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Antidepressants are frequently prescribed in patients with psychotic disorders, but little is known about their effects in routine clinical practice. The objective was to investigate the prescribing patterns of antidepressants in relation to the course of depressive symptoms in patients with psychotic disorders.
A cohort of 214 Dutch patients with psychotic disorders received two assessments of somatic and psychiatric health, including a clinician-rated screening for depressive symptoms, as part of annual routine outcome monitoring.
Depressive symptoms were prevalent among 43% (93) of the patients. Antidepressants were prescribed for 40% (86) of the patients and the majority 83% (71) continued this therapy after one year. Multivariable analysis showed that patients with more severe psychopathology had a higher risk to develop depressive symptoms the following year (OR [95% CI]=0.953 [0.912–0.995]). For patients with depressive symptoms at baseline, polypharmacy was a potential risk factor to keep having depressive symptoms (OR [95% CI]=1.593 [1.123–2.261]). Antidepressant use was not an independent predictor in both analyses.
Routine outcome monitoring in patients with psychotic disorders revealed a high prevalence of depressive symptoms. Antidepressants were frequently prescribed and continued in routine clinical practice.
Patients with schizophrenia have lower IQ as compared to the general population. Furthermore, cognitive decline has been observed even before the onset of the first episode psychosis. Whether premorbid functioning and IQ also predict long-term remission status is not yet known.
1057 patients with schizophrenia and related disorders were included in GROUP project. Premorbid Adjustment Scale (PAS), IQ and Positive and Negative Symptom Scale (PANSS) were obtained at inclusion. After 6 years 691 patients were re-examined. On 530 patients we were able to determine remission status using the PANSS remission tool. Patients were divided into two groups; those who were in remission (Rem) and those who were not (NR). Groups were compared on PAS and IQ using independent sample t-tests groups.
Analyses revealed that patients who dropped out during the follow-up of 6 years had lower IQ, and higher PANSS scores as compared to those who were remained in the study. After 6 years 58% of patients were in remission. Remission status after 6 years was associated with IQ and premorbid adjustment in childhood and adolescence at inclusion.
Poorer premorbid adjustment and lower IQ at baseline are associated with non-remission after 6 years. This suggests that in order to improve the course and outcome of schizophrenia, one should aim to detect and intervene well before the first psychotic symptoms arise.
Cognitive impairment substantially contributes to functional disability in schizophrenia. Methods to improve functioning in long-term hospitalized patients are lacking. Cognitive Adaptation Training (CAT) improves functional outcomes in schizophrenia outpatients living in the US.
To investigate the efficacy of CAT in long-term hospitalized schizophrenia patients living in the Netherlands.
Twenty schizophrenia inpatients participated in this study. Ten patients received treatment as usual (TAU), the other 10 patients received TAU plus CAT. CAT uses environmental supports (e.g. calendars, alarm clocks) in order to compensate the impact of cognitive impairment. CAT was provided for 8 months. Assessments of the Multnomah Community Ability Scale (MCAS) and SOFAS were conducted at baseline, halfway, and after 8 months. In addition, participation in work-related activities (e.g. woodworking, graphic center) was recorded every month for a duration of 12 months. Anayses of mixed models were conducted, using the baseline score as a covariate.
After 6 months, CAT patients spent significantly more partial days at activity centers, compared to TAU patients. Differences remained significant after 12 months. With regard to the other measures, CAT patients showed improvement on the SOFAS and the MCAS after 8 months (trend) with a large effect size (0.8).
These findings suggest that inpatients with schizophrenia may benefit from CAT. In particular, the method may be effective to increase productivity in this chronic population. These results are promising, research with a larger sample size is needed to further investigate the effect of CAT in long-term hospitalized psychiatric patients.
Suicide remains the leading cause of premature death in patients with psychotic disorders. The lifetime suicide risk for schizophrenia is approximately 10%.
This study aims to compare the suicide risk over the past decade following recent onset psychosis to findings from the eighties and nineties in the same catchment area and to identify predictors of suicide in the context of the Psychosis Recent Onset Groningen – Survey (PROGR-S).
A medical file search was carried out to determine the current status of all patients admitted between 2000 and 2009. The suicide rate was compared with a study executed in 1973-1988 in the same catchment area. Predictors of suicide were investigated using Cox regression.
The status of 424 of the 614 patients was known in July 2014. Suicide occurred in 2.4% of the patients with psychotic disorders (n=10; mean follow-up 5.6 years); 6 out of 10 suicides took place within two years. Within two decades, the suicide rate dropped from 11% (follow-up 15 years, 8.5% after 5 years) to 2.4%. The Standardized Mortality Rate (SMR) of suicides compared with the general population was 41.6. A higher age was the only significant predictor for suicide. Neuroticism, living situation, disorganized and negative symptoms, and passive coping style showed a trend for significance. A significant reduction in the suicide rate was found for people with psychosis over the past decades.
