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Psychiatry Congress in Vienna: new options for patients

(Vienna, 16th March 2011) The European Psychiatric Association (EPA)’s Congress drew to a close yesterday in Vienna. This 19th EPA Congress, led locally by University Professor Siegfried Kasper, Head of the University Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Medical University of Vienna, was inspired by the motto of "Translating Research into Care" and showcased the latest discoveries in the field of psychiatry.

The highlights of the event included the new discoveries that have been made in imaging methods. Delegates were able to see that depressed patients have been found to not only have reduced activity in various areas of the brain, but also hyperactivity in specific centres, such as in the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex. The scientists also revealed that specific drugs can reduce this hyperactivity. These results from the MedUni Vienna were made possible thanks to close cooperation between the University Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, the University Department of Nuclear Medicine and the Centre for Medical Physics and Biomedical Technology.

Intense discussions were also held about the extent to which bio-markers can already be used in the diagnosis of psychiatric conditions. Despite very promising results obtained at a molecular biological level, these bio-markers are still not yet available for everyday practical situations. A dim view was also taken of the new DSM-V classification from America, which represents a step backwards for biology-orientated research, since the manual has been extended with over 100 conditions for which there is no clear empirical evidence.

The concept of “evidence-based medicine” was a further focus of the event, with delegates arguing that one treatment method should be preferred over another in terms of treatment programmes due to its effects or side-effects, in the same way as is already the case in areas of internal medicine. With this in mind, newer anti-psychotic agents and anti-depressants were also discussed at the Congress.

The key topic and motto of the Congress, however, was the common goal of including the results of research already available in detail through various media in the diagnosis and therapeutic decision-making process of psychiatric conditions.

This year’s EPA Congress was also the most successful so far, with over 4,000 delegates. It furthermore affirmed Vienna's reputation as a scientific hub, with the Medical University of Vienna contributing over 60 items (plenary talks, state-of-the-art lectures, invited presentations, free communication and poster contributions) to the agenda that impressively showcased the institution's work and confirmed its position at the vanguard of European research.

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