World Congress of Psychiatry 2017

Lina, Diana, and Oskar traveled to Berlin for the World Congress of Psychiatry, arranged by the World Psychiatry Association. Lina presented the work we do in internet-delivered CBT treatments during a symposium on the frontiers of OCD research. We were also able to attend a multitude of presentations within the broad field of psychiatry.

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Some highlights from the conference:

  • Nasal oxytocin injections as a potential treatment for psychiatric problems
  • Genetic and epigenetic mechanisms underlying susceptibility to psychopathology (elegantly presented by Professor Michael Meaney of McGill University, Canada)
  • The future of cognitive behavioural therapies
  • Psychiatric needs of refugees
  • Using genetic data and artificial intelligence to predict treatment outcomes

Third wave of cognitive behavioural therapies

This symposium included short talks by Professor Emily Holmes, Professor Adrian Wells, Professor Paul Summergrad and Professor Fritz Hohagen.

A common theme in the discussion was to increase the theoretical rigor of our treatments by developing interventions that target specific mechanisms of change. Professor Holmes noted that there’s a wealth of research in basic science that can potentially inform what we do in the clinic. By identifying these mechanisms and translating them into clinical interventions, we will be able to improve our therapies and sharpen our clinical tools.

”Indeed, it’s a great challenge is to map therapeutic techniques to specific processes. First, we need to go back to models of causality of processes and mechanisms, and then devise therapeutic techniques to target specific processes.” – Adrian Wells

Mental health in Syrian refugees

The war and accompanying atrocities taking place in Syria has forced more than 5 million Syrians to flee the country. More than 600,000 of these refugees have ended up in Germany (150,000 in Sweden) so psychiatrists are now trying to understand the amount of psychological distress and the treatment options available.

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The experiences of war and oftentimes dangerous escape to Europe means these individuals are at increased risk of mental health problems. Stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, and depression are among the most common in a sample of 3000 refugees seen at a centre in Berlin.

However, the common theme of these presentations is resilience. Although Syrian refugees have witnessed and experienced things that are unimaginable to many Europeans, a majority of them recover and prosper without much psychiatric attention.