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There is limited evidence of the safety and impact of task-shared care for people with severe mental illnesses (SMI; psychotic disorders and bipolar disorder) in low-income countries. The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and impact of a district-level plan for task-shared mental health care on 6 and 12-month clinical and social outcomes of people with SMI in rural southern Ethiopia.
In the Programme for Improving Mental health carE, we conducted an intervention cohort study. Trained primary healthcare (PHC) workers assessed community referrals, diagnosed SMI and initiated treatment, with independent research diagnostic assessments by psychiatric nurses. Primary outcomes were symptom severity and disability. Secondary outcomes included discrimination and restraint.
Almost all (94.5%) PHC worker diagnoses of SMI were verified by psychiatric nurses. All prescribing was within recommended dose limits. A total of 245 (81.7%) people with SMI were re-assessed at 12 months. Minimally adequate treatment was received by 29.8%. All clinical and social outcomes improved significantly. The impact on disability (standardised mean difference 0.50; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.35–0.65) was greater than impact on symptom severity (standardised mean difference 0.28; 95% CI 0.13–0.44). Being restrained in the previous 12 months reduced from 25.3 to 10.6%, and discrimination scores reduced significantly.
An integrated district level mental health care plan employing task-sharing safely addressed the large treatment gap for people with SMI in a rural, low-income country setting. Randomised controlled trials of differing models of task-shared care for people with SMI are warranted.
Mounting evidence shows genetic overlap between multiple psychiatric disorders. However, the biological underpinnings of shared risk for psychiatric disorders are not yet fully uncovered. The identification of underlying biological mechanisms is crucial for the progress in the treatment of these disorders.
We applied gene-set analysis including 7372 gene sets, and 53 tissue-type specific gene-expression profiles to identify sets of genes that are involved in the etiology of multiple psychiatric disorders. We included genome-wide meta-association data of the five psychiatric disorders schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. The total dataset contained 159 219 cases and 262 481 controls.
We identified 19 gene sets that were significantly associated with the five psychiatric disorders combined, of which we excluded five sets because their associations were likely driven by schizophrenia only. Conditional analyses showed independent effects of several gene sets that in particular relate to the synapse. In addition, we found independent effects of gene expression levels in the cerebellum and frontal cortex.
We obtained novel evidence for shared biological mechanisms that act across psychiatric disorders and we showed that several gene sets that have been related to individual disorders play a role in a broader range of psychiatric disorders.
This review aims to assess the cost-effectiveness of psychological interventions for schizophrenia/bipolar disorder (BD), to determine the robustness of current evidence and identify gaps in the available evidence.
Electronic searches (PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Embase) identified economic evaluations relating incremental cost to outcomes in the form of an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio published in English since 2000. Searches were concluded in November 2018. Inclusion criteria were: adults with schizophrenia/BD; any psychological/psychosocial intervention (e.g., psychological therapy and integrated/collaborative care); probability of cost-effectiveness at explicitly defined thresholds reported. Comparators could be routine practice, no intervention, or alternative psychological therapies. Screening, data extraction, and critical appraisal were performed using pre-specified criteria and forms. Results were summarized qualitatively. The protocol was registered on the PROSPERO database (CRD42017056579).
Of 3,864 studies identified, 12 met the criteria for data extraction. All were integrated clinical and economic randomized controlled trials. The most common intervention was cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT, 6/12 studies). The most common measure of health benefit was the quality-adjusted life-year (6/12). Follow-up ranged from 6 months to 5 years. Interventions were found to be cost-effective in most studies (9/12): the probability of cost-effectiveness ranged from 35-99.5 percent. All studies had limitations and demonstrated uncertainty (particularly related to incremental costs).
Most studies concluded psychological interventions for schizophrenia/BD are cost-effective, including CBT, although there was notable uncertainty. Heterogeneity across studies makes it difficult to reach strong conclusions. There is a particular need for more evidence in the population with BD and for longer-term evidence across both populations.
