TagJAMA Psychiatry

Reading of the Week: Can Lithium in Drinking Water Help Prevent Dementia? The Kessing et al. Paper from JAMA Psychiatry

From the Editor

Since the extraordinary work of John Cade some seven decades ago, lithium has been used as a medication to help people with bipolar. But the history of lithium use is longer – for many years, people have understood that it has medicinal value, and bottled water containing lithium was popular at the turn of the twentieth century (long before Dr. Cade started medical school).

We know that lithium affects the brain in many ways (for example, it slows apoptosis, or programmed cell death); we also that know that dementia can work on those same pathways, but in a negative way (it may sped up apoptosis). In this week’s selection, the authors wonder if lithium can prevent dementia. It’s a big question – and the authors tap a big national database. They find a non-linear correlation between lithium in drinking water and dementia.

Tap water: A potential prevention for dementia if it has lithium in it?

So – does this paper represent something of a breakthrough? We look at the paper and an editorial to answer that question.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: ECT and Inpatients – An Underused Tool?

From the Editor

It’s a powerful tool that helps people with refractory depression and other illnesses.

It’s a treatment that carries a heavy stigma, and is used less today than even a decade ago.

Both statements describe electroconvulsive therapy (or ECT) – perhaps the most controversial intervention in psychiatry. And while it has been studied for decades, little work has been done considering the impact of ECT on inpatient readmissions. In this week’s Reading, we look at a new JAMA Psychiatry paper that studies ECT and readmissions.

Spoiler alert: the study authors found it decreased readmits.

Electroconvulsive therapy at Winwick Hospital in 1957: relevant then as now?

The paper begs a larger question: is an important tool in the treatment of those with mental illness being underutilized as newer (and less effective) treatments are chosen?

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Is ‘New’ Overrated? Antipsychotics in the Real World

From the Editor

Is new better?

You may be reading this on an iPhone 7, having driven to work this morning in a 2017 Hybrid Prius. So should your patients be taking a medication that became available four-and-a-half decades ago – when people drove gus-gusling eight-cylinder Oldsmobiles and smartphones didn’t even exist in science fiction novels.

This week, we look at a just-published JAMA Psychiatry paper which promises to look at the “real-world” effectiveness of antipsychotics. The authors tapped Swedish databases to consider outcomes for nearly thirty thousand people with schizophrenia.

Sweden: elaborate welfare state, beautiful historic buildings, and – yes – rich databases

Spoiler alert: new wasn’t better. That is, newer antipsychotics tended to underperform clozapine and depot medications.

We also look at similar “real-world” work drawing from a Finnish database considering treatment of depression.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Better Treatment, Safer Roads? The New JAMA Psychiatry Paper on ADHD & Driving

From the Editor

How can we reduce the number of car accidents?

We often speak about treating mental illness in terms of reducing personal suffering. Recent selections have looked at the economic cost of mental illness. But what are the implications to public health?

This week, we look at a new JAMA Psychiatry paper; this national cohort study involved more than 2.3 million people with ADHD, and considered motor vehicle crashes (as measured by emergency department visits) and whether or not they were taking medications.

Yes, he has a plaid shirt, but should he be taking his prescription meds?

Spoiler alert: The authors find “medication use for the disorder was associated with a significantly reduced risk” of vehicle accidents.

We also look at an editorial that finds “clinical pearls” in this paper.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Effective Therapy for Anxious & Depressed Youth in a Peds Clinic? The New Weersing Study

From the Editor

“Anxiety and depression in youth are widely prevalent, highly impairing, and woefully undertreated.”

So writes San Diego State University’s V. Robin Weersing and her co-authors in a new JAMA Psychiatry paper. In this study, they compare a pediatric clinic-based brief behavioural treatment to referral to outpatient services for depression and anxiety. It’s a novel approach – and one with significant advantages (housing treatment in a primary care setting, to name just one).

So does this work? Spoiler alert: the brief behavioural treatment (BBT) comes out on top.

Anxiety treatment in the peds office: would Norman Rockwell approve?

As an accompanying Editorial notes: “The efficacy of BBT is particularly telling given the low response rate to treatment as usual in the control condition (57% vs 28%), especially for Hispanic populations (76% vs 7%).”

Please note: there will be no Reading next week because of the APA Annual Meeting. (I hope to see you in California.)

DG

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Reading of the Week: Can We Reduce Suicide in the Emergency Department Population? Also, Drugs & Crime

From the Editor

He presents to the Emergency Department a few days after a suicide attempt. What can we do to help keep this man safe today – and moving forward?

