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In Canada, recreational use of cannabis was legalized in October 2018. This policy change along with recent publications evaluating the efficacy of cannabis for the medical treatment of epilepsy and media awareness about its use have increased the public interest about this agent. The Canadian League Against Epilepsy Medical Therapeutics Committee, along with a multidisciplinary group of experts and Canadian Epilepsy Alliance representatives, has developed a position statement about the use of medical cannabis for epilepsy. This article addresses the current Canadian legal framework, recent publications about its efficacy and safety profile, and our understanding of the clinical issues that should be considered when contemplating cannabis use for medical purposes.
Compulsory admission is commonly regarded as necessary and justified for patients whose psychiatric condition represents a severe danger to themselves and others. However, while studies on compulsory admissions have reported on various clinical and social outcomes, little research has focused specifically on dangerousness, which in many countries is the core reason for compulsory admission.
To study changes in dangerousness over time in adult psychiatric patients admitted by compulsory court order, and to relate these changes to these patients' demographic and clinical characteristics.
In this explorative prospective observational cohort study of adult psychiatric patients admitted by compulsory court order, demographic and clinical data were collected at baseline. At baseline and at 6 and 12 month follow-up, dangerousness was assessed using the Dangerousness Inventory, an instrument based on the eight types of dangerousness towards self or others specified in Dutch legislation on compulsory admissions. We used descriptive statistics and logistic regression to analyse the data.
We included 174 participants with a court-ordered compulsory admission. At baseline, the most common dangerousness criterion was inability to cope in society. Any type of severe or very severe dangerousness decreased from 86.2% at baseline to 36.2% at 6 months and to 28.7% at 12 months. Being homeless at baseline was the only variable which was significantly associated with persistently high levels of dangerousness.
Dangerousness decreased in about two-thirds of the patients after court-ordered compulsory admission. It persisted, however, in a substantial minority (approximately one-third).
We study the resistive evolution of a localized self-organizing magnetohydrodynamic equilibrium. In this configuration the magnetic forces are balanced by a pressure force caused by a toroidal depression in the pressure. Equilibrium is attained when this low-pressure region prevents further expansion into the higher-pressure external plasma. We find that, for the parameters investigated, the resistive evolution of the structures follows a universal pattern when rescaled to resistive time. The finite resistivity causes both a decrease in the magnetic field strength and a finite slip of the plasma fluid against the static equilibrium. This slip is caused by a Pfirsch–Schlüter-type diffusion, similar to what is seen in tokamak equilibria. The net effect is that the configuration remains in magnetostatic equilibrium whilst it slowly grows in size. The rotational transform of the structure becomes nearly constant throughout the entire structure, and decreases according to a power law. In simulations this equilibrium is observed when highly tangled field lines relax in a high-pressure (relative to the magnetic field strength) environment, a situation that occurs when the twisted field of a coronal loop is ejected into the interplanetary solar wind. In this paper we relate this localized magnetohydrodynamic equilibrium to magnetic clouds in the solar wind.
For the past quarter of a century, Frank et al.’s (1991) consensus-based definitions of major depressive disorder (MDD) episode, remission, recovery, relapse and recurrence have been the paramount driving forces for consistency in MDD research as well as in clinical practice. This study aims to review the evidence for the empirical validation of Frank et al.’s proposed concept definitions and to discuss evidence-based modifications.
A literature search of Web of Science and PubMed from 1/1/1991 to 08/30/2017 identified all publications which referenced Frank et al.’s request for definition validation. Publications with data relevant for validation were included and checked for referencing other studies providing such data.
A total of 56 studies involving 39 315 subjects were included, mainly presenting data to validate the severity and duration thresholds for defining remission and recovery. Most studies indicated that the severity threshold for defining remission should decrease. Additionally, specific duration thresholds to separate remission from recovery did not add any predictive value to the notion that increased remission duration alleviates the risk of reoccurrence of depressive symptoms. Only limited data were available to validate the severity and duration criteria for defining a depressive episode.
Remission can best be defined as a less symptomatic state than previously assumed (Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, 17-item version (HAMD-17) ⩽4 instead of ⩽7), without applying a duration criterion. Duration thresholds to separate remission from recovery are not meaningful. The minimal duration of depressive symptoms to define a depressive episode should be longer than 2 weeks, although further studies are required to recommend an exact duration threshold. These results are relevant for researchers and clinicians aiming to use evidence-based depression outcomes.
