Virtual reality can help treat symptoms in patients with psychosis, according to a new study published in The Lancet Psychiatry.
GameChangeVR automates psychotherapy, guiding users with a virtual coach. It was developed by OxfordVR, a digital therapeutics company, the University of Oxford and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust … The study, based on 346 patients, found that automated VR therapy led to “significant reductions” in symptoms of anxious avoidance and distress. The technology especially benefited those with severe symptoms. The study concluded that the technology has the potential to increase access to effective care for psychosis. [Read more…] about Study: Automated VR psychotherapy can help reduce anxiety and distress, especially among those with psychosis and severe agoraphobia
Researchers found patients who used CCBT in addition to regular treatment led to “significantly greater improvement” on the Patient Health Questionnaire–9, used to screen for and measure depressive symptoms. Those results also held up over time.
“Results of this study show that treatment for depression in primary care can be enhanced by the addition of CCBT to TAU [treatment as usual],” the study’s authors wrote. “After 12 weeks of acute treatment, CCBT significantly outperformed TAU in reducing PHQ‑9 scores; these positive results were maintained over the 3- and 6‑month follow-up intervals. Remission rates were more than double for CCBT compared with TAU at all time points.” [Read more…] about Computer-assisted cognitive behavior therapy (CCBT) may outperform Treatment as Usual (TAU) in helping patients reduce depression, improve 6‑month remission rates
For people with post-traumatic stress disorder, recalling memories of physical or sexual assault, combat or disaster-related events can induce intense anxiety or panic attacks as well as debilitating flashbacks.
In the U.S., about 7% of people suffer from PTSD and lose an average of about four working days each month as a result. Trauma-specific psychotherapy, like cognitive processing or “talk” therapy, is the cornerstone of treatment for PTSD. But for approximately half of people, these traditional approaches are ineffective at fully addressing PTSD symptoms over the long term. Antidepressant drugs are frequently used if psychotherapy fails, or in combination with it, but the effects are usually modest. [Read more…] about Why MDMA-assisted psychotherapy may become an FDA-approved treatment for PTSD within 2 years
Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring this time eight scientific reports and industry resources plus a few fun brain teasers.
“Girls who spent less than an hour on screens and boys who spent less than 90 minutes on screens were not negatively impacted by it. But at higher amounts of screen time, their life satisfaction dropped significantly—they were less happy with their lives, and it got worse the more time they spent … (the) study also found that teens who got more regular exercise had greater life satisfaction and fewer physical complaints for both genders. Not only that, the effects were largely unrelated to how much time a teen spent on screens, so that if teens exercised more, it could potentially undo the damage to their well-being that went along with even six or eight hours of screen time.”
‘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.’
Let’s hope! — “I think Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) will continue to be adapted for more problems, diagnoses, and conditions. We will train many kinds of caregivers, teachers, front-line workers, police, and even politicians.”
“We discovered that the most predictive model – representing the most common mode of city navigation – was not the quickest path, but instead one that tried to minimize the angle between the direction a person is moving and the line from the person to their destination … Evolution is a story of trade-offs, not optimizations, and the cognitive load of calculating a perfect path rather than relying on the simpler pointing method might not be worth a few saved minutes. After all, early humans had to preserve brain power for dodging stampeding elephants, just like people today might need to focus on avoiding aggressive SUVs.”
“Designed with the help of Dutch academic Isabela Granic … the game is centred around an avatar who stays in bed for the day and aims to relax players by using soothing music, muted colours and self-care practices. Think meditative tasks such as word games and guided breathing exercises. There’s no way to win, compete or binge – in fact, it deliberately starts to feel boring after a few minutes of play, which disincentivizes mindless scrolling. #SelfCare was an instant hit, garnering half a million downloads in its first six weeks without any advertising…”
“What made this proof-of-principle trial successful was the discovery of a neural biomarker – a specific pattern of brain activity that indicates the onset of symptoms – and the team’s ability to customize a new DBS device to respond only when it recognizes that pattern. The device then stimulates a different area of the brain circuit, creating on-demand, immediate therapy that is unique to both the patient’s brain and the neural circuit causing her illness.”
“After initially indicating that Aduhelm could be prescribed to anyone with dementia, the Food and Drug Administration now specifies that the prescription drug be given to individuals with mild cognitive impairment or early-stage Alzheimer’s, the groups in which the medication was studied.
Yet this narrower recommendation raises questions. What does a diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment mean? Is Aduhelm appropriate for all people with mild cognitive impairment, or only some? And who should decide which patients qualify for treatment: dementia specialists or primary care physicians?”
“With data breaches on the rise, the FTC is looking to make health apps more accountable for telling patients when their data has been exposed.”
Wishing you and yours a sweet Halloween and a healthy month of November,
The SharpBrains Team
Dr. Awais Aftab: What do you think the future of psychotherapy is? What would you like it to be?
Dr. Judith Beck: A number of years ago, a colleague asked my dad whether he expected cognitive therapy to eventually dominate the field of psychotherapy. He responded, “I hope good therapy eventually dominates the field of psychotherapy. Just good therapy.” My father has always said, and I agree, that if significant research demonstrates greater support for the theoretical framework and treatment of a different psychotherapy, then that psychotherapy should supplant CBT. So far that has not happened. To the contrary, as the years have gone by, there is more and more support for CBT conceptually and in treatment efficacy.
In terms of the future of CBT, I think we will continue to use research from other fields (such as neurobiology, evolutionary biology, and cognitive science) to refine theory and guide therapy. We will continue to seek out what treatments work best for whom under what conditions. We will have a stronger emphasis on identifying key processes to target core mediators and moderators based on testable theories. [Read more…] about Dr. Judith Beck on the future of cognitive therapy and psychotherapy
Britney Spears’ impassioned remarks in court have raised many questions about conservatorships, including when they’re necessary and whether they effectively protect someone’s best interests.
When one loses the capacity to make decisions for oneself the court appoints a guardian, or conservator, to make those decisions. Appointing someone to make decisions about personal and financial matters on another’s behalf has been part of civil society since the ancient Greeks. Today, all jurisdictions in the U.S. have conservatorship laws to protect people who lack the ability to make their own decisions. [Read more…] about Debunking four myths about decision-making capacity to keep Britney Spears and others safe