Month: November 2022

Reading of the Week: Mindfulness for Anxiety? The New JAMA Psychiatry Paper; Also, Sim in Med Ed (QT) and Dr. Sen on Burnout & Depression (NEJM)

From the Editor

Mindfulness is trendy. It’s offered at your local YMCA. There are mindfulness techniques in popular apps. Corporations offer sessions over the lunch hour.

But is it helpful? Millions of North Americans struggle with anxiety disorders. Could mindfulness help them? Is it an alternative for those who don’t want to take medications? In the first selection, Dr. Elizabeth A. Hoge (of Georgetown University) and her co-authors try to answer these questions. Their results have just been published in JAMA Psychiatry. In an RCT, they compare a form of mindfulness to the use of an SSRI. They write: “Our prospective randomized clinical trial found that MBSR was noninferior to escitalopram for the treatment of anxiety disorders.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

In this week’s second selection, we look at a new Quick Takes podcast interview with CAMH’s Stephanie Sliekers and Dr. Petal Abdool (of the University of Toronto). They discuss simulation in mental health education, noting the potential. They also talk about their innovative work in this area. “We can create an environment that’s safe, predictable, consistent, standardized, and reproducible.”

In this week’s third selection, Dr. Srijan Sen (of the University of Michigan) writes about physician burnout. In a Perspective paper published in The New England Journal of Medicine, he argues that separating burnout from depression is problematic. He writes: “Expanding reform efforts to encompass depression and mental health more broadly will not reduce the urgency of reforming our health care system. Rather, it will increase the likelihood that physicians who are struggling can access the spectrum of available evidence-based individual interventions.”


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Reading of the Week: Psilocybin for Treatment-Refractory Depression – the New NEJM Paper

From the Editor

“Severe depression eased by single dose of synthetic ‘magic mushroom’”

– CNN, 3 November 2022

For its proponents, psilocybin could be the breakthrough we have been waiting for in depression treatment. For its critics, psilocybin lacks evidence.

What to make of psilocybin? Dr. Guy M. Goodwin (of the University of Oxford) and his co-authors attempt to answer that question with a phase 2 double blind trial focused on those with treatment-resistant depression, offering participants psilocybin at three different doses, in addition to therapy. The resulting paper was just published in The New England Journal of Medicine and has received much attention (including, yes, coverage by CNN). They find: “participants with treatment-resistant depression, psilocybin at a single dose of 25 mg, but not 10 mg, reduced depression scores significantly more than a 1-mg dose over a period of 3 weeks but was associated with adverse effects.” 

The future of depression treatment?

We discuss the big paper and the review the accompanying Editorial by Bertha K. Madras (of Harvard University). We also have comments from Dr. Ishrat Husain (of the University of Toronto), one of the study co-authors.

So does psilocybin offer a breakthrough? Read on and decide for yourself.

(Note that there will be no Reading next week.)


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Reading of the Week: Are Involuntary Admissions on the Rise? The New CJP Paper; Also, Telepsychiatry (JAMA Psych) and Dr. Oh on Suicide (Acad Psych)

From the Editor

A recent New York Times article notes that adolescents are increasingly looking for information on mental health and turning to TikTok. Such is life at a time when stigma fades: people are curious, though not necessarily going to the best places for information.

But are we reaching people earlier in their illness experience? We hope that the answer is yes – a new paper with British Columbian data, however, suggests that police apprehensions are more common, as are involuntary admissions, indicating that more people are in crisis. In the first selection from The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Jackson P. Loyal (of Simon Fraser University) and his co-authors draw on administrative databases and find a major shift: “While roughly half of the people hospitalized for mental health and substance use disorders were admitted voluntarily in 2008/2009, by 2017/2018 this fell to approximately one-third.” We look at the paper and its clinical implications.

British Columbia: a province of rivers, whales, and involuntary admissions

In the second selection, Dr. Carlos Blanco (of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, United States) and his co-authors consider the rise of telepsychiatry, noting that 39% of mental health care in the US is now virtual. In this new JAMA Psychiatry Viewpoint, “Expansion of telepsychiatry creates new opportunities to increase treatment access, while it poses overlapping challenges to multiple stakeholders…”

And in the third selection, Dr. Nicholas Zhenwei Oh (of the Ministry of Health Holdings, Singapore) writes personally and thoughtfully about the loss of a patient by suicide. He goes into detail on his own experience during training. “Patient suicide is possibly the great equaliser amongst psychiatrists, psychiatry trainees, and perhaps any other clinician who has experienced a patient’s suicide. My own experience came suddenly and unexpectedly, and it will likely leave a psychological scar as a grim reminder of one of the lowest points of my career.”


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