencing depression and anxiety, and nearly 40% are experiencing difficulties sleeping. This noteworthy prevalence highlights the need to identify individuals at risk and provide necessary mental health support. To learn more, see the study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Research News Image

Global Study Highlights Importance of Regular Sleep Patterns For Teen Mental Health

May 07 2020
Many people are experiencing disrupted sleep schedules and habits as a result of physical distancing requirements under COVID-19. To measure how these disruptions are affecting adolescents, researchers analyzed data from over 350,000 teenagers around the world. The results show that reduced sleep is associated with a 55% increase in “mood deficits,” including depression, anxiety and anger. The researchers recommend that parents and guardians emphasize the importance of regular sleep habits, including monitoring the use of technology before bed. To learn more, see the study in Sleep Medicine Reviews.

Research News Image

Antibody Therapy May Represent New Way to Treat Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Apr 21 2020
Most treatments for conditions like anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) target chemical activity in the brain, but a new study supports targeting the immune system. Researchers discovered that mice with high levels of a protein called Immuno-moodulin, or Imood, experienced significant anxiety. Treating those mice with an antibody against Imood caused the symptoms to disappear in a few days. Researchers have now shown that people with OCD have levels of Imood up to six times higher than unaffected people and are working to develop an antibody therapy for future study. To learn more, see the study in Brain, Behavior, and Immunity.

Research News Image

Innovative Fast-Fail Trial Identifies Potential New Target For Treating Anhedonia

Mar 30 2020
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) established the Fast-Fail Trials program to reduce barriers to developing new psychiatric treatments. A fast-fail trial allows researchers to quickly test a potential target for treatment before investing resources into a full drug trial. Researchers have published the results of a fast-fail trial for the first time, showing that the kappa opioid receptor (KOR) mechanism plays a role in reward and pleasure. This evidence will support the development of new treatments for anhedonia — the “loss of pleasure” that is common with many mood and anxiety disorders. To learn more, visit the NIMH website.

Research News Image

Cognitive Adaptation Training Shows Promise For Individuals In Long-Term Intensive Psychiatric Care

Mar 07 2020
Although most individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) can live independently and manage their symptoms with outpatient support, some require longer-term care in an inpatient setting. A new study shows that Cognitive Adaptation Training (CAT), a personalized intervention program delivered by trained nurses, can effectively support recovery and restore some independence for these individuals. After 12 months of treatment, individuals who received CAT showed sustained improvements in daily functioning, executive functioning and visual attention. As a low-cost intervention for a population with limited evidence-based treatments, CAT may be a valuable addition to recovery-oriented care for the SMI community. To learn more, see the study in Schizophrenia Bulletin.

Research News Image

Physical Activity In Youth Linked to Better Mental Health In Early Adulthood

Feb 11 2020
New research from the U.K. shows a strong relationship between early-life physical activity and depressive symptoms later in life. Using simple wearable technology, researchers captured more reliable data than previous studies that depended on self-report. More than 4,000 participants provided physical activity data at ages 12, 14 and 16 and then completed a depression screening at age 18. The data showed that every additional hour of light physical activity per day at age 12 was associated with a 10% reduction in depressive symptoms at age 18. To learn more, see the article from The Lancet Psychiatry.

Research News Image

New Report Highlights Importance of Suicide Risk Screening for Nurses

Feb 03 2020
A new study shows that nurses are at an increased risk of suicide compared to the general population, and this increased risk has been present since at least 2005 (the earliest year that comprehensive data is available). Nurses who died by suicide were more likely than the general population to have known stressors at work and were more likely to complete suicide by medication overdose. These factors highlight the importance of workplace screening and wellness programs. To learn more, see the article from Worldviews on Evidence-Based Nursing.