Posts

March 23, 2015

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8:00 AM | Self-concept amongst adults with mild learning disabilities is good, but can be strengthened with practitioner support
A positive self concept has been associated with psychological well-being, peer acceptance and self-confidence, but how do people with mild learning disabilities view themselves? In this, his debut blog, Alex Leeder looks at a qualitative study that set out to provide us with a deeper understanding of how adults with learning disabilities think about themselves and how practitioners could help them to think about this more positively. The post Self-concept amongst adults with mild learning […]
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7:30 AM | Antidepressant withdrawal syndromes: time to grasp the nettle?
Andrew Shepherd appraises and summarises a systematic review of antidepressant withdrawal symptoms after SSRI discontinuation, which leads him to reconsider his own clinical practice. The post Antidepressant withdrawal syndromes: time to grasp the nettle? appeared first on The Mental Elf.

March 21, 2015

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8:22 AM | Toxoplasma gondii and schizophrenia (again and again)
The findings reported by Ainsah Omar and colleagues [1] (open-access available here) adding further weight to the notion of a "strong association between the active Tg [Toxoplasma gondii] infection and schizophrenia" are set out for your reading consumption today.Continuing a research topic that has already enjoyed quite a bit of air time on this blog (see here and see here) whereby the parasite T. gondii known to cause the condition toxoplasmosis might also be […]

Omar A, Bakar OC, Adam NF, Osman H, Osman A, Suleiman AH, Manaf MR & Selamat MI (2015). Seropositivity and Serointensity of Toxoplasma gondii Antibodies and DNA among Patients with Schizophrenia., The Korean journal of parasitology, 53 (1) 29-34. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25748706

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March 20, 2015

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1:15 PM | Challenging the Disease Concept of Alcoholism?
A journalistic piece entitled,  “The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous “, written by  Gabriel Glaser, purports to challenge the “disease concept” of alcoholism. Glaser in one section of the article devotes one section to  the historical prominence of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) … Continue reading →
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8:00 AM | The role of carers in monitoring health of people with learning disabilities
People with learning disabiilties can have complex health needs which require monitoring and management. This can be challenging for their supporters, who may lack the knowledge necessary. Here, in her debut blog, Emma Langley looks at a study which explored some of the challenges faced by paid and family carers in monitoring health in the context of the complexities of inter agency working between the health and social sectors. The post The role of carers in monitoring health of people with […]
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7:50 AM | Autism genes and cognitive ability
Autism IS linked to higher intelligence: People with genes related to the condition 'scored better in mental ability tests' was one of the media headlines reporting on the study by Toni-Kim Clarke and colleagues [1].Clarke et al reported results based on a pretty good sample size (in the thousands) whereby autism-associated genes and cognitive ability were examined in several cohorts including those taking part in The Generation Scotland : Scottish Family Health Study […]
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7:30 AM | Depression to blame for violent crime? The curse of the headline writers
Laurence Palfreyman highlights a population study from researchers at Oxford University, which investigates the links between depression and violent crime. The study finds that people with depression were three times more likely to have been convicted of violent crime than those without depression, but we need to be careful about how we interpret these relative risk figures. The post Depression to blame for violent crime? The curse of the headline writers appeared first on The Mental Elf.

March 19, 2015

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10:05 AM | Objective measures of sleep in autism meta-analysed
"Children with ASD [autism spectrum disorder] have small but measurable objective differences in their sleep parameters that are consistent with subjective reporting."That was the main conclusion reached in the meta-analysis from Marilisa Elrod and Bradley Hood [1] who looked at the collected peer-reviewed data "that used objective measures such as actigraphy or polysomnography (PSG) to describe the sleep parameters of TST [total sleep time], SL [sleep latency], and […]

Elrod, M. & Hood, B. (2015). Sleep Differences Among Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders and Typically Developing Peers, Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 1. DOI: 10.1097/DBP.0000000000000140

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7:30 AM | Psychosis and schizophrenia in adults: new quality standard from NICE
Consultant Psychiatrist Samei Huda provides a personal critique of the new NICE quality standard on psychosis and schizophrenia in adults. Read his thoughts and join the discussion! The post Psychosis and schizophrenia in adults: new quality standard from NICE appeared first on The Mental Elf.

