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Latest News Around the Web

Lessening Of Depression Was About The Same For Either tDCS Or Escitalopram

HealthDay (6/28, Reinberg) reports that in a 245-patient study that “pitted transcranial, direct-current stimulation (tDCS) against the antidepressant escitalopram (Lexapro), researchers found that lessening of depression was about the same for either treatment.” The findings were published June 29 in the New England Journal of Medicine. In an accompanying editorial, Sarah Lisanby, MD, “director of the Division of Translational Research at the US National Institute of Mental Health,” wrote, “People are trying to find ways to treat depression, but it’s important for them to know that tDCS is experimental and not proven to be as effective or more effective than antidepressant medications.”

Related Links:

— “Electric Brain Stimulation No Better Than Meds For Depression: Study,” Steven Reinberg, HealthDay, June 28, 2017.

ECT may reduce psychiatric readmission risk

Medscape (6/28, Brooks) reports that “broader availability of” electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) “may result in fewer readmissions among psychiatric inpatients with severe affective disorders,” researchers found in a study that “included 162,691 inpatients with severe affective disorders in nine states.” Investigators found that “the adjusted predicted proportion of patients who were readmitted within 30 days was 6.6% among those who received ECT compared with 12.3% among those who did not – a statistically significant difference.” The findings were published online June 28 in JAMA Psychiatry.

According to Healio (6/28, Oldt), the author of an accompanying editorial observed that “there are likely a variety of factors that contribute to the low and uneven rate of ECT use,” including “the stigma associated with receiving the treatment on the part of patients and in recommending or administering the treatment on the part of professionals.” The editorial added, “Were we able to overcome these barriers, it is likely that untold numbers of patients would experience better outcomes by receiving an intervention that is often life altering and, for some, lifesaving.”

Related Links:

— “ECT may reduce psychiatric readmission risk,” Eric P. Slade, PhD, Healio, June 28, 2017.

People With Heart Disease May Be At Risk Of Dying Sooner With Chronic Depression, Anxiety

Reuters (6/28, Rapaport) reports that research suggests individuals “with heart disease are at risk of dying sooner when they suffer from chronic depression and anxiety.” Investigators looked at “data on 950 people in Australia and New Zealand with stable coronary artery disease.” Approximately “four percent of participants reported regularly suffering from moderate or severe psychological distress over the first four years of the study, and they were” about “four times more likely to die of heart disease and almost three times more likely to die from any cause during the next 12 years compared to people with no distress.” The findings were published online June 26 in the journal Heart.

Related Links:

— “Mental distress tied to higher odds of early death for heart patients,” Lisa Rapaport, Reuters, June 28, 2017.

Opioids Could Cause 500,000 Deaths In US Over Next Decade

STAT (6/27, Blau) reports that opioids could “kill nearly half a million people across America over the next decade as the crisis of addiction and overdose accelerates,” according to an expert panel assembled by STAT. According to the experts’ “worst-case scenario,” the death toll due to opioids “could spike to 250 deaths a day, if potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl and carfentanil continue to spread rapidly and the waits for treatment continue to stretch weeks in hard-hit states like West Virginia and New Hampshire.” The projections are based upon expert analysis and “a review of presentations from top Trump administration health officials, including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, and the acting chiefs of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Related Links:

— “STAT forecast: Opioids could kill nearly 500,000 Americans in the next decade,” MAX BLAU, STAT, June 27, 2017.

Over 50% Opioid Prescriptions Written For People With Mental Health Disorders

STAT (6/26, Caruso) reports that over half of all prescriptions for opioid pain medications in the US “are written for people with anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders,” according to a study [pdf] published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine. According to the study, 19 percent “of the 38.6 million Americans with mood disorders use prescription opioids, compared to 5 percent of the general population — a difference that remained even when the researchers controlled for factors such as physical health, level of pain, age, sex and race.”

Kaiser Health News (6/26, Connor) reports that patients with mental health disorders are particularly vulnerable to developing addiction to opioid pain medications. One of the study’s authors “suggested that physicians consider using different criteria when prescribing opioids for people with mental illness.”

Related Links:

— “51 percent of opioid prescriptions go to people with depression and other mood disorders,” CATHERINE CARUSO, STAT, June 26, 2017.

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