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...]

Lithium prevents suicide in mood disorders, according to updated systematic review

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Mood disorders include schizoaffective, dysthymia, rapid cycling, unipolar and bipolar disorders. People with mood disorders have a 30 times higher risk of suicide than the general population. Recent Mental Elf blogs have summarised the data on suicide risk and bipolar disorder, and shown that one key treatment is lithium which appears to have a robust evidence [read the full story...]

UK survey finds that social firms may help with vocational recovery for people with mental illness

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In the UK it is a shocking statistic that around 80-90% of people with severe mental illness are not in work.  Unemployment impacts negatively not only on the individual, but is also costly to the government. Employment is now embedded in key mental health policy as a central part of recovery. However, despite this, and [read the full story...]

It’s not the combat, maybe it’s the drinking in vulnerable young men

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A cohort study published in JAMA tried to answer the question what are the risk factors for suicide in the US military. This is a hot topic as the rate of suicide has increased in US military personnel from about 11/100,000 people in 2005 to about 18/100,000 so that now deaths from suicide outnumber deaths [read the full story...]