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What's new in psychiatry
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What's new in psychiatry
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
Literature review current through: Apr 2017. | This topic last updated: May 24, 2017.

The following represent additions to UpToDate from the past six months that were considered by the editors and authors to be of particular interest. The most recent What's New entries are at the top of each subsection.


Childhood adversity and risk of adolescent and young adult suicide (May 2017)

Although suicide rates generally appear to be declining, the rate in adolescents and young adults is increasing, and suicide is one of the leading causes of death in this group. In a cohort study of nearly 550,000 adolescents and young adults (431 of whom committed suicide), which examined the relationship between childhood adversity and risk of suicide, childhood adversity increased the risk of suicide in a dose-dependent manner; exposure to multiple childhood adversities was associated with a greater risk of suicide than exposure to one adversity [1]. Thus, adolescents with a history of multiple childhood adversities may constitute a high-risk group that is readily identifiable for targeted preventive interventions. (See "Suicidal behavior in children and adolescents: Epidemiology and risk factors", section on 'Childhood adversity'.)


Olanzapine for anorexia nervosa (January 2017)

Many patients with anorexia nervosa decline or do not respond to first-line treatment with nutritional rehabilitation (refeeding) and psychotherapy. For these patients, olanzapine has often been used as add-on treatment, despite low-quality evidence for its efficacy. Increased support for this approach was demonstrated by the preliminary findings from a large randomized trial (n = 152) that compared olanzapine with placebo and found a modest advantage with olanzapine, such that weight gain with active drug exceeded weight gain with placebo by approximately one pound per month [2]. (See "Anorexia nervosa in adults: Pharmacotherapy", section on 'Olanzapine'.)


Amygdalar activity and cardiovascular events (March 2017)

In a retrospective study of patients who underwent positron emission tomography/computerized tomography and were followed for a median of four years, increased resting metabolic activity in the amygdala was associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular events such as myocardial infarction, stroke, and unstable angina [3]. A separate cross-sectional study showed that perceived stress was positively associated with amygdalar activity and arterial inflammation. These studies further add to the evidence that chronic emotional stress is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, and the mechanism that underlies this association may involve neural circuits that include the amygdala. (See "Psychosocial factors in acute myocardial infarction", section on 'Central nervous system dysfunction'.)


Valbenazine for tardive dyskinesia (May 2017)

Tetrabenazine and valbenazine are vesicular monoamine transporter 2 inhibitors that deplete presynaptic dopamine and may be useful therapeutic agents for tardive dyskinesia (TD). Data from old, small studies supported the utility of tetrabenazine for this indication. Now there is evidence from the placebo-controlled KINECT 3 trial that valbenazine 40 mg once daily reduces dyskinesia in patients with TD [4]. For patients who have disturbing and intrusive tardive dyskinesia or tardive dystonia not amenable to treatment with botulinum toxin, we suggest treatment with tetrabenazine or valbenazine. (See "Tardive dyskinesia: Prevention and treatment", section on 'Valbenazine'.)


Psychiatric comorbidities in patients with narcolepsy (March 2017)

Small studies have found an increased rate of depression in patients with narcolepsy, but the risk of other psychiatric comorbidities has not been well established. In a population-based case-control study that included 9312 adults with narcolepsy and more than 45,000 age- and gender-matched controls, a broad range of psychiatric disorders were more common in patients with narcolepsy; the most prevalent were depressive disorders and anxiety, which were three to four times more common than in controls [5]. Thus, recognition and treatment of psychiatric disorders is an important component of the care of patients with narcolepsy. (See "Clinical features and diagnosis of narcolepsy in adults", section on 'Other features'.)

