Presentation to hospital after self-harm is an opportunity to treat underlying mental health problems. We aimed to describe the pattern of mental health contacts following hospital admission focusing on those with and without recent contact with community mental health services (connected and unconnected patients).
We undertook a data linkage study of all individuals admitted as a general or psychiatric inpatient to hospital after self-harm in New South Wales, Australia, between 2005 and 2011. We identified the proportion of admissions where the patient received subsequent in-person community mental health care within 30 days of discharge and the factors associated with receipt of that care.
A total of 42,353 individuals were admitted to hospital for self-harm. In 41% of admissions, the patient had contact with a community mental health service after discharge. Patients connected with community mental health services had 5.33 (95% confidence interval = [5.09, 5.59]) times higher odds of follow-up care than unconnected patients. Other factors, such as increasing age and treatment as a psychiatric inpatient, were associated with lower odds of follow-up community care.
Our study suggests that full advantage is not being taken of the opportunity to provide comprehensive mental health care for people who self-harm once they have been discharged from the inpatient setting. This is particularly the case for those who have not previously received community mental health care. There appears to be scope for system-level improvement in the way in which those who are treated for self-harm are followed up in the community.
To compare baseline demographics and 10-year outcomes of a first-episode psychosis patient incidence cohort in order to establish whether current youth-focussed age-based criteria for early intervention services are justified by patient needs. The patients in this cohort were treated prior to the establishment of early intervention services. The study aimed to test the hypothesis that those who develop psychosis at a younger age have worse outcomes than those who develop psychosis at an older age.
Data on first-episode psychosis patients from the ÆSOP-10 longitudinal follow-up study were used to compare baseline characteristics, and 10-year clinical, functional and service use outcomes between those patients who would and would not have met age-based criteria for early intervention services, in Australia or in the United Kingdom.
In total, 58% men and 71% women with first-episode psychosis were too old to meet current Australian-early intervention age-entry criteria (2 = 9.1, p = 0.003), while 21% men and 34% women were too old for UK-early intervention age-entry criteria (2 = 11.1, p = 0.001). The 10-year clinical and functional outcomes did not differ significantly between groups by either Australian- or UK-early intervention age-entry criteria. Service use was significantly greater among the patients young enough to meet early intervention age-criteria (Australia: incidence rate ratio = 1.35 [1.19, 1.52], p < 0.001; United Kingdom: incidence rate ratio = 1.65 [1.41, 1.93], p < 0.001).
Current early intervention services are gender- and age-inequitable. Large numbers of patients with first-episode psychosis will not receive early intervention care under current service provision. Illness outcomes at 10-years were no worse in first-episode psychosis patients who presented within the age range for whom early intervention has been prioritised, though these patients had greater service use. These data provide a rationale to consider extension of early intervention to all, rather than just to youth.
Clinical management of bipolar disorder patients might be affected by culture and is further dependent on the context of healthcare delivery. There is a need to understand how healthcare best can be delivered in various systems and cultures. The objective of this qualitative study was to gain knowledge about culture-specific values, beliefs and practices in the medical care provided to patients with bipolar disorders from a provider perspective in various areas of the world.
The International Society for Bipolar Disorders (ISBD) network provided the framework for this qualitative study. An electronic interview with open-ended questions was administered to 19 international experts on bipolar spectrum disorder representing the International Society for Bipolar Disorders chapter network in 16 countries and six continents. In addition, there were two in-depth interviews with bipolar spectrum disorder experts done prior to the survey. The data were analysed using content analysis, and the information was structured using the software NVivo by QSR International Pty Ltd.
All participants described sociocultural factors as important in healthcare delivery to bipolar patients in their part of the world, both in accessing healthcare and in providing culturally appropriate care. Factors that affected the provider’s ability to supply good clinical management of patients were access to treatment options and long-term follow-up, as well as general strategies to combat stigma. In some societies, the patients’ use of alternative treatments, gender issues and religion were also important factors. Understanding the impact of such culturally specific factors was overall regarded as essential for proper treatment interventions.
Sociocultural factors clearly affect the nature and quality of medical services delivered to bipolar patients. Financial, social and cultural factors affect patients’ health-seeking behaviour, and this highlights the need for knowledge about such factors in order to adequately identify and treat bipolar patients globally. Culturally adapted training and psychoeducation programmes are particularly warranted.
Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder is a newly proposed childhood disorder included in Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition to describe children <=18 years of age with chronic irritability/temper outbursts. This study aimed to examine the prevalence of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, severe mood dysregulation and chronic irritability in an Australian study of young people at increased familial risk of developing bipolar disorder (‘HR’ group) and controls (‘CON’ group).
A total of 242 12- to 30-year-old HR or CON subjects were administered the severe mood dysregulation module. Of these, 42 were aged <=18 years at the time of assessment, with 29 subjects in the HR group and 13 in the CON group.
No subjects <=18 years – in either group – fulfilled current or lifetime criteria for disruptive mood dysregulation disorder or severe mood dysregulation, the precursor to disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. Similarly, no subjects in either group endorsed the severe mood dysregulation/disruptive mood dysregulation disorder criteria for irritable mood or marked excessive reactivity. One HR participant endorsed three severe mood dysregulation criteria (distractibility, physical restlessness and intrusiveness), while none of the comparison subjects endorsed any criteria. Exploratory studies of the broader 12- to 30-year-old sample similarly found no subjects with severe mood dysregulation/disruptive mood dysregulation disorder in either the HR or CON group and no increased rates of chronic irritability, although significantly more HR subjects reported at least one severe mood dysregulation/disruptive mood dysregulation disorder criterion (likelihood ratio = 6.17; p = 0.013); most of the reported criteria were severe mood dysregulation ‘chronic hyper-arousal’ symptoms.
This study comprises one of the few non-US reports on the prevalence of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder and severe mood dysregulation and is the first non-US study of the prevalence of these conditions in a high-risk bipolar disorder sample. The failure to replicate the finding of higher rates of disruptive mood dysregulation disorder and chronic irritability in high-risk offspring suggests that these are not robust precursors of bipolar disorder.
The MindSpot Clinic provides online mental health services to Australian adults with anxiety and depression. This paper describes users of MindSpot between January 2013 and June 2015. Outcomes are considered against three key objectives: improving access to mental health services, improving public awareness of how to access services and providing evidence-based treatments.
Website traffic data were examined to determine patterns of use. Demographic characteristics, past service utilisation and reasons for contacting MindSpot were analysed. Outcomes for patients enrolled in a MindSpot treatment course were also analysed. Primary outcomes were scores on the 9-Item Patient Health Questionnaire, Generalised Anxiety Disorder 7-Item, Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Checklist–Civilian Version, administered at assessment, post-treatment and 3-month follow-up.
The website was visited by almost 500,000 Australians, of which 33,990 adults started assessments, and 25,469 people completed assessment and were eligible for analysis. Mean age was 36.4 years (standard deviation = 13.3 years; range = 18–94 years), and 72% were female. The proportion living in rural or remote regions and who identified as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander closely matched national statistics. The majority (82%) reported that they were not currently in contact with mental health services. Most patients sought an assessment, information about treatment options, or referral to another service, and only 24% of those completing an assessment commenced a MindSpot treatment course. Of these, large clinical effects (d: 0.7–2.4; average symptom reductions: 25.5% to 61.6%) were found from assessment to follow-up on all outcome measures. Deterioration ranged from 1.0% to 4.3%.
Based on the number of website visits, completed assessments and treatment outcomes, MindSpot achieved its three programme objectives. This model of service provision has considerable value as a complement to existing services, and is proving particularly important for improving access for people not using existing services.
Depression affects many Australian adolescents. Research points to the potential of lifestyle improvement for the population-level prevention of mental disorders. However, most studies examine single relationships without considering the combined contribution of lifestyle factors to variance in depression. This study examined associations between adolescent diet, physical activity and screen time behaviours and depressive symptomatology.
A cross-sectional sample of year 8 and 10 students was recruited from 23 participating schools in 18 Victorian communities. Students were recruited using opt-out consent, resulting in 3295 participants from 4680 registered school enrolments (Participation Rate: 70.4%). Participants completed a supervised self-report questionnaire comprising Moods and Feelings Questionnaire–Short Form, an assessment of physical activity and sedentary behaviours during and outside school, and weekly food intake. Surveyed covariates included hours of sleep per night, age, socio-economic status and measured anthropometry. A hierarchical regression stratified by gender was conducted, with dichotomised Moods and Feelings Questionnaire–Short Form score as the outcome, and screen time, physical activity and dietary patterns as predictors. Nested regression analyses were then conducted to ascertain the variance in Moods and Feelings Questionnaire–Short Form score attributable to each significant predictor from the initial regression.
Increased scores on an unhealthy dietary pattern (odds ratio = 1.18; 95% confidence interval = [1.07, 1.32]) and physical activity guideline attainment (0.91; [0.85, 0.97]) were associated with depressive symptomatology in males, while screen time guideline attainment (0.95; [0.91, 0.98]) was associated with depression in females. No association was observed between healthy diet pattern and Moods and Feelings Questionnaire–Short Form. Overall, effect sizes were generally small, and the regression model accounted for 5.22% of Moods and Feelings Questionnaire–Short Form variance.
Gender-specific associations were observed between physical activity and both sedentary and dietary behaviours and depressive symptomatology among adolescents, although reverse causality cannot be refuted at this stage. Lifestyle behaviours may represent a modifiable target for the prevention of depressive symptomatology in adolescents.
Few adolescent-specific depression screening instruments have been developed in recent years using multi-method approaches (qualitative and quantitative), and some of those available have limitations with an adolescent audience. We describe the development of a potential measure – the Taouk Scale for Adolescent Depression.
Draft items were informed by findings from focus groups and reviews by adolescents and healthcare professionals, resulting in a provisional 97-item scale. This was administered to a nation-wide sample of 3087 secondary students. Exploratory factor analysis was used in a development subset to examine dimensionality of items and reduce their number, with the final item set evaluated in a validation subset.
Four reliable factors – negative outlook, emotional distress, behavioural changes and cognitive and somatic disturbances – were obtained from the exploratory factor analysis, resulting in a 28-item instrument, which was corroborated by confirmatory factor analysis. The final scale includes a number of novel items not included in current measures, i.e., whether respondents wear more black clothing than usual, deliberately damage property, take more risks, ‘space out’ at school and are engaged in substance abuse and/or increased sexual activity.
The Taouk Scale for Adolescent Depression demonstrated sound psychometric properties and may have utility for future screening and future epidemiological purposes. It appears to be a valid and reliable screening instrument for adolescent depression that includes a number of novel items. Further research is necessary to confirm its criterion validity in clinically depressed samples.
To examine the association between cord 25-hydroxyvitamin D2+3 (25(OH)D) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in toddlers, using Child Behaviour Checklist for ages 1.5–5.
In a population-based birth cohort, a Child Behaviour Checklist for ages 1.5–5 questionnaire was returned from parents of 1233 infants with mean age 2.7 (standard deviation 0.6) years. Adjusted associations between cord 25(OH)D and Child Behaviour Checklist–based attention deficit hyperactivity disorder problems were analysed by multiple regression.
The median cord 25(OH)D was 44.1 (range: 1.5–127.1) nmol/L. Mean attention deficit hyperactivity disorder problem score was 2.7 (standard deviation 2.1). In adjusted analyses, cord 25(OH)D levels >25 nmol/L and >30 nmol/L were associated with lower attention deficit hyperactivity disorder scores compared to levels <=25 nmol/L (p = 0.035) and <=30 nmol/L (p = 0.043), respectively. The adjusted odds of scoring above the 90th percentile on the Child Behaviour Checklist–based attention deficit hyperactivity disorder problem scale decreased by 11% per 10 nmol/L increase in cord 25(OH)D.
An inverse association between cord 25(OH)D and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder symptoms in toddlers was found, suggesting a protective effect of prenatal vitamin D.
The study investigated the impact of potentially traumatic events on mental health outcomes among males who had ever served in the Australian Defence Force.
Data from a nationally representative household survey of Australian residents, the 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, were used for this study.
Compared with community members, Australian Defence Force males were significantly more likely to have experienced not only deployment and other war-like events but also accidents or other unexpected events, and trauma to someone close. For non-deployed males, Australian Defence Force members were at increased risk of accidents or other unexpected events compared to community members. After controlling for the effect of potentially traumatic events that were more prevalent among all Australian Defence Force members, the increased risk of mental disorders among Australian Defence Force members was no longer evident. For non-deployed males, Australian Defence Force and community members were at comparable risk of poor mental health outcomes. A significant minority of Australian Defence Force members had onset of a mental disorder prior to their first deployment.
Deployment and other potentially traumatic events among Australian Defence Force members can help to explain their increased vulnerability to mental disorders compared with community members. Providers should routinely enquire about a range of potentially traumatic events among serving and ex-serving military personnel.
Childhood trauma confers great risk for the development of multiple psychiatric disorders; however, the neural basis for this association is still unknown. The present resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging study aimed to detect the effects of childhood trauma on brain function in a group of young healthy adults.
In total, 24 healthy individuals with childhood trauma and 24 age- and sex-matched adults without childhood trauma were recruited. Each participant underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning. Intra-regional brain activity was evaluated by regional homogeneity method and compared between groups. Areas with altered regional homogeneity were further selected as seeds in subsequent functional connectivity analysis. Statistical analyses were performed by setting current depression and anxiety as covariates.
Adults with childhood trauma showed decreased regional homogeneity in bilateral superior temporal gyrus and insula, and the right inferior parietal lobule, as well as increased regional homogeneity in the right cerebellum and left middle temporal gyrus. Regional homogeneity values in the left middle temporal gyrus, right insula and right cerebellum were correlated with childhood trauma severity. In addition, individuals with childhood trauma also exhibited altered default mode network, cerebellum-default mode network and insula-default mode network connectivity when the left middle temporal gyrus, right cerebellum and right insula were selected as seed area, respectively.
The present outcomes suggest that childhood trauma is associated with disturbed intrinsic brain function, especially the default mode network, in adults even without psychiatric diagnoses, which may mediate the relationship between childhood trauma and psychiatric disorders in later life.
This study examines the uptake by children aged predominantly 0–11 years of an Australian primary mental health service – the Access to Allied Psychological Services programme – which began in 2001. In particular, it considers access to, and use of, the child component of Access to Allied Psychological Services, the Child Mental Health Service, introduced in 2010.
Using routinely collected programme data from a national minimum dataset and regional population data, we conducted descriptive and regression analysis to examine programme uptake, predictors of service reach and consumer- and treatment-based characteristics of service.
Between 2003 and 2013, 18,631 referrals for children were made and 75,178 sessions were scheduled via Access to Allied Psychological Services, over 50% of which were via the Child Mental Health Service in its first 3 years of operation. The rate of referrals for children to the Child Mental Health Service was associated with the rate of Access to Allied Psychological Services referrals for consumers aged 12+ years.
The Child Mental Health Service has increased services provided within the Access to Allied Psychological Services programme for children with emotional and behavioural issues and their families, and is potentially filling a service gap in the area of prevention and early intervention for children who have significant levels of need but are unable to access other mental health services. Our findings are policy-relevant for other developed countries with a similar primary mental health care system that are considering means of improving service access by children.
Although there is clear evidence that reproductive cycle events are associated with mood episodes for women with bipolar disorder, few studies have examined for relationships between these and specific clinical characteristics of the disorder. This study aimed to explore the relationship between mood symptoms associated with reproductive cycle events and features of the disorder indicative of a more severe lifetime course.
Totally, 158 women of at least 18 years of age participated in the study. Subjects were recruited through a specialist clinic at the Black Dog Institute, Sydney, Australia.
In total, 77% of women reported increases in mood symptoms during perimenstrual, postnatal or menopausal periods. These women had an earlier age of onset for depressive and hypo/manic episodes and a greater likelihood of comorbid anxiety disorders, rapid cycling and mixed mood compared to those who did not report such reproductive cycle–associated mood changes. Women who experienced postnatal episodes were also more likely to experience worse mood symptoms perimenstrually and menopausally.
First, reproductive cycle event–related worsening of mood was associated with a more severe lifetime course of bipolar disorder, and, second, it appears that some women have a greater propensity to mood worsening at each of these reproductive cycle events. If replicated, these findings provide important information for clinicians treating women with reproductive cycle event mood changes and highlight the need for improved therapeutics for such presentations.
There is a growing body of research investigating the relationship between child sexual abuse and a range of adverse outcomes. However, very little is known about the long-term co-occurrence of psychiatric disorders and behavioral problems among this vulnerable population, or the interaction between characteristics of the abuse, such as the nature and timing of the child sexual abuse, and the extent of subsequent adversities. This study aimed to determine the rate and co-occurrence of mental health morbidity, criminal justice system contact, and fatal self-harm among medically confirmed victims of child sexual abuse, and to identify abuse variables associated with a greater likelihood of cumulative adverse experiences.
The forensic medical records of 2759 cases of child sexual abuse assessed between 1964 and 1995 were linked with public psychiatric, criminal justice and coronial administrative databases between 13 and 44 years following abuse. Cases were compared to 2677 matched comparisons from the general population.
