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Mental Health News

Following are the latest news and information resources for the various mental health topics that we cover. We hope you will find the news educational and the links in the resources section useful in helping you to get even more in-depth data.

Parental History of Suicide Attempt Associated with Increased Risk in Kids

A suicide attempt by a parent increased the odds nearly 5-fold that a child would attempt suicide, according to a report published online by JAMA Psychiatry.

Other studies have established that suicidal behavior can run in families but few studies have looked at the pathways by which suicidal behavior is transmitted in families.

David A. Brent, M.D., of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pennsylvania, and coauthors report on the children of parents with mood disorders who were followed for an average of nearly six years. The study included 701 children (ages 10 to 50 years) of 334 parents with mood disorders, of whom 191 (57.2 percent) had also made a suicide attempt.

Of the 701 offspring 44 (6.3 percent) had made a suicide attempt before participating in the study and 29 (4.1 percent) attempted suicide during the study follow-up. Authors found a direct effect of a parent's suicide attempt on a suicide attempt by their child, even after researchers took into account a history of previous suicide attempt by the offspring and a familial transmission of mood disorder.

"Impulsive aggression was an important precursor of mood disorder and could be targeted in interventions designed to prevent youth at high familial risk from making a suicide attempt," the study concludes.

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Binge Drinking Disrupts Immune System in Young Adults, Study Finds

Binge drinking in young, healthy adults significantly disrupts the immune system, according to a study led by a researcher now at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Depending on their weight, study participants drank four or five shots of vodka. Twenty minutes after reaching peak intoxication, their immune systems revved up. But when measured again, at two hours and five hours after peak intoxication, their immune systems had become less active than when sober.

The study by Majid Afshar, MD, MSCR, and colleagues is published online ahead of print in Alcohol, an international, peer-reviewed journal.

Binge drinking increases the risk of falls, burns, gunshot wounds, car accidents and oather traumatic injuries. One-third of trauma patients have alcohol in their systems.

In addition to increasing the risk of traumatic injuries, binge drinking impairs the body's ability to recover from such injuries. Previous studies have found, for example, that binge drinking delays wound healing, increases blood loss and makes patients more prone to pneumonia and infections from catheters. Binge drinkers also are more likely to die from traumatic injuries. The study led by Dr. Afshar illustrates another potentially harmful effect of binge drinking.

Drinkers generally understand how binge drinking alters behavior. "But there is less awareness of alcohol's harmful effects in other areas, such as the immune system," said Elizabeth Kovacs, PhD, a co-author of the study and director of Loyola's Alcohol Research Program.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as drinking enough to reach or exceed a blood alcohol content of .08, the legal limit for driving. This typically occurs after four drinks for women or five drinks for men, consumed in two hours. One in six U.S. adults binge drinks about four times a month, and binge drinking is more common in young adults aged 18 to 34, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Dr. Afshar led the study while at the University of Maryland, where he completed a fellowship before joining Loyola. The study included eight women and seven men with a median age of 27. Each volunteer drank enough shots of vodka -- generally four or five -- to meet the definition of binge drinking. (A 1.5 oz. shot of vodka is the alcohol equivalent of a five-ounce glass of wine or 12-ounce can of beer.) Dr. Afshar and colleagues took blood samples at 20 minutes, two hours and five hours after peak intoxication because these are times when intoxicated patients typically arrive at trauma centers for treatment of alcohol-related injuries.

The blood samples showed that 20 minutes after peak intoxication, there was increased immune system activity. There were higher levels of three types of white blood cells that are key components of the immune system: leukocytes, monocytes and natural killer cells. There also were increased levels of proteins called cytokines that signal the immune system to ramp up.

Two hours and five hours after peak intoxication, researchers found the opposite effect: fewer circulating monocytes and natural killer cells and higher levels of different types of cytokines that signal the immune system to become less active.

Dr. Afshar is planning a follow-up study of burn unit patients. He will compare patients who had alcohol in their system when they arrived with patients who were alcohol-free. He will measure immune system markers from each group, and compare their outcomes, including lung injury, organ failure and death.

Dr. Afshar is a pulmonologist, critical care physician and epidemiologist. He is an assistant professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine and in the Department of Public Health Sciences of Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.

