Consumer Advertisements for Psychostimulants in the United States: A Long History of Misleading PromotionFebruary 26th 2009
The prescription of psychotropic medications for children continues to be a controversial area of medical practice. In the United States, academic medical centers, medical researchers, prescribers, and the FDA are all ostensibly committed to the common goal of disseminating accurate information and promoting treatment based on scientific evidence. In the United States, however, medical treatment takes place in the context of legal and pervasive direct-to-consumer advertising (DTCA). There are concerns about the potential for DTCA to affect public health negatively and to increase health care costs.
A new study by researchers at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., recently posted online, offers prospective parents more reason to worry. The study showed that pregnant women who have symptoms of depression are at increased risk for giving birth prematurely.
New Research Examines Genetics Behind ADHDFebruary 6th 2009
Attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most widely diagnosed disorders: an estimated 8% to 12% of children are affected worldwide. Although many studies about treatment options have been published, we are still discovering the genetic components that underlie the disorder. A special issue of the American Journal of Medical Genetics, Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics, highlights recent research and includes results from the first genome-wide study of patients with ADHD. Genome-wide studies have successfully identified variants associated with obesity and such diseases as age-related macular degeneration, diabetes, and prostate cancer.
Book Review: What one thing could we do to improve our relationships, our work, and the way we learn? According to Dr Medina, we should make friends with our brains and learn to work with them, not against them. In Brain Rules, Medina outlines 12 practical ideas to help acquaint us with the ways our brains function and the ways we can engage positively as individuals and as a society.
Achieving Remission in Generalized Anxiety DisorderFebruary 2nd 2009
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a prevalent, chronic, debilitating mental illness associated with marked impairment in daily functioning.1 An ongoing evolution of the definition of GAD has resulted in a bifurcation of the historical anxiety neurosis designation.2 A diagnosis of GAD currently implies chronic, excessive worry lasting at least 6 months and 3 of the possible 6 somatic or psychological symptoms (restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and sleep disturbance).3 GAD typically presents in an episodic pattern of moderate improvement or remission and relapse characterized by a chronic and complicated clinical course.
SSRIs as Antihypertensives in Patients With Autonomic Panic DisorderFebruary 2nd 2009
The cardiovascular properties of serotonin (5-HT) have been known for some time-its name reflects its presence in serum and its action in increasing vascular tone. Serotonergic medications are routinely used to treat depressive and anxiety disorders, and the association of depression with cardiovascular disease has become well established.2 Recent studies have confirmed the colloquial wisdom that anxiety (especially panic) and hypertension are linked.
“What Do You Mean, I Don’t Have Schizophrenia?”February 2nd 2009
My first job after residency involved working at a large Veterans Affairs hospital in an outpatient dual diagnosis treatment program that focused on the comorbidity of schizophrenia and cocaine dependence. Having recently completed a chief resident position at the same hospital’s inpatient unit that focused on schizophrenia without substance abuse, I was struck by how “unschizophrenic” my new patients were. They were organized and social. Their psychotic symptoms were usually limited to claims of “hearing voices,” for which insight was intact and pharmacotherapy was readily requested.
The Intricacies of Diagnosis and TreatmentFebruary 1st 2009
It has been a relatively short time between clinical use of the term anxiety neurosis-which included worry, panic, and obsessions-and the advent of recent DSM-defined categorical diagnoses of panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. It seems that we have moved from a symptom-oriented approach in treating anxiety to a syndromal approach in which the patient has to accumulate enough symptoms and impairment to have a more definable illness or disorder.
Preventing Prescription Opioid Abuse: New Formulations-But Who Will Benefit?February 1st 2009
The number of persons in the United States who take prescription opioids for pain is growing. Sullivan and colleagues2 found that from 2000 to 2005 there was a 19% increase in the number of patients who received prescriptions for opioids to manage chronic noncancer pain conditions. Based on a survey conducted from 1998 to 2006 with more than 19,000 subjects, Parsells Kelly and associates3 reported that 2% of the US population 18 years and older legally used opioids as analgesics at least 5 days per week for 4 or more weeks-and that another 2.9% used these drugs less frequently.
Kernberg’s Borderline Conditions and Pathological NarcissismFebruary 1st 2009
Book reviews have long been a first defense against scholastic overload. Generations of high school students have bypassed Wuthering Heights and The Scarlet Letter in favor of CliffsNotes, and now Wikipedia. Many people use the New York Times Book Review less to plot future reading than to pick up enough talking points about this week’s bestseller that they can skip it but still sound intelligent. Recently, litterateur and psychoanalyst Pierre Bayard anatomized this art of faked literary chat in his nearly serious study, How to Talk About a Book You Haven’t Read.
