Psychiatric Times Vol 24 No 3

A Forbidden Hope

March 01, 2007

This is a film for psychiatrists who are concerned about women's issues and for anyone else who struggles to reconcile an enlightened humanism with the constraints of religious tradition.

New Data on Violent Deaths Available

March 01, 2007

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 50,000 violent deaths each year in the United States. Until recently, there were no comprehensive data available to the public regarding these deaths. It was with this in mind that the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) was created, not only to provide statistics of reported violent deaths, but also to educate and possibly prevent more violent deaths from occurring.

Panic Disorder: Telemedicine Gives Encouraging Results

March 01, 2007

Treatment interventions via telephone, Internet, and through other telemedical services are gaining popularity, especially in rural areas where licensed clinicians might not be available. Dr Per Carlbring and colleagues recently evaluated a 10-week, Internet-based, self-help program with weekly telephone calls for patients who had panic disorder with or without agoraphobia. The results were published in the December 2006 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Increased Plasma Cortisol Levels Associated With Alzheimer Progression

March 01, 2007

Increased plasma cortisol levels (correlated with increased hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis activity) may be associated with more rapid disease progression in Alzheimer-type dementia (AD). In a study conducted at the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, Dr John Csernansky and colleagues assessed 33 patients with very mild or mild AD and 21 persons without AD annually for up to 4 years, using the Clinical Dementia Rating Scale and various neuropsychological tests. Plasma was obtained from each patient and assessed for cortisol level.

Rembrandt's Feathers

March 01, 2007

This month, I decided that the time had finally come the time to throw out the 4 boxes I had stored in my attic since leaving my childhood home. These boxes lay piled in a corner with 30 years of dust and dirt on their lids. Unopened in all these years, they were filled with things I didn't need or miss. But before tossing them out, I decided to take a look inside.

A New and Better Search Engine for Psychiatrists

March 01, 2007

In 2006, Psychiatric Times upgradedits Web site (www.PsychiatricTimes.com) to make it more user-friendlyand to provide more features of interestto our readers. As another step to enhancethe value of the Web site, PsychiatricTimes recently introduced a newsearch engine SearchMedica/Psychiatry.

Major Depression on the Rise in the United States

March 01, 2007

Treatment interventions via telephone, Internet, and through other telemedical services are gaining popularity, especially in rural areas where licensed clinicians might not be available. Dr Per Carlbring and colleagues recently evaluated a 10-week, Internet-based, self-help program with weekly telephone calls for patients who had panic disorder with or without agoraphobia. The results were published in the December 2006 issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Mental Health Drugs at Issue in Part D Debate

March 01, 2007

The price and availability of psychiatric drugs is expected to be one of the major issues as Congress decides whether to try to find a way to force pharmaceutical manufacturers to lower the prices they charge Medicare Part D drug plans. Antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants are among the 6 categories for which Part D formularies must make available "all or substantially all" medications. As a result, the formularies are unable to bring to bear the drug price reduction strategies they use in other categories.

Damage to Part of the Brain May Aid Smoking Cessation

March 01, 2007

Damage to part of the brain may cause persons addicted to nicotine to "forget" to smoke, a recent press release from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) claims. Preliminary research showed that smokers may find it easier to quit after suffering damage to the insula.

Treatment-Resistant Depression: Figure Clarification

March 01, 2007

I was disappointed to see the Figure titled Olanzapine and fluoxetine in the treatment of TRD in the article Treatment-Resistant Depression: Strategies for Management" ( Psychiatric Times, page 34) in the October 2006 special bonus edition.

Nondrug Treatments for Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Dementia

March 01, 2007

Given the lack of a good evidence base for pharmacological treatment of neuropsychiatric symptoms of dementia, are there any effective treatments for such problems as agitation, aggression, delusions, hallucinations, repetitive vocalizations, and wandering? A recent review suggests that nondrug interventions that address behavioral issues and unmet needs may be helpful, as may caregiving interventions and the use of bright light therapy.

