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...]

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...]

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...]

Extended therapy with varenicline reduces rates of smoking relapse in people with serious mental health issues

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People with serious mental health issues such as schizophrenia have higher rates of cigarette smoking than the general population, with estimates suggesting more than 50% are current smokers. When people in this population do manage to quit during treatment we then see particularly high rates of relapse after treatment ends. A new randomised control trial (Evins [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...]

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...]

Do interventions proven to improve cardiovascular disease outcomes work for individuals with severe mental illness?

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Individuals with severe mental illness (SMI) have shortened life expectancies compared to the general population. This is partly down to higher rates of chronic physical illness. Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death among patients using mental health services. It is assumed that interventions used to reduce CVD are similarly effective in patients with [read the full story...]