Psychology

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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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LSD & Psilocybin

Microdosing drugs – exploring risks and benefits

The practice of taking small, regular doses of psychedelic drugs to enhance mood, creativity, or productivity lacks robust scientific evidence, say scientists. The process, called microdosing, has been lauded by some, with high profile proponents in Silicon Valley. But to date, scientific evidence to support or even fully explore claims of the benefits and safety, has been lacking. Now, an…

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Diagnostic disorder

Psychiatric diagnosis ‘scientifically worthless’, says study

A new study has concluded that psychiatric diagnoses are scientifically worthless as tools to identify discrete mental health disorders. The study, published in Psychiatry Research and led by researchers from the University of Liverpool, involved a detailed analysis of five key chapters of the latest edition of the widely used Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), on ‘schizophrenia’,…

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Addiction

Ten percent of hospital inpatients are alcohol dependent

A review of evidence by researchers at King’s College London has found high levels of alcohol dependence among hospital inpatients. The researchers estimate one in five patients in the UK hospital system uses alcohol harmfully, and one in ten is alcohol dependent. Currently little is being done to screen routinely for alcohol dependence in hospitals, and services for patients with alcohol…

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Mental health

Does autism increase risk of suicidal behaviour?

The risk of suicide attempts and suicides among individuals with autism spectrum disorders is significantly higher than among the population in general. An especially high risk of suicidal behaviour is noted among women who in addition to autism also have ADHD. These are the findings of a population-based study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden published in the journal Psychological Medicine.…

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Research

Anxiety might be alleviated by regulating gut bacteria

People who experience anxiety symptoms might be helped by taking steps to regulate the microorganisms in their gut using probiotic and non-probiotic food and supplements, suggests a review of studies published in the journal General Psychiatry. Anxiety symptoms are common in people with mental diseases and a variety of physical disorders, especially in disorders that are related to stress.…

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Psychiatry

Leonardo da Vinci: pure genius or ADHD?

Professor Marco Catani suggests the best explanation for Leonardo da Vinci's inability to finish his works is that the great artist may have had Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder. Leonardo da Vinci produced some of the world’s most iconic art, but historical accounts of his work practices and behaviour show that he struggled to complete projects. Drawing on these accounts, Professor…

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Antisocial behaviour

How the brain of children with conduct disorder is different

Behavioural problems in young people with severe antisocial behaviour – known as conduct disorder – could be caused by differences in the brain’s wiring that link the brain’s emotional centres together, according to new research led by the University of Birmingham. Conduct disorder affects around 1 in 20 children and teenagers and is one of the most common reasons for referral to child…

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Finding the connection

Can air pollution lead to psychosis in teens?

Research from King’s College London provides the first evidence of an association between air pollution and psychotic experiences in adolescence. The study, published in JAMA Psychiatry, provides a potential explanation for why growing up in cities is a risk factor for psychosis. This is the first time researchers have linked detailed geographical air pollution data with a representative sample…

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Obsessive compulsive disorder

Targeted deep brain stimulation reduces OCD symptoms

The debilitating behaviours and all-consuming thoughts which affect people with severe obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), could be significantly improved with targeted deep brain stimulation, according to the findings of a new study. OCD is characterised by unwanted intrusive thoughts (obsessions) and repetitive stereotyped behaviours (compulsions- sometimes called rituals) and often means…

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Some problems remain

Some children can 'recover' from autism

Research in the past several years has shown that children can outgrow a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), once considered a lifelong condition. In a new study, researchers at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Health System have found that the vast majority of such children still have difficulties that require therapeutic and educational support.

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