Antipsychotics and mood stabilisers may reduce violent crime

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John Baker reports on the first population based report of the positive effects of antipsychotic medication and mood stabilisers on reducing the risk of a conviction for violent crime, published in the Lancet in May.

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We don’t know if general health advice improves physical health for patients with serious mental illness

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For me, one of the most infuriating aspects of health care is the relegation of mental health problems, and mental health services, as secondary to physical health. There are a myriad of examples of this, from the classic stigma that people with mental health problems receive compared to those with physical health problems (fantastically illustrated [read the full story...]

No support for peer support?

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In this blog, I’m going to be discussing a recent systematic review and meta-analysis of “peer support for people with serious mental illness” (Lloyd-Evans et al, 2014). It’s something of a personal (as well as an academic) interest, as I am a carer and have been involved in mutual peer support groups myself. I have given [read the full story...]

Children of older fathers have an increased risk of psychiatric and academic problems, says new cohort study

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Research suggests that the risk of developing psychiatric problems (such as autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability or schizophrenia) may be linked to increased paternal age at the time of conception. This seems quite plausible given that advancing age in men is associated with increased genetic mutations in sperm. However, studies so far have generally not [read the full story...]

Ketamine for severe depression: what can we conclude from a small open label study?

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Last week the media reported widely on a study of ketamine for depression (McShane et al, 2014). As usual the headlines made bold assertions, the Telegraph running with “Horse tranquilliser Ketamine could cure severe depression” (Knapton, 2014). But what did the paper authored by an Oxford group and published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology really [read the full story...]

Insufficient evidence for sexual health promotion interventions in people with severe mental illness

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People with serious mental illness (SMI) such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder have higher morbidity and mortality rates due to physical illness. It’s estimated that people with SMI die 10-15 years earlier than the general population (DeHert et al, 2011). Increasingly attention is being paid to ways to improve the physical health of people with [read the full story...]

Does staying in hospital longer make you better?

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De-institutionalisation, the advent of community care and development of psychotropic medicines are implicated in the reduction in hospital bed numbers and mean length of stay. There remains a huge variance in length of stay and outcomes across the UK and beyond (NHS Confederation, 2011). Figures on length of stay and service configuration are difficult to [read the full story...]

Physical health monitoring in serious mental illness is a priority in psychiatry, but where is the evidence that it works?

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It is widely acknowledged that individuals with serious mental illnesses (SMI) such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression have increased rates of mortality, due to poor physical health. As well as reducing quality of life and function and decreasing life expectancy, physical illness can worsen these mental illnesses. The reasons for this include lifestyle [read the full story...]

Cochrane review finds limited evidence to support valproate as a maintenance treatment for bipolar disorder

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Bipolar disorder is an affective disorder marked by cycles between mania and depression. It has an early onset, with mean age ranging from 19 to 29 (Offord, 2012) and a prevalence of 0.5% – 4.3% in primary care alone, stretching to 9.3% in some settings (Cerimele, Chwastiak, Dodson, & Katon, 2013). With its problematic recurring [read the full story...]

Estimating heritability in 5 psychiatric disorders: a 21st Century family study

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It has long been established that psychiatric disorders have a genetic component. In the early days of genetic research, twin and family studies were used to estimate heritability (the proportion of variance explained by genetic factors). The Psychiatric Genetics Consortium has recently published a paper in Nature Genetics to assess the heritability and co-inheritability (relationship between [read the full story...]