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Tag: anxiety

Breathe! The Shape-Shifting Ball That Supports Mental Health

Article Excerpt: A soft ball that ‘personifies’ breath, expanding and contracting in synchronicity with a person’s inhalations and exhalations, has been invented by a PhD student at the University of Bath. The ball is designed to support mental health, giving users a tangible representation of their breath to keep them focused and to help them regulate their emotions.
Alexz Farrall, the student in the Department of Computer Science who invented the device, said: “By giving breath physical form, the ball enhances self-awareness and engagement, fostering positive mental health outcomes.”

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Article Source: ScienceBlog


Preliminary Implementation Outcomes of a Free Online Toolkit to Support Exposure Therapy Implementation for Youth

Becker-Haimes EM, Wislocki K, Schriger SH, Kratz HE, Sanchez AL, Clapp D, Frank HE. Preliminary Implementation Outcomes of a Free Online Toolkit to Support Exposure Therapy Implementation for Youth. Child Youth Care Forum (2023).

Exposure therapy is a cognitive-behavioral treatment tool for youth anxiety but is highly underutilized in routine clinical care. This study assessed usage and clinician perspectives of an online toolkit that supports the use of exposure therapy with anxious youth, called the Resource for Exposure for Anxiety Disordered Youth (READY). READY is hosted on a freely available website and has been disseminated to clinicians. Researchers extracted web analytics from the READY platform and conducted brief, anonymous electronic surveys of site users to assess READY adoption, utility, and the association with exposure therapy use. In its first three years, READY had 13,543 page views across 1731 unique users. READY clinician users (N=49, mean age=34 years, 82.9% female, 71% White) completed the survey. Survey data suggested variability in usage and perceived utility across toolkit components. READY was perceived positively overall by users and was most commonly used to prepare for exposure therapy sessions by reviewing tips or generating exposure ideas. Open-ended responses about perceived challenges in exposure delivery with youth found common barriers to be engagement by patients, difficulties with the family system, and difficulties with generating ideas for exposure practices. Although the study engaged only a small number of READY users (14%) to complete the survey, findings suggest the READY toolkit, a free online implementation resource, could be a promising tool to support clinicians delivering exposure therapy and may augment traditional training and consultation.


The Tech Solutions Helping Battle Depression and Anxiety

Article Excerpt: Though COVID-19 is no longer classified as a global health emergency, the spike in mental health disorders that accompanied the rapid spread of the virus hasn’t abated… the rise in mental health conditions has also meant that more people are comfortable seeking support. As a result, there’s never been more demand for health and wellbeing services with the behavioral health market expected to grow to $105 billion by 2029. And tech innovators continue to develop solutions that address specific gaps in the treatment pipeline, democratize access to treatment such as therapy and provide tools to manage our wellbeing holistically.

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Article Source: 150sec


The Impact of Wearable Technology on Mental Health and Wellness

Article Excerpt: The impact of wearable technology on mental health and wellness is a topic that has been gaining increasing attention in recent years. As the use of wearable devices such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, and even smart clothing becomes more widespread, researchers and mental health professionals are exploring the potential benefits and drawbacks of these devices on our mental well-being.

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Article Source: CityLife


How Does Marijuana Affect the Brain? Psychological Researchers Examine Impact on Different Age Groups Over Time

Article Excerpt: Although scientists are working to answer important questions about consuming cannabis, one of the gaping holes in the field is a reliable method of quantifying how many milligrams of THC are in the multitude of products available, said Dartmouth College’s Alan Budney, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and biomedical science who specializes in cannabis research… Budney is now preparing to launch a survey of 15,000 users who will report not only the detailed information about their cannabis consumption but also how the products are affecting them in terms of depression, anxiety, cannabis use disorder symptoms, and quality of life.

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Article Source: American Psychological Association


ChatGPT Is Giving Therapy. a Mental Health Revolution May Be Next

Article Excerpt: ChatGPT itself warns that it is not a replacement for a psychologist or counsellor. But that has not stopped some people from using the platform as their personal therapist. In posts on online forums such as Reddit, users have described their experiences asking ChatGPT for advice about personal problems and difficult life events like breakups. Some have reported their experience with the chatbot being as good or better than traditional therapy.