We review studies of whether cortisol levels following psychosocial stress exposure differ between patients with psychosis and healthy control subjects.
Original research published between 1993 and February 2019 was included in the literature search. Studies that used experimentally induced psychosocial stress and reported stress response measures of plasma or saliva cortisol levels in patients at any stage of illness (i.e. high risk, first episode and chronic phase) were included.
A total of 17 studies were included. Although there was evidence of inconsistencies in measures, we observed moderate evidence of an association with stress-induced cortisol blunting response across studies.
This review highlights recent evidence of blunting of cortisol response following experimentally induced psychosocial stress. While there was some evidence of this blunted response across illness types and stages, the strongest evidence was observed for those with chronic schizophrenia. Due to the low number of studies, in particular in bipolar disorder, much work is still needed to accurately characterise the biological effects of stress in psychosis.
Variation in the CACNA1C gene has been associated with bipolar disorder in several genome-wide association studies. This gene encodes the alpha 1C subunit of L-type voltage-gated calcium channels, which play an essential role in neurons. We analysed 39 biomarkers in either cerebrospinal fluid or serum in relation to six different CACNA1C variants in 282 patients with bipolar disorder and 90 controls. We report associations of CACNA1C risk alleles with serum levels of BDNF as well as tissue plasminogen activator, which converts pro-BDNF to mature BDNF. This sheds light on links between CACNA1C genetic variants and pathophysiological mechanisms in bipolar disorder.
Members of online bipolar disorder forums often report experiences of mood-stabilisation on the ketogenic diet, which has traditionally been used in the treatment of epilepsy. We examined the nature and extent of such reports.
To investigate associations between a ketogenic diet and mood stabilisation among individuals with bipolar disorder.
We undertook an observational analytic study of free-text comments in online forums about mood effects of dietary interventions (ketogenic, omega-3 enriched or vegetarian) classified by a priori categories of change in mood stabilisation in 274 people with bipolar disorder.
There were 141 (85.5%) free-text comments on ketogenic diets that reported a positive impact on mood stabilisation. Reports of significant mood stabilisation or remission of symptoms over a period were substantially higher for a ketogenic diet than for other diets (93/165, 56.4%, 95% CI 48.4–64.1) v. 14/94, 14.9%, 95% CI 8.4–23.7), odds ratio 7.4, 95% CI 3.8–14.1, P < 0.0001), many with detailed reports of the improvements experienced and several lasting for extended periods (months to years). Other reported associations included fewer episodes of depression (in 41.2%, 95% CI 30.6–52.4 of individuals); improved clarity of thought and speech (28.2%, 95% CI 19.0–39.0); increased energy (25.9, 95% CI 17.0–36.5); and weight loss (25.9%, 95% CI 17.0–36.5).
Despite the inherent limitations of the observational data based on self-reports posted online, the association strength and reports of sustained benefit support a hypothesis of a ketogenic diet being associated with beneficial effects on mood stabilisation. Caution should be exercised in interpreting this data until a controlled trial can be carried out to examine this hypothesis. These preliminary observations are generally consistent with a mitochondrial dysfunction component to bipolar disorder aetiology with ketones bypassing a block between glycolysis and the tricarboxylic acid cycle.
The aim of the current study was to examine whether and to what extent mood disorders, comprising major depression and bipolar disorder, are accompanied by structural changes in the brain as measured using voxel-based morphometry (VBM).
We performed a VBM study using a 3Т MRI system (GE Discovery 750w) in patients with mood disorders (n=50), namely, 39 with major depression and 11 with bipolar disorder compared to 42 age-, sex- and education-matched healthy controls.
Our results show that depression was associated with significant decreases in grey matter (GM) volume of the regions located within the medial frontal and anterior cingulate cortex on the left side and middle frontal gyrus, medial orbital gyrus, inferior frontal gyrus (triangular and orbital parts) and middle temporal gyrus (extending to the superior temporal gyrus) on the right side. When the patient group was separated into bipolar disorder and major depression, the reductions remained significant only for patients with major depressive disorder.
