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Obesity is highly prevalent and disabling, especially in individuals with severe mental illness including bipolar disorders (BD). The brain is a target organ for both obesity and BD. Yet, we do not understand how cortical brain alterations in BD and obesity interact.
We obtained body mass index (BMI) and MRI-derived regional cortical thickness, surface area from 1231 BD and 1601 control individuals from 13 countries within the ENIGMA-BD Working Group. We jointly modeled the statistical effects of BD and BMI on brain structure using mixed effects and tested for interaction and mediation. We also investigated the impact of medications on the BMI-related associations.
BMI and BD additively impacted the structure of many of the same brain regions. Both BMI and BD were negatively associated with cortical thickness, but not surface area. In most regions the number of jointly used psychiatric medication classes remained associated with lower cortical thickness when controlling for BMI. In a single region, fusiform gyrus, about a third of the negative association between number of jointly used psychiatric medications and cortical thickness was mediated by association between the number of medications and higher BMI.
We confirmed consistent associations between higher BMI and lower cortical thickness, but not surface area, across the cerebral mantle, in regions which were also associated with BD. Higher BMI in people with BD indicated more pronounced brain alterations. BMI is important for understanding the neuroanatomical changes in BD and the effects of psychiatric medications on the brain.
We previously demonstrated that three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the impact on individuals with treatment-resistant psychotic disorders was modest. Here, we examined and compared the psychological and social impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the same patient cohort 12 months after their initial study engagement.
Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 54 individuals (85.7% response rate) between June 12 and July 29, 2021, 12 months after their initial interviews. Participants’ subjective experience of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on anxiety symptoms, social and vocational functioning was measured utilising the same Likert scales at both time points. Anxiety symptoms were additionally measured using subjective (Beck Anxiety Inventory) and objective (Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HARS)) psychometric instruments. Paired t-tests or Wilcoxon ranked tests compared parametric or non-parametric data over time. Free-text responses pertaining to participants’ perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 were grouped into themes.
A minor increase in anxiety symptoms was demonstrated utilising the HARS (1.9 points, z = 3.017, p = 0.003), with a minimal increase in depressive symptoms noted using Likert ratings (0.8 points, z = 2.119, p = 0.034). Five themes were identified with the most prevalent being (i) positivity regarding vaccination, (ii) social isolation from family members and (iii) looking forward to post-COVID-19 ‘normality’. However, negative views pertaining to the psychosocial impact of COVID-19 and vaccination were additionally reported.
No significant overall clinical change in symptomatology or functioning over time was noted.The study demonstrated that positive views regarding vaccination and optimism for the future were evident for some participants.
Over the past three decades, numerous cross-sectional neuroimaging studies have reported neuroanatomical abnormalities in patients with bipolar disorder compared with healthy volunteers. These studies have highlighted those anatomical regions likely to harbor pathophysiological abnormalities underpinning the disorder. However, there are inconsistencies in several of the findings reported, and the precise etiology of structural brain abnormalities remains unclear – for example, the extent to which neuroanatomical abnormalities are driving illness development as distinct from consequential to its treatment.
Lithium (Li) is the gold standard treatment for bipolar disorder (BD). However, its mechanisms of action remain unknown but include neurotrophic effects. We here investigated the influence of Li on cortical and local grey matter (GM) volumes in a large international sample of patients with BD and healthy controls (HC).
We analyzed high-resolution T1-weighted structural magnetic resonance imaging scans of 271 patients with BD type I (120 undergoing Li) and 316 HC. Cortical and local GM volumes were compared using voxel-wise approaches with voxel-based morphometry and SIENAX using FSL. We used multiple linear regression models to test the influence of Li on cortical and local GM volumes, taking into account potential confounding factors such as a history of alcohol misuse.
Patients taking Li had greater cortical GM volume than patients without. Patients undergoing Li had greater regional GM volumes in the right middle frontal gyrus, the right anterior cingulate gyrus, and the left fusiform gyrus in comparison with patients not taking Li.
