Marker Predicts Heart Disease in People with Schizophrenia

Elevated C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in patients with schizophreniaare associated with a higher 10-year risk for cardiovascular disease, new research suggests.

Past studies have shown that schizophrenia is associated with significant coexisting health concerns. This includes an increased risk for the metabolic syndrome — which is also a risk factor for cardiovascular disease (also known as heart disease).

Antoni Sicras-Mainar from Badalona Serveis Assistencials in Spain and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of administrative claims in 705 individuals who has a diagnosis of schizophrenia.

The team used a formula devised by the Framingham Heart Study researchers to determine 10-year risk for fatal or nonfatal cardiovascular disease. The researchers then collated the results with patient levels of CRP, an inflammatory marker associated with diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease in the general population.

In the present study, the average 10-year risk for heart disease was nearly 12 percent. The average CRP level was 2.6 mg/l.

Patients with heart disease were nearly 5 times more likely than those without heart disease to have above-normal values (patients with heart disease had mean CRP levels of 3.7 mg/l).

After adjusting for multiple cofounds, CRP levels were linearly associated with the 10-year risk for cardiovascular disease — the greater the CRP levels, the greater the risk for heart disease.

“The findings of this study support the general hypothesis of CRP also being involved or playing an independent role in risk or the development of cardiovascular disease in schizophrenics,” concluded Sicras-Mainar.

The study is slated to appear in the journal European Psychiatry.

By Psych Central News Editor

Psych Central

Help Wanted: a Good Therapist Amid Increasing Choices, How to Know What Treatments Work, When to Move On

Therese Borchard likens herself to Goldilocks of the mental-health world: She tried six psychiatrists before she found one that was “just right.” One learned she was a writer and asked for help with a book proposal. Another put her on sleeping pills, ignoring her history of substance abuse. One even wanted to try hypnotic regression by candlelight to address unresolved childhood issues.

Finally, No. 7 diagnosed bipolar disorder, found medication that was effective, helped her to be less hard on herself and “salvaged the last crumb of my self-esteem,” says Ms. Borchard, who writes the popular “Beyond Blue” blog on

The search for the right therapist can be baffling—and it comes at a time when would-be patients are feeling most vulnerable.

Patients who aren’t sure what’s wrong with them can be stumped about the type of therapist to call and ill-equipped to evaluate what they’re told during treatment. How well a therapist’s personal style matches a patient’s individual needs can be critical. But experts also say that patients shouldn’t be shy about pressing their therapist for a diagnosis and setting measurable goals….




CDC: Antidepressant use skyrockets 400% in past 20 years

Use of antidepressant drugs has soared nearly 400% since 1988, making the medication the most frequently used by people ages 18-44, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows.

Eleven percent of Americans ages 12 years and older took antidepressants during the 2005-08 study period, the authors write. They add that though the majority of antidepressants were taken to treat depression, the drugs also can be used for anxiety disorders and other conditions.

The data are from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, which included information from 12,637 participants about prescription-drug use, antidepressant use, length of use, severity of depressive symptoms and contact with a health professional.

Mental-health professionals not associated with the survey cited several reasons as possible explanations for the spike:

•The struggling economy and the record number of layoffs and home foreclosures. “These drugs can be very helpful for people who need them,” says Elaine Ducharme, a psychologist and public educator in Connecticut for the American Psychological Association. “People should expect to be depressed after a layoff. They should not be put on a drug, though, unless they have an acute problem.”

•Ad campaigns waged by pharmaceutical companies citing benefits of the drugs.

•Families who might be reimbursed by health insurance companies for a prescription but may delay getting therapy from a mental-health professional because of the cost of treatment.

In fact, less than one-third of Americans taking one antidepressant and less than one-half of those taking multiple antidepressants have seen a mental-health professional in the past year, the report shows.

“Unfortunately, some families are looking for a quick fix, but a pill is never going to get to the root of the problem,” says David Palmiter, a psychologist and author of Working Parents, Thriving Families: 10 Strategies That Make a Difference.

Ducharme agrees. “That is the thing that bothers me the most,” she says. “These drugs can be dangerous, and there needs to be follow-up care.”

The survey also found that nearly one in four women ages 40 to 59 are taking antidepressants. Women are more likely to take antidepressants; however, among those taking antidepressants, men were more likely than women to have seen a mental-health professional in the past year.

The survey found that about one in 25 teens take the medication.

By Janice Lloyd



Community colleges awarded $7 million for mental health training

California community colleges have been awarded nearly $7 million to help students cope with stress, anxiety, depression and other mental health issues.

The grant from the California Mental Health Services Authority will be used to help train faculty and staff in the state’s 112 community colleges to better respond to students who exhibit signs of mental distress.

About $1 million of the grant will be awarded competitively to 12 colleges to develop campus-based projects.

“Our most recent data shows that stress, anxiety and depression are among the top factors that affect student academic performance,” California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said in a statement.

A 2010 survey of community college students found that 50% reported feeling very sad, very lonely and hopeless and more than a third said it was difficult to function because they were so depressed, Scott said.

In addition, 8% of respondents reported they had considered suicide and another 3% said they had attempted suicide. California’s community colleges face particular challenges as part of the largest system of higher education in the nation, serving nearly 2.6 million students.

