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Published By  Lindsay
MIND Guest BlogMIND Guest Blog

A new study opens a door to more biologically based categories of major mental illness


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If you are unfortunate enough to develop acute chest pain this winter you will probably be assessed by a clinician who will order a battery of tests to determine if your symptoms result from pneumonia, bronchitis, heart disease, or something else. These tests not only can yield a precise diagnosis, they ensure you will receive the appropriate treatment for your specific illness.

If you are unfortunate enough to have a psychotic episode this winter, the process of arriving at a diagnosis will be quite different. In fact, there are not many choices. Most people with a psychotic disorder are labeled as having either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. The distinction has been in textbooks for a century: schizophrenia (originally dementia praecox) is associated with delusions, hallucinations, an absence of affect, and a chronic course; bipolar (originally manic depressive disorder) can also involve delusions and hallucinations, and ,typically, dramatic swings in mood and a fluctuating course. But outside of textbooks, in the real world of the emergency room or clinic, these distinctions are less clear as many patients do not neatly fit the formal descriptions. Sadly, there are no blood tests or scans to distinguish schizophrenia from bipolar disorder.

While clinicians have become very skilled at assessing symptoms and signs, the absence of diagnostic laboratory tools or biomarkers poses a serious problem in psychiatry. Do all people with a label of schizophrenia have the same disorder? What about the large number of people who appear to have aspects of both schizophrenia and bipolar? Are these disorders, diagnosed exclusively by signs and symptoms, identifying distinct biological entities or could there be many different illnesses with a continuum of psychotic signs and symptoms? These questions are not merely academic.  As with chest pain, getting a precise diagnosis is important for selecting the best treatment. 

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Published By  Lindsay

Study finds it might be safer alternative to standard antipsychotics

 

TUESDAY, Feb. 18, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- The antidepressant Celexa shows promise in easing the agitation people with Alzheimer's disease often suffer, and may offer a safer alternative to antipsychotic drugs, a new study finds.

"Agitation is one of the worst symptoms for patients and their families: it puts the Alzheimer's patient at risk for other system overloads (cardiac, infection), wears them out physically, and exhausts caregivers and families," noted one expert, Dr. Alan Manevitz, a clinical psychiatrist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

He said that while antipsychotic drugs are typically used to help ease the agitation, they are also associated with a higher risk of death for Alzheimer's patients, so safer alternatives would be welcome.

The new study was led by Dr. Constantine Lyketsos, director of the Johns Hopkins Memory and Alzheimer's Treatment Center in Baltimore. It included 186 Alzheimer's patients with agitation symptoms such as emotional distress, aggression, irritability, and excessive movem

 

 

 

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Published By  Lindsay
 

In some cases, doctors will prescribe drugs for the treatment of insomnia.

 

 

All insomnia medications should be taken shortly before bed. Do not attempt to drive or perform other activities that require concentration after taking an insomnia drug because it will make you sleepy. Medications should be used in combination with good sleep practices.

Listed below are some drugs that can be used to treat insomnia.

 

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Published By  Forum Admin
 
 

By Kipp Friedman

[Kipp Friedman is the author of the new childhood memoir, "Barracuda in the Attic" (Fantagraphics)]

 

My psychiatrist said I was "critical and controlling" so I called him a quack and promptly fired him. Okay, I didn't call him a quack. But I did stop seeing him after two short visits -- first taking the time to even thank him profusely for having "cured me." Let's just say he wasn't sad to see me go. But before you judge me too harshly, first let me explain.

 

Sometimes life throws you a curveball. Midway through 2009 I began struggling with a bout of insomnia, which bloomed into what can best be described as situational depression. Lingering feelings of sadness and anxiety -- emotions I had rarely experienced and never in such magnitude -- suddenly crept into my life like an invasive insect wreaking slow, inexorable havoc in my backyard. My issues were fairly obvious, but still did nothing to mitigate the feelings I was struggling to contain: work had slowed to a crawl (hello, economic downturn!); our only son had left for college in another state (pleased to meet ya', empty-nest syndrome!); I was approaching the big 5-0 (put 'er there, mid-life crisis!); and to top it all off, a book deal that I had thought promising had gone up in smoke (goodbye, fame and fortune!).

 

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Published By  Lindsay

 

 
 
 

Drinking while on other types of medications might have a negative effect on your symptoms or the disease itself. For example, consuming alcohol can reduce blood-sugar levels, leading to poor control of diabetes. [7 Ways Alcohol Affects Your Health]

Knocking a few back can also intensify the sleep-inducting effect of medications that may cause drowsiness, making it risky to get behind the wheel or use dangerous machinery. 

"The danger of combining alcohol and some medications is real and sometimes fatal," said Danya Qato, a practicing pharmacist and doctoral candidate in health services research at Brown University in Providence, R.I.

"Alcohol works in various and unexpected ways to impact the effectiveness of a medication," Qato told LiveScience.

 

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Published By  Lindsay

August 12, 2013, 2:53 pm

 

Over the past two decades, the use of antidepressants has skyrocketed. One in 10 Americans now takes an antidepressant medication; among women in their 40s and 50s, the figure is one in four.

Experts have offered numerous reasons. Depression is common, and economic struggles have added to our stress and anxiety. Television ads promote antidepressants, and insurance plans usually cover them, even while limiting talk therapy. But a recent study suggests another explanation: that the condition is being overdiagnosed on a remarkable scale.

The study, published in April in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, found that nearly two-thirds of a sample of more than 5,000 patients who had been given a diagnosis of depression within the previous 12 months did not meet the criteria for major depressive episode as described by the psychiatrists’ bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (or D.S.M.).

The study is not the first to find that patients frequently get “false positive” diagnoses for depression. Several earlier review studies have reported that diagnostic accuracy is low in general practice offices, in large part because serious depression is so rare in that setting.

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