Loyola's nationally recognized Alcohol Research Program investigates such issues as how heavy drinking hinders the body's ability to recover from burns and trauma; how alcohol abuse damages bones; and whether teen binge drinking can increase the risk of mood disorders later in life.

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Elderly Overprescribed Sedatives and Anti-Anxiety Drugs

Doctors often prescribe potentially disabling tranquilizers to older Americans, particularly women, a new study shows.

Nearly 12 percent of 80-year-old women in 2008 used benzodiazepines, a class of sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs that the American Geriatrics Society says should generally be avoided in the elderly, U.S. pharmacy data revealed.

Benzodiazepines include alprazolam (brand name Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan) and diazepam (Valium) – “a little yellow pill” that the Rolling Stones dubbed “mother’s little helper” in the band’s 1966 rock classic.

“The study should be a call to action for us to think about why these medications are being prescribed so greatly in a very vulnerable group,” geriatric nurse Donna Fick told Reuters Health.

“These drugs have very dangerous side effects – falls, delirium, and they have been linked to dementia,” said Fick, a Pennsylvania State University professor, who was not involved in the current study.

Data from 60 percent of U.S. retail pharmacies showed that more than six percent of men and almost 11 percent of women between the ages of 65 and 80 used benzodiazepines in 2008, Dr. Mark Olfson and colleagues report in JAMA Psychiatry.

Almost one-third of older adults used the tranquilizers on a long-term basis, for four months or more, the data showed.

“These are worrisome patterns, especially for older adults and particularly for women,” Olfson told Reuters Health.

“Benzodiazepines should only be used for short periods of time, yet if we look at the prescribing practices of doctors in the U.S., we see a very different picture,” said Olfson, a psychiatry professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

Benzodiazepines are effective for short-term treatment of anxiety and sleep problems but risky and of questionable value for long-term use, particularly in the elderly, he and his colleagues noted.

In older people, research has shown that benzodiazepines increase the risks of falls and can impair cognition, mobility and driving skills.

Furthermore, long-term use can make it harder for people to stop taking the drugs. They may suffer dependence and withdrawal symptoms when the drugs are discontinued, the authors say.

An editorial published with the report suggests that benzodiazepines should perhaps be classed with dangerous addictive substances, limiting prescription duration and prohibiting refills.

“Benzodiazepines are far from safe,” said Dr. Nicholas Moore and colleagues from the University of Bordeaux in France, in the editorial.

Moore and his coauthors suggest that one way to reign in overprescribing would be to allow only psychiatrists to write benzodiazepine prescriptions. Olfson’s study found that primary-care physicians wrote most of the prescriptions for older men and women; psychiatrists wrote fewer than six percent of them.

Olfson would prefer to try to curb benzodiazepine use with lifestyle changes to ease anxiety and improve sleep.

“You can reduce the use of these medications through legislation, but I don’t know that you’ll improve the quality of care very much,” he said. “A smarter way forward would be to increase non-pharmacological treatments for sleep and anxiety.”

Benzodiazepines are prescribed to older people primarily for insomnia, but behavioral interventions work better in the long run, the authors write.

Olfson advises patients with sleep problems to increase their exercise and exposure to light and learn techniques for winding down at the end of the day.

Fick also advises people with sleep difficulties to try a series of behavioral modifications. They include not drinking caffeine after 11 a.m., drinking warm milk or herbal tea at bedtime, increasing exposure to light and exercise and avoiding naps.

A 1998 study showed that a back rub, a warm drink and listening to a relaxation tape provided a feasible alternative to sedatives for elderly, hospitalized patients, Fick noted.

“You can’t just tell patients not to take these drugs,” she said. “You have to give patients alternatives.”

“It might be easier to say, ‘Let me give you a milligram of Ativan two or three times a day,’ instead of saying, ‘Let’s get you in a walking group or restorative yoga,’ ” she said. “You need to have time to do that.”

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Children with Autism Who Live with Pets are More Assertive

Dogs and other pets play an important role in individuals' social lives, and they can act as catalysts for social interaction, previous research has shown. Although much media attention has focused on how dogs can improve the social skills of children with autism, a University of Missouri researcher recently found that children with autism have stronger social skills when any kind of pet lived in the home.

