Recapping the APNA Psychopharmacology Institute!
450 psychiatric-mental health nurses gathered in Reston, Virginia to swap ideas with colleagues from varying backgrounds, learn practical evidence-based approaches to medication and care, hear about the latest research, and earn up to 21.5 contact hours on-site! From the impact of SSRI and SNRI medications on sleep architecture to the current evidence of marijuana applications in medical care, the sessions covered a wide breadth of research and information relevant to psychiatric-mental health nursing practice. "Every session introduced me to new information that will inform my practice in large and small ways," said one attendee.


Keynotes: Markus Heilig, MD, PhD & Xavier Amador, PhD
This year's two keynotes each highlighted two very different aspects of psychopharmacology. Markus Heilig, the Clinical Director for both the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, spoke about cutting-edge research on personalized medicine approaches to treating alcohol addiction. Xavier Amador, PhD, founder of the LEAP institute, clinical psychologist, and author, drew from personal experience and research to discuss how clinicians can help persons with mental illness and poor insight. Attendees also received complimentary copies of Dr. Amador's book, "I am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help!". Comments from those who attended the sessions perhaps best summarize the impact of their presentations....

On Dr. Heilig's presentation, Personalized Medicine Approaches to the Treatment of Alcohol Addiction:

  • Understanding the hereditary and behavioral mechanisms of alcohol use helped me understand my patients' struggle, especially when they come from parents and families in which the alcohol abuse was a huge problem.
  • [I have] more awareness of differences in male and female response to dopamine...naltrexone does not work for everyone and DNA testing [is] needed to accurately determine who will respond.
  • I can now make a more thorough evaluation taking into account information gleaned based on hereditary and behavioral mechanisms.

On Dr. Amador's presentation, "I am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help!" Research on Poor Insight and How We Can Help:

  • I liked the audience participation and how Dr. Amador helped us see the patient's perspective - very important and turned things on their head so to speak. Have to put aside ways we think currently as practitioners and open up to new methods. Thank you!!
  • I will be working with my patients with new eyes. I have a new insight to schizophrenia that I never thought I would gain, and [this] has truly opened my thought process to handling and communicating with my patients.
  • [I] feel more confident about RELATIONSHIP being the key factor in helping those with severe chronic MI (and others). [I] will use reflective listening more!!


Excerpts from the Experts at the Psychopharmacology Institute
Here's a sample the broad range of information attendees took home from the various sessions:

  • Individual genotype is invariable from birth to death – it is based on our raw DNA. Genotype is NOT affected by treatments/drugs and EVERY metabolic pathway, transport, action is susceptible to genetic variation.
    (Leahy, Pre-Conference: Conquering Clinical Conundrums: Psychopharmacology in the 21st Century)
  • Risk factors for hyponatremia among older adults include previous history of hyponatremia, use of thiazide diuretics, medical co-morbidities (pneumonia), ETOH use, female gender, older age, and low body weight.
    (Galik, Uncommon Complications in Using Psychotropic Medications with Older Adults)
  • Melatonin regulates circadian rhythm, activates T Lymphocytes, monocytes, natural killer cells, ganuocytes, and interleukin; is protective from Oxidative Stress & Ionizing radiation; and has oncostatic and cytoxic effect on cancer cells.
    (Holshoe, Understanding Sleep and Antidepressants: Lessons from Research Literature and Clinical Practice)
  • The criteria for PANDAS is: presence of OCD and/or Tic Disorder, prepubertal onset, acute (dramatic, abrupt) onset and episodic course (relapsing-remitting), association with neurological abnormalities (choreiform movements),temporal relationship between symptom exacerbations and streptococcal infections
    (Swedo, PANDAS, PANs: Autism Spectrum Update)
  • The impact of schizophrenia on obstetric outcomes during pregnancy includes preterm delivery, low birth weight, placental abnormalities, and antenatal hemorrhage.
    (Leahy, PMDD, Pregnancy & Psychopharmacology)
  • Long-term, heavy use of marijuana (10 years, 5 joints daily, mean age of 39) showed a 12% reduction in hippocampal volume.
    (Teter, Cannabinoids Overview: Medical Use, Abuse, Pharmacotherapy, and Assessment of Consequences)
  • Early life adversity may alter the expression of DNA methylation of certain genes linked to adult immune dysregulation.
    (Katz, Collaborative Care: Organizing Treatment Options in Integrated Mental Health, Sat. 6/21)
  • Study findings show that acute Traumatic Brian Injury (TBI) results in increased protein ubiquitination.
    (Gill, Genomics to Guide Pharmacological Agent Targets and Personalize Medicine: An Exemplar of Traumatic Brain Injury)
  • In Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation, magnetic fields induce electric current in the brain, leading to depolarization of nerve cells, causing a release of neurotransmitters.
    (Rosedale, Treatment Choices in Neuromodulation as Compared to Medication)
  • In a random sample from two counties in California, 18.2% of the males and 13.5% of the females who committed suicide had use of illegal drugs.
    (Carretta, Assessing, Prescribing, and Examining the Evidence through a Forensic Lens)


Want to learn more?
Session recordings will be available in the APNA eLearning Center this summer!

The American Psychiatric Nurses Association is accredited as a provider of continuing nursing education by the American Nurses Credentialing Center’s Commission on Accreditation.


Return to APNA News - June 2014