More evidence that pets benefit mental health

New research examines how interacting with pets affects cortisol levels among college students.

Pet owners have long known — or rather, felt — that spending time with their beloved animal companion lowers stress and improves mood.

An extensive review that Medical News Today reported on included several testimonials from people living with mental health conditions who vouched for the emotional comfort and psychological benefits that their pets brought them.

Full story at Medical News Today

Do antidepressants work better than placebo?

Scientists have been debating the efficacy of antidepressants for decades. The latest paper to throw its hat into the ring concludes that there is little evidence to show that they perform better than placebos.

In 2017, around 17.3 million adults in the United States experienced an episode of major depression.

Alongside talking therapies such as psychotherapy, many people with depression take antidepressants.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a 2011–2014 survey found that 12.7% of U.S. individuals aged 12 or above had taken antidepressant medication in the previous month.

Full story at Medical News Today

‘Simply seeing green spaces’ may help reduce cravings

Spending time in nature brings many physical and mental health benefits, but a new study suggests that even just being able to see nature from your bedroom window could support your health. According to this study, having a view of greenery from your home can reduce unhealthful cravings.

Contact with nature can demonstrably help improve and maintain our health, according to scientific research.

Last year, for example, a randomized controlled trial found that spending time walking in nature helped lower cortisol (stress hormone) levels and significantly improve mood.

And, earlier this year, a study that we covered on Medical News Today concluded that even just having access to green spaces throughout childhood decreased a person’s risk of developing mental health problems later in life.

Full story at Medical News Today

A peek into opioid users’ brains as they try to quit

Lying inside a scanner, the patient watched as pictures appeared one by one: A bicycle. A cupcake. Heroin. Outside, researchers tracked her brain’s reactions to the surprise sight of the drug she’d fought to kick.

Government scientists are starting to peek into the brains of people caught in the nation’s opioid epidemic, to see if medicines proven to treat addiction, like methadone, do more than ease the cravings and withdrawal. Do they also heal a brain damaged by addiction? And which one works best for which patient?

They’re fundamental questions considering that far too few of the 2 million opioid users who need anti-addiction medicine actually receive it.

Full story at Medical Xpress

New psychosis treatment targets genetic mutation instead of symptoms

A novel treatment that targets the biological effects of a specific genetic mutation could help alleviate the symptoms of psychosis, a new study finds.

Deborah L. Levy, Ph.D. — from the McLean Hospital in Belmont, MA — led the new study, the findings of which now appear in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

It revealed that people who had additional copies of a certain gene, instead of the regular two, benefited from the treatment.

The mutation, called a copy number variant (CNV), affects the glycine decarboxylase gene.

Full story at Medical News Today