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Science News About Medications

Designer Agent Blocks Pain in Mice Without Morphine’s Side Effects

Science Update

Scientists have synthesized a molecule with a unique profile of highly specific pain-relieving properties and demonstrated its efficacy in mice.

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Ketamine Lifts Depression via a Byproduct of its Metabolism

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A chemical byproduct, or metabolite, created as the body breaks down likely holds the secret to its rapid antidepressant action .

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Team-based Treatment for First Episode Psychosis Found to be High Value

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Coordinated Specialty Care for First Episode Psychosis is Cost Effective

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Antipsychotics Use Among Older Adults Increases with Age

Press Release

Researchers find antipsychotic use among older adults increases with age despite known health risks. In 2010, more than 3/4 of seniors receiving an antipsychotic prescription had no documented clinical psychiatric diagnosis during the year. In addition, among those who did have a diagnosed mental disorder and/or dementia, nearly half of the oldest patients had dementia, regardless of FDA warnings that antipsychotics increase mortality in people with dementia.

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Boys More Likely to Have Antipsychotics Prescribed, Regardless of Age

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Boys are more likely than girls to receive an antipsychotic prescription regardless of age, according to a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry.

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Despite Risks, Benzodiazepine Use Highest in Older People

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Prescription use of benzodiazepines—a widely used class of sedative and anti-anxiety medications—increases steadily with age, despite the known risks for older people, according to a comprehensive analysis of benzodiazepine prescribing in the United States.

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Medications for Patients with First Episode Psychosis May Not Meet Guidelines

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Many patients with first-episode psychosis receive medications that do not meet guidelines. A study finds that almost 40 % of people with first-episode psychosis in community mental health clinics across the country might benefit from medication treatment changes.

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Rapid Agent Restores Pleasure-seeking Ahead of Other Antidepressant Action

Press Release

A drug being studied as a fast-acting mood-lifter restored pleasure-seeking behavior independent of – and ahead of – its other antidepressant effects.

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For Schizophrenia, Newer Injectables Not Necessarily Better

Science Update

Treatment adherence is a problem among people with schizophrenia, who may not take medications because they don’t perceive its need or benefit, don’t like the side effects, or forget. To combat this issue, long-acting injectable medications are administered every 2-4 weeks. But are the new forms of these drugs better than the old ones?

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Webinar on Ketamine and Next Generation Therapies Featuring NIMH’s Carlos A. Zarate, M.D.

Science Update

On August 13, 2013, Carlos A. Zarate, M.D., from the National Institute of Mental Health will give a live presentation titled “Ketamine & Next Generation Therapies,” where he will discuss his research on novel medications for treatment-resistant depression and bipolar disorder at the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

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NIH Funds Industry Collaborations to Identify New Uses for Existing Compounds

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NIH Funds Industry Collaborations to Identify New Uses for Existing Compounds

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Ketamine Cousin Rapidly Lifts Depression Without Side Effects

Science Update

NMDA or glutamate receptor modulators as antidepressants have come of age. Human clinical studies demonstrated that ketamine can ward off depressive symptoms within 2 hours of administration and last for several days. Yet serious side effects are attached to this drug, including excessive sleepiness, hallucinations, and substance abuse behavior.

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Long-term Course of ADHD Diagnosed in Preschool Years Can be Chronic and Severe

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Long-term Course of ADHD Diagnosed in Preschool Years Can be Chronic and Severe

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Gene Variants Implicated in Extreme Weight Gain Associated with Antipsychotics

Science Update

A small study suggests that people with certain genetic variants may be more susceptible to extreme weight gain if they take certain antipsychotic medications.

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Brain Signal ID’s Responders to Fast-Acting Antidepressant

Press Release

Biomarkers identified in research on a fast-acting antidepressant can signal who will respond to the medication and are providing clues to how it works to lift depression.

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Perinatal Antidepressant Stunts Brain Development in Rats

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Rats exposed to an antidepressant just before and after birth showed substantial brain abnormalities and behaviors, in a study funded by the National Institutes of Health.

