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Psychiatry symposium

Managing patients with severe mental illness and substance misuse

22 May 2018

Co-occurring severe mental illness, usually schizophrenia or bipolar affective disorder, and substance misuse is termed dual diagnosis. Mental illness and its consequences may lead to substance misuse as a coping strategy. Substance misuse can lead to mental health problems, either by triggering a first episode in a susceptible person, or by exacerbating an existing disorder. However, substance misuse itself is unlikely to be the sole cause of a severe and enduring mental illness.

Improving the recognition of autism in children and adults

22 May 2018Registered users

Autism covers a wide spectrum across the dimensions of social communication, repetitive and stereotyped behaviours as well as other non-clinical and cognitive features. Individuals with autism can function well in certain environments, where there are fewer demands to multitask and factual information and pattern recognition are required, but they may not function well in highly social environments, or situations characterised by rapid and unpredictable change.

Be vigilant for dementia in Parkinson’s disease

23 May 2017

It is estimated that up to 80% of patients with Parkinson’s disease will eventually develop cognitive impairment over the course of their illness. Even at the time of diagnosis, cognitive impairment has been reported in 20-25% of patients. Commonly affected domains are executive function, visuospatial ability and attention control. In addition, patients with Parkinson’s disease dementia may present with deficits in language function and verbal memory.

Diagnosing and managing mild cognitive impairment

23 May 2017Paid-up subscribers

The prevalence of mild cognitive impairment in adults aged 65 and over is estimated to be 10-20%. It is likely that this figure will increase in line with trends in dementia diagnosis. In some cases, mild cognitive impairment may be a prodrome for dementia, and may be caused by any of the dementia pathology subtypes. It is important to obtain a history of cognitive changes over time, as well as information about the onset and nature of cognitive symptoms, confirmed by a reliable informant, if available.

Be vigilant for post-traumatic stress reactions

23 May 2016Registered users

The diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) differs from most psychiatric disorders as it includes an aetiological factor, the traumatic event, as a core criterion. The DSM 5 core symptoms of PTSD are grouped into four key symptom clusters: re-experiencing, avoidance, negative cognitions and mood, and arousal. Symptoms must be present for at least one month and cause functional impairment.

Diagnosing young onset dementia can be challenging

23 May 2016Paid-up subscribers

The most common causes of young onset dementia are early onset forms of adult neurodegenerative conditions and alcohol. Vascular dementia is the second most common cause of young onset dementia after Alzheimer’s disease. Conventional vascular risk factors may be absent and diagnosis relies on imaging evidence of cerebrovascular disease. Those with suspected young onset dementia should be referred to a neurology-led cognitive disorders clinic where available as the differential diagnosis is considerably broader than in older adults and requires specialist investigation.

Depression in young people often goes undetected

21 May 2015Registered users

Major (unipolar) depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in children and adolescents, with an estimated one year prevalence of 4-5% in mid-late adolescence. Depression is probably the single most important risk factor for teenage suicide, the second to third leading cause of death in this age group and a forerunner of adult depressive disorder. Half of those with lifelong recurrent depression started to develop their symptoms before the age of 15 years.

Optimising the management of bipolar disorder

21 May 2015

NICE recommends that when adults present in primary care with depression, they should be asked about previous periods of overactivity or disinhibited behaviour. If this behaviour lasted for four or more days referral for a specialist mental health assessment should be considered. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder is supported by diagnostic criteria and usually confirmed by a psychiatrist. If a manic episode has been present during the history the diagnosis is bipolar I disorder, while a hypomanic episode is indicative of bipolar II disorder.

 

PSTD

Identifying patients with complex PTSD

01 Aug 2016Registered users

Type 2 or complex trauma results from multiple or repeated traumatic events occurring over extended periods. Complex trauma is often associated with other adversity and stressors such as neglect, loss or deprivation. For many individuals these traumas occur at a developmentally vulnerable time with the perpetrator often in a caregiving role. Patients who have experienced complex trauma should be assessed for the core symptoms of PTSD. In addition, patients should be assessed for disturbances in the three domains of emotional dysregulation, negative self-concept and interpersonal disturbances.

Be vigilant for post-traumatic stress reactions

23 May 2016Registered users

The diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) differs from most psychiatric disorders as it includes an aetiological factor, the traumatic event, as a core criterion. The DSM 5 core symptoms of PTSD are grouped into four key symptom clusters: re-experiencing, avoidance, negative cognitions and mood, and arousal. Symptoms must be present for at least one month and cause functional impairment.

