MonthOctober 2019

Reading of the Week: Are the Pills Safe? JAMA Psychiatry on Antidepressants, NICE on Withdrawal Symptoms

From the Editor

They are popular, but are they safe?

It’s the question that patients often ask about antidepressants. Though SSRIs have been on the market for decades – and older antidepressants for much longer – people continue to question their overall safety. Online forums relate stories of problems; news articles have linked them to suicidal thoughts in youth and other issues; regulatory agencies have acted on their doubts – the FDA, as an example, issued a black box warning for SSRIs use in adolescents.

This week, in our first selection, we consider a new paper from Linköping University’s Elena Dragioti and her co-authors. In this JAMA Psychiatry paper, the authors use a systematic umbrella review, drawing on meta-analyses of observational studies. “This study’s findings suggest that claimed adverse health outcomes associated with antidepressants may not be supported by strong evidence and may be exaggerated by confounding by indication; no absolute contraindication to the use of antidepressants was found to be currently supported by convincing evidence.”

We discuss the paper and the methodology.

antidepressants

In the second selection, we draw from the recently revised UK NICE guideleines, which provide advice on withdrawal symptoms and tapering strategies. “There is substantial variation in people’s experience…”

DG

 

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Reading of the Week: More Sleep, Fewer Suicidal Thoughts? New AJP Paper; Also, Is Depression like Cancer (NYT)? Admissions & Ethnic Minorities (EPS)

From the Editor

Can a sleep intervention reduce suicidal thoughts in those with depression and insomnia?

When seeing people with depression, we often tend to focus on the Big Problem: that is, the major depressive disorder itself. But should we also consider trying to provide early symptomatic relief, with, say, a sleep medication?

In the first selection, we look at a new paper from The American Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. William V. McCall of the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University and his co-authors write about the REST-IT study, a randomized controlled trial of zolpidem-CR for those with MDD and insomnia. “The results do not support the routine prescription of hypnotic medication for mitigating suicidal ideation in all depressed outpatients with insomnia…”

sleeping-babySleeping Like a Baby: Fewer Suicidal Thoughts?

In the second selection, the University of Western Ontario’s Rebecca Rodrigues and her co-authors consider involuntary psychiatric admissions and ethnic minority groups in the context of early psychosis. Spoiler alert: “African and Caribbean groups were the most likely to experience an involuntary admission…”

And in the third selection, phyisician Jill Halper wonders: is depression like cancer? “My rabbi said that my husband, like a dying cancer patient, had been in hospice care. We just didn’t realize it.”

DG

 

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Reading of the Week: When Physical Medicine Met Mental Health; New Papers from General Hospital Psychiatry and JAMA Neurology

From the Editor

In my last hospital job, an afternoon might involve seeing a gentleman with poorly controlled diabetes, a woman who wasn’t participating in her post-hip physiotherapy, and an ICU patient with multiple problems. The common thread: they all had psychiatric diagnoses (PTSD, depression, and delirium, respectively).

Patients with physical and mental health problems can be costly and complicated. They also pose a challenge for a health care system that is designed for the simplicity of tackling one problem at a time.

This week, we look at a couple of papers on this interface between mental and physical health.

In the first paper, the University of Rochester’s Mark A. Oldman and his co-authors wonder if proactive psychiatric consultations can reduce hospital length of stay. With a systematic review, they conclude: “Our review indicates that proactive models of CL psychiatry whose screening is enriched by clinical expertise in mental health care and that deliver enhanced, proactive mental health services appear to reduce LOS, with preliminary cost-benefit analyses reporting favorable returns on investment that more than offset the increased costs of providing this level of enhanced care.”

hospitalGood Hospital, Good CL Service?

In the second paper, the University of Toronto’s Matthew J. Burke, a neurologist, considers patients who present with symptoms unexplained by medical disease. “The irony of ‘it’s all in your head’ is that although this phrase is often used inappropriately and dismissively, it is technically correct.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Should Medical Education Stay in Its Lane? Drs. Zaheer and Berkhout Respond

From the Editor

Should medical education “stay in its lane?”

Two weeks ago, we discussed an essay by the University of Pennsylvania’s Dr. Stanley Goldfarb who warns that: “Curricula will increasingly focus on climate change, social inequities, gun violence, bias and other progressive causes only tangentially related to treating illness.”

This week, we feature two letters to the editor responding to this essay, both original content for the Reading of the Week, and both from physicians affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Drawing on the medical literature and her life experience, Dr. Juveria Zaheer wonders what makes a medical expert or a physician scientist. “Being a medical expert or a physician scientist isn’t just about learning about biology – it’s about committing to the creation of a society where every life is worth living.”

Looking at medicine and philosophy, Dr. Suze G. Berkhout questions the basic assumptions of Dr. Goldfarb’s argument. “Goldfarb misrepresents the place of values in shaping scientific and medical knowledge.”

2012_canada_highwayoftears_0Staying in Your Lane: Good for Drivers, not Med Ed?

Both letters are thoughtful and worth reading.

DG

 
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Reading of the Week: Postsecondary Students & Mental Illness (CJP), a New Podcast (CAMH), and Bipolar & Social Media (NYT)

From the Editor

Social media. An uncertain job market. Increasing academic demands.

Is life for our postsecondary students harder than ever? And are we seeing a surge in mental health disorders as a result?

In the first selection, we consider a new Canadian Journal of Psychiatry paper on postsecondary education and mental illness. While many have opinions on this topic, the University of Toronto’s Kathryn Wiens and her co-authors seek to add data to the discussion. Drawing on the Canadian Community Health Survey, they find: “The results do not imply the emergence of a mental health crisis among postsecondary students.”

graduation-feature-20131011

In the second selection, we look at a new podcast considering technology and education. I interview some accomplished educators, including the University of Toronto’s David Goldbloom. “This is about challenging our own norms, values and expectations as clinicians.”

And in the final selection, we consider a New York Times essay on bipolar and social media. “Facebook snitched our big family secret: Roland, the literary prodigy, the tenderhearted musician, the Ivy League grad, was bipolar.”

DG

 

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