A significant number are returning veterans with combat experience who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, traumatic brain injury and depression. Other students may have previously diagnosed psychological disorders or may be stressed from work, school or relationships.

Projects are likely to include developing crisis intervention teams, connecting with community partners and helping students overcome the stigma associated with seeking services. Community colleges will also collaborate with the University of California and California State University on projects targeted to veterans, officials said.

By Carla Rivera

Los Angeles Times

America’s Mental Health, State By State

Nearly 20 percent of Americans — 44.5 million adults — experienced some sort of mental illness over the last year, according to a new report from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Agency (SAMHSA).

The report details state by state the percent of the population who has suffered a mental illness.

“Mental illnesses are treatable and people can recover to live full, productive lives. Unfortunately in the past year only 37.9 percent of adults with mental health problems received any type of care,” SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in a statement. “The chasm between need and care is costly both in terms of personal health because of missed opportunities to prevent disability and health care expenditures related to illness such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.”

The report counts “mental illness” as any sort of mental, behavioral or emotional disorder that is diagnosable from the DSM-IV. The disorder must cause “substantial functional impairment” or must be defined as a serious mental illness that requires treatment.

Click through the slideshow to see, from lowest to highest, how many people in each state experienced a mental illness (according to 2008 and 2009 data that included 68,936 adults).


The Huffington Post

Medicare covers screening and counseling for alcohol misuse and screening for depression

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today announced two new national coverage determinations that cover alcohol misuse screening and behavioral counseling for Medicare beneficiaries as well as screening for depression. These new coverage policies add to the existing portfolio of covered preventive services, most of which are now available to people with Medicare at no additional cost.

The coverage decision on alcohol misuse screening is online at and the decision on depression screening is online at

This release may be viewed in its entirety at:

Brain Memory Finding May Help Schizophrenia Research

A variation in a part of the brain may explain why some people have a better memory of reality than others and could advance understanding of brain disorders like schizophrenia, scientists said.

In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, researchers from Cambridge University tested 53 volunteers and found differences in their ability to distinguish between real or imagined memories.

The scientists then found a direct link between these results and the size of a specific area of the brain called the paracingulate sulcus, or PCS.

The PCS is one of the last regions of the brain to develop before birth, and the study found that people with a larger PCS were better at discerning real experiences from imagined ones.

“The memory differences we observed were quite striking. It is exciting to think that these individual differences in ability might have a basis in a simple brain folding variation,” said Cambridge’s Jon Simons, who led the research.

The findings may also help scientists understand more about schizophrenia, he said, because an inability to recognize what is real and what isn’t is a hallmark of the disease.

“Hallucinations are often reported whereby, for example, someone hears a voice when nobody’s there. Difficulty distinguishing real from imagined information might be an explanation for such hallucinations,” Simons said. “The person might imagine the voice but misattribute it as coming from the outside world.”
Schizophrenia is a severe mental disorder which affects 24 million people worldwide, according to World Health Organization data, yet relatively little is known of its causes.

“We’ve found evidence that suggests this particular (brain)region might be reduced in people with schizophrenia, and that this could be the beginning of an explanation for why these people experience hallucinations,” Simons said in a telephone interview.

The 53 volunteers in the study first had brain scans which showed whether they had either a clear presence or absence of PCS in the left or right brain.

The researchers then showed them well-known word pairs — such as “Laurel and Hardy” for example — which were sometimes complete and sometimes had the second word blanked out.

The volunteers were then asked to remember whether they had seen a completed pair, or whether they had completed the pair in their own mind.

“What we’re interested in linking next. is whether individuals with schizophrenia who also have that reduction in the PCS are definitely more likely to experience hallucinations,” Simons said, adding that his team is planning further research in the coming months.


Read more:

Government report finds major gaps in mental health care in Indian Country

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A new U.S. government report highlights serious gaps in mental health care for many American Indians and Alaska Natives, groups that suffer from problems including a teenage suicide rate more than twice the national average.

One in five hospitals and clinics in Indian Country provide no mental health services. Only half provide drug therapy treatments, and treatment often is handled by non-licensed staff at dozens of facilities.

That’s from the report by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services. It was released Friday by Montana U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, a Democrat who in 2008 requested an investigation into health care problems on reservations.

Tribal leaders on Montana’s Fort Peck Reservation last year declared a crisis after a rash of suicides at a middle school.

Associated Press

NIH funds continued research in suicide prevention in China

The National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center has awarded $1.1 million to the University of Rochester Medical Center in support of a program that for the last 10 years has been training people in China to investigate the causes and prevention of suicide.

“Across China, a cadre of people has developed who now are becoming rigorous researchers,” said Eric Caine, M.D., chair of the Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry and principal investigator for the program. “It has been our goal to train researchers, engage partners and build a more effective training infrastructure that would help produce more sophisticated science.’

“The research that is occurring in China is public health oriented,” Caine said. “There are lessons to learn in public mental health and preventive psychiatry that are transportable to the United States despite cultural differences.”

Suicide is a major public health problem in China. It is the fifth leading cause of death overall, and the leading cause of death for individuals in the 15-to-34-year-old age range. Although China accounts for approximately 21 percent of the world’s population, according to a recent study, 44 percent of the world’s suicides among males and 56 percent of suicides among females in one year occurred there….

Provided by University of Rochester Medical Center

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