Using VBM the present study was able to replicate decreases in GM volume restricted to frontal and temporal regions in patients with mood disorders, mainly major depression, compared with healthy controls.
Most research on mortality in people with severe psychiatric disorders has focused on natural causes of death. Little is known about trauma-related mortality, although bipolar disorder and schizophrenia have been associated with increased risk of self-administered injury and road accidents.
To determine if 30-day in-patient mortality from traumatic injury was increased in people with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia compared with those without psychiatric disorders.
A French national 2016 database of 144 058 hospital admissions for trauma was explored. Patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were selected and matched with mentally healthy controls in a 1:3 ratio according to age, gender, social deprivation and region of residence. We collected the following data: sociodemographic characteristics, comorbidities, trauma severity characteristics and trauma circumstances. Study outcome was 30-day in-patient mortality.
The study included 1059 people with bipolar disorder, 1575 people with schizophrenia and their respective controls (n = 3177 and n = 4725). The 30-day mortality was 5.7% in bipolar disorder, 5.1% in schizophrenia and 3.3 and 3.8% in the controls, respectively. Only bipolar disorder was associated with increased mortality in univariate analyses. This association remained significant after adjustment for sociodemographic characteristics and comorbidities but not after adjustment for trauma severity. Self-administered injuries were associated with increased mortality independent of the presence of a psychiatric diagnosis.
Patients with bipolar disorder are at higher risk of 30-day mortality, probably through increased trauma severity. A self-administered injury is predictive of a poor survival prognosis regardless of psychiatric diagnosis.
Basic symptoms, defined as subjectively perceived disturbances in thought, perception and other essential mental processes, have been established as a predictor of psychotic disorders. However, the relationship between basic symptoms and family history of a transdiagnostic range of severe mental illness, including major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, has not been examined.
We sought to test whether non-severe mood disorders and severe mood and psychotic disorders in parents is associated with increased basic symptoms in their biological offspring.
We measured basic symptoms using the Schizophrenia Proneness Instrument – Child and Youth Version in 332 youth aged 8–26 years, including 93 offspring of control parents, 92 offspring of a parent with non-severe mood disorders, and 147 offspring of a parent with severe mood and psychotic disorders. We tested the relationships between parent mental illness and offspring basic symptoms in mixed-effects linear regression models.
Offspring of a parent with severe mood and psychotic disorders (B = 0.69, 95% CI 0.22–1.16, P = 0.004) or illness with psychotic features (B = 0.68, 95% CI 0.09–1.27, P = 0.023) had significantly higher basic symptom scores than control offspring. Offspring of a parent with non-severe mood disorders reported intermediate levels of basic symptoms, that did not significantly differ from control offspring.
Basic symptoms during childhood are a marker of familial risk of psychopathology that is related to severity and is not specific to psychotic illness.
Immune system markers may predict affective disorder treatment response, but whether an overall immune system marker predicts bipolar disorder treatment effect is unclear.
Bipolar CHOICE (N = 482) and LiTMUS (N = 283) were similar comparative effectiveness trials treating patients with bipolar disorder for 24 weeks with four different treatment arms (standard-dose lithium, quetiapine, moderate-dose lithium plus optimised personalised treatment (OPT) and OPT without lithium). We performed secondary mixed effects linear regression analyses adjusted for age, gender, smoking and body mass index to investigate relationships between pre-treatment white blood cell (WBC) levels and clinical global impression scale (CGI) response.
Compared to participants with WBC counts of 4.5–10 × 109/l, participants with WBC < 4.5 or WBC ≥ 10 showed similar improvement within each specific treatment arm and in gender-stratified analyses.
An overall immune system marker did not predict differential treatment response to four different treatment approaches for bipolar disorder all lasting 24 weeks.
