The future of psychiatry

Karolinska Institutet and Stockholm Psychiatry Lectures arranged the event The future of psychiatry yesterday, with lectures, discussions, and a poster session. A special guest at the event was Dr Joshua Gordon, the director of National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in the United States, which is the federal agency that funds research into mental health.

Ole Petter Ottersen – Sweden and Karolinska Institutet on the global arena

The first speaker was Ole Petter Ottersen, president of Karolinska Institutet. He mentioned how psychiatric disorders account for an increasing part of the global burden of disease. Sweden has a unique opportunity to advance research on psychiatric disorders, since the national registers and twin registry are well developed. He also pointed out that Karolinska Institutet needs a cohesive strategy for mental health across the university, as well as outreach to the public and important decision makers. Ottersen emphasised that Karolinska Institutet should strive to improve health not only in Sweden but also on a global level, because the challenge is global.

Nitya Jayaram-Lindström – Milestones achieved and future directions of CPF

Nitya Jayaram-Lindström is the head of Center for Psychiatry Research (CPF), the unit for clinical psychiatry research in Stockholm. She gave examples of the successful implementation of internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy, which is now offered both within child and adolescent psychiatry as well as adult psychiatry. Importantly, the interventions offered are evidence-based and have been evaluated in randomised controlled trials prior to implementation. Among the future directions for CPF and psychiatric research at large are efforts to prevent or intervene early, to broaden the scope of care (for example physical activity, adaptive treatment strategies in a stepped-care model), viewing psychiatric disorders through a life-span perspective, and combining research data with information on the lived experiences of individuals with mental illnesses.

Joshua Gordon – Challenges and opportunities in mental health research

Dr Joshua Gordon is the director of NIMH and was the keynote speaker of the event. He gave his view on the challenges and opportunities in mental health research.

Challenges

A longstanding challenge in psychiatry is the use of symptoms to classify mental illness. This means that overlap between diagnoses and high rates of comorbidity is the norm rather than the exception. Differences between conditions become vague and there is lots of variation within diagnoses as well.

Another issue is the lack of useful biomarkers in psychiatry. There are no biomarkers–a biological process that can be reliably observed and measured–that reliably give us prognostic, diagnostic, or predictive information for mental illnesses. There is a lot of research underway to try to identify biomarkers, but so far none have become useful in everyday clinical practice.

Dr Gordon also mentioned that our treatments fail to help a substantial minority of patients with mental illness. We have come a long way with psychological treatments such as cognitive behaviour therapy and pharmacological treatments such as antidepressant medications, but we still have a “one size fits all” approach that fails to help everyone.

Opportunities

Modern neuroscience has given us new tools to identify and control the neural circuits involved in mental illnesses, and Dr Gordon sees this as one of the major opportunities going forward. For example, we can use the new tools to find new clues about which processes in the brain are involved in mental illness. These processes are potential biomarkers and can be used to develop novel treatments.

The rapid development of research in psychiatric genetics also gives us pointers to brain regions and biological processes of interest.

Another opportunity comes from the field of computational psychiatry. The goal of computational psychiatry is to develop mathematical models of how the brain works. Using the increased computational power and new statistical techniques, we can make use of the information gained from brain scans and other assessments in new ways. For example, machine learning algorithms are able to detect patterns across many different types of data that would be hard or impossible for researchers to detect themselves.


After the presentations there was time for questions from the audience, as well as a poster session where members of CPF presented their research in three categories: clinical, translational, and epidemiology. There was also time to chat with friends and colleagues!

A visit to University of São Paulo, Brazil

Oskar and Christian in front of the Institute of Psychiatry

Christian and Oskar have just gotten back from a visit at University of São Paulo (USP) in Brazil. Our group is collaborating with researchers at USP to develop and test a Portuguese version of the OCD-NET internet-delivered cognitive behaviour therapy treatment.

Together with Professor Euripedes Constantino Miguel and Post-doc Alice de Mathis, we are working on a project to test OCD-NET in Brazil. The first step is to do a small feasibility study to see whether OCD-NET is a viable treatment option, and we have more projects planned together with the team at USP.