Despite increasing evidence for the benefits of psychological treatments (PTs) in low- and middle-income countries, few national health systems have adopted PTs as standard care. We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of a group interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT-G) intervention, when delivered by lay community health workers (LCHWs) in a low-resource government health system in Uganda. The intended outcome was reduction of depression among caregivers of children with nodding syndrome, a neuropsychiatric condition with high morbidity, mortality and social stigma.
A non-randomized trial design was used. Caregivers in six villages (n = 69) received treatment as usual (TAU), according to government guidelines. Caregivers in seven villages (n = 73) received TAU as well as 12 sessions of IPT-G delivered by LCHWs. Primary outcomes were caregiver and child depression assessed at 1 and 6 months post-intervention.
Caregivers who received IPT-G had a significantly greater reduction in the risk of depression from baseline to 1 month [risk ratio (RR) 0.25, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.10–0.62] and 6 months (RR 0.33, 95% CI 0.11–0.95) post-intervention compared with caregivers who received TAU. Children of caregivers who received IPT-G had significantly greater reduction in depression scores than children of TAU caregivers at 1 month (Cohen's d = 0.57, p = 0.01) and 6 months (Cohen's d = 0.54, p = 0.03). Significant effects were also observed for psychological distress, stigma and social support among caregivers.
IPT-G delivered within a low-resource health system is an effective PT for common mental health problems in caregivers of children with a severe neuropsychiatric condition and has psychological benefits for the children as well. This supports national health policy initiatives to integrate PTs into primary health care services in Uganda.
The vulnerability hypothesis suggests that impairments after remission of depressive episodes reflect a pre-existing vulnerability, while the scar hypothesis proposes that depression leaves residual impairments that confer risk of subsequent episodes. We prospectively examined vulnerability and scar effects in mental and physical functioning in a representative Dutch population sample.
Three waves were used from the Netherlands Mental Health Survey and Incidence Study-2, a population-based study with a 6-years follow-up. Mental and physical functioning were assessed with the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form (SF-36). Major depressive disorder (MDD) was assessed with the Composite International Diagnostic Interview 3.0. Vulnerability effects were examined by comparing healthy controls (n = 2826) with individuals who developed a first-onset depressive episode during first follow-up but did not have a lifetime diagnosis of MDD at baseline (n = 181). Scarring effects were examined by comparing pre- and post-morbid functioning in individuals who developed a depressive episode after baseline that was remitted at the third wave (n = 108).
Both mental (B = −5.4, s.e. = 0.9, p < 0.001) and physical functioning (B = −8.2, s.e. = 1.1, p < 0.001) at baseline were lower in individuals who developed a first depressive episode after baseline compared with healthy controls. This effect was most pronounced in people who developed a severe episode. No firm evidence of scarring in mental or physical functioning was found. In unadjusted analyses, physical functioning was still lowered post-morbidly (B = −5.1, s.e. = 2.1, p = 0.014), but this effect disappeared in adjusted analyses.
Functional impairments after remission of depression seem to reflect a pre-existing vulnerability rather than a scar.
A substantial proportion of persons with mental disorders seek treatment from complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) professionals. However, data on how CAM contacts vary across countries, mental disorders and their severity, and health care settings is largely lacking. The aim was therefore to investigate the prevalence of contacts with CAM providers in a large cross-national sample of persons with 12-month mental disorders.
In the World Mental Health Surveys, the Composite International Diagnostic Interview was administered to determine the presence of past 12 month mental disorders in 138 801 participants aged 18–100 derived from representative general population samples. Participants were recruited between 2001 and 2012. Rates of self-reported CAM contacts for each of the 28 surveys across 25 countries and 12 mental disorder groups were calculated for all persons with past 12-month mental disorders. Mental disorders were grouped into mood disorders, anxiety disorders or behavioural disorders, and further divided by severity levels. Satisfaction with conventional care was also compared with CAM contact satisfaction.
An estimated 3.6% (standard error 0.2%) of persons with a past 12-month mental disorder reported a CAM contact, which was two times higher in high-income countries (4.6%; standard error 0.3%) than in low- and middle-income countries (2.3%; standard error 0.2%). CAM contacts were largely comparable for different disorder types, but particularly high in persons receiving conventional care (8.6–17.8%). CAM contacts increased with increasing mental disorder severity. Among persons receiving specialist mental health care, CAM contacts were reported by 14.0% for severe mood disorders, 16.2% for severe anxiety disorders and 22.5% for severe behavioural disorders. Satisfaction with care was comparable with respect to CAM contacts (78.3%) and conventional care (75.6%) in persons that received both.
