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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE Psychological treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are usually delivered once or twice a week over several months. It is unclear whether they can be successfully delivered over a shorter period of time. This clinical trial had two goals: to investigate the acceptability and efficacy of a 7-day intensive version of cognitive therapy for PTSD and to investigate whether cognitive therapy has specific treatment effects by comparing intensive and standard weekly cognitive therapy with an equally credible alternative treatment. METHOD Patients with chronic PTSD (N=121) were randomly allocated to 7-day intensive cognitive therapy for PTSD, 3 months of standard weekly cognitive therapy, 3 months of weekly emotion-focused supportive therapy, or a 14-week waiting list condition. The primary outcomes were change in PTSD symptoms and diagnosis as measured by independent assessor ratings and self-report. The secondary outcomes were change in disability, anxiety, depression, and quality of life. Evaluations were conducted at the baseline assessment and at 6 and 14 weeks (the posttreatment/wait assessment). For groups receiving treatment, evaluations were also conducted at 3 weeks and follow-up assessments at 27 and 40 weeks after randomization. All analyses were intent-to-treat. RESULTS At the posttreatment/wait assessment, 73% of the intensive cognitive therapy group, 77% of the standard cognitive therapy group, 43% of the supportive therapy group, and 7% of the waiting list group had recovered from PTSD. All treatments were well tolerated and were superior to waiting list on nearly all outcome measures; no difference was observed between supportive therapy and waiting list on quality of life. For primary outcomes, disability, and general anxiety, intensive and standard cognitive therapy were superior to supportive therapy. Intensive cognitive therapy achieved faster symptom reduction and comparable overall outcomes to standard cognitive therapy. CONCLUSIONS Cognitive therapy for PTSD delivered intensively over little more than a week was as effective as cognitive therapy delivered over 3 months. Both had specific effects and were superior to supportive therapy. Intensive cognitive therapy for PTSD is a feasible and promising alternative to traditional weekly treatment.
    American Journal of Psychiatry 01/2014; 171(3). DOI:10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.13040552
  • The Lancet 12/2013; 382(9908):1874-5. DOI:10.1016/S0140-6736(13)62617-3
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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; 49(7). DOI:10.1007/s00127-013-0803-y
  • Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology 12/2013; 55(12). DOI:10.1111/dmcn.12180
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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; 41(2). DOI:10.1136/medethics-2013-101341
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    ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVE The authors compared psychoanalytic psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in the treatment of bulimia nervosa. METHOD A randomized controlled trial was conducted in which 70 patients with bulimia nervosa received either 2 years of weekly psychoanalytic psychotherapy or 20 sessions of CBT over 5 months. The main outcome measure was the Eating Disorder Examination interview, which was administered blind to treatment condition at baseline, after 5 months, and after 2 years. The primary outcome analyses were conducted using logistic regression analysis. RESULTS Both treatments resulted in improvement, but a marked difference was observed between CBT and psychoanalytic psychotherapy. After 5 months, 42% of patients in CBT (N=36) and 6% of patients in psychoanalytic psychotherapy (N=34) had stopped binge eating and purging (odds ratio=13.40, 95% confidence interval [CI]=2.45-73.42; p<0.01). At 2 years, 44% in the CBT group and 15% in the psychoanalytic psychotherapy group had stopped binge eating and purging (odds ratio=4.34, 95% CI=1.33-14.21; p=0.02). By the end of both treatments, substantial improvements in eating disorder features and general psychopathology were observed, but in general these changes took place more rapidly in CBT. CONCLUSIONS Despite the marked disparity in the number of treatment sessions and the duration of treatment, CBT was more effective in relieving binging and purging than psychoanalytic psychotherapy and was generally faster in alleviating eating disorder features and general psychopathology. The findings indicate the need to develop and test a more structured and symptom-focused version of psychoanalytic psychotherapy for bulimia nervosa.
    American Journal of Psychiatry 11/2013; 171(1). DOI:10.1176/appi.ajp.2013.12121511
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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; 155(100). DOI:10.1016/j.jad.2013.11.006
    This article is viewable in ResearchGate's enriched format
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    ABSTRACT: Face-to-face mindfulness interventions have been shown to significantly decrease perceived stress, anxiety and depression and research is beginning to show similar benefits for such courses delivered via the internet. We investigated the feasibility and effectiveness of an online mindfulness course for perceived stress, anxiety and depression. A follow-up investigation of an online mindfulness course. Previous research examining the change in perceived stress showed promising results. Measures of anxiety and depression were added to the online mindfulness course and these were investigated as well as perceived stress using a new, larger sample. Participants (N=273) were self-referrals to the online course who completed the outcome measure immediately before the course, upon course completion and at 1 month follow-up. The programme consists of 10 sessions, guided meditation videos and automated emails, with elements of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, completed at a pace to suit the individual (minimum length 4 weeks). The Perceived Stress Scale, the Generalised Anxiety Disorder Assessment-7 and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (for depression). Mindfulness practice was self-reported at automated time points upon login, once the exercises and sessions for each week were completed. Perceived stress, anxiety and depression significantly decreased at course completion and further decreased at 1 month follow-up, with effect sizes comparable to those found with face-to-face and other online mindfulness courses and to other types of intervention, such as cognitive behavioural therapy for stress. The amount of meditation practice reported did affect outcome when controlling for baseline severity. The online mindfulness course appears to be an acceptable, accessible intervention which reduces stress, anxiety and depression. However, there is no control comparison and future research is required to assess the effects of the course for different samples.
    BMJ Open 11/2013; 3(11):e003498. DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003498
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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. DOI:10.1080/17470919.2013.842610
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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; DOI:10.1016/j.neuint.2013.10.006
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