Bipolar disorder (BD) is a debilitating, lifelong neuropsychiatric illness characterised by unsteady mood states which vacillate from (hypo)mania to depression. Despite the availability of pharmaceutical agents which can be effective in ameliorating the acute affective symptoms and prevent episodic relapse, BD is inadequately treated in a subset of patients. The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is known to exert neuromodulatory effects on other neurotransmitter systems critical in governing emotions. Several studies ranging from clinical to molecular, as well as anecdotal evidence, have placed a spotlight on the potential role of the ECS in the pathophysiology of BD. In this perspective, we present advantages and disadvantages of cannabis use in the management of illness course of BD and provide mechanistic insights into how this system might contribute to the pathophysiology of BD.
We highlight the putative role of selective cannabinoid receptor 2 (CB2) agonists in BD and briefly discuss findings which provide a rationale for targeting the ECS to assuage the symptoms of BD. Further, data encourage basic and clinical studies to determine how cannabis and cannabinoids (CBs) can affect mood and to investigate emerging CB-based options as probable treatment approaches.
The probable role of the ECS has been almost neglected in BD; however, from data available which suggest a role of ECS in mood control, it is justified to support conducting comprehensive studies to determine whether ECS manipulation could positively affect BD. Based on the limited available data, we suggest that activation of CB2 may stabilise mood in this disorder.
Bipolar disorder (BD) and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are prevalent, comorbid, and disabling conditions, often characterized by early onset and chronic course. When comorbid, OCD and BD can determine a more pernicious course of illness, posing therapeutic challenges for clinicians. Available reports on prevalence and clinical characteristics of comorbidity between BD and OCD showed mixed results, likely depending on the primary diagnosis of analyzed samples.
We assessed prevalence and clinical characteristics of BD comorbidity in a large international sample of patients with primary OCD (n = 401), through the International College of Obsessive–Compulsive Spectrum Disorders (ICOCS) snapshot database, by comparing OCD subjects with vs without BD comorbidity.
Among primary OCD patients, 6.2% showed comorbidity with BD. OCD patients with vs without BD comorbidity more frequently had a previous hospitalization (p < 0.001) and current augmentation therapies (p < 0.001). They also showed greater severity of OCD (p < 0.001), as measured by the Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS).
These findings from a large international sample indicate that approximately 1 out of 16 patients with primary OCD may additionally have BD comorbidity along with other specific clinical characteristics, including more frequent previous hospitalizations, more complex therapeutic regimens, and a greater severity of OCD. Prospective international studies are needed to confirm our findings.
Individuals with bipolar disorder respond to affective symptoms with a range of coping behaviours, which may further maintain the symptoms.
To examine moment-to-moment dynamics between affective states and coping behaviours, and to evaluate the role of cognitive appraisals of internal states as moderators.
Forty-six individuals with bipolar disorder completed a clinical interview and an experience sampling assessment over 6 days. Time-lagged analyses were conducted by multilevel regression modelling.
A total of 1807 momentary entries were analysed. Negative affect predicted an increase in rumination at the subsequent time point (β = 0.21, s.e. = 0.08, P = 0.009, 95% CI 0.05–0.36), and vice versa (β = 0.03, s.e. = 0.01, P = 0.009, 95% CI 0.01–0.05). Positive affect predicted an increase in adaptive coping (β = 0.26, s.e. = 0.11, P = 0.018, 95% CI 0.04–0.47), and vice versa (β = 0.02, s.e. = 0.01, P = 0.019, 95% CI 0.00–0.03). Positive affect also predicted a decrease in rumination (β = −0.15, s.e. = 0.06, P = 0.014, 95% CI −0.26 to −0.03), and vice versa (β = −0.03, s.e. = 0.01, P = 0.016, 95% CI −0.06 to −0.01). Extreme cognitive appraisals predicted stronger associations between affective states and coping behaviours.