CAM contacts are common in persons with severe mental disorders, in high-income countries, and in persons receiving conventional care. Our findings support the notion of CAM as largely complementary but are in contrast to suggestions that this concerns person with only mild, transient complaints. There was no indication that persons were less satisfied by CAM visits than by receiving conventional care. We encourage health care professionals in conventional settings to openly discuss the care patients are receiving, whether conventional or not, and their reasons for doing so.
Depressive patients can present with complex and different symptom patterns in clinical care. Of these, some may report patterns that are inconsistent with typical patterns of depressive symptoms. This study aimed to evaluate the validity of person-fit statistics to identify inconsistent symptom reports and to assess the clinical usefulness of providing clinicians with person-fit score feedback during depression assessment.
Inconsistent symptom reports on the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology Self-Report (IDS-SR) were investigated quantitatively with person-fit statistics for both intake and follow-up measurements in the Groningen University Center of Psychiatry (n = 2036). Subsequently, to investigate the causes and clinical usefulness of on-the-fly person-fit alerts, qualitative follow-up assessments were conducted with three psychiatrists about 20 of their patients that were randomly selected.
Inconsistent symptom reports at intake (12.3%) were predominantly characterized by reporting of severe symptoms (e.g. psychomotor slowing) without mild symptoms (e.g. irritability). Person-fit scores at intake and follow-up were positively correlated (r = 0.45). Qualitative interviews with psychiatrists resulted in an explanation for the inconsistent response behavior (e.g. complex comorbidity, somatic complaints, and neurological abnormalities) for 19 of 20 patients. Psychiatrists indicated that if provided directly after the assessment, a person-fit alert would have led to new insights in 60%, and be reason for discussion with the patient in 75% of the cases.
Providing clinicians with automated feedback when inconsistent symptom reports occur is informative and can be used to support clinical decision-making.
Literature has shown that obesity, metabolic syndrome and inflammation are associated with depression, however, evidence suggests that these associations are specific to atypical depression. Which of the atypical symptoms are driving associations with obesity-related outcomes and inflammation is unknown. We evaluated associations between individual symptoms of depression (both atypical and non-atypical) and body mass index (BMI), metabolic syndrome components and inflammatory markers.
We included 808 persons with a current diagnosis of depression participating in the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (67% female, mean age 41.6 years). Depressive symptoms were derived from the Composite International Diagnostic Interview and the Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology. Univariable and multivariable regression analyses adjusting for sex, age, educational level, depression severity, current smoking, physical activity, anti-inflammatory medication use, and statin use were performed.
Increased appetite was positively associated with BMI, number of metabolic syndrome components, waist circumference, C-reactive protein and tumor necrosis factor-α. Decreased appetite was negatively associated with BMI and waist circumference. Psychomotor retardation was positively associated with BMI, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and triglycerides, and insomnia with number of metabolic syndrome components.
Increased appetite – in the context of a depressive episode – was the only symptom that was associated with both metabolic as well as inflammatory markers, and could be a key feature of an immuno-metabolic form of depression. This immuno-metabolic depression should be considered in clinical trials evaluating effectiveness of compounds targeting metabolic and inflammatory pathways or lifestyle interventions.
Research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) course finds a substantial proportion of cases remit within 6 months, a majority within 2 years, and a substantial minority persists for many years. Results are inconsistent about pre-trauma predictors.
The WHO World Mental Health surveys assessed lifetime DSM-IV PTSD presence-course after one randomly-selected trauma, allowing retrospective estimates of PTSD duration. Prior traumas, childhood adversities (CAs), and other lifetime DSM-IV mental disorders were examined as predictors using discrete-time person-month survival analysis among the 1575 respondents with lifetime PTSD.