Comorbidity of Bipolar and Panic Disorders and Its Consequences

March 01, 2007

Panic disorder occurs in about 1 in 5 individuals who have bipolar disorder. Anxiety amplifies the distress caused by depression and mania, but pharmacological approaches are tricky and under-studied. Frequent comorbidity and evidence of a possible genetic relationship of bipolar and panic disorders are suggestive of a causal relationship between the 2. Thus, it may be fruitful to look more closely at evidence for common biological abnormalities in both disorders to find a pathophysiological mechanism that links mania, depression, and panic attacks. Mood episodes and panic attacks can both be modeled as the result of deficits in amygdala-mediated emotional conditioning. From this model, some insight may be gained for potentially helpful treatment strategies for the 2 disorders when they occur together.

Broken Sleep May Be Natural Sleep

March 01, 2007

Once again your patient, an accountant and tax specialist, is complaining about his sleep. More nights than not he awakens at about 2 am. An hour goes by, sometimes 2, before he returns to sleep. You've prescribed 4 different hypnotics. Each gave the same unsatisfactory result. For 2 weeks, your patient got the 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep he-and you-seek, but then the old pattern returned. Following your instructions, he avoids caffeine, doesn't exercise after 6 pm, and confines his activities in bed to sleep, but to no avail. You refer him to a sleep laboratory, and the results there are entirely consistent with what he's been telling you. In the sleep lab he falls asleep at 11 pm, awakens at 2:30 am, returns to sleep at 4 am, and awakens for good at 7:30 am. He does not have sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome, or depression.

STAR*D Starts to Resemble Practice

March 01, 2007

When clinical practice appears to diverge from evidence-based medicine, is the clinician departing from science, or are the data not applying to practice? The challenge of developing clinical research data to inform treatment strategies for the inconstant course of psychiatric illness was recently considered by Susan Murphy, PhD, of the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, with colleagues from the MCATS (Methodology for Constructing Adaptive Treatment Strategies) network, and John Rush, MD, of the Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) investigators group.

Methylphenidate Treatment of ADHD in Preschoolers

March 01, 2007

Despite the increased use of methylphenidate in preschoolers with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), few data are available regarding the efficacy and safety of methylphenidate in this population. Methylphenidate has been approved by the FDA for the treatment of ADHD in children aged 6 years or older. A recent large-scale, controlled trial of methylphenidate for the treatment of preschoolers with ADHD provides clinically relevant and greatly needed information for clinicians who treat these children.

The Neurobiology of Cocaine Dependence and Its Clinical Implications

March 01, 2007

Cocaine dependence is a devastating disorder that is associated with a host of medical and psychosocial risks. This complex disorder is made up of distinct clinical components that are interwoven into a cycle of addiction (Figure 1). Cocaine activates ancient pleasure centers that dominate our thoughts, behaviors, and priorities, producing a pleasure-reinforced compulsion to use the drug. Repeated use dysregulates brain pleasure centers and paves the way to addiction through craving and impaired hedonic function.1 Euphoria and craving drive the cycle of addiction through positive and negative reinforcement, respectively, and they provide targets for pharmacological interventions.

WHIPLASHED: A Mnemonic for Recognizing Bipolar Depression

March 01, 2007

The construct of bipolar spectrum disorder remains a work in progress. Its precise boundaries are still a matter of considerable debate. Some psychiatrists are convinced that it is widely overdiagnosed. It is possible that depending on the clinician and the clinical setting both views are correct.

Debating the One-third Rule

March 01, 2007

Dr Stark's article, "Neurotransmitters, Pharmacologic Synergy, and Clinical Strategies" ( Psychiatric Times , October 2006 Special Edition, page 1) offered a refreshing and sober discussion about the difficulties in treating psychiatric illnesses with the therapies that are currently available. The point regarding the error of adopting a "too-narrow focus on imbalanced neurotransmitter levels" without considering the "contributions of other biochemical and physiologic factors to the overall picture" was especially relevant. However, despite the inherent appeal of the holistic model of treatment, the practical adoption of its principles in the treatment of psychiatric patients may remain a guessing game for some time.

Atypical Antipsychotic Augmentation in the Treatment of Depression

March 01, 2007

Despite the clinician's goal of treating the depressed patient to the point of remission, this state is generally achieved in only 15% to 30% of patients. Another 10% to 30% of patients respond poorly to antidepressant treatment, while 30% to 40% have a remitting and relapsing course.1 Patients without a major depressive disorder are likely to be treated successfully by primary care physicians and/or other mental health professionals, which leaves psychiatrists to treat patients who have forms of depression that are less responsive to treatment.