Abuse victims were more likely (odds ratio = 7.2, 95% confidence interval = [4.9, 10.4], p < 0.001) to experience cumulative adverse psychiatric and behavioral problems relative to comparisons. Almost half (47.6%) of victims who died of suicide or drug overdose had a history of offending, further victimization and mental illness. Relative to comparisons, female victims demonstrated the largest increase in odds for cumulative outcomes (odds ratio = 9.8, 95% confidence interval = [5.8, 16.8], p < 0.001), whereas in absolute terms, male victims were at an elevated risk for all types and combinations of adverse outcomes, except fatal self-harm. Boys who were older at abuse, had multiple abuse episodes or who were abused by an extra-familial perpetrator were most likely to experience poorer clinical trajectories. Only being older at abuse was associated with cumulative adverse experiences for females.
Sexual abuse, particularly during adolescence (ages 12–16 years), appears to be a risk factor for co-occurring adverse experiences. This study identifies particular groups of child sexual abuse victims as at-risk and requiring targeted intervention.
Body dysmorphic disorder typically begins in adolescence, yet little is known about the prevalence and correlates of the disorder in this age group. The current study aimed to explore the presenting features of adolescents meeting probable criteria for body dysmorphic disorder in a large community sample, and compare levels of comorbid psychopathology, quality of life and mental health service use between adolescents with probable body dysmorphic disorder and those without.
Questionnaires were completed at school by 3149 adolescents: 63% male, aged 12–18 years (M = 14.58). These assessed Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (4th ed.) body dysmorphic disorder criteria, past mental health service use and symptoms of body dysmorphic disorder, anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and eating disorders. In male participants, additional measures assessed quality of life, muscularity concerns, emotional symptoms, peer problems, conduct problems and hyperactivity.
The prevalence of probable body dysmorphic disorder was 1.7%; there was no sex difference in prevalence, but older adolescents reported higher prevalence than younger adolescents. Probable body dysmorphic disorder participants reported substantially elevated levels of psychopathology, quality of life impairment and mental health service use compared to non-body dysmorphic disorder participants.
The prevalence of body dysmorphic disorder in adolescents is similar to adult samples, and probable body dysmorphic disorder is associated with comorbidity, distress and functional impairment in a community sample. Further research is required to better understand the presentation of body dysmorphic disorder in adolescents, and to improve diagnosis and treatment.
Socioeconomic status as a determinant of mental health problems has received scant attention in Japan, which has long been considered an egalitarian society. This study examined the association between socioeconomic status and psychological distress and its trends over 6 years among Japanese adolescents.
We used data from a nationally representative sample of 9491 adolescents aged 12–18 years who participated in three repeated cross-sectional surveys between 2007 and 2013. The K6 scale was used to assess psychological distress. Socioeconomic status indicators included household income, parental education, parental working status and household structure.
Psychological distress prevalence decreased significantly from 2007 (10.7%) to 2013 (7.6%). However, the socioeconomic status patterns of psychological distress were consistent through the study period. Adolescents living in both lower (odds ratio = 1.61; 95% confidence interval = [1.27, 2.05]) and higher income households (odds ratio = 1.30; 95% confidence interval = [1.03, 1.62]) were more likely to report psychological distress than their middle-income counterparts. Adolescents with low household income were more likely to feel stress from interpersonal relationships and less likely to have help-seeking behaviors, while those with high household income were more likely to feel stress about school achievement. Psychological distress was also associated with parental poor education and single parenthood.
Socioeconomic status disparities in adolescent psychological distress were evident and consistent during the 6-year period. There is a unique U-shaped relationship between household income and psychological distress among adolescents in Japan, unlike those from other countries. However, the underlying mechanisms may differ by income status. Future prevention efforts should consider socioeconomic status as a determinant of adolescent mental health problems.
Bipolar disorder is a common chronic illness characterized by high levels of morbidity and all-cause mortality. Lithium is one of the gold standard mood stabilizer treatments, but the identification of good, partial and non-responders in clinical settings is inconsistent.
We used an established rating scale (the Alda scale) to classify the degree of lithium response (good response, partial response, non-response) in a large, multicentre clinically representative sample of well-characterized cases of bipolar disorders I and II. Next, we examined previously reported clinical predictors of response to determine which factors significantly differentiated between the three response groups.
Of 754 cases, 300 received lithium, for at least 6 months, as a treatment for bipolar disorder (40%). Of these cases, 17% were classified as good response, 52% as partial response and 31% as non-response. Lifetime history of mixed episodes (p = 0.017) and alcohol use disorders (p = 0.015) both occurred in >20% of partial response and non-response groups but <10% of good response cases. Family history of bipolar disorder I was of borderline statistical significance, being more frequent in the good response group (38%) compared with the non-response group (18%). There was a trend (p = 0.06) for bipolar disorder II to be associated with non-response.
Only three factors previously identified as predictors of lithium response significantly differentiated the response groups identified in our sample. Interestingly, these factors have all been found to co-occur more often than expected by chance, and it can be hypothesized that they may represent a shared underlying factor or dimension. Further prospective studies of predictors and the performance of the Alda scale are recommended.
Irritable mood is common in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Research to date has primarily comprised cross-sectional studies; thus, little is known about the antecedents of irritability. Furthermore, existing cross-sectional studies generally focus on the association between irritability and comorbidities and do not examine broader aspects of functioning. Finally, previous research has neglected to include child-report of irritability. This study aimed to address these gaps using data from a longitudinal study of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
Children aged 5–13 years (mean = 10.2; standard deviation = 1.9) with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder were recruited from pediatric practices across Victoria, Australia. This study reports on those who had reached adolescence (12 years or older, mean = 13.8; standard deviation = 1.2) at the 3-year follow-up (n = 140). Internalizing and externalizing problems were measured using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. At follow-up, parent-reported and adolescent self-reported irritability was assessed using the Affective Reactivity Index. Parent and adolescent outcomes measured at follow-up included attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptom severity, sleep, behavior and parent mental health.
Children with externalizing problems at age 10 had higher parent-reported irritability (β = 0.31, 95% confidence interval = [0.17,–0.45], p = 0.001) in adolescence. Cross-sectional analyses found that irritability was associated with increased attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptom severity and sleep problems; poorer emotional, behavioral and social functioning; and poorer parent mental health.
Our findings highlight the importance of assessing for and managing early conduct problems in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, as these predict ongoing irritability which, in turn, is associated with poorer functioning across a number of domains.
To investigate the effectiveness of a freely available computerised cognitive behavioural therapy programme (MoodGYM) for depression (primary outcome), anxiety and general psychological distress in adults.
We searched PsycINFO, CINAHL Plus, MEDLINE, EMBASE, Social Science Citation Index and references from identified papers. To assess MoodGYM’s effectiveness, we conducted random effects meta-analysis of identified randomised controlled trials.
Comparisons from 11 studies demonstrated MoodGYM’s effectiveness for depression symptoms at post-intervention, with a small effect size (g = 0.36, 95% confidence interval: 0.17–0.56; I2 = 78%). Removing the lowest quality studies (k = 3) had minimal impact; however, adjusting for publication bias reduced the effect size to a non-significant level (g = 0.17, 95% confidence interval: –0.01 to 0.38). Comparisons from six studies demonstrated MoodGYM’s effectiveness for anxiety symptoms at post-intervention, with a medium effect size (g = 0.57, 95% confidence interval: 0.20–0.94; I2 = 85%). Although comparisons from six studies did not yield significance for MoodGYM’s effectiveness for general psychological distress symptoms, the small effect size approached significance (g = 0.34, 95% confidence interval: –0.04 to 0.68; I2 = 79%). Both the type of setting (clinical vs non-clinical) and MoodGYM-developer authorship in randomised controlled trials had no meaningful influence on results; however, the results were confounded by the type of control deployed, level of clinician guidance, international region of trial and adherence to MoodGYM.
The confounding influence of several variables, and presence of publication bias, means that the results of this meta-analysis should be interpreted with caution. Tentative support is provided for MoodGYM’s effectiveness for symptoms of depression and general psychological distress. The programme’s medium effect on anxiety symptoms demonstrates its utility for people with this difficulty. MoodGYM benefits from its free accessibility over the Internet, but adherence rates can be problematic and at the extreme can fall below 10%. We conclude that MoodGYM is best placed as a population-level intervention that is likely to benefit a sizeable minority of its users.
To systematically investigate the scope and nature of discrimination and positive treatment experienced by adults with mental health problems when using health services in an Australian population-based survey.
Australian adults (n = 1381) who reported a mental health problem or scored high on a screening questionnaire were interviewed about their experience of discrimination and positive treatment from healthcare professionals. Descriptions of experiences were content-analysed to identify key characteristics.
In all, 11.8% of respondents reported discrimination from a health professional in the past 12 months. The most common types of discrimination included being treated dismissively, being judged and not being listened to, particularly regarding personal history and treatment needs. In contrast, 40.4% reported being treated more positively by their health professional because of their mental health problem. Key types of positive treatment by health professionals were being supportive and understanding and being a good listener. Good quality care approaches were also appreciated, including making a referral, being engaged in the treatment process, regularly checking the status of the person’s mental health and providing information.
A minority of respondents with mental health problems had experienced discrimination from their healthcare professional, potentially interfering with recovery. Anti-stigma education interventions for healthcare professionals should address how to increase knowledge and understanding of mental health problems, reduce negative attitudes and encourage supportive behaviours.
Oxidative stress, inflammation and heavy metals have been implicated in the aetiology of autistic disorder. N-acetyl cysteine has been shown to modulate these pathways, providing a rationale to trial N-acetyl cysteine for autistic disorder. There are now two published pilot studies suggesting efficacy, particularly in symptoms of irritability. This study aimed to explore if N-acetyl cysteine is a useful treatment for autistic disorder.
This was a placebo-controlled, randomised clinical trial of 500 mg/day oral N-acetyl cysteine over 6 months, in addition to treatment as usual, in children with a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision diagnosis of autistic disorder. The study was conducted in Victoria, Australia. The primary outcome measures were the Social Responsiveness Scale, Children’s Communication Checklist–Second Edition and the Repetitive Behavior Scale–Revised. Additionally, demographic data, the parent-completed Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scales, Social Communication Questionnaire and clinician-administered Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule were completed.
A total of 102 children were randomised into the study, and 98 (79 male, 19 female; age range: 3.1–9.9 years) attended the baseline appointment with their parent/guardian, forming the Intention to Treat sample. There were no differences between N-acetyl cysteine and placebo-treated groups on any of the outcome measures for either primary or secondary endpoints. There was no significant difference in the number and severity of adverse events between groups.
This study failed to demonstrate any benefit of adjunctive N-acetyl cysteine in treating autistic disorder. While this may reflect a true null result, methodological issues particularly the lower dose utilised in this study may be confounders.
There is evidence that mood disorders are associated with impaired parasympathetic nervous system function and consequently increased morbidity and mortality. Our study addresses whether this impairment persists into remission in unipolar and bipolar disorders.
Heart Rate Variability was measured in groups of subjects during remission, with Bipolar Affective Disorder I (n = 29), recurrent Major Depressive Disorder (n = 41) and a healthy control group (n = 38), during the bedtime period.
Heart Rate Variability was found to be lower in the bipolar and depression groups, compared with control subjects, using the Root Mean Square of Successive Distances variable, and lower in the depression group using the Standard Deviation of Normal to Normal variable and the Standard Deviation, Poincare Plot variable.
Autonomic function during bedtime was impaired in subjects with Bipolar I and recurrent Major Depressive Disorder, despite clinical remission. This has significant implications for the morbidity and mortality of patients with major mood disorders.
We aimed to describe the prevalence and age distribution of personality disorders and their comorbidity with other psychiatric disorders in an age-stratified sample of Australian women aged >=25 years.
Individual personality disorders (paranoid, schizoid, schizotypal, histrionic, narcissistic, borderline, antisocial, avoidant, dependent, obsessive-compulsive), lifetime mood, anxiety, eating and substance misuse disorders were diagnosed utilising validated semi-structured clinical interviews (Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV-TR Axis I Disorders, Research Version, Non-patient Edition and Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis II Personality Disorders). The prevalence of personality disorders and Clusters were determined from the study population (n = 768), and standardised to the Australian population using the 2011 Australian Bureau of Statistics census data. Prevalence by age and the association with mood, anxiety, eating and substance misuse disorders was also examined.
The overall prevalence of personality disorders in women was 21.8% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 18.7, 24.9). Cluster C personality disorders (17.5%, 95% CI: 16.0, 18.9) were more common than Cluster A (5.3%, 95% CI: 3.5, 7.0) and Cluster B personality disorders (3.2%, 95% CI: 1.8, 4.6). Of the individual personality disorders, obsessive-compulsive (10.3%, 95% CI: 8.0, 12.6), avoidant (9.3%, 95% CI: 7.1, 11.5), paranoid (3.9%, 95% CI: 3.1, 4.7) and borderline (2.7%, 95% CI: 1.4, 4.0) were among the most prevalent. The prevalence of other personality disorders was low (<=1.7%). Being younger (25–34 years) was predictive of having any personality disorder (odds ratio: 2.36, 95% CI: 1.18, 4.74), as was being middle-aged (odds ratio: 2.41, 95% CI: 1.23, 4.72). Among the strongest predictors of having any personality disorder was having a lifetime history of psychiatric disorders (odds ratio: 4.29, 95% CI: 2.90, 6.33). Mood and anxiety disorders were the most common comorbid lifetime psychiatric disorders.
Approximately one in five women was identified with a personality disorder, emphasising that personality disorders are relatively common in the population. A more thorough understanding of the distribution of personality disorders and psychiatric comorbidity in the general population is crucial to assist allocation of health care resources to individuals living with these disorders.
In the absence of a comprehensive neural model to explain the underlying mechanisms of disturbed circadian function in bipolar disorder, mathematical modeling is a helpful tool. Here, circadian activity as a response to exogenous daily cycles is proposed to be the product of interactions between neuronal networks in cortical (cognitive processing) and subcortical (pacemaker) areas of the brain.
To investigate the dynamical aspects of the link between disturbed circadian activity rhythms and abnormalities of neurotransmitter functioning in frontal areas of the brain, we developed a novel mathematical model of a chaotic system which represents fluctuations in circadian activity in bipolar disorder as changes in the model’s parameters.
A novel map-based chaotic system was developed to capture disturbances in circadian activity across the two extreme mood states of bipolar disorder. The model uses chaos theory to characterize interplay between neurotransmitter functions and rhythm generation; it aims to illuminate key activity phenomenology in bipolar disorder, including prolonged sleep intervals, decreased total activity and attenuated amplitude of the diurnal activity rhythm. To test our new cortical-circadian mathematical model of bipolar disorder, we utilized previously collected locomotor activity data recorded from normal subjects and bipolar patients by wrist-worn actigraphs.
All control parameters in the proposed model have an important role in replicating the different aspects of circadian activity rhythm generation in the brain. The model can successfully replicate deviations in sleep/wake time intervals corresponding to manic and depressive episodes of bipolar disorder, in which one of the excitatory or inhibitory pathways is abnormally dominant.
Although neuroimaging research has strongly implicated a reciprocal interaction between cortical and subcortical regions as pathogenic in bipolar disorder, this is the first model to mathematically represent this multilevel explanation of the phenomena of bipolar disorder.
Immune alterations may play a role in bipolar disorder etiology; however, the relationship between overall immune system functioning and mood symptom severity is unknown.
The two comparative effectiveness trials, the Clinical and Health Outcomes Initiatives in Comparative Effectiveness for Bipolar Disorder Study (Bipolar CHOICE) and the Lithium Treatment Moderate-Dose Use Study (LiTMUS), were similar trials among patients with bipolar disorder. At study entry, white blood cell count and bipolar mood symptom severity (via Montgomery-Aasberg Depression Rating Scale and Bipolar Inventory of Symptoms Scale) were assessed. We performed analysis of variance and linear regression analyses to investigate relationships between deviations from median white blood cell and multinomial regression analysis between higher and lower white blood cell levels. All analyses were adjusted for age, gender, body mass index, smoking, diabetes, hypertension and hyperlipidemia.
Among 482 Bipolar CHOICE participants, for each 1.0 x 109/L white blood cell deviation, the overall Bipolar Inventory of Symptoms Scale severity increased significantly among men (coefficient = 2.13; 95% confidence interval = [0.46, –3.79]; p = 0.013), but not among women (coefficient = 0.87; 95% confidence interval = [–0.87, –2.61]; p = 0.33). Interaction analyses showed a trend toward greater Bipolar Inventory of Symptoms Scale symptom severity among men (coefficient = 1.51; 95% confidence interval = [–0.81, –3.82]; p = 0.2). Among 283 LiTMUS participants, higher deviation from the median white blood cell showed a trend toward higher Montgomery-Aasberg Depression Rating Scale scores among men (coefficient = 1.33; 95% confidence interval = [–0.22, –2.89]; p = 0.09), but not among women (coefficient = 0.34; 95% confidence interval = [–0.64, –1.32]; p = 0.50). When combining LiTMUS and Bipolar CHOICE, Montgomery-Aasberg Depression Rating Scale scores increased significantly among men (coefficient = 1.09; 95% confidence interval = [0.31, –1.87]; p = 0.006) for each 1.0 x 109/L white blood cell deviation, whereas we found a weak association among women (coefficient = 0.55; 95% confidence interval = [–0.20, –1.29]; p = 0.14). Lower and higher white blood cell levels correlated with greater symptom severity and specific symptoms, varying according to gender.
