Recent Studies & Highlights

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Recent Studies & Highlights2018-10-26T15:34:10+00:00

ECT’s Role In Patients with Dementia & Behavioral Disturbance 

Dr. Amanda Rago

Dr. Rago is the Chief Resident for Research & Quality Improvement in Psychiatry at Maine Medical Center (MMC).  She is currently the Principal Investigator on a study analyzing the efficacy and safety of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in patients with dementia and behavioral disturbance, which is taking place at the inpatient Psychiatry Unit (P6) at MMC.  The study began in 2016 and is funded by a Mentored Research Grant from MMCRI.

“In addition to establishing the safety and efficacy of this intervention in this population, we anticipate that data collected in this observational study will provide insight into which patients (with what clinical manifestations) are predicted to have a positive response to ECT,” says Dr. Rago. “We also hope to inform future discussion of depression in patients with dementia.”

Exploring the Effects of Earthquakes in Nepal

On April 25, 2015 a magnitude 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal, killing more than 8,000 people and injuring over 21,000.  As a result, hundreds of thousands of Nepalese were homeless and entire villages were flattened in many areas.  Complicating matters, on May 12, 2015 the largest aftershock occurred (magnitude of 7.4) followed minutes later by a magnitude 6.3 shock.  More than 450,000 people were displaced overall.

The horrific effects of earthquakes go far beyond immediate physical destruction.  It is difficult to imagine the losses both physical and mental that can occur during such devastation. Until now there was limited knowledge regarding post-disaster psychopathology, and even mental health in general in the Nepali population. Through internal funding, Susan Santangelo, the Director of the Center for Psychiatric Research at MMCRI, was able to launch the Nepal PTSD Project in March 2016.

“The goals of the project are to determine the prevalence of PTSD, depression, resilience and factors associated with event impact among earthquake survivors,” says Santangelo. “In addition, we trained college students in Skills for Psychological Recovery (SPR) to enable the students to train villagers to ultimately help each other.”  Currently, data are being analyzed to determine the impact of teaching skills for psychological recovery to the villagers.

Above:  Maine Behavioral Healthcare Trauma experts, Rebecca Hoffman-Frances and Rebecca Brown, lead discussion of earthquake aftermath with school children. Below:  A destroyed home in Nepal and Nepalese family outside their temporary home.

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