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Poor recovery from depressive disorder has been shown to be related to low perceived social support and loneliness, but not to social network size or frequency of social interactions. Some studies suggest that the significance of social relationships for depression course may be greater in younger than in older patients, and may differ between men and women. None of the studies examined to what extent the different aspects of social relationships have unique or overlapping predictive values for depression course. It is the aim of the present study to examine the differential predictive values of social network characteristics, social support and loneliness for the course of depressive disorder, and to test whether these predictive associations are modified by gender or age.
Two naturalistic cohort studies with the same design and overlapping instruments were combined to obtain a study sample of 1474 patients with a major depressive disorder, of whom 1181 (80.1%) could be studied over a 2-year period. Social relational variables were assessed at baseline. Two aspects of depression course were studied: remission at 2-year follow-up and change in depression severity over the follow-up period. By means of logistic regression and random coefficient analysis, the individual and combined predictive values of the different social relational variables for depression course were studied, controlling for potential confounders and checking for effect modification by age (below 60 v. 60 years or older) and gender.
Multiple aspects of the social network, social support and loneliness were related to depression course, independent of potential confounders – including depression severity – but when combined, their predictive values were found to overlap to a large extent. Only the social network characteristic of living in a larger household, the social support characteristic of few negative experiences with the support from a partner or close friend, and limited feelings of loneliness proved to have unique predictive value for a favourable course of depression. Little evidence was found for effect modification by gender or age.
If depressed persons experience difficulties in their social relationships, this may impede their recovery. Special attention for interpersonal problems, social isolation and feelings of loneliness seems warranted in depression treatment and relapse prevention. It will be of great interest to test whether social relational interventions can contribute to better recovery and relapse prevention of depressive disorder.
Alcohol dependence has long been related to impaired processing and handling of negative emotions. This is the first study to compare emotion regulation (ER) at a behavioral and neural level in alcohol dependent patients (ADPs) and healthy controls (HCs). It also examines the effects of high-frequency repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) on ER abilities and related craving levels in ADPs.
Thirty-six ADPs and 32 HCs matched on age, sex, and education, were included in a within-subject fixed-order study with one functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) session and one rTMS plus fMRI session, with high-frequency (10 Hz) rTMS over the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (dlPFC). An fMRI emotion regulation task (ERT) was administered during both sessions and craving was measured before and after each ERT.
ADPs were impaired in the regulation of negative emotion and showed a higher activation of ER related brain areas compared to HCs. Furthermore, active rTMS improved ER abilities in both ADPs and HCs, but was accompanied by a decrease in anterior cingulate and left dlPFC activity only in ADPs. In addition, the ERT-induced increase in craving levels in ADPs was trend-significantly reduced by active rTMS, with a large effect size.
ADPs are impaired in the regulation of negative emotion and show enhanced neural activity in the ER brain circuit. High-frequency rTMS improves ER in ADPs and HCs and normalizes neural activity and tends to reduce craving in ADPs. Future studies are needed to test the long-term effects of (multiple session) rTMS on ER, craving, and drinking.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Minor stresses measured in daily life have repeatedly been associated with increased momentary psychotic experiences, both in individuals with psychotic disorders and in persons who are genetically at an increased risk for these disorders. Severe hearing impairment (SHI) is an environmental risk factor for psychotic disorder, possibly due to the experience of social exclusion. The aim of the current study is to investigate whether people with SHI exhibit higher levels of psychotic reactivity to social stressors in daily life than normal-hearing controls and whether this reactivity is associated with decreased baseline dopamine (DA) D2/3 receptor availability and/or elevated DA release following a dexamphetamine challenge.
We conducted an experience sampling study in 15 young adults with SHI and 19 matched normal-hearing controls who had previously participated in a single photon emission computed tomography study measuring DA D2/3 receptor availability and DA release in response to dexamphetamine.
The association between social stress and momentary psychotic experiences in daily life was stronger among SHI participants than among normal-hearing controls. Interactions between social stress and baseline striatal DA D2/3 receptor availability or DA release were not significant in multilevel models of momentary psychotic experiences including age, sex and tobacco use.
While both elevated striatal DA release and elevated psychotic stress reactivity have been found in the same population defined by an environmental risk factor, SHI, their inter-relationship cannot be established. Further research is warranted to clarify the association between biological and psychological endophenotypes and psychosis risk.