Deviations in an overall immune system marker, even within the normal white blood cell range, correlated with mood symptom severity in bipolar disorder, mostly among males. Studies are warranted investigating whether white blood cell count may predict response to mood-stabilizing treatment.
The prevention of mental illness involves identifying and modifying those characteristics and exposures of an individual that threaten their mental health – commonly referred to as risk factors. Existing categorisations of risk factors for mental illness are either limited in their scope or oversimplified in their description. As part of a large mental health workforce and service planning project, we set out to develop a more detailed and comprehensive categorisation scheme to describe risk factors for mental illness.
We conducted a rapid review of MEDLINE and Google Scholar for meta-analytic studies that examined the characteristics and exposures that typify the population with mental illness in order to identify and categorise potential risk factors.
The search uncovered 1628 relevant studies, from which 10 primary and 23 secondary categories of risk factors were identified, ranging from genetic and biomedical to psychological and sociocultural. The review revealed interesting distortions in the focus of the literature, with the majority of studies focused on a few disorders (schizophrenia, depression and neurodegenerative disorders) and genetic, psychological and physiological risks. In contrast, environmental (e.g. media exposure) and occupational (e.g. employee health) were under-represented.
The categorisation scheme developed in this paper is a step towards a more detailed taxonomy of risk factors for mental illness; this will be most useful in guiding clinicians, researchers and policy-makers in driving the prevention agenda forward.
While mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is effective in reducing depressive relapse/recurrence, relatively little is known about its health economic properties. We describe the health economic properties of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in relation to its impact on depressive relapse/recurrence over 2 years of follow-up.
Non-depressed adults with a history of three or more major depressive episodes were randomised to mindfulness-based cognitive therapy + depressive relapse active monitoring (n = 101) or control (depressive relapse active monitoring alone) (n = 102) and followed up for 2 years. Structured self-report instruments for service use and absenteeism provided cost data items for health economic analyses. Treatment utility, expressed as disability-adjusted life years, was calculated by adjusting the number of days an individual was depressed by the relevant International Classification of Diseases 12-month severity of depression disability weight from the Global Burden of Disease 2010. Intention-to-treat analysis assessed the incremental cost–utility ratios of the interventions across mental health care, all of health-care and whole-of-society perspectives. Per protocol and site of usual care subgroup analyses were also conducted. Probabilistic uncertainty analysis was completed using cost–utility acceptability curves.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy participants had significantly less major depressive episode days compared to controls, as supported by the differential distributions of major depressive episode days (modelled as Poisson, p < 0.001). Average major depressive episode days were consistently less in the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy group compared to controls, e.g., 31 and 55 days, respectively. From a whole-of-society perspective, analyses of patients receiving usual care from all sectors of the health-care system demonstrated dominance (reduced costs, demonstrable health gains). From a mental health-care perspective, the incremental gain per disability-adjusted life year for mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was AUD83,744 net benefit, with an overall annual cost saving of AUD143,511 for people in specialist care.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy demonstrated very good health economic properties lending weight to the consideration of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy provision as a good buy within health-care delivery.
To investigate the prevalence of occipital bending (an occipital lobe crossing or twisting across the midline) in subjects with schizophrenia and matched healthy controls.
Occipital bending prevalence was investigated in 37 patients with schizophrenia and 44 healthy controls.
Ratings showed that prevalence was nearly three times higher among schizophrenia patients (13/37 [35.1%]) than in control subjects (6/44 [13.6%]). Furthermore, those with schizophrenia had greater normalized gray matter volume but less white matter volume and had larger brain-to-cranial ratio.
The results suggest that occipital bending is more prevalent among schizophrenia patients than healthy subjects and that schizophrenia patients have different gray matter–white matter proportions. Although the cause and clinical ramifications of occipital bending are unclear, the results infer that occipital bending may be a marker of psychiatric illness.
Clinical features of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder can be frequently observed in cases with bipolar disorders and associated with greater severity of bipolar disorders. Although designed as a screening tool for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, the Wender Utah Rating Scale could, given its factorial structure, be useful in investigating the early history of impulsive, inattentive or mood-related symptoms among patients with bipolar disorders.
We rated the Wender Utah Rating Scale in 276 adult bipolar disorder cases and 228 healthy controls and tested its factorial structure and any associations with bipolar disorder phenomenology.
We confirmed a three-factor structure for the Wender Utah Rating Scale (‘impulsivity/temper’, ‘inattentiveness’ and ‘mood/self-esteem’). Cases and controls differed significantly on Wender Utah Rating Scale total score and sub-scale scores (p-values < 10–5). About 23% of bipolar disorder cases versus 5% of controls were classified as ‘WURS positive’ (odds ratio = 5.21 [2.73–9.95]). In bipolar disorders, higher Wender Utah Rating Scale score was associated with earlier age at onset, severity of suicidal behaviors and polysubstance misuse; multivariate analyses, controlling for age and gender, confirmed the associations with age at onset (p = 0.001) and alcohol and substance misuse (p = 0.001).
Adults with bipolar disorders who reported higher levels of childhood symptoms on the Wender Utah Rating Scale presented a more severe expression of bipolar disorders in terms of age at onset and comorbidity. The Wender Utah Rating Scale could be employed to screen for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder but also for ‘at-risk behaviors’ in adult bipolar disorder cases and possibly for prodromal signs of early onset in high-risk subjects.
Prisoners are at increased risk of both self-harm and suicide compared with the general population, and the risk of suicide after release from prison is three times greater than for those still incarcerated. However, surprisingly little is known about the incidence of self-harm following release from prison. We aimed to determine the incidence of, identify risk factors for and characterise emergency department presentations resulting from self-harm in adults after release from prison.
Cohort study of 1325 adults interviewed prior to release from prison, linked prospectively with State correctional and emergency department records. Data from all emergency department presentations resulting from self-harm were secondarily coded to characterise these presentations. We used negative binomial regression to identify independent predictors of such presentations.
During 3192 person-years of follow-up (median 2.6 years per participant), there were 3755 emergency department presentations. In all, 83 (6.4%) participants presented due to self-harm, accounting for 165 (4.4%) presentations. The crude incidence rates of self-harm for males and females were 49.2 (95% confidence interval: [41.2, 58.7]) and 60.5 (95% confidence interval: [44.9, 81.6]) per 1000 person-years, respectively. Presenting due to self-harm was associated with being Indigenous (incidence rate ratio: 2.01; 95% confidence interval: [1.11, 3.62]), having a lifetime history of a mental disorder (incidence rate ratio: 2.13; 95% confidence interval: [1.19, 3.82]), having previously been hospitalised for psychiatric treatment (incidence rate ratio: 2.68; 95% confidence interval: [1.40, 5.14]) and having previously presented due to self-harm (incidence rate ratio: 3.91; 95% confidence interval: [1.85, 8.30]).
Following release from prison, one in 15 ex-prisoners presented to an emergency department due to self-harm, within an average of 2.6 years of release. Demographic and mental health variables help to identify at-risk groups, and such presentations could provide opportunities for suicide prevention in this population. Transition from prison to the community is challenging, particularly for those with a history of mental disorder; mental health support during and after release may reduce the risk of adverse outcomes, including self-harm.
To estimate the prevalence of children in the Australian population with risk factors for adult mental illness.
Key risk factors and risk domains were identified from a 2013 review of longitudinal studies on child and adolescent determinants of adult mental illness. Data items were identified from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children that map onto the risk domains and were used to estimate the prevalence of these key individual risk factors and the magnitude of multiple risk in children aged 3 months to 13 years.
Even by infancy, risk factors for adult mental illness are highly prevalent, with 51.7% of infants having multiple risks. In 10 infants, 1 was born to mothers who consumed daily alcohol and 1 in 8 to mothers who smoked cigarettes daily during pregnancy. Also, 10.5% of infants were in families where the parents had separated, which increased to 18% in 10–11 year-olds. Psychological problems in the clinical range (based on the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire total problems score) ranged from 7.8% to 9.7% across the 4–13 years age range. Risks from negative parenting behaviours were highly prevalent across age groups. Two-thirds of children aged 12–13 years had parents who displayed low warmth or exhibited high hostility/anger. Across childhood, one in seven children are in families exposed to 3+ major life stressors. By age 8–9 years, more than 18% of children are exposed to >=5 risk factors.
We find that modifiable risk factors for adult mental illness occur at the earliest stage in the life course and at greater prevalence than is commonly recognised. Considerable capacity will be required in child and adolescent mental health services and complementary family support programmes if risk factors for adult mental illness that are already apparent in infancy and childhood are to be addressed.
Schizophrenia is associated with impairment in prospective memory, the ability to remember to carry out an intended action in the future. It has been established that cue identification (detection of the cue event signaling that an intended action should be performed) and intention retrieval (retrieval of an intention from long-term memory following the recognition of a prospective cue) are two important processes underlying prospective memory. The purpose of this study was to examine prospective memory deficit and underlying cognitive processes in patients with first-episode schizophrenia.
This study examined cue identification and intention retrieval components of event-based prospective memory using a dual-task paradigm in 30 patients with first-episode schizophrenia and 30 healthy controls. All participants were also administered a set of tests assessing working memory and retrospective memory.
Both cue identification and intention retrieval were impaired in patients with first-episode schizophrenia compared with healthy controls (ps < 0.05), with a large effect size for cue identification (Cohen’s d = 0.98) and a medium effect size for intention retrieval (Cohen’s d = 0.62). After controlling for working memory and retrospective memory, the difference in cue identification between patients and healthy controls remained significant. However, the difference in intention retrieval between the two groups was no longer significant. In addition, there was a significant inverse relationship between cue identification and negative symptoms (r = –0.446, p = 0.013) in the patient group.
These findings suggest that both cue identification and intention retrieval in event-based prospective memory are impaired in patients with first-episode schizophrenia. Cue identification and intention retrieval could be potentially used as biomarkers for early detection and treatment prognosis of schizophrenia. In addition, addressing cue identification deficit through cognitive enhancement training may potentially improve negative symptoms as well.
There is growing awareness of the range of psychosocial, lifestyle, and sociodemographic factors related to self-harm, however this research is often limited by using cross-sectional or convenience samples. And while we generally assume that young adults who self-harm experience poorer long-term outcomes, longitudinal research is needed. This paper builds on prior research using a large, representative, longitudinal sample.
5765 Australian women completed 5 surveys (age 18–23 to 31–36). Six-month self-harm was measured by self-report. We had two aims: firstly to predict future self-harm, separately for women with and without prior self-harm. Secondly, to identify outcomes 3 and 6 years following self-harm.
Six-month self-harm prevalence was 2.5%. Predictors among women without recent self-harm included depression, dieting behaviours, number of male sexual partners, and abuse. Among women with recent or current self-harm, predictors were number of dieting behaviours, tiredness of life, and stress. Women who self-harmed reported poorer outcomes, namely greater difficulties in relationships at 3- and 6-year follow-up.
Longitudinal risk factors for self-harm differed depending on prior self-harm status, and included depression, dieting behaviours, tiredness of life and stress. These factors may serve as warning signs for new or continued self-harm. This study offers new insight into long-term outcomes up to six years after self-harm, particularly with relationships.
Preliminary evidence supports the safety and efficacy of subanesthetic ketamine as an experimental antidepressant, although its effects are often not sustained beyond one week. Studies are lacking that have examined the sustained effects of escalating ketamine doses as augmentation in outpatients with treatment-resistant depression. Therefore, the aims of this study were twofold: (1) to assess the safety and antidepressant efficacy of two-step, repeated-dose ketamine augmentation and (2) to assess the duration of ketamine’s antidepressant efficacy as augmentation to ongoing antidepressant pharmacotherapy for 3 months after the final infusion.
Fourteen patients with treatment-resistant depression were eligible to receive augmentation with six open-label intravenous ketamine infusions over 3 weeks. For the first three infusions, ketamine was administered at a dose of 0.5 mg/kg over 45 minutes; the dose was increased to 0.75 mg/kg over 45 minutes for the subsequent three infusions. The primary outcome measure was response (as measured on Hamilton Depression Rating Scale–28 items).
After the completion of three ketamine infusions, 7.1% (1/14) responded; after all six ketamine infusions, 41.7% (5/12) completers responded and 16.7% (2/12) remitted. Intent-to-treat response and remission rates at the end of the final infusion were 35.7% (5/14) and 14.3% (2/14), respectively. However, all but one responder relapsed within 2 weeks after the final infusion.
Repeated, escalating doses of intravenous ketamine augmentation were preliminarily found to be feasible, efficacious and well tolerated. Interaction with concomitant medications and elevated level of treatment resistance are possible factors for non-response.
Refugees can suffer many experiences that threaten their trust in others. Although models of refugee mental health have postulated that attachment securities may be damaged by refugee experiences, this has yet to be empirically tested. This study aimed to understand the relationship between the nature of traumatic experiences sustained by refugees and attachment styles.
In a cross-sectional study, treatment-seeking refugees (N = 134) were assessed for traumatic exposure using the Harvard Trauma Questionnaire and Posttraumatic Diagnostic Scale. Attachment style was assessed using the Experiences in Close Relationship Scale.
Whereas gender and severity of interpersonal traumatic events predicted avoidant attachment style (accounting for 11% of the variance), neither these factors nor non-interpersonal trauma predicted anxious attachment.
Exposure to interpersonal traumatic events, including torture, is associated with enduring avoidant attachment tendencies in refugees. This finding accords with attachment theories that prior adverse interpersonal experiences can undermine secure attachment systems, and may promote avoidance of attachment seeking. This finding may point to an important process maintaining poor psychological health in refugees affected by interpersonal trauma.
The profile of grey matter abnormalities and related white-matter pathology in schizoaffective disorder has only been studied to a limited extent. The aim of this study was to identify grey- and white-matter abnormalities in patients with schizoaffective disorder using complementary structural imaging techniques.
Forty-five patients meeting Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–Fourth Edition criteria and Research Diagnostic Criteria for schizoaffective disorder and 45 matched healthy controls underwent structural-T1 and diffusion magnetic resonance imaging to enable surface-based brain morphometry and diffusion tensor imaging analyses. Analyses were conducted to determine group differences in cortical volume, cortical thickness and surface area, as well as in fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity.
At a threshold of p = 0.05 corrected, all measures revealed significant differences between patients and controls at the group level. Spatial overlap of abnormalities was observed across the various structural neuroimaging measures. In grey matter, patients with schizoaffective disorder showed abnormalities in the frontal and temporal lobes, striatum, fusiform, cuneus, precuneus, lingual and limbic regions. White-matter abnormalities were identified in tracts connecting these areas, including the corpus callosum, superior and inferior longitudinal fasciculi, anterior thalamic radiation, uncinate fasciculus and cingulum bundle.
The spatial overlap of abnormalities across the different imaging techniques suggests widespread and consistent brain pathology in schizoaffective disorder. The abnormalities were mainly detected in areas that have commonly been reported to be abnormal in schizophrenia, and to some extent in bipolar disorder, which may explain the clinical and aetiological overlap in these disorders.
To describe the prevalence of symptoms of depression and anxiety, and the level of life stress and worry in late pregnancy for Māori and non-Māori women.
In late pregnancy, women completed a questionnaire recording their prior history of mood disorders; self-reported current depressive symptoms (>=13 on the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale), current anxiety symptoms (>=6 on the anxiety items from the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale), significant life stress (>=2 items on life stress scale) and dysfunctional worry (>12 on the Brief Measure of Worry Scale).
Data were obtained from 406 Māori women (mean age = 27.6 years, standard deviation=6.3 years) and 738 non-Māori women (mean age = 31.6 years, standard deviation=5.3 years). Depressive symptoms (22% vs 15%), anxiety symptoms (25% vs 20%), significant life stress (55% vs 30%) and a period of poor mood during the current pregnancy (18% vs 14%) were more prevalent for Māori than non-Maori women. Less than 50% of women who had experienced >=2 weeks of poor mood during the current pregnancy had sought help. Being young was an independent risk factor for depressive symptoms, significant life stress and dysfunctional worry. A prior history of depression was also consistently associated with a greater risk of negative affect in pregnancy.
Antenatal mental health requires at least as much attention and resourcing as mental health in the postpartum period. Services need to specifically target Māori women, young women and women with a prior history of depression.
Previous studies reported decreased N-acetyl aspartate and increased Glx (the sum of glutamate plus glutamine) in bipolar disorder. Since these studies included patients at different stages of illness, it is unknown whether these changes have a causal role or a consequence of multiple episodes and treatments. The studies in early-stage bipolar disorder patients have the potential to provide answers to these issues. Therefore, we evaluated N-acetyl aspartate and Glx levels in hippocampi of first-episode bipolar disorder patients and health subjects at baseline and at 12 months, and examined the impact of episode recurrence on these measures.
We used single-voxel proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy to compare the hippocampal neurometabolites (N-acetyl aspartate and Glx) levels between 41 patients with bipolar disorder following recovery from their first-manic episode and 27 matched healthy subjects at recruitment and 12 months later. We also compared N-acetyl aspartate and Glx levels between patients who had a recurrence of a mood episode and those who did not.
