Mental Health Recap: 4 Must-Read Studies From July 2021
Accessed from the world wide web at 12:00 hrs 30.07.21.
People with mental health disorders like depression or anxiety have an increased risk of dying from COVID-19, and children who sustain a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – read on for more mental health news from July 2021.
Mental Illness May Raise COVID-19 Death Risk
What’s new The findings of a review article published July 27 in JAMA Psychiatry show that people with mental health disorders like major depressive disorder or an anxiety disorder have an increased risk of dying from COVID-19.
Research details The review included data from 16 studies of nearly 19,100 people living in seven countries, including the United States. In addition to major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders, mental health disorders included in the review were schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, alcohol abuse, and substance abuse, among others.
Ultimately, researchers found that people with mental health disorders had a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than people without mental health disorders — even after accounting for traditional risk factors for severe COVID-19, like diabetes, hypertension, COPD, and end-stage kidney disease. This risk appeared to be highest in people with severe mental health disorders, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Why it matters According to the authors of the review, people with mental health disorders should be considered a high-risk population for COVID-19-related death. “Enhanced preventive and disease management strategies” are needed for people with mental health disorders, the researchers wrote.
75 Percent of Sexual Assault Victims Have PTSD 1 Month Later
What’s new Findings published on July 19 in the journal Trauma, Violence, & Abuse show that nearly 75 percent and 41 percent of sexual assault victims have PTSD at one month and one year after the assault, respectively.
Research details The authors of the review article looked at findings from 22 studies of more than 2,100 survivors of sexual assault. They concluded that the majority of people who survived a sexual assault met diagnostic criteria for PTSD at one month following the assault. Nearly 48 percent of people had severe PTSD symptoms one month later, and nearly 30 percent had severe symptoms one year afterward.
Notably, the researchers found that the majority of recovery from PTSD symptoms happened within the first three months post-assault, and the average recovery rate slowed after this period.
Why it matters The authors of the review found that PTSD is both “common and severe” after a sexual assault — and getting help early on can be crucial to recovery.
“I encourage survivors to find a safe outlet to process their difficult thoughts and emotions, which might be by talking to a trusted friend or loved one, seeking therapy, or even journaling,” says Emily Dworkin, PhD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle and the lead author of the review. “Getting difficult thoughts and emotions out in the open is a lot like taking care of a wound: It can be painful to clean a wound and change your bandages, but doing these things helps a wound heal over time.
“If survivors are still experiencing significant symptoms of PTSD after a few months, I recommend seeking one of the evidence-based treatments for PTSD, such as prolonged exposure or cognitive processing therapy,” Dr. Dworkin says. “These gold-standard therapies were originally developed for survivors of sexual assault and are very effective in treating PTSD in about 12 sessions.”
Severe Traumatic Brain Injury Tied to ADHD in Kids
What’s new Children who have had a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), according to a review article published July 12 in JAMA Pediatrics.
Research details Researchers assessed 24 studies of more than 12,000 children between the ages of 4 and 18, compared with more than 43,000 children with another injury or no injury at all. Types of TBI mentioned in the review included concussions, blunt head trauma, and closed head injury.
The findings showed that ADHD risk appeared to be elevated among children who sustained a severe TBI — but not a mild or moderate one — compared with children with other injuries or no injuries at all. The researchers noted that children who had a TBI were also more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD prior to their TBI when compared with children who did not have a TBI.
Why it matters Although TBI is associated with an increased risk of being diagnosed with ADHD afterward among children, the authors of the review noted the importance of having a child’s pre-TBI functioning assessed by a doctor before concluding that the TBI itself was the cause of their ADHD symptoms, especially in milder cases of TBI.
“There may be psychosocial and medical issues that antedated the TBI that need to be addressed to adequately treat a child’s ADHD symptoms,” the authors wrote.
Survey: Depression, Anxiety, Burnout on the Rise Among College Students Returning to Campus
What’s new Rates of depression, anxiety, burnout, and use of unhealthy coping behaviors rose among college students during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to new survey findings published on July 26 by the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.
Research details Staff members at the Ohio State University surveyed the student body about their mental health, lifestyle habits, and methods of coping in August 2020 and April 2021, and received responses from nearly 1,100 students.
The survey results showed that the proportion of students who screened positive for depression, anxiety, burnout, and unhealthy coping behaviors all increased between 2020 and 2021:
- Depression rose from 24.1 percent in 2020 to 28.3 percent in 2021.
- Anxiety rose from 39 percent in 2020 to 42.6 percent in 2021
- Burnout rose from 40 percent in 2020 to 71 percent in 2021
- Alcohol use rose from 15.5 percent in 2020 to 18 percent in 2021.
- Vaping rose from 6 percent in 2020 to 8 percent in 2021
Why it matters “We now have a mental health pandemic inside of the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the university’s chief wellness officer, Bernadette Melnyk, PhD, the dean of the Ohio State college of nursing and president of the National Consortium for Building Healthy Academic Communities. “We must shift our current paradigm in the United States from one of sick and crisis care to wellness and prevention.
“As part of this shift, we need to ensure that all college students are preventively equipped with the evidence-based skills that we know work, such as mindfulness and cognitive behavioral skills building, to promote their optimal mental health, well-being, and resiliency in order to prevent serious mental health problems,” Dr. Melnyk says, adding, “this is not a nicety; it is a necessity.”
To address their survey findings, Melnyk and her colleagues created the “Five to Thrive” Mental Health checklist, which involves:
- Establishing healthy habits like an exercise routine
- Building resiliency and coping skills like mindfulness and deep breathing
- Finding nearby mental health support
- Growing and maintaining a support system by getting involved in on-campus activities
- Getting help if you need it, especially if your symptoms affect your ability to function or concentrate