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The efficacy of complicated grief therapy for DSM-5-TR prolonged grief disorder [Letter]

Mauro, Christine; Tumasian, Robert A; Skritskaya, Natalia; Gacheru, Margaret; Zisook, Sidney; Simon, Naomi; Reynolds, Charles F; Shear, M Katherine
PMID: 35524621
ISSN: 1723-8617
CID: 5216532

Change in posttraumatic stress disorder-related thoughts during treatment: Do thoughts drive change when pills are involved?

Rauch, Sheila A M; Kim, H Myra; Venners, Margaret R; Porter, Katherine E; Norman, Sonya B; Simon, Naomi M; Rothbaum, Barbara O; Tuerk, Peter W; Acierno, Ronald E; Bui, Eric; Powell, Corey; Smith, Erin R; Goetter, Elizabeth; McSweeney, Lauren B
Posttraumatic negative thoughts about one's self and the world are related to posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptom severity and change in cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT), but little is known about this association when CBT is delivered with medication. The current study presents a planned comparison of changes in negative posttraumatic thoughts during (a) prolonged exposure (PE) plus pill placebo (PE+PLB), (b) sertraline plus enhanced medication management (SERT+EMM), and (c) PE plus sertraline (PE+SERT) as part of a randomized clinical trial in a sample of 176 veterans. Lagged regression modeling revealed that change in posttraumatic negative thoughts was associated with PTSD symptom change in the conditions in which participants received sertraline, ds = 0.14-0.25, ps = 0.04-.001). However, contrary to previous research, the models that started with symptom change were also statistically significant, d = 0.23, p < .001, for the lagged effect of symptoms on negative thoughts about self in the SERT+EMM condition, indicating a bidirectional association between such thoughts and PTSD symptoms. In the PE+PLB condition, no significant association between posttraumatic thoughts and PTSD symptoms emerged in either direction. These results suggest that the previously demonstrated role of change in posttraumatic thoughts leading to PTSD symptom reduction in PE may be altered when combined with pill administration, either active or placebo.
PMID: 34973039
ISSN: 1573-6598
CID: 5108402

Heterogeneity of posttraumatic stress, depression, and fear of cancer recurrence in breast cancer survivors: a latent class analysis

Malgaroli, Matteo; Szuhany, Kristin L; Riley, Gabriella; Miron, Carly D; Park, Jae Hyung; Rosenthal, Jane; Chachoua, Abraham; Meyers, Marleen; Simon, Naomi M
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE:Breast cancer survivors may demonstrate elevated psychological distress, which can also hinder adherence to survivorship care plans. Our goal was to study heterogeneity of behavioral health and functioning in breast cancer survivors, and identify both risk and protective factors to improve targets for wellness interventions. METHODS:Breast cancer survivors (n = 187) consented to complete self-reported psychological measures and to access their medical records. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to classify heterogeneous subpopulations based on levels of depression, post-traumatic stress, fear of cancer recurrence, cancer-related pain, and fatigue. Multinomial logistic regression and auxiliary analysis in a 3-step modeling conditional approach was used to identify characteristics of the group based on demographics, treatment history and characteristics, and current medication prescriptions. RESULTS:Three subpopulations of breast cancer survivors were identified from the LCA: a modal Resilient group (48.2%, n = 90), a Moderate Symptoms group (34%, n = 65), and an Elevated Symptoms group (n = 17%, n = 32) with clinically-relevant impairment. Results from the logistic regression indicated that individuals in the Elevated Symptoms group were less likely to have a family history of breast cancer; they were more likely to be closer to time of diagnosis and younger, have received chemotherapy and psychotropic prescriptions, and have higher BMI. Survivors in the Elevated Symptoms group were also less likely to be prescribed estrogen inhibitors than the Moderate Symptoms group. CONCLUSIONS:This study identified subgroups of breast cancer survivors based on behavioral, psychological, and treatment-related characteristics, with implications for targeted monitoring and survivorship care plans. IMPLICATIONS FOR CANCER SURVIVORS/CONCLUSIONS:Results showed the majority of cancer survivors were resilient, with minimal psychological distress. Results also suggest the importance of paying special attention to younger patients getting chemotherapy, especially those without a family history of breast cancer.
PMID: 35224684
ISSN: 1932-2267
CID: 5174072

Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Trial of the Angiotensin Receptor Antagonist Losartan for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Stein, Murray B; Jain, Sonia; Simon, Naomi M; West, James C; Marvar, Paul J; Bui, Eric; He, Feng; Benedek, David M; Cassano, Paolo; Griffith, James L; Howlett, Jonathan; Malgaroli, Matteo; Melaragno, Andrew; Seligowski, Antonia V; Shu, I-Wei; Song, Suzan; Szuhany, Kristin; Taylor, Charles T; Ressler, Kerry J
BACKGROUND:Evidence-based pharmacological treatments for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are few and of limited efficacy. Previous work suggests that angiotensin type 1 receptor inhibition facilitates fear inhibition and extinction, important for recovery from PTSD. This study tests the efficacy of the angiotensin type 1 receptor antagonist losartan, an antihypertensive drug, repurposed for the treatment of PTSD. METHODS:A randomized controlled trial was conducted for 10 weeks in 149 men and women meeting DSM-5 PTSD criteria. Losartan (vs. placebo) was flexibly titrated from 25 to 100 mg/day by week 6 and held at highest tolerated dose until week 10. Primary outcome was the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-5 (CAPS-5) change score at 10 weeks from baseline. A key secondary outcome was change in CAPS-5 associated with a single nucleotide polymorphism of the ACE gene. Additional secondary outcomes included changes in the PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 and the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, and proportion of responders with a Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale of "much improved" or "very much improved." RESULTS:Both groups had robust improvement in PTSD symptoms, but there was no significant difference on the primary end point, CAPS-5 measured as week 10 change from baseline, between losartan and placebo (mean change difference, 0.9, 95% confidence interval, -3.2 to 5.0). There was no significant difference in the proportion of Clinical Global Impressions-Improvement scale responders for losartan (58.6%) versus placebo (57.9%), no significant differences in changes in PTSD Checklist for DSM-5 or Patient Health Questionnaire-9, and no association between ACE genotype and CAPS-5 improvement on losartan. CONCLUSIONS:At these doses and durations, there was no significant benefit of losartan compared with placebo for the treatment of PTSD. We discuss implications for failure to determine the benefit of a repurposed drug with strong a priori expectations of success based on preclinical and epidemiological data.
PMID: 34275593
ISSN: 1873-2402
CID: 4947782

Underuse of Behavioral Treatments for Headache: a Narrative Review Examining Societal and Cultural Factors

Langenbahn, Donna; Matsuzawa, Yuka; Lee, Yuen Shan Christine; Fraser, Felicia; Penzien, Donald B; Simon, Naomi M; Lipton, Richard B; Minen, Mia T
Migraine affects over 40 million Americans and is the world's second most disabling condition. As the majority of medical care for migraine occurs in primary care settings, not in neurology nor headache subspecialty practices, healthcare system interventions should focus on primary care. Though there is grade A evidence for behavioral treatment (e.g., biofeedback, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and relaxation techniques) for migraine, these treatments are underutilized. Behavioral treatments may be a valuable alternative to opioids, which remain widely used for migraine, despite the US opioid epidemic and guidelines that recommend against them. Identifying and removing barriers to the use of headache behavioral therapy could help reduce the disability as well as the personal and social costs of migraine. These techniques will have their greatest impact if offered in primary care settings to the lower socioeconomic status groups at greatest risk for migraine. We review the societal and cultural challenges that impose barriers to optimal use of non-pharmacological treatment services. These barriers include insufficient knowledge of migraine/headache behavioral treatments and insufficient availability of clinicians trained in non-pharmacological treatment delivery; limited access in underserved communities; financial burden; and stigma associated with both headache and mental health diagnoses and treatment. For each barrier, we discuss potential approaches to minimizing its effect and thus enhancing non-pharmacological treatment utilization.Case ExampleA 25-year-old graduate student with a prior history of headaches in college is attending school in the evenings while working a full-time job. Now, his headaches have significant nausea and photophobia. They are twice weekly and are disabling enough that he is unable to complete homework assignments. He does not understand why the headaches occur on Saturdays when he pushes through all week to get through his examinations that take place on Friday evenings. He tried two different migraine preventive medications, but neither led to the 50% reduction in headache days his doctor had hoped for. His doctor had suggested cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) before initiating the medications, but he had been too busy to attend the appointments, and the challenges in finding an in-network provider proved difficult. Now with the worsening headaches, he opted for the CBT and by the fifth week had already noted improvements in his headache frequency and intensity.
PMID: 33527189
ISSN: 1525-1497
CID: 4799612