Drug Therapies for the Neurobehavioral Sequelae of Traumatic Brain Injury

March 01, 2007

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is one of the most common causes of morbidity and mortality, especially in young adults. Recognition and early accurate diagnosis of neurobehavioral TBI sequelae are important in reducing the severity of postinjury symptoms. Sequelae of TBI include cognitive impairments, personality changes, aggression, impulsivity, apathy, anxiety, depression, mania, and psychosis.

Anxiety in the Medical Patient

March 01, 2007

Anxiety is a ubiquitous, natural affective state that is essential for evolutionary survival. Nearly as common, however, are experiences of anxiety that exceed social, psychological, or physiological needs, leading to functional impairment. Indeed, primary anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), represent the most common category of mental illness in the United States. Secondary, or reactive, anxiety is also widespread and can arise not only from numerous medical causes but also from the psychological process of coping with illness.

FDA, NIMH Scrutinize Antidepressant-Linked Suicidality

March 01, 2007

In a meeting this past December, an FDA advisory committee recommended that the black-box warning of antidepressant-linked suicidality in children and adolescents should also warn of the risk in young adults. Meanwhile, the NIMH had announced in November its sponsorship of 5 new studies to elucidate this adverse drug effect, particularly focusing on the SSRI antidepressants.

Pathological Computer Game Use

March 01, 2007

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 50,000 violent deaths each year in the United States. Until recently, there were no comprehensive data available to the public regarding these deaths. It was with this in mind that the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) was created, not only to provide statistics of reported violent deaths, but also to educate and possibly prevent more violent deaths from occurring.

Treatment of Somatic Symptoms in Generalized Anxiety Disorder

March 01, 2007

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive or unrealistic anxiety and worries about life circumstances. In the general population, the prevalence of GAD is 2% to 5%. It is the most frequent anxiety disorder seen in primary care, where 22% of patients complain of anxiety problems.1 DSM-IV lists 6 somatic symptoms associated with GAD: restlessness, increased fatigability, difficulty in concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance. These symptoms may present with hyperarousal, hypervigilance, and heightened muscle tension; autonomic symptoms are milder than in other anxiety disorders and can be absent.

Model Mental Health Program

March 01, 2007

A major participant in outreach efforts to Latino populations is the New Jersey Mental Health Institute, Inc (NJMHI), which recently launched the National Resource Center for Hispanic Mental Health.

PTSD: Treatment Efficacy and Future Directions

March 01, 2007

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a severe and often chronic anxiety disorder that can develop following exposure to an event involving actual or perceived threat to the life or physical integrity of oneself or another person. Epidemiological studies such as the National Comorbidity Survey1 estimate that more than half the population of the United States has experienced one or more traumatic events and that 8% of the population has met criteria for lifetime PTSD. Thus, trauma and PTSD are significant mental health problems.

Bipolar II: Enhance Your Highs, Boost Your Creativity, and Escape the Cycles of Recurrent Depression

March 01, 2007

Ronald Fieve and his colleagues were among the first to document milder versions of manic symptoms-hypomania-in the 1970s, observations that did not make it into DSM until 1994.This book appears mainly to be intended for families and patients; clinicians might find some parts simplistic and other parts informative.

Clinical Assessment and Management of Pathological Gambling

March 01, 2007

Pathological gambling (PG) is characterized by persistent and recurrent maladaptive patterns of gambling behavior (eg, a preoccupation with gambling, the inability to control gambling behavior, lying to loved ones, illegal acts, and impaired social and occupational functioning).1 With past-year prevalence rates similar to those of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,2 it is apparent that PG has become a significant public health issue. The aim of this article, therefore, is to introduce clinicians to the assessment and treatment of PG with the hope that early interventions will reduce the considerable personal and social costs associated with the disorder.

Mental Illness in US Latinos Addressed in Survey, Outreach Efforts

March 01, 2007

Early findings from a national study are shedding light on differences in the type and prevalence of mental disorders in US-born and immigrant Latinos, as well as differences among Latinos from various countries of origin.