There was no main effect of either group (diagnosis) or time for hippocampal N-acetyl aspartate and Glx levels in bipolar disorder patients and healthy subjects. We also did not find any group-by-time interaction for the levels of these metabolites. There were also no differences in N-acetyl aspartate and Glx between patients who experienced a recurrence of a mood episode and those who did not over 12-month follow-up.
Our data suggest that N-acetyl aspartate and Glx levels are not altered in early stage bipolar disorder. Further, these data suggest that episode recurrence in early stages does not have a significant impact on the levels of these metabolites. These may suggest that there may be an early window for intervention to potentially arrest neuroprogression of the disease.
The establishment of childhood adversities as risk factors for non-affective psychosis has derived a need to consider alternative interpretations of several psychosis-related factors. This paper sought to examine premorbid adjustment trajectories and social outcome factors in relation to childhood adversities. Perceived support has been found to decrease the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, and we wished to compare perceived support in people with first-episode psychosis to non-clinical control persons and explore its relation to childhood adversities.
Every individual presenting with a non-affective first-episode psychosis (F20–29, except F21) in Region Zealand over a 2-year period was approached for participation and the 101 consenting participants were matched to 101 people with no psychiatric disorders. Comprehensive demographic data were collected. Assessment instruments included the Premorbid Assessment Scale, the Global Assessment of Functioning scale and the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire. The latter represented the childhood adversities in addition to parental separation and institutionalization.
There were no associations between number of childhood adversities and different social or academic premorbid trajectories. Those with more adversities had lower global functioning the year prior to treatment start and reported lower rates of perceived support during childhood along with less current face-to-face contact with family members. Lack of peer support remained a significant predictor of psychosis when adversities were adjusted for and it diminished the risk of psychosis caused by childhood adversities by 10%.
Childhood adversities may not predict specific premorbid trajectories, but have an effect on global functioning when the psychosis has begun. Perceived support, especially from peers, may be important in the development of psychosis, and those with more adversities may represent a vulnerable subgroup who need more assistance to increase and maintain supportive networks.
To identify the proportion of children and adolescents in Australia and the proportion of those with mental disorders who used services for emotional and behavioural problems, the type of services used and what characteristics were associated with service use.
During 2013–2014, a national face-to-face household survey of mental health and wellbeing (Young Minds Matter) was conducted, involving 6310 parents and carers of 4- to 17-year-olds (55% of eligible households) and self-report surveys from 2967 11- to 17-year-olds in these households (89% of eligible youth). The survey identified 12-month mental disorders based on the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children–Version IV and asked about service use for emotional or behavioural problems in the previous 12 months.
Overall, 17.0% of all 4- to 17-year-olds used services for emotional or behavioural problems in the previous 12 months. Of those with mental disorders, 56.0% used services (48.9% of 4- to 11-year-olds; 65.1% of 12- to 17-year-olds). Service use was highest among 4- to 17-year-olds with major depressive disorder (79.6%) and lowest for those with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (52.7%). Two-fifths (41.2%), 72.5% and 87.6% of those with mild, moderate and severe disorders used services. General practitioners, psychologists, paediatricians and counsellors/family therapists were the most commonly accessed health service providers. Two-fifths with mental disorders had attended school services. About 5% of adolescents reported use of online personal support or counselling for help with their problems. From multivariate models, service use was higher in sole carer families, but also among those living in the least socially and economically disadvantaged compared to the most disadvantaged areas.
Rates of service use for mental disorders in Australia’s children and adolescents appear to have increased substantially. Health services and schools are the major providers of services for emotional and behavioural problems, but telephone counselling and online services have become well-established parts of the service environment.
Our understanding of patient pathways through specialist Alcohol and Other Drug treatment and broader health/welfare systems in Australia remains limited. This study examines how treatment outcomes are influenced by continuity in specialist Alcohol and Other Drug treatment, engagement with community services and mutual aid, and explores differences between clients who present with a primary alcohol problem relative to those presenting with a primary drug issue.
In a prospective, multi-site treatment outcome study, 796 clients from 21 Alcohol and Other Drug services in Victoria and Western Australia completed a baseline interview between January 2012 and January 2013. A total of 555 (70%) completed a follow-up assessment of subsequent service use and Alcohol and Other Drug use outcomes 12-months later.
Just over half of the participants (52.0%) showed reliable reductions in use of, or abstinence from, their primary drug of concern. This was highest among clients with meth/amphetamine (66%) as their primary drug of concern and lowest among clients with alcohol as their primary drug of concern (47%), with 31% achieving abstinence from all drugs of concern. Continuity of specialist Alcohol and Other Drug care was associated with higher rates of abstinence than fragmented Alcohol and Other Drug care. Different predictors of treatment success emerged for clients with a primary drug problem as compared to those with a primary alcohol problem; mutual aid attendance (odds ratio = 2.5) and community service engagement (odds ratio = 2.0) for clients with alcohol as the primary drug of concern, and completion of the index treatment (odds ratio = 2.8) and continuity in Alcohol and Other Drug care (odds ratio = 1.8) when drugs were the primary drugs of concern.
This is the first multi-site Australian study to include treatment outcomes for alcohol and cannabis users, who represent 70% of treatment seekers in Alcohol and Other Drug services. Results suggest a substantial proportion of clients respond positively to treatment, but that clients with alcohol as their primary drug problem may require different treatment pathways, compared to those with illicit drug issues, to maximise outcomes.
Diabetes, obesity and metabolic syndrome are highly prevalent in patients with severe mental illness and can impose a major physical health burden.
To determine how anthropometric and metabolic features changed over time in a retrospective cohort of people with Severe Mental Illness living in Cheshire, UK.
In all, 1307 individuals on the severe mental illness Register were followed up between 2002 and 2012 in UK general practice. Subjects were identified through a pseudanonymised search of general practice registers.
Baseline body mass index was 28.6 kg/m2 increasing to 31.0 at 10-year follow-up (r2 = 0.84; p = 0.0002). There was a significant increase in fasting blood glucose from 5.72 to 6.79 mmol/L (r2 = 0.48; p = 0.026). Correspondingly, there was a strong positive univariate relation between increase in body mass index and fasting blood glucose (r2 = 0.54; p < 0.0001) taking into account all measurements. Fasting blood glucose also increased slightly with age (p = 0.028). With increasing use of statins, total cholesterol fell from 4.5 to 3.9 mmol/L (r2 = 0.88; p = 0.0001), as did low-density lipoprotein cholesterol from 3.43 to 2.35 mmol/L (r2 = 0.94; p = 0.0001). In multivariate models, adjusting for age, gender, smoking and blood pressure, each unit increase in body mass index (odds ratio = 1.07 [1.01, 1.13]; p = 0.031) and triglycerides (odds ratio = 1.28 (1.06, 1.55); p = 0.009) was independently associated with an increased risk of having type 2 diabetes.
Increasing body mass index relates to increasing rates of dysglycaemia over time. Measures to encourage weight reduction should be key strategies to reduce dysglycaemia rates in severe mental illness. Prescribing statins may have been effective in improving the lipid profile in this group.
To (1) estimate the lifetime and 12-month prevalence of suicidal behaviours in Australian young people aged 12–17 years, (2) describe their co-morbidity with mental illness and (3) describe the co-variation of these estimates with social and demographic variables.
A national random sample of children aged 4–17 years was recruited in 2013–2014. The response rate to the survey was 55% with 6310 parents and carers of eligible households participating. In addition, of the 2967 young people aged 11–17 years in these households, 89% (2653) of the 12- to 17-year-olds completed a self-report questionnaire that included questions about suicidal behaviour.
In any 12-month period, about 2.4% or 41,400 young people would have made a suicide attempt. About 7.5% of 12- to 17-year-olds report having suicidal ideation, 5.2% making a plan and less than 1% (0.6%) receiving medical treatment for an attempt. The presence of a mental disorder shows the largest significant association with lifetime and 12-month suicidal behaviour, along with age, gender, sole parent family status and poor family functioning. Of young people with a major depressive disorder, 19.7% reported making a suicide attempt within the previous 12 months. There are also significant elevations in the proportions of young people reporting suicidal behaviour who have anxiety and conduct disorders.
Mental disorders should be a leading intervention point for suicide prevention both in the primary health sector and in the mental health sector specifically. The associations examined here also suggest that efforts to assist sole parent and/or dysfunctional families would be worthy areas in which to target these efforts.
Australian policy-making needs better information on socio-geographical associations with needs for mental health care. We explored two national surveys for information on disparities in rates of mental disorders and psychological distress.
Secondary data analysis using the 2011/2012 National Health Survey and 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Key data were the Kessler 10 scores in adults in the National Health Survey (n = 12,332) and the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (n = 6558) and interview-assessed disorder rates in the National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Estimation of prevalence of distress and disorders for sub-populations defined by geographic and socioeconomic status of area was followed by investigation of area effects adjusting for age and gender.
Overall, approximately one person in 10 reported recent psychological distress at high/very-high level, this finding varying more than twofold depending on socioeconomic status of area with 16.1%, 13.3%, 12.0%, 8.4% and 6.9% affected in the most to least disadvantaged quintiles, respectively, across Australia in 2011/2012. In the most disadvantaged quintile, the percentage (24.4%) with mental disorders was 50% higher than that in the least disadvantaged quintile (16.9%) in 2007, so this trend was less strong than for Kessler10 distress.
These results suggest that disparities in mental health status in Australia based on socioeconomic characteristics of area are substantial and persisting. Whether considering 1-year mental disorders or 30-day psychological distress, these occur more commonly in areas with socioeconomic disadvantage. The association is stronger for Kessler10 scores suggesting that Kessler10 scores behaved more like a complex composite indicator of the presence of mental and subthreshold disorders, inadequate treatment and other responses to stressors linked to socioeconomic disadvantage. To reduce the observed disparities, what might be characterised as a ‘Whole of Government’ approach is needed, addressing elements of socioeconomic disadvantage and the demonstrable and significant inequities in treatment provision.
To describe the study design of Young Minds Matter: The second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. The aims of the study, sample design, development of survey content, field procedures and final questionnaires are detailed.
During 2013–2014, a national household survey of the mental health and wellbeing of young people was conducted involving a sample of 6310 families selected at random from across Australia. The survey included a face-to-face diagnostic interview with parents/carers of 4- to 17-year-olds and a self-report questionnaire completed by young people aged 11–17 years.
The overall response rate to the survey was 55% with 6310 parents/carers of eligible households participating in the survey. In addition, 2967 or 89% of young people aged 11–17 years in these participating households completed a questionnaire. The survey sample was found to be broadly representative of the Australian population on major demographic characteristics when compared with data from the Census of Population and Housing. However, adjustments were made for an over-representation of younger children aged 4 to 7 years and also families with more than one eligible child in the household.
Young Minds Matter provides updated national prevalence estimates of common child and adolescent mental disorders, describes patterns of service use and will help to guide future decisions in the development of policy and provision of mental health services for children and adolescents. Advancements in interviewing methodology, addition of a data linkage component and informed content development contributed to improved breadth and quality of the data collected.
Cognitive deficits are apparent in the early stages of bipolar disorder; however, the timing and trajectory of cognitive functioning following a first episode of mania remains unclear. The aim of this study was to assess the trajectory of cognitive functioning in people following a first episode of mania over a 12-month period, relative to healthy controls.
The cohort included 61 participants who had recently stabilised from a first treated manic episode, and 21 demographically similar healthy controls. These groups were compared on changes observed over time using an extensive cognitive battery, over a 12-month follow-up period.
A significant group by time interaction was observed in one measure of processing speed (Trail Making Test – part A,) and immediate verbal memory (Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test – trial 1), with an improved performance in people following a first episode of mania relative to healthy controls. On the contrary, there was a significant group by time interaction observed on another processing speed task pertaining to focussed reaction time (Go/No-Go, missed go responses), with first episode of mania participants performing significantly slower in comparison with healthy controls. Furthermore, a significant group by time interaction was observed in inhibitory effortful control (Stroop effect), in which healthy controls showed an improvement over time relative to first episode of mania participants. There were no other significant interactions of group by time related to other measures of cognition over the 12-month period.
Our findings revealed cognitive change in processing speed, immediate memory and one measure of executive functioning over a 12-month period in first episode of mania participants relative to healthy controls. There was no evidence of change over time for all other cognitive domains. Further studies focussed on the at-risk period, subgroup analysis, and the effects of medication on the cognitive trajectory following first episode of mania are needed.
There is limited Australian information on the prevalence and mental health consequences of bullying and ill-treatment at work. The aims of this study were to use data from an ongoing Australian longitudinal cohort study to (1) compare different measures of workplace bullying, (2) estimate the prevalence of bullying and ill-treatment at work, (3) evaluate whether workplace bullying is distinct from other adverse work characteristics and (4) examine the unique contribution of workplace bullying to common mental disorders in mid-life.
The sample comprised 1466 participants (52% women) aged 52–58 from wave four of the Personality and Total Health (PATH) through Life study. Workplace bullying was assessed by a single item of self-labelling measure of bullying and a 15-item scale of bullying-related behaviours experienced in the past 6 months. Factor analysis the identified underlying factor structure of the behavioural bullying scale.
Current bullying was reported by 7.0% of respondents, while 46.4% of respondents reported that they had been bullied at some point in their working life. Person-related and work-related bullying behaviours were more common than violence and intimidation. The multi-dimensional scale of bullying behaviours had greater concordance with a single item of self-labelled bullying (Area Under the Curve = 0.88) than other adverse work characteristics (all Area Under the Curves < 0.67). Self-labelled bullying and scales reflecting person-related and work-related bullying were independent predictors of depression and/or anxiety.
This study provides unique information on the prevalence and mental health impacts of workplace bullying and ill-treatment in Australia. Workplace bullying is a relatively common experience, and is associated with increased risk of depression and anxiety. Greater attention to identifying and preventing bullying and ill-treatment in the workplace is warranted.
Social and role functioning are compromised for the majority of individuals at ultra-high risk of psychosis, and it is important to identify factors that contribute to this functional decline. This study aimed to investigate social cognitive abilities, which have previously been linked to functioning in schizophrenia, as potential factors that impact social, role and global functioning in ultra-high risk patients.
A total of 30 ultra-high risk patients were recruited from an established at-risk clinical service in Melbourne, Australia, and completed a battery of social cognitive, neurocognitive, clinical and functioning measures. We examined the relationships between all four core domains of social cognition (emotion recognition, theory of mind, social perception and attributional style), neurocognitive, clinical and demographic variables with three measures of functioning (the Global Functioning Social and Role scales and the Social and Occupational Functioning Assessment Scale) using correlational and multiple regression analyses.
Performance on a visual theory of mind task (visual jokes task) was significantly correlated with both concurrent role (r = 0.425, p = 0.019) and global functioning (r = 0.540, p = 0.002). In multivariate analyses, it also accounted for unique variance in global, but not role functioning after adjusting for negative symptoms and stress. Social functioning was not associated with performance on any of the social cognition tasks.
Among specific social cognitive abilities, only a test of theory of mind was associated with functioning in our ultra-high risk sample. Further longitudinal research is needed to examine the impact of social cognitive deficits on long-term functional outcome in the ultra-high risk group. Identifying social cognitive abilities that significantly impact functioning is important to inform the development of targeted intervention programmes for ultra-high risk individuals.
With a healthcare system burdened by symptomatic and mental-health related conditions, the placebo effect may represent a useful clinical tool. First, however, there is a need to broaden research attention and investigate placebo effects outside laboratories and beyond experimental pain. This study investigated the effectiveness of a take-home placebo treatment in the short-term alleviation of stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression in a non-patient population.
A sample of 77 participants was randomized to either the ‘oxytocin’ treatment group (n = 22), the ‘serotonin’ treatment group (n = 22) or the wait-list control group (n = 33). The two treatment groups were given an ‘anti-stress treatment spray’ (placebo) to self-administer for 3 days, and completed online measures of perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale-10), anxiety (Cognitive Somatic Anxiety Questionnaire) and symptoms of depression (Centre for Epidemiological Studies – Depression) before and after the 3-day protocol.
Both the ‘serotonin’ and ‘oxytocin’ treatment sprays were effective in reducing symptoms of depression; however, only those in the ‘oxytocin’ group reported less stress and anxiety as compared with controls. Overall, the ‘oxytocin’ was perceived as more effective.
Placebo effects can be translated to a real-life setting in the short-term reduction of stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression in a non-patient population. In treating psychological distress, placebos may be useful addition to the treatment repertoire. The information given with treatment may also be an important consideration for practitioners.
To analyse the average treatment duration with antidepressants that are reimbursed for concession card holders under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme in Australia.
This pharmacoepidemiological study was based on a representative 10% sample of patients receiving Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme prescriptions. Antidepressants redeemed by concession card holders in the period from 2010 to 2013 were analysed. A 5-year baseline period was used to exclude prevalent users from incident users. Estimation of treatment duration was based on the epidemiological equation: prevalence/incidence = average duration. The mean value for prevalence and incidence over the studied period was used in the equation.