Impulsive decision making is a hallmark of frequently occurring addiction disorders including alcohol dependence (AD). Therefore, ameliorating impulsive decision making is a promising target for the treatment of AD. Previous studies have shown that modafinil enhances cognitive control functions in various psychiatric disorders. However, the effects of modafinil on delay discounting and its underlying neural correlates have not been investigated as yet. The aim of the current study was to investigate the effects of modafinil on neural correlates of impulsive decision making in abstinent AD patients and healthy control (HC) subjects.
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subjects cross-over study using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) was conducted in 14 AD patients and 16 HC subjects. All subjects participated in two fMRI sessions in which they either received a single dose of placebo or 200 mg of modafinil 2 h before the session. During fMRI, subjects completed a delay-discounting task to measure impulsive decision making.
Modafinil improved impulsive decision making in AD pateints, which was accompanied by enhanced recruitment of frontoparietal regions and reduced activation of the ventromedial prefrontal cortex. Moreover, modafinil-induced enhancement of functional connectivity between the superior frontal gyrus and ventral striatum was specifically associated with improvement in impulsive decision making.
These findings indicate that modafinil can improve impulsive decision making in AD patients through an enhanced coupling of prefrontal control regions and brain regions coding the subjective value of rewards. Therefore, the current study supports the implementation of modafinil in future clinical trials for AD.
Cross-sectional and longitudinal studies have shown a positive association between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and problematic alcohol use in adults. To what extent this association is explained by genetic and environmental factors is largely unknown.
Data on ADHD and alcohol consumption were collected by self-report in 6024 adult Dutch twins. ADHD symptoms were assessed by three subscales of the Conners' Adult ADHD Rating Scales – Self-Report: Screening Version (CAARS–S:SV): inattentiveness, hyperactivity and the ADHD index (ADHD-I). Problem drinking was defined as at least two self-reported alcohol-related problems on the CAGE questionnaire. Structural equation modelling was applied to the bivariate twin data to estimate genetic and environmental influences.
Heritability of ADHD symptoms ranged between 32% and 40% and heritability of problem drinking was 50%. The positive correlation between ADHD symptoms and problem drinking was confirmed in this general population sample, with phenotypic correlations between 0.20 and 0.28 and genetic correlations between 0.39 and 0.50. Phenotypic correlations are primarily (61–100%) explained by genetic influences with non-shared environmental influences explaining the remaining covariance. No significant quantitative or qualitative gender differences in covariance structure were found.
This study convincingly shows that ADHD symptoms and problem drinking are moderately but significantly correlated in adults and that genetic correlations are primarily underlying this association. This suggests that early interventions are required to prevent adolescents with ADHD from developing problematic levels of alcohol use. Furthermore, clinicians who treat alcohol-dependent patients should be aware that the patient may have a co-morbid condition of ADHD; integrated interventions are required.
Little is known about the effect of stimulant use (amphetamines, cocaine, ecstasy) on cognitive functioning in schizophrenia patients. The current study examined (1) whether recency and frequency of stimulant use is associated with cognitive functioning and (2) whether these associations differ between psychotic patients, their unaffected siblings and controls.
Participants completed a comprehensive cognitive test battery. Stimulant use was assessed by urinalysis and by the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). Using random effects regression models, the main effects of Stimulant Use and the interaction with Diagnostic Status on cognitive functioning were assessed.
The interaction term between Stimulant Use and Diagnostic Status was not significant for any of the cognitive outcome variables, indicating similar effects of stimulant use in all three groups. Recent stimulant users showed more errors deficit in verbal learning in comparison to never users (Cohen's d = −0.60, p < 0.005). Lifetime frequent stimulant use was significantly associated with worse immediate and delayed verbal recall, working memory and acquired knowledge (Cohen's d = −0.22 to −0.29, p < 0.005). Lifetime infrequent stimulant use was not associated with significant cognitive alterations in comparison to never use.
The presence of cognitive deficits associated with lifetime stimulant use is dependent on the frequency of use, with no observed deficits in infrequent users and modest negative effects in frequent users.
