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U.S. Psychiatric & Mental Health Congress, Oct. 30-Nov. 2, 2008

U.S. Psychiatric & Mental Health Congress 21st Annual Congress

The U.S. Psychiatric & Mental Health Congress 21st Annual Congress took place Oct. 30-Nov. 2 in San Diego, attracted about 2,200 attendees from throughout the United States, featured more than 100 sessions and symposia, and exhibits from more than 80 psychiatry-related companies and organizations. The annual meeting is the nation's largest independent conference designed to meet the continuing medical education needs of mental health professionals.

Two major symposia addressed the topics: "Understanding the Complexities in the Management of Insomnia and Depression: Spotlight on Current and Emerging Therapies and Navigating the Clinical Conundrum of Major Depressive Disorder."

"An estimated 18 million Americans suffer from some type of depressive disorder," William Soliman, Ph.D., vice president of medical and scientific affairs, CME LLC, host organization of the Congress, said in a statement. "Some of those disorders reveal themselves in reaction to external events -- such as the nation's current economic turbulence. The Congress is providing the most up-to-date education possible on this pressing topic, helping clinicians make informed decisions about providing the best treatment possible."

"In addition to insomnia and depression, the Congress looked at the issue of comorbid conditions and the importance of treating the whole patient in the primary care setting," Soliman said. "For example, there's some data to show that patients with depression and diabetes are at increased risk of cardiovascular disease and events. This is important because the presence of comorbid conditions complicates diagnosis and treatment, especially in cases where there could be drug interactions. Another issue is the increased risk of lipid and blood-sugar abnormalities in patients who are taking antipsychotic drugs."

Peter Manu, M.D. of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City, presented a session entitled "The Treatment of Metabolic Syndrome in Patients with Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder." According to Manu, the session's aims were to help clinicians "critically evaluate the reasons for differences in metabolic liability of the FDA-approved atypical antipsychotics and understand the familiarity with current guidelines for the non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic management of metabolic syndrome."

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During a related session, Philip G. Janicak, M.D., of the Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, addressed the question: "Should Side Effects Be the Determining Factor in Choosing an Antipsychotic?" According to Janicak, the session's aims were to help clinicians "discuss side effects of first- and second-generation antipsychotics, identify side-effect profiles among second-generation antipsychotics, and develop a treatment strategy that includes risk/benefit ratio as a determining factor in the choice of antipsychotics."

"Two major take-aways from the Congress were the importance of early intervention in schizophrenia, depression, and other conditions to improve outcomes, but also the quality of life implications involved in treatment," Soliman said.

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Other session categories included addiction psychiatry; child and adolescent psychiatry; complementary and alternative medicine; geriatric psychiatry; neuropsychiatry; practical issues, ethics and forensic psychiatry; psychiatric disorders; psychopharmacology; psychosomatic medicine; psychotherapy; social and community psychiatry; and violence and trauma.

The featured keynote speaker, Rakesh Jain, M.D., of the University of Texas Medical School in Houston, discussed advances in the molecular understanding of psychiatric disease and how agents that target specific genes could lead to a new era of individualized medicine that minimizes side effects and improves efficacy. "It's tough because there are a lot of variables involved in treating mental illness and a lot of pathways we don't understand very well," Soliman said. "But I would say that we're going to see many drugs that are specifically targeted to specific genes introduced in the next decade."

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