The number of prevalent and incident users increased from 90,475 to 103,305 and from 25,006 to 26,289, respectively. The epidemiological average treatment duration in the period was about 4 years. When considered by age-bands, average treatment duration was 2 years in patients under 24 years, 3 years in patients 35 to 44 years and up to 5 years in the 55 to 64 year age group. Of new users of antidepressants reimbursed under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, 86% received their first prescription from general practitioners, 4.3% from psychiatrists and 9.7% from other physicians.
While recommendations have underlined the importance of giving antidepressants for a sufficient period of time, the results from this study show that it is as important to remind general practitioners to review patients on antidepressant treatment regularly, and try to cease drug treatment when timely.
To estimate the prevalence of mental disorders in children and adolescents in Australia, and the severity and impact of those mental disorders.
Seven mental disorders were assessed using the parent- or carer-completed version of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version IV, and major depressive disorder was also assessed using the youth self-report version of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version IV. Severity and impact were assessed using an extended version of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children Version IV impact on functioning questions, and days absent from school due to symptoms of mental disorders. Data were collected in a national face-to-face survey of 6310 parents or carers of children and adolescents aged 4–17 years, with 2969 young people aged 11–17 years also completing a self-report questionnaire.
Twelve-month prevalence of mental disorders was 13.9%, with 2.1% of children and adolescents having severe disorders, 3.5% having moderate disorders and 8.3% having mild disorders. The most common class of disorders was attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder followed by anxiety disorders. Mental disorders were more common in step-, blended- or one-parent families, in families living in rented accommodation and families where one or both carers were not in employment. Mental disorders were associated with a substantial number of days absent from school particularly in adolescents.
Mental disorders are common in children and adolescents, often have significant impact and are associated with substantial absences from school. Child and adolescent mental disorders remain an important public health problem in Australia. Accurate information about prevalence and severity of child and adolescent mental disorders is an essential prerequisite for effective mental health policy and service planning.
To (1) estimate the lifetime and 12-month prevalence of self-harm without suicide intent in young people aged 12–17 years, (2) describe the co-morbidity of these behaviours with mental illness and (3) describe their co-variation with key social and demographic variables.
A nationally representative random sample of households with children aged 4–17 years recruited in 2013–2014. The survey response rate was 55% with 6310 parents and carers of eligible households participating. In addition, 2967 (89%) of young people aged 11–17 completed a self-report questionnaire with 2653 of the 12- to 17-year-olds completing questions about self-harm behaviour.
In any 12-month period, about 8% of all 12- to 17-year-olds (an estimated 137,000 12- to 17-year-olds) report engaging in self-harming behaviour without suicide intent. This prevalence increases with age to 11.6% in 16- to 17-year-olds. Eighteen percent (18.8%; 95% confidence interval [CI] = [14.5, 23.0]) of all 12- to 17-year-old young people with any mental health disorder measured by parent or carer report said that they had engaged in self-harm in the past 12 months. Among young people who were measured by self-report and met criteria for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ major depressive disorder almost half (46.6%; 95% CI = [40.0, 53.1]) also reported that they had engaged in self-harm in the past 12 months. Suicide risk among those who self-harm is significantly elevated relative to the general population.
The demonstrated higher risks in these young people for continued harm or possible death support the need for ongoing initiatives to reduce self-harm through mental health promotion, improved mental health literacy and continuing mental health reform to ensure services are accessible to, and meet the needs of families and young persons.
Emergency workers, such as fire-fighters, are routinely exposed to potentially traumatic events. While a number of studies have examined the occurrence of post-traumatic stress disorder, the role of multiple traumas on other mental health sequelae, such as depression and alcohol misuse, among emergency workers remains unclear. This study aimed to assess the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and alcohol misuse in a sample of current and retired fire-fighters and examine their relationship with cumulative trauma exposure.
A cross-sectional survey was completed by current (n = 488) and retired (n = 265) fire-fighters from Fire and Rescue New South Wales, Australia. Demographic and occupational information was collected, including the number of fatal incidents fire-fighters reported attending across years of service. Validated, self-report measures were used to determine probable caseness for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and heavy drinking.
Among current fire-fighters, rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression were 8% and 5%, respectively, while 4% reported consumption of more than 42 alcoholic drinks per week. Retired fire-fighters reported significantly greater levels of symptomatology, with the prevalence estimates of post-traumatic stress disorder at 18% (p = 0.001), depression at 18% (p < 0.001) and heavy drinking at 7%. There was a significant positive linear relationship between the number of fatal incidents attended and rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and heavy drinking.
Fire-fighters suffer from high rates of mental disorders, with rates of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and heavy drinking continuing to rise in a linear manner with each additional trauma exposure. The level of psychiatric morbidity among retired fire-fighters appears to be particularly high. Our findings have important implications for the ongoing debates surrounding the detection of mental disorders in high-risk occupations and for policy considerations around the welfare of current and retired emergency workers.
Abnormal functional connectivity has been observed in major depressive disorder. Anatomical distance may affect functional connectivity in patients with major depressive disorder. However, whether and how anatomical distance affects functional connectivity at rest remains unclear in drug-naive patients with major depressive disorder.
Forty-four patients with major depressive disorder, as well as 44 age-, sex- and education-matched healthy controls, underwent resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging scanning. Regional functional connectivity strength was calculated for each voxel in the whole brain, which was further divided into short- and long-range functional connectivity strength.
The patients showed decreased long-range positive functional connectivity strength in the right inferior parietal lobule, as well as decreased short-range positive functional connectivity strength in the right insula and right superior temporal gyrus relative to those of the controls. No significant correlations existed between abnormal functional connectivity strength and the clinical variables of the patients.
The findings revealed that anatomical distance decreases long- and short-range functional connectivity strength in patients with major depressive disorder, which may underlie the neurobiology of major depressive disorder.
Individuals with bipolar disorder experience a disproportionately high incidence of medical co-morbidity and obesity. These health-related problems are a barrier to recovery from mood episodes and have been linked with unfavorable responses to pharmacological treatment. However, little is known about whether and how these characteristics affect responses to adjunctive psychotherapy.
Embedded in the Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder was a randomized controlled trial of psychotherapy for bipolar depression comparing the efficacy of intensive psychotherapy plus pharmacotherapy with collaborative care (a three-session psycho-educational intervention) plus pharmacotherapy. We conducted a post-hoc analysis to evaluate whether medical burden and body mass index predicted and/or moderated the likelihood of recovery and time until recovery from a depressive episode among patients in the two treatments.
Participants who had medical co-morbidity and body mass index data constituted 199 of the 293 patients in the original Systematic Treatment Enhancement Program for Bipolar Disorder trial. Higher medical burden predicted a lower likelihood of recovery from depression in both treatment conditions (odds ratio = 0.89), but did not moderate responses to intensive psychotherapy vs collaborative care. Intensive psychotherapy yielded superior recovery rates for individuals of normal body mass index (odds ratio= 2.39) compared with collaborative care, but not among individuals who were overweight or obese.
Medical co-morbidity and body weight impacts symptom improvement and attention to this co-morbidity may inform the development of more personalized treatments for bipolar disorder.
People with chronic schizophrenia have high rates of physical ill-health such as heart disease. However, there has been less attention to the issue of poor oral health including dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal (gum) disease, although both have consequences for quality of life and systemic physical health. We therefore measured tooth decay and gum disease in Malaysians with schizophrenia.
We recruited long-stay inpatients with schizophrenia from June to October 2014. Four dental specialists assessed oral health using the decayed–missing–filled teeth index, the Community Periodontal Index of Treatment Needs and the Debris Index of the Simplified Oral Hygiene Index. Results were compared with the 2010 Oral Health survey of the general Malaysian population.
A total of 543 patients participated (66.7% males, 33.3% females; mean age = 54.8 years [standard deviation = 16.0]) with a mean illness duration of 18.4 years (standard deviation = 17.1). The mean decayed–missing–filled teeth was 20.5 (standard deviation = 9.9), almost double that of the general population (11.7). Higher decayed–missing–filled teeth scores were associated with both older age (p < 0.001) and longer illness duration (p = 0.048). Only 1% (n = 6) had healthy gums. Levels of decay and periodontal disease were greatest in those aged between 45 and 64 years, coinciding with the onset of tooth loss.
Dental disease in people with schizophrenia deserves the same attention as other comorbid physical illness. The disparity in oral health is most marked for dental decay. Possible interventions include oral health assessments using standard checklists designed for non-dental personnel, help with oral hygiene, management of iatrogenic dry mouth and early dental referral.
Given the burden of common psychiatric disorders and their consequent service and planning requirements, it is important to have a thorough knowledge of their distribution and characteristics in the population. Thus, we aimed to report the prevalence and age of onset of mood, anxiety and substance-use disorders in an age-stratified representative sample of Australian men.
Psychiatric disorders (mood, anxiety and substance-use disorders) were diagnosed utilising a structured clinical interview (Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders–Fourth Edition, Non-Patient Edition) for 961 men aged 24–98 years enrolled in the Geelong Osteoporosis Study. The lifetime and current prevalence of these disorders was determined from the study population and standardised to 2006 census data for Australia.
Approximately one in three men (28.8%, 95% confidence interval [CI] = [26.8%, 30.8%]) reported a lifetime history of any psychiatric disorder, with mood disorders (18.2%, 95% CI = [15.2%, 21.2%]) being more prevalent than anxiety (7.2%, 95% CI = [5.0%, 9.4%]) and substance-use disorders (12.9%, 95% CI = [9.7%, 16.0%]). Approximately 8.7% (95% CI = [7.5%, 10.0%]) were identified as having a current disorder, with 3.8% (95% interquartile range [IQR] = [2.2%, 5.4%]), 2.4% (95% CI = [1.1%, 3.8%]) and 3.4% (95% CI = [1.8%, 4.9%]) meeting criteria for current mood, anxiety and substance-use disorders, respectively. The median age of onset for mood disorders was 37.5 years (IQR = 27.0–48.0 years), 25.0 years (IQR = 20.0–40.3 years) for anxiety and 22.0 years (IQR = 18.0–34.3 years) for substance-use disorders.
This study reports the lifetime and current prevalence of psychiatric disorders in the Australian male population. These findings emphasise the extent of the burden of these disorders in the community.
This study was designed to assess the levels of and associations between gay-related stressful events, social support, emotional distress and the number of unprotected anal intercourse partners among Chinese men who have sex with men.
Using a respondent-driven sampling method, 807 men who have sex with men were recruited in urban areas of northeast China and data were collected via face-to-face interviews. Gay-related stressful events were measured using the Gay-Related Stressful Life Events Scale; levels of depression, anxiety symptoms and social support were measured using the Self-Rating Depression Scale, the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale and the Social Support Rating Scale, respectively.
Over a quarter of study participants experienced gay-related stressful events during the preceding 3 months. Their average Self-Rating Depression Scale, Self-Rating Anxiety Scale and Social Support scores differed significantly from the national norm. Gay-related stressful events significantly correlated with anxiety (r = 0.167, p < 0.001), depression (r = 0.165, p < 0.001), social support (r = –0.107, p = 0.002) and number of unprotected anal intercourse partners (r = 0.13, p < 0.001), showing a clear dose–response relationship.
Gay-related stressful events are common and are significantly associated with emotional distress, lack of social support and high-risk sexual behaviors among Chinese men who have sex with men. Multifaceted approaches are warranted to increase social support and reduce intolerance toward homosexual behaviors and to reduce risky sexual behaviors related to the rapid HIV epidemic among men who have sex with men population in China.
We aimed to map the prevalence and predictors of psychological outcomes in affected communities 3–4 years after the Black Saturday bushfires in the state of Victoria, Australia.
Baseline assessment of a longitudinal cohort study in high-, medium-, and low-affected communities in Victoria. Participants included 1017 residents of high-, medium-, and low-affected fire communities. Participants were surveyed by means of a telephone and web-based interview between December 2011 and January 2013. The survey included measures of fire-related post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and general PTSD from other traumatic events, major depressive episode, alcohol use, and general psychological distress.
The majority of respondents in the high- (77.3%), medium- (81.3%), and low-affected (84.9%) communities reported no psychological distress on the K6 screening scale. More participants in the high-affected communities (15.6%) reported probable PTSD linked to the bushfires than medium- (7.2%) and low-affected (1.0%) communities (odds ratio (OR): 4.57, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.61–8.00, p = 0.000). Similar patterns were observed for depression (12.9%, 8.8%, 6.3%, respectively) (OR: 1.83, 95% CI: 1.17–2.85, p = 0.008) and severe psychological distress (9.8%, 5.0%, 4.9%, respectively) (OR: 2.08, 95% CI: 1.23–3.55, p = 0.007). All communities reported elevated rates of heavy drinking (24.7%, 18.7%, 19.6%, respectively); however, these were higher in the high-affected communities (OR: 1.39, 95% CI: 1.01–1.89, p = 0.04). Severe psychological distress was predicted by fear for one’s life in the bushfires, death of someone close to them in the bushfires, and subsequent stressors. One-third of those with severe psychological distress did not receive mental health assistance in the previous month.
Several years following the Black Saturday bushfires the majority of affected people demonstrated resilience without indications of psychological distress. A significant minority of people in the high-affected communities reported persistent PTSD, depression, and psychological distress, indicating the need for promotion of the use of health and complementary services, community-based initiatives, and family and other informal supports, to target these persistent problems.
To examine characteristics that predict the progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia.
Of 970 patients recruited from nine memory clinics around Australia, 185 had mild cognitive impairment diagnosed. Measures of cognitive ability, functional ability, and neuropsychiatric symptoms were completed at baseline and over 3 years of follow up.
Over 3 years, 52 (28%) patients with mild cognitive impairment developed dementia. Older age, lower cognitive ability at baseline, and faster decline in cognitive ability over the first 6 months of follow up, but not depression, predicted progression to dementia.
The findings confirm that simple clinical data such as age, cognitive ability at baseline, and rate of cognitive decline are important predictors of progression from mild cognitive impairment to dementia over 3 years.
The psychological flexibility model has been hypothesized as a transdiagnostic, process-oriented approach to understanding various clinical disorders and problems, including chronic pain, anxiety, and substance misuse. In this study we investigated the model’s applicability to the experience of hearing distressing voices.
Fifty people experiencing persisting auditory hallucinations were administered the Kentucky Inventory of Mindfulness Skills, Acceptance and Action Questionnaire, Beliefs about Voices Questionnaire-Revised, Thought Control Questionnaire, and the Beck Anxiety and Depression Inventories. We predicted that psychological flexibility, mindful action, and nonjudgemental acceptance would be negatively associated with distress, disability, and behavioural responses to voice hearing and would have additional explanatory power when included with appraisals of voices and thought-control strategies (as predicted by cognitive models of auditory hallucinations).
The results showed differential contributions between measures of psychological flexibility and nonjudgemental acceptance. Psychological flexibility accounted for a significant proportion of the variance in regression-based models of depression and anxiety, while nonjudgemental acceptance contributed to the prediction of emotional and behavioural resistance to voices, in addition to appraisals of voices and use of thought-control strategies. However, this was not found for distress associated with voice hearing, life disruption, and engagement with voices, which were explained solely by cognitive variables.
The study results suggest that psychological flexibility and nonjudgemental acceptance are related to general emotional well being and resistance response styles to voices, but not to specific dimensions of voice hearing.
Most of what we know about the psychiatric consequences of injury is limited to the first year. Determining the prevalence of and risk factors for psychiatric morbidity beyond one year will aid service development and facilitate timely diagnosis and treatment. The aim of this prognostic study was to determine the prevalence of mental disorders in the three years following serious injury and to identify risk factors for the onset of new disorders after 1 year.
Of 272 patients assessed in hospital following serious injury, 196 (72.1%) were reassessed at 3 years. Assessment involved gold standard semi-structured interviews for psychiatric diagnoses, risk factors for mental disorder, injury measures and pain scores.
More than a quarter of all patients were diagnosed with at least one mood or anxiety disorder at some stage during the three years following their injury. The most common diagnoses were major depression (20.0%), generalised anxiety disorder (6.7%) and panic disorder (6.7%). For a third of these patients, the disorder appeared after 12 months, for which persistent physical disability was an independent risk factor.
Although there is a necessary focus on the early detection and treatment of mental disorders after injury, attention to later onset disorders is also required for those with persistent pain and physical disability.
The effects of pregnancy on depression and anxiety remain unclear. Previous research is predominantly cross-sectional, not representative of the general community, and does not include data on mental health prior to pregnancy. This study used longitudinal Australian population-based data to examine whether pregnancy is associated with increases in women’s anxiety and depression levels (from pre-pregnancy).
A community sample of Australian women aged 20–24 years were recruited prospectively and assessed in 1999, 2003 and 2007. At the follow-up assessments 76 women were pregnant (with no prior children) and 542 remained nulliparous. Mixed models repeated measures analyses of variance were undertaken to compare change in levels of anxiety and depression (Goldberg Anxiety and Depression scales) between those who became pregnant and those who remained non-pregnant.
Pregnancy was not associated with increased symptoms of depression or anxiety. No association was found with depression, while pregnancy was associated with a decrease in anxiety. Including somatic items in the measures of depression and anxiety resulted in higher symptom levels in pregnancy, suggesting possible item bias.
