Tagpsychosis

Reading of the Week: Are Cats Making Us Sick? The Solmi et al. Paper, and Prescribing Housing in Hawaii

From the Editor

A few years ago, Czech scientist Jaroslav Flegr made a splash by arguing that our feline friends were causing psychosis in people – The Atlantic provocatively titled their article on him: “How Your Cat is Making You Sick.” Flegr’s argument was based in part on several papers (including by prominent researcher E. Fuller Torrey) noting that cat ownership confers an increased risk of psychotic disorders like schizophrenia.

So, are cats safe for household use?

In our first selection, we look at a new Psychological Medicine paper that, with a cohort study, finds no connection between cat ownership and psychotic symptoms.

Good news, tabby: you can stay

How to help the homeless? In our second selection, drawing from The Guardian, we look at a Hawaiian effort to prescribe the housing to the homeless – literally.

Please note that there will be no Readings for the next two weeks. Enjoy the March break.

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Reading of the Week: Do Cities Make Us Sick?

From the Editor

Do cities make us sick?

It’s a question people have been asking for years with many advocating that we should – to steal a line from Huckleberry Finn – get the lights fantastic out of town.

Big city, big mental illness?

This week, we look at a new paper just published in The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry that looks at urban vs. rural populations and depression.

Then, turning to The Atlantic, we consider an essay written by a psychologist that looks at the connection between psychosis and cities.

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Reading of the Week: Can We Prevent Psychosis? Part 1 of 2

From the Editor

Here’s a quick statistical summary of the Readings for the past 12 months.

Total: 48.

Number discussing the prevention of mental illness: One.

Is an ounce of prevention really worth a pound of cure?

Like all of medicine, psychiatry tends to emphasize the treatment of illness, not its prevention. This isn’t the result of a vast medical-industrial conspiracy, of course, but the reality that our field is young and the causes of mental illness aren’t well understood.

But preventing illness is our ultimate goal. Consider the suffering and cost that could be avoided if a person at risk of psychosis didn’t convert, as an example.

Can we prevent psychotic illness?

Prevention is built on two things: we need to identify at risk individuals, and then we need to use appropriate measures to prevent the illness.

Over the next two weeks, we look at a few papers that seek to identify at risk individuals and prevent psychosis in them.

This week. The psychosis risk calculator.

Next week. Cost-effective prevention.

In this week’s paper from The American Journal of Psychiatry, Cannon et al. develop a risk calculator to predict psychotic disorder. The tool they develop has an accuracy rate of 71% – comparable to calculators used for determining cancer recurrence.

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Reading of the Week: Immigration and Psychosis (and Canada)

Meta-analytic reviews suggest that international migrants have a two to threefold increased risk of psychosis compared with the host population, and the level of risk varies by country of origin and host country. This increased risk may persist into the second and third generations. Incidence rates are not typically found to be elevated in the country of origin; therefore it is believed that the migratory or postmigration experience may play a role in the etiology.

The migration-related emergence of psychotics disorders is a potential concern in Canada, which receives 250,000 new immigrates and refugees each year. However, there is a notable lack of current epidemiological information on the incidence of psychosis among these groups.

So begins a new paper that seeks to answer a basic question: are there certain migrant groups more at risk of psychotic disorders in Canada?

This week’s Reading: “Incidence of psychotic disorders among first-generation immigrants and refugees in Ontario” by Kelly K. Anderson et al., which was published in the CMAJ in June.

Kelly K. Anderson

Of course, studying the incidence of psychotic disorders in immigrant populations isn’t exactly novel – there is a rich literature in this field. And the Canadian angle isn’t novel either – as the paper points out, previous studies have considered B.C. hospital admission rates for schizophrenia in European migrants in the early 1900s.

But this paper aims to consider recent data and Canadian data – relevant in a country that takes in 250,000 migrants a year. The paper focuses on Ontario, where first generation migrants constitute almost a third of the population.

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