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Psychiatry

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 2016Paid-up subscribers

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.

Identifying patients at risk of perinatal mood disorders

23 May 2012Paid-up subscribers

In perinatal mental illness not only does the patient suffer, but obstetric outcomes, mother-baby interactions and hence longer term emotional and cognitive development of the child are also affected. Perinatal mental illness also has an impact on other family members. The UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health has consistently found psychiatric disorders to be one of the leading causes of maternal death, often through suicide. Postnatal depression and puerperal psychosis are two disorders most commonly associated with the perinatal period: the first, because of its high prevalence, 13% in the first few months following birth, the second because of its potentially disastrous consequences, including suicide, neglect of the baby and infanticide. [With external links to the current evidence base]

Primary care management of patients who self-harm

22 May 2012Paid-up subscribers

With a 10.5% lifetime risk, self-reported self-harm is common in the community: 5.6% have made a suicide attempt. Self-harm without lethal intent is slightly less common at 4.9%. Following an episode of self-harm the GP can offer assessment and practical support, for example, monitoring type and quantity of medication prescribed, and signposting or referral where relevant. GPs are ideally placed to support patients and their families following self-harm through an understanding and nonjudgmental approach which aims to alleviate distress.

Diagnosing and managing psychosis in primary care

25 May 2011Paid-up subscribers

Psychosis is broadly defined as the presence of delusions and hallucinations and can be organic or functional in nature. The former is secondary to an underlying medical condition, such as delirium or dementia, the latter to a psychiatric disorder, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Functional psychosis is relatively common in the general population, with epidemiological studies estimating its prevalence to be approximately 0.2-0.7%. Prevalence in the elderly increases to 4.8%. The identification and treatment of psychosis is important as it is associated with a 10% lifetime risk of suicide and significant social exclusion. Delays in recognition can ultimately lead to a worse prognosis.

Raising standards of care for patients with depression

25 May 2011Paid-up subscribers

Adults in the UK with a diagnosis of either ICD-10 depressive episode or ICD-10 mixed anxiety and depressive disorder have been estimated to have taken more than a quarter of the total number of days of sickness absence in one year. Few patients receive effective treatment. There are four reasons for this: failure to seek help (40% don't attend); failure of GPs to recognise depression (30-50% of cases); non-adherence or early cessation of treatment (only about 25% of patients complete a six-month course of antidepressant treatment);lack of treatment efficacy (50% with moderate depression don't respond to initial treatment). Only about one in ten patients receive effective treatment.

Borderline personality disorder often goes undetected

28 May 2010Paid-up subscribers

GPs play a crucial role in identifying patients who may be suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD). All practitioners caring for patients with BPD  should work together in order to understand needs and risks and to provide patients with consistent support and help.BPD is associated with significant impairment of psychological, social and occupational functioning, with a suicide rate of almost 10%, a rate 50 times higher than in the general population.

Managing bipolar disorder in primary care

28 May 2010Paid-up subscribers

In bipolar disorder patients are intermittently severely ill and unable to function, but they usually return to their normally functioning self. The extremes of symptoms and experiences require intensive specialist care,  but the overall success of management will depend on an informed and complementary interaction between primary and secondary care. Bipolar disorder is at least twice as common as schizophrenia, and eminently treatable. It is perfectly suited to the well established outpatient model practised in general practice.

Diagnosing depression in primary care

21 May 2009Paid-up subscribers

Only a small minority of patients receive effective treatment for depression. About 40% of patients do not seek medical help, and of those who do, between 30 and 50% are not recognised as being depressed, usually as a result of somatic presentations. Patients may not be offered the appropriate treatment if strict diagnostic criteria are not applied, and under half of those receiving treatment will complete a minimal treatment course.

GPs have a central role in managing schizophrenia

21 May 2009Paid-up subscribers

In recent decades the care of people with schizophrenia has shifted from hospital to the community. The GP's role has thus expanded, a fact reflected by the emphasis placed on primary care involvement in the recently updated NICE guideline on schizophrenia. On average GPs in the UK will have 7-12 people with schizophrenia on their lists, and for some of these patients they may be the sole provider of care.

 

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 2016Paid-up subscribers

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.