Antipsychotics for delirium in terminally ill patients (January 2017)

The benefit of antipsychotics for management of delirium in terminally ill patients has been called into question by a randomized trial in which 247 inpatients of a hospice or palliative care service with mild to moderately severe delirium were assigned to oral risperidone, haloperidol, or placebo every 12 hours for 72 hours [6]. All patients received individualized supportive care. Patients who received antipsychotics had more severe delirium, worse delirium-associated distress scores, more use of midazolam, more extrapyramidal effects, and worse short-term survival. In our view, this study does not justify abandoning the use of antipsychotics for severely agitated delirious patients but points to the importance of reversing precipitating causes, providing best supportive care for symptomatic distress associated with delirium, and the need for additional research on the use of antipsychotics. (See "Overview of managing common non-pain symptoms in palliative care", section on 'Treatment'.)


Cariprazine for negative symptoms in schizophrenia (May 2017)

Multiple classes of psychotropic medications, including second-generation antipsychotics (SGA), have failed to reduce negative symptoms of schizophrenia (eg, decreased expressiveness, apathy, and flat affect) to a clinically meaningful degree. In a well-designed trial comparing a new SGA, cariprazine, to risperidone in schizophrenia patients with predominantly negative symptoms, cariprazine was more effective in reducing negative symptoms [7]. The findings, which were accompanied by an improvement in patient social functioning, require replication in an additional trial. (See "Pharmacotherapy for schizophrenia: Acute and maintenance phase treatment", section on 'Drug efficacy'.)

Antipsychotic drugs and risk of falls and fracture (March 2017)

In a large, population-based sample of Finnish people with Alzheimer disease, new users of antipsychotic medication had an increased risk of hip fractures from the first days of use [8]. Subsequent to multiple similar reports in patients with varied disorders, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning that antipsychotic drugs may cause falls and fractures as a result of somnolence, postural hypotension, and/or motor and sensory instability, and recommended that a fall risk assessment be completed when initiating antipsychotic treatment and recurrently for patients continuing on long-term antipsychotics. (See "Second-generation antipsychotic medications: Pharmacology, administration, and side effects", section on 'Falls'.)

Abnormal glucose homeostasis in unmedicated schizophrenia (February 2017)

Hyperglycemia in patients with schizophrenia is principally thought of as a side effect of antipsychotic medications. However, in a meta-analysis of case-control studies comparing glucose homeostasis in antipsychotic-naïve individuals with first-episode schizophrenia versus healthy controls, patients with schizophrenia had higher fasting plasma glucose and insulin levels, lower glucose tolerance, and greater insulin resistance compared with controls, indicating altered glucose homeostasis from illness onset [9]. Glycosylated hemoglobin did not differ between groups. Prospective studies are needed to determine whether the alterations are intrinsic to schizophrenia versus a result of factors associated with the disorder, such as a more sedentary lifestyle. (See "Schizophrenia in adults: Clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis", section on 'Metabolic disturbances'.)


Treatment for somatic symptom disorder (November 2016)

Somatic symptom disorder (SSD) is characterized by at least one distressing somatic symptom and excessive thoughts, feelings, or behaviors associated with somatic symptoms or related health concerns, whereas illness anxiety disorder (IAD) is characterized by high levels of anxiety about health without or with only mild somatic symptoms. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is effective for these conditions. In a 12-week trial, 130 patients with SSD or IAD (86 percent had SSD) were randomly assigned to CBT or a waiting list control group [10]. Compared with the control group, there was significant improvement in health anxiety measures with CBT, and the benefit of CBT was maintained at the six-month follow-up assessment. (See "Somatization: Treatment and prognosis", section on 'Cognitive behavioral therapy'.)


Medical use of prescription opioid medications and misuse in adolescents (May 2017)

Surveys of high school seniors in the United States over 40 years show that the use of prescription opioids is strongly correlated with misuse in adolescents and that misuse typically follows medical use by the patient [11]. Thus, health care providers should follow safe prescribing guidance for prescription opioids, including use of alternatives (eg, acetaminophen or ibuprofen) to control pain whenever possible, using the lowest effective dose and minimum quantity of prescription opioid medications when they are needed, and utilizing prescription drug monitoring programs, where available, to identify patients or caregivers who might be misusing (ie, abusing or diverting) prescription opioid medications. (See "Opioid intoxication in children and adolescents", section on 'Safe prescribing'.)