The inability to inhibit certain behaviors is a key feature of impulsivity, which is often present in people with a substance use disorder. However, the findings on impulsivity in people with alcohol dependence (AD) are inconsistent, possibly because of the frequent co-occurrence of depression/anxiety (D/A) and its influence on impulsivity. In the current study, we aimed to distinguish response inhibition impairments in AD from possible response inhibition effects associated with D/A.
AD patients (n = 31) with high D/A co-morbidity were compared to patients with D/A only (n = 18) and healthy controls (HCs; n = 16) using the Stop Signal Task (SST) during functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Correlation analyses were performed between activated brain areas, behavioral data and addiction and D/A characteristics.
The three groups did not differ on response inhibition performance. However, AD severity, but not D/A severity, was positively associated with decreased response inhibition. During the SST, AD patients showed hyperactivity in the putamen and thalamus compared with D/A patients and HCs. Thalamus activation was negatively associated with AD duration. In addition, AD patients showed hypoactivity in the supplementary motor area (SMA) compared with HCs. SMA activity within HCs was negatively correlated with depressive symptom severity.
In general, AD patients were not more impulsive than D/A patients or HCs but they did reveal inhibition impairments with increasing AD severity. A shift from cortical to subcortical engagement in AD patients during response inhibition may represent an alternative strategy, which decreased with longer drinking history, suggesting the presence of an AD-specific endophenotype.
Forensic psychiatry aims to reduce recidivism and makes use of risk
assessment tools to achieve this goal. Various studies have reported on
the predictive qualities of these instruments, but it remains unclear
whether their use is associated with actual prevention of recidivism in
To test whether an intervention combining risk assessment and shared care
planning is associated with a reduction in violent and criminal
A cluster randomised controlled trial (Netherlands Trial Register number
NTR1042) was conducted in three outpatient forensic psychiatric clinics.
The intervention comprised risk assessment with the Short Term Assessment
of Risk and Treatability (START) and a shared care planning protocol
formulated according to shared decision-making principles. The control
group received usual care. The outcome consisted of the proportion of
clients with violent or criminal incidents at follow-up.
In total 58 case managers and 632 of their clients were included, in the
intervention group (n=310), 65% received the
intervention at least once. Findings showed a general treatment effect
(22% of clients with an incident at baseline v. 15% at
follow-up, P<0.01) but no significant difference
between the two treatment conditions (odds ratio (OR)=1.46, 95% CI
0.89-2.44, P = 0.15).
Although risk assessment is common practice in forensic psychiatry, our
results indicate that the primary goal of preventing recidivism was not
reached through risk assessment embedded in shared decision-making.
A family history (FH) of alcohol dependence (AD) not only increases the risk for AD, but is also associated with an increased risk for mood and anxiety disorders. However, it is unknown how a FH of AD affects neural substrates in patients with mood and anxiety disorders. In this study we examined the effects of an alcoholic FH on cognitive and emotional functions in these patients using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
In a sample of non-alcoholic patients with depressive and/or anxiety disorders from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA) neuroimaging study, patients with a first-degree FH of AD (FH + ; n = 31) were compared with patients without a FH (FH–; n = 77) on performance and brain activation during visuospatial planning and emotional word encoding. Results were compared with those of healthy controls (HCs) without a FH of AD (n = 31).
FH+ patients performed slower during planning with increasing task load, coupled with stronger blood oxygen level-dependent responses in dorsal prefrontal areas compared with FH− patients and HCs. FH was not associated with performance differences during word encoding, but right insula activation during positive word encoding was present in FH+ patients, comparable with HCs, but absent in FH− patients.
This study demonstrates subtle impairments during planning in FH+ compared with FH− patients and HCs, whereas activation during mood-incongruent stimuli in FH+ patients was similar to HCs but not FH− patients, suggesting that the presence of a FH of AD is a useful marker for the neurophysiological profile in mood/anxiety disorders and possible predictor for treatment success.
Much is still unclear about the role of personality in the structure of common psychiatric disorders such as depressive/anxiety disorders and alcohol dependence. This study will therefore examine whether various traits of negative emotionality and impulsivity showed shared or specific associations with these disorders.
Cross-sectional data were used from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA), including individuals with no DSM-IV psychiatric disorder (n = 460), depressive/anxiety disorder only (i.e. depressive and/or anxiety disorder; n = 1398), alcohol dependence only (n = 32) and co-morbid depressive/anxiety disorder plus alcohol dependence (n = 358). Aspects of negative emotionality were neuroticism, hopelessness, rumination, worry and anxiety sensitivity, whereas aspects of impulsivity included disinhibition, thrill/adventure seeking, experience seeking and boredom susceptibility.
