Tag: benzodiazepines

Reading of the Week: Mental Health Literacy & Skills for Students – the New CJP Paper; Also, Benzodiazepine Use and the Latest Mental Health Headlines

From the Editor

Postsecondary education can be incredibly stressful for students – and, not surprisingly, mental health problems may surface. Is it possible to inform (and thus empower) students with a simple intervention?

In the first selection, Yifeng Wei (of the University of Alberta) and her co-authors consider a trial of Transitions, a program that includes both mental health literacy and comprehensive life skills resources “for those transitioning from secondary to postsecondary education.” In a new Canadian Journal of Psychiatry paper, they describe a study involving nearly 2 400 students across five institutions. “Students in the intervention significantly improved mental health knowledge, decreased stigma against mental illness, increased positive attitudes toward help-seeking, improved help-seeking behaviours, and decreased perceived stress compared to the control group.” We review the paper.

Beautiful campus – and a place to reduce stigma?

In the second selection, Christine Timko (of Stanford University) and her co-authors consider benzodiazepine use. In a new Psychiatric Services paper, they note: “This study’s findings suggest that challenges remain in discontinuing long-term benzodiazepine use among patients who are older than 45 years, White, taking higher doses for longer, and diagnosed as having anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or psychosis.”

And finally, in a new section, we consider some recent news items relevant to those of us in mental health care. Our aim: not simply to draw from interesting reports, but to include those that our patients may read and bring up. This week: the focus (and TikTok videos) on the vagus nerve, the Freud who hated Freud, and ADHD in adults.


Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Canada Day – With Papers on Cannabis, Chatbots, Depression, Nutraceuticals and Benzodiazepines in Pregnancy

From the Editor

It’s Canada Day.

Let’s start by noting that not everyone has a day off. Some of our colleagues are working – perhaps in hospitals or vaccine clinics. A quick word of thanks to them for helping our patients on a holiday.


Appropriately, this week’s selections will focus on Canadian work.

What makes a paper “Canadian” for the purposes of this review? That is, how do we define Canadian? Things could get complicated quickly when considering journal papers. Does the second author order “double double” at Tim Hortons? Has the senior author eaten poutine for breakfast? Is the journal’s action editor hoping that the Canadiens bring the Cup home?

Let’s keep things simple: all the papers selected this week have been published in a Canadian journal and the papers are clinically relevant for those of us seeing patients in Canada.

There are many papers that could have been chosen, of course. I’ve picked five papers – a mix of papers that have been featured previously in past Readings, and some new ones. All but one of the selected papers are recent.

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


Continue reading

Reading of the Week: Are Benzodiazepines Misunderstood? Also, Lizotte on Mental Health Support, and The Lancet on Those Doctors Lost to COVID

From the Editor

In a recent conversation with a resident, we discussed benzodiazepines. “I’ve never prescribed one,” he explained.

This class of medications is very much out of fashion. But, after decades of overuse, have we swung to the other extreme, and forgotten an important tool in our pharmacologic toolkit? In the first selection, we consider a British Journal of Psychiatry editorial. Dr. Edward Silberman (of Tufts University School of Medicine) and his co-authors argue that benzodiazepines are underappreciated. The selection ties well into a commentary that recently appeared in The American Journal of Psychiatry. Dr. Jerrold F. Rosenbaum (of Harvard Medical School) writes: “My own son, a first-year resident in psychiatry, looks at me as if I served on the wrong side in the Spanish Civil War when I speak of benzodiazepines.” Is there a clinical takeaway here?


In the second selection, writer and comedian Andrew Lizotte discusses the challenges of being a patient in our mental health system. He shares some jokes – but, ultimately, notes ongoing stigma and power imbalances. “We see how mental illness is portrayed in the media. We are scared of being shot by police during a ‘routine health check.’ We see the lack of empathy. Then people wonder why we don’t ask for help.”

Finally, with an eye on COVID-19, we look at a short paper in The Lancet about those doctors who have lost their lives in the pandemic. “These lives are also a reminder of the ongoing dedication and service of those who continue to care for patients at a time when COVID-19 cases and deaths are increasing in many countries.”


Continue reading