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While impaired memory and altered cortisol secretion are characteristic features of major depression, much less is known regarding the impact of antidepressant medication. We examined whether the cortisol awakening response (CAR) is increased in depressed patients with and without medication compared with healthy controls (HC) and whether CAR is associated with memory function in each group.
We examined 21 patients with major depression without medication, 20 depressed patients on antidepressant treatment, and 41 age-, sex- and education-matched healthy subjects. We tested verbal (Auditory Verbal Learning Task) and visuospatial (Rey figure) memory and measured CAR on two consecutive days.
Patient groups did not differ in severity of depression. We found a significant effect of group (p = 0.03) for CAR. Unmedicated patients exhibited a greater CAR compared with medicated patients (p = 0.04) with no differences between patient groups and HC. We found a significant effect of group for verbal (p = 0.03) and non-verbal memory (p = 0.04). Unmedicated patients performed worse compared with medicated patients and HC in both memory domains. Medicated patients and HC did not differ. Regression analyses revealed a negative association between CAR and memory function in depressed patients, but not in HC.
While in unmedicated depressed patients the magnitude of CAR is associated with impaired memory, medicated patients showed a smaller CAR and unimpaired cognitive function compared with HC. Our findings are compatible with the idea that antidepressants reduce CAR and partially restore memory function even if depressive psychopathology is still present.
Stress and cortisol administration are known to have impairing effects on memory retrieval in healthy humans. These effects are reported to be altered in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but they have not yet been investigated in borderline personality disorder (BPD).
In a placebo-controlled cross-over study, 71 women with BPD and 40 healthy controls received either placebo or 10 mg of hydrocortisone orally before undertaking a declarative memory retrieval task (word list learning) and an autobiographical memory test (AMT). A working memory test was also applied.
Overall, opposing effects of cortisol on memory were observed when comparing patients with controls. In controls, cortisol had impairing effects on memory retrieval whereas in BPD patients cortisol had enhancing effects on memory retrieval of words, autobiographical memory and working memory. These effects were most pronounced for specificity of autobiographical memory retrieval. Patients with BPD alone and those with co-morbid PTSD showed this effect. We also found that co-morbid MDD influenced the cortisol effects: in this subgroup (BPD + MDD) the effects of cortisol on memory were absent.
The present results demonstrate beneficial effects of acute cortisol elevations on hippocampal-mediated memory processes in BPD. The absence of these effects in patients with co-morbid MDD suggests that these patients differ from other BPD patients in terms of their sensitivity to glucocorticoids (GCs).
Although some evidence suggests that borderline personality disorder (BPD) is primarily a disorder of the emotion regulation system, findings remain inconsistent. One potential explanation for this is the moderating role of dissociation.
In this study, 33 female subjects with BPD and 26 healthy controls (HC; matched by education level and nicotine intake) were presented idiographic aversive, standard unpleasant and neutral scripts. Modulation of startle reflex and electrodermal responses (skin conductance level; SCL) were measured during imagery of emotional and neutral scripts. Additionally, self-reports of emotional experience (valence and arousal) and present-state dissociation were assessed.
Patients with BPD showed elevated levels of dissociative experiences during testing. Present-state dissociation mediated group differences in SCL and startle response between the HC and BPD groups.
These results suggest that careful attention must be paid to the moderating effect of dissociative symptoms on the psychophysiological responses of BPD patients. Furthermore, the findings have important implications for the assessment and treatment of BPD, including the need to carefully assess BPD patients for dissociative symptoms and to incorporate the treatment of dissociation.
Attempts to reduce high utilisation of mental health inpatient care by targeting the critical time of hospital discharge are rare. In this study, we test the effect of a needs-oriented discharge planning intervention on number and duration of psychiatric inpatient treatment episodes (primary), as well as on outpatient service use, needs, psychopathology, depression and quality of life (secondary).
Four hundred and ninety-one adults with a defined high utilisation of mental health care gave informed consent to participate in a multicentre RCT carried out at five psychiatric hospitals in Germany (Düsseldorf, Greifswald, Regensburg, Ravensburg and Günzburg). Subjects allocated to the intervention group were offered a manualised needs-led discharge planning and monitoring intervention with two intertwined sessions administered at hospital discharge and 3 months thereafter. Outcomes were assessed at four measurement points during a period of 18 months following discharge.
Intention-to-treat analyses showed no effect of the intervention on primary or secondary outcomes.
Process evaluation pending, the intervention cannot be recommended for implementation in routine care. Other approaches, e.g. team-based community care, might be more beneficial for people with persistent and severe mental illness.
Continued study  of pulsed electron beam annealing (PEBA) of thin silicon films deposited by LPCVD on silicon substrates has shown that a thin SiO2 interface remains intact during melt. PEBA of ion-implant damage in silicon has been shown to correlate dopant activation with melt depth. Also, PEBA was superior to thermal annealing of ion-implant damage in processing solar cells in some types of polycrystalline silicon material.
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