Wild thoughts

Most people feel sleepy, grumpy, or dopey when they haven’t gotten enough hours of sleep. A new study in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry puts forth a theory on why sometimes less sleep can also lead us to be more depression-y and anxious-y. Their research takes aim at a common symptom of those conditions known as repetitive negative thoughts (RNT), which is basically your mind being a jerk and not letting you stop thinking about bad things. Using eye-tracking technology, they showed volunteers positive, negative, and neutral images, and found that volunteers fixated on the negative images longer and more intensely than the neutral and positive ones. They blame a lack of cognitive resources caused by not enough sleep for their inability to filter negative thoughts.

Putting a face to the voice

Internet trolls are annoying, but at least you can log off and ignore what they’re saying. But if you’re part of the 65% of schizophrenia patients who experience auditory hallucinations, it’s like the trolls are in your head (YouTube simulation of schizophrenia.) A promising new therapy will hopefully be able to help shut them up. AVATAR therapy has patients create a visual and audio representation of the voices bothering them, which is then controlled by their therapist. The therapist embodies the personality of the voice for a bit, but then winds down the jerkish aspects as time goes on. A whopping 83% of patients who received the therapy experienced a reduction in auditory hallucinations in 12 weeks. It’s nice to hear some good news.

UK to dramatically improve mental health care

Longtime Insight City readers beware, we really can’t use our normal voice/style for this article. But don’t think we didn’t think about it. Earlier this week UK NHS Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt launched a plan to expand the country’s mental health treatment efforts. And not just any plan. The NHS has committed £1.3 billion to transform mental health services, with a pledge to: (1) treat an extra 1 million patients by 2020 by hiring ~21,000 more workers, (b) provide services 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, and (iii) integrate mental and physical health services for the first time. Yep, 1.3 billion pounds. That’s like 650,000 tons of money. You do the math. To get you up-to-speed, see the most prevalent mental illnesses in the UK here.

4. Which came first, the crazy or the cats?

It has been hypothesized that the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, whose primary host is the housecat, can mess with the mind. Studies show that infected mice lose their fear of cats, making them even more susceptible to cat consumption, which in turn infects the cat. Previous studies have suggested that having a cat for a pet could be linked to mental disorders like schizophrenia as well as depressive disorders (and popular culture has confirmed this bias with the crazy cat lady stereotype) due to exposure to the t. gondii infection. Well crazy people, a new study came out that says you can’t blame the cat. Meee-aaahhhh-oooow, what’s that sound? A collective sigh of relief from the ~500 million domesticated cats.

1. Mental health threat: neutralized

Steven Cohen, the man guilty of insider trading back in 2013, thought it was time for a good deed. Through a charity inspired by his son, Cohen Veterans Network, he’s opened free mental health clinics for veterans in five cities across the US and plans twenty more in the next five years. This is good news seeing that 20% of soldiers who return from Iraq show symptoms of PTSD, and only about half receive care. These free clinics are open to any veteran regardless of time spent in war or reason for discharge. Now, if only a billionaire ex-con would just come rescue the rest of the healthcare ecosystem.