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Effects of stresses associated with extremely preterm birth may be biologically “recorded” in the genomes of individuals born preterm via changes in DNA methylation (DNAm) patterns. Genome-wide DNAm profiles were examined in buccal epithelial cells from 45 adults born at extremely low birth weight (ELBW; ≤1000 g) in the oldest known cohort of prospectively followed ELBW survivors (Mage = 32.35 years, 17 male), and 47 normal birth weight (NBW; ≥2500 g) control adults (Mage = 32.43 years, 20 male). Sex differences in DNAm profiles were found in both birth weight groups, but they were greatly enhanced in the ELBW group (77,895 loci) versus the NBW group (3,424 loci), suggesting synergistic effects of extreme prenatal adversity and sex on adult DNAm profiles. In men, DNAm profiles differed by birth weight group at 1,354 loci on 694 unique genes. Only two loci on two genes distinguished between ELBW and NBW women. Gene ontology (GO) and network analyses indicated that loci differentiating between ELBW and NBW men were abundant in genes within biological pathways related to neuronal development, synaptic transportation, metabolic regulation, and cellular regulation. Findings suggest increased sensitivity of males to long-term epigenetic effects of extremely preterm birth. Group differences are discussed in relation to particular gene functions.
Data about quality of life (QoL) are important to estimate the impact of diseases on functioning and well-being. The present study was designed to assess the association of different aspects of panic disorder (PD) with QoL and to examine the relationship between QoL and symptomatic outcome following brief cognitive-behavioral group therapy (CBGT).
The sample consisted of 55 consecutively recruited outpatients suffering from PD who underwent CBGT. QoL was assessed by the Medical Outcomes Study 36-item Short-Form Health Survey (SF-36) at baseline, post-treatment and six months follow-up. SF-36 baseline scores were compared with normative data obtained from a large German population sample.
Agoraphobia, disability, and worries about health were significantly associated with decreased QoL, whereas frequency, severity and duration of panic attacks were not. Treatment responders showed significantly better QoL than non-responders. PD symptom reduction following CBGT was associated with considerable improvement in emotional and physical aspects of QoL. However, the vitality subscale of the SF-36 remained largely unchanged over time.
Our results are encouraging for cognitive-behavior therapists who treat patients suffering from PD in groups, since decrease of PD symptoms appears to be associated with considerable improvements in QoL. Nevertheless, additional interventions designed to target specific aspects of QoL, in particular vitality, may be useful to enhance patients’ well-being.
The aim of this guidance paper of the European Psychiatric Association is to provide evidence-based recommendations on the early detection of a clinical high risk (CHR) for psychosis in patients with mental problems. To this aim, we conducted a meta-analysis of studies reporting on conversion rates to psychosis in non-overlapping samples meeting any at least any one of the main CHR criteria: ultra-high risk (UHR) and/or basic symptoms criteria. Further, effects of potential moderators (different UHR criteria definitions, single UHR criteria and age) on conversion rates were examined. Conversion rates in the identified 42 samples with altogether more than 4000 CHR patients who had mainly been identified by UHR criteria and/or the basic symptom criterion ‘cognitive disturbances’ (COGDIS) showed considerable heterogeneity. While UHR criteria and COGDIS were related to similar conversion rates until 2-year follow-up, conversion rates of COGDIS were significantly higher thereafter. Differences in onset and frequency requirements of symptomatic UHR criteria or in their different consideration of functional decline, substance use and co-morbidity did not seem to impact on conversion rates. The ‘genetic risk and functional decline’ UHR criterion was rarely met and only showed an insignificant pooled sample effect. However, age significantly affected UHR conversion rates with lower rates in children and adolescents. Although more research into potential sources of heterogeneity in conversion rates is needed to facilitate improvement of CHR criteria, six evidence-based recommendations for an early detection of psychosis were developed as a basis for the EPA guidance on early intervention in CHR states.
People with eating disorders (ED) are at high risk for suicidal behavior. Among different ED, anorexia nervosa (AN) has the highest rates of completed suicide whereas suicide attempt rates are similar or lower than in bulimia nervosa (BN). Attempted suicide is a key predictor of completed suicide, thus this mismatch is intriguing. We sought to explore whether the clinical characteristics of suicidal acts differ between suicide attempters with AN, BN or without an ED.
Case-control study in cohort of suicide attempters (n = 1563). Forty-four patients with AN and 71 with BN were compared with 235 non-ED attempters matched for sex, age and education, using interview measures of suicidal intent and severity.