 

Paediatric symposium

Be vigilant for depression in children and adolescents

25 Jun 2018Registered users

The symptoms of depression in adolescents are similar to those in adults. Depression in children of primary school age may be very subtle and symptoms include mood fluctuations, tearfulness, frustration or temper tantrums. If depression is suspected, it is essential to evaluate the degree of risk. Risk has two key aspects: the likelihood of a potentially harmful incident occurring and degree of potential harm.

Early referral key to better outcomes in eating disorders

22 Jun 2017Paid-up subscribers

Early recognition, referral and treatment are essential to achieve good outcomes for children and adolescents with eating disorders. Eating disorders have the highest mortality of all psychiatric conditions. However, provided there is access to early and evidence-based treatment, the majority of patients who are diagnosed with an eating disorder before the age of 18 will make a full recovery. Overall, outcomes in this age group are better than in adults. All children and adolescents with a possible eating disorder should be referred to their local specialist community-based eating disorder service for children and young people as soon as possible.

Early intervention crucial in anxiety disorders in children

23 Jun 2016Paid-up subscribers

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health disorders of childhood. Three quarters of anxiety disorders have their origins in childhood, with presentation often chronic in nature. Where the child is experiencing significant distress or functional impairment (e.g. missing school, not taking part in age-appropriate activity), then specialist input is likely to be needed.

 

Women's mental health

Be vigilant for perinatal mental health problems

23 Mar 2015Paid-up subscribers

The postnatal period appears to be associated with higher rates of adjustment disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, and depression. Women who have a history of serious mental illness are at higher risk of developing a postpartum relapse, even if they have been well during pregnancy. Postnatal depression is more severe than baby blues, follows a chronic course and may relapse outside the perinatal period. Bipolar disorder may present as a first depressive episode in pregnancy or the postnatal period. In the postpartum period women have a high risk of severe relapse.

 

Care of the elderly symposium

Diagnosing and treating mood disorders in older people

05 Feb 2019Registered users

Depression in older adults is common. Depressive symptoms may be part of a recurrent depressive disorder or experienced for the first time in later life as a result of changes in risk and resilience factors. There is an association between cerebrovascular pathology, vascular risk factors and depression. Physical illnesses, particularly those associated with frailty, are also important risk factors for depression. Depression has a distinct presentation in late life and low mood may not be the predominant presenting symptom. Older patients may present with physical symptoms, apathy, cognitive symptoms, agitation, retardation, fatigue or weight loss.

Depression is linked to dementia in older adults

23 Jan 2017Registered users

Depression and dementia are both common conditions in older people, and they frequently occur together. Rather than a risk factor, depression with onset in later life is more likely to be either prodromal to dementia or a condition that unmasks pre-existing cognitive impairment by compromising cognitive reserve. The distinction between depression and early dementia may be particularly difficult. Detailed histories obtained from patients and their relatives as well as longitudinal follow-up are important. 

Anxiety in older adults often goes undiagnosed

25 Jan 2016Paid-up subscribers

Anxiety disorder in the elderly is twice as common as dementia and four to six times more common than major depression. Anxiety is associated with poorer quality of life, significant distress and contributes to the onset of disability. Mortality risks are also increased, through physical causes, especially cardiovascular disease, and suicide. Diagnosing anxiety disorders in older adults remains a challenge because of the significant overlap in symptoms between physical disorders and depression.

 

 

Establishing the cause of memory loss in older people

22 Jan 2015Registered users

Common causes of memory loss in older people are mild cognitive impairment, the various types of dementia, and psychiatric illness, mainly depression. Around 10% of patients with mild cognitive impairment progress to dementia each year. NICE guidance suggests examination of: attention, concentration, short- and long-term memory, praxis, language and executive function.

 

Clinical reviews: Mental health

Gabapentinoids may increase risk of suicidal behaviour in young patients

07 Aug 2019Paid-up subscribers

A large Swedish study has suggested that gabapentinoid medications are associated with an increased risk of suicidal behaviour and unintentional overdose in adolescents and young adults.

Regular cannabis use raises risk of psychosis

24 Apr 2019Registered users

Daily cannabis use is associated with a three-fold increased risk of psychotic disorder, a multicentre, international case-control study has shown.

Does intensive BP lowering reduce risk of dementia?

25 Mar 2019Registered users

Intensive blood pressure (BP) control reduces the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, but not dementia, a US randomised trial has found.

Consumption of nitrate-cured meat products increases odds of mania

20 Dec 2018Registered users

There is a strong and independent association between manic episodes and a history of eating nitrate-cured meat products, a US study has found.

