CategoryReading of the Week

Reading of the Week: Less & Less – Psychiatrists & Psychotherapy; Also, Transgender Individuals & Care (Psych Services) and Digital Mental Health (ANZJP)

From the Editor

“For much of the 20th century, psychotherapy was viewed as synonymous with psychiatry and was the primary treatment modality employed by outpatient psychiatrists.” 

Daniel Tadmon and Dr. Mark Olfson (both of Columbia University) observe this in a new paper. But times have changed; has the practice of psychiatry moved away from psychotherapy?

This week, there are three selections. The first is a new paper from The American Journal of Psychiatry that looks at psychotherapy provided by US psychiatrists. Drawing on decades of data, Tadmon and Olfson find: “While a small group of psychiatrists (11% – 15%) continued to provide psychotherapy in all patient visits, in the 2010s, about half of psychiatrists did not provide psychotherapy at all, and those who provided psychotherapy in some patient visits came to do so more and more rarely.” We consider the paper and its implications.

Sorry Freud: most psychiatrists don’t practice psychotherapy

In the second selection, Dr. June Sing Hong Lam and his co-authors consider the mental health experiences of transgender individuals. In a Psychiatric Services paper, they draw on administrative databases focusing on both ED visits and hospitalizations. They conclude: “This study found that transgender individuals presenting for acute mental health care were more likely to experience marginalization than cisgender individuals and to present to acute care with different diagnostic patterns.”

Finally, in the third selection, Dr. Aswin Ratheesh and Mario Alvarez-Jimenez (both of the University of Melbourne) consider digital mental health and the post-pandemic world. In the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, they write about various problems (for instance, with digital privacy). Still, they see much potential: “Effective digital tools, especially when blended and responsive can radically improve the availability of mental health care in our corner of resource-rich, yet manpower-poor world.”

Please note that there will be no Reading next week.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Better with Time? The New JAMA Paper on Stigma; Also, Dr. Steuber on Real Doctors – and Real Stigma (Academic Psych)

From the Editor

“To say that I didn’t know my great-uncle, Wolfe Levine, would understate things. I didn’t even know of such an uncle, brother of my mother’s father (a grandfather with whom I was close). In retrospect, it’s clear that my great-uncle was simply unmentionable.” In a long essay, writer Howard Husock notes that his great uncle, who suffered from mental illness, was never mentioned.

Society’s view of mental illness has changed much in recent years (good), but some stigma still exists (not so good). How have the public’s views shifted over time?

In our first selection, drawing from JAMA Network Open, we look at a new paper by Bernice A. Pescosolido (of Indiana University) and her co-authors. Reviewing attitudes and beliefs over 22 years, they find that: “this survey study found the first evidence of significant decreases in public stigma toward depression.” That said, not all the results are encouraging. We look at the paper and its clinical implications.

In the second selection, Dr. Elizabeth R. Steuber (of Johns Hopkins University) writes about the stigma faced by those in mental health care. Dr. Steuber, who is a resident of psychiatry, discusses the comments of a patient. She contemplates her work and the potential to change ongoing stigma: “I am hopeful that by leading through example on the medical floors, psychiatry trainees will continue to reshape how the field is seen by society at-large, even if it is only one patient at a time.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: The Best of 2021

From the Editor

Welcome 2022.

It’s a Reading of the Week tradition that we begin the New Year by reviewing the best of the past year; so, this week, we look back at 2021.

2020 to 2021

As with past annual reviews, I’ve organized papers into different categories – though there is one common thread: all the papers are clinically relevant and practical. And, yes, there is a person of the year. Spoiler alert: he was fond of bow ties and thinking outside the box.

And an observation about 2021: the quality of scholarship was very high. I’ve picked ten papers – but it would have been possible to pick scores more. Psychiatry continues to grow more sophisticated with each passing year.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Cannabis & Cannabinoids in Psychiatry – the New AJP Paper; Also, Dr. Jillian Horton on Her Burnout & Recovery (QT)

From the Editor

It’s popular – but is it actually helpful?