The University of São Paulo is the largest University in Brazil and enrolls over 90 000 students. The University also operates four hospitals in São Paulo, and we visited the department of psychiatry to work with Euripides and Alice, as well as meeting the rest of the flourishing OCD team.

Brazilians are known for their friendliness and hospitality, but we were still surprised of how welcoming our hosts were and how well they were taking care of us throughout the visit. We were shown some excellent restaurants and bars where we enjoyed the Brazilian cuisine, and found time to experience the pillars of Brazilian culture: Samba á la Carnaval and soccer! We are returning to Sweden with bags full of gifts, cameras full of pictures, and heads full of memories. Needless to say, we are looking forward to collaborate on the OCD-NET project and other research projects in the future.

Ny studie: Olfactory reference syndrome

Är du rädd för att andra tycker du luktar illa?

Leder det till obehag som är så starkt att det hindrar dig i vardagen?

I sådana fall kan det vara så att du lider av olfactory reference syndrome (ORS). En person med ORS besväras av återkommande och påträngande tankar om att något är fel med den egna lukten, trots försäkringar från andra om att så inte är fallet. Ofta försöker man dölja eller kontrollera den egna lukten vilket upptar mycket tid.

Vi på Rück lab genomför tillsammans med Psykiatri Sydväst nu en studie där vi testar internetförmedlad kognitiv beteendeterapi (KBT) för att minska det lidande som personer med ett starkt missnöje över den den egna lukten.

Typiska kännetecken vid ORS:

  • En stark upptagenhet om tron att man avger äcklig eller frånstötande lukt (som inte uppfattas av andra)
  • Upptagenheten kvarstår trots försäkringar att lukten inte uppfattas av andra
  • Upprepade försök att dölja upplevd lukt eller kontrollbeteenden för att inte lukta
  • Tankarna och rädslan för att lukta illa orsakar lidande och/eller försämrad funktion i arbete, socialt eller i andra viktiga avseenden

Läs mer om studien och anmäl dig på: http://internetpsykiatri.se/behandling/ors/

Ny studie: penisstudien.se och vulvastudien.se

 

På senare tid har det uppmärksammats att många människor är missnöjda med utseendet på sina könsorgan. Fler och fler väljer att genomgå kosmetisk kirurgi (”intimkirurgi”) trots att de befinner sig inom normalspannet. Vi startar idag en studie för att undersöka mer om detta. Vi undrar:
Hur vanligt är det att vara missnöjd med utseendet på ens vulva eller penis? Är man mer eller mindre missnöjd om man legat med många människor? Hänger det ihop med hur man faktiskt ser ut, eller om man fått negativa kommentarer från andra? Blir det så illa att man undviker att t.ex. ha sex? Och stämmer det som ofta påstås, att ens missnöje hänger ihop med hur mycket porr man tittar på?
Vi kommer undersöka detta genom en helt anonym internetenkät, där folk får svara på en rad frågor. Enkäten har idag öppnat på penisstudien.se och vulvastudien.se. Alla vuxna kan delta helt anonymt. Vi är intresserade av deltagare oavsett om du har besvär eller ej.

Long-term outcomes after internet-delivered CBT for body dysmorphic disorder

Our lab has a new publication in BMJ Open where we look at two-year outcomes after internet-delivered CBT for body dysmorphic disorder (BDD-NET). The results were promising: we saw further improvements in BDD symptoms and 56% of participants no longer had BDD at the two-year follow-up.

A notable and perhaps surprising finding is that 29% of participants had a delayed response: they were not classified as treatment responders at post-treatment but were treatment responders at follow-up. We discuss this in the publication: “Perhaps participants continued to employ the techniques that they had acquired during the acute treatment phase in their daily lives, in part explaining the additional improvements seen in BDD symptoms during the follow-up.”

We conclude that BDD-NET is an effective treatment and that gains are sustained in the long term. However, since the follow-up was uncontrolled we cannot say that BDD-NET caused these improvements, and we also note that all participants were self-referred and motivated to do the treatment. The results are nonetheless encouraging and we will continue to evaluate BDD-NET as a treatment in different contexts.