20%, 27%, and 50% of cases recovered within 3, 6, and 24 months and 77% within 10 years (the longest duration allowing stable estimates). Time-related recall bias was found largely for recoveries after 24 months. Recovery was weakly related to most trauma types other than very low [odds-ratio (OR) 0.2–0.3] early-recovery (within 24 months) associated with purposefully injuring/torturing/killing and witnessing atrocities and very low later-recovery (25+ months) associated with being kidnapped. The significant ORs for prior traumas, CAs, and mental disorders were generally inconsistent between early- and later-recovery models. Cross-validated versions of final models nonetheless discriminated significantly between the 50% of respondents with highest and lowest predicted probabilities of both early-recovery (66–55% v. 43%) and later-recovery (75–68% v. 39%).
We found PTSD recovery trajectories similar to those in previous studies. The weak associations of pre-trauma factors with recovery, also consistent with previous studies, presumably are due to stronger influences of post-trauma factors.
Sexual assault is a global concern with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), one of the common sequelae. Early intervention can help prevent PTSD, making identification of those at high risk for the disorder a priority. Lack of representative sampling of both sexual assault survivors and sexual assaults in prior studies might have reduced the ability to develop accurate prediction models for early identification of high-risk sexual assault survivors.
Data come from 12 face-to-face, cross-sectional surveys of community-dwelling adults conducted in 11 countries. Analysis was based on the data from the 411 women from these surveys for whom sexual assault was the randomly selected lifetime traumatic event (TE). Seven classes of predictors were assessed: socio-demographics, characteristics of the assault, the respondent's retrospective perception that she could have prevented the assault, other prior lifetime TEs, exposure to childhood family adversities and prior mental disorders.
Prevalence of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV (DSM-IV) PTSD associated with randomly selected sexual assaults was 20.2%. PTSD was more common for repeated than single-occurrence victimization and positively associated with prior TEs and childhood adversities. Respondent's perception that she could have prevented the assault interacted with history of mental disorder such that it reduced odds of PTSD, but only among women without prior disorders (odds ratio 0.2, 95% confidence interval 0.1–0.9). The final model estimated that 40.3% of women with PTSD would be found among the 10% with the highest predicted risk.
Whether counterfactual preventability cognitions are adaptive may depend on mental health history. Predictive modelling may be useful in targeting high-risk women for preventive interventions.
In April 2015, Finnish public health authorities alerted European Union member states of a possible multi-country Salmonella enteritidis outbreak linked to an international youth ice-hockey tournament in Latvia. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), Finnish and Latvian authorities initiated an outbreak investigation to identify the source. The investigation included a description of the outbreak, retrospective cohort study, microbiological investigation and trace-back. We identified 154 suspected and 96 confirmed cases from seven countries. Consuming Bolognese sauce and salad at a specific event arena significantly increased the risk of illness. Isolates from Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian cases had an identical multiple-locus variable-number of tandem repeats analysis-profile (3-10-6-4-1). Breaches in hygiene and food storing practices in the specific arena's kitchen allowing for cross-contamination were identified. Riga Cup participants were recommended to follow good hand hygiene and consume only freshly cooked foods. This investigation demonstrated that the use of ECDC's Epidemic Intelligence Information System for Food- and Waterborne Diseases and Zoonoses platform was essential to progress the investigation by facilitating information exchange between countries. Cross-border data sharing to perform whole genome sequencing gave relevant information regarding the source of the outbreak.
Although specific phobia is highly prevalent, associated with impairment, and an important risk factor for the development of other mental disorders, cross-national epidemiological data are scarce, especially from low- and middle-income countries. This paper presents epidemiological data from 22 low-, lower-middle-, upper-middle- and high-income countries.
Data came from 25 representative population-based surveys conducted in 22 countries (2001–2011) as part of the World Health Organization World Mental Health Surveys initiative (n = 124 902). The presence of specific phobia as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition was evaluated using the World Health Organization Composite International Diagnostic Interview.
The cross-national lifetime and 12-month prevalence rates of specific phobia were, respectively, 7.4% and 5.5%, being higher in females (9.8 and 7.7%) than in males (4.9% and 3.3%) and higher in high- and higher-middle-income countries than in low-/lower-middle-income countries. The median age of onset was young (8 years). Of the 12-month patients, 18.7% reported severe role impairment (13.3–21.9% across income groups) and 23.1% reported any treatment (9.6–30.1% across income groups). Lifetime co-morbidity was observed in 60.5% of those with lifetime specific phobia, with the onset of specific phobia preceding the other disorder in most cases (72.6%). Interestingly, rates of impairment, treatment use and co-morbidity increased with the number of fear subtypes.
