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

Problematic smartphone use linked to poorer grades, alcohol misuse, more sexual partners

A survey of more than 3,400 university students in the USA has found that one in five respondents reported problematic smartphone use. Female students were more likely be affected and problematic smartphone use was associated with lower grade averages, mental health problems and higher numbers of sexual partners.

Smartphones offer the potential of instant, round-the-clock access for making phone calls, playing games, gambling, chatting with friends, using messenger systems, accessing web services (e.g. websites, social networks and pornography), and searching for information. The number of users is rapidly increasing, with some estimates suggesting that there are now more than 2.7 billion users worldwide.

While most people using smartphones find them a helpful and positive part of life, a minority of users develop excessive smartphone use, meaning that smartphone use has significant negative effects on how people function in life. Previous research has linked excessive smartphone use to mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and problems with self-esteem.

Full story at Science Daily

What are the differences between Prozac and Zoloft?

Prozac and Zoloft are common antidepressant drugs. Although they have similar effects on the body, their specific uses, side effects, and dosages are different.

Prozac and Zoloft are both selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). This class of medication is among the first options for treating major depressive disorder, which people usually call depression.

Fluoxetine is the generic drug name for Prozac, and sertraline is the generic name for Zoloft.

In this article, we discuss the differences between Prozac and Zoloft.

Full story at Medical News Today

Brain structure may play key role in psychosis

New research finds that having a larger choroid plexus, which is a vital brain structure, could be involved in psychosis.

Variations in the structure of the choroid plexus, which produces cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), could play a key role in psychosis.

A team that Dr. Paulo Lizano — of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA — led has now investigated this vital structure.

In doing so, they found that there could be a link between its size and the development of psychosis.

Full story at Medical News Today