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
The furore preceding the release of the new edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is in contrast to the incremental changes to several diagnostic categories, which are derived from new research since its predecessor’s birth in 1990. While many of these changes are indeed controversial, they do reflect the intrinsic ambiguity of the extant literature. Additionally, this may be a mirror of the frustration of the field’s limited progress, especially given the false hopes at the dawn of the “decade of the brain”. In the absence of a coherent pathophysiology, the DSM remains no more than a set of consensus based operationalized adjectives, albeit with some degree of reliability. It does not cleave nature at its joints, nor does it aim to, but neither does alternate systems. The largest problem with the DSM system is how it’s used; sometimes too loosely by clinicians, and too rigidly by regulators, insurers, lawyers and at times researchers, who afford it reference and deference disproportionate to its overt acknowledged limitations.
DSM-V; Diagnosis; Pathophysiology; DSM-V; Symptoms; Classification
The mind-body nexus has been a topic of growing interest. Further data are however required to understand the specific relationship between mood and anxiety disorders and individual physical health conditions, and to verify whether these psychiatric disorders are linked to overall medical burden.
This study examined data collected from 942 men, 20 to 97 years old, participating in the Geelong Osteoporosis Study. A lifetime history of mood and anxiety disorders was identified using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Research Version, Non-patient edition (SCID-I/NP). The presence of medical conditions (lifetime) was self-reported and confirmed by medical records, medication use or clinical data. Anthropometric measurements and socioeconomic status (SES) were determined and information on medication use and lifestyle was obtained via questionnaire. Logistic regression models were used to test the associations.
After adjustment for age, socioeconomic status, and health risk factors (body mass index, physical activity and smoking), mood disorders were associated with gastro oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), recurrent headaches, blackouts and/or epilepsy, liver disorders and pulmonary disease in older people, whilst anxiety disorders were significantly associated with thyroid, GORD and other gastrointestinal disorders, and psoriasis. Increased odds of high medical burden were associated with both mood and anxiety disorders.
Our study provides further population-based evidence supporting the link between mental and physical illness in men. Understanding these associations is not only necessary for individual management, but also to inform the delivery of health promotion messages and health care.
Mood disorder; Anxiety disorder; Comorbidity; Medical burden; Population-based study; Physical illness
There is compelling evidence to support an aetiological role for inflammation, oxidative and nitrosative stress (O&NS), and mitochondrial dysfunction in the pathophysiology of major neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and Alzheimer's disease (AD). These may represent new pathways for therapy. Aspirin is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug that is an irreversible inhibitor of both cyclooxygenase (COX)-1 and COX-2, It stimulates endogenous production of anti-inflammatory regulatory 'braking signals', including lipoxins, which dampen the inflammatory response and reduce levels of inflammatory biomarkers, including C-reactive protein, tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin (IL)--6, but not negative immunoregulatory cytokines, such as IL-4 and IL-10. Aspirin can reduce oxidative stress and protect against oxidative damage. Early evidence suggests there are beneficial effects of aspirin in preclinical and clinical studies in mood disorders and schizophrenia, and epidemiological data suggests that high-dose aspirin is associated with a reduced risk of AD. Aspirin, one of the oldest agents in medicine, is a potential new therapy for a range of neuropsychiatric disorders, and may provide proof-of-principle support for the role of inflammation and O&NS in the pathophysiology of this diverse group of disorders.
aspirin; depression; schizophrenia; dementia; inflammation; cytokines; neuroprogression; treatment; COX
It is of importance whether myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a variant of sickness behavior. The latter is induced by acute infections/injury being principally mediated through proinflammatory cytokines. Sickness is a beneficial behavioral response that serves to enhance recovery, conserves energy and plays a role in the resolution of inflammation. There are behavioral/symptomatic similarities (for example, fatigue, malaise, hyperalgesia) and dissimilarities (gastrointestinal symptoms, anorexia and weight loss) between sickness and ME/CFS. While sickness is an adaptive response induced by proinflammatory cytokines, ME/CFS is a chronic, disabling disorder, where the pathophysiology is related to activation of immunoinflammatory and oxidative pathways and autoimmune responses. While sickness behavior is a state of energy conservation, which plays a role in combating pathogens, ME/CFS is a chronic disease underpinned by a state of energy depletion. While sickness is an acute response to infection/injury, the trigger factors in ME/CFS are less well defined and encompass acute and chronic infections, as well as inflammatory or autoimmune diseases. It is concluded that sickness behavior and ME/CFS are two different conditions.
CFS; chronic fatigue; depression; inflammation; ME; oxidative stress; sickness behavior
There is an increased incidence of major depressive disorder (MDD) in individuals after myocardial infarction (MI), but the pathophysiological processes mediating this association are unclear. Our previous study demonstrated an increase in pro-apoptotic pathways in the myocardium and hippocampus in MDD, which was reversed by venlafaxine. This study aimed to attempt to confirm the effects of apoptosis vulnerability markers on the myocardium in a model of depression after myocardial infarction.
