October 6th Applying Online for Disability Benefits – Webinar Reminder

Don’t forget to join us on Wednesday, October 6, 2010, at 2:00 p.m. EDT to learn more about the enhancements to Social Security’s online disability application. The new application is designed to reduce the time it takes to file for disability benefits online.

Please let us know if you will be joining us. You can RSVP at http://www.socialsecurity.gov/survey/ApplyingOnlineforDisabilityBenefitsRSVP.htm. If you have already done so, thank you!

Also, please submit your questions about the online disability application in advance, and we will try to incorporate your questions into the webinar. To do so, simply go to http://www.socialsecurity.gov/survey/ApplyingOnlineforDisabilityBenefitsQuestions.htm.

We look forward to your participation.


Aviva Sufian

Associate Commissioner

for External Affairs

Psychotropic Polypharmacy Increasingly Common in Pediatric Outpatient Practice

Prescriptions for at least 2 psychotropic classes of medication for children and adolescents during outpatient visits increased significantly between the years 1996 and 2007, according to a new national trends survey study.

In fact, investigators report that these multiclass psychotropic prescription visits increased from 14.3% to 20.2%.

“What surprised us was the prevalence of this practice in recent years. Now, 1 in 5 child visits in which a psychotropic drug is prescribed, that child is being prescribed multiple drugs from across different medication classes,” lead study author Jonathan S. Comer, MD, at Columbia University in New York City during the study, now an assistant professor in the Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders at Boston University in Massachusetts, told Medscape Medical News.

I think the findings support a growing discomfort in the field that too many children are being placed on too many medications too soon.

“I think the findings support a growing discomfort in the field that too many children are being placed on too many medications too soon. The results really paint quite a portrait of shifting practice in modern child psychiatry, where, despite limited controlled trials, there seems to be a growing acceptance of complex drug regimens in the outpatient psychiatric treatment of kids. It’s pretty remarkable,” added Dr. Comer.

Reported by
Medscape Medical News

Submitted by Anna

Antipsychotic Use May Increase Venous Thromboembolism Risk

Antipsychotic medications may increase the risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE), according to a new nested case-control study of primary care patients in the United Kingdom.

In fact, researchers report there was a 32% greater risk for VTE found for those prescribed antipsychotics in the previous 24 months vs non–antipsychotic users. The risk was even greater for new users and for those taking atypical antipsychotics.

“While our findings should be confirmed using other data sources, the study adds to the accumulating evidence of adverse health events associated with antipsychotics,” Julia Hippisley-Cox, FRCGP, MRCP, professor of clinical epidemiology and general practice at the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom, told Medscape Medical News.

Reported by Deborah Brauser
Medscape Medical News

Submitted by Anna


Last year, NIMH asked its National Mental Health Advisory Council to help the Institute consider how it could best develop new interventions. A workgroup of the Council met through the winter to discuss opportunities and challenges in treatment development. To inform the process, they developed a report, From Discovery to Cure: Accelerating the Development of New and Personalized Interventions for Mental Illness. Among their many suggestions was: (a) a call to develop the next generation of interventions, based on a better understanding of the disorders and (b) a call to optimize the use of current treatments based on a better understanding of individual differences in response.

Thomas Insel, M.D.
NIMH Director

Submitted by Anna


Hints that some mental illness may be linked to infectious agents and/or autoimmune processes date back to at least the early 20th Century. In the 21st Century, the field of microbiomics, which is mapping the microbial environment of the human organism, may transform the way we think about human physical and mental development. It is already clear that 90% of “our DNA” is microbial, not human. “We” are, in fact, “super-organisms” made up of thousands of species, many of which are being identified for the first time. And there are persistent individual differences in our microbial ecology established early in life.

Thomas Insel, M.D.
NIMH Director

Submitted by Anna


Nearly 12 million visits made to U.S. hospital emergency departments in 2007 involved people with a mental disorder, substance abuse problem, or both, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). This accounts for one in eight of the 95 million visits to emergency departments by adults that year. Of these visits, about two-thirds involved patients with a mental disorder, one quarter was patients with a substance abuse problem, and the rest involved patients dealing with both a mental disorder and substance abuse.

