Stress affects people with schizophrenia differently

Stressful situations affect the brain and body differently in people with schizophrenia compared to people without the mental illness or individuals at high risk for developing psychosis, a new CAMH study shows. The relationship between two chemicals released when people experienced stress — one released in the brain and the other in saliva — differs in people with schizophrenia. The discovery, recently published in the journal Brain, may provide clues into how to act early to prevent schizophrenia.

“We found a disrupted stress response in people with schizophrenia, which did not occur in either healthy individuals or people at clinical high risk for developing psychosis,” says Dr. Christin Schifani, Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Research Imaging Centre in CAMH’s Campbell Family Mental Health Research Institute, and lead author of the study.

As most people with schizophrenia experience psychosis, identifying differences between people at high risk for psychosis and those with schizophrenia may shed light on how schizophrenia develops and ways to prevent its onset.

Full story at Science Daily

Predicting Suicide Attempts and Suicide Deaths Using Electronic Health Records

Suicide accounted for nearly 45,000 deaths in the United States in 2016. Unfortunately, tools currently used to predict an individual’s risk of a suicide attempt or dying by suicide, such as brief self-report measures, have only moderate accuracy. Now, researchers have developed a new prediction model that substantially outperforms existing self-report tools. The study, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), was published online on May 24, 2018, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Research has shown that half of the people who die by suicide, and two-thirds of people who attempt suicide, received a mental health diagnosis or treatment in the previous year. These statistics suggest an opportunity for doctors to identify and assist those who are at risk for suicide before they act.

Full story at NIMH

Understanding Critical Components of the Brain’s Stress Circuitry

Everyone feels stressed from time to time. While people often learn to deal with stress in a healthy, adaptive way, sometimes people respond to stress in a maladaptive way, which can put them at greater risk for developing mental illnesses. Now, a new studyconducted by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has revealed more about the organization and function of a brain structure that may serve a key role in linking stress detection to the development of adaptive behaviors. The study, published online June 18, 2018, appears in Nature Neuroscience.

The paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus (PVT) is a brain structure that has been identified as a player in emotional processing, learning, and in adaptive responses to stress. Although knowledge of the role of this brain structure in stress responses is growing, researchers are still working to understand how this structure is organized and how it connects with other parts of the brain.

Full story at NIMH

Targeted E-Health HIV Intervention Reduces STIs and Sexual Risk Behaviors

The U.S. National HIV/AIDS Strategy calls for reductions in new HIV infections by the year 2020, particularly among young men who have sex with men (YMSM). Although electronically delivered health services have been found to be an effective way to deliver HIV prevention information, very few interventions target YMSM. But findings from a new study suggest an electronically delivered HIV prevention intervention may be effective in reducing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and sexual risk behaviors in this group.

Developing programs that target YMSM is especially important, as HIV incidence is high in this group and diagnoses have been increasing. “We will not reach the goals of the National AIDS Strategy to significantly reduce new infections in the United States without new innovative approaches to help YMSM reduce their risk for HIV,” said study lead author Brian Mustanski, Ph.D., of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The Keep It Up! 2.0 (KIU!) eHealth intervention program consists of seven modules that use videos, interactive animation, and games to increase participant’s knowledge related to HIV prevention and to motivate them to engage in HIV preventative behaviors. It is tailored to racially and ethnically diverse English speaking YMSM.

Full story at NIMH

Don’t let depression keep you from exercising

Exercise may be just as crucial to a depression patient’s good health as finding an effective antidepressant.

A new study of nearly 18,000 participants found that those with high fitness at middle age were significantly less likely to die from heart disease in later life, even if they were diagnosed with depression.

The research — a collaboration between UT Southwestern and The Cooper Institute — underscores the multiple ways in which depression may ultimately impact health and mortality. It also highlights the importance of overcoming a common dilemma among patients: How does one cope with hopelessness and still find motivation to exercise?