AN patients were more likely to have made a serious attempt (OR = 3.4, 95% CI 1.4–7.9), with a higher expectation of dying (OR = 3.7, 95% CI 1.1–13.5), and an increased risk of lethality (OR = 3.4, 95% CI 1.2–9.6). BN patients did not differ from the control group.
There are distinct features of suicide attempts in AN. This may explain the higher suicide rates in AN. Deaths from suicide in AN may not be the result simply of their greater physical frailty.
“High utilizing” schizophrenic patients are a problem in routine inpatient care.
A complex intervention with improved cooperation between in- and outpatient services was applied to 46 “high utilizing” patients after discharge from inpatient care during an intervention phase of 6 months. The study was controlled by a matched group of 47 patients receiving treatment as usual.
The goal of this study was to prevent rehospitalizations and thus optimize satisfaction with treatment and quality of life in patients suffering from schizophrenia.
The intervention was based on a computerized decision support module. Eight psychiatrists in private practices were supplied with this software to obtain guideline-based recommendations according to current psychopathology and clinical state. A local hospital project team arranged specifically suggested interventions. Moderator variables such as socio-demographical aspects or influences of certain interventions to rehospitalization rate were analyzed
Sociodemographical aspects showed no differences between both groups. The rehospitalization rate and the mean length of inpatient treatment were reduced to nearly 50% (Interventiongroup). The rate of readmissions increased in the control group, leading to a difference of 23% between both groups. Cost effectiveness was higher in the interventiongroup than in the controlgroup.
The most important single factor was the participation in coping skills training, but only the guideline consistent complex therapies caused the significant overall result. Satisfaction increased during 6 months and remained constant during 12 months of follow up. The project described an important step to gain evidence for integrated care for patients with schizophrenia.
Some studies have shown that alexithymic patients respond poorly to pharmacotherapy and that alexithymia may have a negative impact on the naturalistic course of psychiatric illnesses. The view that alexithymic patients are also less responsive to psychotherapy is often described in the literature, but few empirical studies have examined this issue, with inconsistent results.
We conducted two prospective studies (pre/post/follow-up) with patients with panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, to evaluate alexithymia as a potential predictor of the outcome of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) including exposure response management. A further aim was to examine the absolute and relative stability of alexithymia.
Regression analyses revealed that alexithymia, as measured with the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale, was related neither to the post-treatment nor to the follow-up outcome. The repeated measures ANOVA showed a significant decrease of alexithymia over time, even after controlling for depression. The high test-retest correlations of alexithymia total and factor scores indicated relative stability of this construct, suggesting that it is a stable personality trait rather than a state-dependent phenomenon in these patients.
The results are encouraging for cognitive-behavior therapists working with alexithymic patients with panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, since the CBT outcome of these patients does not appear to be negatively affected by alexithymia. Furthermore, some alexithymic characteristics may decrease during CBT, even when the therapy program is not specifically directed to alexithymia. Future controlled studies should examine whether these improvements of alexithymia are due to psychotherapeutic interventions, in particular exposure therapy.
There is considerable evidence that white matter abnormalities play a key role in the pathogenesis of a number of major psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Few studies, however, have compared white matter abnormalities early in the course of the illness.
A total of 102 children and adolescents participated in the study, including 43 with early-onset schizophrenia, 13 with early-onset bipolar affective disorder, 17 with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and 29 healthy controls. Diffusion tensor imaging scans were obtained on all children and the images were assessed for the presence of non-spatially overlapping regions of white matter differences, a novel algorithm known as the pothole approach.
Patients with early-onset schizophrenia and early-onset bipolar affective disorder had a significantly greater number of white matter potholes compared to controls, but the total number of potholes did not differ between the two groups. The volumes of the potholes were significantly larger in patients with early-onset bipolar affective disorder compared to the early-onset schizophrenia group. Children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder showed no differences in the total number of white matter potholes compared to controls.
White matter abnormalities in early-onset schizophrenia and bipolar affective disorder are more global in nature, whereas children and adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder do not show widespread differences in FA.
Social perception is a key aspect of social cognition which has so far not been investigated in eating disorders (ED). This study aimed to investigate social perception in individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia nervosa (BN).