Aspects of negative emotionality formed a homogeneous dimension, which was unrelated to the more heterogeneous construct of impulsivity. Although all aspects of negative emotionality were associated with alcohol dependence only, associations were much stronger for depressive/anxiety disorder only and co-morbid depressive/anxiety disorder with alcohol dependence. The results for impulsivity traits were less profound and more variable, with disinhibition and boredom susceptibility showing modest associations with both depressive/anxiety disorder and alcohol dependence, whereas low thrill/adventure seeking and high disinhibition were more strongly related with the first and the latter, respectively.
Our results suggest that depressive/anxiety disorder and alcohol dependence result from shared as well as specific aetiological pathways as they showed the same associations with all aspects of negative emotionality, disinhibition and boredom susceptibility as well as specific associations with thrill/adventure seeking and disinhibition.
Inconsistent findings have been reported on the role of comorbid alcohol
use disorders as risk factors for a persistent course of depressive and
To determine whether the course of depressive and/or anxiety disorders is
conditional on the type (abuse or dependence) or severity of comorbid
alcohol use disorders.
In a large sample of participants with current depression and/or anxiety
(n = 1369) we examined whether the presence and
severity of DSM-IV alcohol abuse or alcohol dependence predicted the
2-year course of depressive and/or anxiety disorders.
The persistence of depressive and/or anxiety disorders at the 2-year
follow-up was significantly higher in those with remitted or current
alcohol dependence (persistence 62% and 67% respectively), but not in
those with remitted or current alcohol abuse (persistence 51% and 46%
respectively), compared with no lifetime alcohol use disorder
(persistence 53%). Severe (meeting six or seven diagnostic criteria) but
not moderate (meeting three to five criteria) current dependence was a
significant predictor as 95% of those in the former group still had a
depressive and/or anxiety disorder at follow-up. This association
remained significant after adjustment for severity of depression and
anxiety, psychosocial factors and treatment factors.
Alcohol dependence, especially severe current dependence, is a risk
factor for an unfavourable course of depressive and/or anxiety disorders,
whereas alcohol abuse is not.
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.
Previous studies suggest that alcohol-use disorder severity, defined by the number of criteria met, provides a more informative phenotype than dichotomized DSM-IV diagnostic measures of alcohol use disorders. Therefore, this study examined whether alcohol-use disorder severity predicted first-incident depressive disorders, an association that has never been found for the presence or absence of an alcohol use disorder in the general population.
In a national sample of persons who had never experienced a major depressive disorder (MDD), dysthymia, manic or hypomanic episode (n=27 571), we examined whether a version of DSM-5 alcohol-use disorder severity (a count of three abuse and all seven dependence criteria) linearly predicted first-incident depressive disorders (MDD or dysthymia) after 3-year follow-up. Wald tests were used to assess whether more complicated models defined the relationship more accurately.
First-incidence of depressive disorders varied across alcohol-use disorder severity and was 4.20% in persons meeting no alcohol-use disorder criteria versus 44.47% in persons meeting all 10 criteria. Alcohol-use disorder severity significantly predicted first-incidence of depressive disorders in a linear fashion (odds ratio 1.14, 95% CI 1.06–1.22), even after adjustment for sociodemographics, smoking status and predisposing factors for depressive disorders, such as general vulnerability factors, psychiatric co-morbidity and subthreshold depressive disorders. This linear model explained the relationship just as well as more complicated models.
Alcohol-use disorder severity was a significant linear predictor of first-incident depressive disorders after 3-year follow-up and may be useful in identifying a high-risk group for depressive disorders that could be targeted by prevention strategies.
Serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitter systems are implicated in the regulation of mood, cognition and personality traits and their dysfunction is thought to be implicated in diverse psychopathologies. However, in healthy subjects the relationship between the serotonin and dopamine systems and neuropsychological functioning and personality traits is not clearly established. In the present study we investigated whether neuropsychological functioning, personality traits and mood states of a group of healthy subjects are associated with in vivo measures of serotonin transporters (SERTs) and dopamine transporters (DATs).
