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Journal: World psychiatry : official journal of the World Psychiatric Association (WPA)


People with severe mental illness (SMI) - schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder - appear at risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD), but a comprehensive meta-analysis is lacking. We conducted a large-scale meta-analysis assessing the prevalence and incidence of CVD; coronary heart disease; stroke, transient ischemic attack or cerebrovascular disease; congestive heart failure; peripheral vascular disease; and CVD-related death in SMI patients (N=3,211,768) versus controls (N=113,383,368) (92 studies). The pooled CVD prevalence in SMI patients (mean age 50 years) was 9.9% (95% CI: 7.4-13.3). Adjusting for a median of seven confounders, patients had significantly higher odds of CVD versus controls in cross-sectional studies (odds ratio, OR=1.53, 95% CI: 1.27-1.83; 11 studies), and higher odds of coronary heart disease (OR=1.51, 95% CI: 1.47-1.55) and cerebrovascular disease (OR=1.42, 95% CI: 1.21-1.66). People with major depressive disorder were at increased risk for coronary heart disease, while those with schizophrenia were at increased risk for coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease and congestive heart failure. Cumulative CVD incidence in SMI patients was 3.6% (95% CI: 2.7-5.3) during a median follow-up of 8.4 years (range 1.8-30.0). Adjusting for a median of six confounders, SMI patients had significantly higher CVD incidence than controls in longitudinal studies (hazard ratio, HR=1.78, 95% CI: 1.60-1.98; 31 studies). The incidence was also higher for coronary heart disease (HR=1.54, 95% CI: 1.30-1.82), cerebrovascular disease (HR=1.64, 95% CI: 1.26-2.14), congestive heart failure (HR=2.10, 95% CI: 1.64-2.70), and CVD-related death (HR=1.85, 95% CI: 1.53-2.24). People with major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were all at increased risk of CVD-related death versus controls. CVD incidence increased with antipsychotic use (p=0.008), higher body mass index (p=0.008) and higher baseline CVD prevalence (p=0.03) in patients vs.

Concepts: Dysthymia, Medical statistics, Cardiovascular diseases, Major depressive disorder, Bipolar disorder, Schizophrenia, Suicide, Epidemiology


This pragmatic randomized controlled trial tested the effectiveness of long-term psychoanalytic psychotherapy (LTPP) as an adjunct to treatment-as-usual according to UK national guidelines (TAU), compared to TAU alone, in patients with long-standing major depression who had failed at least two different treatments and were considered to have treatment-resistant depression. Patients (N=129) were recruited from primary care and randomly allocated to the two treatment conditions. They were assessed at 6-monthly intervals during the 18 months of treatment and at 24, 30 and 42 months during follow-up. The primary outcome measure was the 17-item version of the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS-17), with complete remission defined as a HDRS-17 score ā‰¤8, and partial remission defined as a HDRS-17 score ā‰¤12. Secondary outcome measures included self-reported depression as assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory - II, social functioning as evaluated by the Global Assessment of Functioning, subjective wellbeing as rated by the Clinical Outcomes in Routine Evaluation - Outcome Measure, and satisfaction with general activities as assessed by the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire. Complete remission was infrequent in both groups at the end of treatment (9.4% in the LTPP group vs. 6.5% in the control group) as well as at 42-month follow-up (14.9% vs. 4.4%). Partial remission was not significantly more likely in the LTPP than in the control group at the end of treatment (32.1% vs. 23.9%, p=0.37), but significant differences emerged during follow-up (24 months: 38.8% vs. 19.2%, p=0.03; 30 months: 34.7% vs. 12.2%, p=0.008; 42 months: 30.0% vs. 4.4%, p=0.001). Both observer-based and self-reported depression scores showed steeper declines in the LTPP group, alongside greater improvements on measures of social adjustment. These data suggest that LTPP can be useful in improving the long-term outcome of treatment-resistant depression. End-of-treatment evaluations or short follow-ups may miss the emergence of delayed therapeutic benefit.