Outpatients with AN (restricting subtype [AN-R]: n = 51; binge-purge subtype [AN-BP]: n = 26) or BN (n = 57) and 50 healthy control (HC) participants completed the Interpersonal Perception Task (IPT-15). This is an ecologically valid task, which consists of 15 video clips, depicting complex social situations relating to intimacy, status, kinship, competition and deception. The participants have to assess relationships between protagonists’ based on non-verbal cues.
Overall, there was no difference between groups on the IPT total score and subscale scores. Group differences on the Intimacy subscale approached significance so post hoc comparisons were carried out. HCs performed significantly better than AN-R participants in determining the degree of intimacy between others.
Social perception is largely preserved in ED patients. Individuals with AN-R show impairments in identifying intimacy in social situations, this may be due to the lack of relationship experience. Further research into different aspects of social cognition is required to establish the link between interpersonal difficulties and ED psychopathology.
Psychotic and psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) are frequently found in the general population when assessed with self-report questionnaires. It is not clear how these assessments can help to predict the future development of mental disorders. The degree of certainty in appraisal or the experience-related distress may add prognostic power of clinical PLE assessments. This study was designed to provide baseline data of PLEs in a representative sample, which will be monitored for the future development.
We studied the frequency of PLEs in a representative sample of 4483 participants of the German population recruited through the Mental Health Module of the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Adults (DEGS1-MH). Participants were asked if they had had psychotic or psychosis-like experiences over their lifetime. We used the psychosis section of the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI), the Launay-Slade Hallucination Scale (LSHS) and the Peter's Delusion Inventory (PDI).
33.3% of the participants endorsed at least one item of the CIDI psychosis scale, 68.8% of the PDI and 49.0% of the LSHS. In the PDI assessments, conspiracy-related delusional experiences were most often experienced as distressing, while religious beliefs were experienced less distressing, but with high levels of conviction.
Our findings show frequent endorsement of lifetime psychotic or psychotic-like experiences in the general population in self-report questionnaires with varying degrees of distress and conviction. This provides the needed baseline assessment for follow-up studies observing the development of mental disorders with a view to determine the predictive values of these tests.
The prevalence and significance of APS and other risk symptoms in the general population, when assessed in the same way as in help-seeking persons, is still rather unclear. In two complimentary studies, we studied the prevalence of ultra-high risk and basic symptom criteria and symptoms assessed with the ‘Structured Interview for Psychosis-Risk Syndromes’ (SIPS) and the ‘Schizophrenia Proneness Instrument, Adult / Child and Youth version’ (SPI-A/SPI-CY) by trained psychologists in random community samples of age 8-17 and 16-40 years. At the time of writing, 1229 interviews with young adults and 55 with children/adolescents were completed. While only 2.8% of the young adults acknowledged the presence of any risk criterion, 9.1% of the children/adolescents did so. An even more pronounced age-related difference was found in the prevalence of lifetime risk phenomena: 25.2% of the young adults and 45.5% of the children/adolescents reported at least any one. Thereby, 'perceptual abnormalities/hallucinations” of the SIPS, mainly on APS level, were most frequent in both samples. While risk phenomena occurred, at least temporarily, in a quarter of young adults and even in nearly half of the children and adolescents, only a minority fulfilled the frequency and onset requirements of SIPS and SPI-A/SPI-CY – again with higher rates in children and adolescents. This highlights the importance of these additional requirements of the risk criteria, but also the need to further examine developmental peculiarities. These factors might play a crucial role in the differentiation between ill and non-ill persons and thus should be studied in more detail.
Schizotypy is regarded as a subthreshold expression or precursor of schizophrenia spectrum psychosis.
Schizotypal personality disorder is a risk factor of the ‘genetic risk and functional decline’ criterion of the ultra-high risk (UHR) criteria for psychosis; and its positive features are part of attenuated psychotic symptoms (APS) of the UHR criteria. Furthermore, schizotypy as assessed with the Wisconsin Scales of Schizophrenia Proneness (WSSP) 'Perceptual Aberration”, 'Magical Ideation”, and 'Social Anhedonia” but not 'Physical Anhedonia” was predictive of psychosis in the community.
Thus, we examined the psychosis-predictive value of the for WSSP in 128 patients seeking help at an early detection service (23+/-7 yrs; 56% male; 81% at-risk for UHR and/or basic symptom criteria) with a median follow-up of 24 (1-101) months by Cox regression.
