Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Psychological medicine


Antidepressant drugs such as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) remediate negative biases in emotional processing in depressed patients in both behavioural and neural outcome measures. However, it is not clear if these effects occur before, or as a consequence of, changes in clinical state. Method In the present study, we investigated the effects of short-term SSRI treatment in depressed patients on the neural response to fearful faces prior to clinical improvement in mood. Altogether, 42 unmedicated depressed patients received SSRI treatment (10 mg escitalopram daily) or placebo in a randomised, parallel-group design. The neural response to fearful and happy faces was measured on day 7 of treatment using functional magnetic resonance imaging. A group of healthy controls was imaged in the same way.

Concepts: Serotonin, Antidepressant, Citalopram, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Major depressive disorder, Sertraline, Tricyclic antidepressant, Fluoxetine


The use of cannabis with higher ��9-tetrahydrocannabinol content has been associated with greater risk, and earlier onset, of psychosis. However, the effect of cannabis potency on brain morphology has never been explored. Here, we investigated whether cannabis potency and pattern of use are associated with changes in corpus callosum (CC) microstructural organization, in patients with first-episode psychosis (FEP) and individuals without psychosis, cannabis users and non-users. Method The CC of 56 FEP (37 cannabis users) and 43 individuals without psychosis (22 cannabis users) was virtually dissected and segmented using diffusion tensor imaging tractography. The diffusion index of fractional anisotropy, mean diffusivity (MD), axial diffusivity (AD) and radial diffusivity was calculated for each segment.

Concepts: Neuroimaging, Magnetic resonance imaging, Cerebrum, Diffusion MRI, Corpus callosum, Imaging, Agenesis of the corpus callosum, Tensors


BACKGROUND: A multi-centre, four-arm trial (the PACE trial) found that rehabilitative cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and graded exercise therapy (GET) were more effective treatments for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) than specialist medical care (SMC) alone, when each was added to SMC, and more effective than adaptive pacing therapy (APT) when added to SMC. In this study we compared how many participants recovered after each treatment. Method We defined recovery operationally using multiple criteria, and compared the proportions of participants meeting each individual criterion along with two composite criteria, defined as (a) recovery in the context of the trial and (b) clinical recovery from the current episode of the illness, however defined, 52 weeks after randomization. We used logistic regression modelling to compare treatments. RESULTS: The percentages (number/total) meeting trial criteria for recovery were 22% (32/143) after CBT, 22% (32/143) after GET, 8% (12/149) after APT and 7% (11/150) after SMC. Similar proportions met criteria for clinical recovery. The odds ratio (OR) for trial recovery after CBT was 3.36 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.64-6.88] and for GET 3.38 (95% CI 1.65-6.93), when compared to APT, and after CBT 3.69 (95% CI 1.77-7.69) and GET 3.71 (95% CI 1.78-7.74), when compared to SMC (p values ⩽0.001 for all comparisons). There was no significant difference between APT and SMC. Similar proportions recovered in trial subgroups meeting different definitions of the illness. CONCLUSIONS: This study confirms that recovery from CFS is possible, and that CBT and GET are the therapies most likely to lead to recovery.

Concepts: Health care, Logit, Medicine, Clinical trial, Difference, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Psychotherapy, Chronic fatigue syndrome


The quality of the therapeutic alliance (TA) has been invoked to explain the equal effectiveness of different psychotherapies, but prior research is correlational, and does not address the possibility that individuals who form good alliances may have good outcomes without therapy.

Concepts: Scientific method, Mental health, Therapy, Clinical psychology, Psychosis, Psychiatry, Psychotherapy, Existentialism


Observational associations between cannabis and schizophrenia are well documented, but ascertaining causation is more challenging. We used Mendelian randomization (MR), utilizing publicly available data as a method for ascertaining causation from observational data.

Concepts: Scientific method, Genetics, Observational study, Correlation does not imply causation


Congenital or early life infection with Toxoplasma gondii has been implicated in schizophrenia aetiology. Childhood cat ownership has been hypothesized as an intermediary marker of T. gondii infection and, by proxy, as a risk factor for later psychosis. Evidence supporting this hypothesis is, however, limited.

Concepts: Rat, Psychosis, Toxoplasmosis, Toxoplasma gondii


High occupational suicide rates are often linked to easy occupational access to a method of suicide. This study aimed to compare suicide rates across all occupations in Britain, how they have changed over the past 30 years, and how they may vary by occupational socio-economic group. Method We used national occupational mortality statistics, census-based occupational populations and death inquiry files (for the years 1979-1980, 1982-1983 and 2001-2005). The main outcome measures were suicide rates per 100 000 population, percentage changes over time in suicide rates, standardized mortality ratios (SMRs) and proportional mortality ratios (PMRs).

Concepts: Death, Mortality rate, Demography, Population, Population ecology, Sociology, Life expectancy, Suicide


Cannabis use is decreasing in England and Wales, while demand for cannabis treatment in addiction services continues to rise. This could be partly due to an increased availability of high-potency cannabis.

Concepts: United Kingdom, England, Wales, Scotland, English law, Kingdom of England, England and Wales, Countries of the United Kingdom


BACKGROUND: Childhood adverse experiences are known to induce persistent changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis reactivity to stress. However, the mechanisms by which these experiences shape the neuroendocrine response to stress remain unclear. Method We tested whether bullying victimization influenced serotonin transporter gene (SERT) DNA methylation using a discordant monozygotic (MZ) twin design. A subsample of 28 MZ twin pairs discordant for bullying victimization, with data on cortisol and DNA methylation, were identified in the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study, a nationally representative 1994-1995 cohort of families with twins. RESULTS: Bullied twins had higher SERT DNA methylation at the age of 10 years compared with their non-bullied MZ co-twins. This group difference cannot be attributed to the children’s genetic makeup or their shared familial environments because of the study design. Bullied twins also showed increasing methylation levels between the age of 5 years, prior to bullying victimization, and the age of 10 years whereas no such increase was detected in non-bullied twins across time. Moreover, children with higher SERT methylation levels had blunted cortisol responses to stress. CONCLUSIONS: Our study extends findings drawn from animal models, supports the hypothesis that early-life stress modifies DNA methylation at a specific cytosine-phosphate-guanine (CpG) site in the SERT promoter and HPA functioning and suggests that these two systems may be functionally associated.

Concepts: DNA, Cohort study, Gene, Twin, Twins, Zygote, Monozygotic, Serotonin transporter


There are no existing longitudinal studies of inflammatory markers and atopic disorders in childhood and risk of hypomanic symptoms in adulthood. This study examined if childhood: (1) serum interleukin-6 (IL-6) and C-reactive protein (CRP); and (2) asthma and/or eczema are associated with features of hypomania in young adulthood.

Concepts: Inflammation, Cohort study, Longitudinal study, Epidemiology, Asthma, Allergy, Atopy, C-reactive protein