Identifying patients at risk of perinatal mood disorders

23 May 2012Paid-up subscribers

In perinatal mental illness not only does the patient suffer, but obstetric outcomes, mother-baby interactions and hence longer term emotional and cognitive development of the child are also affected. Perinatal mental illness also has an impact on other family members. The UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health has consistently found psychiatric disorders to be one of the leading causes of maternal death, often through suicide. Postnatal depression and puerperal psychosis are two disorders most commonly associated with the perinatal period: the first, because of its high prevalence, 13% in the first few months following birth, the second because of its potentially disastrous consequences, including suicide, neglect of the baby and infanticide. [With external links to the current evidence base]

Primary care management of patients who self-harm

22 May 2012Paid-up subscribers

With a 10.5% lifetime risk, self-reported self-harm is common in the community: 5.6% have made a suicide attempt. Self-harm without lethal intent is slightly less common at 4.9%. Following an episode of self-harm the GP can offer assessment and practical support, for example, monitoring type and quantity of medication prescribed, and signposting or referral where relevant. GPs are ideally placed to support patients and their families following self-harm through an understanding and nonjudgmental approach which aims to alleviate distress.

Diagnosing and managing psychosis in primary care

25 May 2011Paid-up subscribers

Psychosis is broadly defined as the presence of delusions and hallucinations and can be organic or functional in nature. The former is secondary to an underlying medical condition, such as delirium or dementia, the latter to a psychiatric disorder, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Functional psychosis is relatively common in the general population, with epidemiological studies estimating its prevalence to be approximately 0.2-0.7%. Prevalence in the elderly increases to 4.8%. The identification and treatment of psychosis is important as it is associated with a 10% lifetime risk of suicide and significant social exclusion. Delays in recognition can ultimately lead to a worse prognosis.

Raising standards of care for patients with depression

25 May 2011Paid-up subscribers

Adults in the UK with a diagnosis of either ICD-10 depressive episode or ICD-10 mixed anxiety and depressive disorder have been estimated to have taken more than a quarter of the total number of days of sickness absence in one year. Few patients receive effective treatment. There are four reasons for this: failure to seek help (40% don't attend); failure of GPs to recognise depression (30-50% of cases); non-adherence or early cessation of treatment (only about 25% of patients complete a six-month course of antidepressant treatment);lack of treatment efficacy (50% with moderate depression don't respond to initial treatment). Only about one in ten patients receive effective treatment.

Borderline personality disorder often goes undetected

28 May 2010Paid-up subscribers

GPs play a crucial role in identifying patients who may be suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD). All practitioners caring for patients with BPD  should work together in order to understand needs and risks and to provide patients with consistent support and help.BPD is associated with significant impairment of psychological, social and occupational functioning, with a suicide rate of almost 10%, a rate 50 times higher than in the general population.

Managing bipolar disorder in primary care

28 May 2010Paid-up subscribers

In bipolar disorder patients are intermittently severely ill and unable to function, but they usually return to their normally functioning self. The extremes of symptoms and experiences require intensive specialist care,  but the overall success of management will depend on an informed and complementary interaction between primary and secondary care. Bipolar disorder is at least twice as common as schizophrenia, and eminently treatable. It is perfectly suited to the well established outpatient model practised in general practice.

Diagnosing depression in primary care

21 May 2009Paid-up subscribers

Only a small minority of patients receive effective treatment for depression. About 40% of patients do not seek medical help, and of those who do, between 30 and 50% are not recognised as being depressed, usually as a result of somatic presentations. Patients may not be offered the appropriate treatment if strict diagnostic criteria are not applied, and under half of those receiving treatment will complete a minimal treatment course.

GPs have a central role in managing schizophrenia

21 May 2009Paid-up subscribers

In recent decades the care of people with schizophrenia has shifted from hospital to the community. The GP's role has thus expanded, a fact reflected by the emphasis placed on primary care involvement in the recently updated NICE guideline on schizophrenia. On average GPs in the UK will have 7-12 people with schizophrenia on their lists, and for some of these patients they may be the sole provider of care.

Clinical reviews: Mental health

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.

Assessing suicide and self-harm risk in adolescents

22 Feb 2018Registered users

The incidence of suicide in adolescent boys is more than twice that among adolescent girls, whereas non-fatal self-harm is much more common in girls than boys, an English retrospective database study has found.

Exercise can prevent depression

23 Nov 2017Paid-up subscribers

If healthy adults exercise for a minimum of an hour each week, their risk of incident depression can be reduced by 12%, a Norwegian prospective cohort study has found.