A large-scale study from the University of Exeter has found ‘robust evidence’ that being overweight hikes up your risk of developing depression – but as fresh evidence confirms, logging your morning miles is one of the most effective ways to fight back. Exercise jolts your brain into action, and not just because of the endorphin high … ‘Obesity and depression are both major global health challenges, and our study provides the most robust evidence to date that higher BMI causes depression,’ said lead author Jess O’Loughlin. ‘Understanding whether physical or social factors are responsible for this relationship can help inform effective strategies to improve mental health and wellbeing.’ [Read more…] about Studies find growing evidence linking weight, physical activity, neuroplasticity and depression
Study backs benefit of insomnia DTx Sleepio on mental health (pharmaphorum):
The study – published in the journal Behaviour Research and Therapy – tested the Sleepio app developed by digital health specialist Big Health as an add-on to standard NHS care for anxiety and depression under the improving access to psychological therapies (IAPT) policy.
Patients who signed up to use Sleepio – a six-week digital cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) course – achieved significantly better improvement in symptoms compared to controls, with an IAPT recovery rate of nearly 65% versus 58% in the control group. [Read more…] about Study: Self-guided sleep app Sleepio, combined with standard care for depression and anxiety, delivers better outcomes than standard care alone
In the eyes of the tech industry, mental health treatment is an area ripe for disruption.
In any given year, 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experience a form of mental illness, according to federal estimates. And research indicates only about half of them receive treatment in a system that is understaffed and ill distributed to meet demand.
For tech startups looking to cash in on unmet need, that translates into more than 50 million potential customers. [Read more…] about The explosion of mental health apps raises substantial opportunities–and tough questions
Worrying and the Aging Brain (Dana Foundation):
Over the past decade, scientists and clinicians have noted a significant association between common mental health conditions and accelerated brain aging—the changes to brain structure, physiology, and function that are thought to lead to later cognitive decline. Both depression and anxiety disorders, for example, are strongly correlated with the development of dementias including Alzheimer’s disease later in life, yet it has been unclear why. Neuroscientists and gerontologists around the globe have diligently worked to investigate which particular symptoms might contribute to age-related cognitive decline. [Read more…] about Don’t worry, be happy: How excessive worrying may influence the rate of neurodegeneration
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring eleven new research findings and innovative resources for lifelong cognitive and brain health.
#2. Either way, the earlier the better, but it’s never too late: New book outlines the five lifestyle pillars to “build a better brain at any age”
#3. “If I were a cardiologist evaluating a patient’s chest pain, for instance, I would speak with the patient, but then I would listen to their heart and measure their pulse and blood pressure. I might order an electrocardiogram or a cardiac stress test, tools that weren’t available a century ago. Because I’m a psychiatrist, however, I evaluate patients in precisely the same way that my predecessors did in 1920…” Reading Our Minds: New book issues strong call to action to modernize psychiatry
#4. Very timely effort by Wellcome in the UK: Comprehensive research review identifies most promising interventions to boost workplace mental health
#5. “As we enter the second year of the pandemic, so many people are struggling and seeking mental health support. Wysa is an example of how technology is helping millions of people access everyday mental health support and self-care tools without being gated by a clinical diagnosis.” — Dr. Pankaj Jethwani, Executive Vice President at W Health Ventures. Artificial Intelligence (AI)-enabled chatbot Wysa raises $5.5M to broaden access to mental health support
#7. Akili Interactive Labs raises $160M in equity and debt to transform cognitive healthcare via prescription videogame treatments. A nice way to celebrate Akili’s 10th anniversary … they are targeting ADHD first (now kids, later teens and adults), to be followed by treatments for a range of cognitive disorders related to depression, Multiple Sclerosis, Autism, “Covid-Fog” and more.
#8. Study: Higher mental wellbeing (in 2016) seen to lower healthcare costs (in 2017). We still have time to invest in public mental wellbeing in 2021.
#9. Teladoc Health, having acquired Livongo and myStrength, launches integrated mental health service for the workplace. “The announcement comes as more than half of people with mental health concerns report that they do not know where to start when getting care, highlighting the importance of the digital front door myStrength Complete will provide…” This is indeed a very common pain point according to our own research, so good to see the quite comprehensive & personalized approach.
#10. Cumulus Neuroscience raises $8.3M to develop EEG-based wireless ‘Fitbit for the brain’ — Fascinating to see the major role of the Dementia Discovery Fund, in a bid to accelerate clinical trials and potential therapies.
#11. Last but not least, a very promising clinical application of psychedelics: Study finds MDMA-assisted therapy to be safe and highly effective to treat severe PTSD. “The Nature authors speculate that MDMA-assisted sessions produce a “window of tolerance,” in which patients are able to revisit traumatic memories, with less shame and anger, and without being overwhelmed by PTSD symptoms.”
Wishing you a healthy Memorial Weekend and month of June,
The SharpBrains Team
Every seven seconds, someone in the world is diagnosed with dementia. A typical case that I often see in my practice is as follows: A 76-year-old woman has a two-year history of progressive worsening of short-term memory and cognitive decline. She can’t recall the names of her grandchildren and is devastated by her deteriorating abilities.
However, this is not the first time in her life that she has had feelings of loss and despair. Over the past 30 years, she has intermittently struggled with depression and anxiety. Her family has many questions: Does she have dementia or Alzheimer’s? Could her depression have led to a dementia diagnosis? Is it only depression and not dementia? These are all good questions and the collective answer to them is “yes.” [Read more…] about Debate: Are depression and dementia two sides of the same coin? And, if they are, how to best approach treatment?