Submitted by Anna

Cannabis Use Increases Psychosis Risk and Persistence of Subclinical Psychosis

Cannabis use significantly increases the risk for incident psychotic symptoms in individuals with no prior history of psychotic experiences. In persons with evidence of psychosis, cannabis use aids in the persistence of these symptoms, according to researchers from the University of Maastricht in The Netherlands, who have done much of the existing work in the area of cannabis and psychosis.

Cecile Henquet, PhD, of the Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology at the University of Maastricht, reported the findings at the 23rd European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) Congress.

“It has been known for many years that persons with schizophrenia or other psychotic illness use more cannabis than the general population, and other work has shown that individuals using cannabis during adolescence and early adulthood have a higher risk of developing psychotic symptoms. It remains unclear, however, whether the association between cannabis and psychosis is causal or whether an underlying genetic predisposition for psychosis may prompt cannabis use as a way of self-medication. A second issue is whether cannabis impacts on persistence rates of psychosis and which biological mechanisms may underlie this process,” Dr. Henquet said.

Medscape Medical News reported other news on cannabis use and its effect on improving cognitive functioning in some schizophrenic patients. Those findings were also announced at the 23rd ECNP Congress (Early Use of Cannabis May Improve Cognitive Functioning in Subgroup of Patients With Schizophrenia).

Reported by Caroline Helwick

Submitted by Anna

Deaths raise questions on drug given to sleepless vets, Powerful anti-psychotic med Seroquel used ‘off-label’ by docs

Andrew White returned from a nine-month tour in Iraq beset with signs of post-traumatic stress disorder: insomnia, nightmares, constant restlessness. Doctors tried to ease his symptoms using three psychiatric drugs, including a potent anti-psychotic called Seroquel.

Thousands of soldiers suffering from PTSD have received the same medication over the last nine years, helping to make Seroquel one of the Veteran Affairs Department’s top drug expenditures and the No. 5 best-selling drug in the nation.

Several soldiers and veterans have died while taking the pills, raising concerns among some military families that the government is not being up front about the drug’s risks. They want Congress to investigate.

In White’s case, the nightmares persisted. So doctors recommended progressively larger doses of Seroquel. At one point, the 23-year-old Marine corporal was prescribed more than 1,600 milligrams per day — more than double the maximum dose recommended for schizophrenia patients.

A short time later, White died in his sleep.

Associated Press

Submitted by Anna


The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and government, community, public health, and law enforcement partners are holding a nationwide prescription drug “take-back” day. On September 25, 2010, collection sites around the country will take any expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs for safe, legal, and environmentally-friendly disposal. This initiative addresses a vital public safety and public health issue. The misuse of prescription drugs, including diversion, accidental poisoning, and overdose, has been increasing at an alarming rate. Nationally, an estimated 6.2 million people age 12 and older report having misused prescription drugs in the past month. One of the easiest ways individuals can help reduce this problem is to properly dispose of unused or expired medications. Studies have shown that a majority of prescription drugs are easily obtained from family and friends, including from the home medicine cabinet. The take-back day offers Americans an easy way to dispose of their prescription drugs and help reduce the rate of prescription drug abuse. http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/takeback

Submitted by Anna

Merck schizophrenia drug approved for 2 new uses

Merck & Co. said Tuesday its schizophrenia drug Saphris has been approved for two additional uses by the Food and Drug Administration.

The drug was first approved in August 2009 for treating acute schizophrenia episodes in adults and acute mania or manic-depressive behavior in adults with bipolar disorder.

Merck says the FDA now has approved Saphris for ongoing treatment of schizophrenia and for treating acute mania or manic-depressive behavior in adult bipolar patients along with lithium, a mood-stabilizing drug often used to treat mania, or the antiseizure drug valproate.

Reported by LINDA A. JOHNSON
Washington Post

Submitted by Anna