“Maintaining a healthy dose of exercise is difficult, but it can be done. It just requires more effort and addressing unique barriers to regular exercise,” says Dr. Madhukar Trivedi, co-author of the study and Director of the Center for Depression Research and Clinical Care, part of the Peter O’Donnell Jr. Brain Institute at UT Southwestern.

Full story at Science Daily

People undergoing voluntary and involuntary ECT treatment have similar outcomes

People who have involuntary electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for depression have similar outcomes to those who have voluntary treatment, according to a ground-breaking new study conducted by researchers from Trinity College Dublin’s Department of Psychiatry.

The findings, which have just been published in the July issue of the journal Brain Stimulation, are based on the largest study of its kind internationally and one of very few studies to report on people requiring involuntary treatment, who are rarely able to take part in clinical research. The results provide reassurance for people who have had involuntary ECT, their families and healthcare providers, according to Professor of Psychiatry Declan McLoughlin from Trinity’s Department of Psychiatry and Trinity Institute of Neuroscience.

The study found that people who have involuntary ECT were more severely unwell before treatment than those having voluntary ECT and were more likely to have psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions, and have more physical deterioration as a result of severe self-neglect. However, in both groups, outcomes at the end of ECT were similar, with the large majority of people rated “very much improved” or “much improved.”

Full story at Science Daily

Therapy Reduces Risk in Suicidal Youth

Preventing suicide has proven to be a difficult public health challenge. The suicide rate has climbed in recent years across age groups. In adolescents, suicide is the second leading cause of death. For every young person who dies by suicide, many more have suicidal thoughts, attempt suicide, or deliberately injure themselves without intending suicide.

To date, there have not been any research-validated treatments for preventing suicide among youth. And research has found that it’s hard to get adolescents with suicidal thoughts to start and stay with existing treatments.

Researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and collaborators at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA are addressing the treatment void for adolescents. A recent clinical trial of a psychotherapy called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)—which has been shown to be effective in reducing suicide-related behavior in adults—showed that DBT can also reduce suicide attempts and suicidal behavior in adolescents.

Full story at NIMH

Anger overlooked as feature of postnatal mood disorders

Women in the postpartum period should be screened for anger in addition to depression and anxiety, new research from the University of British Columbia suggests.

Although anger has been recognized as an element of postpartum mood problems for some women, it has not been well studied and is not included in the widely used Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale screening tool. In a review of existing research, UBC nursing PhD student Christine Ou found anger to be a significant feature in postpartum mood disturbances.

“We know that mothers can be depressed and anxious in the postpartum period, but researchers haven’t really paid attention to anger,” said Ou. “There’s some evidence that indicates that being both angry and depressed worsens the intensity and length of depression. That can have many negative effects on the mother, child and family, and on the relationship between parents.”

Full story at Science Daily

People with schizophrenia account for more than one in 10 suicide cases

A new CAMH and Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES) study shows that people with schizophrenia account for more than 1 in 10 cases of suicide in Ontario, and that young people are disproportionately affected.

“Among people who died by suicide, having a diagnosis of schizophrenia is clearly over-represented,” says Dr. Juveria Zaheer, first author and Clinician Scientist in CAMH’s Institute for Mental Health Policy Research.

The study, published in Schizophrenia Research, showed that 12 per cent of all suicide cases involved a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Approximately one per cent of the population has the disorder.

Full story at Science Daily

Intervention Shows Promise for Treating Depression in Preschool-Aged Children

Researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health have shown that a therapy-based treatment for disruptive behavioral disorders can be adapted and used as an effective treatment option for early childhood depression. Children as young as 3-years-old can be diagnosed with clinical depression, and although preschool-aged children are sometimes prescribed antidepressants, a psychotherapeutic intervention is greatly needed. The study, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of NIH, appears online June 20 in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

The researchers adapted Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), which has been shown to be an effective way to treat disruptive behavioral disorders in young children. In standard PCIT treatment, parents are taught techniques for successfully interacting with their children. They then practice these techniques in controlled situations while being coached by a clinician.

Full story at NIMH