March 18, 2015

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2:00 PM | 'The first crack in the wall of significance testing'
A major psychology journal has banned the use of the near-universally adopted practice of significance testing, citing recent evidence of the technique's unreliability. What will be the fallout for psychology as a field?Read More
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10:06 AM | Link Between Child Maltreatment and Later Addiction
I feel alcoholics have remarkably similar reactions to life and these centre on an inherent difficulty regulating stress and emotion. Some aspects of behaviour I have noticed in me and in others are, among others, distress based reactions such as perfectionism, … Continue reading →
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9:52 AM | The label of autism rarely exists in a diagnostic vacuum
"Most young ASD [autism spectrum disorder] children met the criteria for additional psychopathology." That was the primary conclusion reported by Fernando Salazar and colleagues [1].At the risk of sounding like a broken record going on and on about how the diagnosis/label of autism very rarely exists in a diagnostic vacuum when it comes to comorbidity, I did think it important that the findings of Salazar et al were [briefly] brought to your attention. I've talked a few times on […]

Salazar, F., Baird, G., Chandler, S., Tseng, E., O’sullivan, T., Howlin, P., Pickles, A. & Simonoff, E. (2015). Co-occurring Psychiatric Disorders in Preschool and Elementary School-Aged Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, DOI: 10.1007/s10803-015-2361-5

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7:30 AM | Peer support workers in mental health: Is the NHS ready for this?
Liz Hughes asks: Is the NHS ready for peer support workers in mental health? A recent qualitative study highlights some of the challenges facing peer supporters and the NHS organisations in which they work. The post Peer support workers in mental health: Is the NHS ready for this? appeared first on The Mental Elf.

March 17, 2015

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10:13 AM | Psychotic symptoms managed by a gluten-free diet?
The case report detailed by William Eaton and colleagues [1] illustrating how a gluten-free diet might not just be the treatment of choice for the autoimmune condition coeliac (celiac) disease is served up for your consumption today.The authors report the story of 'Chris' an 8-year old boy who experienced various symptoms including "intermittent auditory and visual hallucinations" then moving later in his life to being hospitalised and eventually diagnosed with "major depressive disorder […]

Eaton, W., Chen, L., Dohan, F., Kelly, D. & Cascella, N. (2015). Improvement in Psychotic Symptoms After a Gluten-Free Diet in a Boy With Complex Autoimmune Illness, American Journal of Psychiatry, 172 (3) 219-221. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2014.14040550

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7:30 AM | Away from crime and into treatment: diversion and aftercare for drug-using offenders
Can we steer drug-using offenders away from crime and into treatment? Chris Sampson explores a study of the cost-effectiveness of diversion and aftercare programmes for offenders using class A drugs. The post Away from crime and into treatment: diversion and aftercare for drug-using offenders appeared first on The Mental Elf.

March 16, 2015

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2:37 PM | Teacher, Learn Thyself: Critical Issues in School-Based Eating Disorder Prevention
Prevention programs for eating disorders abound, though many people I’ve talked to (mostly on Twitter, because that’s where I have a lot of discussions of this type) have expressed the sentiment that limited resources might be better spent on early intervention or treatment in general. Still, it isn’t hard to understand why we still optimistically aim for eating disorder prevention; of course we would rather stop eating disorders in their tracks, before they wreak havoc on the […]
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9:37 AM | Decreased plasma levels of lipoxin A4 in autism
The paper by Chun-Lin Yan and colleagues [1] talking about significantly lower plasma levels of lipoxin A4 (LXA4) "a mediator involved in the resolution of inflammation" in cases of childhood autism is the point of discussions today.Continuing an important theme of immune system involvement in at least some cases of autism, Yan et al focused on a less well-trodden path looking at lipoxins that seem to be involved in something of a yin and yang relationship with another set […]

Yan CL, Zhang J & Hou Y (2015). Decreased plasma levels of lipoxin A4 in children with autism spectrum disorders., Neuroreport, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25714424

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8:00 AM | Qualitative research about Intellectual Disability: Who publishes it and how can it be better?
Qualitative methods engaging and involving people with learning disabilities are becoming more established in the published media, but there is still room for improvement. In her debut blog, Victoria Smillie looks at an exploration of these methods which sets out to understand how qualitative methods such as interviews and focus groups, are represented in the published journals. The post Qualitative research about Intellectual Disability: Who publishes it and how can it be better? appeared […]
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7:30 AM | Poor oral health and severe mental illness: what are the links?
Helge Hasselmann summarises a recent systematic review of poor oral health and severe mental illness (SMI), which found that people with SMI were 2.8 times more likely to have lost all their teeth, and had more missing, decayed or filled teeth. The post Poor oral health and severe mental illness: what are the links? appeared first on The Mental Elf.