Rats were divided into four groups: sham (N = 8), depression (N = 8, chronic mild unpredictable stress and separation were used in the depression group), MI (N = 13) and post-MI depression (N = 7). The rats in all four groups underwent the same open field and sucrose preference behavioral tests. Evan Blue staining was used to determine the area at risk of myocardial infarction in the left ventricle, and 2,3,5-triphenyl tetrazolium chloride (1.5% TTC) dye was used to detect the size of the myocardial infarction. The expression of bax and bcl-2 protein in the myocardium was investigated by immunohistochemistry, and the mRNA expression of bax, bcl-2 and caspase-3 in the myocardium was investigated by real time RT-PCR. Apoptosis was estimated in the myocardium by measuring the Bax:Bcl-2 ratio.
In the depression and post-MI depression rats, there were significantly decreased movements and total sucrose consumption, modeling behavioral deficits and an anhedonic-like state. In terms of myocardial infarction size, no difference was seen between the MI and post-MI depression groups. There was an up-regulated Bax:Bcl-2 ratio in the depression, MI and post-MI depression groups. Furthermore, in the latter group, there was a greater up-regulated Bax:Bcl-2 ratio. However, caspase-3 did not differ among the four groups.
These results of this animal model suggest that active pro-apoptotic pathways may be involved in the nexus between myocardial infarction and depression. This mechanism may be germane to understanding this relationship in humans.
major depressive disorder; myocardial infarction; apoptosis; myocardium; stress; cardiac; comorbidity.
Cholesterol-lowering medications such as statins have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which may be beneficial for treating depression and improving mood. However, evidence regarding their effects remains inconsistent, with some studies reporting links to mood disturbances. We aimed to conduct a meta-analysis to determine the impact of statins on psychological wellbeing of individuals with or without hypercholesterolemia.
Articles were identified using medical, health, psychiatric and social science databases, evaluated for quality, and data were synthesized and analyzed in RevMan-5 software using a random effects model.
The 7 randomized controlled trials included in the analysis represented 2,105 participants. A test for overall effect demonstrated no statistically significant differences in psychological wellbeing between participants receiving statins or a placebo (standardized mean difference (SMD) = -0.08, 95% CI -0.29 to 0.12; P = 0.42). Sensitivity analyses were conducted to separately analyze depression (n = 5) and mood (n = 2) outcomes; statins were associated with statistically significant improvements in mood scores (SMD = -0.43, 95% CI -0.61 to -0.24).
Our findings refute evidence of negative effects of statins on psychological outcomes, providing some support for mood-related benefits. Future studies could examine the effects of statins in depressed populations.
anti-inflammatory; cytokines; depression; hypercholesterolemia; mood; oxidative; statins
There is currently a crisis in drug discovery for neuropsychiatric disorders, with a profound, yet unexpected drought in new drug development across the spectrum. In this commentary, the sources of this dilemma and potential avenues to redress the issue are explored. These include a critical review of diagnostic issues and of selection of participants for clinical trials, and the mechanisms for identifying new drugs and new drug targets. Historically, the vast majority of agents have been discovered serendipitously or have been modifications of existing agents. Serendipitous discoveries, based on astute clinical observation or data mining, remain a valid option, as is illustrated by the suggestion in the paper by Wahlqvist and colleagues that treatment with sulfonylurea and metformin reduces the risk of affective disorder. However, the identification of agents targeting disorder-related biomarkers is currently proving particularly fruitful. There is considerable hope for genetics as a purist, pathophysiologically valid pathway to drug discovery; however, it is unclear whether the science is ready to meet this promise. Fruitful paradigms will require a break from the orthodoxy, and creativity and risk may well be the fingerprints of success.
See related article http://www.biomedcentral.com/1741-7015/10/150
depression; bipolar disorder; diabetes; treatment; drug discovery; pathophysiology
There is a need for the development of effective universal preventive approaches to the common mental disorders, depression and anxiety, at a population level. Poor diet, physical inactivity and smoking have long been recognized as key contributors to the high prevalence noncommunicable diseases. However, there are now an increasing number of studies suggesting that the same modifiable lifestyle behaviors are also risk factors for common mental disorders. In this paper we point to the emerging data regarding lifestyle risk factors for common mental disorders, with a particular focus on and critique of the newest evidence regarding diet quality. On the basis of this most recent evidence, we consequently argue for the inclusion of depression and anxiety in the ranks of the high prevalence noncommunicable diseases influenced by habitual lifestyle practices. We believe that it is both feasible and timely to begin to develop effective, sustainable, population-level prevention initiatives for the common mental illnesses that build on the established and developing approaches to the noncommunicable somatic diseases.
Anxiety; etiology; common mental disorders; diet; depression; lifestyle; physical activity; prevention; risk; smoking
Studies have shown a correlation between bipolar disorder and diabetes mellitus. It is unclear if this correlation is a part of common pathophysiological pathways, or if medication for bipolar disorder has negative effects on blood sugar regulation.
