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The Third Asia Pacific Psychiatry Symposium Takes Place

Over One Thousand Psychiatrists Gather to Discuss the Diagnosis and Treatment of Mental Disorders During COVID-19
2021-06-28 15:51 1021

SHANGHAI, June 28, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The global COVID-19 pandemic poses a serious threat to physical health and has wide-ranging implications for mental health worldwide. At the third Asia Pacific Psychiatry Symposium, held online on June 26, more than 1,000 psychiatrists, general practitioners and healthcare professionals from 10 countries and regions including Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Taiwan of China, discussed the challenges faced in managing mental disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the clinical treatment strategies and difficulties in this field.

Organized by Luye Pharma Group, the annual Asia Pacific Psychiatry Symposium is now in its third year. This year, three current presidents of national psychiatric associations in the Asia-Pacific region were invited to serve as lecturers at the symposium: Prof. Chawanun Charnsil from Thailand, Prof. Ahmad Hatim Bin Sulaiman from Malaysia, and Dr. Luzviminda Katigbak from the Philippines. Psychiatrists from a total of seven Asia Pacific countries and regions also delivered presentations. The agenda focused primarily on the challenges of treating mental health problems during the pandemic and the management of bipolar disorder. Interactions also included clinical case sharing and panel discussions, which spurred enthusiastic participation and lively discussion among the attendees.

Challenges and approaches to tackling mental disorders during the pandemic

According to the World Health Organization, close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, and one person dies by suicide every 40 seconds. Now, billions of people have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is having a further impact on mental health[i]. Participating experts at the symposium pointed out that COVID-19 and mental disorders have a bidirectional relationship; a meta-analysis shows that patients diagnosed with mental health disorders before testing positive for COVID-19 have a higher than average risk of severe COVID-19 and mortality[ii]. Another survey reveals that after being infected by COVID-19, more than 50 percent of patients demonstrated at least moderate symptoms of major depression[iii]. In the United States, the prevalence of depression symptoms during the pandemic was more than three times higher than before[iv], and in a nationwide survey in China, approximately 35 percent of respondents experienced psychological distress[v].

Experts also noted that due to COVID-19, the number of patients with mental disorders has significantly increased, and the management of their treatment has become more challenging. Increased limitations affecting treatment, including transport controls and the limited number of healthcare workers, have created problems for patients and have also reduced their capacity for compliance. In addition, treatments such as Electroconvulsive Therapy, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, and impatient treatment have faced more restrictions due to the pandemic.

Symposium experts said that patients suffering from both a mental illness and COVID-19 can continue using psychotropic medication, but need to consider the possibility of drug interactions between psychotropic drugs and medication for COVID-19 treatment, with effects such as respiratory sedation caused by psychotropic medication.

Another study shows that psychiatric disorders, and especially severe mental illness, are associated with an increased risk of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection and COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality[vi]. At the symposium, experts suggested that people with severe mental illness should be prioritized in vaccine allocation strategies, and during the vaccination process they should continue to receive treatment with antipsychotics.

Managing bipolar disorder: diagnosis and medication of bipolar depression are the difficulties

Bipolar disorder is a severe mental disorder, and patients with this disorder face a high risk of suicide. If the condition is left untreated, suicide rates may be 20 times higher than in the general population[vii], resulting patient deaths and significant trauma to patients' families. Bipolar disorder typically consists of both manic and depressive episodes separated by periods of normal mood; the clinical manifestations are complex and diverse. Clinically, the diagnosis rate is low and misdiagnosis and under diagnosis rates are high, and it is not unusual for bipolar disorder to be misdiagnosed as unipolar depression.

When it comes to the management of bipolar disorder, experts remarked that correctly distinguishing bipolar depression from unipolar depression is one of the main challenges. Based on their previous clinical experience, physicians can make a comprehensive assessment of a patient by asking about his or her family history of hereditary diseases and mental health problems. For example, patients are asked whether any of their immediate family members have or have had bipolar disorder, have attempted suicide or have other severe mental disorders, in addition to whether the patients had severe depressive symptoms before the age of 25, have developed treatment resistance after taking multiple antidepressants, have experienced manic or hypomanic behaviors in the past, or have experiences such as being hospitalized, arrested or dismissed from their job because of their symptoms.