This study is one of the first to follow a community sample of women from pre-pregnancy to pregnancy. The findings suggest that pregnancy is not typically detrimental to women’s mental health. The current study offers a starting point for future prospective studies to follow women from pre-pregnancy to postpartum. Study limitations to be improved upon in follow-up research include expanding the sample size, and including both pregnancy-specific measures and trimester-specific data. Future research should continue to identify those women who are most (and least) at risk during pregnancy in order to target resources and assistance most effectively.
Stimulants may worsen psychotic symptoms but there is limited evidence about the impact of stimulant abuse in people with schizophrenia. This study examined the prevalence and correlates of stimulant and other drug disorders in a population-based sample of people with schizophrenia, examining associations with frequent service use, physical health comorbidities and accommodation instability.
New South Wales (NSW) hospital, community mental health and emergency department data were used to examine health service contact over 5 years in 13,624 people with a diagnosis of schizophrenia. Associations of stimulant disorders were examined with multinomial logistic regression, comparing people with no substance disorders to those with cannabis disorders, stimulant disorders or both.
Of people with schizophrenia, 51% had substance disorders, including 14% with stimulant disorders. Stimulant disorders were more common in young adults and in urban areas, less common in migrants, and unrelated to initial social disadvantage. More than 80% of those with stimulant disorders also had cannabis disorders. Service use and harms were most common in this group, including frequent mental health admissions (59%), frequent emergency department presentations (52%), admissions with injury or self-harm (44%), infectious disease diagnoses (22%), multiple changes of residence (61%), movement to more disadvantaged locations (42%) and periods of homelessness (18%). People with stimulant disorders alone had higher rates of self-harm, infectious disease and non-mental health admissions than people with cannabis disorders alone.
Stimulant disorders occur in people with schizophrenia and in first-episode psychosis at rates more than 10 times that of the broader population. Stimulant disorders are likely to worsen the burden of psychosis, and strategies are needed to engage and support the highly disadvantaged group of people with schizophrenia who have cannabis and stimulant disorders.
To inform decisions about mental health resource allocation, planners require reliable estimates of people who report service demand (i.e. people who use or want mental health services) according to their level of possible need.
Using data on 6915 adults aged 16–64 years in Australia’s 2007 National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing, we examined past-year service demand among respondents grouped into four levels of possible need: (a) 12-month mental disorder; (b) lifetime but no 12-month mental disorder; (c) any other indicator of possible need (12-month symptoms or reaction to stressful event, or lifetime hospitalisation); (d) no indicator of possible need. Multivariate logistic regression analyses examined correlates of service demand, separately for respondents in each of levels 1–3.
Sixteen per cent of Australian adults reported service demand, of whom one-third did not meet criteria for a 12-month mental disorder (equivalent to 5.7% of the adult population). Treatment patterns tended to follow a gradient defined by level of possible need. For example, service users with a 12-month disorder received, on average, 1.6–3.9 times more consultations than their counterparts in other levels of possible need, and had 1.9–2.2 times higher rates of psychologist consultation. Service users with a lifetime but not 12-month disorder or any other indicator of need consumed a similar average number of services to people with mild 12-month mental disorders, but received relatively fewer services involving the mental health sector. Service demand was associated with increased suicidality and psychological distress in all levels of possible need examined, and with poorer clinical and functional status for those with 12-month or lifetime disorders.
Many Australians reporting service demand do not meet criteria for a current mental disorder, but may require services to maintain recovery following a past episode or because they are experiencing symptoms and significant psychological distress.
Metacognitive therapy (MCT) is one of the newer developments within cognitive therapy. This randomized controlled pilot study compared independently applied MCT with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in outpatients with depression to explore the relative speed and efficacy of MCT, ahead of a planned randomized controlled trial.
A total of 48 participants referred for outpatient therapy were randomized to up to 12 weeks of MCT or CBT. Key outcomes were reduction in depressive symptoms at week 4 and week 12, measured using the independent-clinician-rated Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology16. Intention-to-treat and completer analyses as well as additional methods of reporting outcome of depression are presented.
Both therapies were effective in producing clinically significant change in depressive symptoms, with moderate-to-large effect sizes obtained. No differences were detected between therapies in overall outcome or early change on clinician-rated or self-reported measures. Post-hoc analyses suggest that MCT may have been adversely affected by greater comorbidity.
In this large pilot study conducted independently of MCT’s developers, MCT was an effective treatment for outpatients with depression, with similar results overall to CBT. Insufficient power and imbalanced comorbidity limit conclusions regarding comparative efficacy so further studies of MCT and CBT are required.
Patients with psychiatric illness have increased somatic morbidity and increased mortality. Knowledge of how to integrate the prevention and care of somatic illness into the treatment of psychiatric patients is required. The aims of this study were to investigate whether an intervention programme to improve physical health is effective.
An extension of the European Network for Promoting the Health of Residents in Psychiatric and Social Care Institutions (HELPS) project further developed as a 12-month controlled cluster-randomized intervention study in the Danish centre. Waist circumference was a proxy of unhealthy body fat in view of the increased risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.
Waist circumference was 108 cm for men and 108 cm for women. Controlled for cluster randomization, sex, age, and body fat, the intervention group showed a small, but not significant, reduction in waist circumference, while participants in the control group showed a significant increase in waist circumference.
The intervention had a positive effect on the physical health of the patients measured by a reduction in the increase of waist circumference.
Benefit from antidepressant treatment such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may depend on individual differences in acute effects on neural emotion processing. The short (‘S’) allele of the serotonin transporter (5-HTT)-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR) is associated with both negative emotion processing biases and poorer treatment outcomes. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to explore the effects of 5-HTTLPR on the impact of the SSRI escitalopram during processing of positive and negative emotional images, as well as neutral stimuli.
The study employed a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled crossover design on 36 healthy Caucasian female participants who underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanning following placebo or escitalopram treatment, separated by a 7-day washout period.
Changes in the left amygdala signal with escitalopram treatment during processing of emotional stimuli were linearly related to the 5-HTTLPR ‘S’ allele load such that the signal to positive stimuli decreased and the signal to negative stimuli increased with an increasing number of low-expressing ‘S’ alleles. While 5-HTTLPR subgroups were small in size, individual subject changes with treatment and task condition increase confidence in the findings.
While preliminary, our findings comprise the first pharmacogenetic study demonstrating an effect of the 5-HTTLPR ‘S’ allele load on escitalopram-induced changes in amygdala activity during emotional processing, consistent with a 5-HTT expression dosage model. The present findings have implications for the impact of this polymorphism on antidepressant efficacy in patients with mood and anxiety disorders.
There has been little investigation of early trauma in bipolar disorder despite evidence that stress impacts on the course of this illness. We aimed to compare the rates of childhood trauma in adults with bipolar disorder to a healthy control group, and to investigate the impact of childhood trauma on the clinical course of bipolar disorder.
Retrospective assessment of childhood trauma was conducted using the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire (CTQ) in 60 outpatients with bipolar disorder being treated for a depressive episode and 55 control participants across two centres in north-east England and New Zealand.
Significantly higher rates of childhood trauma were observed in patients with bipolar I and bipolar II disorder compared to controls. Logistic regression, controlling for age and sex, identified emotional neglect to be the only significant CTQ subscale associated with a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Childhood history of sexual abuse was not a significant predictor. Associations with clinical severity or course were less clear.
Childhood emotional neglect appears to be significantly associated with bipolar disorder. Limitations include the relatively small sample size, which potentially increases the risk of type II errors. Replication of this study is required, with further investigation into the neurobiological consequences of childhood trauma, particularly emotional neglect.
While schizophrenia may have a progressive component, the evidence for neurodegenerative processes as indicated by reactive astrocytes is inconclusive. We recently identified a subgroup of individuals with schizophrenia with increased expression of inflammatory markers in prefrontal cortex, and hypothesized that this subgroup would also have reactive astrocytes.
We measured glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) mRNA by quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and protein levels by immunoblotting in grey matter homogenate from 37 individuals with schizophrenia and 37 unaffected controls. We examined the morphology of GFAP-positive astrocytes in immunostained sections of middle frontal gyrus. We tested if GFAP expression or astrocyte morphology were altered in people with schizophrenia with increased expression of inflammatory markers. We used RNA-Seq data on a subset of patients and controls (n=20/group) to ascertain whether mRNA transcripts associated with astrogliosis were elevated in the individuals with active neuroinflammation.
GFAP (mRNA and protein) levels and astrocyte morphology were not significantly different between people with schizophrenia and controls overall. However, individuals with schizophrenia with neuroinflammation had increased expression of GFAP mRNA (t(33)=2.978, p=0.005), hypertrophic astrocyte morphology (2(2)=6.281, p=0.043), and statistically significant elevated expression of three mRNA transcripts previously associated with astrogliosis.
We found clear evidence of astrogliosis in a subset of people with schizophrenia. We suggest that the lack of astrogliosis reported in previous studies may be due to cohort differences in aetiopathology, illness stage, treatment exposure, or a failure to examine subsets of people with schizophrenia.
This study aims to examine the characteristics of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) associated with high levels of schizotypy.
Using the Schizotypal Personality Questionnaire (SPQ) with 177 individuals with OCD, patients with OCD and high levels of schizotypy (OCD-HS) were compared to patients with OCD and low levels of schizotypy (OCD-LS) on a range of clinical characteristics. Self-report and clinician-administered instruments were used. Results were adjusted for the severity of OCD symptoms, age, marital status and comorbidity using logistic regression.
Patients with OCD-HS were younger and less likely to have been married. OCD-HS was associated with higher rates of symmetry/order obsessions, ordering/arranging compulsions, checking compulsions, co-occurring major depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, substance use disorders and greater general psychopathology. Previously reported associations, such as higher total scores on the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) were not significant when adjusted for differences in demographic variables and comorbidity.
Patients with OCD-HS were associated with specific OCD symptoms and comorbid conditions and may warrant a specific treatment approach.
Previous research has suggested cognitive similarities between schizophrenia and frontotemporal dementia. In the current study, we compared neurocognition in a group of hospitalised patients with chronic schizophrenia, who may have a more severe form of schizophrenia resembling Emil Kraepelin’s dementia praecox, with patients with frontotemporal dementia. We hypothesised minimal group differences in cognitive performance, and a large overlap in between-group score distributions in each cognitive domain.
Retrospective neuropsychological data for 26 patients with severe chronic schizophrenia and 34 patients with frontotemporal dementia (behavioural variant) was collated. Neuropsychological measures were categorised into 16 cognitive domains. Raw scores were converted into standardised z-scores for each measure, which were then averaged across measures within each domain. In addition to difference analysis, equivalence testing was utilised, whereby overlap percentages were computed to reflect the amount of score distribution overlap in each domain between groups.
A statistically significant difference was observed only in the executive function sub-domain of Switching. Small-to-moderate and moderate effect sizes were noted in four other domains. Equivalence testing showed more than 85% of overlap in score distribution in most domains.
Our findings suggest that some patients with severe chronic schizophrenia have cognitive deficits similar in degree and pattern to patients with frontotemporal dementia. The few differences observed between both groups of patients are important for differential diagnostic purposes. One limitation is the retrospective nature of the study. Suggestions for future research include longitudinal follow-up studies of these two patient populations and studies of aspects beyond neurocognition. An implication of our findings is that the ‘dementia of schizophrenia’ concept may be applicable to patients with severe chronic schizophrenia.
To examine the associations between beliefs about the causes of depression, schizophrenia, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and stigmatising attitudes towards people with these disorders.
In 2011, telephone interviews were carried out with 6019 Australians aged 15 or over. Participants were presented with a case vignette describing either depression, depression with suicidal thoughts, early schizophrenia, chronic schizophrenia, social phobia or PTSD. Participants were asked about their beliefs about the causes of these disorders and about their personally held stigmatising attitudes, stigmatising attitudes perceived in others and the desire for social distance from the person described in the vignette.
Belief in a weak or nervous personality as the cause of mental disorders was most consistently associated with personal stigma, perceived stigma and desire for social distance across vignettes. Belief in biogenetic causes was associated with a decreased belief in mental disorders as due to weakness rather than sickness, but was not linked to either a decreased or increased belief in dangerousness and unpredictability or desire for social distance. Belief in physical causes was associated with an increased belief in mental disorders as due to weakness rather than sickness. Belief in psychosocial causes had no consistent associations with stigma.
Explaining mental disorders as due to personality characteristics is a more important factor in stigma than either biogenetic or psychosocial explanations.
The highest prevalence of mental health problems is amongst people aged 18–24, with anxiety disorders and depression the most common disorders in this age group. Few young adults seek and receive effective care, prompting calls for the development of ‘youth friendly’ services. The Internet is a modality that has the potential to facilitate engagement with, and delivery of psychological treatments to, young adults. To date, however, no therapist-guided Internet-delivered treatments have been developed specifically for young adults experiencing depression and anxiety.
To examine the efficacy and acceptability of a new therapist-guided Internet-delivered treatment for young adults aged 18–24 with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Participants accessed the Mood Mechanic Course, which consisted of four lessons delivered over 5 weeks. Measures of depression, anxiety, distress and disability were gathered before and after treatment, and at 3-month follow-up. Results were provided by 78% and 83% of participants at post-treatment and 3-month follow-up, respectively. Data were analysed using mixed linear model analyses. The trial was registered as: ACTRN12612001099819.
Treatment significantly reduced depression and anxiety symptom severity, disability and distress at post-treatment and 3-month follow-up. Large within-group effect sizes were found at post-treatment and 3-month follow-up on all measures using both completer and estimated marginal means (Cohen’s d = 1.02 to 1.41 and 0.94 to 1.45, respectively). The therapist spent an average of 37 minutes (SD = 18 minutes) in contact with participants during treatment. Participants rated the treatment as acceptable.
Treatment gains recorded at post-treatment were sustained at 3-month follow-up, and were consistent with those reported in meta-analyses of Internet-delivered treatments developed for the broader adult population with depression and anxiety. These results provide encouraging preliminary evidence for the efficacy of therapist-guided Internet-delivered treatments for anxiety and depression tailored for young adults.
In September 2010 Christchurch, New Zealand, was struck by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, followed by a prolonged sequence of significant aftershocks including a fatal aftershock in February 2011. Christchurch City has experienced widespread damage, ongoing disruption and building demolitions resulting in many difficulties for the residents of the Christchurch area. We explore what impact the earthquakes have had on the mental and physical health of a random sample of 50-year-olds who live in the Christchurch area.
The 295 participants were selected from the electoral rolls for participation in the CHALICE study, a longitudinal study of ageing. Self-reported health status was assessed using the standardised Short Form 36 version 2 health survey (SF-36v2), a 36-item questionnaire, and results from the eight subscales compared to a national health survey. Mood disorders were assessed and the results were compared to other local and national studies.
Since the onset of the earthquakes and throughout the study period, participating middle-aged Christchurch residents have mean SF-36v2 scores significantly lower than population norms in the mental health, vitality, social functioning and role-emotional subscales (Cohen’s d ranged from –0.270 to –0.357, all p < 0.001), while there was no evidence of reduced physical health. Rates of current major depressive disorder were 7.5% in the earthquake survivors compared to 5.1% and 3.7% in other historical, local and national surveys. Similarly, bipolar disorder prevalence was 2.8% in the earthquake survivors compared to 2.2% and 1.4% in other studies.
Eighteen months after the first earthquake the significant adverse impact on mental health clearly continues. The ongoing provision of additional mental health services and consideration of these adverse mental health effects in relation to other social policies remains necessary and fundamental.
The present study examined the extent to which childhood socio-economic status (SES) could account for differences in adult psychosocial outcomes between Māori and non-Māori individuals in a birth cohort of more than 1000 individuals studied to age 30.
Data were gathered on three measures of childhood SES (family SES, family living standards, family income) and adult psychosocial outcomes including mental health, substance use, criminal offending, and education/welfare dependence outcomes, as part of a longitudinal study of a New Zealand birth cohort (the Christchurch Health and Development Study).
Those reporting Māori ethnicity had significantly (p < 0.0001) poorer scores on the three measures of childhood SES, with estimates of Cohen’s d indicating a moderate effect size. Māori cohort members also had significantly (p < 0.05) greater rates of adverse psychosocial outcomes in adulthood. Controlling for childhood SES reduced the magnitude of the ethnic differences in psychosocial outcomes, but did not fully explain the differences between Māori and non-Māori. Adjustment for childhood SES had the strongest effect on education/welfare dependence, but weaker effects on mental health, substance use, and criminal offending.
Improvements in SES among Māori in New Zealand may, to some extent, ameliorate the long standing disparities in psychosocial well-being between Māori and non-Māori. However, efforts to improve Māori well-being will require an approach that moves beyond a sole focus on rectifying socio-economic disadvantage.
Agomelatine is a new antidepressant with unique melatonin receptor type 1A (MTNR1A) and 1B ( MTNR1B) agonism and serotonergic receptor 5-hydroxytryptamine receptor 2C (5-HT-2C) antagonism. Several studies of patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) have confirmed the superior efficacy and safety of agomelatine in comparison with established treatments, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or serotonin–norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). This meta-analysis comprehensively shows the efficacy, acceptability, and safety of agomelatine in comparison with SSRIs and SNRIs used as antidepressants in MDD.