With legalization, cannabis is readily available. Not surprisingly, our patients are increasingly trying it. But what’s the latest evidence? In the first selection, we consider a new paper that was just published by The American Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. Kevin P. Hill (of Harvard University) and his co-authors review almost 850 papers and comment on everything from the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis to clinician guidance. “There is little data indicating that cannabinoids are helpful in treating psychiatric illness, while there is considerable evidence that there is potential for harm in vulnerable populations such as adolescents and those with psychotic disorders.” We consider the big paper and its clinical implications.

marijuana_cannabis_plant

In this week’s second selection, we mull physicians and burnout. Dr. Jillian Horton (of the University of Manitoba) joins me for a Quick Takes podcast interview. We discuss burnout, mindfulness, and recovery. She comments on her own burnout: “I would get home at the end of my long shifts on the wards, and I would have nothing left. Nothing left for myself, nothing left for my spouse, nothing left for my children.”

Please note that there will be no Readings for the next two weeks. We will return in early January with the best of 2021.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Suicide and Ethnic Groups – the New Lancet Psychiatry Paper; Also, Cannabis & the Differential (JAMA Int Med)

From the Editor

Discrimination. Microaggression. Stigma. Patients in ethnic groups often face greater challenges and stresses than others. Do suicide rates differ? What are the implications for interventions?

These are good and important questions, yet the literature is thin. In a new paper for The Lancet Psychiatry, Isabelle M. Hunt (of the University of Manchester) and her co-authors consider suicide rates by ethnic group in the UK, focused on those who have had contact with mental health care. Drawing on a large database, they find lower rates of suicide completions compared to White patients, but significant variation among the different groups. The authors see potential clinical implications: “Clinicians and the services in which they work should be aware of the common and distinct social and clinical needs of minority ethnic patients with mental illness.”

fd1c8d415f97df29c61ed70a727e8974The Death of Socrates – and, yes, White patients died by suicide more

In the second selection, Dr. Anees Bahji (of the University of Calgary) and his co-authors consider cannabis use disorder in a patient who presents with cannabis hyperemesis syndrome. Their JAMA Internal Medicine paper is very practical; they suggest: “a multidisciplinary approach that incorporates psychotherapy, withdrawal symptom management, and close follow-up in the primary care setting is recommended for treatment of cannabis-related harms.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Can We Prevent Depression in Older Adults? The New JAMA Psych Paper; Also, Homeless Youth and Mental Health (CJP)

From the Editor

It’s disabling and difficult to treat.

Can we prevent depression in older adults? Prevention is, of course, an important goal for any psychiatric disorder, reducing distress and health care costs. And the morbidity of major depressive disorder is great. A patient recently commented on his depressive episode: “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

Dr. Michael R. Irwin (of the University of California, Los Angeles) and his co-authors offer interesting data in a new JAMA Psychiatry paper. Focused on elderly adults with insomnia, they provided a form of CBT in an RCT. They find: “In this trial of older adults without depression but with insomnia disorder, delivery of CBT-I prevented incident and recurrent major depressive disorder by more than 50% compared with SET, an active comparator.” We review this big paper and its clinical implications.

unknownLess time with depression, more time for dancing

In the other selection, we consider homeless youth. In a new Canadian Journal of Psychiatry paper, Sean A. Kidd (of the University of Toronto) et al. draw on national survey data. “Youth homelessness is a wicked social problem with variable definitions, multiple determinants, corollaries, and outcomes.” They note the connection to sexual violence and make policy recommendations.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Lithium – Anti-Suicidal Qualities? Also, Dr. Tim Graham on His Illness & Recovery (CMAJ)

From the Editor

Our patients complain about the hand tremor. Some feel fatigued when they take this medication. And toxicity is always a risk.

Lithium, in other words, is tough to work with – the Callas or Pavarotti of psychotropic medications, if you will. And yet, it’s arguably the best mood stabilizer, helping people with bipolar get back their lives. Some have gone so far as to claim that all of us should take a little lithium.

Among the purported benefits of lithium: anti-suicidal effects. But does this medication really help our suicidal patients? In a new paper, Dr. Ira R. Katz (of the University of Pennsylvania) and his co-authors ask this question, armed with an impressive dataset. In a JAMA Psychiatry paper, they report the findings of a double-blinded, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial. “The addition of lithium to usual Veterans Affairs mental health care did not reduce the incidence of suicide-related events in veterans with major depression or bipolar disorders who experienced a recent suicide event.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

photo-1567693528052-e213227086bbLithium: the psychotropic that’s as old as the earth

In the second selection, Dr. Tim Graham (of the University of Alberta) writes about his training and work as an ED physician, and his burnout. In a raw, highly personal essay for CMAJ, he speaks about his suicidal thoughts – and the decision to get help. He writes: “If you die tomorrow, your employer will replace you, but your loved ones cannot.” Dr. Graham also offers some practical suggestions for staying well.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Plant-based Medicines – What’s the Evidence? Also, Wearables, New Technologies & Mental Health Care (Quick Takes)

From the Editor

Kava. Ginkgo. St John’s wort.

