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  • The Lancet 12/2013; 382(9908):1874-5.
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    ABSTRACT: Persecutory delusions are one of the key problems seen in psychotic conditions. The aim of the study was to assess for the first time the levels of psychological well-being specifically in patients with current persecutory delusions. One hundred and fifty patients with persecutory delusions in the context of a diagnosis of non-affective psychosis, and 346 non-clinical individuals, completed the Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale and symptom assessments. Well-being scores were much lower in the persecutory delusions group compared with the non-clinical control group. 47 % of the persecutory delusions group scored lower than two standard deviations below the control group mean score. Within the patient group, psychological well-being was negatively associated with depression, anxiety, and hallucinations. In both groups, lower levels of well-being were associated with more severe paranoia. Levels of psychological well-being in patients with current persecutory delusions are strikingly low. This is likely to arise from the presence of affective symptoms and psychotic experiences. Measurement of treatment change in positive mental health for patients with psychosis is recommended.
    Social Psychiatry 12/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Social networking sites (SNS) are having an increasing influence on patients' lives and doctors are far from certain about how to deal with this new challenge. In our literature search, we could find no research on how doctors could engage positively with SNS to improve patient outcomes or create more patient-led care. We need to acknowledge the fact that a review of a patient's SNS page has the potential to enhance assessment and management, particularly where a corroborant history is hard to attain. As doctors, we need to think clearly about how to adapt our practice in light of this new form of communication; in particular, whether there is a case for engaging with SNS to improve patient care.
    Journal of medical ethics 11/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Previous research has suggested that some individuals may obtain comfort from their suicidal cognitions. This study explored clinical variables associated with comfort from suicidal cognition using a newly developed 5 item measure in 217 patients with a history of recurrent depression and suicidality, of whom 98 were followed up to at least one relapse to depression and reported data on suicidal ideation during the follow-up phase. Results indicated that a minority of patients, around 15%, reported experiencing comfort from suicidal cognitions and that comfort was associated with several markers of a more severe clinical profile including both worst ever prior suicidal ideation and worst suicidal ideation over a 12 month follow-up period. Few patients self-harmed during the follow-up period preventing an examination of associations between comfort and repetition of self-harm. These results, although preliminary, suggest that future theoretical and clinical research would benefit from further consideration of the concept of comfort from suicidal thinking.
    Journal of affective disorders 11/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: The bond between a parent and an infant often appears to form effortlessly and intuitively, and this relationship is fundamental to infant survival and development. Parenting is considered to depend on specific brain networks that are largely conserved across species and in place even before parenthood. Efforts to understand the neural basis of parenting in humans have focused on the overlapping networks implicated in reward and social cognition, within which the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) is considered to be a crucial hub. This review examines emerging evidence that the OFC may be engaged in several phases of parent-infant interactions, from early, privileged orienting to infant cues, to ongoing monitoring of interactions and subsequent learning. Specifically, we review evidence suggesting that the OFC rapidly responds to a range of infant communicative cues, such as faces and voices, supporting their efficient processing. Crucially, this early orienting response may be fundamental in supporting adults to respond rapidly and appropriately to infant needs. We suggest a number of avenues for future research, including investigating neural activity in disrupted parenting, exploring multimodal cues, and consideration of neuroendocrine involvement in responsivity to infant cues. An increased understanding of the brain basis of caregiving will provide insight into our greatest challenge: parenting our young.
    Social neuroscience 11/2013; 8(6):525-43.
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    ABSTRACT: The influence of the gut microbiota on brain chemistry has been convincingly demonstrated in rodents. In the absence of gut bacteria, the central expression of brain derived neurotropic factor, (BDNF), and N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor (NMDAR) subunits are reduced, whereas, oral probiotics increase brain BDNF, and impart significant anxiolytic effects. We tested whether prebiotic compounds, which increase intrinsic enteric microbiota, also affected brain BDNF and NMDARs. In addition, we examined whether plasma from prebiotic treated rats released BDNF from human SH-SY5Y neuroblastoma cells, to provide an initial indication of mechanism of action. Rats were gavaged with fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) or water for five weeks, prior to measurements of brain BDNF, NMDAR subunits and amino acids associated with glutamate neurotransmission (glutamate, glutamine, and serine and alanine enantiomers). Prebiotics increased hippocampal BDNF and NR1 subunit expression relative to controls. The intake of GOS also increased hippocampal NR2A subunits, and frontal cortex NR1 and d-serine. Prebiotics did not alter glutamate, glutamine, l-serine, l-alanine or d-alanine concentrations in the brain, though GOS-feeding raised plasma d-alanine. Elevated levels of plasma peptide YY (PYY) after GOS feeding was observed. Plasma from GOS rats increased the release of BDNF from SH-SY5Y cells, but not in the presence of PYY antisera. The addition of synthetic PYY to SH-SY5Y cell cultures, also elevated BDNF secretion. We conclude that prebiotic-mediated proliferation of gut microbiota in rats, like probiotics, increases brain BDNF expression, possibly through the involvement of gut hormones. The effect of GOS on components of central NMDAR signalling was greater than FOS, and may reflect the proliferative potency of GOS on microbiota. Our data therefore, provide a sound basis to further investigate the utility of prebiotics in the maintenance of brain health and adjunctive treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders.