"When I compared the social skills of children with autism who lived with dogs to those who did not, the children with dogs appeared to have greater social skills," said Gretchen Carlisle, research fellow at the Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI) in the MU College of Veterinary Medicine. "More significantly, however, the data revealed that children with any kind of pet in the home reported being more likely to engage in behaviors such as introducing themselves, asking for information or responding to other people's questions.

These kinds of social skills typically are difficult for kids with autism, but this study showed children's assertiveness was greater if they lived with a pet."

Pets often serve as "social lubricants," Carlisle said. When pets are present in social settings or a classroom, children talk and engage more with one another. This effect also seems to apply to children with autism and could account for their increased assertiveness when the children are living in a home with pets, Carlisle said.
"When children with disabilities take their service dogs out in public, other kids stop and engage," Carlisle said.

"Kids with autism don't always readily engage with others, but if there's a pet in the home that the child is bonded with and a visitor starts asking about the pet, the child may be more likely to respond."

Carlisle also found that children's social skills increased the longer a family had owned a dog, yet older children rated their relationships with their dogs as weaker. When children were asked, they reported the strongest attachments to smaller dogs, Carlisle found.

"Finding children with autism to be more strongly bonded to smaller dogs, and parents reporting strong attachments between their children and other pets, such as rabbits or cats, serves as evidence that other types of pets could benefit children with autism as well," Carlisle said.

Carlisle surveyed 70 families who had children with autism between the ages of 8 and 18.The children were patients at the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Almost 70 percent of the families that participated had dogs, and about half of the families had cats. Other pets owned by participants included fish, farm animals, rodents, rabbits, reptiles, a bird and even one spider.

"Dogs are good for some kids with autism but might not be the best option for every child," Carlisle said. "Kids with autism are highly individual and unique, so some other animals may provide just as much benefit as dogs. Though parents may assume having dogs are best to help their children, my data show greater social skills for children with autism who live in homes with any type of pet."

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Postmortem Brains Point to Molecular Signature of Autism

An analysis of genes expressed in the postmortem brains of people with autism has identified three molecular pathways linked to the disorder. The findings, published 10 December in Nature Communications, add to mounting evidence that the myriad causes of autism converge on common biological processes1.

“Each of these individuals probably has autism for a very different reason, yet you do see a very clear commonality,” says Dan Arking, associate professor of genetic medicine at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, and one of the study’s lead investigators.

The researchers sequenced RNA in postmortem brain tissue samples from 32 people with autism and 40 controls between the ages of 2 and 82. The samples came from the brains’ outer layer, called the cortex, which plays a role in language and social skills. These are often impaired in autism.

The brains of people with autism show higher expression of genes involved in immune responses than do the brains of controls. They also show changes in the expression of some genes that play a role in signaling.

The findings fit with those of a smaller study published in 2011, which looked at gene expression patterns in the postmortem brains of 19 people with autism and 17 controls2. That study found that people with autism show increased expression of genes involved in immune responses, and diminished expression of genes that function at synapses, the junctions between neurons.

“Given that gene expression is known to be very variable, the fact that this molecular signature of autism observed in autism brains is robust across distinct methods and cohorts is a very important result,” says Irina Voineagu, senior lecturer of biological sciences at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. Voineagu was involved in the 2011 study but not the new work.

Revealing networks

Like the older study, the new research focuses on networks of genes, called modules, that show a similar pattern of expression across brains. Each module comprises genes that characterize a particular cell type or are involved in the same function, such as communication between neurons. Arking and his colleagues identified 12 modules, 3 of which are expressed at different levels in the brains of people with autism than in controls.

The module that shows the greatest activation in people with autism, known as mod5, contains 759 genes. Many of these genes are related to activated microglia — immune cells in the brain that become activated in response to injuries and infections. These cells also help to shape synapses.

The study also identified three distinct modules, mod6, mod1 and mod2, that contain genes expressed predominantly in neurons and involved in signaling.

The 667 genes in mod6 are slightly more active, on average, in people with autism than in controls. By contrast, mod1 genes show decreased expression overall in people with autism. Mod1 holds 1,646 genes linked to signaling by gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical messenger that inhibits brain activity.

The researchers found a strong link between the dampening of mod1 and the activation of mod5 in people with autism. This suggests that microglia activation and neuronal dysfunction may go hand-in-hand, Arking says.