Acceptability of capnography-assisted respiratory therapy: a new mind-body intervention for COPD

Norweg, Anna Migliore; Skamai, Anne; Kwon, Simona C; Whiteson, Jonathan; MacDonald, Kyle; Haas, Francois; Collins, Eileen G; Goldring, Roberta M; Reibman, Joan; Wu, Yinxiang; Sweeney, Greg; Pierre, Alicia; Troxel, Andrea B; Ehrlich-Jones, Linda; Simon, Naomi M
Dyspnoea self-management is often suboptimal for patients with COPD. Many patients with COPD experience chronic dyspnoea as distressing and disabling, especially during physical activities. Breathing therapy is a behavioural intervention that targets reducing the distress and impact of dyspnoea on exertion in daily living. Using a qualitative design, we conducted interviews with 14 patients after they participated in a novel mind-body breathing therapy intervention adjunct, capnography-assisted respiratory therapy (CART), combined with outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation. Comprehensive CART consisted of patient-centred biofeedback, tailored breathing exercises, a home exercise programme and motivational interviewing counselling. We assessed participants' perceptions and reported experiences to gauge the acceptability of CART and refine CART based on feedback. Constant comparative analysis was used to identify commonalities and themes. We identified three main themes relating to the acceptability and reported benefits of CART: (1) self-regulating breathing; (2) impact on health; and (3) patient satisfaction. Our findings were used to refine and optimise CART (i.e. its intensity, timing and format) for COPD. By addressing dysfunctional breathing behaviours and dysregulated interoception, CART offers a promising new paradigm for relieving dyspnoea and related anxiety in patients with COPD.
PMID: 34938800
ISSN: 2312-0541
CID: 5109002

Barriers and engagement in breast cancer survivorship wellness activities

Szuhany, Kristin L; Malgaroli, Matteo; Riley, Gabriella; Miron, Carly D; Suzuki, Rebecca; Park, Jae Hyung; Rosenthal, Jane; Chachoua, Abraham; Meyers, Marleen; Simon, Naomi M
PURPOSE/OBJECTIVE:Breast cancer survivors may be at risk for increased rates of emotional distress and poorer quality of life. Survivorship care plans (SCPs) promoting wellness activities may support well-being; however, survivors may not receive or engage in their SCPs. This study aimed to assess receipt and participation in SCP activities as well as barriers to engagement amongst breast cancer survivors. METHODS:Breast cancer survivors (n = 187; 99% female, Mean age = 57.7) consented and completed self-reported assessments of SCP recommendations, engagement and interest in wellness activities, and potential barriers to engagement. RESULTS:A minority of participants recalled receiving an SCP (21%). The most physician recommended (62%) and completed (53%) activity was exercise. Interest in adding other wellness activities to the SCP was high, with reported interest levels of approximately 50% for several activities (e.g., mind body, nutrition, psychotherapy interventions). Fully half reported that having a physician-designed plan would influence participation in activities. The most common reported barriers to SCP activity engagement were lack of time (82%), work/school (65%), and lack of information (65%). CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:Few survivors recalled receiving a formal SCP, and lack of information about wellness activities was a commonly reported barrier to participation. Interest in wellness activities was generally high and may indicate the need for more formal prescription or motivation enhancement techniques to promote SCP engagement. There may be a clinical need to emphasize SCP recommendations to enhance recall and increase engagement in wellness activities that may reduce psychological distress and improve quality of life.
PMID: 34095986
ISSN: 1573-7217
CID: 4899592