Within 48 months; 36 patients converted to psychosis. Unexpectedly, none of the four WSSP was a significant predictor of conversion. This negative finding was replicated when the positive (Perceptual Aberration and Magical Ideation) and negative (both Anhedonia scales) dimension were examined. Thus, although schizotypy scales might be able to identify a more extreme range of the psychotic continuum in the community, they lack the ability to further separate ‘true’ from ‘false’ risk cases in a clinical sample already representing this more extreme range of the psychotic continuum.
This indicates that WSSP might be useful rather as an initial screening for persons potentially at-risk for current criteria in the community than as additional predictors in already identified risk patients.
Frowning expresses negative emotions like anger, fear, and sadness. According to the facial feedback hypothesis, suppression of frowning will also diminish the corresponding negative emotions. Hence, mood improvement has been observed in patients who underwent treatment of glabellar frown lines with botulinum neurotoxin. This observation suggests the possibility that the intervention may be employed for the management of psychiatric disorders associated with negative emotions. Preliminary data from an open case series indicate that the intervention might improve the symptoms of depression.
Aims & objectives
To test whether an onabotulinumtoxinA injection into the glabellar region is benefical as an adjunctive treatment of major depression within a clinical trial.
We used a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study design (n = 30; ClinicalTrials.gov, number, NCT00934687).
We show that a single onabotulinumtoxinA treatment shortly leads to a strong and sustained improvement in partly chronic major depression that did not respond sufficiently to previous treatment. As for the primary end-point, Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D17) six weeks after treatment compared to baseline, scores of onabotulinumtoxinA recipients showed 37.9% (8.34 points) more improvement than those of placebo-treated participants (F = 12.30, p = 0.002, η2 = 0.31, d = 1.28).
Our findings support the concept that the facial musculature not only expresses, but also regulates, mood states. As it stands, treatment of glabellar frown lines with botulinum neurotoxin can be considered for depressed patients with the objective of inducing mood-lifting effects.
Attachment and companionship are fundamental basic needs of human beings and contribute the feeling of security and social affiliation. It is assumed that dysfunctional attachment behaviour in people with Borderline Personality Disorder leads to difficulties in the interpersonal contact. Unsecure and especially disorganized manners of attachment seem to be frequently represented by mentally ill people. In this study the release of oxytocin according to attachment relevant situations was investigated and attachment representations of people with BPD have been analysed.
In order to determine attachment representations of healthy people and of people with BPD we used the validated ‘Adult Attachment Projective’/ ‘AAP’ by George, West and Pettem (1999). The projective contains eight contour drawings of attachment relevant situations. The participant should make up a story of each picture, which was evaluated by its coherence, its content and the used defence mechanisms. Attachment representations of 30 patients with BPD were surveyed. Furthermore we measured the release of oxytocin evoked by an activation of the attachment system via the ‘AAP’ in 10 healthy people. Therefor blood drawings were performed at four different points of time.
Here, we present pilot data on oxytocin measures induced via the ‘AAP’. We could detect a decrease of oxytocin in healthy people caused by an activation of the attachment system. Moreover attachment representations of patients with BPD will be presented and discussed. These preliminary data could lead to further studies on a possible dysregulation of the attachment- and the oxytocin system of people with BPD.
Besides affective instability and identity diffusion, disturbances in social interactions are a core symptom of borderline personality disorder (BPD). Interpersonal problems in BPD have been suggested to be associated with oxytocin dysregulation. To directly address this hypothesis, we investigated oxytocin plasma levels during a social exclusion (ostracism) paradigm in female BPD patients.
Twenty-two female BPD patients (diagnosed according to DSM-IV) and twenty-one healthy controls matched for gender, age, and education underwent repeated neuroendocrine measurements in a standardized laboratory setting during the Cyberball paradigm, a virtual balltossing game that evokes a social exclusion situation. Emotional reactions were assessed and oxytocin and cortisol levels measured at baseline and 5, 15, and 40 min after Cyberball.
After social exclusion, oxytocin plasma levels were lower in BPD patients than in healthy controls, whereas cortisol levels did not differ between groups. BPD patients showed distinct differences in emotion regulation compared to healthy participants and reacted to social exclusion with an increase of other-focused negative emotions, particularly anger and contempt.
Our pilot study suggests that the oxytocin system shows a differential response to social exclusion in BPD patients compared to healthy controls. This difference may be related to the high rejection sensitivity of BPD patients and their difficulties in resolving social conflict.
