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Whereas genetic susceptibility increases the risk for major depressive disorder (MDD), non-genetic protective factors may mitigate this risk. In a large-scale prospective study of US Army soldiers, we examined whether trait resilience and/or unit cohesion could protect against the onset of MDD following combat deployment, even in soldiers at high polygenic risk.
Data were analyzed from 3079 soldiers of European ancestry assessed before and after their deployment to Afghanistan. Incident MDD was defined as no MDD episode at pre-deployment, followed by a MDD episode following deployment. Polygenic risk scores were constructed from a large-scale genome-wide association study of major depression. We first examined the main effects of the MDD PRS and each protective factor on incident MDD. We then tested the effects of each protective factor on incident MDD across strata of polygenic risk.
Polygenic risk showed a dose–response relationship to depression, such that soldiers at high polygenic risk had greatest odds for incident MDD. Both unit cohesion and trait resilience were prospectively associated with reduced risk for incident MDD. Notably, the protective effect of unit cohesion persisted even in soldiers at highest polygenic risk.
Polygenic risk was associated with new-onset MDD in deployed soldiers. However, unit cohesion – an index of perceived support and morale – was protective against incident MDD even among those at highest genetic risk, and may represent a potent target for promoting resilience in vulnerable soldiers. Findings illustrate the value of combining genomic and environmental data in a prospective design to identify robust protective factors for mental health.
Congenital airway obstruction is rare but potentially fatal. We developed a complex airways interventional delivery team to manage such cases. Antenatal imaging detects airway compromise at an early stage and facilitates the planning of delivery procedures (‘ex utero intrapartum treatment’ and ‘operation on placental support’) which maintain feto-placental circulation whilst an airway is secured.
A retrospective review was performed of cases in which ENT input was required at birth for airway obstruction.
Four neonates were delivered before implementation of the service: two were intubated and another two underwent tracheostomy but died in the peri-natal period. Seven neonates were delivered after implementation of the service: six were intubated and one underwent immediate tracheostomy. Five subsequently underwent tracheostomy (three have since been decannulated). One child with multiple congenital anomalies died due to respiratory failure. Airway obstruction was caused by lymphatic malformation, teratoma, costo-craniomandibular syndrome and choristoma.
In the absence of other anomalies, interventional airway delivery led to reduced mortality and improved outcomes.
Schizophrenia patients show disturbances on a range of tasks that assess mentalizing or ‘Theory of Mind’ (ToM). However, these tasks are often developmentally inappropriate, make large demands on verbal abilities and explicit problem-solving skills, and involve after-the-fact reflection as opposed to spontaneous mentalizing.
To address these limitations, 55 clinically stable schizophrenia out-patients and 44 healthy controls completed a validated Animations Task designed to assess spontaneous attributions of social meaning to ambiguous abstract visual stimuli. In this paradigm, 12 animations depict two geometric shapes ‘interacting’ with each other in three conditions: (1) ToM interactions that elicit attributions of mental states to the agents, (2) Goal-Directed (GD) interactions that elicit attributions of simple actions, and (3) Random scenes in which no interaction occurs. Verbal descriptions of each animation are rated for the degree of Intentionality attributed to the agents and for accuracy.
Patients had lower Intentionality ratings than controls for ToM and GD scenes but the groups did not significantly differ for Random scenes. The descriptions of the patients less closely matched the situations intended by the developers of the task. Within the schizophrenia group, performance on the Animations Task showed minimal associations with clinical symptoms.
Patients demonstrated disturbances in the spontaneous attribution of mental states to abstract visual stimuli that normally evoke such attributions. Hence, in addition to previously established impairment on mentalizing tasks that require logical inferences about others' mental states, individuals with schizophrenia show disturbances in implicit aspects of mentalizing.
The prevalence of anxiety disorders in 294 patients who survived to four months in the Perth Community Stroke Study (Perth, Australia), and a follow-up of these patients at 12 months, are presented.
Diagnoses are described both in the usual DSM hierarchic format and by a non-hierarchic approach. Adoption of the hierarchic approach alone greatly underestimates the prevalence of anxiety disorders.
Most cases were of agoraphobia, and the remainder were generalised anxiety disorder. The prevalence of anxiety disorders alone was 5% in men and 19% in women; in community controls, it was 5% in men and 8% in women. Adopting a non-hierarchic approach to diagnosis gave a prevalence of 12% in men and 28% in women. When those who showed evidence of anxiety disorder before stroke were subtracted, the latter prevalence was 9% in men and 20% in women.
One-third of the men and half of the women with post-stroke anxiety disorders showed evidence of either depression or an anxiety disorder at the time of the stroke. At 12 month follow-up of 49 patients with agoraphobia by a non-hierarchic approach, 51 % had recovered, and equal proportions of the remainder had died or still had agoraphobia. The only major difference in outcome between those with anxiety disorder alone and those with comorbid depression was the greater mortality in the latter.
The Perth Community Stroke Study (PCSS) was a population-based study of the incidence, cause, and outcome of acute stroke.
Subjects from the study were assessed initially, by examination and interview, and at four- and 12-month follow-ups to determine differences in prevalence of depression between the sexes and between patients with first-ever and recurrent strokes.
The prevalence of depressive illness four months after stroke in 294 patients from the PCSS was 23% (18–28%), 15% (11–19%) major depression and 8% (5–11 %) minor depression. There were no significant differences between the sexes or between patients with first-ever and recurrent strokes. With a non-hierarchic approach to diagnosis of those with depression, 26% of men and 39% of women had an associated anxiety disorder, mainly agoraphobia. Nine per cent of male and 13% of female patients interviewed had evidence of depression at the time of the stroke. Twelve months after stroke 56% of the men were still depressed (40% major and 16% minor), as were 30% of the women (12% major and 18% minor).
The prevalence of depression after stroke was comparable with that reported from other studies, and considerably less than that reported from in-patient and rehabilitation units.