Feedback loops between affective states and coping behaviours were revealed in the daily life of individuals with bipolar disorder, which were moderated by extreme cognitive appraisals.
Children of parents with mood and psychotic disorders are at elevated risk for a range of behavioral and emotional problems. However, as the usual reporter of psychopathology in children is the parent, reports of early problems in children of parents with mood and psychotic disorders may be biased by the parents' own experience of mental illness and their mental state.
Independent observers rated psychopathology using the Test Observation Form in 378 children and youth between the ages of 4 and 24 (mean = 11.01, s.d. = 4.40) who had a parent with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or no history of mood and psychotic disorders.
Observed attentional problems were elevated in offspring of parents with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia (effect sizes ranging between 0.31 and 0.56). Oppositional behavior and language/thought problems showed variable degrees of elevation (effect sizes 0.17 to 0.57) across the three high-risk groups, with the greatest difficulties observed in offspring of parents with bipolar disorder. Observed anxiety was increased in offspring of parents with major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder (effect sizes 0.19 and 0.25 respectively) but not in offspring of parents with schizophrenia.
Our results suggest that externalizing problems and cognitive and language difficulties may represent a general manifestation of familial risk for mood and psychotic disorders, while anxiety may be a specific marker of liability for mood disorders. Observer assessment may improve early identification of risk and selection of youth who may benefit from targeted prevention.
Aberrant face emotion processing has been demonstrated in youth with and at a familial risk for bipolar and major depressive disorders. However, the neurobiological factors related to emotion processing that underlie resilience from youth-onset mood disorders are not well understood. Functional magnetic resonance imaging data during an implicit emotion processing task were collected at baseline from a sample of 50 youth, ages 8–17, who were healthy but also familially at high risk for either bipolar disorder or major depressive disorder, and 24 healthy controls with no family history of psychopathology (HCL). Participants were reevaluated 3 years later and classified into three groups for analysis: high-risk youth who converted to a psychiatric diagnosis (CVT; N = 23), high-risk youth who were resilient from developing any psychopathology (RES; N = 27), and HCL youth (N = 24) who remained healthy at follow-up. For happy > calm faces, the CVT and RES groups had significantly lower activation in the left inferior parietal lobe (IPL), while the RES group had lower activation in the right supramarginal gyrus. For fear > calm faces, the RES group had lower activation in the right precuneus and inferior frontal gyrus (IFG) compared to the CVT group. Connectivity analyses revealed the RES group exhibited higher left IPL connectivity with visual cortical regions for happy > calm faces, and higher IFG connectivity with frontal, temporal, and limbic regions for fear > calm faces. These connectivities were correlated with improvements in prosocial behaviors and global functioning. Our findings suggest that differential activation and connectivity in the IPL, IFG, and precuneus in response to emotional stimuli may represent distinct resilience and risk markers for youth-onset mood disorders.
Despite growing evidence in the field of cognitive function in mood disorders, the neurocognitive profiles of patients with unipolar and bipolar depression still need further characterization. In this study, we applied network analysis, hypothesizing this approach could highlight differences between major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD) from a cognitive perspective.
The cognitive performance of 109 patients (72 unipolar and 37 bipolar depressed outpatients) was assessed through the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA), and a series of clinical variables were collected. Differences in cognitive performance between MDD and BD patients were tested using non-parametric tests. Moreover, a network graph representing MoCA domains as nodes and Spearman’s rho correlation coefficients between the domains as edges was constructed for each group.
The presence of mild cognitive impairment was observed in both MDD and BD patients during depression. No statistical significant difference was found between the two groups in terms of overall cognitive performance and across single domains. Nonetheless, network analytic metrics demonstrated different roles of memory and executive dysfunction in MDD versus BD patients: in particular, MDD network was more densely interconnected than BD network, and memory was the node with the highest betweenness and closeness centrality in MDD, while executive function was more central in BD.