Our results in a large multicentric sample support the hypothesis that Li could exert neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects limiting pathological GM atrophy in key brain regions associated with BD.
Involuntary admission can be traumatic and is associated with negative attitudes that persist after the episode of illness has abated.
We aimed to prospectively assess satisfaction with care at the points of involuntary admission and symptomatic recovery, and identify their sociodemographic, clinical and service experience predictors.
Levels of satisfaction with care, and clinical and sociodemographic variables were obtained from a representative cohort of 263 patients at the point of involuntary admission and from 155 of these patients 3 months after termination of the involuntary admission. Data were analysed with multiple linear regression modelling.
Higher baseline awareness of illness (B = 0.19, P < 0.001) and older age (B = 0.05, P = 0.001) were associated with more satisfaction with care at baseline and follow-up. Transition to greater satisfaction with care was associated with improvements in awareness of illness (B = 0.13, P < 0.001) and in symptoms (B = 0.05, P = 0.02), as well as older age (B = 0.04, P = 0.01). Objective coercive experiences were not associated with variation in satisfaction with care.
There is wide variation in satisfaction with coercive care. Greater satisfaction with care is positively associated with clinical variables such as increased awareness of illness.
A theoretical model of individuals' experiences before, during and after involuntary admission has not yet been established.
To develop an understanding of individuals' experiences over the course of the involuntary admission process.
Fifty individuals were recruited through purposive and theoretical sampling and interviewed 3 months after their involuntary admission. Analyses were conducted using a Straussian grounded theory approach.
The ‘theory of preserving control’ (ToPC) emerged from individuals' accounts of how they adapted to the experience of involuntary admission. The ToPC explains how individuals manage to reclaim control over their emotional, personal and social lives and consists of three categories: ‘losing control’, ‘regaining control’ and ‘maintaining control’, and a number of related subcategories.
Involuntary admission triggers a multifaceted process of control preservation. Clinicians need to develop therapeutic approaches that enable individuals to regain and maintain control over the course of their involuntary admission.
There is increasing evidence for shared genetic susceptibility between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Although genetic variants only convey subtle increases in risk individually, their combination into a polygenic risk score constitutes a strong disease predictor.
To investigate whether schizophrenia and bipolar disorder polygenic risk scores can distinguish people with broadly defined psychosis and their unaffected relatives from controls.
Using the latest Psychiatric Genomics Consortium data, we calculated schizophrenia and bipolar disorder polygenic risk scores for 1168 people with psychosis, 552 unaffected relatives and 1472 controls.
Patients with broadly defined psychosis had dramatic increases in schizophrenia and bipolar polygenic risk scores, as did their relatives, albeit to a lesser degree. However, the accuracy of predictive models was modest.
Although polygenic risk scores are not ready for clinical use, it is hoped that as they are refined they could help towards risk reduction advice and early interventions for psychosis.
Declaration of interest
R.M.M. has received honoraria for lectures from Janssen, Lundbeck, Lilly, Otsuka and Sunovian.
We aimed to evaluate clinical note documentation of valproate prescribing and establish the level of knowledge among women of child-bearing potential regarding valproate-associated adverse effects, including teratogenesis, in a regional Irish mental health service.
Of the 42 women prescribed sodium valproate, 21.4% (n = 9) had some documentation in relation to associated risks and 33.3% (n = 14) described an awareness of these risks from consultation with their treating mental health team. On clinical interview, 9.5% (n = 4) of individuals with clear documentation of the risks of teratogenesis described no such awareness. Augmentation with lithium was associated with greater awareness of the teratogenic risks of valproate (P = 0.011).
A clear description of the teratogenic risks of valproate and potential management strategies, including advice regarding contraception and supplementation with folic acid, should be clearly documented and provided repeatedly and in context to all women of child-bearing age who are prescribed valproate.