Comprehensive electronic database searches were performed to identify reports of head-to-head randomized controlled trials that have compared agomelatine with SSRIs or SNRIs in terms of efficacy/effectiveness in treating MDD. Response and remission rates at both acute (6–12 weeks) and follow-up (24 weeks) phases, Clinical Global Impression-Improvement Scale response and remission rates, changes in depression scale scores, improvements in subjective sleep, dropout rates, and side effect rates were extracted and analysed.
The meta-analysis included six head-to-head trials involving 1871 patients. In the acute phase, agomelatine had higher response rates (relative risk (RR) 1.08, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.02–1.15) compared to SSRIs and SNRIs. In the remission analysis, only acute remission rates (RR 1.12, 95% CI 1.01–1.24) significantly differed. The action of agomelatine was superior on the Leeds Sleep Evaluation Questionnaire-Quality of Sleep score (mean difference 4.05, 95% CI 0.61–7.49). Discontinuation due to inefficacy did not differ between agomelatine and SSRIs/SNRIs (RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.42–1.28). Compared to SSRIs and SNRIs, however, agomelatine revealed a lower rate of discontinuation due to side effects (RR 0.38, 95% CI 0.25–0.57).
Agomelatine has significantly higher efficacy and potential acceptability compared to SSRIs and SNRIs when treating MDD. However, the difference in efficacy is not considered clinically relevant. Because of its unique chronobiotic effects, agomelatine may be useful for the management of some MDD patients with circadian disturbance.
While mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has demonstrated efficacy in reducing depressive relapse/recurrence over 12–18 months, questions remain around effectiveness, longer-term outcomes, and suitability in combination with medication. The aim of this study was to investigate within a pragmatic study design the effectiveness of MBCT on depressive relapse/recurrence over 2 years of follow-up.
This was a prospective, multi-site, single-blind trial based in Melbourne and the regional city of Geelong, Australia. Non-depressed adults with a history of three or more episodes of depression were randomised to MBCT + depression relapse active monitoring (DRAM) (n=101) or control (DRAM alone) (n=102). Randomisation was stratified by medication (prescribed antidepressants and/or mood stabilisers: yes/no), site of usual care (primary or specialist), diagnosis (bipolar disorder: yes/no) and sex. Relapse/recurrence of major depression was assessed over 2 years using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview 2.1.
The average number of days with major depression was 65 for MBCT participants and 112 for controls, significant with repeated-measures ANOVA (F(1, 164)=4.56, p=0.03). Proportionally fewer MBCT participants relapsed in both year 1 and year 2 compared to controls (odds ratio 0.45, p<0.05). Kaplan-Meier survival analysis for time to first depressive episode was non-significant, although trends favouring the MBCT group were suggested. Subgroup analyses supported the effectiveness of MBCT for people receiving usual care in a specialist setting and for people taking antidepressant/mood stabiliser medication.
This work in a pragmatic design with an active control condition supports the effectiveness of MBCT in something closer to implementation in routine practice than has been studied hitherto. As expected in this translational research design, observed effects were less strong than in some previous efficacy studies but appreciable and significant differences in outcome were detected. MBCT is most clearly demonstrated as effective for people receiving specialist care and seems to work well combined with antidepressants.
We aimed to examine the associations between exposure to unemployment and psychosocial outcomes over the period from 16 to 30 years, using data from a well-studied birth cohort.
Data were collected over the course of the Christchurch Health and Development Study, a longitudinal study of a birth cohort of 1265 children, born in Christchurch in 1977, who have been studied to age 30. Assessments of unemployment and psychosocial outcomes (mental health, substance abuse/dependence, criminal offending, adverse life events and life satisfaction) were obtained at ages 18, 21, 25 and 30.
Prior to adjustment, an increasing duration of unemployment was associated with significant increases in the risk of all psychosocial outcomes. These associations were adjusted for confounding using conditional, fixed-effects regression techniques. The analyses showed significant (p < 0.05) or marginally significant (p < 0.10) associations between the duration of unemployment and major depression (p = 0.05), alcohol abuse/dependence (p = 0.043), illicit substance abuse/dependence (p = 0.017), property/violent offending (p < 0.001), arrests/convictions (p = 0.052), serious financial problems (p = 0.007) and life satisfaction (p = 0.092). To test for reverse causality, the fixed-effects regression models were extended to include lagged, time-dynamic variables representing the respondent’s psychosocial burden prior to the experience of unemployment. The findings suggested that the association between unemployment and psychosocial outcomes was likely to involve a causal process in which unemployment led to increased risks of adverse psychosocial outcomes. Effect sizes were estimated using attributable risk; exposure to unemployment accounted for between 4.2 and 14.0% (median 10.8%) of the risk of experiencing the significant psychosocial outcomes.
The findings of this study suggest that exposure to unemployment had small but pervasive effects on psychosocial adjustment in adolescence and young adulthood.
Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is characterized by a preoccupation with a misperceived flaw in appearance, causing significant distress and disability. Neuropsychological research has revealed deficits in executive function and inhibitory control of emotional responses. The few previous structural neuroimaging studies have had inconclusive findings and we aimed to take this field of research forward by contributing high quality structural data.
To investigate regional brain volumes we compared 20 BDD participants and 20 matched controls using high-resolution structural T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The MRI data was subjected to cortical reconstruction and volumetric segmentation using Freesurfer software.
Results showed the right orbitofrontal cortex, bilateral thalamus, left anterior cingulate cortex, hippocampus and amygdala were significantly smaller in the BDD sample compared to controls. The most pronounced differences were in the right orbitofrontal cortex and left anterior cingulate cortex, as these areas were smaller in BDD participants independent of reduced global brain volumes. Duration of illness significantly negatively correlated with right orbitofrontal cortex volumes.
This is the largest volumetric neuroimaging study in BDD to date and provides important data on volumetric differences that implicate fronto-limbic circuits.
Mental health services in the UK, Australia and other Anglophone countries have moved towards supporting personal recovery as a primary orientation. To provide an empirically grounded foundation to identify and evaluate recovery-oriented interventions, we previously published a conceptual framework of personal recovery based on a systematic review and narrative synthesis of existing models. Our objective was to test the validity and relevance of this framework for people currently using mental health services.
Seven focus groups were conducted with 48 current mental health consumers in three NHS trusts across England, as part of the REFOCUS Trial. Consumers were asked about the meaning and their experience of personal recovery. Deductive and inductive thematic analysis applying a constant comparison approach was used to analyse the data. The analysis aimed to explore the validity of the categories within the conceptual framework, and to highlight any areas of difference between the conceptual framework and the themes generated from new data collected from the focus groups.
Both the inductive and deductive analysis broadly validated the conceptual framework, with the super-ordinate categories Connectedness, Hope and optimism, Identity, Meaning and purpose, and Empowerment (CHIME) evident in the analysis. Three areas of difference were, however, apparent in the inductive analysis. These included practical support; a greater emphasis on issues around diagnosis and medication; and scepticism surrounding recovery.
This study suggests that the conceptual framework of personal recovery provides a defensible theoretical base for clinical and research purposes which is valid for use with current consumers. However, the three areas of difference further stress the individual nature of recovery and the need for an understanding of the population and context under investigation.
Primary care is an important setting for the treatment of depression. The aim of the study was to describe the accuracy of unassisted general practitioner judgements of patients’ depression compared to a standardised depression-screening tool delivered via touch-screen computer.
English-speaking patients, aged 18 or older, completed the Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) when presenting for care to one of 51 general practitioners in Australia. General practitioners were asked whether they thought the patients were clinically depressed. General practitioner judgements of depression status were compared to PHQ-9 results.
A total of 1558 patients participated. Twenty per cent of patients were identified by the PHQ-9 as being depressed. General practitioners estimated a similar prevalence; however, when compared to the PHQ-9, GP judgement had a sensitivity of 51% (95% CI [32%, 66%]) and a specificity of 87% (95% CI [78%, 93%]).
General practitioner unassisted judgements of depression in their patients lacked sensitivity when compared to a standardised psychiatric measure used in general practice.
To assess the screening accuracy of information obtained from parents of 4–5-year-old children for the purpose of identifying the children who have teacher-reported mental health problems when they are aged 6–7 years.
The study used data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) obtained when children were aged 4–5 years and 6–7 years. The level of children’s mental health problems was assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) completed by parents when children were aged 4–5 years and by teachers when children were aged 6–7 years (n=2163). When children were aged 4–5 years, parenting skills were assessed using three questionnaires developed for the parent-completed LSAC questionnaire and maternal mental health was assessed using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K6).
When the level of parent-reported childhood mental health problems at 4–5 years old was used to identify children with teacher-reported mental health problems (i.e. a score in the "abnormal" range of the teacher-reported SDQ Total Difficulties Scale) when the children were aged 6–7 years, sensitivity was 26.8%, positive predictive value was 22.8%, and specificity was 92.9%. The addition of further information about the characteristics of children and their parents made only a small improvement to screening accuracy.
Targeted interventions for preschool children may have the potential to play an important role in reducing the prevalence of mental health problems during the early school years. However, current capacity to accurately identify preschoolers who will experience teacher-reported mental health problems during the early school years is limited.
Diagnosing depression in primary care settings is challenging. Patients are more likely to present with somatic symptoms, and typically with mild depression. Use of assessment scales is variable. In this context, it is uncertain how general practitioners (GPs) determine the severity of depressive illness in clinical practice. The aim of the current paper was to identify which symptoms are used by GPs when diagnosing depression and when determining severity.
A total of 1760 GPs participated in the RADAR Program, an educational program focusing on the diagnosis and management of clinical depression. GPs identified a maximum of four patients whom they diagnosed with depression and answered questions regarding their diagnostic decision-making process for each patient.
Overall, assessment of depression severity was influenced more by somatic symptoms collectively than emotional symptoms. Suicidal thoughts, risk of self-harm, lack of enjoyment and difficulty with activities were amongst the strongest predictors of a diagnosis of severe depression.
The conclusions are threefold: (1) collectively, somatic symptoms are the most important predictors of determining depression severity in primary care; (2) GPs may equate risk of self-harm with suicidal intent; (3) educational initiatives need to focus on key depressive subtypes derived from emotional, somatic and associated symptoms.
There are wide global variations in electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) use patterns. This audit reviewed patient-level ECT use patterns over 10 years at a single New Zealand clinic, including factors associated with clinical response and patterns of repeated administration.
Retrospective audit of all 2003–2012 ECT and clinical file data.
A total of 199 patients received ECT, which was used to treat mostly affective disorders in a predominantly female, older population, generally with a single course of treatment. There were different demographics and patterns of ECT use between patients being treated for affective and psychotic disorders. Overall treatment response was high, with over 90% of patients having a full or partial response. Treatment response was not associated with diagnosis, gender, or medication use, but showed a trend in significance for greater response in elderly patients.
ECT use patterns in Otago New Zealand are similar to those reported in Australia, USA, and UK, although yearly use rate in Otago is lower. Because of their different demographic and ECT treatment patterns, future studies should report data for patients with affective and psychotic disorders separately.
Metacognitive training is an eight-module, group-based treatment programme for people with schizophrenia that targets the cognitive biases (i.e. problematic thinking styles) thought to contribute to the genesis and maintenance of delusions. The present article is an investigation into the efficacy of a shorter, more targeted, single-module metacognitive training programme, administered individually, which focuses specifically on improving cognitive biases that are thought to be driven by a ‘hypersalience of evidence-hypothesis matches’ mechanism (e.g. jumping to conclusions, belief inflexibility, reasoning heuristics, illusions of control). It was hypothesised that a more targeted metacognitive training module could still improve performance on these bias tasks and reduce delusional ideation, while improving insight and quality of life.
A sample of 28 patients diagnosed with schizophrenia and mild delusions either participated in the hour-long, single-session, targeted metacognitive training programme (n = 14), or continued treatment as usual (n = 14). All patients were assessed using clinical measures gauging overall positive symptomology, delusional ideation, quality of life and insight, and completed two cognitive bias tasks designed to elucidate the representativeness and illusion of control biases.
After a 2-week, post-treatment interval, targeted metacognitive training patients exhibited significant decreases in delusional severity and conviction, significantly improved clinical insight, and significant improvements on the cognitive bias tasks, relative to the treatment-as-usual controls. Performance improvements on the cognitive bias tasks significantly correlated with the observed reductions in overall positive symptomology. Patients also evaluated the training positively.
Although interpretations of these results are limited due to the lack of an optimally designed, randomised controlled trial and a small sample size, the results are promising and warrant further investigation into targeted versions of the metacognitive training programme.
The aim of this paper was to explore attitudes towards people with mental disorders among Australian health professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists and general practitioners (GPs)) and to compare their attitudes with members of the general community.
The study involved a postal survey of 518 GPs, 506 psychiatrists and 498 clinical psychologists and a telephone survey of 6019 members of the general community. Participants were given a case vignette describing a person with either depression, depression with suicidal thoughts, early schizophrenia, chronic schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or social phobia and two questionnaires to assess stigmatising attitudes (the Depression Stigma Scale and the Social Distance Scale). Exploratory structural equation modelling was used to elucidate the structure of stigma as measured by the two scales, to establish dimensions of stigma and to compare patterns of association according to gender, age, vignette and professional grouping.
The measurement characteristics of stigmatising attitudes in health professionals were found to be comparable to those in members of the general community in social distance and also in personal and perceived attitude stigma, with each forming distinct dimensions and each comprising ‘Weak-not-sick’ and ‘Dangerous/unpredictable’ components. Among health professionals, female gender, age and being a GP were associated with higher scores on the personal stigma scales. Mental health professionals had lower scores on the personal ‘Weak-not-sick’ and ‘Dangerous/unpredictable’ scales than members of the general community, while there were no significant differences in the desire for social distance between health professionals and the general community.
While mental health professionals have less stigmatising attitudes than the general public, the greater beliefs in dangerousness and personal weakness by GPs should be addressed.
Schizophrenia patients experience impairments across various functional roles. Emotional unresponsiveness and an inability to foster intimacy and display affection may lead to impairments in parenting. A comprehensive cognitive understanding of parenting abilities in schizophrenia has the potential to guide newer treatment strategies. As part of a larger study on functional ability in schizophrenia patients, we attempted a cognitive deconstruction of their parenting ability.
Sixty-nine of the 170 patients who participated in a study on social cognition in remitted schizophrenia were parents (mean age of their children: 11.8 ± 6.2 years). They underwent comprehensive assessments for neurocognition, social cognition (theory of mind, emotion processing, social perception and attributional bias), motivation and insight. A rater blind to their cognitive status assessed their social functioning using the Groningen Social Disabilities Schedule. We examined the association of their functional ability (active involvement and affective relationship) in the parental role with their cognitive performance as well as with their level of insight and motivation.
Deficits in first- and second-order theory of mind (t = 2.57, p = 0.01; t = 3.2, p = 0.002, respectively), speed of processing (t = 2.37, p = 0.02), cognitive flexibility (t = 2.26, p = 0.02) and motivation (t = 2.64, p = 0.01) had significant association with parental role dysfunction. On logistic regression, second-order theory of mind emerged as a specific predictor of parental role, even after controlling for overall functioning scores sans parental role.
Second-order theory of mind deficits are specifically associated with parental role dysfunction of patients with schizophrenia. Novel treatment strategies targeting theory of mind may improve parenting abilities in individuals with schizophrenia.
To assess whether willingness to disclose experience of a mental disorder and treatment, and awareness of others’ experiences have changed over a 16-year period.
In 2011, telephone interviews were carried out with 6019 Australians aged 15+. The survey interview used the same questions as those of the 1995 and 2003/4 national mental health literacy surveys, in which participants were presented with a case vignette describing either depression, depression with suicidal thoughts (2003/4 only), early schizophrenia or chronic schizophrenia (2003/4 only). Participants were asked whether they had a close friend or family member who had experienced a problem similar to that described in the vignette and whether the person received professional help. They were also asked whether they had experienced such a problem and whether they received professional help.
The numbers of those disclosing experiences of depression and early schizophrenia, and of having received professional help for depression, have increased since 1995. Awareness of a family member or close friend with experiences of depression and early schizophrenia also increased between these years, as did awareness that the person received professional help.
The numbers of those disclosing experiences of and treatment for mental disorders has increased in the last 16 years. This is likely to be due to increased willingness to disclose rather than increased prevalence of disorders or increased rates of help-seeking.
Suicide rates in rural Australia are higher than in urban areas. No existing research has explored the long-term patterns and predictors of change in suicidal ideation within rural areas. This report uses longitudinal data and multiple time points to determine predictors of the trajectory of suicidal ideation in rural Australia.
Participants in the Australian Rural Mental Health Study (ARMHS) completed self-report surveys at baseline, 12 and 36 months, reporting their psychological and social well-being, and suicidal ideation. Generalised linear mixed models explored these factors as correlates and predictors of suicidal ideation across 3 years using multiple data points.