Predictors of Response to Prolonged Exposure, Sertraline, and Their Combination for the Treatment of Military PTSD

Rauch, Sheila A M; Kim, H Myra; Lederman, Seth; Sullivan, Gregory; Acierno, Ron; Tuerk, Peter W; Simon, Naomi M; Venners, Margaret R; Norman, Sonya B; Allard, Carolyn B; Porter, Katherine E; Martis, Brian; Bui, Eric; Baker, Amanda W
PMID: 34133087
ISSN: 1555-2101
CID: 5043562

Reductions in guilt cognitions following prolonged exposure and/or sertraline predict subsequent improvements in PTSD and depression

Allard, Carolyn B; Norman, Sonya B; Straus, Elizabeth; Kim, H Myra; Stein, Murray B; Simon, Naomi M; Rauch, Sheila A M
BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES/OBJECTIVE:Reduction of trauma related negative cognitions, such as guilt, is thought to be a mechanism of change within PTSD treatments like prolonged exposure (PE). Research suggests PE can directly address guilt cognitions. However, whether pharmacotherapies for PTSD can remains unclear. METHODS:Data from a randomized controlled trial of PE plus placebo (PE + PLB), sertraline plus enhanced medication management (SERT + EMM), and their combination (PE + SERT) in 195 Veterans from recent wars was analyzed. RESULTS:The unadjusted means and mixed-effects model showed guilt decreased significantly over the follow-up time as expected; however, contrary to our hypothesis, PE conditions were not associated with greater reductions in guilt than the SERT + EMM condition. As hypothesized, week 12 reduction in guilt predicted post-treatment (weeks 24-52) reduction in PTSD and depression, but not impairments in function. LIMITATIONS/CONCLUSIONS:Generalizability of findings is limited by the sample being comprised of combat Veterans who were predominantly male, not on SSRI at study entry, willing to be randomized to therapy or medication, and reporting low levels of guilt. To reduce differences in provider attention, SERT + EMM was administered over 30 min to include psychoeducation and active listening; it is unknown if this contributed to effects on guilt. CONCLUSIONS:PE + PLB, SERT + EMM, and PE + SERT were equally associated with reduction in trauma related guilt. Reducing trauma related guilt may be a pathway to reducing PTSD and posttraumatic depression symptoms. Further study is needed to determine how best to treat trauma related guilt and to understand the mechanisms by which guilt improves across different treatments for PTSD.
PMID: 34147766
ISSN: 1873-7943
CID: 4916482

Prolonged Grief Disorder: Course, Diagnosis, Assessment, and Treatment

Szuhany, Kristin L; Malgaroli, Matteo; Miron, Carly D; Simon, Naomi M
Losing a loved one is one of life's greatest stressors. Although most bereaved individuals navigate through a period of intense acute grief that lessens with time, approximately 10% will develop a prolonged grief condition. This review provides an overview of the course of grief and describes risk factors for developing prolonged grief disorder. The evolution of the prolonged grief disorder diagnosis, including the latest criteria sets for ICD-11 and DSM-5, as well as common comorbid conditions and differential diagnosis are discussed. Clinically useful self-report and clinician-rated measures for assessing symptom constructs and overall prolonged grief disorder severity, evidence-based psychotherapies (such as complicated grief treatment), as well as evidence about pharmacologic approaches are presented. Finally, the authors discuss important future directions, including a potential increase in prolonged grief disorder cases due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
PMID: 34690579
ISSN: 1541-4094
CID: 5042182