MonthAugust 2019

Reading of the Week: Is Adult Mental Illness More Common? The New Acta Paper; Also, Hill on Cannabis & Neustadter’s Med School Experience

From the Editor

Family physician colleagues talk about how many patients now disclose mental health problems. Our EDs see more patients with mental illness than ever. Antidepressant use has doubled between 2000 and 2015 across OECD countries.

So is mental illness more common than before?

Just last week, a CBC reporter asked me this question. She noted that the rise of businesses offering mindfulness and the proliferation of mental health apps. But as stigma fades and people are more comfortable talking about mental illness, it’s also possible that more people are seeking care, but that there aren’t more people with illness.

depressionintcover0807Mental illness: more commonly discussed, more common?

In our first selection, we consider a new paper from Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. Dirk Richter (of Bern University of Applied Sciences) and his co-authors use a systematic review and meta-analysis to see if adult mental illness is increasing over time. “We conclude that the prevalence increase of adult mental illness is small and we assume that this increase is mainly related to demographic changes.”

In the second selection, we consider a new JAMA review of the evidence – or lack of evidence – for medical use of cannabis. Dr. Kevin P. Hill (of Harvard Medical School) writes: “Insufficient evidence exists for the use of medical cannabis for most conditions for which its use is advocated.”

In the third selection, Yale School of Medicine med student Eli Neustadter discusses a challenging patient and the connection they form. “MB and I also found time to meet weekly in a quiet room with nothing but two chairs, two guitars, and two picks.”

There will be no Readings for the next two weeks. The conversation will continue after Labour Day.

DG

 

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Reading of the Week: PTSD & Treatment – What’s Evidence Based? JAMA Psychiatry’s New Network Meta-analysis

From the Editor

Just over a century ago, Dr. Charles Myers wrote “A Contribution To The Study Of Shell Shock” in The Lancet, the first paper on shell shock. Today, our understanding of PTSD has greatly evolved.

But what’s the most effective treatment for people with PTSD?

This week, we consider the new paper by the University of Basel’s Jasmin Merz and her co-authors. They use a network meta-analysis to determine whether patients do better with medications, psychotherapy, or both; in other words, they attempt to analyze different studies in this area, but not necessarily those that do direct comparisons (that’s my Twitter-length biostatistical summary). They find: “The available evidence is sparse and appears not to support the use of pharmacological therapy as first-line treatment for posttraumatic stress disorder…”

ptsd

We also consider an editorial that runs with the study. Murray B. Stein and Sonya B. Norman, both of University of California San Diego, are critical, commenting that aspects of the study may be “hard to swallow.”

DG

 

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Reading of the Week: Mental Health & the Opinion Pages – Mental Health Reform (Star), ECT (Guardian), and Suicide and “13 Reasons Why” (LA Times)

From the Editor

“Mental health is out of the closet. Now that we’ve opened the door, time for a closer look at what’s been out of sight for so long.”

This week, we consider three selections. They appeared in newspapers in recent days, and discuss mental health topics. The opening quotation – which is from the first essay – applies to all of them; a closer look: calls for more debate about how mental health services are organized, the care that patients are offered, and the way mental illness is portrayed in our culture.

In our first selection, we consider an op ed from Toronto Star columnist Martin Regg Cohn. He wonders about improving access to mental health care. In a provocative essay, he mulls the mismatch between the supply and demand of services (particularly psychiatric services). He argues: “We might as well accept that our mental health spending will increase significantly over the years. All the more reason to start reallocating funds wisely now.”

newspapersThree Selections, Three Newspapers

In the second selection, we look at an essay by Dr. Mariam Alexander, an NHS psychiatrist, who discusses ECT. She opens simply: “It might come as quite a surprise to learn that, as a psychiatrist, if I ever had the misfortune to develop severe depression, my treatment of choice would be electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).”

And in our third selection, the University of Toronto’s Dr. Mark Sinyor considers the popular show “13 Reasons Why” and offers a cautionary note about the portrayal of suicide. The LA Times op ed notes that Netflix and others have “the potential to do good in the world when handling sensitive mental health issues.”

Enjoy.

DG

 

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