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Amphetamine Use Linked to Psychosis, Video Game Addiction Now Globally Recognized, and Antidepressants Often Ineffective in Pregnancy
Here is a recap of some of the top industry-related news stories of the week:
Illicit Amphetamine Use Linked to 5-Fold Heightened Risk of Psychosis
The illicit use of amphetamines, the stimulants commonly known as ‘speed’, is linked to a 5-fold heightened risk of psychosis, finds a 10 year study published online in the journal Evidence-Based Mental Health.
This increased risk was seen across all age groups, but was especially noticeable among women and those who had been arrested several times for possession of the drug.
The estimated global prevalence of amphetamine use is less than 1%, but around 1 in 10 users become addicted.
Compared with those who weren’t using, illicit amphetamine users had poorer health: depression (2% vs 0.4%); anxiety (0.9% vs 0.3%); ischaemic heart disease (1.3% vs 0.8%); cardiovascular disease (0.8% vs 0.45%); and stroke (1.3% vs 0.7%).
By the end of the 10 year monitoring period, amphetamine users were more than 5 times as likely to experience psychosis than those who weren’t using after accounting for age, sex, and coexisting health issues.
“Because persistent psychotic symptoms could represent a risk for cognitive decline in amphetamine users, identifying [those] with psychosis and providing treatment early might prevent subsequent damage of cognitive functions,” write the researchers.
Video Game Addiction, Now Globally Recognized Illness, Seeks Treatment
The World Health Organization began formally recognizing video game addiction as an illness in 2022.
A diagnosis of addiction is based on a series of symptoms, according to the WHO: a lack of control over the impulse to play video games, a tendency to prioritize it at the expense of other interests or obligations and continued or escalated involvement despite experiencing negative consequences.
Studies offer varying conclusions, in part due to disagreements over how to define addiction, but they typically show the illness in 2% to 3% of people who play games. A similar condition called gaming disorder is more prevalent in the population than compulsive gambling but less than compulsive shopping, estimated Matthew Stevens of the University of Adelaide in Australia.
Achieving recognition was a years-long process. WHO member states voted in 2018 to add it to the organization’s disease classification list, which helps standardize health reporting and tracking worldwide. The change didn’t go into effect until last month, a lag designed to give the health care industry time to prepare.
Antidepressants Often Ineffective for Depression in Pregnancy
Antidepressants don't always help ease depression and anxiety in pregnant women and new moms, according to a new study.
"This is the first longitudinal data to show that many pregnant women report depression and anxiety symptoms during pregnancy and postpartum, despite their choice to continue treatment with antidepressants," said senior author Dr. Katherine Wisner.
The new research "lets us know these women need to be continually monitored during pregnancy and postpartum, so their clinicians can tailor their treatment to alleviate their symptoms," Wisner said.
"Psychological and psychosocial factors change rapidly across childbearing," said co-author Dr. Catherine Stika. "Repeated screenings will allow your clinician to adapt the type and/or intensity of intervention until your symptoms improve."
The researchers also noted that depression in mothers affects their babies.
"This is key as children exposed to a depressed mother have an increased risk of childhood developmental disorders," Wisner said.
Depression and anxiety affect 20% of women during pregnancy and after birth. That translates to an estimated 500,000 U.S. women who have or will have mental illness during pregnancy, the researchers said.
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