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Prescribed stimulant use for ADHD continues to rise steadily

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The prescribed use of stimulant medications to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) rose slowly but steadily from 1996 to 2008, according to a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

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Switching Antipsychotics May Reduce Metabolic Risks

Science Update

Patients experiencing cardiovascular or metabolic side effects while taking an antipsychotic medication may fare better if they switch to a different medication provided they are closely monitored, according to an NIMH-funded study.

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Drug Boosts Growth Factor to Jump-start Rapid Antidepressant Response

Press Release

A study in mice has pinpointed a pivotal new player in triggering the rapid antidepressant response produced by ketamine. By deactivating a little-known enzyme, the drug takes the brakes off rapid synthesis of a key growth factor thought to lift depression, say researchers supported by the National Institutes of Health.

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Drug Boosts Growth Factor to Jumpstart Rapid Antidepressant Response

Science Update

A study in mice has pinpointed a pivotal new player in triggering the rapid antidepressant response produced by ketamine. By deactivating a little-known enzyme, the drug takes the brakes off rapid synthesis of a key growth factor thought to lift depression, say NIMH-funded researchers.

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Rapid Antidepressant Works by Boosting Brain’s Connections

Science Update

An experimental drug that lifts depression in hours likely works by rapidly stimulating connections between brain cells, a study in rats has revealed. The drug, called ketamine, quickly generated such synapses in a brain circuit implicated in human depression by triggering a key enzyme.

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Study Shows Possibilities for Predicting How Patients Will Respond to Antidepressants

Science Update

In a study of an experimental treatment for major depression, pretreatment testing to probe the function of a specific brain center predicted how patients would respond to ketamine, a medication that can lift depression rapidly in some people.

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Effects on Personality May Be Mechanism of Antidepressant Effectiveness

Science Update

Results of a study of antidepressant treatment for major depression suggest that changes in personality traits seen in patients taking the drug paroxetine (Paxil) may not be the result of the medication’s lifting of mood but may instead be a direct effect of this class of drugs and part of the mechanism by which they relieve depression.

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Effectiveness of Long-term Use of Antipsychotic Medication to Treat Childhood Schizophrenia is Limited

Science Update

Few youths with early-onset schizophrenia who are treated with antipsychotic medications for up to a year appear to benefit from their initial treatment choice over the long term, according to results from an NIMH-funded study. The study was published online ahead of print May 4, 2010, in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

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Clinical Tests Begin on Medication to Correct Fragile X Defect

Press Release

NIH-supported scientists at Seaside Therapeutics in Cambridge, Mass., are beginning a clinical trial of a potential medication designed to correct a central neurochemical defect underlying Fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited cause of intellectual disability. There has to date been no medication that could alter the disorder’s neurologic abnormalities. The study will evaluate safety, tolerability, and optimal dosage in healthy volunteers.

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Significant Weight Gain, Metabolic Changes Associated with Antipsychotic Use in Children

Science Update

Many children and adolescents who receive antipsychotic medications gain a significant amount of weight and experience metabolic changes, according to NIMH-funded research published October 28, 2009, in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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Combination Treatment for Psychotic Depression Holds Promise

Science Update

A combination of an atypical antipsychotic medication and an antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) may be more effective in treating psychotic depression than an atypical antipsychotic alone, according to results from an NIMH-funded clinical study.

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Questions Raised About Stimulants and Sudden Death

Science Update

A study examining stimulant use among children and adolescents found an association between stimulants and sudden unexplained death in youth with no evidence of pre-existing heart disease. The finding draws attention to the potential risks of stimulant medication, according to the study’s authors; an accompanying editorial notes that the rarity of sudden unexplained death and the lack of long-term data on the effectiveness of these medications for reducing other health risks make a full benefit/risk assessment difficult.

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Citalopram No Better Than Placebo Treatment for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders

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Citalopram, a medication commonly prescribed to children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD), was no more effective than a placebo at reducing repetitive behaviors, according to researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and other NIH institutes. The study was published in the June 2009 issue of Archives of General Psychiatry.

