Psychology

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Psychology of the pandemic

How gamification helps us cope with Covid-19

A pandemic is not a game. Yet, human response in dealing with Covid-19 resembles patterns known from games: people hoard resources, compare leaderboards and graphs, play certain social roles,…

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Stress, depression, anxiety

Suppress or sustain? How our brain handles traumatic memories

Two clusters of brain cells compete to promote either the persistence or disappearance of traumatic memories, according to a new study conducted in mice. The findings could provide important insights…

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Post-traumatic stress disorder

Is PTSD on the rise - or just overdiagnosed?

Some clinicians are concerned that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) diagnosis has risen throughout Western society since the late 1980s. Is this correct? And if so, has the true incidence of…

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Sex differences in medication

A drug that could help men help cope with fear (but might make things worse for women)

A research team from the Institut de Neurociències at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (INc-UAB) has showed that inhibition through a drug of the Tac2 neuronal circuit, involved in the…

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Reducing hospital-related stress and anxiety

Website helps children and parents to prepare for hospitalization

Every year, millions of children around the world are admitted to hospital for having anaesthesia and surgery. Many of them experience preoperative anxiety which negatively affects both their…

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Gesundheit!

Why stress relief is also allergy relief

Increased allergic reactions may be tied to the corticotropin-releasing stress hormone (CRH), suggests a new study. These findings may help clarify the mechanism by which CRH induces proliferation of…

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Prevalence of depression and anxiety

Covid-19 pandemic impacts mental health worldwide, study finds

A study conducted by Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health researchers reports a high global prevalence of both depression and anxiety during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also shows how the implementation of mitigation strategies including public transportation and school closures, and stay-at-home orders impacted such disorders. Results are published in Psychological Medicine.

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How our brain handles the pandemic

Fear of Covid-19: The psychology of the pandemic

During pandemics, protective behaviors need to be motivated by effective communication. A critical factor in understanding a population’s response to such a threat is the fear it elicits, since fear both contributes to motivating protective responses, but can also lead to panic-driven behaviors. Furthermore, lockdown measures affect well-being, making it important to identify protective factors…

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Detecting depression, psychosis

Machine learning could aid mental health diagnoses

A way of using machine learning to more accurately identify patients with a mix of psychotic and depressive symptoms has been developed by researchers at the University of Birmingham. Patients with depression or psychosis rarely experience symptoms of purely one or the other illness. Historically, this has meant that mental health clinicians give a diagnosis of a ‘primary’ illness, but with…

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Pandemic side-effects

Do I Know You? How masks disrupt facial perception

The identification of people wearing masks has often presented a unique challenge during the pandemic. A new study by researchers from BGU and York University in Canada reveals the impact of this predicament and its potentially significant repercussions. The findings were just published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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Psychotherapy delivery

Chatbots can 'nudge' patients away from opioid use after surgery

Patients who need surgery to fix major bone fractures use fewer opioid pills after their procedure if they're reminded of their values – and those reminders don't necessarily need to come from a doctor, according to a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. “We showed that opioid medication utilization could be decreased by more than a third in an at-risk patient…

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Wearable technology

Smart watches and fitness trackers: useful, but may increase anxiety

Is my heart beating slightly fast? Is a heart attack coming? I didn’t sleep as much as I thought I had last night – is that bad for my heart? Health apps and fitness watches can shed considerable light on how our bodies work and make recommendations for a healthy lifestyle. However, self-measuring can have a downside too, according to a new study that examined the experiences of 27 heart…

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Physical contact research

Two people, one MRI: The science of cuddling

Researchers at Aalto University and Turku PET Centre have developed a new method for simultaneous imaging brain activity from two people, allowing them to study social interaction. In a recent study, the researchers scanned brain activity from 10 couples. Each couple spent 45 minutes inside the MRI scanner in physical contact with each other. The objective of the study was to examine how social…

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Depression medication

New research may lead to more effective antidepressants

Depression is a common psychiatric disorder and one of the leading causes of disability worldwide. Antidepressants are the first-line treatment for moderate to severe major depressive episodes. Despite their effectiveness, only 40% of patients respond to the first antidepressant they try. A recent paper in Nature Communication strongly suggests that a particular protein, GPR56, is involved in the…

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Werther effect

Media reports of celebrity suicide linked to increased suicide rates

Media reporting of suicide, especially celebrity suicides, is associated with increases in suicide in the general population, particularly by the same method as used by the celebrity, finds an analysis of the latest evidence published by The BMJ. The researchers say their findings support the continued use and promotion of guidelines on responsible media reporting of suicide, especially when…

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Dutch experts discuss

On the implications of the coronavirus

The coronavirus last week reached the Netherlands and began to spread around the country. How has the Dutch population reacted? What is a useful frame of reference for this situation? And what are the legal guidelines for dealing with the outbreak? Four researchers from the University of Amsterdam – a clinical microbiologist, an anthropologist, a social scientist and a health lawyer – explain…

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New nutrition study

Childhood obesity: a surprisingly complex topic

The World Health Organization has estimated more than 340 million children and adolescents ages 5-19 are overweight or obese, and the epidemic has been linked to more deaths worldwide than those caused by being underweight. The Centers for Disease Control recently reported an estimated 1 in 5 children in the United States, ages 12-18, are living with prediabetes — increasing their risk of…

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Brain inflammation

AI could develop personalised psychosis therapies

A new multicentre study will investigate the link between brain inflammation and psychosis, and use artificial intelligence techniques to identify patients that might benefit most from novel treatments. The study, funded by UKRI Medical Research Council, is led by the Universities of Birmingham and Cambridge. Researchers will examine how and if activated inflammatory cells may act differently in…

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Multiple sclerosis and the psyche

Depression speeds up appearance of MS symptoms

People with multiple sclerosis (MS) who also have depression are more likely to suffer debilitating symptoms early than people with MS who are not depressed, according to a study at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden that is published in the journal Neurology. The findings highlight the need for early recognition and treatment of depressive symptoms in patients with MS. More than 2 million people…

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Dangerous fever

Febrile convulsions: an early indicator for epilepsy in children?

Children who suffer repeated febrile convulsions have an increased risk of developing epilepsy and psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and depression later in life. This is shown by a comprehensive register-based study from Aarhus University. The risk of febrile convulsions increases with the child’s fever, and approximately four per cent of Danish children suffer from febrile…

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Public health in the UK

'Every Mind Matters': NHS launches mental health campaign

A new awareness campaign launched by the National Health Service (NHS) aims to tackle the growing issue of mental disorders in the UK. 'Every Mind Matters' encourages adults to be more aware of their mental health and helps them to discover simple steps to look after their mental health and wellbeing. The campaign offers free, NHS-approved mental health resources, via the One You website, which…

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Nature vs. nurture

Oh! Are our emotional vocalisations learned or innate?

Are emotional expressions shaped by innate specialised mechanisms that guide learning, or do they develop exclusively from learning? In a classic ‘nature versus nurture’ study, social psychology researcher Disa Sauter from the University of Amsterdam explores whether people can recognise emotions from the sounds deaf people make when they express their feelings. Her research was now published…

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Psychological treatment

New PTSD meds take advantage of body's own cannabinoids

A medication that boosts the body’s own cannabis-like substances, endocannabinoids, shows promise to help the brain un-learn fear memories when these are no longer meaningful. This according to an early-stage, experimental study on healthy volunteers at Linköping University. The new findings give hope that a new treatment can be developed for post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD. “We have…

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