Deborah Brauser

October 12, 2012

October 12, 2012 (Vienna, Austria) — World views on the influence of the upcoming Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), and addiction, especially those related to behavior, are expected to be among the hot topics at this year's European College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ECNP) 25th Annual Congress.

In addition, 6 plenary sessions, 3 poster sessions, 28 symposia, and 15 themed "scientific cafes" will be presented during this year's annual meeting, which will be held in Vienna, Austria — the early home of one of the most famous fathers of psychiatry, Sigmund Freud.

Approximately 6000 clinicians and researchers from around the world are expected to attend the conference.

Dr. Joseph. Zohar

"The meeting is really bringing in the balance of cutting edge information about the field, focusing on novel drugs but of course covering other drugs too," ECNP President Joseph. Zohar, told Medscape Medical News.

Regarding the upcoming DSM-5, Dr. Zohar noted that it is important for clinicians to realize that the manual will remain a work in progress, "which is the way the American Psychiatric Association is seeing it too."

"But I think it's a very important attempt to really look at diagnostic criteria, to take into consideration the cumulative knowledge. It is going to be another milestone in the development of psychiatry."

Focus on Addiction

Dr. Zohar, who is with the Department of Psychiatry at Chaim Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, Israel, noted that this year's meeting will have "somewhat more of a focus" on all types of addiction.

"This is 1 issue that I think will be of great interest. It's not just looking at substance addiction but at other types of behavioral addiction, such as pathological gambling," he said.

Presentations on this topic will not only include pharmacologic treatments of the disorder but will also discuss its neural mechanisms.

"Pathological gambling is considered somewhere in between addiction and obsession. You can think about it as addiction because the individual has the drive to go and do this kind of behavior in spite of the consequences of doing so. But there is a lot of overlap between compulsive behavior and compulsive gambling," said Dr. Zohar.

Another key issue for European clinicians is potentially new nomenclature in neuropsychopharmacology. Dr. Zohar said that in various areas of the field, and especially in psychiatry, terminology "is really not reflecting our current knowledge."

"One of the educational sessions will be about how we can best use nomenclature and take advantage of the knowledge that has been developed in the last 20 or 30 years, so we can adapt and incorporate it into the literature, and shift from focusing on indication for treatment to the chemical basis of the function of the potential pharmacological medication," he said.

Modern Tools

When asked about his thoughts on the upcoming DSM-5, Dr. Zohar said that there has been "a lot of input of views" about the manual between US and European psychiatrists.

"In a way what we are doing with the new nomenclature for the different pharmacological medications is somewhat parallel to the DSM. It is parallel to our efforts to really make sure that the knowledge in neuroscience, which has been developed so quickly over the past 30 years or so, is really getting translated," he said.

"Both the diagnostic system of the DSM and the nomenclature that we are starting to develop should be thought of as a process and not as the final product."

Dr. Zohar said that overall, he is very excited about the upcoming meeting and its location in Vienna.

"This is the place where Freud started his really innovative look at psychiatry. And in a way, we feel that using the modern tools in neuropsychopharmacology is really, to some extent, an extension of his work at the beginning of the last century."