Information seeking is an important coping mechanism for dealing with chronic illness. Despite a growing number of mental health websites, there is little understanding of how patients with bipolar disorder use the Internet to seek information.
A 39 question, paper-based, anonymous survey, translated into 12 languages, was completed by 1222 patients in 17 countries as a convenience sample between March 2014 and January 2016. All patients had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder from a psychiatrist. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and generalized estimating equations to account for correlated data.
976 (81 % of 1212 valid responses) of the patients used the Internet, and of these 750 (77 %) looked for information on bipolar disorder. When looking online for information, 89 % used a computer rather than a smartphone, and 79 % started with a general search engine. The primary reasons for searching were drug side effects (51 %), to learn anonymously (43 %), and for help coping (39 %). About 1/3 rated their search skills as expert, and 2/3 as basic or intermediate. 59 % preferred a website on mental illness and 33 % preferred Wikipedia. Only 20 % read or participated in online support groups. Most patients (62 %) searched a couple times a year. Online information seeking helped about 2/3 to cope (41 % of the entire sample). About 2/3 did not discuss Internet findings with their doctor.
Online information seeking helps many patients to cope although alternative information sources remain important. Most patients do not discuss Internet findings with their doctor, and concern remains about the quality of online information especially related to prescription drugs. Patients may not rate search skills accurately, and may not understand limitations of online privacy. More patient education about online information searching is needed and physicians should recommend a few high quality websites.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40345-016-0058-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Schizophrenia risk has often been conceptualized using a model which requires two hits in order to generate the clinical phenotype—the first as an early priming in a genetically predisposed individual and the second a likely environmental insult. The aim of this paper was to review the literature and reformulate this binary risk-vulnerability model. We sourced the data for this narrative review from the electronic database PUBMED. Our search terms were not limited by language or date of publication. The development of schizophrenia may be driven by genetic vulnerability interacting with multiple vulnerability factors including lowered prenatal vitamin D exposure, viral infections, smoking intelligence quotient, social cognition cannabis use, social defeat, nutrition and childhood trauma. It is likely that these genetic risks, environmental risks and vulnerability factors are cumulative and interactive with each other and with critical periods of neurodevelopmental vulnerability. The development of schizophrenia is likely to be more complex and nuanced than the binary two hit model originally proposed nearly thirty years ago. Risk appears influenced by a more complex process involving genetic risk interfacing with multiple potentially interacting hits and vulnerability factors occurring at key periods of neurodevelopmental activity, which culminate in the expression of disease state. These risks are common across a number of neuropsychiatric and medical disorders, which might inform common preventive and intervention strategies across non-communicable disorders.
Current pharmacological treatments for bipolar disorder (BD) are limited and efficacy has
historically been discovered through serendipity. There is now scope for new drug development,
focused on the underlying biology of BD that is not targeted by current therapies. The need for novel
treatments is urgent when considering treatment resistant BD, where current therapies have failed. While established
drugs targeting the monoamine systems continue to be worthwhile, new biological targets including inflammatory and
oxidative an nitrosative pathways, apoptotic and neurotrophic pathways, mitochondrial pathways, the N-methyl-Daspartate
(NMDA)–receptor complex, the purinergic system, neuropeptide system, cholinergic system and melatonin
pathways are all being identified as potential anchors for the discovery of new agents. Many agents are experimental and
efficacy data is limited, however further investigation may provide a new line for drug discovery, previously stalled by
lack of corporate interest.
Bipolar disorder; inflammation; nitrosative stress; oxidative stress; pathways; pharmacotherapy; receptors; treatment targets
Atheoretical large-scale data mining techniques using machine learning algorithms have promise in the analysis of large epidemiological datasets. This study illustrates the use of a hybrid methodology for variable selection that took account of missing data and complex survey design to identify key biomarkers associated with depression from a large epidemiological study.
The study used a three-step methodology amalgamating multiple imputation, a machine learning boosted regression algorithm and logistic regression, to identify key biomarkers associated with depression in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (2009–2010). Depression was measured using the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 and 67 biomarkers were analysed. Covariates in this study included gender, age, race, smoking, food security, Poverty Income Ratio, Body Mass Index, physical activity, alcohol use, medical conditions and medications. The final imputed weighted multiple logistic regression model included possible confounders and moderators.
After the creation of 20 imputation data sets from multiple chained regression sequences, machine learning boosted regression initially identified 21 biomarkers associated with depression. Using traditional logistic regression methods, including controlling for possible confounders and moderators, a final set of three biomarkers were selected. The final three biomarkers from the novel hybrid variable selection methodology were red cell distribution width (OR 1.15; 95% CI 1.01, 1.30), serum glucose (OR 1.01; 95% CI 1.00, 1.01) and total bilirubin (OR 0.12; 95% CI 0.05, 0.28). Significant interactions were found between total bilirubin with Mexican American/Hispanic group (p = 0.016), and current smokers (p<0.001).
