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Depressive disorders have one of the highest disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) of all medical conditions, which led the European Psychiatric Association to propose a policy paper, pinpointing their unmet health care and research needs. The first part focuses on what can be currently done to improve the care of patients with depression, and then discuss future trends for research and healthcare. Through the narration of clinical cases, the different points are illustrated. The necessary political framework is formulated, to implement such changes to fundamentally improve psychiatric care. The group of European Psychiatrist Association (EPA) experts insist on the need for (1) increased awareness of mental illness in primary care settings, (2) the development of novel (biological) markers, (3) the rapid implementation of machine learning (supporting diagnostics, prognostics, and therapeutics), (4) the generalized use of electronic devices and apps into everyday treatment, (5) the development of the new generation of treatment options, such as plasticity-promoting agents, and (6) the importance of comprehensive recovery approach. At a political level, the group also proposed four priorities, the need to (1) increase the use of open science, (2) implement reasonable data protection laws, (3) establish ethical electronic health records, and (4) enable better healthcare research and saving resources.
The ongoing developments of psychiatric classification systems have largely improved reliability of diagnosis, including that of schizophrenia. However, with an unknown pathophysiology and lacking biomarkers, its validity still remains low, requiring further advancements. Research has helped establish multiple sclerosis (MS) as the central nervous system (CNS) disorder with an established pathophysiology, defined biomarkers and therefore good validity and significantly improved treatment options. Before proposing next steps in research that aim to improve the diagnostic process of schizophrenia, it is imperative to recognize its clinical heterogeneity. Indeed, individuals with schizophrenia show high interindividual variability in terms of symptomatic manifestation, response to treatment, course of illness and functional outcomes. There is also a multiplicity of risk factors that contribute to the development of schizophrenia. Moreover, accumulating evidence indicates that several dimensions of psychopathology and risk factors cross current diagnostic categorizations. Schizophrenia shares a number of similarities with MS, which is a demyelinating disease of the CNS. These similarities appear in the context of age of onset, geographical distribution, involvement of immune-inflammatory processes, neurocognitive impairment and various trajectories of illness course. This article provides a critical appraisal of diagnostic process in schizophrenia, taking into consideration advancements that have been made in the diagnosis and management of MS. Based on the comparison between the two disorders, key directions for studies that aim to improve diagnostic process in schizophrenia are formulated. All of them converge on the necessity to deconstruct the psychosis spectrum and adopt dimensional approaches with deep phenotyping to refine current diagnostic boundaries.
Accumulating evidence indicates that a variety of distal and proximal factors might impact a risk of suicide. However, the association between both groups of factors remains unknown. Therefore, in the present study, we aimed to investigate the interplay between distal and proximal correlates of the current suicidal ideation.
A total of 3,000 individuals (aged 18–35 years, 41.7% males), who had reported a negative history of psychiatric treatment, were enrolled through an online computer-assisted web interview. Self-reports were administered to measure: (a) distal factors: a history of childhood trauma (CT), reading disabilities (RDs), symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), lifetime history of non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), lifetime problematic substance use as well as family history of schizophrenia and mood disorders; (b) proximal factors: depressive symptoms, psychotic-like experiences (PLEs), and insomnia; and (c) sociodemographic characteristics.
Suicidal ideation was directly associated with unemployment, being single, higher level of RD, lifetime history of NSSI as well as higher severity of PLEs, depression, and insomnia. The association of distal factors with suicidal ideation was fully (a history of CT and symptoms of ADHD) or partially (a history of NSSI and RD) mediated by proximal factors (PLEs, depression, and insomnia).
Main findings from this study posit the role of distal factors related to neurodevelopmental disorders, CT and NSSI in shaping suicide risk. Their effects might be partially or fully mediated by depression, PLEs, and insomnia.
The pathogenesis of schizophrenia is multidimensional and intensively studied. The gut–brain axis disturbances might play a significant role in the development of schizophrenia.
We compared the gut microbiota of 53 individuals with schizophrenia and 58 healthy controls, using the 16S rRNA sequencing method. Individuals with schizophrenia were assessed using the following scales: the Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, the Calgary Depression Scale for Schizophrenia, the Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale and the Repeatable Battery for the Assessment of Neuropsychological Status.
No significant between-group differences in α-diversity measures were observed. Increased abundance of Lactobacillales (order level), Bacilli (class level) and Actinobacteriota (phylum level) were found in individuals with schizophrenia regardless of potential confounding factors, and using two independent analytical approaches (the distance-based redundancy analysis and the generalised linear model analysis). Additionally, significant correlations between various bacterial taxa (the Bacteroidia class, the Actinobacteriota phylum, the Bacteroidota phylum, the Coriobacteriales order and the Coriobacteria class) and clinical manifestation (the severity of negative symptoms, performance of language abilities, social and occupational functioning) were observed.
The present study indicates that gut microbiota alterations are present in European patients with schizophrenia. The abundance of certain bacterial taxa might be associated with the severity of negative symptoms, cognitive performance and general functioning. Nonetheless, additional studies are needed before the translation of our results into clinical practice.