The third module, mod2, which contains 1,319 genes, is the only one enriched with autism candidate genes, including ADNP, ANK2, DSCAM and GRIN2B. Neither the module overall, nor any of the known candidate genes, differ in expression between people with autism and controls.

This comes as a surprise to Valerie Hu, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Hu was not involved in the new work, but has done several gene expression studies, including some comparing the gene expression profiles of blood cells from people with autism and controls. “We definitely see overlap between [autism candidate] genes and our differentially expressed genes,” she says.

Study co-leader Andrew West was less surprised. “There might be hundreds or even a thousand genes linked to autism,” says West, associate professor of neurology and neurobiology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. “But that we would see each one in every brain deregulated in some type of common way, I don’t think aligns with the heterogeneity of the disease.”

Common pathway

Overall, the findings align well with those from the 2011 study. Both studies point to an enhancement of immune pathways and a dampening of neuronal signaling in the brains of people with autism.

However, whereas the older study linked the immune pathways to both activated microglia and star-shaped cells called astrocytes, the new work fingers only microglia. “We have a larger sample size, which allows us to narrow down the relevant genes that are involved,” Arking says.

The new study suggests that autism-linked mutations tend to strike genes involved in neurons’ functions. By contrast, the activation of microglia-related genes appears to be unrelated to mutations.

However, it is too early to say how neuronal dysfunction and microglia activation are related, if at all. “Are microglia responding to alterations in neuronal or synaptic function? Or could they be playing a more early and direct role in driving some of that dysfunction?” says Beth Stevens, assistant professor of neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital, who was not involved in the study. “I think that question is still out there.”

The findings fit with those from an imaging study published last year, which found that microglia are more activated in people with autism than in controls. It is still unclear whether microglia activation is helpful or harmful in the brains of people with autism. “This study raises a lot of important questions for us in the field to try to understand,” Stevens says.

The study also suggests that the many causes of autism act through common pathways, which may one day serve as targets for therapy.

“I thought it was a high possibility that autism is so heterogeneous that we wouldn’t identify any particular process that seems to be conserved,” West says. “The fact that we do gives a lot of hope that you can find a targeted and rationally derived approach to alter these states.”

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Way to Control Internal Clocks Discovered

In research published in Nature Communications, Thomas Burris, Ph.D., chair of pharmacological and physiological science at Saint Louis University, reports intriguing findings about a small molecule that directs the activity of key "clock proteins," offering the potential to manage circadian rhythm and treat problems that are associated with its dysfunction, like sleep and anxiety disorders.

Circadian rhythm refers to biological processes that cycle every 24 hours. In mammals, the internal clock that maintains circadian rhythm is essential for normal physiological functions. The rhythms can, however, be disrupted, and dysregulation of circadian rhythm is associated with many disorders, including metabolic disease and neuropsychiatric disorders including bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression, schizophrenia and sleep disorders.
Burris and his colleagues examined compounds that target a protein called REV-ERB, which appears to play a key role in regulating mammals' internal clocks.

"It has been suggested that REV-ERB is a core component of our clock," said Burris. "Mice without it are arrhythmic. This study demonstrated that when we give mice a synthetic compound that turns REV-ERB on, it altered their circadian rhythm."

The team examined effects of the REV-ERB drug on patterns of sleep and wakefulness and found that the compound increases wakefulness, reduces REM and slow-wave sleep, and, notably, decreases anxiety.
This is an interesting finding because it is unusual. Frequently, drugs that increase arousal (wakefulness) also increase anxiety (ex. cocaine, amphetamines). And, vice versa: Drugs that decrease anxiety also decrease arousal (ex. benzodiazepines and ethanol). An exception to this common pattern is nicotine.

The REV-ERB drug, on the other hand, appears to target the clock in a way that is distinct from these common pathways.

Further, the REV-ERB drug appears to be associated with a suppression of reward-seeking behavior.
Drug addiction has a circadian component and mice with mutations in "clock genes" (genes that affect our internal clocks) have altered responsiveness to the reward associated with cocaine, morphine and alcohol. Burris speculates that REV-ERB targeted drug effect on the clock would modulate reward-seeking behavior, and so may be useful in treating addiction.

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Binge Eating Treatment Flops, Peer-to-Peer Training Succeeds

Obese patients with binge eating disorder had only slight improvements with food addiction after a treatment program, but internal medicine residents reported success in learning how to address alcohol use disorders from senior psychiatry residents, researchers reported here.