Caring for someone with a mental illness is increasingly occurring within the community. As a result, family members who fulfil a caregiving role may experience substantial levels of burden and psychological distress. This study investigates the level of burden and psychological distress reported by caregivers after the patient's admission.
This study found that the overall level of burden and psychological distress experienced by caregivers did not differ according to the patient's legal status. However, the caregivers of those who were voluntarily admitted supervised the person to a significantly greater extent than the caregivers of those who were involuntarily admitted. Approximately 15% of caregivers revealed high levels of psychological distress.
This study may emphasise a need for mental health professionals to examine the circumstances of caregivers, particularly of those caring for patients who are voluntarily admitted, a year after the patient's admission.
Twin studies have lacked statistical power to apply advanced genetic modelling techniques to the search for cognitive endophenotypes for bipolar disorder.
To quantify the shared genetic variability between bipolar disorder and cognitive measures.
Structural equation modelling was performed on cognitive data collected from 331 twins/siblings of varying genetic relatedness, disease status and concordance for bipolar disorder.
Using a parsimonious AE model, verbal episodic and spatial working memory showed statistically significant genetic correlations with bipolar disorder (rg = |0.23|–|0.27|), which lost statistical significance after covarying for affective symptoms. Using an ACE model, IQ and visual-spatial learning showed statistically significant genetic correlations with bipolar disorder (rg = |0.51|–|1.00|), which remained significant after covarying for affective symptoms.
Verbal episodic and spatial working memory capture a modest fraction of the bipolar diathesis. IQ and visual-spatial learning may tap into genetic substrates of non-affective symptomatology in bipolar disorder.
To measure patient satisfaction with psychiatric outpatient care in a university hospital setting. We wished to ascertain whether there was an association between increased patient satisfaction and background factors such as demographic details, diagnosis and patient preference for outpatient treatment in a hospital or a community setting.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of individuals’ satisfaction levels with their outpatient treatment. Outpatients were invited to complete the Client Satisfaction Questionnaire-8 (CSQ-8), a well validated self-report instrument, along with some additional questions on their attitudes to the service.
One hundred and sixty-two respondents had a mean total CSQ-8 score of 26.7 (s.d. = 4.6) indicating a moderate to high level of satisfaction with outpatient care. Ninety percent of patients were satisfied with their psychiatric outpatient care. There were no significant sociodemographic or clinical associations with satisfaction levels identified. Sixty one percent of patients were in favour of retaining outpatient care in the university hospital.
This study demonstrates high satisfaction levels with psychiatric outpatient care in a university hospital setting. The majority of patients expressed a preference for maintaining outpatient care in the general hospital setting, rather than transferring to a stand-alone mental health facility in a suburban setting.
A cross-sectional study to ascertain levels of personal and perceived public mental illness stigma in a university student population and the association between the respective levels of stigma and help-seeking intention. An adaptation of the Discrimination-Devaluation scale was used.
A total of 735 students participated in the study (response rate 77%). There were higher mean perceived public stigma levels than personal stigma levels. Perceived public stigma was not significantly associated with future non-help-seeking intention (odds ratio (OR) = 0.871, P = 0.428). Personal stigma was significantly associated with a decreased likelihood of future help-seeking intention (OR = 1.44, P = 0.043). Being younger than 25, having no history of or treatment for mental illness and having no personal contact with someone with a history of mental illness were all associated with higher personal stigma levels.
This study indicates that personal stigma as distinct from perceived public stigma is a significant barrier to mental health utilisation for a student population and future stigma reduction campaigns could strategically focus on this.
To ascertain the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in individuals with chronic enduring mental illness attending community psychiatric day centres, and to identify the prevalence of individual cardiometabolic risk factors and the rate of screening for these abnormalities. One hundred participants with chronic enduring mental illness were recruited and investigated using physical assessments and comprehensive laboratory testing.