From a network analytic perspective, memory impairment displays a central role in the cognitive impairment of patients with unipolar depression, whereas executive dysfunction appears to be more central in bipolar depression. Further research is warranted to confirm our results.
Bipolar disorder I (BD-I) is defined by episodes of mania, depression and euthymic states. These episodes are among other symptoms characterized by altered reward processing and negative symptoms (NS), in particular apathy. However, the neural correlates of these deficits are not well understood.
We first assessed the severity of NS in 25 euthymic BD-I patients compared with 25 healthy controls (HC) and 27 patients with schizophrenia (SZ). Then, we investigated ventral (VS) and dorsal striatal (DS) activation during reward anticipation in a Monetary Incentive Delayed Task and its association with NS.
In BD-I patients NS were clearly present and the severity of apathy was comparable to SZ patients. Apathy scores in the BD-I group but not in the SZ group correlated with sub-syndromal depression scores. At the neural level, we found significant VS and DS activation in BD-I patients and no group differences with HC or SZ patients. In contrast to patients with SZ, apathy did not correlate with striatal activation during reward anticipation. Explorative whole-brain analyses revealed reduced extra-striatal activation in BD-I patients compared with HC and an association between reduced activation of the inferior frontal gyrus and apathy.
This study found that in BD-I patients apathy is present to an extent comparable to SZ, but is more strongly related to sub-syndromal depressive symptoms. The findings support the view of different pathophysiological mechanisms underlying apathy in the two disorders and suggest that extra-striatal dysfunction may contribute to impaired reward processing and apathy in BD-I.
Recently, the MONARCA I randomized controlled trial (RCT) was the first to investigate the effect of smartphone-based monitoring in bipolar disorder (BD). Findings suggested that smartphone-based monitoring sustained depressive but reduced manic symptoms. The present RCT investigated the effect of a new smartphone-based system on the severity of depressive and manic symptoms in BD.
Randomized controlled single-blind parallel-group trial. Patients with BD, previously treated at The Copenhagen Clinic for Affective Disorder, Denmark and currently treated at community psychiatric centres, private psychiatrists or GPs were randomized to the use of a smartphone-based system or to standard treatment for 9 months. Primary outcomes: differences in depressive and manic symptoms between the groups.
A total of 129 patients with BD (ICD-10) were included. Intention-to-treat analyses showed no statistically significant effect of smartphone-based monitoring on depressive (B = 0.61, 95% CI −0.77 to 2.00, p = 0.38) and manic (B = −0.25, 95% CI −1.1 to 0.59, p = 0.56) symptoms. The intervention group reported higher quality of life and lower perceived stress compared with the control group. In sub-analyses, the intervention group had higher risk of depressive episodes, but lower risk of manic episodes compared with the control group.
There was no effect of smartphone-based monitoring. In patient-reported outcomes, patients in the intervention group reported improved quality of life and reduced perceived stress. Patients in the intervention group had higher risk of depressive episodes and reduced risk of manic episodes. Despite the widespread use and excitement of electronic monitoring, few studies have investigated possible effects. Further studies are needed.
Both bipolar disorder (BD) and schizophrenia (SZ) are associated with language and thought symptoms that probably reflect a semantic memory-related impairment. We conducted a preliminary study to explore the nature of semantic processing in these disorders, using event-related potentials (ERPs).
Twelve patients with BD, 10 patients with SZ and a matched group of 21 healthy controls (HC) underwent EEG recording while they heard sentences containing homophones or control words and performed a semantic ambiguity resolution task on congruent or incongruent targets.
Mean N400 amplitude differed between groups for homophones. Patients with SZ made more resolution errors than HC and exhibited a greater N400 congruity effect in ambiguous conditions than BD. In BD, the opposite N400 congruity effect was observed in ambiguous conditions.
Results indicated differences in semantic processing between BD and SZ. Further studies with larger populations are needed in order to develop neurophysiological markers of these disorders.