Understanding and Managing Adolescent Disruptive BehaviorFebruary 1st 2009
The words attributed to Socrates resonate with the perspectives of many contemporary parents and clinicians.1 The endurance of the concern suggests something fundamental about the psychopathology of deviant, disruptive behavior of youth. Yet clinicians struggle to understand its origins, to help parents control their children, and to help the children control themselves. Clinically, this manifests in failed pharmacological treatments, incompleted courses of individual therapy, problems in engaging families in treatment, and controversies over which therapy is most effective.
Ultrabrief Pulse Right Unilateral ECT: A New Standard of Care?February 1st 2009
While ECT remains a remarkably safe and effective treatment for severe depression, its broad application has been hampered by concerns-both perceived and real-about its cognitive effects.5 Worries about memory loss make some patients reluctant to undergo this therapy and some practitioners reluctant to refer patients for it. Within the field of ECT itself, there has been tension for some years between the wish to maximize (the already excellent) antidepressant and antipsychotic efficacy of ECT and the competing wish to minimize any effects on memory.
Impulsivity, Brain Abnormalities Connected With Bulimia NervosaFebruary 1st 2009
Women with bulimia nervosa (BN) respond more impulsively during psychological testing than do women without eating disorders, according to a recent article in Archives of General Psychiatry.1 Functional MRI showed differences in brain areas responsible for regulating behavior in women with and without BN.
I am scared of heights. As a psychiatrist, it’s faintly embarrassing to have such a phobia-but given that I live in a Boston suburb, not the Rockies, it’s a problem that hardly ever comes up. Ski lifts and I don’t get along all that well, but other than that, I barely ever think of this as an issue in my life.
Because numerous diseases- infectious, endocrinological, metabolic, and neurological, as well as connective-tissue disease-can induce psychiatric and/or behavioral symptoms, clinicians need to distinguish these neuropsychiatric masquerades from primary psychiatric disorders, warned José Maldonado, MD, the director of Stanford University’s Psychosomatic Medicine Service.
Watching Others Smoke May Trigger RelapseFebruary 1st 2009
Just the sight of someone smoking may be enough to trigger the desire to start smoking again among those who have kicked the habit. Researchers from Duke University Medical Center have been trying to determine what changes in the brain lead to the desire to start smoking again. They used functional MRI to visualize changes in brain activity of persons who were trying to quit.1 Eighteen adult smokers were scanned once before quitting and 24 hours after quitting. Participants were shown photographs of people smoking during the scanning.
FDA Dictates Suicide Ideation Warning for Antiepileptics Used for Bipolar DisorderFebruary 1st 2009
The FDA is forcing manufacturers of all antiepileptic drugs to include new warnings of possible suicide ideation in the prescribing information and also to prepare a new Medication Guide to be distributed by pharmacies to consumers. In addition, the companies will have to produce a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy for each drug, which the FDA only requires for drugs with possible adverse effects it considers especially dangerous.
Eli Lilly Settles Zyprexa Suit for $1.42 BillionFebruary 1st 2009
In a resolution that has been expected since October 2008, pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly pled guilty to a criminal charge and has agreed to pay $1.42 billion in a settlement for what federal prosecutors called the illegal promotion of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa (olanzapine). The drug was found to increase the risk of severe adverse effects, including sudden cardiac death, heart failure, and life-threatening infections, in certain populations.
Fibromyalgia Syndrome: A Guide for the PerplexedFebruary 1st 2009
Fibromyalgia syndrome is a chronic condition that consists of a pervasive set of unexplained physical symptoms with widespread pain (involving at least 3 of 4 body quadrants and axials) of at least 3 months duration and point tenderness at 9 bilateral locations (Figure) as the cardinal features.1 Patients with FM report a set of symptoms, functional limitations, and psychological dysfunctions, including persistent fatigue (78.2%), sleep disturbance (75.6%), feelings of stiffness (76.2%), headaches (54.3%), depression and anxiety (44.9%), and irritable bowel disorders (35.7%).1 Patients also report cognitive impairment and general malaise, “fibro fog.” This pattern of symptoms has been reported under various names (such as tension myalgia, psychogenic rheumatism, and fibromyositis) since the early 19th century.
Strategies for Assessing and Treating Comorbid Panic and Generalized Anxiety DisorderFebruary 1st 2009
The 2 most common anxiety disorders are generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and panic disorder. Approximately 5.7% of people in community samples will meet diagnostic criteria for GAD in their lifetime; the rate is about 4.7% for panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia).1 GAD-which is characterized by excessive and uncontrollable worry about a variety of topics (along with associated features such as trouble sleeping and impaired concentration)-is often chronic and is associated with significant costs to the individual and to society.