Of the 100 participants recruited, 55% met the criteria for metabolic syndrome. There were similar prevalence rates between those with psychotic and non-psychotic disorders. Forty-four per cent of the patients had not been screened for metabolic parameters in the previous 12 months, and 43% of these met criteria for metabolic syndrome.
Chronic enduring mental illness is associated with high prevalence rates of metabolic syndrome regardless of diagnosis or use of antipsychotic medication. A substantial proportion of this standard cohort of patients attending day centres carry cardiovascular risk factors that remain unidentified, but should be screened for and intensively managed.
Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine the views of both individuals attending the mental health services (attendees) and mental health professionals in relation to how attendees and staff should be addressed, how attendees should be described, and how staff should be attired.
Methods: We surveyed 132 attendees of the West Galway Mental Health Services and 97 mental health professionals in relation to how they prefer to be addressed (first name/ title and surname/ no preference) the description of attendees (patient / client / service user / no preference) and the attire of mental health staff (casual / smart / no preference). We also ascertained how mental health professionals believed attendees would view these issues.
Results: Attendees preferred to be described as patients rather than clients or service users by all mental health professionals, with 46-54% of attendees preferring this term “patient” compared to 14-17% preferring the term “client”, 11-13% preferring the term “service user” and 20-25% having no preference (p < 0.001). They preferred to address doctors by their title and surname (61%) but other mental health professionals by their first names (60-69%) (p < 0.001). Attendees had a strong preference for being addressed by their first names by all the mental health professionals (86-91%) (p < 0.001). Doctors preferred to be attired formally (88%), compared to nurses (50%) or other mental health professionals (42%) (p = 0.002). Attendees had no preference in relation to the attire of doctors but preferred other mental health professionals to be attired informally.
Conclusions: The study demonstrates that despite the increased use of several non-medical terms to describe attendees of mental health services; the preferred term of attendees of the psychiatric services in both in-patient and out-patient settings remains ‘patient’. However, this is not universally the case, and the ascertainment of the preference of the attendee at the first encounter with the health professional should be ascertained. We also demonstrated that attendees preferences in relation to both “dress and address” of doctors is significantly different to their preference for nurses or other allied mental health professionals; which may reflect a wish for a less familiar and more formal interaction with doctors.
Objectives: The Mental Health Act (MHA) 2001 provides the legislative structure in Ireland for the involuntary admission and treatment, including with ECT, of patients suffering from mental disorders. A recent Seanad Bill proposed removing the option of administering ECT to involuntary patients who do not provide informed consent. This controversial issue has stimulated extensive media and stakeholder debate. In this study we explored the attitudes of consultant psychiatrists towards prescribing ECT for involuntary patients.
Methods: We compiled a current list of consultant psychiatrists attached to approved centres nationwide. We sent a study specific questionnaire to consultants of all adult psychiatry specialties.
Results: From the 249 individualised anonymous questionnaires posted, 164 (66%) were returned and analysed. When clinically indicated for involuntary patients willing to consent to ECT treatment, 159 (97%) consultants stated that they would and three (2%) would not prescribe ECT. For involuntary patients who lack capacity and are unable to consent, 157 (96%) consultant psychiatrists stated that they would and six (4%) that they would not prescribe ECT. For involuntary patients who have capacity to consent but are unwilling to do so, 52 (32%) consultant psychiatrists stated they would and 104 (63%) would not prescribe ECT.
Conclusions: The overwhelming majority of consultant psychiatrists would prescribe ECT for involuntary patients who are unable to consent to this treatment. Divergent attitudes emerged for treating patients who are unwilling to consent, with most consultant psychiatrists stating they would not prescribe ECT for this patient group.
To assess attitudes of general practitioners (GPs) on who should be responsible for managing metabolic dysregulations associated with the use of antipsychotics prescribed by psychiatrists. A total of 121 GPs in West Galway catchment area were surveyed using a simple questionnaire.
