MonthAugust 2015

Reading of the Week: Is CBT Losing Its Effectiveness? The Johnsen and Friborg Paper

Depressive disorders (DDs) can be highly disabling and are ranked third in terms of disease burden as defined by the World Health Organization, and first among all psychiatric disorders in terms of disability adjusted life years. In addition, DDs seem to be rising globally, and a 20% annual increase in its incidence has been predicted. Improvements in treatment methods and prevention measures, and the availability of community psychiatric services are, therefore, as important as ever before.

So begins, without much controversy, this week’s Reading – which happens to be one of the most controversial papers of the year.

This meta-analysis has been mentioned in newspapers and blogs. No wonder – in 22 pages, it raises questions about the effectiveness of a major psychiatric treatment: cognitive behavioural therapy.

The Reading: “The Effects of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as an Anti-Depressive Treatment is Falling: A Meta-Analysis” by Tom J. Johnsen and Oddgeir Friborg, recently published in the prestigious Psychological Bulletin.

The full paper can be found here:

https://uit.no/Content/418448/The%20effect%20of%20CBT%20is%20falling.pdf

Tom J. Johnsen

A quick summary: analyzing data from 70 studies over nearly four decades, Johnsen and Fribourg find CBT to have become less effective at reducing depressive symptoms. Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Housing First and At Home/Chez Soi

Homelessness is a significant social problem in Toronto, Canada’s largest and most ethnically diverse urban center, where approximately 29,000 individuals use shelters each year and roughly 5,000 people are homeless on any given night.

So opens this week’s Reading. The sentence is simple and direct; the facts conveyed are haunting. But this week’s Reading is ultimately a good news story. Actually, it’s a very good news story.

The Reading: “Effectiveness of Housing First with Intensive Case Management in an Ethnically Diverse Sample of Homeless Adults with Mental Illness: A Randomized Controlled Trial” by Vicky Stergiopoulos et al., which has just been published in PLOS ONE.

Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos

Here’s a quick summary: offer the homeless housing, and they not only gain housing stability but end up drinking less and are hospitalized less. Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Psychiatry’s Identity Crisis

American psychiatry is facing a quandary: Despite a vast investment in basic neuroscience research and its rich intellectual promise, we have little to show for it on the treatment front.

With few exceptions, every major class of current psychotropic drugs — antidepressants, antipsychotics, anti-anxiety medications — basically targets the same receptors and neurotransmitters in the brain as did their precursors, which were developed in the 1950s and 1960s.

Sure, the newer drugs are generally safer and more tolerable than the older ones, but they are no more effective.

So begins this week’s Reading, which considers the state of psychiatry, and psychiatric research funding.

Here’s a quick summary: the author suggests that the neuroscience revolution is something of a bust and that psychotherapies are worthy of more study and use. This may seem like a strong argument. And it is – particularly given the bias of the author, who is, by his own description: “a psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist who loves neuroscience.”

This week’s Reading: “Psychiatry’s Identity Crisis” by Weill Cornell Medical College’s Richard A. Friedman was recently published by The New York Times.

The article can be found here:

www.nytimes.com/2015/07/19/opinion/psychiatrys-identity-crisis.html

Dr. Richard A. Friedman

Continue reading