Specific phobia is common and associated with impairment in a considerable percentage of cases. Importantly, specific phobia often precedes the onset of other mental disorders, making it a possible early-life indicator of psychopathology vulnerability.
Although there is robust evidence linking childhood adversities (CAs) and an increased risk for psychotic experiences (PEs), little is known about whether these associations vary across the life-course and whether mental disorders that emerge prior to PEs explain these associations.
We assessed CAs, PEs and DSM-IV mental disorders in 23 998 adults in the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. Discrete-time survival analysis was used to investigate the associations between CAs and PEs, and the influence of mental disorders on these associations using multivariate logistic models.
Exposure to CAs was common, and those who experienced any CAs had increased odds of later PEs [odds ratio (OR) 2.3, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.9–2.6]. CAs reflecting maladaptive family functioning (MFF), including abuse, neglect, and parent maladjustment, exhibited the strongest associations with PE onset in all life-course stages. Sexual abuse exhibited a strong association with PE onset during childhood (OR 8.5, 95% CI 3.6–20.2), whereas Other CA types were associated with PE onset in adolescence. Associations of other CAs with PEs disappeared in adolescence after adjustment for prior-onset mental disorders. The population attributable risk proportion (PARP) for PEs associated with all CAs was 31% (24% for MFF).
Exposure to CAs is associated with PE onset throughout the life-course, although sexual abuse is most strongly associated with childhood-onset PEs. The presence of mental disorders prior to the onset of PEs does not fully explain these associations. The large PARPs suggest that preventing CAs could lead to a meaningful reduction in PEs in the population.
In search of empirical classifications of depression and anxiety, most subtyping studies focus solely on symptoms and do so within a single disorder. This study aimed to identify and validate cross-diagnostic subtypes by simultaneously considering symptoms of depression and anxiety, and disability measures.
A large cohort of adults (Lifelines, n = 73 403) had a full assessment of 16 symptoms of mood and anxiety disorders, and measurement of physical, social and occupational disability. The best-fitting subtyping model was identified by comparing different hybrid mixture models with and without disability covariates on fit criteria in an independent test sample. The best model's classes were compared across a range of external variables.
The best-fitting Mixed Measurement Item Response Theory model with disability covariates identified five classes. Accounting for disability improved differentiation between people reporting isolated non-specific symptoms [‘Somatic’ (13.0%), and ‘Worried’ (14.0%)] and psychopathological symptoms [‘Subclinical’ (8.8%), and ‘Clinical’ (3.3%)]. Classes showed distinct associations with clinically relevant external variables [e.g. somatization: odds ratio (OR) 8.1–12.3, and chronic stress: OR 3.7–4.4]. The Subclinical class reported symptomatology at subthreshold levels while experiencing disability. No pure depression or anxiety, but only mixed classes were found.
An empirical classification model, incorporating both symptoms and disability identified clearly distinct cross-diagnostic subtypes, indicating that diagnostic nets should be cast wider than current phenomenology-based categorical systems.
Research on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following natural and human-made disasters has been undertaken for more than three decades. Although PTSD prevalence estimates vary widely, most are in the 20–40% range in disaster-focused studies but considerably lower (3–5%) in the few general population epidemiological surveys that evaluated disaster-related PTSD as part of a broader clinical assessment. The World Mental Health (WMH) Surveys provide an opportunity to examine disaster-related PTSD in representative general population surveys across a much wider range of sites than in previous studies.
Although disaster-related PTSD was evaluated in 18 WMH surveys, only six in high-income countries had enough respondents for a risk factor analysis. Predictors considered were socio-demographics, disaster characteristics, and pre-disaster vulnerability factors (childhood family adversities, prior traumatic experiences, and prior mental disorders).
Disaster-related PTSD prevalence was 0.0–3.8% among adult (ages 18+) WMH respondents and was significantly related to high education, serious injury or death of someone close, forced displacement from home, and pre-existing vulnerabilities (prior childhood family adversities, other traumas, and mental disorders). Of PTSD cases 44.5% were among the 5% of respondents classified by the model as having highest PTSD risk.
Disaster-related PTSD is uncommon in high-income WMH countries. Risk factors are consistent with prior research: severity of exposure, history of prior stress exposure, and pre-existing mental disorders. The high concentration of PTSD among respondents with high predicted risk in our model supports the focus of screening assessments that identify disaster survivors most in need of preventive interventions.