A total of 2135 participants completed at least one wave of ARMHS, and hence were included in the current analysis. Overall, 8.1% reported suicidal ideation during at least one study wave, 76% of whom reported suicidal ideation intermittently rather than consistently across waves. Across the three time points, suicidal ideation was significantly associated with higher psychological distress (OR 1.30, 95% CI 1.23 to 1.37), neuroticism (OR 1.15, 95% CI 1.04 to 1.27), and availability of support (OR 0.80, 95% CI 0.69 to 0.92), with a non-significant association with unemployment (OR 1.73, 95% CI 0.93 to 3.24) even after controlling for the effects of perceived financial hardship. Future suicidal ideation was significantly predicted by distress (OR 1.16, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.23) and neuroticism (OR 1.17, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.32), with a non-significant association with unemployment (OR 2.11, 95% CI 0.41 to 2.27). Predictive effects for marital status, social networks, sense of community and availability of support did not remain significant in the full multivariate analysis.
Fluctuations in suicidal ideation are common, and may be associated with changes in psychological and social well-being. Public health strategies, focusing on encouraging help-seeking among those with higher psychological distress, lower social support, and unstable or absent employment opportunities, may be a useful long-term initiative to reduce the prevalence of suicidal ideation in the general rural community.
Cognitive remediation is an intervention to overcome cognitive deficits through drills and use of strategies. Previous studies have reported positive effects for cognitive remediation on neurocognition, but researchers’ allegiance effects are not always adequately controlled. Furthermore, its efficacy amongst the Asian population has not been established. Hence, this study aimed to determine if cognitive remediation would have positive effects on neurocognition and functioning within an English-speaking Asian population, when compared against the effects of a credible and balanced control provided by therapists blinded to the study hypothesis.
A total of 70 participants with schizophrenia who attended vocational training or day rehabilitation programmes were randomised to receive a 60-hour programme of either cognitive remediation or physical exercise. Neurocognition and functional outcomes were measured at baseline, upon completion of treatment, 6 months after treatment and 1 year after treatment.
Participants who received cognitive remediation had significantly greater improvement in all neurocognitive domains. Furthermore, the cognitive remediation group achieved greater attainment of vocational or independent living skills and better functional outcomes at post-intervention and at the end of the 1-year follow-up.
When compared against a credible intervention such as physical exercise, cognitive remediation was able to show significant positive effects on both neurocognition and functional outcomes among the Asian population of schizophrenia patients.
The aim of this study was to develop scales to assess mental health literacy relating to affective disorders, anxiety disorders and schizophrenia/psychosis.
Scales were created to assess mental health literacy in relation to depression, depression with suicidal thoughts, early schizophrenia, chronic schizophrenia, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder using data from a survey of 1536 health professionals (general practitioners, clinical psychologists and psychiatrists), assessing recognition of these disorders and beliefs about the helpfulness of interventions. This was done by using the consensus of experts about the helpfulness and harmfulness of treatments for each disorder as a criterion. Data from a general population survey of 6019 Australians aged ≥ 15 was used to examine associations between scale scores, exposure to mental disorders and sociodemographic variables, to assess scale validity.
Those with a close friend or family member with a mental disorder had significantly higher mean scores on all mental health literacy scales, providing support for scale validity. Personal experience of the problem and working with people with a similar problem was linked to higher scores on some scales. Male sex, a lower level of education and age > 60 were linked to lower levels of mental health literacy. Higher scores were also linked to a greater belief that people with mental disorders are sick rather than weak.
The scales developed in this study allow for the assessment of mental health literacy in relation to depression, depression with suicidal thoughts, early schizophrenia, chronic schizophrenia, social phobia and PTSD. Those with exposure to mental disorders had higher scores on the scales, and analyses of the links between scale scores and sociodemographic variables of age, gender and level of education were in line with those seen in other studies, providing support for scale validity.
This study aimed to identify factors associated with the high rates of smoking amongst people with psychosis living in a disadvantaged region in Adelaide, South Australia.
Data were collected from 402 people with psychosis, aged 18–64 years, who lived in the northern suburbs of Adelaide. This area is disadvantaged on many measures of socioeconomic well-being and people living in this region have higher rates of smoking compared to the general Australian population. We hypothesised that whilst tobacco use by people with psychosis living in this region was primarily associated with mental illness, factors related to social disadvantage also contributed to the high rates of smoking.
Approximately 74% of men and 71% of women with psychotic disorders living in the northern suburbs of Adelaide were current smokers. Factors such as unemployment, lower levels of education and receiving government welfare, factors known to be associated with smoking in the general population, were more prevalent in the northern region. Smokers with psychosis were less likely to participate in recreational programs and physical activity, and more likely to use illicit substances and be a victim of crime. They had poorer health and financial outcomes than non-smokers. There were some gender differences: for men with psychosis, employment and having a post-school qualification decreased the risk of smoking while cannabis use increased the risk; for women with psychosis, a diagnosis of alcohol abuse/dependence, using cannabis and being sedentary were risk factors for smoking, while attending recreational programs reduced this risk.
Smoking rates were strikingly high in both men and women, and particularly high in women when compared with previous research. Our study shows that the risk of smoking is increased by factors related to the social disadvantage of living in the northern Adelaide region. Smoking cessation interventions for people with mental illness should take into account the social context, and also address relevant comorbidities such as drug and alcohol disorders.
Firesetting is often reported to be associated with psychopathology, but frequently these conclusions are based on studies reliant on selective forensic psychiatric samples without the use of comparison groups. The aim of the study was to examine the rates of mental illness, substance use disorders, personality pathology and psychiatric service usage in a population of convicted firesetters compared with other offenders and community controls.
Using a data-linkage design, the study examined the psychiatric histories and usage of public mental health services by 1328 arsonists convicted between 2000 and 2009 in Victoria, Australia. These were compared with 1328 matched community controls and 421 non-firesetting offenders.
Firesetters were significantly more likely to have been registered with psychiatric services (37%) compared with other offenders (29.3%) and community controls (8.7%). The firesetters were also more likely to have utilised a diverse range of public mental health services. Firesetters attracted psychiatric diagnoses more often than community controls and other offenders, particularly affective, substance use, and personality disorders.
This study confirms that there is a link between firesetting and psychopathology, suggesting that there is a role for the psychiatric screening of known firesetters, and a need to consider psychopathology in formulating the risk for further firesetting.
Reward-processing deficits have been demonstrated in obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) and this has been linked to ventral striatal abnormalities. However, volumetric abnormalities of the nucleus accumbens (NAcc), a key structure in the reward pathway, have not been examined in OCD. We report on the volumetric abnormalities of NAcc and its correlation with illness severity in drug-naïve, adult patients with OCD.
In this cross-sectional study of case–control design, the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) 1.5-T (1-mm) volume of NAcc was measured using 3D Slicer software in drug-naïve OCD patients (n = 44) and age, sex and handedness-matched healthy controls (HCs) (n = 36) using a valid and reliable method. OCD symptoms were assessed using the Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) Symptom checklist and severity and the Clinical Global Impression-Severity (CGI-S) scale.
There was no significant difference in NAcc volumes on either side between OCD patients and HCs (F = 3.45, p = 0.07). However, there was significant negative correlation between the right NAcc volume and Y-BOCS compulsion score (r = –0.48, p = 0.001).
Study observations suggest involvement of the NAcc in the pathogenesis of OCD, indicating potential reward-processing deficits. Correlation between the right NAcc volume deficit and severity of compulsions offers further support for this region as a candidate for deep brain stimulation treatment in OCD.
The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between obsessive–compulsive symptoms (OCS) and substance use in patients with a non-affective psychotic disorder.
The data were derived from the Genetic Risk and Outcome of Psychosis study. Using the Yale–Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale, three groups of in- and outpatients with non-affective psychotic disorder (76.6% male, mean age 27.7 years, mean duration of illness 4.5 years) were distinguished: patients without OCS (N = 777), patients with mild OCS (N = 143) and patients with more severe OCS (N = 85). These three groups were compared using various substance use variables, including quantitative substance use variables and severity of substance use [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) misuse disorders].
We found no statistically significant differences in smoking and other substance use variables between the three patients groups according to the severity of OCS.
Our large study sample and detailed comparison of substance use rates strongly adds to the evidence that schizophrenia patients with OCS do not differ in prevalence of substance use compared to patients without OCS. This suggests that in clinical practice, enquiring into (problematic) substance use is relevant in both schizophrenia patients with co-morbid OCS and patients without OCS.
Prisoners with intellectual disability who have a coexisting mental health issue often have unmet health needs and are more likely to reoffend than those with intellectual disability alone. The aims of this study were to estimate the prevalence of co-occurring mental disorder among prisoners with intellectual disability and to explore the association between intellectual disability and mental disorder.
Cross-sectional study of adult prisoners within 6 weeks of release from custody in seven prisons in Queensland, Australia between August 2008 and July 2010. Intellectual disability was assessed using a practical composite screening tool. Prisoners who scored <85 on the Hayes Ability Screening Index and reported either having attended a special school or having been diagnosed with intellectual disability were identified as having an intellectual disability. Mental health was assessed using self-reported psychiatric diagnoses, the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale (K-10), and the Mental Component Summary score of the Short-Form-36 health survey version 2. The association between intellectual disability and mental health was assessed using univariate and multivariate logistic regression.
Overall, 1279 prisoners completed the HASI: 316 (24%) scored below the recommended cut off for further diagnostic assessment of intellectual disability, 181 (14%) reported attending a special school, and 56 (4%) reported that they had been diagnosed with an intellectual disability. On our composite measure, 115 (9%) participants were identified as having an intellectual disability. Among prisoners with intellectual disability, the estimated lifetime and current prevalence of co-occurring mental disorders was 52.5% (95% CI 43.3–61.5) and 37.2% (95% CI 28.8–46.5), respectively. Of those with intellectual disability, 13.5% (95% CI 8.3–21.1) reported very high psychological distress, as measured by the K10. Prisoners with intellectual disability were significantly more likely than their non-disabled peers to report a current diagnosis of depression [adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 1.8, 95% CI 1.1–3.2] or substance dependence (AOR 3.7, 95% CI 1.6–8.4], after adjusting for potentially confounding variables. Prisoners with intellectual disability were also significantly more likely than their non-disabled peers to use antipsychotic medication (AOR 1.7, 95% CI 1.0–2.8).
Prisoners with an intellectual disability were more likely than their non-disabled peers to have elevated rates of psychiatric comorbidity and unmet treatment needs. There is a need for enhanced collaboration between specialist intellectual disability psychiatric services and mainstream prison mental health services, to ensure coordinated service delivery for this dually disadvantaged group.
Although there is growing international recognition of pathological technology use (PTU) in adolescence, there has been a paucity of empirical research conducted in Australia. This study was designed to assess the clinical features of pathological video gaming (PVG) and pathological Internet use (PIU) in a normative Australian adolescent population. A secondary objective was to investigate the axis I comorbidities associated with PIU and video gaming.
A total of 1287 South Australian secondary school students aged 12–18 years were recruited. Participants were assessed using the PTU checklist, Revised Children’s Anxiety and Depression Scale, Social Anxiety Scale for Adolescents, revised UCLA Loneliness Scale, and Teenage Inventory of Social Skills. Adolescents who met the criteria for PVG or PIU or both were compared to normal adolescents in terms of axis I comorbidity.
The prevalence rates of PIU and PVG were 6.4% and 1.8%, respectively. A subgroup with co-occurring PIU and PVG was identified (3.3%). The most distinguishing clinical features of PTU were withdrawal, tolerance, lies and secrecy, and conflict. Symptoms of preoccupation, inability to self-limit, and using technology as an escape were commonly reported by adolescents without PTU, and therefore may be less useful as clinical indicators. Depression, panic disorder, and separation anxiety were most prevalent among adolescents with PIU.
PTU among Australian adolescents remains an issue warranting clinical concern. These results suggest an emerging trend towards the greater uptake and use of the Internet among female adolescents, with associated PIU. Although there exists an overlap of PTU disorders, adolescents with PIU appear to be at greater risk of axis I comorbidity than adolescents with PVG alone. Further research with an emphasis on validation techniques, such as verified identification of harm, may enable an informed consensus on the definition and diagnosis of PTU.
Clinical studies consistently identify alcohol- and drug-related treatment populations as more likely to die prematurely compared with an age-matched general population. However, demographic characteristics and primary drug of concern as predictors of mortality risk following treatment have not been adequately explored. This paper examines relationships between substance use, demographic factors and mortality among alcohol and drug treatment clients.
A retrospective cohort incorporating 7 years of data was utilised to examine mortality outcomes in the 2 years following treatment among Victorian clients recorded on the Alcohol and Drug Information Service (ADIS) database by linking partial client identifiers with the National Death Index (NDI). A cohort of 18,686 clients engaged in at least one course of treatment over a 12-month period was included. Analysis was of crude and standardised mortality rates across client groups in terms of the presenting drug of concern for treatment and demographic characteristics.
A higher risk of premature death was associated with older age, being male, not being employed, living alone, medical and psychiatric comorbidity, recent injecting, and a history of intensive drug treatment access. Alcohol treatment clients had the worst prognosis. After adjustment for client characteristics, alcohol treatment clients experienced a significantly higher rate of death compared with other clients.
Findings from these previously unexplored data highlight the need to increase awareness of the range and magnitude of risks associated with harmful alcohol use, and to identify approaches to enhance treatment effectiveness to reduce negative outcomes following treatment for populations at elevated risk of harm.
Childhood mental health difficulties affect one in every seven children in Australia, posing a potential financial burden to society. This paper reports on the early lifetime individual and population non-hospital healthcare costs to the Australian Federal Government for children experiencing mental health difficulties. It also reports on the use and cost of particular categories of service use, including the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) mental health items introduced in 2006.
Data from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC) were used to calculate total Medicare costs (government subsidised healthcare attendances and prescription medications) from birth to the 8th birthday associated with childhood mental health difficulties measured to 8–9 years of age.
Costs were higher among children with mental health difficulties than those without difficulties. While individual costs increased with the persistence of difficulties, population-level costs were highest for those with transient mental health difficulties. Although attenuated, these patterns persisted after child, parent and family characteristics were taken into account. Use of the MBS-reimbursed mental health services among children with a mental health difficulty was very low (around 2%).
Australian healthcare costs for young children with mental health difficulties are substantial and provide further justification for early intervention and prevention. The current provision of Medicare-rebated mental health services does not appear to be reaching young children with mental health difficulties.
To assess the beliefs of general practitioners (GPs), psychiatrists and clinical psychologists about the helpfulness of different interventions for mental disorders, and to examine change in beliefs over time.
A questionnaire was mailed to 6848 GPs, psychiatrists and clinical psychologists registered with Medicare Australia. The questionnaire was based around one of six vignettes describing a person with a mental disorder: depression, depression with suicidal thoughts, early schizophrenia, chronic schizophrenia, social phobia and post-traumatic stress disorder. The depression and early schizophrenia vignettes were identical to those used in a similar survey of health professionals conducted in 1996. A range of interventions were rated for their likely helpfulness for each disorder, and consensus was defined as at least 66% of each profession rating an intervention as helpful.
Responses were received from 1536 health professionals. A broader array of interventions were endorsed for depression than in 1996, including GPs, psychiatrists, psychologists, becoming more physically active, reading about people with similar problems and how they have dealt with them, psychotherapy, and cognitive behaviour therapy. For the schizophrenia vignettes, GPs, psychiatrists and antipsychotics were thought to be helpful by a majority of professionals. A variety of professionals, psychological treatments and lifestyle activities were endorsed for the anxiety disorders. Differences between professions were noted in beliefs about the helpfulness of antidepressants and counsellors for anxiety disorders and depression, as well as cognitive behaviour therapy for schizophrenia.
Consensus across professions was reached on the helpfulness of a variety of interventions for each mental disorder, although there were some notable differences in beliefs. The study gives an updated overview of treatment beliefs for mental disorders by Australian health professionals, which can be used as a benchmark with which to compare the beliefs of the Australian public.
The co-prescription of multiple antipsychotic drugs continues to increase despite a lack of evidence supporting this practice. The purpose of this study was to quantify and describe recent trends of antipsychotic polypharmacy in Korean schizophrenic inpatients by comparing prescribed medications between the years of 2005 and 2010.
We reviewed comprehensive medication profiles of schizophrenic patients discharged from a university psychiatric hospital in 2005 (n=194) or 2010 (n=201). Antipsychotic polypharmacy was defined as the concurrent receipt of two or more chemically distinct antipsychotics for at least 14 days. High antipsychotic dose was defined as a prescribed daily dose to defined daily dose ratio of greater than 1.5.
Antipsychotic polypharmacy increased between 2005 (37.1%) and 2010 (48.3%, p=0.025). The most frequently used drug within combinations of antipsychotics was haloperidol in 2005 (51.4%) and quetiapine in 2010 (48.5%). Overall, no changes were observed between 2005 and 2010 in the rate of prescribing high-dose antipsychotics. High-dose antipsychotic monotherapy decreased across years (from 30.4 to 18.4%), but high-dose antipsychotic polypharmacy increased (from 34.0 to 45.3%). Regression analysis revealed that antipsychotic polypharmacy was strongly associated with high doses of prescribed antipsychotics (odds ratio=18.60, p<0.001).
The practice of prescribing multiple antipsychotics to patients with schizophrenia is increasing, and high-dose antipsychotic drugs are more likely to be prescribed in combination than in isolation. The reasons for this pattern of prescription and its impact warrants further study.