Teens taking oral contraceptives may be at increased risk for depressive symptoms

Ever since birth control pills first became available, researchers have been trying to understand the connection between oral contraceptive use and mood. A new study led by investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) and Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands adds important, new information by surveying young women about depressive symptoms.

Depressive symptoms — such as crying, sleeping excessively, and eating issues — can be far subtler than diagnosed clinical depression. But by surveying a cohort of more than 1,000 women every three years, investigators have amassed a unique trove of data about these subclinical symptoms. In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, investigators report that there was no association between oral contraceptive use and depressive symptom severity in the entire population they studied (ages 16 through 25). However, they found that 16-year-old girls reported higher depressive symptom severity compared with 16-year-old girls not using oral contraceptives.

Full story at Science Daily

Predicting future course of psychotic illness

University of Adelaide psychiatry researchers have developed a model that could help to predict a patient’s likelihood of a good outcome from treatment — from their very first psychotic episode.

The model is based on a range of factors, including clinical symptoms, cognitive abilities, MRI scans of the brain’s structure, and biomarkers in the patient’s blood.

Speaking in the lead up to Mental Health Week (5-12 October), the University’s Head of Psychiatry, Professor Bernhard Baune, says the model is a revolutionary idea for psychiatric care, and is aimed at improving treatment for people suffering from mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. He says the model is applicable to other types of mental illnesses as well.

“Being able to predict the trajectory of psychotic illness is a kind of ‘holy grail’ in psychiatric medicine,” says Professor Baune, who is corresponding author of a paper on the new model, to be published in the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. Professor Baune will also present this work at the European Congress of Neuropsychopharmacology in Berlin, Germany this month.

Full story of predicting psychotic illness at Science Daily