Expert Provides Strategies On How To Diagnose, Treat Anxiety Disorders In Kids

Healio (7/17, Miller) reports, “Anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders with onset in childhood,” researchers found in a report published in the June issue of Pediatric Annals. The report “is intended for primary care pediatricians to help them identify normal stresses vs. anxiety disorders, and help their patients move, through psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy, toward wellness.”

In particular, author Sabrina Fernandez, MD, an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Department of Pediatrics, University of California-San Francisco, focused on strategies to recognize, diagnose and treat “general anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder and panic disorder” among children.

Currently, “according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, there is a ‘critical shortage’ of mental health professionals for those aged younger than 18 years.” That is why it is important for primary care professionals to “help identify normal stresses vs. anxiety disorders,” Dr. Fernandez said.

Related Links:

— “Strategies to diagnose, treat anxiety disorders for primary care pediatricians,” Fernandez S., Healio, July 17, 2017.

Just A Slight Increase In Social Interaction May Benefit Adults With Dementia, Lower Healthcare Costs

HealthDay (7/16, Preidt) reported, “Just a slight increase in social interaction benefits older adults with dementia and lowers health care costs,” researchers found after examining data on some “800 dementia patients living in 69 nursing homes in the UK.” The findings were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference.

Related Links:

— “One Social Hour a Week Can Help Someone With Dementia,” Robert Preidt, HealthDay, July 16, 2017.

Lisdexamfetamine Dimesylate May Reduce Risk For Relapse In Binge-eating Disorder Over Six Months

Healio (7/13, Oldt) reports that in a 418-patient, “double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized” phase 3 study, “lisdexamfetamine dimesylate reduced risk for relapse in moderate to severe binge-eating disorder over six months.” The findings were published online July 12 in JAMA Psychiatry. Psychiatric News (7/12) also covered the study.

Related Links:

— “Lisdexamfetamine dimesylate lowers binge-eating disorder relapse risk,” Hudson JI, et al., Healio, July 13, 2017.

Nearly Half Who Stop Taking Opioids For Six Months Ended Up Using Them Again Over A Three-Year Period

Rheumatology News (7/12, Dotinga) reports, “Most patients who were prescribed opioid” analgesics “did not go back for a refill right away, but nearly half of patients who stopped taking the drugs for at least six months ended up using them again over a three-year period,” researchers found after analyzing “medical and pharmacy data from 2009-2012 for 2.5 million people.” The findings were presented at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting.

Related Links:

— “Nearly Half of Patients Who Stop Taking Opioids for 6 Months Resume Use Later,” Randy Dotinga, Rheumatology News, July 12, 2017.

Fluoxetine May Help Ease Hypochondriasis, Small Study Suggests

Medscape (7/12, Brooks) reports, “The antidepressant fluoxetine (multiple brands) may help ease hypochondriasis, and adding cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) provides a small incremental benefit,” researchers found. The findings of the 195-patient study were published online June 29 in the American Journal of Psychiatry, a publication of the American Psychiatric Association.

Related Links:

Medscape (requires login and subscription)

Pregnant Women’s Antidepressant Use May Not Increase Babies’ Risk Of Intellectual Disability

Reuters (7/12, Seaman) reports, “Pregnant women’s use of antidepressants does not increase their babies’ risk of intellectual disability,” researchers found. The findings were published online July 12 in JAMA Psychiatry.

HealthDay (7/12, Preidt) reports investigators arrived at that conclusion after tracking “data on more than 179,000 children born in Sweden in 2006 and 2007, including about 4,000 whose mothers took antidepressants during pregnancy.”

Healio (7/12, Oldt) reports that included in the study were children “exposed to selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants, all other non-SSRI antidepressants, or other nonantidepressant psychotropic medications.”

Related Links:

— “Antidepressants in pregnancy not tied to intellectual disability in kids,” Andrew M. Seaman, Reuters>, July 12, 2017.