While shared clinical decision-making (SDM) is the preferred approach to decision-making in mental health care, its implementation in everyday clinical practice is still insufficient. The European Psychiatric Association undertook a study aiming to gather data on the clinical decision-making style preferences of psychiatrists working in Europe.
We conducted a cross-sectional online survey involving a sample of 751 psychiatrists and psychiatry specialist trainees from 38 European countries in 2021, using the Clinical Decision-Making Style – Staff questionnaire and a set of questions regarding clinicians’ expertise, training, and practice.
SDM was the preferred decision-making style across all European regions ([central and eastern Europe, CEE], northern and western Europe [NWE], and southern Europe [SE]), with an average of 73% of clinical decisions being rated as SDM. However, we found significant differences in non-SDM decision-making styles: participants working in NWE countries more often prefer shared and active decision-making styles rather than passive styles when compared to other European regions, especially to the CEE. Additionally, psychiatry specialist trainees (compared to psychiatrists), those working mainly with outpatients (compared to those working mainly with inpatients) and those working in community mental health services/public services (compared to mixed and private settings) have a significantly lower preference for passive decision-making style.
The preferences for SDM styles among European psychiatrists are generally similar. However, the identified differences in the preferences for non-SDM styles across the regions call for more dialogue and educational efforts to harmonize practice across Europe.
As COVID-19 becomes endemic, identifying vulnerable population groups for severe infection outcomes and defining rapid and effective preventive and therapeutic strategies remains a public health priority. We performed an umbrella review, including comprehensive studies (meta-analyses and systematic reviews) investigating COVID-19 risk for infection, hospitalization, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, and mortality in people with psychiatric disorders, and outlined evidence- and consensus-based recommendations for overcoming potential barriers that psychiatric patients may experience in preventing and managing COVID-19, and defining optimal therapeutic options and current research priorities in psychiatry. We searched Web of Science, PubMed, and Ovid/PsycINFO databases up to 17 January 2022 for the umbrella review. We synthesized evidence, extracting when available pooled odd ratio estimates for the categories “any mental disorder” and “severe mental disorders.” The quality of each study was assessed using the AMSTAR-2 approach and ranking evidence quality. We identified four systematic review/meta-analysis combinations, one meta-analysis, and three systematic reviews, each including up to 28 original studies. Although we rated the quality of studies from moderate to low and the evidence ranged from highly suggestive to non-significant, we found consistent evidence that people with mental illness are at increased risk of COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and most importantly mortality, but not of ICU admission. The risk and the burden of COVID-19 in people with mental disorders, in particular those with severe mental illness, can no longer be ignored but demands urgent targeted and persistent action. Twenty-two recommendations are proposed to facilitate this process.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented worldwide crisis affecting several sectors, including health, social care, economy and society at large. The World Health Organisation has emphasized that mental health care should be considered as one of the core sectors within the overall COVID-19 health response. By March 2020, recommendations for the organization of mental health services across Europe have been developed by several national and international mental health professional associations.
The European Psychiatric Association (EPA) surveyed a large European sample of psychiatrists, namely the “EPA Ambassadors”, on their clinical experience of the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the treatment of psychiatric patients during the month of April 2020 in order to: a) identify and report the views and experiences of European psychiatrists; and b) represent and share these results with mental health policy makers at European level. Based on the recommendations issued by national psychiatric associations and on the results of our survey, we identified important organisational aspects of mental health care during the peak of the first wave of the COVID-19.
While most of the recommendations followed the same principles, significant differences between countries emerged in service delivery, mainly relating to referrals to outpatients and for inpatient admission, assessments and treatment for people with mental disorders. Compared to previous months, the mean number of patients treated by psychiatrists in outpatient settings halved in April 2020. In the same period, the number of mentally ill patients tested for, or developing, COVID-19 was low. In most of countries, traditional face-to-face visits were replaced by online remote consultations.
Based on our findings we recommend: 1) to implement professional guidelines into practice and harmonize psychiatric clinical practice across Europe; 2) to monitor the treatment outcomes of patients with COVID-19 and pre-existing mental disorders; 3) to keep psychiatric services active by using all available options (for example telepsychiatry); 4) to increase communication and cooperation between different health care providers.
There is a growing number of studies showing interactions between genetic polymorphisms associated with dopaminergic neurotransmission and traumatic life events (TLEs) on a risk of psychotic-like experiences (PLEs). Anomalous self-experiences (ASEs) have been associated both with TLEs as well as with PLEs. However, it remains unknown what is the role of ASEs in the complexity of gene–environment interactions on the emergence of PLEs.
Patients and methods
We included 445 young adults—university students from three big cities in Poland. We used the Traumatic Events Checklist to assess TLEs, the Inventory of Psychotic-Like anomalous self-experiences in order to measure ASEs, and the Prodromal Questionnaire (PQ16) to record the level of PLEs. The following gene polymorphisms, related to dopaminergic neurotransmission, were determined: the catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT) rs4680 polymorphism, the dopamine D2 receptor (DRD2) rs6277 polymorphism, and the dopamine transporter 1 (DAT1) rs28363170 polymorphism.