Concurrent benzodiazepines in opioid-using patients and overdose risk (April 2017)

Benzodiazepines can potentiate the respiratory depressant effects of opioid medication, and concurrent use may be a factor in the rising rate of opioid overdose. In an analysis of a large sample of patients prescribed an opioid, the proportion who concurrently received a benzodiazepine nearly doubled over 12 years [12]. Concurrent use of both medications was associated with an increased risk of opioid overdose compared with patients receiving only the opioid. Avoiding this medication combination may prevent some overdoses. (See "Prevention of lethal opioid overdose in the community", section on 'Risk factors'.)

Heroin and fentanyl may drive rise in opioid overdose deaths (February 2017)

Mortality rates from drug overdoses involving methadone declined in 2015 in the United States, while drug overdoses involving heroin and synthetic opioids other than methadone increased sharply [13]. The rise in overdoses from synthetic opioids was likely driven by illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a highly potent opioid used to "cut" heroin. (See "Prevention of lethal opioid overdose in the community", section on 'Epidemiology of overdose'.)


Posttraumatic stress disorder after stroke (April 2017)

Recognition that experiencing a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has emerged gradually over the past two decades. In a recent review of the literature, epidemiologic studies suggest that up to one in four cases of stroke or TIA may be associated with significant PTSD symptoms [14]. (See "Posttraumatic stress disorder in adults: Epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical manifestations, course, assessment, and diagnosis", section on 'Stroke'.)


Violence toward oneself and others (May 2017)

Deliberate self-harm in young adults may be associated with an increased risk of aggression toward others. In a national registry study of over 1.85 million individuals aged 15 to 32 years, including over 50,000 patients who were treated for deliberate self-harm, conviction of a violent crime occurred twice as often in patients treated for self-harm compared with the general population [15]. The rate among males and females with self-harm was similar. Patients with intentional self-harm should be assessed for risk of violence toward others as well as themselves. (See "Suicidal ideation and behavior in adults", section on 'Association with violent criminality'.)

AASM guideline on pharmacotherapy for chronic insomnia in adults (March 2017)

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has released a new clinical practice guideline on the pharmacologic treatment of chronic insomnia in adults [16]. The guideline reviews evidence of effectiveness for a variety of medications (including benzodiazepines, nonbenzodiazepine hypnotics, ramelteon, doxepin, and suvorexant) and notes limitations and potential biases to the evidence, leading to low confidence in the overall estimation of risk-to-benefit ratio. The potential short-term benefits of pharmacologic therapy need to be balanced with the risk of side effects and dependence with long-term use. We continue to prefer behavioral therapy, rather than pharmacotherapy, as an initial treatment approach in most patients. (See "Treatment of insomnia in adults", section on 'Choice of an agent'.)

Interactive web-based CBT for chronic insomnia (January 2017)

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is an effective treatment of chronic insomnia, but access to trained practitioners can be limited. In a randomized trial of 303 adults recruited via the internet, a six-week interactive web-based CBT program resulted in greater improvement in subjective sleep measures than internet patient education alone, and benefits were sustained at one year [17]. Thus, internet-based CBT programs may be an alternative to in-person delivery for motivated, technology-savvy individuals. (See "Treatment of insomnia in adults", section on 'Cognitive behavioral therapy'.)

Psychotropic medication and violent reoffending after prison release (November 2016)

The prevalence of severe mental illness has been estimated at 15 to 25 percent of people in US prisons. Assuring mental health care continuity in the community for people on release from prison may prevent subsequent incarceration. In a cohort study of released prisoners in Sweden, rates of violent reoffending were lower during periods when people received psychotropic medications (antipsychotics, psychostimulants, and/or drugs to treat substance use disorder) compared with periods when they were not medicated [18]. Assuring mental health care continuity in the community for people on release from prison may prevent subsequent incarceration. (See "Clinical care of incarcerated adults", section on 'Psychiatric disorders'.)