Both studies were presented at the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry annual meeting.

Patients with binge eating disorder had marginally higher rates of improved symptoms of food addiction after 6 months of behavioral treatments compared with a control group that only received cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) (40% versus 51%), Carlos Grilo, PhD, of Yale University, reported.

"Emerging research has suggested that this construct of food addiction may characterize a subgroup of patients with binge eating disorder and obesity that may represent a more disturbed variant," Grilo wrote. "The objective was to examine the predictive significance of the food addiction construct in patients with binge eating disorder and obesity. This disorder is often unrecognized, and goes untreated."

For the randomized, controlled trial, 186 obese patients with co-morbid binge eating disorder were assigned to either 6 months of behavioral treatments or 6 months of CBT. Among the patients, the average body mass index (BMI) was 38, the average age was 48, and 79% of the group was female. The average age of binge eating disorder onset was 29.

Mood disorders were reported by 52%, anxiety disorders were present in 38%, and 30% had a substance use disorder.

The behavioral treatment program started with behavioral weight-loss therapy, and then integrated the oral anorexiant sibutramine, and CBT.

Sibutramine (Meridia) was withdrawn from the U.S. market in 2010 by its maker, Abbott Laboratories, under pressure from the FDA, which cited concerns over the drug's minimal efficacy coupled with increased risk of adverse cardiovascular events.

Assessments were taken at baseline, throughout the treatment, at the end of the treatment, and at 6- and 12-months' follow-ups.

Grilo referenced the definitions in the DSM-V for food addiction and binge eating disorder. "Binge eating episodes require two features: eating large amounts of food during discreet periods of time, during which the individual experiences a subjective sense of loss of control over eating during that episode."

"The DSM-V also has five behavioral indicators of criteria. [The patient] needs at least three of them to reflect this loss of control," he added.

Those behaviors include eating when not hungry -- usually rapidly -- and way past the point of satiety. There also needs to be marked distress about the binge eating, Grilo noted.

"The diagnosis requires the absence of extreme and appropriate compensatory behaviorism such as self-induced vomiting, laxative misuse, and so forth -- things that are characteristics of bulimia nervosa -- and the frequency and duration stipulations are once-weekly binge eating for the past 3 months," Grilo said.

Using the Yale Food Addiction Scale, 114 of the participants (61%) met the criteria for food addiction. At the 12-month follow-up, 40% of the patients qualified for food addiction compared with 51% from the control group.

Grilo said that baseline food addiction did not significantly predict binge remission, and that food addiction did not have significant main effects for weight loss, nor did it predict differential outcomes over time.

"Our findings suggest that, among treatment-seeking adults with co-morbid obesity and [binge eating disorder], 'food addiction' is common (61%) and signals a more disturbed variant of [binge eating disorder]. Even though 'food addiction' did not significantly predict worse or differential outcomes, it showed significant main effects on most variables (except weight loss) over time," Grilo wrote.

"Emerging research has suggested several neurobiological behavioral similarities between substance use disorders and excessive eating," Grilo said.

Previous research has shown that food addiction was associated with more severe binge eating and psychopathology, Grilo said, adding, "So the question becomes, does food addiction have some predictive significance?"

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In the Past, OCD Was Thought of Primarily as a Psychoanalytic Issue, Not a Brain Disorder

The understanding of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) has come a long way. Thanks to advances in science and research, clinicians, medical workers, and persons dealing with OCD are more and more being enlightened about the disorder.

Here are some facts about how OCD was regarded in the past, present, and in the near future, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


The standard treatment for OCD was a type of long-term psychotherapy aimed at overcoming psychological defenses. There was no evidence that this treatment was effective.

Clinicians lacked objective measurements that could help them accurately diagnose OCD - a crucial prerequisite for appropriate treatment.

There were no proven medications for OCD.

OCD was thought of primarily as a psychoanalytic issue, not a brain disorder.


Effective treatments are now available. Among them are antidepressant medications that act on serotonin, one of several neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) through which brain cells communicate with each other. These medications also act on brain systems and circuits involved in OCD. Recently developed antipsychotic medications may become another option when prescribed alongside standard medications for hard-to-treat patients with OCD.