Full citation: Enander, J., Ljótsson, B., Anderhell, L., Runeborg, M., Flygare, O., Cottman, O., … Rück, C. (2019). Long-term outcome of therapist-guided internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy for body dysmorphic disorder (BDD-NET): a naturalistic 2-year follow-up after a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open9(1), e024307. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2018-024307

Sudden gains in internet-delivered CBT for obsessive-compulsive disorder

sudden-gains-title

In our most recent paper, published in the Journal of Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders, we investigate sudden gains in internet-based CBT for OCD. A sudden gain means a large improvement in symptoms between two therapy sessions (i.e. weeks in internet-based CBT), that is stable once the improvement has taken place. We used data from a previous trial where 128 participants received internet-based CBT.

sudden-gains-fig

We found that 38% of the patients experienced a sudden gain. Sudden gainers showed significantly larger improvements on the clinician-administered Y-BOCS than non-sudden gainers at post-treatment (d = 1.11), as well as at 3-month (d = 1.06), 12-month (d = 0.88) and 24-month follow-up (d = 0.77). Sudden gainers also showed significantly less severe OCD symptoms than gradual gainers at post-treatment (d = 0.50), as well as 3-month (d = 0.55) and 12-month follow-up (d = 0.57). In addition, patients receiving DCS showed a significantly higher rate of sudden gains.

We conclude that sudden gains are common in ICBT for OCD and are associated with favourable short and long-term treatment outcomes. Sudden gains is something we will be investigating further in our other clinical trials for OCD and related disorders.

Can genes predict outcome in CBT?

In a new study by our group, we showed for the first time an association of a polygenetic signal and outcome in CBT. The study was published in Molecular Psychiatry and included 894 individuals with depression who underwent 12 weeks of internet based CBT. Single-nucleotide polymorphism genotyping arrays were used to calculate the genomic risk scores based on large genetic studies of six phenotypes: major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, intelligence, and educational attainment. The relationships between the six genetic risk scores and cognitive behavior therapy outcome was analyzed. Our analyses yielded one significant interaction effect (B = 0.09, p < 0.001): the autism spectrum disorder genetic risk score correlated with Montgomery Åsberg Depression Rating Scale-Self Rated changes during treatment, and the higher the autism spectrum disorder genetic load, the less the depressive symptoms decreased over time.  Our preliminary results indicated, as expected, that the genomics of the response of patients with major depression to cognitive behavior therapy were complex and that future efforts should aim to maximize sample size and limit subject heterogeneity in order to gain a better understanding of the use of genetic risk factors to predict treatment outcome.

For full text: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41380-018-0289-9

Andersson E, Crowley JJ, Lindefors N, Ljótsson B, Hedman-Lagerlöf E, Boberg J, El Alaoui S, Karlsson R, Lu Y, Mattheisen M, Kähler AK, Svanborg C, Mataix-Cols D, Mattsson S, Forsell E, Kaldo V, Schalling M, Lavebratt C, Sullivan PF, Rück C. Genetics of response to cognitive behavior therapy in adults with major depression: a preliminary report. Molecular Psychiatry. 2018

 

 

 

SweSRII 2018

 

Participants SweSRII 2018 Växjö Linnéuniversitetet
The participants of SweSRII 2018

The yearly conference for research on internet interventions took place in Växjö, att Linnaeus University, on 9th November. The meeting brought together researchers and practitioners from Sweden, Norway and Denmark to present and discuss recent developments and upcoming projects. The Rücklab team was represented by Oskar and Katja.

With a familial atmosphere and representation from both academia and health care, the conference provided a great opportunity to discuss common struggles and potential improvements of our treatment interventions. Some highlights of the programme include individually tailored treatments for patients with multiple psychiatric conditions, the use of emergent technologies like virtual reality to treat mental illness, and disseminating internet-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy in rural settings.

We had a great time and look forward to exchanging ideas and collaborating on project with our colleagues from all over Sweden and elsewhere. Next up is esrii 2019 in Copenhagen!

Funding from the Swedish Research Council

Good news! The Swedish Research Council (Vetenskapsrådet) has awarded us 2.4 million SEK over the next 3 years for our PRiMED-study (Predicting Response to CBT in Mental Disorders using multimodal data and machine learning). Bild1