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ADHD Medication Treatment Associated with Higher Academic Performance in Elementary School

Science Update

Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) who take medication to treat the condition tend to do better in math and reading compared to their peers who also have ADHD but do not take medication, according to data from a national survey. The NIMH-funded study was published in the May 2009 issue of Pediatrics.

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Use of Antipsychotics in Alzheimer’s Patients May Lead to Detrimental Metabolic Changes

Science Update

Atypical antipsychotic medications are associated with weight gain and other metabolic changes among patients with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent analysis of data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness—Alzheimer’s Disease (CATIE-AD) study. The study was published online ahead of print April 15, 2009, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Premature Birth Risk Higher for Pregnant Women Taking SSRIs or Suffering from Untreated Depression

Science Update

Untreated major depression, as well as the use of antidepressant medications, may increase the risk for premature (preterm) birth, but the risk of other problems in fetuses such as breathing, gastrointestinal, or motor problems, may not be increased, according to a study of pregnant women published online ahead of print March 15, 2009, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

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Not All Antipsychotics Created Equal: Analysis Reveals Important Differences

Science Update

An analysis of studies on antipsychotics reveals multiple differences among the newer, second-generation antipsychotics as well as the older medications, and suggests the current classification system blurs important differences, rendering it unhelpful.

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Cells May Provide Target for New Anxiety Medications

Science Update

A specific population of brain cells could provide a target for developing new medications aimed at helping people learn to mute the fears underlying anxiety disorders, according to NIMH-supported scientists.

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Symptoms Persist as Bipolar Children Grow Up

Science Update

Bipolar disorder (BD) identified in childhood often persisted into adulthood in the first large follow-up study of its kind.

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Certain Antipsychotic Medications May Increase Risk for Heart Disease

Press Release

Certain atypical antipsychotic medications may raise the risk for heart disease in people with schizophrenia, according to an analysis of data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) study.

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Millisecond Brain Signals Predict Response to Fast-Acting Antidepressant

Press Release

Images of the brains fastest signals reveal an electromagnetic marker that predicts a patients response to a fast-acting antidepressant, researchers have discovered.

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Newer Antipsychotics No Better Than Older Drug in Treating Child and Adolescent Schizophrenia

Press Release

Two newer atypical antipsychotic medications were no more effective than an older conventional antipsychotic in treating child and adolescent schizophrenia and may lead to more metabolic side effects, according to a new study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Health Risks Associated with Certain Antipsychotics Warrant Extra Monitoring

Science Update

Some atypical antipsychotics may be more likely than others to cause metabolic and cardiovascular side effects, according to recent analyses using data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE).

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Newer Antipsychotics No Better Than Older Medications in Reducing Schizophrenia-related Violence

Science Update

Antipsychotic medications can reduce the risk of violence among people with schizophrenia, but the newer atypical antipsychotics are no more effective in doing so than older medications, according to a recent analysis of data from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE).

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Paying More for Prescriptions May Limit Seniors’ Access to Antidepressants

Science Update

New cost-sharing policies may prevent some older adults diagnosed with depression from filling new antidepressant prescriptions, according to an analysis published in the April 2008 issue of Psychiatric Services.

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State Survey Finds FDA “Black Box” Warning Correlates with Curtailed Antidepressant Prescriptions

Science Update

After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a “black box” warning on antidepressant medications, Nebraskan doctors began prescribing fewer antidepressant medications to children and teens and referring more patients to specialists, according to a state survey. The study, which involved NIMH-funded researchers, was published in the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

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Schizophrenia-Related Gene Linked to Imbalance in Dopamine Pathways

Science Update

Forms of a gene known to increase risk for schizophrenia may create an imbalance in brain pathways for dopamine, suggests a recent study by NIMH scientists.

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Scientists May Have Found Long-Pursued Binding Site for Antidepressants

Science Update

NIMH-funded scientists have a major new clue as to where the long-pursued binding site for commonly used antidepressants – potentially the site that triggers the medications’ effects – may be on brain cells.

