Federal Grants Restricted To Fighting Opioids Miss The Mark, States Say

In his 40 years of working with people who struggle with addiction, David Crowe has seen various drugs fade in and out of popularity in Pennsylvania’s Crawford County.

Methamphetamine use and distribution is a major challenge for the rural area, says Crowe, the executive director of Crawford County Drug and Alcohol Executive Commission. And opioid-related overdoses have killed at least 83 people in the county since 2015, he says.

Crowe says his organization has received just over $327,300 from key federal grants designed to curb the opioid epidemic. While the money was a godsend for his county, he says methamphetamine remains a major problem.

Full story at npr.org

How the online world is affecting the human brain

Technology has impacted human activities monumentally. Now, scientists want to know if human brains are being affected too.

The internet has been around for less than 3 decades, but the technology has already had an immense impact on the way humanity functions. This is apparent to us all in the way people communicate, foster relationships, and source information.

But there is one thing that scientists are still unsure of: What effect is the online world having on human brains? A new review by researchers from five universities in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia attempts to find the answer.

Full story at Medical News Today

Insomnia: ‘Long-distance’ CBT as effective as in-person therapy

Thousands of people around the world experience insomnia, which affects their quality of life, health, and productivity. One effective way of managing insomnia is cognitive behavioral therapy, but many individuals may not have the time or money to visit a therapist’s office. So, what is the solution?

Studies have shown that at least 10–30% of the world’s population, if not more, deal with insomnia, a sleep disorder in which people frequently have difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or getting good quality sleep.

Chronic insomnia can also increase a person’s sense of fatigue and their risk of experiencing poor mental health. People with insomnia also report having other health conditions more often than people who do not experience this sleep disturbance.

Full story at Medical News Today

San Francisco proposes nation’s first universal mental health care system

San Francisco residents could soon receive free mental health care and substance use disorder treatment under a proposed universal mental health care system aiming to be the first of its kind in the country.

Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney, elected officials on the city’s Board of Supervisors, will officially introduce their plan during Tuesday’s board meeting. The plan, which is called “Mental Health SF,” would include a 24/7 treatment center for any city resident in need of help, whether that’s counseling for anxiety or emergency care to treat a psychotic episode.

“(Mental Health SF) serves everyone from people who are insured but can’t get an appointment for a month or two … all the way to people that are living on the streets in crisis,” Ronen said.

Full story at USA Today

What is learned helplessness?

Learned helplessness is a state that occurs after a person has experienced a stressful situation repeatedly. They come to believe that they are unable to control or change the situation, so they do not try — even when opportunities for change become available.

Psychologists first described learned helplessness in 1967 after a series of experiments in animals, and they suggested that their findings could apply to humans.

Learned helplessness leads to increased feelings of stress and depression. For some people, it is linked with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Full story at Medical News Today

Are allergies linked to anxiety and depression?

Researchers from Germany and Switzerland have recently investigated the possible associations between conditions relating to mental health, such as depression and anxiety, and the presence of different types of allergy. Their findings, they say, should prompt scientists to pay more attention to these links.

According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the [United States],” leading to healthcare costs in excess of $18 billion each year.

Moreover, the CDC note that more than 50 million people in the U.S. have an allergy. Across Europe, about 150 million people have an allergy, according to the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Full story at Medical News Today

Simple test can tell if you’re stressed out

Stress is often called “the silent killer” because of its stealthy and mysterious effects on everything from heart disease to mental health.

Now researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed a new test that can easily and simply measure common stress hormones using sweat, blood, urine or saliva. Eventually, they hope to turn their ideas into a simple device that patients can use at home to monitor their health.

The results were published this month in the journal American Chemical Society Sensors.

“I wanted something that’s simple and easy to interpret,” said Andrew Steckl, an Ohio Eminent Scholar and professor of electrical engineering in UC’s College of Engineering and Applied Science.

Full story at Science Daily

Contact with nature during childhood could lead to better mental health in adulthood

Adults who had close contact with natural spaces during their childhood could have a better mental health than those who had less contact, according to a new study by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal), an institution supported by “la Caixa,” involving four European cities.

Exposure to natural outdoor environments has been associated with several health benefits, including a better cognitive development and better mental and physical health. However, few studies have explored the impact of childhood exposure to natural environments on mental health and vitality in adulthood. Furthermore, studies have more frequently considered green spaces (gardens, forests, urban parks) than blue spaces (canals, ponds, creeks, rivers, lakes, beaches, etc.).

This study, published in the International Journal of Environment Research and Public Health, was performed within the framework of the PHENOTYPE project with data from almost 3,600 adults from Barcelona (Spain), Doetinchem (Netherlands), Kaunas (Lithuania) and Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom).

Full story at Science Daily

Exercise: Psych patients’ new primary prescription

When it comes to inpatient treatment of a range of mental health and mood disorders — from anxiety and depression to schizophrenia, suicidality and acute psychotic episodes — a new study advocates for exercise, rather than psychotropic medications, as the primary prescription and method of intervention. Findings from the study reveal that physical exercise is so effective at alleviating patient symptoms that it could reduce patients’ time admitted to acute facilities and reliance on psychotropic medications.

“The general attitude of medicine is that you treat the primary problem first, and exercise was never considered to be a life or death treatment option. Now that we know it’s so effective, it can become as fundamental as pharmacological intervention,” explains David Tomasi, a lecturer at the University of Vermont, psychotherapist and inpatient psychiatry group therapist at the University of Vermont Medical Center and lead researcher of the study.

Practitioners at inpatient psychiatric facilities — often crowded, acute settings in which patients experience severe distress and discomfort — typically prescribe psychotropic medications first, rather than natural remedies like physical exercise, to alleviate patients’ symptoms such as anger, anxiety and depression. In fact, Tomasi estimates that only a handful of inpatient psychiatric hospitals in the U.S. provide psychotherapist-supported gym facilities exclusively for these patients. Instead, practitioners rely on classical psychotherapeutic and pharmacological frameworks to treat psychiatric symptoms, which they monitor to determine when a patient is ready to be discharged from the facility.

Full story at Science Daily

How The Brain Shapes Pain And Links Ouch With Emotion

When Sterling Witt was a teenager in Missouri, he was diagnosed with scoliosis. Before long, the curvature of his spine started causing chronic pain.

It was “this low-grade kind of menacing pain that ran through my spine and mostly my lower back and my upper right shoulder blade and then even into my neck a little bit,” Witt says.

The pain was bad. But the feeling of helplessness it produced in him was even worse.

“I felt like I was being attacked by this invisible enemy,” Witt says. “It was nothing that I asked for, and I didn’t even know how to battle it.”

Full story at npr.org