Monday, November 25, 2013

APA Journal Focuses on Psychotherapies for Organ-Transplant Candidates

The fall issue of Focus—APA's journal of lifelong learning—is devoted to expanding psychiatrists' medical knowledge and thus easing their transition into the world of integrated care. One of the articles is devoted to the psychiatric aspects of organ transplantation. The lead author is Andrea DiMartini, M.D., an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and an expert on this subject.

Several psychotherapies have been developed or adapted for organ-transplant candidates, especially while they are waiting for a transplant, DiMartini and her colleagues noted. Some of these interventions have also been tested and found effective. For example, quality of life therapy is a form of cognitive-behavioral therapy that has been found, in individuals waiting for a kidney or lung transplant, to reduce psychological stress, lead to more social intimacy, and improve the quality of patients' lives.

If patients experience neuropsychiatric symptoms following transplantation, the symptoms might be due to immunosuppressive medications, DiMartini and her colleagues pointed out. For example, corticosteroids that are used soon after transplant surgery to augment immunosuppression and treat episodes of acute rejection may produce mood lability, insomnia, or cognitive disturbances. However, contrary to common belief, such symptoms are not more common in patients with preexisting psychiatric disorders.

More information about the psychiatric aspects of organ transplantation, such as the psychosocial evaluation of prospective donors or which patients should receive a transplant, can be found in the Focus article "Psychiatric Aspects of Organ Transplantation" or in the Psychiatric News article, "How Critical Is Mental Health in Transplant Decisions?"

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