March 23, 2013

NIH Study Shows People with Serious Mental Illnesses Can Lose Weight

People with serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression can lose weight and keep it off through a modified lifestyle intervention program, a National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-funded study reported online today in The New England Journal of Medicine. Over 80 percent of people with serious mental illnesses are overweight or obese, which contributes to them dying at three times the rate of the overall population. They succumb mostly to the same things the rest of the population experiences—cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. Although antipsychotic medications increase appetite and cause weight gain in these patients, it is not the only culprit. Like the general population, sedentary lifestyle and poor diet also play a part. Lifestyle modifications such as diet and exercise should work for these patients, yet they are often left out of weight loss studies. “People with serious mental illnesses are commonly excluded from studies to help them help themselves about their weight,” said Gail L. Daumit, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and the study’s lead author. “We’re showing that serious mentally ill patients can make successful, sustained changes with proper interventions.” This study could usher in new forms of weight loss treatment for people with serious mental illness. “Until now, obesity among those with serious mental illnesses has not received adequate attention,” said NIMH Director Thomas R. Insel, M.D. “People with serious mental illnesses need more attention to their physical health. This study provides convincing evidence these individuals can make substantial lifestyle changes and therefore should suffer fewer medical complications as they age.” Other factors that preclude people with serious mental illnesses from losing weight include memory impairments or residual psychiatric symptoms that impede learning and adopting new behaviors such as counting calories. Socioeconomics are also a factor as many can’t afford or can’t get to physical activity programs like fitness gyms. Some patients additionally suffer from social phobia or have poor social interactions, and are simply afraid to work out in a public area. Daumit’s group attempted to solve these issues by bringing the gyms and nutritionists to places most of these patients frequent—psychiatric rehabilitation outpatient programs. Under the trial name ACHIEVE, the researchers randomized 291 participants in 10 rehab centers around Maryland to receive the usual care, consisting of nutrition and physical activity information, or six months of intensive intervention consisting of exercise classes three times a week along with individual or group weight loss classes once a week. Both groups were followed for an additional year, during which the weight loss classes of the intervention arm tapered down but the exercise classes remained constant. The intervention arm included goals such as reducing caloric intake by avoiding sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food; eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily; choosing smaller portions and healthy snacks; and moderate intensity aerobic exercise. Participants in the specially tailored weight loss program lost seven pounds more than the controls—and continued to lose weight and did not regain, despite the reduced frequency of classes and counseling sessions. In contrast, the general population tends to experience peak weight loss in the first six months and then rebound and gain part or all of their weight back. On average, each participant was on three psychotropic medications, with half on lithium or mood stabilizers, all known to cause weight gain. But no matter what they were on, they lost the weight. “We’re showing behavioral interventions work regardless of what they’re taking,” Daumit said. Her group is now looking for ways to spread the program. VIDEO Project Achieve is the first weight loss clinical trial to include people with serious mental illnesses. Reference Effects of a behavioral weight loss intervention in persons with serious mental illness. Daumit GL, Dickerson FB, Wang N-Y, Dalcin A, Jerome GJ, Anderson CAM, Young DR, Frick KD, Yu A, Gennusa III JV, Oefinger M, Crum RM, Charleston J, Casagrande SS, Guallar E, Goldberg RW, Campbell LM, Appel LJ. NEJM, March 21, 2013 Professional Counselor Continuing Education Grant number: MH080964 ### The mission of the NIMH is to transform the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses through basic and clinical research, paving the way for prevention, recovery and cure. For more information, visit the NIMH website. About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit the NIH website.