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Article Source: Aljazeera


Targeting Anxiety to Improve Sleep Disturbance: A Randomized Clinical Trial of App-Based Mindfulness Training

Gao M, Roy A, Deluty A, Sharkey KM, Hoge EA, Liu T, Brewer JA. Targeting Anxiety to Improve Sleep Disturbance: A Randomized Clinical Trial of App-Based Mindfulness Training. Psychosom Med. 2022 Jun 1;84(5):632-642. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000001083.

A randomized controlled trial was conducted among adults reporting worry that interfered with sleep to test a mindfulness training app. Eighty participants were randomized to treatment as usual (TAU) or TAU plus app-based mindfulness training for anxiety. The app-based intervention, Unwinding Anxiety, included 30 core modules and 8 “theme weeks” of brief mindfulness training using videos, app-initiated check-ins, guided meditations, and short mindfulness exercises. All participants were provided Fitbit devices to track their sleep time and efficiency, completed self-report sleep diaries, and received check-ins and reminders. The intervention was completed over 2 months and participants completed assessments at 1 month (during treatment), at end of treatment, and 2 months post treatment. The primary outcome was change in worry-related sleep disturbances assessed via self-report. At the end of treatment, worry-related sleep disturbance scores significantly decreased by 27% in the treatment group compared to 6% in the TAU group. There were no significant between-group differences in average total sleep time or efficiency at the end of treatment. Results demonstrated an association between mindfulness training and decreased worry-related sleep disturbance. Digital therapeutics like app-based mindfulness training show clinical efficacy in improving sleep.


Psychological Phenotypes Correlate with Response to Digital Therapy for Anxiety

Article Excerpt: A patient’s psychological phenotype could be an indication of whether the patient will respond to a digital therapy for anxiety, according to a new report. The study offers insights that could help clinicians offer personalized care to patients with psychological conditions, but it also could explain why some patients respond more strongly than others to the types of therapy often leveraged by prescription digital therapeutics. The findings were published in Scientific Reports. Corresponding author Veronique A. Taylor, Ph.D., M.Sc., of the Brown University School of Public Health, and colleagues, said while personalized medicine has become an important component of other types of healthcare, personalized medicine in mental health has lagged due in part to a lack of research.

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Article Source: Managed Healthcare Executive


Evaluating the Therapeutic Alliance With a Free-Text CBT Conversational Agent (Wysa): A Mixed-Methods Study

Beatty C, Malik T, Meheli S, and Sinha C (2022). Evaluating the Therapeutic Alliance With a Free-Text CBT Conversational Agent (Wysa): A Mixed-Methods Study. Front Digit Health 4:847991. doi: 10.3389/fdgth.2022.847991

The goal of this study was to explore therapeutic alliance (I.e., the emotional bond and collaboration between a patient and therapist on the tasks and goals of treatment) using an artificial intelligence (AI) conversational agent (Wysa). Wysa is a mental health app that provides a virtual space for anonymous user-led conversations with AI-guided listening and support based in a cognitive behavioral framework. New users of Wysa, a freely accessible app, were invited to join the study through a notification and screening assessment within the app. Participants who screened positive for anxiety or depression symptoms (N=1205) completed therapeutic alliance assessments within 5 days of installing the app and 3 days after the first assessment. Therapeutic alliance was measured using the validated Working Alliance Inventory-Short Revised (WAI-SR); a score of at least 3.45 is considered high alliance. Researchers also analyzed the transcripts of users’ conversations with Wysa for qualitative elements related to therapeutic alliance. During initial app use, the mean score of therapeutic alliance was 3.64 (SD=0.81) and mean score of bonding was 3.98 (SD=0.94). After 3 days, the mean scores for alliance and bonding increased to 3.75 (SD=0.80) and 4.05 (SD=0.91) respectively, but these changes were not statistically significant. Findings from the content analysis of Wysa conversation transcripts identified elements of bonding, including gratitude, self-disclosure, and personification. This study provides evidence of the establishment of therapeutic alliance with a conversational agent with scores comparable to prior studies with face-face, human-based therapy. Little change in therapeutic alliance was observed over time.