March 14, 2015

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10:10 AM | Boiling down ADOS for autism detection (again)
Today I want to direct your attention to the paper by Kosmicki and colleagues [1] (open-access) reporting that the use of "machine learning algorithms" could help "streamline ASD [autism spectrum disorder] risk detection and screening."Regular readers of this blog might have already cottoned on to the fact that any talk about applying "computational and statistical methods" to autism screening and/or diagnosis can really mean only one person and research group: Dennis Wall from […]

Kosmicki JA, Sochat V, Duda M & Wall DP (2015). Searching for a minimal set of behaviors for autism detection through feature selection-based machine learning., Translational psychiatry, 5 PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25710120

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March 13, 2015

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10:17 AM | Self Compassion Eases the Distress at the Heart of Addiction
I can change my brain and behaviour via neuroplasticity by behaving differently towards myself! Here we look at one study on self compassion in relation to those who have alcohol  use disorders. It will be a first in a series … Continue reading →
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9:42 AM | Individualised medicine and autism: a brave new world
Pharmacogenetics: "the study of inherited genetic differences in drug metabolic pathways which can affect individual responses to drugs, both in terms of therapeutic effect as well as adverse effects."Having recently watched a rather interesting documentary on the BBC titled 'Can you cure my cancer?' illustrating how the era of personalised medicine is here and now (see here) in at least one aspect of medicine, I was really quite interested in the science of how our genes might affect our […]

Smith T, Sharp S, Manzardo AM & Butler MG (2015). Pharmacogenetics Informed Decision Making in Adolescent Psychiatric Treatment: A Clinical Case Report., International journal of molecular sciences, 16 (3) 4416-4428. PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25710722

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8:00 AM | Better training for medical students can combat health inequalities for people with learning disabilities
People with learning disabilities experience health inequalities and can face significant barriers in accessing healthcare. Whilst doctors have traditionally received little specific training in this area, there are increasingly new initiatives aimed at changing attitudes and improving knowledge and skills. Here, in her debut blog, Genevieve Young Southward looks at an Australian initiative that aimed to involve people with disabilities directly in the training of medical students. The post […]
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7:30 AM | Is moderate alcohol consumption good for you?
Beware underpowered observational studies! Marcus Munafò helps us understand why a recent BMJ study on all cause mortality and age specific alcohol consumption is not as simple as the newspapers would have us believe. The post Is moderate alcohol consumption good for you? appeared first on The Mental Elf.

March 12, 2015

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9:49 AM | More evidence for non-coeliac gluten sensitivity?
"In a cross-over trial of subjects with suspected NCGS [non-coeliac gluten sensitivity], the severity of overall symptoms increased significantly during 1 week of intake of small amounts of gluten, compared with placebo."That was the conclusion reached in the study by Antonio Di Sabatino and colleagues [1] who applied the gold standard research methodology - "a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over trial" - to studying the effects of small amounts of gluten on those […]

Di Sabatino A, Volta U, Salvatore C, Biancheri P, Caio G, De Giorgio R, Di Stefano M & Corazza GR (2015). Small Amounts of Gluten in Subjects with Suspected Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Cross-Over Trial., Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology : the official clinical practice journal of the American Gastroenterological Association, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25701700

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7:30 AM | Suicide prevention in schools: all plain SEYLE-ing?
Stephen Wood appraises the SEYLE cluster RCT that investigates the effectiveness of suicide prevention in schools. This is the first large-scale European study of universal interventions for suicide prevention in schools. The post Suicide prevention in schools: all plain SEYLE-ing? appeared first on The Mental Elf.

March 11, 2015

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2:00 PM | Believe it or not, "learning styles" don't exist
What false belief is held by 93% of British teachers?Read More
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9:47 AM | Intimate partner abuse and risk of offspring autism
I want to be slightly careful when discussing the conclusion reached in the paper by Andrea Roberts and colleagues [1] that: "autism spectrum disorder risk was increased in children of women who reported fear of partner or sexual, emotional, or physical abuse in the 2 years before the birth year."Careful not only because correlation has an uncanny habit of being translated into causation for some people (they are not one and the same thing) and how this combines when one interprets the […]
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7:30 AM | Financial incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy
Meg Fluharty highlights a recent study suggesting that financial incentives may be beneficial in helping pregnant women quit smoking. This recent study investigated the effectiveness of shopping vouchers in addition to NHS Stop Smoking Services to aid quit attempts in pregnant women. The post Financial incentives for smoking cessation in pregnancy appeared first on The Mental Elf.

March 10, 2015

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9:34 AM | Microbes passing traits to host babies?
The paper by Clara Moon and colleagues [1] has garnered a lot of headlines with their findings suggesting that [mouse] mothers pass on bacteria to their [mouse] offspring. Their results reported in Nature, focused on a bacterium not unfamiliar to this blog, Sutterella (see here) and how, through the transmission of Sutterella via their poo(p), a specific trait might also be passed on. In this case, low levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) (something else that has cropped up on this blog) were noted […]

Moon C, Baldridge MT, Wallace MA, Burnham CA, Virgin HW & Stappenbeck TS (2015). Vertically transmitted faecal IgA levels determine extra-chromosomal phenotypic variation., Nature, PMID: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25686606

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