The systematic use of a hybrid methodology for variable selection, fusing data mining techniques using a machine learning algorithm with traditional statistical modelling, accounted for missing data and complex survey sampling methodology and was demonstrated to be a useful tool for detecting three biomarkers associated with depression for future hypothesis generation: red cell distribution width, serum glucose and total bilirubin.
Online, self-guided programs exist for a wide range of mental health conditions, including bipolar disorder, and discussion boards are often part of these interventions. The impact engagement with these discussion boards has on the psychosocial well-being of users is largely unknown. More specifically we need to clarify the influence of the type and level of engagement on outcomes.
The primary aim of this exploratory study is to determine if there is a relationship between different types (active, passive or none) and levels (high, mid and low) of discussion board engagement and improvement in outcome measures from baseline to follow up, with a focus on self-reported social support, stigma, quality of life and levels of depression and mania. The secondary aim of this study is to identify any differences in demographic variables among discussion users.
The present study is a sub-study of the MoodSwings 2.0 3-arm randomised controlled trial (discussion board only (arm 1), discussion board plus psychoeducation (arm 2), discussion board, psychoeducation plus cognitive behavioural therapy-based tools (arm 3)). Discussion engagement will be measured via online participant activity monitoring. Assessments include online self-report as well as blinded phone interviews at baseline, 3, 6, 9 and 12 months follow up.
The results of this study will help to inform future programs about whether or not discussion boards are a beneficial inclusion in online self-help interventions. It will also help to determine if motivating users to actively engage in online discussion is necessary, and if so, what level of engagement is optimal to produce the most benefit. Future programs may benefit through being able to identify those most likely to poorly engage, based on demographic variables, so motivational strategies can be targeted accordingly.
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02118623 registered April 15 2014 and NCT02106078 registered May 16 2013.
Bipolar disorder; Internet; Online; Support group; Mental health
Clinical staging is widespread in medicine—it informs prognosis, clinical course and treatment, and assists individualized care. Staging places an individual on a probabilistic continuum of increasing potential disease severity, ranging from clinically at-risk or latency stage through first threshold episode of illness or recurrence and finally to late or end-stage disease. The aim of this paper was to examine and update the evidence regarding staging in bipolar disorder, and how this might inform targeted and individualized intervention approaches.
We provide a narrative review of the relevant information.
In bipolar disorder, the validity of staging is informed by a range of findings that accompany illness progression, including neuroimaging data suggesting incremental volume loss, cognitive changes, and a declining likelihood of response to pharmacological and psychosocial treatments. Staging informs the adoption of a number of approaches, including the active promotion of both indicated prevention for at-risk individuals and early intervention strategies for newly diagnosed individuals, and the tailored implementation of treatments according to the stage of illness.
The nature of bipolar disorder implies the presence of an active process of neuroprogression that is considered at least partly mediated by inflammation, oxidative stress, apoptosis and changes in neurogenesis. It further supports the concept of neuroprotection, in that a diversity of agents have putative effects against these molecular targets. Clinically, staging suggests that the at-risk state or first episode is a period that requires particularly active and broad-based treatment, consistent with the hope that the temporal trajectory of the illness can be altered. Prompt treatment may be potentially neuroprotective and attenuate the neurostructural and neurocognitve changes that emerge with chronicity. Staging highlights the need for interventions at a service delivery level and implementing treatments at the earliest stage of illness possible.
bipolar disorder; clinical staging; depression; early intervention; mania; neuroprogression; treatment
To investigate the impact of regular cannabis use on long-term remission of mood symptoms in bipolar spectrum disorders.
The 24-month prospective observational study included patients (n=239) with bipolar I disorder and schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type. Participants were classified as regular cannabis users (three times or more per week) or non-users. The primary outcome measure was the achievement of remission on the evaluations during the 24 months.
Of the 234 participants for whom data was available, 25 (10.7%) were regular cannabis users, and the group comprised significantly more males than females. In the total population, cannabis use was significantly associated with decreased likelihood of remission during the 24-month follow-up period. Subgroup analyses showed that cannabis use was significantly associated with lower remission rates on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale in females (n=139) and patients prescribed mood stabilizers alone (n=151), whereas in males (n=95) and patients prescribed olanzapine and/or a mood stabilizer (n=83), cannabis use was significantly associated with lower remission rates on the Young Mania Rating Scale. Remission rates were lowest in the concurrent cannabis and tobacco smoking group (n=22) followed by the tobacco smoking only group (n=97), and the non-smoker group (n=116). The post-hoc analysis revealed that all remission rates were significantly lower in the concurrent cannabis and the tobacco smoking group compared to the non-smoker group.