Emergency Departments: noisy, busy, and an opportunity for suicide prevention?

It’s a scenario that repeats itself at EDs across the country with regularity. This week, in our first selection, we consider a new JAMA Psychiatry paper that has just been published looking at suicide prevention in the ED population. The authors claim “this study is the largest suicide intervention trial ever conducted in the United States,” and they show that, with an intervention, they can reduce suicides and suicide attempts.

And, in the other selection, we look at a short New York Times essay in which economist Austin Frakt argues that substance programs pay for themselves in crime reduction.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Technology & Mental Health – Depression and Internet-based CBT; Also, Finnish e-Therapy

From the Editor

VR. e-therapies.

New technology is changing the way we think about the delivery of psychiatric services. But new isn’t necessarily better. Can care really be transformed? What does the literature say?computere-therapy: more than clever pictures of computers and stethoscopes?

In a two-part Reading of the Week, we look at technology and psychiatry.

Last week, Virtual Reality.

This week, e-therapies.

This week, we consider a new paper that has just been published. Its looks at self-guided Internet-based CBT showing that for every eight people treated, one benefits (consider this in the context of minimal cost).

And, in the other selection, we look at the Finnish experience with Internet-based CBT.

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: The Future of Psychiatry – Part II of II

From the Editor

Is mental health becoming too technical (and forgetting patients as a result)?

The future of us clinicians?

This is the second Reading in a two-part series considering the future of mental health – not in terms of distant developments like biomarkers and genetically-tailored drugs – but rather by looking at measurement-based care and the evolution of the field.

Last week, measurement-based care.

This week, the end of the art of care?

This week, we look at an editorial The British Journal of Psychiatry that warns against physicians becoming “well treated skilled workers.”

And, continuing the consideration of ‘the future,’ we also consider a new paper that has received much attention. Can a web-based intervention help with insomnia? Spoiler alert – as The New York Times reported last week, “more than half of chronic insomniacs who used an automated online therapy program reported improvement within weeks and were sleeping normally a year later.”

DG Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Guest Contribution – Dr. David Goldbloom on Involuntary Hospitalizations

From a Contributing Editor, Colleague and Friend of the Editor

All of us psychiatrists have exercised our responsibility for the involuntary admission of patients. Some patients (and many families) have expressed gratitude for this temporary but fundamental abrogation of civil freedoms – the freedom of movement – but for many patients it may be a source of fear and of loss of control and autonomy (even though the illnesses that they are experiencing also undermine control and autonomy). It may also reflect an upstream failure of less intrusive and earlier interventions to treat mental illness.

Involuntary admission: is there an alternative?

In an era of being patient-centred and recovery-focused, is a reduction in rates of involuntary hospitalization desirable? If you’re a human rights lawyer, the answer may be “well, yes, obviously”. If you’re a clinician, the answer may be “that depends on whether the patient ends up better or worse”. Nevertheless, there are a number of clinical initiatives in place whose goal would be to reduce the frequency of involuntary hospitalization (which does not preclude an increase in the rate of voluntary hospitalization).

So along comes a careful systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized trials to examine four categories of intervention that have, as their explicit primary or secondary outcome, a reduction in the rates of involuntary admission to psychiatric inpatient units. The interventions will seem familiar to any reader who has been involved in the care of people with severe and persistent mental illness. But the results are surprising.

– David Goldbloom, OC, MD, FRCP(C) Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Guest Contribution – Dr. David Goldbloom on Lithium and Self Harm

From a Contributing Editor, Colleague and Friend of the Editor

Sixty-seven years ago, Australian psychiatrist John Cade published his case series on manic patients treated with lithium – truly the dawn of the modern era in psychopharmacology. Two decades passed before lithium came to Canada, and almost three before it came to the United States. In the treatment of mania, it was the first significant drug alternative to the only other enduring treatment from that time – electroconvulsive therapy.

Dr. John Cade (and Lithium)

Today, however, lithium suffers from under-promotion (there is no money to be made on it by the pharmaceutical industry) and under-exposure in the training of residents despite the evidence of its benefit that continues to emerge.

Here is a new paper that looks at suicide and self-harm during maintenance treatment of people with bipolar disorder treated with lithium, valproate or the increasingly popular second-generation antipsychotic drugs. And here is an old paper that reminds us what a difference lithium had already made in the economics of mental illness by 1980.

– David Goldbloom, OC, MD, FRCP(C) Continue reading