TagThe Lancet

Reading of the Week: On D-Day, Three Papers on Shell Shock, One by Dr. Charles Myers

From the Editor

Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day.

Ceremonies are planned across the country, and across Europe; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in France. During these anniversaries, people comment on the importance of the moment. US President Barack Obama noted: “much of the progress that would define the 20th century, on both sides of the Atlantic, came down to the battle for a slice of beach only six miles long and two miles wide.” And people speak of the loss of life. US President Ronald Reagan, on a past anniversary, talked about “the boys of Pointe du Hoc” who had tried to take “these cliffs” off the beaches, noting that the majority were killed.

But the damage of war is not only in the loss of life.

In this week’s Reading, we consider shell shock and PTSD starting with the first paper on the topic, written by Dr. Charles S. Myers for The Lancet, published just over a century ago. Dr. Myers writes about three cases of shell shock, noting the similarities in their presentations.

La pointe du Hoc en Normandie (Calvados, Basse-Normandie, France)

We also consider a recent paper, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, discussing a more modern presentation – but perhaps not a profoundly different presentation. Finally, we consider a summary of recent published guidelines.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Do Antidepressants Work? The New Cipriani Study

From the Editor

Last week, I spoke to a patient about antidepressants. “But do they really work?” she asked. While antidepressants are commonly prescribed, many patients wonder about them. That’s not surprising: in popular culture, these medications are often portrayed as risky and unhelpful. Just a few weeks ago, the most popular women’s fitness magazine in the world described fawningly how a woman quit her medications and felt better (“I felt more alive and in control of my emotions with each passing day”). A few years ago, a major study suggested that antidepressants basically match placebo in efficacy; 60 Minutes covered it.

And now there is the new Cipriani et al. paper. “We found that all antidepressants included in the meta-analysis were more efficacious than placebo in adults with major depressive disorder…”

Is this the biggest psychiatry paper of the year? Certainly, it may be one of the most impressive. It took six years of effort. Oxford University’s Andrea Cipriani and his co-authors drew from all available data – published and unpublished, and covering more than 500 trials.

The media coverage has been incredible. The Guardian summarized the paper with the first two words of its article: “Antidepressants work.”

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In this Reading, we look at the big study and mull the big implications.

DG

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