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Half of New Mothers in London Experienced Postpartum Depression during COVID-19 “Lockdown"

May 11 2021
New mothers were twice as likely to experience postpartum depressive symptoms during the first “lockdown” of COVID-19 compared to pre-COVID, according to a new study from University College London. Researchers surveyed 162 London mothers with children under 6 months old between May and June of 2020. Compared to an estimated 23% before the pandemic, 48% met criteria for postpartum depression. The researchers also collected information about each mother’s social networks during the study period. Although virtual and remote communication was not as beneficial as in-person support, mothers with larger social networks reported less severe depressive symptoms. To learn more, see the study in Frontiers in Psychology.  

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Majority of Community Behavioral Health Service Users Support Continued Telehealth Access

May 07 2021
In a new survey of people utilizing community behavioral health services, 80% report that their experiences with telehealth were as good or better than in-person services before prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers surveyed 1,482 individuals receiving telehealth services from a New York City behavioral health agency in May 2020. Of those who indicated interest in continuing telehealth after the pandemic, 83% would prefer a mix of telehealth and in-person visits. Telehealth continues to show promise as a supplemental tool to increase and sustain access to mental health care. To learn more, see the study in Psychiatric Services.

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Study Examines Limitations of Routine Firearm Access Screening for Individuals with Depression

May 04 2021
Providers often ask about access to firearms during mental health and suicide risk screenings, but new research shows that individuals with depressive symptoms experience a variety of concerns about disclosing this information. Researchers interviewed 37 primary care patients in a Washington state health system about their experience responding to the question, “Do you have access to guns?” Overall, participants voiced concerns about privacy, autonomy, and relevance. Alternative questioning techniques — such as those focusing on a broader scope of lethal means or a person’s intentions with a firearm — may encourage individuals to answer accurately, resulting in improved clinical information. To learn more, see the study in Psychiatric Services.

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Psychiatric Conditions among Justice-Involved Youth Persist into Adulthood

Apr 05 2021
A longitudinal study of over 1,800 individuals shows that 64% of males and 35% of females who had a psychiatric disorder when they were in juvenile detention still had a disorder 15 years later. Among all participants, 52% of males and 31% of females had a psychiatric disorder as adults – much higher than the average U.S. adult population. Participants were interviewed up to 12 times between 1995 and 2015 to assess mental health symptoms over time. The findings further emphasize the need to address mental health conditions among youth in the justice system, reducing barriers to successful transition to adulthood. For more information, see the study in JAMA.

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Prevalence of Mental Health Symptoms, Unmet Need for Care Increase during COVID-19 Pandemic

Apr 02 2021
Between August 2020 and February 2021, the percentage of U.S. adults reporting recent symptoms associated with an anxiety or depressive disorder increased from 36.4% to 41.5%, according to a new report from the CDC. The percentage of adults with an unmet need for mental health care also increased during this period, from 9.2% to 11.7%. Young adults (ages 18-29) and individuals without a high school education experienced the most significant increases in both mental health symptoms and unmet need for care, suggesting these populations may be particularly susceptible to the mental health effects of the pandemic. For more information, see the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

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Mice Brains Show Similarities to Human Brains in Experience of Hallucinations

Apr 02 2021
Because it is difficult to quantify the experience of psychosis, progress toward understanding its biology has been limited. A new study indicates that mice may be a scientifically useful model. When exposed to ketamine and trained to expect a reward when they heard a specific sound, mice behaved similarly to humans experiencing auditory hallucinations. The mice also showed increased levels of dopamine during the study activity and resumed normal behavior after being treated with the antipsychotic haloperidol, a further similarity to humans. If further research proves that the mouse model is reliable it may be a valuable new avenue to increase our understanding of conditions like schizophrenia. For more information, see the study in Science.

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1 in 5 Health Care Workers Worldwide Have Experienced Depression, Anxiety or PTSD during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Mar 10 2021
A systematic review and meta-analysis of 65 studies involving nearly 100,000 healthcare workers across the globe has provided a more complete picture of the pandemic’s mental health impacts. Combined data from these studies, representing individuals in 21 countries, showed that 21.7% of health care workers experienced depression, 22.1% experienced anxiety, and 21.5% experienced PTSD between December 2019 and August 2020. Participants included nurses, doctors, and other health care workers or support staff. Although the findings are limited by variability in data availability across regions, this analysis provides important context for understanding health care worker needs. To learn more, see the study in PLOS One.

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Incentives May be Effective Tool for Treatment of Alcohol Use Disorders in American Indian and Alaska Native Communities

Mar 03 2021
The Helping Our Native Ongoing Recovery (HONOR) study conducted a three-month intervention in three American Indian and Alaska Native health care organizations to determine if providing incentives for alcohol abstinence would be a culturally appropriate and effective treatment model for this population. All study participants received treatment as usual and were randomized either to the contingency management group, receiving incentives for alcohol abstinence, or the control group, receiving incentives regardless of alcohol use. Participants in the contingency management group were more likely on average to maintain alcohol abstinence, indicating that an incentive model may be effective in this population. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.

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Cardiovascular Risk Factors Associated with Cognitive Impairment in Schizophrenia

Mar 03 2021
Among individuals with schizophrenia, conditions like diabetes and hypertension may be linked to cognitive impairment symptoms. A systematic review and meta-analysis examined 27 studies including more than 10,000 people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders to measure the relationship between cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors and cognitive function. Several CVD risk factors, including metabolic syndrome, diabetes and high blood pressure showed a significant association with cognitive impairment. The findings emphasize the role that heart health may play as a protective factor against some symptoms of schizophrenia disorders, and the importance of maintaining physical health when managing a mental illness. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.

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Behavioral Inhibition in Childhood Shown to Predict Anxiety During COVID-19 Pandemic

Feb 11 2021
Early childhood developmental patterns may predict adverse mental health reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic and other major life events, according to new research. Researchers analyzed longitudinal data for 291 participants who were enrolled in a long-term study of social and behavioral development when they were 2 years old. Study participants — all of whom turned 18 years old in 2020 — who had experienced consistent patterns of behavioral inhibition (fearfulness of new people and objects), social wariness and excessive worry throughout childhood and adolescence showed elevated anxiety during the first months of the pandemic. Interventions to address these behaviors early on may help prevent symptoms from worsening when stressful life events occur. To learn more, see the study in Longitudinal Psychiatry