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Genes Linked to Suicidal Thinking During Antidepressant Treatment

Press Release

Specific variations in two genes are linked to suicidal thinking that sometimes occurs in people taking the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressants, according to a large study led by scientists at the National Institutes of Healths (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Drops in SSRI prescription rates may coincide with increases in youth suicides

Science Update

A 2004 spike in suicide rates may have coincided with a drop in antidepressant prescriptions for youth, following warnings from U.S and European regulatory agencies that the medications might trigger suicidal thoughts.

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Manic Phase of Bipolar Disorder Benefits from Breast Cancer Medication

Press Release

The medication tamoxifen, best known as a treatment for breast cancer, dramatically reduces symptoms of the manic phase of bipolar disorder more quickly than many standard medications for the mental illness, a new study shows.

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Studies Refine Understanding of Treatments for Bipolar Disorder

Science Update

Two new studies provide additional details on best practices for treating people with bipolar disorder, a sometimes debilitating illness marked by severe mood swings between depression and mania.

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Faster-Acting Antidepressants Closer to Becoming a Reality

Press Release

A new study has revealed more about how the medication ketamine, when used experimentally for depression, relieves symptoms of the disorder in hours instead of the weeks or months it takes for current antidepressants to work.

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Improvement Following ADHD Treatment Sustained in Most Children

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Most children treated in a variety of ways for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) showed sustained improvement after three years in a major follow-up study funded by the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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New Study Will Examine Effects of Excluding Anti-anxiety Medications in Medicare Part D Coverage

Science Update

A new research grant funded by NIMH will examine the costs and benefits of excluding a commonly prescribed class of anti-anxiety medications—benzodiazepines—from coverage in the new Medicare Part D program. Medicare Part D, the prescription drug coverage plan for people insured by Medicare, went into effect in January 2006.

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Gene Variants Linked to Suicidal Thoughts in Some Men Starting Antidepressant Treatment

Science Update

Some men who experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors after they first start taking antidepressant medications may be genetically predisposed to do so, according to the latest results from the NIMH-funded Sequenced Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D) study

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Antipsychotic Medications for Schizophrenia on Equal Footing in Improving Patients’ Thinking Skills

Science Update

Patients with schizophrenia taking antipsychotic medications experience a small improvement in thinking and reasoning skills (neurocognition), but no one medication appears to be better than the others in improving these skills during the first two crucial months of treatment, according to the latest results from the NIMH-funded Clinical Antipsychotic Trials for Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE).

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Benefits of Antidepressants May Outweigh Risks for Kids

Science Update

The benefits of antidepressant medications likely outweigh their risks to children and adolescents with major depression and anxiety disorders, according to a new comprehensive review of pediatric trials conducted between 1988 and 2006. The study, partially funded by NIMH, was published in the April 18, 2007, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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HIV Treatment May Help Reduce Severity of Mental Impairment in Children with HIV Infection

Science Update

During the first few years of life, children born with HIV infection are most susceptible to central nervous system (CNS) disease, and can develop impaired cognitive, language, motor and behavioral functioning. However, NIH-funded researchers have found that among children with HIV infection, treatment with a protease inhibitor (PI)- based highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) helped protect against cognitive and motor difficulties compared to a control group of age-matched children who were born to HIV-infected mothers but who did not contract the virus themselves (e.g., HIV-exposed).

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Global Use of ADHD Medications Rises Dramatically

Science Update

Global use of medications that treat attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) nearly tripled from 1993 to 2003, and spending on the drugs rose nine-fold, according to a study co-funded by NIMH and published in the March/April 2007 issue of Health Affairs.

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New Details in Schizophrenia Treatment Trial Emerge

Press Release

Two new studies from the Clinical Antipsychotic Trials for Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) provide more insights into comparing treatment options, and to what extent antipsychotic medications help people with schizophrenia learn social, interpersonal and community living skills.

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Weight Gain From Antipsychotics Traced to Appetite-Regulating Enzyme, Receptor

Science Update

A likely mechanism by which antipsychotic medications trigger weight gain — with its attendant risks of heart disease, diabetes and treatment non-adherence — has been unraveled in mice by NIMH-funded scientists.

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