Posts by Ursula D'Souza

Schizophrenia: quality of life and drug treatment

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Brain Activity

To recognize World Mental Health day and its focus on living with schizophrenia we‘ve taken a look at some recent research emphasizing quality of life and treatment for those affected by this chronic mental condition.

Seven adults out of every 1,000 have schizophrenia, with half of affected individuals not receiving appropriate care. Over 90% of untreated people are from low- and middle- income countries. The WHO Mental Health Gap Action Programme (mhGAP) aims to scale up services for mental disorders in these countries by ensuring proper care, psychosocial assistance and medication.

Quality of life

Living with schizophrenia affects daily life. A recent study from the UK, highlighted in the news, showed that delusion prone schizophrenic patients are less likely …

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Cardiovascular disorders: novel therapies, prevention strategies and lifestyle interventions

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Heart 3d square

Today is World Heart Day, and having recently got back from attending the European Congress of Cardiology as part of my role at BMC Medicine, it seemed an opportune moment to take you through some of the important findings discussed there.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has estimated that 17 million people die every year from cardiovascular diseases. However, the majority of these deaths could be avoided by managing risk factors such as tobacco smoking, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and harmful alcohol use.

To achieve control of these risk factors the WHO and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are developing and implementing appropriate policies to tackle the challenges.

The issue of research in cardiovascular diseases in …

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Mood disorders: Exploring the placebo effect, improving treatment and the promise of pharmacogenetics

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Antidepressant drugs which alleviate symptoms of depression have received much attention in the news recently, showing that the UK is the 7th highest country in the West to prescribe the drugs. The astounding rise in NHS spending on these pharmacological agents is suggested to be due to “medicalization” of normal sadness. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of antidepressants are commonly used to treat moderate to severe depression with new evidence showing one of these drugs, citalopram could slow down the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. However, on the other hand another recent study cautions the use of SSRIs during pregnancy as they are found to be linked to a higher incidence of autism spectrum …

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Endocrine disorders: the impact of stress and epigenetics

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istock

Endocrine disorders span a range of conditions, from diabetes and thyroid disease to stress-related conditions. Stress has been linked to a number of health problems, with the most recent evidence suggesting its involvement in male infertility, allergies and headache.

During the normal stress response, glucocorticoid hormones secreted by the adrenal glands cause several physiological effects, but chronic stress can result in continual release of these hormones, leading to serious mental and physical health problems.

The impact of stress on chronic disease

In a video Q & A published in BMC Medicine, George Chrousos talks about the impact of stress on chronic non-communicable diseases including obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and …

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Preventing mental disorders – from the workplace to pregnancy, how can new policies and interventions influence mental health?

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workplace depression

As BMC Medicine and BMC Psychiatry launch a new article collection on the prevention of mental disorders,  Ursula D’Souza, Senior Editor of BMC Medicine and Alice Murray, Executive Editor of BMC Psychiatry, look at some of the new research shaping our thinking on mental health.

Today marks the start of Mental Health Awareness week in the UK, an initiative which helps to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues. The global burden of mental disorders presents a growing challenge for health systems, and shows the need to make prevention of these conditions a public health priority.

To achieve this the World Health Organization and National Institute of Mental Health have established strategic …

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Dementia: innovative approaches in therapy, care and diagnostics

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Late last year, ministers, researchers, pharmaceutical companies and charities from around the world gathered together at the G8 dementia summit  to make a declaration and commitment for global action against dementia. This led to a significant increase in the budget to spend on research into the prevalence, diagnosis, clinical care, and policy issues in dementia, and the latest advances in these topics were highlighted last week at the 16th national conference on dementias in London. Some of the main discussions from the meeting have been highlighted below.

Prevalence and improving quality of life

Martin Prince gave an excellent overview of groundbreaking global epidemiological studies including some from the 10/66 Dementia Research Group. One of …

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Latest advances in respiratory medicine from the British Thoracic Society 2013 meeting

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lung infection cropped

Respiratory diseases are one of the major chronic diseases and considered by the World Health Organization (WHO) to cause 60% of mortality worldwide. Significant research is being carried out on the diagnosis, treatment, management and care of patients with lung conditions. Clinical and scientific research on these specific topics were discussed at the recent British Thoracic Meeting (BTS 2013), where BMC Medicine joined over 2,100 delegates to hear new developments in the field.

Several clinical trials sessions were highlighted including continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy for obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA). A systematic review on randomized clinical trials was described by Daniel Bratton from the MRC Clinical Trials Unit in London, showing CPAP treatment reduces …

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BMC Medicine: authors’ and reviewers’ experiences

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To highlight our 10 year anniversary this week, the editors at BMC Medicine have been discussing the top 10 published articles based on their accesses, citations and social media impact. Today, we focus on the authors’ and reviewers’ experience with the journal.

The high standard of service to all authors and reviewers is a key focus for the journal. Submitted manuscripts that are within the scope of the journal are stringently reviewed by at least two experts in the field. We aim to send authors our editorial decision (after peer review) within 4-6 weeks of submission. Reviewers are required to declare any competing interests and we operate an open peer review process. Compared with closed …

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Current Controversies in Psychiatry: how might the DSM-5 impact clinical practice?

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The release of the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) by the American Psychiatric Association in May 2013 has stimulated much discussion on psychiatric diagnosis. Debate articles on the topic have been published in BMC Medicine in an article collection on Current Controversies in Psychiatry and described in a previous blog. The latest additions to this article collection focus on the impact and future directions of DSM-5 on the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders in clinical practice.

In an interview with BMC Medicine, David Kupfer, chair of the DSM-5 task force, discusses the future directions of DSM-5 in light of the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC) and

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Diabetes, obesity and lipid disorders: recent advances and highlights from the Endocrine Society Meeting 2013

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The World Health Organization estimates that at least 2.8 million adults die each year due to being overweight or obese. This is has resulted in a large proportion of the global burden of diabetes, ischaemic heart disease and certain cancers. In response to this global problem, large funding bodies are investing into understanding the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of these medical conditions.  New research developments in noncommunicable diseases including diabetes were discussed at the recent Endocrine Society Meeting (ENDO 2013) where BMC Medicine joined over 9000 delegates that attended to hear about advances in the field from the bench to bedside perspective.

One topic that generated much debate at the meeting, was on the benefits and drawbacks of …

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