Class-Action Lawsuit Alleges Blue Shield Of California Wrongly Denied Patients’ Mental Health, Drug Treatment

California Healthline (7/11, Korry) reports a class-action lawsuit filed in the District Court for the Northern District of California alleges that Blue Shield of California “wrongly restricted patients’ access to outpatient and residential mental health treatment” by developing “criteria that violate accepted professional standards and the terms of the health plan itself” along with Magellan Health Services of California.

Blue Shield said it disagrees “with the allegations in the lawsuit” and plans to “defend the case vigorously.” According to California Healthline, “The plaintiffs seek to change Blue Shield’s and Magellan’s policies to be consistent with the law, generally accepted professional standards and the terms of its own plans, according to the lawsuit.”

According to Dr. Anita Everett, president of the American Psychiatric Association, “A win in this case would mean that ‘medically necessary’ means just that, necessary as an objective medical matter not medically necessary only if not too expensive.”

Related Links:

— “Blue Shield Improperly Denied Mental Health, Drug Treatment Claims, Suit Alleges,” Elaine Korry, California Healthline, July 11, 2017.

More Employers Acknowledging Connection Between Employees’ Well-Being, Bottom Line

In a 1,200-word article focused on mental health in the workplace, USA Today (7/11, Dastagir) reports that “approximately one in five” US adults “experiences mental illness in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).” What’s more, “according to the World Health Organization, what happens in the workplace is key to a person’s overall mental health.” An increasing number of “employers acknowledge the connection between their employees’ well-being and their bottom line.”

Related Links:

— “A woman’s tweet about taking a mental health day went viral. Here’s why it shouldn’t have,” Alia E. Dastagir, USA Today, July 11, 2017.

Many Patients Still Present High Risk Of Suicide Years After Discharge, Study Suggests.

The Washington Times (7/6, Kelly) reports a study published in the July issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association that “rates of suicide remain high for many years after discharge” from psychiatric facilities based on data from 100 worldwide studies between 1948 and 2016. Researchers suggest the study data shows “that hospitalized treatment, while providing a safe place for patients to explore the triggering factors that lead to their attempt of suicide or thoughts to attempt suicide, does not offer a quick fix in countering the multiple elements that drive people to the extreme of suicide.”

They instead advocate for long-term care methods. In an accompanying editorial, psychology professor Dr. Mark Olfson argues that “universal and continuing suicide prevention interventions are needed for patients after psychiatric hospital discharge.”

Related Links:

— “Lack of follow-up visits a factor in increase in suicide rates, study shows,” Laura Kelly , Washington Times, July 6, 2017.

CDC: Opioid Prescriptions Remain High Despite Recent Decline.

NBC Nightly News (7/6, story 7, 1:50, Guthrie) reported, “As this country battles the opioid drug crisis, the CDC reported today that far too many people are still being prescribed those highly addictive painkillers and for too long. The warning came despite the fact that the number of prescriptions was down actually over a five-year period.”

In “Health & Science,” the Washington Post (7/6, Bernstein) reports that the number of prescriptions written for opioid pain medications “declined between 2012 and 2015,” according to data by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention. According to the Post, the data introduce “a glimmer of progress in efforts to quell the worst drug epidemic in US history.” According to CDC Acting Director Dr. Anne Schuchat, “It looks a little bit better, but you really have to put that in context. We’re still seeing too many people get too much for too long.”

The New York Times (7/6, Goodnough, Subscription Publication) reports that the CDC analysis found that the prescribing rate “fell by 18 percent between 2010 and 2015, though it increased in 23 percent of counties,” and is still “three times as high as in 1999, when the nation’s problem with opioid addiction was just getting started.” The analysis found “tremendous regional variation” in the prescription of opioids.

STAT (7/6, Joseph) reports that the analysis “found that every part of the country had counties that had much higher prescribing rates than others, which officials said was a sign that clinicians did not have standards to use or disregarded them when prescribing opioids for pain.”

Related Links:

— “Opioid prescriptions dropped for the first time in the modern drug crisis,” Lenny Bernstein, Washington Post, July 6, 2017.