A type of psychotherapy called "exposure and response prevention," which breaks the cycle of repetitive behavior, is an effective treatment for many patients.

Clinicians now have objective tools for identifying OCD subtypes and measuring their severity, allowing treatment to be personalized.

Imaging studies show that people with OCD have differences in specific brain areas, compared with other people. Successfully treated patients have brain-activity patterns like those of healthy people.

Traditionally, OCD was thought to "run in families." Genetic studies now suggest that variations in certain genes are involved and that risk is higher when certain variations occur together.

Researchers are following up on early evidence that infection from the Streptococcus bacterium might lead to some cases of OCD.

Using genetic engineering, NIH-funded researchers created an OCD-like set of behaviors in mice. They then reversed these behaviors with antidepressants and genetic targeting of a key brain circuit. The study suggests new strategies for treating the disorder.


Researchers are studying the potential of deep-brain stimulation, a surgical technique that stimulates cells in specific brain areas, for patients who don't respond to other treatments.

Genetics research may help clinicians decide what treatments are likely to work for each patient. Whether a treatment works may be partly due to variations in certain genes.

Imaging, molecular biology, and genetics research are pointing the way to brain mechanisms involved in OCD. Features of these mechanisms are potential biomarkers that could identify people at risk - a key to early intervention.

Research to identify brain mechanisms involved in OCD also holds the potential to reveal targets for better medications with fewer side effects.

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UK Primary Care Physicians Frequently Prescribing Antipsychotics for Non-Psychotic Disorders

Clinical guidelines in the United Kingdom (UK) recommend the use of antipsychotic drugs for the treatment of psychotic or bipolar disorders, but caution that antipsychotic use for other non-psychotic mental health conditions (e.g. depression, anxiety, or sleep disorders) be limited to treatment resistant cases. Antipsychotics are known to have several side effects, including movement disorders for first-generation drugs and metabolic effects such as weight gain for second-generation drugs.

This study aimed to examine antipsychotic drug prescribing practices by UK physicians. It was found that more than half of UK patients who were prescribed antipsychotics did not have a formal diagnosis of psychotic or bipolar disorder. In fact, patients were frequently prescribed antipsychotics for non-psychotic disorders including anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders, though typically at lower doses and shorter durations than for psychotic disorders. Additionally, antipsychotics were commonly prescribed for patients with dementia, which is concerning given the known association between antipsychotics and increased stroke and mortality risk among dementia patients. Furthermore, elderly patients (in particular age 80 and greater) were twice as likely as younger patients to be prescribed an antipsychotic drug, despite the fact that elderly patients are more sensitive to their adverse effects.

This study had a strong study design as it used a large sample size of more than 40,000 patients from a nationally representative primary care database. One limitation is that authors determined the presence of mental health disorders using diagnostic coding, which is not always accurate (e.g. physicians may have forgotten to enter codes or may have purposely not entered codes to avoid a stigmatizing label).

Overall, this study contributes to the literature by suggesting that UK primary care physicians frequently prescribed antipsychotics for uses other than those suggested by clinical guidelines. Efforts to increase safety of antipsychotic prescribing practices, such as avoiding antipsychotics for dementia patients or monitoring all patients on antipsychotics for side effects (current UK policy only recommends monitoring patients with psychosis or bipolar disorder), may be beneficial in the primary care setting.

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Study: No Longitudinal Association Between Cannabis Use and Depression

Cannabis use is not associated with increased incidences of major depression, according to longitudinal data published online ahead of print in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

An international team of investigators from Israel and Canada assessed the association between cannabis use, major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BP) in a three-year prospective study.

Authors determined that future incidence of MDD was not higher among cannabis users compared to nonusers. They reported: “Our results show no significant association between cannabis use and the incidence of major depression.

Conversely, MDD was found to be associated with increased incidence of cannabis use. Regarding BPD, though crude associations were found between cannabis use and consequent mania/hypomania as well as baseline BPD and consequent initiation of cannabis use, in both cases these associations were not maintained in adjusted models of analysis.”

Investigators concluded, “Our results do not support a longitudinal association between cannabis use and increased incidence of MDD; rather, they indicate an inverse relationship between the two, which may be attributed to self-medication factors.”

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Did You Know?

30 Minutes of exercise a day can help you be more mentally balanced and sharp by reducing stress hormones and increasing oxygen flow.


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