These plant-based medicines (or phytoceuticals) have gained popularity in recent years. Patients ask about them; in some pharmacies, they are now sold prominently and side by side with other products; celebrities talk up their helpfulness. Plant-based medicines are having a moment.

But what’s the evidence? In the first selection, Jerome Sarris (of the Western Sydney University) and his co-authors consider phytoceuticals for psychiatric disorders in a new Canadian Journal of Psychiatry paper. They draw on meta-analyses of RCTs reporting on the efficacy and effectiveness of these medicines. What did they find? “This ‘meta-synthesis’ of the data from 9 meta-analyses showed positive findings for a variety of plant-based medicines in a range of psychiatric disorders, albeit limited by the quality of source data.” We consider the big paper and its clinical implications.

6900b40570a828ff1775d282eb2605e6St. John’s wort – pretty flower, but evidenced?

In this week’s second selection, we look at wearables and new technologies. Dr. John Torous (of Harvard University) joins me for a Quick Takes podcast interview. We discuss their potential for mental health care including how data captured on devices (especially data related to sleep and exercise) can potentially improve care – and overall health. “Could we be using the step count on a patient’s phone for mental health? Could we transform GPS into something like studying green space to learn about its impact on mental health?” And, yes, we do talk about Star Wars.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Dr. Ari Zaretsky on the Life & Legacy of Dr. Aaron Beck

From the Editor 

The fourth child of Russian Jewish immigrants. A Yale medicine graduate. A snappy dresser who loved bow ties.  

Dr. Aaron Beck, who died last week at the age of 100, was also a psychiatrist who significantly changed the way we treat patients and learn to treat themToday, millions have broken the shackles of mood and anxiety problems by using cognitive behavioural therapy; residents of psychiatry learn about the Beck’s Cognitive Triad as a core part of their training.  

aaron_beck_2016Dr. Aaron Beck 

I asked Dr. Ari Zaretskythe Psychiatrist-in-Chief and Vice President Education of the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, to write about him – his work and legacy. In his essay, Dr. Zaretsky notes: His life story is that of a former psychoanalyst who rejected the dogmatism of mainstream Freudian psychoanalysis during the 1950s and 1960s and in doing so permanently changed the paradigm and transformed psychotherapy.” 

For those who wish to read more about Dr. Beck, I’ve included links, including to The New York Times obituary.  

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Reading of the Week: Measurement-based Care – What’s the Evidence? Also, Goldbloom on the Joy of Jabbing

From the Editor

Well, he looks better.

So often our conversations about patients – in our emergency rooms, wards, and clinics – focus on soft evidence of improvement. No wonder: psychiatry lacks biomarkers. And so, while our colleagues in medicine talk about blood sugars and white blood cell counts, we often discuss other things, like how our patients look and sound.

The promise of measurement-based care: objective evidence of change (or lack thereof). The idea is having a moment, with more and more interest. But what does the literature say?

In the first selection, Maria Zhu (of the University of British Columbia) and her colleagues consider RCTs. In a systematic review and meta-analysis, they look at the efficacy of measurement-based care for depressive disorders. They conclude: “Although benefits for clinical response are unclear, MBC is effective in decreasing depression severity, promoting remission, and improving medication adherence in patients with depressive disorders treated with pharmacotherapy. The results are limited by the small number of included trials, high risk of bias, and significant study heterogeneity.” We discuss the big paper.

tape

The pandemic has changed much with day-to-day practice, including with the rapid virtualization of mental health care. Remember a time when you didn’t need to talk about “being on mute?” And some psychiatrists have been on the front lines of the vaccine effort. In the second selection, Dr. David Goldbloom (of the University of Toronto) writes about his experiences working in a vaccine clinic. His Toronto Lifeessay details the YouTube video he watched to remind himself of how to administer shots, his family ties to vaccinations, and his fondness for the work. “I will always be grateful to have experienced the joy of jabbing.”

DG

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