Concepts: Primary care, Pharmacology, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Beck Depression Inventory, Randomized controlled trial, Psychoanalysis, Mood disorders, Major depressive disorder


We conducted a meta-analysis of randomized trials in which the effects of treatment with antidepressant medication were compared to the effects of combined pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy in adults with a diagnosed depressive or anxiety disorder. A total of 52 studies (with 3,623 patients) met inclusion criteria, 32 on depressive disorders and 21 on anxiety disorders (one on both depressive and anxiety disorders). The overall difference between pharmacotherapy and combined treatment was Hedges' gā€‰=ā€‰0.43 (95% CI: 0.31-0.56), indicating a moderately large effect and clinically meaningful difference in favor of combined treatment, which corresponds to a number needed to treat (NNT) of 4.20. There was sufficient evidence that combined treatment is superior for major depression, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). The effects of combined treatment compared with placebo only were about twice as large as those of pharmacotherapy compared with placebo only, underscoring the clinical advantage of combined treatment. The results also suggest that the effects of pharmacotherapy and those of psychotherapy are largely independent from each other, with both contributing about equally to the effects of combined treatment. We conclude that combined treatment appears to be more effective than treatment with antidepressant medication alone in major depression, panic disorder, and OCD. These effects remain strong and significant up to two years after treatment. Monotherapy with psychotropic medication may not constitute optimal care for common mental disorders.

Concepts: Anxiety, Abnormal psychology, Bipolar disorder, Anxiety disorders, Mental disorder, Antidepressant, Anxiety disorder, Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor


Although the early antidepressant trials which included severely ill and hospitalized patients showed substantial drug-placebo differences, these robust differences have not held up in the trials of the past couple of decades, whether sponsored by pharmaceutical companies or non-profit agencies. This narrowing of the drug-placebo difference has been attributed to a number of changes in the conduct of clinical trials. First, the advent of DSM-III and the broadening of the definition of major depression have led to the inclusion of mildly to moderately ill patients into antidepressant trials. These patients may experience a smaller magnitude of antidepressant-placebo differences. Second, drug development regulators, such as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency, have had a significant, albeit underappreciated, role in determining how modern antidepressant clinical trials are designed and conducted. Their concerns about possible false positive results have led to trial designs that are poor, difficult to conduct, and complicated to analyze. Attempts at better design and patient selection for antidepressant trials have not yielded the expected results. As of now, antidepressant clinical trials have an effect size of 0.30, which, although similar to the effects of treatments for many other chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, asthma and diabetes, is less than impressive.

Concepts: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, Medicine, Clinical research, Clinical trial, Food and Drug Administration, Illness, Pharmaceutical industry, Pharmacology


An understanding of recovery as a personal and subjective experience has emerged within mental health systems. This meaning of recovery now underpins mental health policy in many countries. Developing a focus on this type of recovery will involve transformation within mental health systems. Human systems do not easily transform. In this paper, we identify seven mis-uses (“abuses”) of the concept of recovery: recovery is the latest model; recovery does not apply to “my” patients; services can make people recover through effective treatment; compulsory detention and treatment aid recovery; a recovery orientation means closing services; recovery is about making people independent and normal; and contributing to society happens only after the person is recovered. We then identify ten empirically-validated interventions which support recovery, by targeting key recovery processes of connectedness, hope, identity, meaning and empowerment (the CHIME framework). The ten interventions are peer support workers, advance directives, wellness recovery action planning, illness management and recovery, REFOCUS, strengths model, recovery colleges or recovery education programs, individual placement and support, supported housing, and mental health trialogues. Finally, three scientific challenges are identified: broadening cultural understandings of recovery, implementing organizational transformation, and promoting citizenship.

Concepts: Mental disorder, Illness, Human, Health economics, Perception, Mental health, Self-help groups for mental health, Medicine


This paper provides a comprehensive review of outcome studies and meta-analyses of effectiveness studies of psychodynamic therapy (PDT) for the major categories of mental disorders. Comparisons with inactive controls (waitlist, treatment as usual and placebo) generally but by no means invariably show PDT to be effective for depression, some anxiety disorders, eating disorders and somatic disorders. There is little evidence to support its implementation for post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bulimia nervosa, cocaine dependence or psychosis. The strongest current evidence base supports relatively long-term psychodynamic treatment of some personality disorders, particularly borderline personality disorder. Comparisons with active treatments rarely identify PDT as superior to control interventions and studies are generally not appropriately designed to provide tests of statistical equivalence. Studies that demonstrate inferiority of PDT to alternatives exist, but are small in number and often questionable in design. Reviews of the field appear to be subject to allegiance effects. The present review recommends abandoning the inherently conservative strategy of comparing heterogeneous “families” of therapies for heterogeneous diagnostic groups. Instead, it advocates using the opportunities provided by bioscience and computational psychiatry to creatively explore and assess the value of protocol-directed combinations of specific treatment components to address the key problems of individual patients.

