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New Results From The Million Veteran Program Reveal Six Genes Linked To Anxiety

Jan 07 2020
The Million Veteran Program is one of the world’s largest biobanks including the genetic, medical and environmental information of U.S. veterans. Researchers have completed the largest-ever genome-wide association study of anxiety traits using data from nearly 2,000 individuals in the program. The analysis identified six gene variants linked to anxiety, establishing clear directions for further research. One of these gene variants is also linked to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and others are linked to a gene that regulates the processing of estrogen. To learn more, see the article from the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Two-Thirds of Los Angeles County Jail Inmates With Mental Illness Potentially Eligible For Diversion

Jan 06 2020
Diversion programs redirect people with mental illness away from traditional criminal justice processing to community-based treatment. This practice improves health outcomes and reduces future justice system involvement. To help determine how it should invest in expanding community-based services in the future, Los Angeles County commissioned a study of its jail population. The study showed that 61% of people with mental illness currently incarcerated in LA County jails were candidates for diversion, and an additional 7% were potential candidates. To learn more, see the report from the RAND Corporation.   
 

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Patterns In Reward Learning May Be Important Markers For Schizophrenia Risk

Dec 30 2019
Reward learning is the subconscious process of adjusting your behavior in response to positive experiences. Past research has shown that people with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SZ) experience impairments in reward learning, which can cause difficulties in social functioning and relationships. A new study shows that first-degree relatives of people with SZ also experience this impairment compared to people who do not have a family history of SZ. Although further research is needed, this indicates that reward learning patterns are a marker of family risk, rather than a symptom of SZ. To learn more, see the article from Schizophrenia Research.

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NIH Study Measures Risk of Death by Suicide Following Emergency Department Visit

Dec 13 2019
More than 500,000 people go to the emergency department (ED) each year due to deliberate self-harm or thoughts of suicide. A new study linking California ED data with state death records shows that people who presented to an ED with deliberate self-harm had a suicide rate nearly 57 times higher than demographically similar Californians in the year following discharge. Individuals with certain mental health conditions, and particularly individuals who had a firearm injury, were at higher risk. To learn more, visit the NIMH website

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National Institute of Mental Health Releases Draft Strategic Plan For Research

Dec 02 2019
Every five years, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) creates a Strategic Plan for Research. As the lead federal agency for research on mental illness, the NIMH is responsible for guiding and supporting research in basic, translational and clinical science. The Strategic Plan acts as a roadmap to establish their priorities, impacting millions of dollars invested in research grants. The NIMH released a draft of the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan for Research and welcomes comments from the community. To view the draft Strategic Plan, please visit the NIMH website.

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Coordinated Data-Sharing Essential To Reduce Emergency Department Super-Use

Nov 30 2019
Super-frequent emergency department (ED) users, people with 18 or more visits per year, often have complex medical, mental health and social needs. However, most strategies used to reduce ED visits focus only on medical needs. To emphasize the importance of a broader perspective, researchers analyzed ED visit data from San Francisco County, CA. The county’s coordinated data system showed that 67% of super-frequent ED users also received mental health treatment, with an average of two psychiatric hospitalizations. These results demonstrate how coordinated data can allow health systems to see the true needs of their populations. To learn more, see the article in Health Affairs.

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Intravenous Ketamine Effective As Quick-Acting Antidepressant With Mild, Brief Side Effects

Nov 18 2019
Ketamine has been shown to relieve depressive symptoms within hours of a single intravenous (IV) treatment. To develop a new therapy based on ketamine, researchers must account for potential side effects — especially given the drug’s history of recreational misuse. A new report analyzing data from five clinical trials conducted at NIH over 13 years shows that common side effects of a single IV treatment were mild and lasted only a few hours. This encouraging result supports ongoing research to develop practical, quick-acting antidepressants. To learn more, please visit the NIMH website.

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Perception of Stigma Associated with Greater Risk of Suicide in College Students

Oct 12 2019
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among all people aged 10-34 in the U.S., and a significant concern on college campuses. To better understand risk factors and inform prevention efforts, especially in underrepresented and minority populations, researchers analyzed ten years of data from the Healthy Minds Study. The research shows that suicidal ideation, planning and attempts are more common among students who believe there is significant public stigma against seeking mental health treatment. Risk is also higher among Black students, Asian-international students and sexual minority students. To learn more, please see the article in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

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Potential New Biomarker for Early Identification of Schizophrenia Identified

Oct 02 2019
Over 80% of people with schizophrenia experience auditory hallucination — hearing a sound when there is no external source. This experience can be highly distressing and can contribute to harmful behavior. New research using ultra-high field imaging suggests that auditory hallucinations are related to physical differences in the auditory cortex, an area of the brain that finishes developing very early in life. This could represent a way to identify people vulnerable to schizophrenia before they begin experiencing symptoms. To learn more, please see the article in Nature.

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Brain Development May Explain Different Rates of Mental Health Conditions in Adolescence

Oct 02 2019
The amygdala and the hippocampus — structures in the brain that are involved in emotion, learning and memory — play a role in many of mental health conditions. To learn more about how the amygdala and the hippocampus develop in early life, researchers analyzed brain scans from over 700 participants. The results indicated significant differences in growth trajectories between males and females, which may help explain why conditions develop at different times and at different rates. To learn more, please visit the NIMH website.