Conference Coverage




Current Psychiatry and the American Academy of Clinical Psychiatrists welcomed more than 550 psychiatric practitioners from across the United States and abroad to this annual conference, which was headed by Meeting Chair Richard Balon, MD, and Co-chairs Donald W. Black, MD, and Nagy Youssef, MD, March 27-29, 2014 at the Hilton Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. Attendees earned as many as 10 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be misdiagnosed as psychosis, anxiety, or a sexual disorder. In addition to contamination, patients can present with pathologic doubt, somatic obsessions, or obsessions about taboo or symmetry. Among FDA-approved medications, clomipramine might be more effective than selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Exposure response prevention therapy shows better response than pharmacotherapy, but best outcomes are seen with combination therapy. Jon E. Grant, JD, MD, MPH, University of Chicago, also discussed obsessive-compulsive personality disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, hoarding, trichotillomania, and excoriation disorder—as well as changes in DSM-5 that cover this group of disorders.

Patients with schizophrenia are at higher risk of death from cardiac and pulmonary disease than the general population. The quality of care of patients with psychosis generally is poor, because of lack of recognition, time, and resources, as well as systematic barriers to accessing health care. Questions about weight gain, lethargy, infections, and sexual functioning can help the practitioner assess a patient’s general health. When appropriate, Henry A. Nasrallah, MD, St. Louis University School of Medicine, recommends, consider switching antipsychotics, which might reverse adverse metabolic events.

Nonpharmacologic treatment goals include improving sleep, educating patients, providing them with tools for improving sleep, and creating an opportunity for patient-practitioner discussion. Stimulus control and sleep restriction are primary therapeutic techniques to improve sleep quality and reduce non-sleeping time in bed. Thomas Roth, PhD, Henry Ford Hospital, also discussed how to modify sleep hygiene techniques for pediatric, adolescent, and geriatric patients.

Donald W. Black, MD, University of Iowa, says that work groups for DSM-5 were asked to consider dimensionality and culture and gender issues. New diagnostic categories include obsessive-compulsive and related disorders and trauma and stressor-related disorders. Some diagnoses were reformulated or introduced, including autism spectrum disorder and disruptive mood dysregulation disorder. The multi-axial system was discontinued in DSM-5. He also reviewed coding issues.

In a sponsored symposium, Prakash S. Masand, MD, Global Medical Education, Inc., looked at the clinical challenges of addressing all 3 symptom domains that characterize depression (emotional, physical, and cognitive) as an introduction to reviewing the efficacy, mechanism of action, and side effects of vortioxetine (Brintellix), a new serotonergic agent for treating major depressive disorder (MDD). In all studies submitted to the FDA, vortioxetine was found to be superior to placebo, in at least 1 dosage group, for alleviating depressive symptoms and for reducing the risk of depressive recurrence.


Oppositional defiant disorder is more common in boys (onset at age 6 to 10) and is associated with inconsistent and neglectful parenting. Treatment modalities, including educational training, anticonvulsants, and lithium, do not have a strong evidence base. Intermittent explosive disorder is characterized by short-lived but frequent behavioral outbursts and often begins in adolescence. Dr. Grant also reviewed the evidence on conduct disorder, pyromania, and kleptomania.

Cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia often appear before psychotic symptoms and remain stable across the lifespan. There are no pharmacologic treatments for cognitive deficits in schizophrenia; however, Dr. Nasrallah listed tactics to improve cognitive function, including regular aerobic exercise. These cognitive deficits can be categorized as neurocognitive (memory, learning, executive function) and social (social skills, theory of mind, social cues) and contribute to functional decline and often prevent patients from working and going to school. Dr. Nasrallah described how bipolar disorder (BD) overlaps with schizophrenia in terms of cognitive dysfunction.

Henry Nasrallah, MD

Psychiatric disorders exhibit specific sleep/ wake impairments. Sleep disorders can mimic psychiatric symptoms, such as fatigue, cognitive problems, and depression. Sleep disturbances, including insomnia, obstructive sleep apnea, and decreased need for sleep, often coexist with depression, generalized anxiety disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, and BD, and insomnia is associated with a greater risk of suicide. With antidepressant treatment, sleep in depressed patients improves but does not normalize. Dr. Roth also reviewed pharmacotherapeutic options and non-drug modalities to improve patients’ sleep.

Antidepressants have no efficacy in treating acute episodes of bipolar depression, and using such agents might yield a poor long-term outcome in BD, according to Robert M. Post, MD, George Washington University School of Medicine, Michael J. Ostacher, MD, MPH, MMSc, Stanford University, and Vivek Singh, MD, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, in an interactive faculty discussion. For patients with bipolar I disorder, lithium monotherapy or the combination of lithium and valproate is more effective than valproate alone; evidence does not support valproate as a maintenance treatment. When a patient with BD shows partial response, attendees at this sponsored symposium were advised, consider adding psychotherapy and psycho-education. Combining a mood stabilizer and an antipsychotic might be more effective than monotherapy and safer, by allowing lower dosages. The only 3 treatments FDA-approved for bipolar depression are the olanzapine-fluoxetine combination, quetiapine, and lurasidone.

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