As summers get hotter and hurricane seasons less predictable, more Americans now say that climate change affects their mental health, a new poll finds. In a survey conducted among more than 2,200 adults at the end of May, 53% of respondents said they believe that the effects of global warming impacts Americans’ mental health. That’s up from 48% of those questioned in a similar poll conducted in 2022, according to the poll’s sponsor, the American Psychiatric Association. “As psychiatrists, we know our mental state is not immune to these weather changes, and we also know that certain communities are disproportionately impacted,” said APA President Dr. Ramaswamy Viswanathan. “I would encourage those who feel overwhelmed to remember that there is still hope in the solutions we can adopt as individuals and on a more global scale.”  It isn’t just peace of mind that’s being upset by high temperatures, wildfires, hurricanes and the like. According to the poll, 39% said that climate change is also affecting folks’ access to food, 37% said it was taking a toll on personal finances, their family (36%), housing (34%), their neighborhood (25%), their job or career (26%) or their education (24%). Age mattered: “The majority of respondents ages 18-34 said climate change impacts their mental [53%] and physical health [52%], while less than a quarter [<25%] of adults ages 65+ said…  read on >  read on >

Most seniors who survive a drug overdose often miss out on treatments that could help save them from a subsequent OD, a new study shows. Almost 24,000 Medicaid beneficiaries died from a follow-up overdose out of 137,000 who survived an OD in 2020, researchers say. That’s nearly one in five (17%). “People who have experienced one overdose are more likely to experience another,” said Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, assistant secretary for mental health and substance use at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. However, treatment can reduce their risk. The odds of dying from another OD were: 58% lower in people treated with methadone 52% lower in people treated with buprenorphine 30% lower in people treated with naloxone 75% lower in people who had access to behavioral health assessment or crisis services “We found that when survivors received gold-standard care such as medications for opioid use disorder and naloxone, the chances of dying from an overdose in the following year drop dramatically,” Delphin-Rittmon said. “In short, medications for opioid use disorder, opioid overdose reversal medications and behavioral health supports save lives.”   Unfortunately, only 4% of the group received drugs like methadone and buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction, while only 6% filled a prescription for naloxone, which blunts the effect of opioids. What’s more, patients had to wait nearly two and a half months (72 days)…  read on >  read on >

Depression during or after a pregnancy could be tied to a heightened risk for heart trouble in women decades later, new research warns. This so-called “perinatal” depression was linked to a 36% higher odds of developing heart disease within the next 20 years, reported a Swedish team led by Dr. Emma Bränn, of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm. She said the findings could open up new pathways to protecting women’s hearts. “We know that perinatal depression is both preventable and treatable, and for many people it’s the first episode of depression they’ve ever experienced,” Bränn said. “Our findings provide more reason for ensuring maternal care is holistic, with equal attention on both physical and mental health.” The findings were published June 18 in the European Heart Journal. In the study, the Stockholm team looked at the medical histories of over 55,500 Swedish women who were diagnosed with perinatal depression between 2001 and 2014, and compared those to another group of almost 546,000 Swedish women who had also given birth during that time, but were not diagnosed with perinatal depression. They tracked the women’s heart health up until 2020. Any history of depression around the time of pregnancy was linked to higher odds for later heart disease. While 6.4% of women with such histories developed heart issues by 2020, that was true for just 3.7% of…  read on >  read on >

 The average American diet has only improved modestly over the past two decades, despite tons of research tying unhealthy food to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease, a new study finds. The percentage of U.S. adults with a poor diet decreased from 49% to 37% between 1999 and 2020, based on data from a regular federal survey of American dietary patterns. Americans with intermediate diet quality increased from 51% to 61% during the same period, showing some improvement. But the proportion of Americans with an ideal diet remained starkly low, rising only from 0.7% to 1.6%, researchers at Tufts University in Boston found. “While we’ve seen some modest improvement in American diets in the last two decades, those improvements are not reaching everyone, and many Americans are eating worse,” said researcher Dariush Mozaffarian, cardiologist and director of the university’s Food is Medicine Institute. “Our new research shows that the nation can’t achieve nutritional and health equity until we address the barriers many Americans face when it comes to accessing and eating nourishing food,” Mozaffarian added in a Tufts news release. For the study, researchers analyzed federal diet survey data for more than 51,700 adults. Diet quality was measured using a scoresheet developed by the American Heart Association. Results show people are eating more nuts and seeds, whole grains, poultry, cheese and eggs, researchers found.…  read on >  read on >

Adults’ phobias can be correlated with changes in the structure of their brains, a new study finds. What’s more, the neurological differences seen in adults with phobias are more extensive than those observed in people with other forms of anxiety. Phobia is the most common anxiety disorder, affecting more than 12% of people, said the research team led by Kevin Hilbert, a psychology research assistant with the Humboldt University of Berlin in Germany. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much research directed specifically at phobias, the team said. “Few studies have examined differences in brain structure associated with specific phobia, and those were generally conducted in small samples and targeted isolated regions of interest,” the team wrote. To take a closer look, researchers examined MRI scans from more than 1,400 children and adults with a specific phobia, as well as nearly 3,000 healthy people. The most common phobias were animal phobias (739 participants) and phobias related to blood, injury or injections (182 participants). They found that people with phobias had increased thickness in some parts of the frontal cortex, as well as reduced size in regions like the caudate nucleus, putamen and hippocampus. The altered regions are involved in fear-related brain processes like movement, aversion and emotional processing. However, the size of the amygdala — a central brain regulator of fear and aggression — was not significantly…  read on >  read on >

The U.S. Surgeon General announced Monday that he will push for warning labels on all social media platforms, stating that they may harm teens’ mental health. “The mental health crisis among young people is an emergency — and social media has emerged as an important contributor,” Dr. Vivek Murthy wrote in an essay published Monday in the New York Times. “Adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media face double the risk of anxiety and depression symptoms, and the average daily use in this age group, as of the summer of 2023, was 4.8 hours. Additionally, nearly half of adolescents say social media makes them feel worse about their bodies.” “It is time to require a surgeon general’s warning label on social media platforms, stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents,” he added. Still, such warning labels require Congressional approval, and no legislation on the issue has yet been introduced in either chamber. In his essay, Murthy asserted that the dangers of social media are as significant as those seen with road accidents or contaminated food. “Why is it that we have failed to respond to the harms of social media when they are no less urgent or widespread than those posed by unsafe cars, planes or food?” Murthy wrote. “These harms are not a…  read on >  read on >