Psych Congress
Psych Congress
October 22, 2018
3 min read

Highlights to look forward to at Psych Congress 2018

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Image of Charles L. Raison 2018
Charles L. Raison

Psych Congress will take place in Orlando, Florida from Thursday, Oct. 25 through Sunday, Oct. 28.

With 3,000 participants and more than 200 exhibits, Psych Congress offers mental health professionals insight into current and emerging treatment strategies in the field, implementing measurement-based care in everyday practice and improving patient outcomes through education.

As Psych Congress approaches, Healio Psychiatry asked one of the conference co-chairs, Charles L. Raison, MD, professor in the department of psychiatry at University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, for some highlights attendees can look forward to.

What is the theme of this year’s Psych Congress?

Each year, Psych Congress builds on its focus of advancing psychopharmacology, psychotherapy and wellness. This year especially, I feel like we put together a program that combines education on state-of-the-art treatment approaches and emerging research findings aimed at personalizing our patients’ treatment strategies.

What are a few important trends in psychiatry research that will be featured at the meeting?

Rakesh Jain
Rakesh Jain

Drug development. This is a time of profound change in how we pharmacologically treat major depression: In the next year or two there will be a number of agents coming to market that have totally new mechanisms of action for the first time in half a century. Clinicians will need to get up to speed on these new agents, not just on how to use them, but on why and how they work. Particular sessions at the Congress will focus on glutamate targets, novel GABA modulators and agents that target opioid receptors. Experts talking on these topics will include Rakesh Jain, MD, MPH, and Michael Thase, MD.

Another area that is increasingly coming to the forefront of how we think about psychiatric conditions is the role that the immune system in general, and inflammation in particular, plays in the genesis and treatment of these conditions. This year’s congress will feature a range of presentations in this area. I will be giving a cutting-edge discussion on the role of inflammation in the treatment of depression. Other presentations include the leaky gut/microbiome story by David Scheiderer, MD, and psychoneuroimmunology by Rakesh and Saundra Jain, MA, PSyD, LPC.

Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC
Saundra Jain

Finally, agents that have been generally viewed with suspicion as drugs of abuse are making a remarkable come-back in terms of interest in their therapeutic potential. Congress is fortunate to have two leaders in this area speaking. Robin Carhart-Harris, PhD, the world’s leading neuroscientist working in the area of psychedelic medicine will give a keynote on the potential of psilocybin as a therapeutic agent, and Maria Mangini PhD, FNP-BC, will discuss therapeutic potentials for cannabis.


Schizophrenia is a disease state in which new treatments and delivery methods are also of importance. The Congress is fortunate to have John Kane, MD, a world leader in this area, speaking on future treatments for this disabling disorder.

What are some scientific highlights attendees can look forward to?

It’s really hard to single out specific talks because the range of presentations is so large, but I’m especially interested in these:

  • Doing More by Prescribing Less; Top Ten Drug Interactions that Limit Efficacy
  • Predicting What the Treatment of Schizophrenia Will Look Like in a Decade
  • PsychoNeuroImmunoclogy 101: Practical Tips on How Immunology Can Serve Psychiatry in Improving Outcomes

Are there any sessions or activities that you’re particularly excited about?

Yes! I’ve arranged for Carhart-Harris, a world leader in the neuroscience of psychedelics to give a keynote address. I’ve heard him speak and this should be a groundbreaking talk. I am moderating a debate between Nassir Ghaemi, MD, MPH, and Joseph Goldberg, MD, on the use of antidepressants in bipolar depression. This is a perennial issue for mental health clinicians, so I know this debate will be both entertaining and highly useful. Given the urgency of the opiate crisis in the U.S., I am also very excited to hear Ann Lembke, MD, speak about this topic in a featured session.

For more information:

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