Dysfunctional coping patterns, low self-efficacy, and an excessive use of external control beliefs are assumed to be risk factors for psychosis. They are already present in patients with first-epsiode psychosis (FEP). However, it remains unclear if help-seeking patients symptomatically at-risk for psychosis (AR) show similar patterns of coping and competence/control beliefs as FEP patients.
We compared the frequency of deficits in coping, self-efficacy, and competence beliefs between AR according to the ultra-high risk and/or basic symptom criteria (n=21; mean age: 19.4±4.6) and FEP patients (n=22; mean age: 20.0±4.6). Coping strategies were assessed through the Stress-Coping-Questionnaires (SVF-120/SVF-KJ); self-efficacy and competence beliefs through the Competence and Control Beliefs Questionnaire (FKK).
Most AR and FEP patients demonstrated dysfunctional coping patterns, low self-efficicacy, and biases in control beliefs. Compared to FEP, AR patients reported even more deficits in positive coping strategies and self-efficacy than FEP. Moreover, they showed an excessive use of external fatalistic beliefs. In contrast, FEP patients demonstrated to be overly self-confident.
Dysfunctional coping and competence/control belief patterns are present before the onset of psychosis and are promising predictors of conversion to psychosis. Therefore, they appear to be important treatment targets for early intervention in psychosis. As deficit patterns of AR differ from those of FEP patients, interventions need to be tailored to the special treatment needs of both groups to prevent transition or relapse to psychosis.
An ‘Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome’ was included in Section III (Conditions for further study) of DSM-5. Although help-seeking for attenuated psychotic symptoms is not part of the final set of criteria, it had been proposed as an obligate criterion before in an attempt to avoid the suspected diagnostic creep in clinical practice. Therefore, our aim was to examine (non-)help-seeking for mental problems including attenuated psychotic symptoms and other at-risk phenomena in the general population.
1’229 persons of the general population were interviewed. Ultra-high risk criteria were assessed with the ‘Structured Interview for Psychosis-Risk Syndromes’ (SIPS), basic symptom criteria with the ‘Schizophrenia Proneness Instrument, Adult version’ (SPI-A), and help-seeking with a modified version of the WHO pathway-to-care questionnaire. Additionally, satisfaction with potential treatment outcome was assessed with the Brief Multidimensional Life Satisfaction Scale.
285 (21.9%) interviewees reported help-seeking for mental problems; 105 (8.1%) ‘help-seekers’ also reported symptoms included in the at-risk criteria for psychosis, irrespective of them fulfilling the respective time and frequency criteria (AtRisk). The group of AtRisk (29.5%) sought significantly more often help than persons not experiencing at-risk symptoms (NoRisk=19.1%; Cramer's V=0.112). Both groups mainly contacted a psychiatrist/psychologist or a general practitioner first. Main reasons for help-seeking in both groups were depressive mood (AtRisk=35.7%; NoRisk=38.5%), anxiousness (AtRisk=30.4%; NoRisk=20.9%) and family problems (AtRisk=30.4%; NoRisk=35.2%). Of the AtRisk, only two spontaneously named at-risk symptoms as a main reason for help-seeking. Interestingly, AtRisk were less satisfied with treatment success than NoRisk.
Psychiatric comorbidity is an important aspect of neurological disorders. It affects about 30-50% of neurologic patients but is frequently underrecognized.
Our objective was to determine the prevalence and severity of the symptoms of mental disorders in neurologic in-patients.
Between May and September 2014, all neurologic in-patients of a university neurologic center were asked to complete two self report questionnaires for assessing symptoms of mental disorders, namely the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI), which allow to assess a range of nine different psychiatric domains. We performed a multivariate covariance analysis in order to relate the type and frequency of symptoms of mental disorders with the neurological discharge diagnosis, while age, gender, and duration of in-patient treatment served as putative covariates.
Of all responders (n = 157), 51% stated to have suffered from psychological distress within the past seven days, and 43% indicated depressive symptoms (21% mild, 17% moderate, 5% severe). The mean global severity index GSI (M = 0.64, SD = 0.52) exceeded the 1 SD range of healthy persons but was lower than that of psychiatric in-patients known from the literature. Furthermore, our subanalysis revealed different patterns of symptoms of mental disorders between neurologic patients with degenerative, vascular, demyelinating or epileptic disoders.
Psychometric measurement is useful to characterize the burden of the symptoms of mental disorders and will be used to further develop the psychiatric liaison services.