A total of 104 GPs responded (86% response rate). The vast majority of responders (82%) believed that medical management should be provided within primary care. However, 46% indicated that initial screening and simple non-pharmacological management should be provided by mental health services.
The vast majority of GPs appear willing to take over the medical management of metabolic dysregulations emerging from antipsychotic prescribing in secondary care. Clearly defined roles for mental health services and primary care in the management of metabolic complications are of paramount importance, and individual mental health services should implement protocols for screening, non-pharmacological management and referral to primary care.
Benzylpiperazine is a psychotropic compound that has been widely available until recently from licensed premises such as ‘head shops’. This report describes a case of a 48 year old man with schizophrenia who developed an acute delirium secondary to benzylpiperazine use, although he initially presented as a diagnostic conundrum. Investigation of his delirium unearthed a temporal meningioma which appears to be an incidental finding. This is the first documented case of delirium due to benzylpiperazine use. Benzylpiperazine has significant abuse potential and psychiatric complications. Its sale and possession have recently been made illegal in Ireland, which may limit its abuse in the future.
This study was conducted to ascertain the clinical characteristics of patients who repeatedly attend accident and emergency (A&E) department seeking psychiatric assessment and care. We identified 24 individuals who attended frequently and compared them with 72 matched single attenders using data abstracted by chart review.
Individuals who attended frequently made up 5.3% of all patients who attended the A&E department for psychiatric care but accounted for 19% of all such presentations. Compared with controls, they were younger at first psychiatric contact and had higher rates of schizophrenia and psychiatric admissions.
A small but distinctive group of patients repeatedly seek and obtain hospital-based psychiatric care. Early identification of these patients and targeting them with effective, community-oriented strategies, such as home treatment, could improve their quality of life and prognoses as well as reduce the cost of their care.
Objectives: Prescription writing is a basic clinical skill for all doctors; however, errors in prescriptions are frequent and can result in significant harm to patients both from sub-therapeutic dosages and from over prescribing. This study examines the prescribing practices of ‘as required’ medications in an acute psychiatric inpatient unit attached to a university teaching hospital.
Method: A clinical audit was conducted to examine both prescribing practices of ‘as required’ medication and recording of ‘as required’ medication in nursing notes. A series of educational interventions were undertaken in an attempt to improve prescribing practices in relation to ‘as required’ medication and two further audits were completed to assess any change in practice and whether such changes were sustained.
Results: Psycho-education led to an improvement in a number of prescribing practices, including increased generic prescribing, improved documentation of indications for medication administration and increased writing of medication dosages in acceptable abbreviations. These benefits were maintained four months after the education interventions. Rates of documenting the frequency of medication correctly and recording the administration of medication in nursing notes remained low.
Conclusion: Our audit cycle clearly demonstrates that education can ameliorate prescribing practices and these improvements were maintained four months after education was delivered. However some aspects of prescribing practice remained deficient, and more focused educational interventions are required in these areas.
Objectives: To assess whether transition from the Mental Treatment Act (MTA), 1945 to the Mental Health Act (MHA), 2001 has had any impact on the clinical profile of patients in the West Galway Mental Health Services who are admitted on an involuntary basis.
Methods: Data were collected from clinical records in relation to all those individuals residing in the West Galway Mental Health Services who were admitted involuntarily in the 12 months prior to and subsequent to the introduction of the MHA 2001.
Results: A total of 175 individuals were included in this study (n = 91 - MTA 1945; and n = 84 - MHA 2001). No significant differences were found between the two groups in relation to demographic data, rates of involuntary detention or duration of involuntary detention. The applicant was less likely to be a family member under the MHA 2001 (54%) than the MTA 1945 (85%).
Conclusions: Transition from the MTA 1945 to the MHA 2001 has had minimal impact on the admission rates, clinical profile or duration of detention of patients admitted involuntarily in the West Galway Mental Health Services.