A considerable drop in suicide rate was found. Given the high SMR, suicide research should have the highest priority.
Studies in the general population show cannabis use has a beneficial effect on metabolic disorders. Given the increased cardiometabolic risk in patients with psychotic disorders, as well as their prevalent use of cannabis, we aim to investigate whether such effects are also evident in these patients.
3176 patients with chronic psychotic disorders from mental health institutions in the Netherlands were included in the study. With multivariate regression analyses we examined the effects of cannabis use on metabolic risk factors; BMI, waist circumference, blood pressure (BP), cholesterol, HDL-C, LDL-C, triglycerides, glucose and HbA1c. Age, sex, smoking, alcohol use and antipsychotic drugs were included as confounders. Next, we examined change in metabolic risk factors after one-year follow up for cannabis users, non-users, discontinuers and starters.
We found a significant negative association between cannabis use and BMI (p=0.003), waist circumference (p>0.001), diastolic BP (p=0.015) and HbA1c (0.004). One year later, patients who had discontinued their cannabis use had a greater increase of BMI (p=0.002) and waist circumference (p=0.011) than other patients. They also had a greater increase of diastolic BP than non-users (p=0.036) or starters (p=0.004).
Discontinuation of cannabis use increased metabolic risk. To stop cannabis use is often an important treatment goal, because it reduces psychotic symptoms. However, physicians should be aware of the increased metabolic risk in patients who discontinue the use of cannabis. Extra attention should be paid to monitoring and treatment of metabolic parameters in these patients to prevent cardiovascular diseases and premature cardiovascular mortality.
In schizophrenia the life expectancy is significantly lower compared to the general population. To monitor their functioning over the course of the illness, a protocol for routine outcome monitoring (ROM) has been developed in the Netherlands.
This study investigated the effectiveness of Routine Outcome Monitoring (ROM) in clinical practice. More specifically, we investigated whether ROM outcomes resulted in treatment in accordance with guidelines for schizophrenia.
Out of the ROM database of 2010 (n=1040), a random sample of 100 patients diagnosed with a psychotic disorder was taken. Data from blood tests, a physical examination, interviews, and standardized questionnaires were used. The prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors, psychosocial problems and sexual dysfunctions was calculated. Offered treatment was investigated with the treatment plans of patients.
The sample consisted of 63 males and 37 females. The average age was 44 and the average duration of illness was 17.7 years. High prevalences of cardiovascular risk factors, psychosocial problems and sexual dysfunctions were found. Cardiovascular risk factors remained untreated in 61% of cases, psychosocial problems remained untreated in 85% of cases and sexual dysfunctions were not treated at all in our sample.
High rates of non-treatment were found for cardiovascular risk factors, psychosocial problems and sexual dysfunctions, despite high prevalences as identified with ROM. Thus, ROM outcomes do not result in treatment in accordance with guidelines for the majority of patients. Steps are necessary to bridge the gap between ROM and treatment to ensure this group of severely mentally ill patients receives the best possible treatment.
Despite important progress, the results of pharmacological treatment of schizophrenia are frequently unsatisfactory. Therefore some patients use natural medicines although it is unclear whether natural medicines are effective and safe. We assessed the evidence for natural medicines with and without antipsychotics in treating symptoms or reducing side effects of antipsychotics in schizophrenia.
A systematic review until April 2013. Only RCTs with a Jadad score of 3 or higher, were included.
105 RCTs were identified. Evidence was found for glycine, sarcosine, NAC, some Chinese and ayurvedic herbs, ginkgo biloba, estradiol and vitamin B6 for improving symptoms of schizophrenia when added to antipsychotics. Inconclusive or no evidence was found for omega-3, Dserine, D-alanine, D-cycloserine, B vitamins, vitamin C, dehydroepiandrosteron (DHEA), pregnenolone (PREG), inositol, gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) and des-tyr-gamma-endorphin when added to antipsychotics. Omega-3 without antipsychotics might be beneficial in the prevention of schizophrenia. Only ayurvedic herbs (in one study), no other agents, seemed effective without antipsychotics. Ginkgo and vitamin B6 seemed to be effective in reducing side effects of antipsychotics. All natural agents produced only mild or no side-effects.
High quality research on natural medicines for schizophrenia is scarce. However, there is emerging evidence for improved outcome for glycine, sarcosine, NAC, some Chinese and ayurvedic herbs, ginkgo biloba, estradiol and vitamin B6, all with only mild or no side effects. Most study samples are small, the study periods are generally short, the studies only cover a modest part of the world's population and most results need replication.
Multimorbidity may impose an overwhelming burden on patients with psychosis and is affected by gender and age. Our aim is to study the independent role of familial liability to psychosis as a risk factor for multimorbidity.
