Monday, April 30, 2007

Employer beheads worker for not milking cows

RANCHI, India (Reuters) - An employer in eastern India beheaded one of his workers for failing to milk his cows, police said on Saturday.


Neighbors watched in horror as Upendra Yadav was dragged out of his house in Jharkhand state on Friday by his angry employer.

The employer's father and brother held Yadav down before he was beheaded with a sword, police said.

The employer has been charged with murder.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Intensive psychotherapy benefits bipolar patients on Yahoo! Health

Intensive psychotherapy benefits bipolar patients on Yahoo! Health Patients treated with drugs for bipolar disorder benefit greatly from the addition of intensive psychotherapy, according to findings published in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

"Bipolar disorder is an extremely debilitating illness, in large part because of the difficulty in treating bipolar depressive disorders," Dr. David J. Miklowitz, of the University of Colorado, Boulder, and colleagues write. Clinical trials support the effectiveness of adding psychotherapy to drug treatment for preventing the recurrence of depressive and manic episodes. However, the effectiveness of various strategies has been unclear.

To investigate, the researchers compared the time to recovery and the likelihood of remaining well for 12 months after four disorder-specific psychotherapies. The 293 outpatients with bipolar I or II disorder also received drug treatment.

About half of the patients were assigned to one of three types of intensive psychotherapy (family-focused treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, or interpersonal and social rhythm therapy) and the other half were assigned to collaborative care, which was a brief psychoeducational intervention.

Intensive psychotherapy consisted of up to 30 sessions for 9 months, and collaborative care included 3 sessions over 6 weeks. About 66 percent of patients in all of the groups completed therapy.
The odds of a patient being clinically well during any study month were 58 percent greater with intensive psychotherapy than with collaborative care. The investigators found no significant differences in the outcome of patients in the three intensive psychotherapy groups.

The researchers suggest that the cost-effectiveness of different models of psychotherapy for bipolar disorder should now be compared.

More patients in the intensive psychotherapy group recovered compared with patients in the collaborative care group, Miklowitz and colleagues report. The recovery rate at 12 months for patients in the intensive psychotherapy group was 64.4 percent; in the collaborative care group, it was 51.5 percent.

The average time to recovery was 113 days for patients who received intensive psychotherapy and 146 days for those who received collaborative care, the authors add.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Getting Dirty May Lift Your Mood

Colonies of Mycobacterium vaccae grown on Sauton's agar. (Credit: Courtesy of co-author Laura Rosa Brunet, UCL)
Treatment of mice with a 'friendly' bacteria, normally found in the soil, altered their behavior in a way similar to that produced by antidepressant drugs, reports research published in the latest issue of Neuroscience.

These findings, identified by researchers at the University of Bristol and colleagues at University College London, aid the understanding of why an imbalance in the immune system leaves some individuals vulnerable to mood disorders like depression.

Dr Chris Lowry, lead author on the paper from Bristol University, said: "These studies help us understand how the body communicates with the brain and why a healthy immune system is important for maintaining mental health. They also leave us wondering if we shouldn't all be spending more time playing in the dirt."

Interest in the project arose after human cancer patients being treated with the bacteria Mycobacterium vaccae unexpectedly reported increases in their quality of life. Lowry and his colleagues reasoned that this effect could be caused by activation of neurons in the brain that contained serotonin.

When the team looked closely at the brains of mice, they found that treatment with M. vaccae activated a group of neurons that produce the brain chemical serotonin. The lack of serotonin in the brain is thought to cause depression in people, thus M. vaccae's effects on the behavior of mice may be due to increasing the release of serotonin in parts of the brain that regulate mood.

The new research supports this hypothesis, but future studies will be designed to determine if M. vaccae, other bacteria, or pharmaceutical compounds have antidepressant properties through activation of this group of serotonin neurons.

Source: University of Bristol

Posted by
Robert Karl Stonjek

Monday, April 2, 2007

Psychotherapeutic Drug Spending Surges, USA

Psychotherapeutic Drug Spending Surges, USA: "Spending on prescription drugs to treat depression, anxiety, pain, schizophrenia and other conditions climbed from $7.9 billion in 1997 to $20 billion in 2004 - over a 150 percent increase, according to the latest News and Numbers from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

-- The sharpest increase was for antipsychotic agents, medications used to manage schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other psychoses. They saw an increase from $1.3 billion to $4.1 billion from 1997 to 2004.

-- Spending for central nervous system stimulants to treat pain and control seizures, nearly tripled over the same time period, increasing from $0.6 billion to $1.7 billion.

-- Spending on antidepressants more than doubled from 1997 to 2004, increasing from $5.1 billion to $12.1 billion, as did expenditures for anxiolytics, sedatives, and hypnotics for anxiety and sleep disorders. Spending for these drugs rose from $.9 billion to $2.1 billion.

-- During the same time period, overall prescriptions for psychotherapeutic drugs increased from 141.9 million to 244.3 million; the number of people prescribed at least one such drug rose from 21 million to 32.6 million; and the average price per purchase increased from $55.80 to $82.00.

AHRQ, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, works to improve the quality, safety, efficiency and effectiveness of health care in the United States. The data in this AHRQ News and Numbers comes from the Agency's Medical Expenditure Panel Survey, a highly detailed source of information on the health services that Americans use, how frequently they use them, the cost of these services, and how they are paid. "

Glass Brain

It is one of the great dreams of brain research to visualize at once all nerve cells and their connections of a complete brain in 3D. Scientists of the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry in Munich and the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have now come a step closer to turning this dream into reality.

They have succeeded in making whole mouse brains transparent and then to reconstruct parts of their neuronal networks with a computer. During their investigations at the MPI of Psychiatry they put mouse brains in an oil solution which rendered the brains completely transparent, as now published in Nature Methods. They transilluminated these transparent brains with a laser from the side layer by layer. This way, green fluorescence was induced in genetically marked nerve cells. Using the many images from their "ultramicroscope" the scientists in the research group of the medical doctor and physicist Hans-Ulrich Dodt were able to reconstruct parts of the neuronal network in three dimensions, comparable to computer tomography but with much higher resolution.

Prof. Dodt who was appointed to the chair of Bioelectronics of the TU Vienna in January, plans to utilize this method to investigate the complex neuronal networks of the cortex. The scientists are interested to see if it is possible to visualize alterations at nerve cells after learning using this method. Ultramicroscopy will also be used to investigate the development of neuronal diseases like Alzheimer`s in mice. Besides science, the technique also has an aesthetic aspect: One can simulate a fly-through the brain using the recorded data. Therefore in the future the technique of the glass brain will be used probably for teaching students employing a "Playstation Brain".