There was a significant effect of the interaction between the DAT1 polymorphism, a severity of ASEs, and a history of TLEs on the level of PLEs. Among the DAT1 10R/10R homozygotes with low level of ASEs, a severity of PLEs was significantly higher in individuals with a history of any TLEs. Higher scores of the PQ16 were associated with a greater severity of ASEs both in the DAT1 9R allele carriers and the DAT1 10R/10R homozygotes.
Our findings imply that genetic liability related to aberrant dopamine transport might impact the association between TLEs and PLEs in subjects with high levels of ASEs.
A polymorphism of serotonin transporter was studied in 226 patients with affective disorders (n = 132 for bipolar, n = 94 for unipolar affective disorder) and in 213 healthy subjects. Consensus diagnosis by at least two psychiatrists, according to the ICD-10 and DSM-IV criteria was made for each patient using SCID (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I Disorders). A functional polymorphism in the promoter region of serotonin transporter gene, where 44 bp are either inserted (long allele) or deleted (short allele) was analysed. Genotype s/s was significantly more frequent in patients comparing to the control group (P = 0.011 for bipolar and P = 0.003 for unipolar affective disorder) - the most marked association was found in males with bipolar and unipolar illness. The allele frequencies also differ significantly between patients and controls (P = 0.003 for bipolar and P = 0.001 for unipolar affective disorder). The frequency of the low activity (short) allele was higher in patients than in controls (51.1% in bipolar, and 54.3 in unipolar vs 39.4% in controls). We suggest that the presence of allele s may increase the susceptibility to occurrence of affective disorder.
Regeneration processes are the new target in looking for biological markers of psychiatric disorders.
In this study, we considered the role of stem cells and factors responsible for their trafficking in panic disorder (PD).
A group of 30 patients with panic disorder was examined and compared with a group of 30 healthy volunteers. In peripheral blood we have analysed: the number of hematopoetic stem cells – HSC (Lin−/CD45+/CD34+) and HSC (Lin−/CD45+/AC133+), the number of very small embryonic – like stem cells – VSEL (Lin−/CD45−/CD34+) and VSEL (Lin−/CD45−/CD133+) and concentration of stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1), sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P), and some proteins of the complement cascade.
Peripheral blood concentration of HSCs (Lin−/CD45+/AC133+) was significantly lower in PD group compared to control group, before and after antidepressant treatment. Peripheral blood concentration of VSEL (Lin−/CD45−/CD133+) was significantly lower in PD group before treatment compared to concentration after treatment. In PD group concentrations of factors involved in stem cell trafficking were statistically significant lower in PD group (before and after treatment) compared to control group.
Examination of regeneration system seems to be useful in PD diagnostics.
Disclosure of interest
The authors have not supplied their declaration of competing interest.
Non-pharmacological interventions preferably precede pharmacological interventions in acute agitation. Reviews of pharmacological interventions remain descriptive or compare only one compound with several other compounds. The goal of this study is to compute a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect on restoring calmness after a pharmacological intervention, so a more precise recommendation is possible.
A search in Pubmed and Embase was done to isolate RCT’s considering pharmacological interventions in acute agitation. The outcome is reaching calmness within maximum of 2 h, assessed by the psychometric scales of PANSS-EC, CGI or ACES. Also the percentages of adverse effects was assessed.
Fifty-three papers were included for a systematic review and meta-analysis. Most frequent studied drug is olanzapine. Changes on PANNS-EC and ACES at 2 h showed the strongest changes for haloperidol plus promethazine, risperidon, olanzapine, droperidol and aripiprazole. However, incomplete data showed that the effect of risperidon is overestimated. Adverse effects are most prominent for haloperidol and haloperidol plus lorazepam.
Olanzapine, haloperidol plus promethazine or droperidol are most effective and safe for use as rapid tranquilisation. Midazolam sedates most quickly. But due to increased saturation problems, midazolam is restricted to use within an emergency department of a general hospital.
Radicalization is a process, by which individuals adopt extreme political, social and religious ideation that leads to mass violence acts. It has been hypothesized that mental health characteristics might be associated with a risk of radicalization. However, a qualitative synthesis of studies investigating the relationship between mental health and radicalization has not been performed so far. Therefore, we aimed to perform a systematic review of studies examining the association between mental health characteristics and the risk of radicalization. Two reviewers performed an independent search of online databases from their inception until 8th April 2018 and 12 publications met eligibility criteria. There were several methodological limitations across the majority of eligible publications, including doubtful sample representativeness, use of diagnostic procedures without personal assessment of mental health status or lack of standardized tools for assessment of mental health. Representative cross-sectional studies revealed that depressive symptoms might be associated with radicalization proneness. However, it remains unknown whether depressive symptoms are associated with resilience or vulnerability to radicalization. Another finding from our systematic review is that several personality traits might predispose to develop extreme ideation. Finally, there is some evidence that lone-actors might represent a specific subgroup of subjects with extreme beliefs which can be characterized by high prevalence of psychotic and/or mood disorders. In conclusion, this systematic review indicates that caution should be taken on how the association between ‘mental health’ and ‘radicalization’ is being claimed, because of limited evidence so far, and a number of methodological limitations of studies addressing this issue.
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