A total of 188 young healthy subjects underwent neuropsychological and subjective measurements of memory function, depression and impulsivity. Participants' SERT and DAT availability in predefined regions of interest were assessed using single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) with the radiotracer [123I]β-CIT. Individual magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans served as anatomic reference.
We did not find any significant association between SERT or DAT availability and neuropsychological test performance or self-reported impulsivity and mood. There were no significant sex differences in SERT or DAT availability, but men performed significantly better on some tests of visuospatial functioning than women.
Robust negative findings for striatal DAT availability seriously question earlier findings of positive associations between DAT availability and cognitive functions in healthy subjects. Our results also suggest that subcortical SERT availability is not associated with the neuropsychological functions and personality traits assessed. In summary, the present study suggests that neuropsychological and personality measurements in young healthy people are not associated with subcortical SERT or striatal DAT availabilities in the brain.
A large number of studies, reviews and meta-analyses have reported cognitive deficits in ecstasy users. However most ecstasy users are polydrug users, and therefore it cannot be excluded that these deficits are (partly) the result of drugs other than ecstasy. The current study, part of the Netherlands XTC Toxicity (NeXT) study, investigates the specific sustained effects of ecstasy relative to amphetamine, cocaine and cannabis on the brain using neuropsychological examination.
A stratified sample of 67 subjects with such a variation in type and amount of drug use was included that correlations between the consumption of the various drugs were relatively low allowing stepwise linear multiple regression analyses to differentiate between the effects of ecstasy and those of other substances. Subjects were assessed with neuropsychological tests measuring attention, working memory, verbal and visuospatial memory, and visuospatial ability.
Ecstasy use [mean 327 (s.d.=364) tablets in lifetime] had a specific significant dose-related negative effect on verbal delayed recall after adjusting for the use of other drugs.
These findings strongly suggest a specific sustained negative effect of ecstasy use on verbal memory. The clinical relevance is not immediately clear, because test performance generally remained within the normal range. However the magnitude of the effect is substantial (d>0.5) and long-term consequences cannot be excluded.
Disinhibition and decision-making skills play an important role in theories on the cause and outcome of addictive behaviors such as substance use disorders and pathological gambling. In recent studies, both disinhibition and disadvantageous decision-making strategies, as measured by neurocognitive tests, have been found to influence the course of substance use disorders. Research on factors affecting relapse in pathological gambling is scarce.
This study investigated the effect of both self-reported impulsivity and reward sensitivity, and neurocognitively assessed disinhibition and decision-making under conflicting contingencies, on relapse in a group of 46 pathological gamblers.
Logistic regression analysis indicated that longer duration of the disorder and neurocognitive indicators of disinhibition (Stop Signal Reaction Time) and decision-making (Card Playing Task) were significant predictors of relapse (explaining 53% of the variance in relapse), whereas self-reported impulsivity and reward sensitivity did not significantly predict relapse. Overall classification accuracy was 76%, with a positive classification accuracy of 76% and a negative classification accuracy of 75%.
Duration of the disorder and neurocognitive measures of disinhibition and decision-making are powerful predictors of relapse in pathological gambling. The results suggest that endophenotypical neurocognitive characteristics are more promising in the prediction of relapse in pathological gambling than phenotypical personality characteristics. Neurocognitive predictors may be useful to guide treatment planning of follow-up contacts and booster sessions.
Orbitofrontal cortex dysfunctions have been frequently documented in people with substance use disorders. The exact role of this cortical region, however, remains unspecified.
To assess the functionality of the orbitofrontal cortex in people with substance use disorders.
Reports of studies using behavioural decision-making tasks and/or neuroimaging techniques to investigate orbitofrontal cortex functioning in cases of substance misuse were reviewed. Studies focusing exclusively on tobacco-smoking and gambling were excluded.
Fifty-two research articles were evaluated. Most studies showed significant deficits in decision-making in people with substance use disorders. A consistent finding in the neuroimaging studies was hypoactivity of the orbitofrontal cortex after detoxification. The association between hyperactivity of this region and craving or cue reactivity was not consistent across studies.
The orbitofrontal cortex has an important role in addictive behaviours. Further studies are needed to elucidate the underlying neuronal substrates of cue reactivity, craving and decision-making, and the implications for treatment and relapse prevention.