    Neurochemistry International 10/2013;
  • Evidence-based mental health 10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Sex differences in psychosis and their interaction with laterality (systematic departures from 50:50 left-right symmetry across the antero-posterior neural axis) are reviewed in the context of the X-Y gene hypothesis. Aspects of laterality (handedness/cerebral asymmetry/the torque) predict (1) verbal and non-verbal ability in childhood and across adult life and (2) anatomical, physiological, and linguistic variation relating to psychosis. Neuropsychological and MRI evidence from individuals with sex chromosome aneuploidies indicates that laterality is associated with an X-Y homologous gene pair. Within each mammalian species the complement of such X-Y gene pairs reflects their potential to account for taxon-specific sexual dimorphisms. As a consequence of the mechanism of meiotic suppression of unpaired chromosomes such X-Y gene pairs generate epigenetic variation around a species defining motif that is carried to the zygote with potential to initiate embryonic gene expression in XX or XY format. The Protocadherin11XY (PCDH11XY) gene pair in Xq21.3/Yp11.2 in probable coordination with a gene or genes within PAR2 (the second pseudo-autosomal region) is the prime candidate in relation to cerebral asymmetry and psychosis in Homo sapiens. The lately-described pattern of sequence variation associated with psychosis on the autosomes may reflect a component of the human genome's adjustment to selective pressures generated by the sexually dimorphic mate recognition system. © 2013 The Authors. American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B: Neuropsychiatric Genetics Published by John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.
    American Journal of Medical Genetics Part B Neuropsychiatric Genetics 10/2013;
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    ABSTRACT: Trauma-focused psychological treatments are recommended as first-line treatments for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but clinicians may be concerned that the good outcomes observed in randomized controlled trials (RCTs) may not generalize to the wide range of traumas and presentations seen in clinical practice. This study investigated whether Cognitive Therapy for PTSD (CT-PTSD) can be effectively implemented into a UK National Health Service Outpatient Clinic serving a defined ethnically mixed urban catchment area. A consecutive sample of 330 patients with PTSD (age 17-83) following a wide range of traumas were treated by 34 therapists, who received training and supervision in CT-PTSD. Pre and post treatment data (PTSD symptoms, anxiety, depression) were collected for all patients, including dropouts. Hierarchical linear modeling investigated candidate moderators of outcome and therapist effects. CT-PTSD was well tolerated and led to very large improvement in PTSD symptoms, depression and anxiety. The majority of patients showed reliable improvement/clinically significant change: intent-to-treat: 78.8%/57.3%; completer: 84.5%/65.1%. Dropouts and unreliable attenders had worse outcome. Statistically reliable symptom exacerbation with treatment was observed in only 1.2% of patients. Treatment gains were maintained during follow-up (M = 280 days, n = 220). Few of the selection criteria used in some RCTs, demographic, diagnostic and trauma characteristics moderated treatment outcome, and only social problems and needing treatment for multiple traumas showed unique moderation effects. There were no random effects of therapist on symptom improvement, but therapists who were inexperienced in CT-PTSD had more dropouts than those with greater experience. The results support the effectiveness of CT-PTSD and suggest that trauma-focused cognitive behavior therapy can be successfully implemented in routine clinical services treating patients with a wide range of traumas.
    Behaviour research and therapy 09/2013; 51(11):742-752.
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    ABSTRACT: Psychiatric disorders occur in approximately 90% of individuals dying by suicide. The prevalence of psychiatric disorders in people who engage in non-fatal self-harm has received less attention. Systematic review using electronic databases (Embase, PsychINFO and Medline) for English language publications of studies in which psychiatric disorders have been assessed using research or clinical diagnostic schedules in self-harm patients of all ages presenting to general hospitals, followed by meta-analyses using random effects methods. A total of 50 studies from 24 countries were identified. Psychiatric (Axis I) disorders were identified in 83.9% (95% CI 74.7-91.3%) of adults and 81.2% (95% CI 60.9-95.5%) of adolescents and young persons. The most frequent disorders were depression, anxiety and alcohol misuse, and additionally attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and conduct disorder in younger patients. Personality (Axis II) disorders were found in 27.5% (95% CI 17.6-38.7%) of adult patients. Psychiatric disorders were somewhat more common in patients in Western (89.6%, 95% CI 83.0-94.7%) than non-Western countries (70.6%, 95% CI 50.1-87.6%). Heterogeneity between study results was generally high. There were differences between studies in identification of study participants and diagnostic procedures. Most self-harm patients have psychiatric disorders, as found in people dying by suicide. Depression and anxiety disorders are particularly common, together with ADHD and conduct disorder in adolescents. Psychosocial assessment and aftercare of self-harm patients should include careful screening for such disorders and appropriate therapeutic interventions. Longitudinal studies of the progress of these disorders are required. None.
    Journal of affective disorders 09/2013;
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