Concepts: Psychiatry, Eating disorders, Schizotypal personality disorder, Antisocial personality disorder, Personality disorder, Mental disorder, Borderline personality disorder, Abnormal psychology


This study explored the prevalence of risk behaviors (excessive alcohol use, illegal drug use, heavy smoking, reduced sleep, overweight, underweight, sedentary behavior, high use of Internet/TV/videogames for reasons not related to school or work, and truancy), and their association with psychopathology and self-destructive behaviors, in a sample of 12,395 adolescents recruited in randomly selected schools across 11 European countries. Latent class analysis identified three groups of adolescents: a low-risk group (57.8%) including pupils with low or very low frequency of risk behaviors; a high-risk group (13.2%) including pupils who scored high on all risk behaviors, and a third group (“invisible” risk, 29%) including pupils who were positive for high use of Internet/TV/videogames for reasons not related to school or work, sedentary behavior and reduced sleep. Pupils in the “invisible” risk group, compared with the high-risk group, had a similar prevalence of suicidal thoughts (42.2% vs. 44%), anxiety (8% vs. 9.2%), subthreshold depression (33.2% vs. 34%) and depression (13.4% vs. 14.7%). The prevalence of suicide attempts was 5.9% in the “invisible” group, 10.1% in the high-risk group and 1.7% in the low-risk group. The prevalence of all risk behaviors increased with age and most of them were significantly more frequent among boys. Girls were significantly more likely to experience internalizing (emotional) psychiatric symptoms. The “invisible” group may represent an important new intervention target group for potentially reducing psychopathology and other untoward outcomes in adolescence, including suicidal behavior.

Concepts: Drug addiction, Mental disorder, Schizophrenia, Parasuicide, Bipolar disorder, Psychiatry, Psychology, Suicide


The common factors have a long history in the field of psychotherapy theory, research and practice. To understand the evidence supporting them as important therapeutic elements, the contextual model of psychotherapy is outlined. Then the evidence, primarily from meta-analyses, is presented for particular common factors, including alliance, empathy, expectations, cultural adaptation, and therapist differences. Then the evidence for four factors related to specificity, including treatment differences, specific ingredients, adherence, and competence, is presented. The evidence supports the conclusion that the common factors are important for producing the benefits of psychotherapy.

Concepts: Psychology, The Conclusion, Common factors theory, Psychotherapy


A rather large body of literature now exists on the use of telemental health services in the diagnosis and management of various psychiatric conditions. This review aims to provide an up-to-date assessment of telemental health, focusing on four main areas: computerized CBT (cCBT), Internet-based CBT (iCBT), virtual reality exposure therapy (VRET), and mobile therapy (mTherapy). Four scientific databases were searched and, where possible, larger, better-designed meta-analyses and controlled trials were highlighted. Taken together, published studies support an expanded role for telepsychiatry tools, with advantages that include increased care access, enhanced efficiency, reduced stigma associated with visiting mental health clinics, and the ability to bypass diagnosis-specific obstacles to treatment, such as when social anxiety prevents a patient from leaving the house. Of technology-mediated therapies, cCBT and iCBT possess the most efficacy evidence, with VRET and mTherapy representing promising but less researched options that have grown in parallel with virtual reality and mobile technology advances. Nonetheless, telepsychiatry remains challenging because of the need for specific computer skills, the difficulty in providing patients with a deep understanding or support, concerns about the “therapeutic alliance”, privacy fears, and the well documented problem of patient attrition. Future studies should further test the efficacy, advantages and limitations of technology-enabled CBT, as well as explore the online delivery of other psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological modalities.

Concepts: Exposure therapy, Clinical psychology, Mental health, Psychotherapy, Therapy, Medicine, Cognitive behavioral therapy, Psychiatry


In recent years, the network approach to psychopathology has been advanced as an alternative way of conceptualizing mental disorders. In this approach, mental disorders arise from direct interactions between symptoms. Although the network approach has led to many novel methodologies and substantive applications, it has not yet been fully articulated as a scientific theory of mental disorders. The present paper aims to develop such a theory, by postulating a limited set of theoretical principles regarding the structure and dynamics of symptom networks. At the heart of the theory lies the notion that symptoms of psychopathology are causally connected through myriads of biological, psychological and societal mechanisms. If these causal relations are sufficiently strong, symptoms can generate a level of feedback that renders them self-sustaining. In this case, the network can get stuck in a disorder state. The network theory holds that this is a general feature of mental disorders, which can therefore be understood as alternative stable states of strongly connected symptom networks. This idea naturally leads to a comprehensive model of psychopathology, encompassing a common explanatory model for mental disorders, as well as novel definitions of associated concepts such as mental health, resilience, vulnerability and liability. In addition, the network theory has direct implications for how to understand diagnosis and treatment, and suggests a clear agenda for future research in psychiatry and associated disciplines.

Concepts: Explanation, Science, Greek loanwords, Psychology, Psychiatry, Mental disorder, Scientific method, Theory