CBT and motivational interviewing are effective treatments for comorbid alcohol use disorders and depression, says new meta-analysis

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Alcohol use disorder is frequently comorbid with major depressive disorder, and the disease burden associated with this dual diagnosis is considerably greater than that attributed to each disorder in isolation. This creates a problem for clinicians who are trying to treat depressed problem drinkers, because many services are set up to deal with only one [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...]

Psychological treatment may be useful in reducing depression and anxiety in people with dementia, says new Cochrane review

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Depression and anxiety are both common conditions in patients with dementia and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), with some studies finding around 30% of patients show at least some depressive symptoms (Enache et al, 2011). Similarly, a study on vascular dementia found around 70% of participants had two or more symptoms of anxiety (Ballard et al, 2000). [read the full story...]

Bereavement during childhood, but not before birth, is associated with an increased risk of psychosis

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Psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, are often conceptualised as arising from a complex interplay of genetic and environmental influences (Tandon 2008). The impact of social influences on the risk of psychotic experience is undeniable. Recent reviews of this topic have called for a focus on maternal wellbeing as a means of primary prevention for mental [read the full story...]

Tobacco industry evidence submitted to government on plain packaging found to be either lacking in quality or irrelevant

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Standardised (or ‘plain’) packaging of cigarettes requires all branding to be removed, leaving the brand name to be placed in a standard location and font on a standard colour cigarette pack. Apart from the small brand name, the packs would still feature a prominent health warning as well as counterfeiting marks. The aim of standardised [read the full story...]

Recent review suggests Agomelatine is as effective as other antidepressants, but controversy persists

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In spite of widely available different antidepressants, major depression does not respond adequately in up to one third of patients. Overall, the need for both reliable and well-tolerated treatment has remained unmet for a sizeable proportion of people with depression. In the past couple of years, there has been controversy about the suitability of Agomelatine (Valdoxan) [read the full story...]

Community treatment orders simply don’t work

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Community Treatment Orders (CTOs) were introduced in the UK in the last revisions of the Mental Health Act. They are highly controversial, and unpopular amongst the mental health community. They clearly impact on an individual’s Human Rights. Interestingly, they cannot enforce a treatment but can require an individual to return to hospital or a place of treatment. [read the full story...]

Are humans like monkeys? MRI scanning suggests similarities and differences that might help future research

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Does a mouse think like a human? Does a cat? Does a macaque monkey? These are fascinating questions to ask on a philosophical level, but they are also of immense practical importance. Current regulations on drug development mean that animal research plays a huge role in deciding what substances might be safe and beneficial to humans.  [read the full story...]

Is there ‘parity of esteem’ in shared decision making between physical and mental health?

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Current health and social care policies determine that people who use services should have choice and control over their care and support. This is particularly important for people with mental health problems who are managing their mental health and designing support in preventative ways to avoid crisis. One way for mental health service practitioners to [read the full story...]

US policy on prescription drug abuse: tackling an unique and significant problem

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The fact that drug overdoses are the second largest cause of premature death from unintentional injuries in the US (for example, in 2010 there was 38,329 drug overdose deaths) is not a surprising statistic. What may surprise readers is that of these deaths 22,134 were attributed to prescription drugs. Indeed, almost one and a half [read the full story...]