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The number of studies on electronic self-monitoring in affective disorder and other psychiatric disorders is increasing and indicates high patient acceptance and adherence. Nevertheless, the effect of electronic self-monitoring in patients with bipolar disorder has never been investigated in a randomized controlled trial (RCT). The objective of this trial was to investigate in a RCT whether the use of daily electronic self-monitoring using smartphones reduces depressive and manic symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder.
A total of 78 patients with bipolar disorder according to ICD-10 criteria, aged 18–60 years, and with 17-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD-17) and Young Mania Rating Scale (YMRS) scores ≤17 were randomized to the use of a smartphone for daily self-monitoring including a clinical feedback loop (the intervention group) or to the use of a smartphone for normal communicative purposes (the control group) for 6 months. The primary outcomes were differences in depressive and manic symptoms measured using HAMD-17 and YMRS, respectively, between the intervention and control groups.
Intention-to-treat analyses using linear mixed models showed no significant effects of daily self-monitoring using smartphones on depressive as well as manic symptoms. There was a tendency towards more sustained depressive symptoms in the intervention group (B = 2.02, 95% confidence interval −0.13 to 4.17, p = 0.066). Sub-group analysis among patients without mixed symptoms and patients with presence of depressive and manic symptoms showed significantly more depressive symptoms and fewer manic symptoms during the trial period in the intervention group.
These results highlight that electronic self-monitoring, although intuitive and appealing, needs critical consideration and further clarification before it is implemented as a clinical tool.
Healthy first-degree relatives of patients with major depression (rMD+) show brain structure and functional response anomalies and have elevated risk for developing depression, a disorder linked to abnormal serotonergic neurotransmission and reward processing.
In a two-step functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) investigation, we first evaluated whether positive and negative monetary outcomes were differentially processed by rMD+ individuals compared to healthy first-degree relatives of control probands (rMD−). Second, in a double-blinded placebo-controlled randomized trial we investigated whether a 4-week intervention with the selective serotonergic reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) escitalopram had a normalizing effect on behavior and brain responses of the rMD+ individuals.
Negative outcomes increased the probability of risk-averse choices in the subsequent trial in rMD+ but not in rMD− individuals. The orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) displayed a stronger neural response when subjects missed a large reward after a low-risk choice in the rMD+ group compared to the rMD− group. The enhanced orbitofrontal response to negative outcomes was reversed following escitalopram intervention compared to placebo. Conversely, for positive outcomes, the left hippocampus showed attenuated response to high wins in the rMD+ compared to the rMD− group. The SSRI intervention reinforced the hippocampal response to large wins. A subsequent structural analysis revealed that the abnormal neural responses were not accounted for by changes in gray matter density in rMD+ individuals.
Our study in first-degree relatives of depressive patients showed abnormal brain responses to aversive and rewarding outcomes in regions known to be dysfunctional in depression. We further confirmed the reversal of these aberrant activations with SSRI intervention.
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