Cannabis use negatively affects the long-term clinical outcome in patients with bipolar spectrum disorders. A comprehensive assessment and integrated management of cannabis use are required to achieve better treatment outcomes for bipolar spectrum disorders.
Cannabis; Bipolar disorder; Schizoaffective disorder; Observational study; Substance; Remission
Tobacco use in mental health in general and bipolar disorder in particular remains disproportionally common, despite declining smoking rates in the community. Furthermore, interactions between tobacco use and mental health have been shown, indicating the outcomes for those with mental health disorders are impacted by tobacco use. Factors need to be explored and addressed to improve outcomes for those with these disorders and target specific interventions for people with psychiatric illness to cease tobacco smoking. In the context of bipolar disorder, this review explores; the effects of tobacco smoking on symptoms, quality of life, suicidal behaviour, the biological interactions between tobacco use and bipolar disorder, the interactions between tobacco smoking and psychiatric medications, rates and factors surrounding tobacco smoking cessation in bipolar disorder and suggests potential directions for research and clinical translation. The importance of this review is to bring together the current understanding of tobacco use in bipolar disorder to highlight the need for specific intervention.
Bipolar disorder; Smoking; Smoking cessation; Quality of life; Psychotropic drugs
Persistent environmental pollutants, including heavy metals and persistent organic pollutants (POPs), have a ubiquitous presence. Many of these pollutants affect neurobiological processes, either accidentally or by design. The aim of this study was to explore the associations between assayed measures of POPs and heavy metals and depressive symptoms. We hypothesised that higher levels of pollutants and metals would be associated with depressive symptoms.
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES).
A total of 15 140 eligible people were included across the three examined waves of NHANES.
Primary and secondary outcome measures
Depressive symptoms were assessed using the nine-item version of the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9), using a cut-off point of 9/10 as likely depression cases. Organic pollutants and heavy metals, including cadmium, lead and mercury, as well as polyfluorinated compounds (PFCs), pesticides, phenols and phthalates, were measured in blood or urine.
Higher cadmium was positively associated with depression (adjusted Prevalence Ratios (PR)=1.48, 95% CI 1.16 to 1.90). Higher levels of mercury were negatively associated with depression (adjusted PR=0.62, 95% CI 0.50 to 0.78), and mercury was associated with increased fish consumption (n=5500, r=0.366, p<0.001). In addition, several PFCs (perfluorooctanoic acid, perfluorohexane sulfonic acid, perfluorodecanoic acid and perfluorononanoic acid) were negatively associated with the prevalence of depression.
Cadmium was associated with an increased likelihood of depression. Contrary to hypotheses, many of persistent environmental pollutants were not associated or negatively associated with depression. While the inverse association between mercury and depressive symptoms may be explained by a protective role for fish consumption, the negative associations with other pollutants remains unclear. This exploratory study suggests the need for further investigation of the role of various agents and classes of agents in the pathophysiology of depression.
The aim of this study was to determine if variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR) in the second intron (STin2) of the serotonin transporter (SLC6A4) gene was associated with tobacco use disorder, successful smoking cessation, or smoking characteristics. In this case–control study, patients with current tobacco use disorder, diagnosed according to DSM IV criteria (n = 185), and never-smokers, diagnosed according to CDC criteria (n = 175), were recruited and received 52 weeks of combined pharmacotherapy and cognitive therapy. Successful smoking cessation was defined as exhaled carbon monoxide < 6 ppm. SLC6A4 gene STin2 VNTR polymorphism was assessed using a Multiplex-PCR-based method. At baseline, participants were evaluated using the Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence (FTND) and the ASSIST scale.
The STin2.12 allele (OR = 2.45; 95% CI = 1.44-4.15, p < 0.001) was associated with an increased risk for tobacco use disorder, while the STin2.10/10 genotype (OR = 0.42; 95% CI 0.25-0.71, p < 0.001) decreased risk. There were no significant associations between tobacco use disorder and the STin2.10 or STin2.9 alleles or the other genotypes (STin2.12/12, 12/10, 12/9, 10/9 or 9/9). There were no significant associations between the STin2 genotypes and alleles and successful smoking cessation, smoking characteristics and increased alcohol or sedative use risk.