We performed the study within the framework of the Genetic Risk and Outcome of Psychosis (GROUP) project. Overall, we compared 1024 psychotic patients, 994 unaffected siblings and 566 controls on the prevalence of 125 lifetime diseases, and 19 self-reported somatic complaints. Multimorbidity was defined as the presence of two or more complaints/diseases in the same individual. Generalized linear mixed model (GLMM) were used to investigate the effects of gender, age (adolescent, young, older) and familial liability (patients, siblings, controls) and their interactions on multimorbidity.
Familial liability had a significant effect on multimorbidity of either complaints or diseases. Patients had a higher prevalence of multimorbidity of complaints compared to siblings (OR 2.20, 95% CI 1.79–2.69, P < 0.001) and to controls (3.05, 2.35–3.96, P < 0.001). In physical health multimorbidity, patients (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.05–1.75, P = 0.018), but not siblings, had significantly higher prevalence than controls. Similar finding were observed for multimorbidity of lifetime diseases, including psychiatric diseases. Significant results were observed for complaints and disease multimorbidity across gender and age groups.
Multimorbidity is a common burden, significantly more prevalent in patients and their unaffected siblings. Familial liability to psychosis showed an independent effect on multimorbidity; gender and age are also important factors determining multimorbidity.
The association between schizophrenia and decreased vitamin D levels is well documented. Low maternal and postnatal vitamin D levels suggest a possible etiological mechanism. Alternatively, vitamin D deficiency in patients with schizophrenia is presumably (also) the result of disease-related factors or demographic risk factors such as urbanicity.
In a study population of 347 patients with psychotic disorder and 282 controls, group differences in vitamin D concentration were examined. Within the patient group, associations between vitamin D, symptom levels and clinical variables were analyzed. Group × urbanicity interactions in the model of vitamin D concentration were examined. Both current urbanicity and urbanicity at birth were assessed.
Vitamin D concentrations were significantly lower in patients (B = −8.05; 95% confidence interval (CI) −13.68 to −2.42; p = 0.005). In patients, higher vitamin D concentration was associated with lower positive (B = −0.02; 95% CI −0.04 to 0.00; p = 0.049) and negative symptom levels (B = −0.03; 95% CI −0.05 to −0.01; p = 0.008). Group differences were moderated by urbanicity at birth (χ2 = 6.76 and p = 0.001), but not by current urbanicity (χ2 = 1.50 and p = 0.224). Urbanicity at birth was negatively associated with vitamin D concentration in patients (B = −5.11; 95% CI −9.41 to −0.81; p = 0.020), but not in controls (B = 0.72; 95% CI −4.02 to 5.46; p = 0.765).
Lower vitamin D levels in patients with psychotic disorder may in part reflect the effect of psychosis risk mediated by early environmental adversity. The data also suggest that lower vitamin D and psychopathology may be related through direct or indirect mechanisms.
The association between childhood trauma and psychotic and depressive symptomatology is well established. However, less is known about the specificity and course of these symptoms in relation to childhood trauma.
In a large sample (n = 2765) of patients with psychosis (n = 1119), their siblings (n = 1057) and controls (n = 589), multivariate (mixed-effects) regression analyses with multiple outcomes were performed to examine the association between childhood trauma and psychotic and depressive symptomatology over a 3-year period.
A dose–response relationship was found between childhood trauma and psychosis. Abuse was more strongly associated with positive symptoms than with negative symptoms whereas the strength of the associations between neglect and positive and negative symptoms was comparable. In patients, similar associations between childhood trauma and psychotic or depressive symptoms were found, and in siblings and controls, stronger associations were found between trauma and depressive symptomatology. Childhood trauma was not related to a differential course of symptoms over a 3-year time period.
In congruence with earlier work, our findings suggest that childhood trauma, and abuse in particular, is associated with (subthreshold) psychosis. However, childhood trauma does not seem to be associated with a differential course of symptoms, nor does it uniquely heighten the chance of developing (subthreshold) psychotic symptomatology. Our results indicate that trauma may instead contribute to a shared vulnerability for psychotic and depressive symptoms.
Cannabis use is associated with an earlier age at onset of psychotic illness. The aim of the present study was to examine whether this association is confounded by gender or other substance use in a large cohort of patients with a non-affective psychotic disorder.
In 785 patients with a non-affective psychotic disorder, regression analysis was used to investigate the independent effects of gender, cannabis use and other drug use on age at onset of first psychosis.
Age at onset was 1.8 years earlier in cannabis users compared to non-users, controlling for gender and other possible confounders. Use of other drugs did not have an additional effect on age at onset when cannabis use was taken into account. In 63.5% of cannabis-using patients, age at most intense cannabis use preceded the age at onset of first psychosis. In males, the mean age at onset was 1.3 years lower than in females, controlling for cannabis use and other confounders.
Cannabis use and gender are independently associated with an earlier onset of psychotic illness. Our findings also suggest that cannabis use may precipitate psychosis. More research is needed to clarify the neurobiological factors that make people vulnerable to this precipitating effect of cannabis.
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