Research News

Research News Image

SSRI Antidepressants May Reduce Severity of COVID-19 Infection

Nov 15 2021
New research supports previous findings that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a type of antidepressant medication, are associated with decreased mortality in patients with COVID-19. Using electronic health records from a population of more than 80,000 people diagnosed with COVID-19, researchers compared patients prescribed SSRIs with similar patients not treated with SSRIs. Relative risk of mortality was reduced for individuals taking any SSRI, those taking fluoxetine, and those taking either fluoxetine or fluvoxamine. Patients taking a specific SSRI other than fluoxetine or fluvoxamine did not experience statistically significant reductions in mortality risk. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.

Research News Image

Cannabis Use Disorder, Depression and Anxiety Increasing in Prenatal Hospitalization

Nov 03 2021
Cannabis use disorder (CUD) among individuals hospitalized during pregnancy increased significantly between 2010-2018, and this population may also be at an elevated risk for other psychiatric illnesses. Among a sample of nearly 21 million prenatal hospitalization records, 2% involved a pregnant individual with a diagnosis of CUD in 2018, compared to 0.8% in 2010. Pregnant women with CUD were also more likely to experience co-occurring depression or anxiety. Further research is needed to better understand the relationship between the use of cannabis and mental illness – especially among vulnerable populations such as pregnant women – and how targeted interventions can improve health outcomes. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.

Research News Image

SAMHSA Releases 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health

Oct 25 2021
This month, SAMHSA released results from the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), an annual nationwide survey on mental health, substance use, treatment rates, and more. The report shows increased prevalence of mental illness and substance use disorders (SUDs) among U.S. adults during 2020, consistent with research on the negative mental health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Young adults ages 18-25 experienced the highest rates of mental illness of any age group, highlighting the pandemic’s disproportionate effect on young people. Encouragingly, while mental illness and SUDs are on the rise, treatment rates have also increased – meaning more people who need help are getting it. To learn more, see the 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Research News Image

Switching to E-Cigarettes Not Associated with Relapse Prevention among Former Smokers

Oct 19 2021
Many people with mental illness use cigarettes as a way to cope with their symptoms, despite the negative overall health impacts of smoking. E-cigarettes, which deliver nicotine without the additional carcinogens of cigarette smoke, have risen in popularity among people who believe they are a less-harmful option or may even help them quit. However, new research using a representative sample of U.S. adults finds that switching to e-cigarettes from traditional cigarettes did not prevent relapse to smoking within one year of quitting. Individuals who switched to any tobacco product, including e-cigarettes, were 8.5% more likely to relapse within one year compared to those who were entirely tobacco-free. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.

Research News Image

Childhood Adversity Linked to Suicide Attempts

Oct 04 2021
One in three suicide attempts may be attributable to adversity in childhood, according to a new systematic review from researchers at Harvard and Columbia University. Researchers analyzed findings from 19 separate research studies which included data on more than 20 million participants to examine the relationship between experiences of childhood adversity – including abuse, neglect, family violence, and financial hardship – and health outcomes later in life. In addition to physical health conditions like heart disease and cancer, childhood adversity was most strongly associated with suicide attempts. These findings highlight the need to understand, and develop interventions for, individuals who have experienced adversity. To learn more, see the study in JAMA

Research News Image

Research Finds No Association between Antipsychotic Use and COVID-19 Mortality

Sep 22 2021
Research has shown a higher rate of death from COVID-19 in people with schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder, but the cause is not known. To investigate a possible cause, researchers analyzed data on more than 400 individuals with serious mental illness who had been diagnosed with COVID-19. Although the findings confirmed increased risk of mortality among patients with schizophrenia spectrum disorders, the study found no increased risk in those taking antipsychotic medication. Further research is needed to understand this issue, but this study supports the safety of maintaining an antipsychotic regimen while at risk for COVID-19. To learn more, see the study in JAMA.

Research News Image

Supported Employment Program in Primary Care Setting Shown Effective for Veterans

Sep 15 2021
Supported employment services can significantly improve occupational functioning and quality of life for individuals with mental illness, but the stigma associated with referral to a mental health facility may prevent some from accessing it. A recent study tested the efficacy of Individual Placement and Support (IPS), a type of supported employment, delivered directly to veterans with a variety of nonpsychotic mental health conditions in a primary care setting. Compared to standard, less personalized vocational rehabilitation services, veterans receiving IPS obtained steady work more quickly, leading to more full-time jobs and higher incomes - all within their existing primary care system. To learn more, see the study in Psychiatric Services.

Research News Image

Screen Time Associated with Poorer Mental Health, but Closer Friendships in Children

Sep 08 2021
A new analysis suggests that “screen time” may be associated with both positive and negative effects on youth. Researchers explored relationships between screen time – including TV, video games, and social media – and behavioral outcomes in over 11,000 children ages 9-10. While increased screen time was modestly associated with poorer mental health, ADHD symptoms, academic performance and sleep, children with more screen time also tended to have more close friendships. Notably, researchers found that another characteristic of study participants – socioeconomic status – accounted for more of the differences among children than screen time itself. To learn more, see the study in PLOS One.

Research News Image

Viewing Leisure Time as Unproductive May be Associated with Mental Health Symptoms

Aug 21 2021
In a recent group of studies, researchers asked participants to rate their enjoyment of activities such as hanging out with friends, exercising, relaxing, watching TV, etc., and their opinions about how wasteful leisure time is in general. Participants also completed scales for happiness, anxiety, depression, and stress. Those who considered leisure activities to be a waste of time tended to be less happy and experience more negative mental health symptoms. As expectations for productivity fluctuate amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, research should continue to explore how the way we view recreation and free time impacts our mental health. To learn more, see the study in Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

Research News Image

Bisexual Women Face Unique Barriers to Mental Health and Treatment Services

Aug 19 2021
A new analysis of the biannual Consumer Survey of Health Care Access finds that gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals experience elevated mental health challenges compared with heterosexual individuals, with this disparity particularly evident among women. Survey participants provided information about their mental health, need for treatment, and service indicators like satisfaction with care when received. Overall, bisexual women reported the worst mental health and most barriers to care compared to heterosexual men. Notably, bisexual men also reported worse mental health than heterosexual men, but did not face more barriers to care, suggesting sex may uniquely interact with sexuality to affect mental health and the experience of treatment services. To learn more, see the study in Psychiatric Services.