March 15, 2013

Surprising Rate of Women Have Depression After Childbirth

One in every seven women have significant depressive symptoms March 13, 2013 | by Marla Paul CHICAGO --- A surprisingly high number of women have postpartum depressive symptoms, according to a new, large-scale study by a Northwestern Medicine® researcher. This is the largest scale depression screening of postpartum women and the first time a full psychiatric assessment has been done in a study of postpartum women who screened positive for depression Depressive Disorders CE Course The study, which included a depression screening of 10,000 women who had recently delivered infants at single obstetrical hospital, revealed a large percentage of women who suffered recurrent episodes of major depression. The study underscored the importance of prenatal as well as postpartum screening. Mothers’ and infants’ health and lives hang in the balance. The lives of several women who were suicidal when staff members called them for the screening were saved likely as a result of the study’s screening and immediate intervention. “In the U.S., the vast majority of postpartum women with depression are not identified or treated even though they are at higher risk for psychiatric disorders,” said Northwestern Medicine lead study author Katherine L. Wisner, M.D. “It’s a huge public health problem. A woman’s mental health has a profound effect on fetal development as well as her child’s physical and emotional development.” Wisner is director of Northwestern’s Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders and the Norman and Helen Asher Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She’s also a physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “A lot of women do not understand what is happening to them,” Wisner said. “They think they’re just stressed or they believe it is how having a baby is supposed to feel.” The paper was be published in JAMA Psychiatry March 13. Wisner conducted the research when she was at the University of Pittsburgh. In the study, 14 percent of the women screened positive for depression. Of that group, 826 received full psychiatric assessments during at-home visits. Some of the key findings from those assessments: - In women who screened positive for depression, 19.3 percent thought of harming themselves. “Most of these women would not have been screened and therefore would not have been identified as seriously at risk,” Wisner said. “We believe screening will save lives.” Suicide accounts for about 20 percent of postpartum deaths and is the second most common cause of mortality in postpartum women. - Many women who screened positive for major depression postpartum had already experienced at least one episode of depression previously and, in addition, had an anxiety disorder. The study found 30 percent of women had depression onset prior to pregnancy, 40 percent postpartum and 30 percent during pregnancy. More than two-thirds of these women also had an anxiety disorder. “Clinicians need to know that the most common clinical presentation in the post-birth period is more complex than a single episode of depression,” Wisner said. “The depression is recurrent and superimposed on an anxiety disorder.“ - Of the women who screened positive for major depression, 22 percent had bipolar disorder, the majority of whom had not been diagnosed by their physicians. There is often a delay in correctly diagnosing bipolar disorder, which depends on identifying not only the depressed phase but the manic or hypomanic phase as well. But postpartum is the highest risk period for new episodes of mania in a woman’s life. “That’s a very high rate of bipolar disorder that has never been reported in a population screened for postpartum depression before,” said Wisner. “It is significant because antidepressant drug treatment alone can worsen the course of bipolar disorder.” In addition, women who have been pregnant in the past year are less likely to seek treatment for depression than women who have not been pregnant, previous research has shown. Maximizing a woman’s overall mental and physical health in pregnancy and after childbirth is critically important. “Depression during pregnancy increases the risk to a woman and her fetus,” Wisner said. “Depression is a physiological dysregulation disorder of the entire body.” Maternal prenatal stress and depression is linked to preterm birth and low infant birth weight, which increases the risk of cardiovascular disease. Depression also affects a woman’s appetite, nutrition and prenatal care and is associated with increased alcohol and drug use. Women with untreated depression have a higher body mass index preconception, which carries additional risks. When a new mother is depressed, her emotional state can interfere with child development and increases the rate of insecure attachment and poor cognitive performance of her child, Wisner said. Screening prenatal and postpartum are essential (Illinois requires mandatory screening for perinatal mental health disorders), but the health care field must develop cost effective and accessible treatment, Wisner emphasized. “If we identify patients we must have treatment to offer them,” Wisner said. The study was funded by grant RO1 MH 071825 from the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health.

March 01, 2013

5 Most Common Mental Illnesses Share the Same Genes

From Autism to Depression: Largest Genetic Study Shows Mental Disorders Share Genetic Kinks --Associated Press Mental Illnesses Share Common DNA Roots, Study Finds --nbcnews.com An NIMH-funded study published online today in Lancet reveals that the five most common disorders—autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, bipolar disease, schizophrenia, and major depression—all share similar genetic components. “These disorders that we thought of as quite different may not have such sharp boundaries,” said Dr. Jordan W. Smoller of Massachusetts General Hospital, one of the lead study authors. The results suggest that a rethink in how these disorders are defined might be in order. Rather than focusing on symptoms, which can be attributed to one or more disorder, physicians could one day start to rely on specific gene mutations or biologic pathways to make a formal diagnosis Aspira Continuing Education Online Courses And it also could lead to better treatments, said Dr. Bruce Cuthbert, director of the NIMH’s Division of Adult Translational Research and Treatment Development. “We are finally starting to make inroads where we have actual physiological mechanisms that we can target,” he said. “We can really start to understand the biology instead of having to guess at it.” Reference Cross-Disorder Group of the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium. Identification of Risk Loci with Shared Effects on Five Major Psychiatric Disorders: A Genome-wide Analysis. Lancet, published online February 28, 2013.