Our results suggest that the STin2.10/10 genotype and STin2.12 allele are associated with tobacco use disorder or nicotine dependence, but not with treatment response or severity of dependence. It is hypothesized that the ST2in.12 allele by modulating the metabolism of serotonin may participate in the pathophysiology of tobacco use disorder or nicotine dependence.
STin2 VNTR; Tobacco use disorder; Smoking cessation; Serotonin; Inflammation; Oxidative stress; Polymorphism; Genetic
Bipolar disorder is associated with extreme mood symptoms, disability and suicide risk. Close family or friends often have a primary role in supporting an adult with bipolar disorder. However, not all support is helpful and there is little publicly accessible evidence-based information to guide caregivers. Caregiver burden increases the risk of caregiver depression and health problems. To help fill the information gap, expert clinicians, caregivers and consumers contributed to the development of guidelines for caregivers of adults with bipolar disorder using the Delphi consensus method. This paper reports on an evaluation of the acceptability and usefulness of the online version of the guidelines, http://www.bipolarcaregivers.org.
Visitors to the website responded to an initial online survey about the usefulness of the information (N = 536). A more detailed follow-up feedback survey was emailed to web users who were adult caregivers of adults with bipolar disorder a month later (N = 121). The feedback was analyzed quantitatively and qualitatively to establish user appraisals of the online information, whether and how caregivers applied the information and ways it could be improved.
The majority of users (86.4% to 97.4%) found the various sections of the website useful. At follow-up, nearly 93% of caregivers reported that the information was relevant to them and 96% thought it would help others. Most respondents said that the information was supportive and encouraged adaptive control appraisals. However, a few respondents who were experiencing complex family problems, or who cared for a person with severe chronic bipolar disorder did not appraise it as positively. Nevertheless, over two-thirds of the caregivers reported using the information. Optional interactive features were recommended to maximize benefits.
Overall, http://www.bipolarcaregivers.org was appraised positively and used. It appears useful to close family and friends seeking basic information and reassurance, and may be an inexpensive way to disseminate guidelines for caregivers. Those who care for people with more severe and chronic bipolar disorder, or who have complex family problems might benefit from more specialized interventions, suggesting the importance of a stepped-care approach to supporting caregivers. The potential of evidence-based, collaboratively developed information websites to enhance caregiver and consumer outcomes merits further investigation.
Bipolar disorder; Caregiver burden; Caregivers; Control appraisals; Disseminate guidelines; Evaluation by users; Guidelines for caregivers; Information website; Website evaluation; Website for caregivers
Although bipolar disorder has high heritability, the onset occurs during several decades of life, suggesting that social and environmental factors may have considerable influence on disease onset. This study examined the association between the age of onset and sunlight at the location of onset.
Data were obtained from 2414 patients with a diagnosis of bipolar I disorder, according to DSM-IV criteria. Data were collected at 24 sites in 13 countries spanning latitudes 6.3 to 63.4 degrees from the equator, including data from both hemispheres. The age of onset and location of onset were obtained retrospectively, from patient records and/or direct interviews. Solar insolation data, or the amount of electromagnetic energy striking the surface of the earth, were obtained from the NASA Surface Meteorology and Solar Energy (SSE) database for each location of onset.
The larger the maximum monthly increase in solar insolation at the location of onset, the younger the age of onset (coefficient= −4.724, 95% CI: −8.124 to −1.323, p = 0.006), controlling for each country’s median age. The maximum monthly increase in solar insolation occurred in springtime. No relationships were found between the age of onset and latitude, yearly total solar insolation, and the maximum monthly decrease in solar insolation. The largest maximum monthly increases in solar insolation occurred in diverse environments, including Norway, arid areas in California, and Chile.
The large maximum monthly increase in sunlight in springtime may have an important influence on the onset of bipolar disorder.
PMID: 22612720 CAMSID: cams2451
age of onset; bipolar disorder; solar insolation; sunlight
The Bipolar Comprehensive Outcomes Study (BCOS) is a 2-year, prospective, non-interventional, observational study designed to explore the clinical and functional outcomes associated with ‘real-world’ treatment of participants with bipolar I or schizoaffective disorder. All participants received treatment as usual. There was no study medication.
Participants prescribed either conventional mood stabilizers (CMS; n = 155) alone, or olanzapine with, or without, CMS (olanzapine ± CMS; n = 84) were assessed every 3 months using several measures, including the Young Mania Rating Scale, 21-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale, Clinical Global Impressions Scale – Bipolar Version, and the EuroQol Instrument. This paper reports 24-month longitudinal clinical, pharmacological, functional, and socioeconomic data.
