At the 15th European Congress of Psychiatry

I’ve spent the day at the 15th European Congress of Psychiatry and have been catching up with some of the latest developments in the field.

As is common with these sorts of things, the exhibition hall is largely an exercise for drug companies to promote their products using giveaways and selective education.

My favourite tagline was on the stand for the antidepressant drug tianeptine: ‘Treating Depression Beyond the Symptoms’.

I can’t quite picture what this refers to. Maybe they send a drug rep round to improve people’s housing, finances and difficult family situation?

In terms of antipsychotic promotion, the big selling point seems to be avoiding weight gain.

Many of the companies are advertising that there drug causes less weight gain, or are promoting ways of using their drug to minimise strain on the cardiovascular system.

In terms of research being presented, there’s a fantastic selection from across Europe. Here’s just a few that have caught my eye.

A study by Esmina Avdibegović and colleagues from University Clinical Centre of Tuzla in Bosnia and Herzegovina found that the suicide rate dropped during the Bosnian war, and that even after the war, less people committed suicide than before.

Another study from the Tuzla Clinic by Izet Pajevic and colleagues looked at religiosity in war veterans from the same conflict, and found that religious practice was associated with better mental health and less risky, agressive and psychopathic behaviour.

In fact, there’s a lot of interesting research here from Bosnia and Herzegovina and I look forward to hearing more.

An elegant study by Krzystof Krstya and colleagues from the Silesian Medical Academy in Poland looked at improvements in cognitive function during treatment for anxiety disorders, and found that combined drug therapy and psychotherapy had the most significant benefit for short-term memory and attention.

Monica Sigaudo and colleagues from the University of Turin Medical School reported that an inert pill could actually increase pain perception when given with the suggestion that it raised sensitivity – something known as the ‘nocebo effect‘.

Finally, a neuroimaguing study by Jan Prasko and colleagues from the Prague Psychiatric Centre found that in the treatment of panic disorder, both cognitive behavioural therapy and antidepressants were equally as effective, and interestingly, had a similar effect on the brain.

Anyway, just time to grab something to eat and prepare for my own talk…

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