New meta-analysis supports the use of mindfulness for depression, but not anxiety

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This study confirms that mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) are valid for the treatment of current depressive episodes, and it identifies the need for more studies to investigate the possibility that MBIs might also be of value in treating anxiety disorders.

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Critical illness and risk of psychiatric diagnosis

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Out in the woodland we are pleased that recent advances in medical care mean that more patients are surviving critical illnesses within intensive care units (ICU).  “But what does that have to do with the Mental Elf?” I hear you say. Well, we Mental Elves are wondering whether this advancement in medical technology and technique are actually putting people [read the full story...]

Why do GPs over prescribe benzodiazepines? Synthesis of qualitative studies

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Benzodiazepines are used to treat insomnia, anxiety and chronic back pain due to their sedative and muscle relaxing effects. They’ve got a sting in the tail though and can cause memory disruption, loss of coordination and dependence if used long term. It’s therefore recommended that other treatments, such as psychological interventions, are tried first and [read the full story...]

Does group CBT treatment reduce social anxiety disorder? Possibly, perhaps, maybe not!

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Social Anxiety Disorder used to be called Social Phobia and is generally regarded as the most prevalent form of common anxiety disorder. Estimates of lifetime prevalence vary but according to a US study, 12% of adults in the US will have social anxiety disorder at some point in their lives (Kessler et al, 2005). According [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...]

Quitting smoking is associated with decreased anxiety, depression and stress, says new systematic review

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It is well known that tobacco is the leading cause of preventable death in the world (WHO, 2011). However, the associations between smoking and mental health are less well established. Smokers often want to quit, but the belief that cigarettes can be used to regulate mood can often deter them, and this is especially true [read the full story...]

Adults with mental illness have lower rate of decline in smoking

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It’s well known that individuals with mental illness smoke nearly twice as much as those without a psychiatric disorder (Gfroerer et al, 2013; Lasser et al, 2000), and are more addicted to nicotine, smoke more cigarettes per day, and find it more difficult to quit (Lasser et al, 2000). However, studies have shown that  individuals [read the full story...]

Meditation programmes may improve anxiety, depression and pain but better quality research is needed, says systematic review

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There’s little doubt about it – meditation is in vogue. In fairness, it probably always has been. However, clinical and research interest in the effects of meditation programmes on psychological wellbeing has grown considerably in recent years. The development of mindfulness-based interventions has no doubt driven much of this interest. For example, running a PubMed keyword [read the full story...]

Psychiatric illnesses and some chronic physical illnesses are associated with an increased risk of self-harm and suicide

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Last month, the Department of Health published the ‘Closing the Gap’ report, which highlighted the importance of better integration of physical and mental health care at every level. The report specifically flagged up the need for frontline services to respond better to people who self-harm, and cited statistics that emphasise the cyclical nature of the [read the full story...]

Systematic review identifies key parenting factors associated with adolescent depression and anxiety

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Parenting is a tough gig. As a mum of three, I can honestly say that nothing in my everyday professional life comes close to the trials and tribulations of guiding small people through toddlerhood and beyond. Parenting advice comes thick and fast from all corners, most of it unsolicited, some of it anecdotal, much of [read the full story...]