On average, participants were 42 (range 18 to 79) years of age, 58%; were female, and 73%; had a diagnosis of bipolar I. Polypharmacy was the usual approach to pharmacological treatment; participants took a median of 5 different psychotropic medications over the course of the study, and spent a median proportion of time of 100%; of the study on mood stabilizers, 90%; on antipsychotics, 9%; on antidepressants, and 5%; on benzodiazepines/hypnotics. By 24 months, the majority of participants had achieved both symptomatic and syndromal remission of both mania and depression. Symptomatic relapse rates were similar for both the CMS alone (65%;) and the olanzapine ± CMS (61%;) cohorts.
Participants with bipolar I or schizoaffective disorder in this study were receiving complex medication treatments that were often discordant with recommendations made in contemporary major treatment guidelines. The majority of study participants demonstrated some clinical and functional improvements, but not all achieved remission of symptoms or syndrome.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a glutathione precursor that has been shown to have antidepressant efficacy in a placebo-controlled trial. The current study aimed to investigate the maintenance effects of NAC following eight weeks of open-label treatment for bipolar disorder.
The efficacy of a double blind randomized placebo controlled trial of 2 g/day NAC as adjunct maintenance treatment for bipolar disorder was examined. Participants (n = 149) had a Montgomery Asberg Depression Rating Score of ≥12 at trial entry and, after eight weeks of open-label NAC treatment, were randomized to adjunctive NAC or placebo, in addition to treatment as usual. Participants (primarily outpatients) were recruited through public and private services and through newspaper advertisements. Time to intervention for a mood episode was the primary endpoint of the study, and changes in mood symptoms, functionality and quality of life measures were secondary outcomes.
There was a substantial decrease in symptoms during the eight-week open-label NAC treatment phase. During the subsequent double-blind phase, there was minimal further change in outcome measures with scores remaining low. Consequently, from this low plateau, between-group differences did not emerge on recurrence, clinical functioning or quality of life measures.
There were no significant between-group differences in recurrence or symptomatic outcomes during the maintenance phase of the trial; however, these findings may be confounded by limitations.
The trial was registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ACTRN12607000074493).
N-acetyl cysteine; depression; bipolar disorder; maintenance; mania; oxidative
This paper aims to present an overview of screening and safety considerations for the treatment of clinical depressive disorders and make recommendations for safety monitoring.
Data were sourced by a literature search using MEDLINE and a manual search of scientific journals to identify relevant articles. Draft guidelines were prepared and serially revised in an iterative manner until all co-authors gave final approval of content.
Screening and monitoring can detect medical causes of depression. Specific adverse effects associated with antidepressant treatments may be reduced or identified earlier by baseline screening and agent-specific monitoring after commencing treatment.
The adoption of safety monitoring guidelines when treating clinical depression is likely to improve overall physical health status and treatment outcome. It is important to implement these guidelines in the routine management of clinical depression.
Nicotine dependence is associated with an increased risk of mood and anxiety disorders and suicide. The primary hypothesis of this study was to identify whether the polymorphisms of two glutathione-S-transferase enzymes (GSTM1 and GSTT1 genes) predict an increased risk of mood and anxiety disorders in smokers with nicotine dependence.
Materials and methods
Smokers were recruited at the Centre of Treatment for Smokers. The instruments were a sociodemographic questionnaire, Fagerström Test for Nicotine Dependence, diagnoses of mood disorder and nicotine dependence according to DSM-IV (SCID-IV), and the Alcohol, Smoking and Substance Involvement Screening Test. Anxiety disorder was assessed based on the treatment report. Laboratory assessment included glutathione-S-transferases M1 (GSTM1) and T1 (GSTT1), which were detected by a multiplex-PCR protocol.
Compared with individuals who had both GSTM1 and GSTT1 genes, a higher frequency of at least one deletion of the GSTM1 and GSTT1 genes was identified in anxious smokers [odds ratio (OR)=2.21, 95% confidence interval (CI)=1.05–4.65, P=0.034], but there was no association with bipolar and unipolar depression (P=0.943). Compared with nonanxious smokers, anxious smokers had a greater risk for mood disorders (OR=4.67; 95% CI=2.24–9.92, P<0.001), lung disease (OR=6.78, 95% CI=1.95–23.58, P<0.003), and suicide attempts (OR=17.01, 95% CI=2.23–129.91, P<0.006).
This study suggests that at least one deletion of the GSTM1 and GSTT1 genes represents a risk factor for anxious smokers. These two genes may modify the capacity for the detoxification potential against oxidative stress.
anxiety disorder; genetic polymorphisms; glutathione-S-transferase; mood disorder; nicotine dependence