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  1. Björkenstam C, Kosidou K, Björkenstam E. Childhood adversity and risk of suicide: cohort study of 548 721 adolescents and young adults in Sweden. BMJ 2017; 357:j1334.
  2. Attia E. Who is Willing to Take Olanzapine and Why? An Initial Look at Outpatient Participants in an Olanzapine vs Placebo Trial for Anorexia Nervosa. Presented at the XXII Annual Meeting of the Eating Disorders Research Society, New York, NY, October 29, 2016.
  3. Tawakol A, Ishai A, Takx RA, et al. Relation between resting amygdalar activity and cardiovascular events: a longitudinal and cohort study. Lancet 2017; 389:834.
  4. Hauser RA, Factor SA, Marder SR, et al. KINECT 3: A Phase 3 Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial of Valbenazine for Tardive Dyskinesia. Am J Psychiatry 2017; 174:476.
  5. Ruoff CM, Reaven NL, Funk SE, et al. High Rates of Psychiatric Comorbidity in Narcolepsy: Findings From the Burden of Narcolepsy Disease (BOND) Study of 9,312 Patients in the United States. J Clin Psychiatry 2017; 78:171.
  6. Agar MR, Lawlor PG, Quinn S, et al. Efficacy of Oral Risperidone, Haloperidol, or Placebo for Symptoms of Delirium Among Patients in Palliative Care: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Intern Med 2017; 177:34.
  7. Németh G, Laszlovszky I, Czobor P, et al. Cariprazine versus risperidone monotherapy for treatment of predominant negative symptoms in patients with schizophrenia: a randomised, double-blind, controlled trial. Lancet 2017; 389:1103.
  8. Koponen M, Taipale H, Lavikainen P, et al. Antipsychotic Use and the Risk of Hip Fracture Among Community-Dwelling Persons With Alzheimer's Disease. J Clin Psychiatry 2017; 78:e257.
  9. Pillinger T, Beck K, Gobjila C, et al. Impaired Glucose Homeostasis in First-Episode Schizophrenia: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Psychiatry 2017; 74:261.
  10. Hedman E, Axelsson E, Andersson E, et al. Exposure-based cognitive-behavioural therapy via the internet and as bibliotherapy for somatic symptom disorder and illness anxiety disorder: randomised controlled trial. Br J Psychiatry 2016; 209:407.
  11. McCabe SE, West BT, Veliz P, et al. Trends in Medical and Nonmedical Use of Prescription Opioids Among US Adolescents: 1976-2015. Pediatrics 2017.
  12. Sun EC, Dixit A, Humphreys K, et al. Association between concurrent use of prescription opioids and benzodiazepines and overdose: retrospective analysis. BMJ 2017; 356:j760.
  13. Rudd RA, Seth P, David F, Scholl L. Increases in Drug and Opioid-Involved Overdose Deaths - United States, 2010-2015. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2016; 65:1445.
  14. Garton AL, Sisti JA, Gupta VP, et al. Poststroke post-traumatic stress disorder: A review. Stroke 2017; 48:507.
  15. Sahlin H, Kuja-Halkola R, Bjureberg J, et al. Association Between Deliberate Self-harm and Violent Criminality. JAMA Psychiatry 2017.
  16. Sateia MJ, Buysse DJ, Krystal AD, et al. Clinical Practice Guideline for the Pharmacologic Treatment of Chronic Insomnia in Adults: An American Academy of Sleep Medicine Clinical Practice Guideline. J Clin Sleep Med 2017; 13:307.
  17. Ritterband LM, Thorndike FP, Ingersoll KS, et al. Effect of a Web-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Insomnia Intervention With 1-Year Follow-up: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry 2017; 74:68.
  18. Chang Z, Lichtenstein P, Långström N, et al. Association Between Prescription of Major Psychotropic Medications and Violent Reoffending After Prison Release. JAMA 2016; 316:1798.
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All topics are updated as new information becomes available. Our peer review process typically takes one to six weeks depending on the issue.