Apathy associated with incident dementia in the elderly

24 Sep 2018Registered users

Apathy symptoms may identify older patients who are at increased risk of developing dementia, a Dutch prospective cohort study has found.

Postnatal depression may have adverse effects on offspring

22 Mar 2018Registered users

The children of women with severe persistent postnatal depression (PND) are at substantially increased risk of preschool behaviour problems, poor academic attainment and adolescent depression, a UK longitudinal cohort study has found.

 

Editorials

Patients at increased suicide risk following cancer diagnosis

22 Feb 2019Paid-up subscribers

Cancer patients are at increased risk of suicide, particularly in the first six months after diagnosis, a national population-based study in England has found. Compared with the general population, cancer patients had a 20% increased risk of suicide; standardised mortality rate (SMR) 1.20. The risk of suicide was highest during the first six months after diagnosis, SMR 2.74 (95% CI: 2.52-2.98), but remained raised for three years.

Abstinence and heavy drinking raise risk of dementia

24 Sep 2018Paid-up subscribers

The risk of dementia in old age is greater in individuals who abstain from alcohol and those who consume more than 14 units per week from midlife than for those who drink moderately, according to findings from a large prospective cohort study. For those drinking > 14 units/week, a 7 unit increase in weekly alcohol consumption was associated with a 17% increase in the risk of dementia.

Anticholinergic drugs and risk of dementia

25 Jul 2018Paid-up subscribers

Antidepressant, urological and anti-parkinsonian drugs with definite anticholinergic effects are associated with an increased risk of incident dementia up to 20 years after exposure, a UK nested case-control study has found. The study authors conclude: 'Clinicians should continue to be vigilant with respect to the use of anticholinergic drugs, and should consider the risk of long-term cognitive effects, as well as short-term effects, associated with specific drug classes when performing their risk-benefit analysis.'

How effective are antidepressants?

22 May 2018Paid-up subscribers

All antidepressants are more efficacious than placebo in adults with major depressive disorder, a systematic review and meta-analysis has found. Double-blind, randomised controlled trials were identified from the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials and other large databases. Placebo-controlled and head-to-head trials of 21 antidepressants (a selection of first-generation and all approved second-generation antidepressants) were included.

Pre-eclampsia may raise risk of autism spectrum disorder

22 Mar 2018Registered users

Maternal pre-eclampsia is associated with an increased risk of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in offspring, a meta-analysis has found. Compared with unexposed offspring, children who were exposed to pre-eclampsia in utero were 32% more likely to develop ASD.

Should sertraline be used in CKD patients with depression?

23 Jan 2018Registered users

Sertraline is ineffective in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD) and depression, a randomised controlled trial, from the USA, has found. This study suggests that the prescription of sertraline, and indeed any SSRI, to stage 3b-5 CKD patients with depression can no longer be justified. CBT is probably the best option and there is some evidence of its efficacy in end-stage CKD patients.

High sugar intake linked to raised risk of common mental disorders

20 Dec 2017Registered users

A high sugar intake is associated with an increased incidence of common mental disorders in men, but not in women, a UK prospective cohort study has found. The Whitehall II study recruited a cohort of 10,308 civil servants (6,895 men and 3,413 women) in 1985-88. During the 25-year follow-up period, diet was assessed on four occasions using a food frequency questionnaire. Compared with those in the lowest tertile, men in the highest tertile of sugar intake had significantly increased odds of incident common mental disorder five years later.

Cognitive deficits and awareness of hypoglycaemia in type 1 diabetes

22 Jun 2017Registered users

A study of patients with type 1 diabetes has shown an association between impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia and cognitive deficits such as diminished learning, memory and pattern separation. This study compared cognitive function in type 1 diabetes patients who had normal awareness of hypoglycaemia with patients who had impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia. The study authors state: ‘It is possible that people with impaired awareness of hypoglycaemia have a diminished ability to distinguish cues that are specifically associated with hypoglycaemia and hence are unable to take appropriate action to avoid severe hypoglycaemia.'

Job strain may precipitate clinical depression

23 May 2017Registered users

Job strain, a combination of high demand and low control, is associated with an increased risk of subsequent clinical depression, a meta-analysis has found. Patients who report stress at work are both more likely to be depressed and more likely to become depressed. In the UK in 2015/16, work-related stress accounted for 37% of work-related ill health and 45% of working days lost. When helping patients get back to work it is important to discuss ways of reducing job strain and the demand control support model provides a helpful framework.