The Norwegian prescription database was analyzed. Prescriptions for lithium, lamotrigine, carbamazepine and valproate were used as proxies for bipolar disorder. Prescriptions for insulin and oral anti-diabetic agents were used as proxies for diabetes mellitus. We explored the association between medication for bipolar disorder and diabetes medication by logistic regression
We found a strong association between concomitant use of medication to treat diabetes mellitus and mood stabilizers for the treatment of bipolar disorder. Females had a 30% higher risk compared to men of being treated for both disorders. Persons using oral anti-diabetic agents had higher odds of receiving valproate than either lithium or lamotrigine. Use of insulin as monotherapy seemed to have lower odds than oral anti-diabetic agents of co-prescription of mood stabilizers, compared to the general population.
This study showed a strong association between the use of mood stabilizers and anti-diabetic agents. The association was stronger among women than men.
Neurocognitive impairment is being increasingly recognized as an important issue in patients with cancer who develop cognitive difficulties either as part of direct or indirect involvement of the nervous system or as a consequence of either chemotherapy-related or radiotherapy-related complications. Brain radiotherapy in particular can lead to significant cognitive defects. Neurocognitive decline adversely affects quality of life, meaningful employment, and even simple daily activities. Neuroprotection may be a viable and realistic goal in preventing neurocognitive sequelae in these patients, especially in the setting of cranial irradiation. Lithium is an agent that has been in use for psychiatric disorders for decades, but recently there has been emerging evidence that it can have a neuroprotective effect.
This review discusses neurocognitive impairment in patients with cancer and the potential for investigating the use of lithium as a neuroprotectant in such patients.
Multiple studies have demonstrated that rates of smoking and nicotine dependence are increased in individuals with anxiety disorders. However, significant variability exists in the epidemiological literature exploring this relationship, including study design (cross-sectional versus prospective), the population assessed (random sample versus clinical population) and diagnostic instrument utilized.
We undertook a systematic review of population-based observational studies that utilized recognized structured clinical diagnostic criteria (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or International Classification of Diseases (ICD)) for anxiety disorder diagnosis to investigate the relationship between cigarette smoking, nicotine dependence and anxiety disorders.
In total, 47 studies met the predefined inclusion criteria, with 12 studies providing prospective information and 5 studies providing quasiprospective information. The available evidence suggests that some baseline anxiety disorders are a risk factor for initiation of smoking and nicotine dependence, although the evidence is heterogeneous and many studies did not control for the effect of comorbid substance use disorders. The identified evidence however appeared to more consistently support cigarette smoking and nicotine dependence as being a risk factor for development of some anxiety disorders (for example, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder), although these findings were not replicated in all studies. A number of inconsistencies in the literature were identified.
Although many studies have demonstrated increased rates of smoking and nicotine dependence in individuals with anxiety disorders, there is a limited and heterogeneous literature that has prospectively examined this relationship in population studies using validated diagnostic criteria. The most consistent evidence supports smoking and nicotine dependence as increasing the risk of panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. The literature assessing anxiety disorders increasing smoking and nicotine dependence is inconsistent. Potential issues with the current literature are discussed and directions for future research are suggested.
agoraphobia; anxiety disorder; cigarette smoking; epidemiology; generalized anxiety disorder; nicotine dependence; obsessive-compulsive disorder; panic disorder; post-traumatic stress disorder; specific phobia
While diagnosis has traditionally been viewed as an essential concept in medicine, particularly when selecting treatments, we suggest that the use of diagnosis alone may be limited, particularly within mental health. The concept of clinical case formulation advocates for collaboratively working with patients to identify idiosyncratic aspects of their presentation and select interventions on this basis. Identifying individualized contributing factors, and how these could influence the person's presentation, in addition to attending to personal strengths, may allow the clinician a deeper understanding of a patient, result in a more personalized treatment approach, and potentially provide a better clinical outcome.
Formulation; diagnosis; cognitive behavioral therapy; psychological intervention, case conceptualization
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
It is of considerable translational importance whether depression is a form or a consequence of sickness behavior. Sickness behavior is a behavioral complex induced by infections and immune trauma and mediated by pro-inflammatory cytokines. It is an adaptive response that enhances recovery by conserving energy to combat acute inflammation. There are considerable phenomenological similarities between sickness behavior and depression, for example, behavioral inhibition, anorexia and weight loss, and melancholic (anhedonia), physio-somatic (fatigue, hyperalgesia, malaise), anxiety and neurocognitive symptoms. In clinical depression, however, a transition occurs to sensitization of immuno-inflammatory pathways, progressive damage by oxidative and nitrosative stress to lipids, proteins, and DNA, and autoimmune responses directed against self-epitopes. The latter mechanisms are the substrate of a neuroprogressive process, whereby multiple depressive episodes cause neural tissue damage and consequent functional and cognitive sequelae. Thus, shared immuno-inflammatory pathways underpin the physiology of sickness behavior and the pathophysiology of clinical depression explaining their partially overlapping phenomenology. Inflammation may provoke a Janus-faced response with a good, acute side, generating protective inflammation through sickness behavior and a bad, chronic side, for example, clinical depression, a lifelong disorder with positive feedback loops between (neuro)inflammation and (neuro)degenerative processes following less well defined triggers.
depression; sickness behavior; inflammation; oxidative stress; cytokines