Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder affect tens of millions of individuals around the world. These disorders have a typical onset in the early twenties and in most cases have a chronic or recurring course. Neither disorder has an objective biological marker than can be used to make diagnoses or to guide treatment. Findings in Biological Psychiatry, published by Elsevier suggest that electroretinography (ERG), a specialized measure of retinal function might be a useful biomarker of risk for these disorders, and retinal deficits may contribute to the perceptual problems associated with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Over the past several years, research has suggested that cognitive impairments in schizophrenia might be linked to early stages of visual perception.
Exposure to ecstasy or cocaine during adolescence increases the "reinforcing effects" that make people vulnerable to developing an addiction. This is the main conclusion of a research team from the University of Valencia (UV), which has shown for the first time how these changes persist into adulthood. "Although MDMA and cocaine are psychoactive substances frequently used by teenagers, very few studies have been done to analyse the short and long-term consequences of joint exposure to these drugs", JosÃ MiÃ arro, lead author of the study and coordinator of the Psychobiology of Drug Addiction group at the UV, tells SINC. The study, published in the journal Addiction Biology, shows for the first time that exposure to these drugs during adolescence leads to long-lasting changes that increase the reinforcing power of ecstasy or MDMA, and which last until adulthood.
On the anniversary of the Black Saturday bushfires, psychologists are advising the community to anticipate their reactions and plan their weekend to help cope with this significant event. President of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), Professor Bob Montgomery, said that anticipating what the anniversary might be like, how you might feel, and how you would like to spend the day are effective ways to prepare yourself psychologically. "It's common for the anniversary of traumatic events to trigger some bad memories and rub some salt into emotional wounds. Successful psychological recovery after a disaster does not mean survivors don't care any more.
Adolescents with suicidal thoughts and elevated depression had stronger and faster reduction of symptoms when treated with family therapy than with standard treatment in the community. Researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia reported these findings this month in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Suicide is the third leading cause of death in American adolescents, accounting for more than 1, 300 deaths in youths between the ages of 12 and 18 in 2005. An additional one million teens attempt suicide each year, leading to high emotional and financial costs to families and the health care system.
Between 1997 and 2006, 38% of out-of-clinic suicides by mental health patients were carried out by people absent without leave from the hospital. Researchers writing in the open access journal BMC Psychiatry suggest that measures to improve the ward environment or prevent patients from leaving psychiatric wards without staff agreement could avoid up to 50 suicide deaths every year. Isabelle Hunt, from the University of Manchester, UK, worked with a team of researchers to investigate suicides in England and Wales over a ten-year period. There were 1, 851 cases of suicide by current psychiatric in-patients, and 70% occurred off the ward. Four hundred and sixty-nine of these patients died after going absent without leave.
A new study suggests that people at very high risk of developing psychotic disorders appear less likely to to do so after taking fish oil for three months. The study was conducted by Dr G Paul Amminger from the Medical University of Vienna in Austria, and the Orygen Youth Health Research Centre in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues, and is reported in the February issue of the JAMA/Archives journal Archives of General Psychiatry. As Amminger and colleagues mentioned in their background information, although there is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of current antipsychotic medication to try and prevent psychotic disorders, there is evidence that early treatment in schizophrenia and other psychoses has been linked to better outcomes.