In the treatment of bipolar depression, according to the CANMAT 2018 guidelines, lithium and antipsychotics, including quetiapine, have a higher-level of recommendation based on the clinical effectiveness of these two types of drugs. In the panel discussion session, the participating experts also noted that mood stabilizers and atypical antipsychotics (such as quetiapine) are given priority for use in treating bipolar disorder patients with comorbid anxiety symptoms.

Luye Pharma: building academic platforms in the CNS field to provide support for physicians

The Asia Pacific Psychiatry Symposium is positioned to be forward-looking, practical, and innovative, and acts as an academic platform combining the most up-to-date topics on the frontiers of psychiatry and clinical practice. Compared to previous years, the topics of the 2021 symposium are more closely associated with the needs of mental health services today, with interactive programs such as panel discussion added to address topical issues, difficulties and challenges of concern to psychiatrists. The half-day symposium held online this year generated approximately 6,500 views, covered more countries and regions than previously, and exerted greater influence, attracting a higher level of professional attention.   

Luye Pharma, the event organizer, has long been working in the central nervous system (CNS) therapeutic area. In addition to offering high-quality and innovative drugs, the company is also committed to providing professional support and services to physicians and patients. Zhou Jun, Vice President of Marketing at Luye Pharma (International), said, "We are glad to see that this academic platform is steadily receiving greater attention from more physicians. Asia Pacific is a starting point for us, and looking ahead, we hope to continue to drive academic exchange covering the CNS therapeutic area for psychiatric professionals in more countries and regions around the world. We look forward to working further with experts and academics in this area to drive the development of clinical treatment for CNS disorders."

[i] Mental Health Day: an opportunity to kick-start a massive scale-up in investment in mental health, World Health Organization, August 27, 2020

[ii] Ahmad A. Toubasi, et al, A meta-analysis: The mortality and severity of COVID-19 among patients with mental disorders, Psychiatry Research, Volume 299, 2021

[iii] Perlis RH, Ognyanova K, Santillana M, et al. Association of Acute Symptoms of COVID-19 and Symptoms of Depression in Adults. JAMA Netw Open. March 2021

[iv] Ettman CK, Abdalla SM, Cohen GH, Sampson L, Vivier PM, Galea S. Prevalence of Depression Symptoms in US Adults Before and During the COVID-19 Pandemic. JAMA Netw Open. September 2020

[v] Jianyin Qiu, et al. A nationwide survey of psychological distress among Chinese people in the COVID-19 epidemic: implications and policy recommendations. General Psychiatry. March 2020

[vi] Victor Mazereel MD, et al, COVID-19 vaccination for people with severe mental illness: why, what, and how?, The Lancet Psychiatry, Volume 8, Issue 5, May 2021, Pages 444-450

[vii] Iria Grande, et al, Bipolar disorder, www.thelancet.com, Published online September 18, 2015

About Luye Pharma Group

Luye Pharma Group is an international pharmaceutical company dedicated to the R&D, manufacturing and sale of innovative medications. The company has established R&D centers in China, the U.S. and Europe, with a robust pipeline of over 30 drug candidates in China and more than 10 drug candidates in other international markets. Along with a number of new drugs and new formulations in the central nervous system and oncology therapeutic areas under study in the U.S. Europe and Japan, Luye Pharma has reached high-level international standards in novel drug delivery technologies including microspheres, liposomes, and transdermal drug delivery systems, as well as actively making strategic developments in the fields of biological antibodies, cell therapies and gene therapies, among others.

Luye Pharma is developing a global supply chain of 8 manufacturing sites with over 30 production lines in total, establishing GMP quality management and international standard control systems. With more than 30 products covering the central nervous system, oncology, cardiovascular, metabolism and other therapeutic areas, business is conducted in over 80 countries and regions around the world, including the largest pharmaceutical markets - China, the U.S., Europe and Japan, as well as in fast growing emerging markets.

For more information, please visit: www.luye.cn/lvye_en

 

Source: Luye Pharma
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