ADHD and the importance of healthy sleep

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Good sleep is a crucial part of our physical and mental well-being. We typically spend about a third of our lives asleep but when we miss out on sleep, we can feel fatigued and struggle to concentrate. Sleep problems are generally quite common and have been reported as one of the most common health conditions [read the full story...]

Yoga for psychiatric disorders: systematic review shows some benefit but more research needed

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Here at Mental Elf HQ, several new pieces of research relating to yoga have come our way.  This blog is the first in a series examining the mental health effects of engaging in yoga. Yoga is a form of exercise (largely comprising physical postures and breathing) which originated in India over 5,000 years ago.  Many [read the full story...]

‘Controlled comforting’ and ‘camping out’ are safe long-term techniques for babies with sleep problems

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Hands up who doesn’t have an opinion about the best way to help babies get to sleep? It’s been a hotly contested topic in recent years, at dinner parties and playgrounds across the land. Behavioural sleep techniques have been shown to be effective at reducing sleep problems in infants and the associated maternal depression in the [read the full story...]

NICE evidence summary on the unlicensed and off-label use of melatonin for sleep disorders in children with ADHD

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NICE have recently started publishing a series of evidence summaries looking at unlicensed and off-label medicines. The second summary in the series looks at the use of prolonged-release melatonin tablets as a treatment for sleep disorders in children and young people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Future mental health summaries include ‘Quetiapine for generalised [read the full story...]

Prazosin may help reduce nightmares in people with PTSD, but more evidence is needed

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People who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often have nightmares that relive the experience and these can sometimes be as terrifying as the original trauma. These nightmares can be very difficult to treat effectively as there are few options available. A team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic have published a systematic review that [read the full story...]

Scotland sees increase in prescribing rates for mental health drugs

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The Scottish Government have published their annual summary of prescribing statistics for mental health drugs. The report shows increases in the prescribing rates for all groups of drugs over the last 12 months. The prescribing costs of some groups of drugs have also risen (ADHD, dementia, depression) although other groups have seen a decline (insomnia [read the full story...]

Benzodiazepines and Z drugs may increase the risk of death and cancer, according to new cohort study

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The prescribing of benzodiazepines and ‘Z drugs’ in general practice in England has stayed pretty consistent or increased slightly over the last 5 years, despite safety warnings about the risks of these drugs. I blogged about this back in May last year when the Department of Health highlighted two new studies by National Addiction Centre [read the full story...]

Insomnia can help predict depression

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People with depression frequently have trouble sleeping and this restlessness often first appears at the onset of the depressive disorder and continues until well after the depression has been successfully treated. This new meta-analysis conducted by a research team from the University of Freiburg Medical Center in Germany, investigates if insomnia can be viewed as [read the full story...]

Sending letters can help people stop taking benzodiazepines, says new systematic review

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As people get older they tend to have more problems sleeping. Sometimes they are prescribed medication (hynoptic drugs) to help them sleep. Commonly used hynoptics are benzodiazepines and Z drugs (zopiclone, zolpidem, zaleplon). Researchers from Australia have just published a systematic review of randomised controlled trials (ref 1) that evaluates the effectiveness of simple ‘minimal [read the full story...]

Is it safe to prescribe benzodiazepines and opioids together?

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Benzodiazepines are most commonly prescribed for the management of anxiety and insomnia. They can also be used for sedation or amnesia before medical or surgical procedures, treatment of seizure, treatment of alcohol or sedative withdrawal, or acute agitation. Known side effects include drowsiness, fatigue and ataxia (the loss of full control of bodily movements). Opioids [read the full story...]