Tag: depression

Reading of the Week: CBT for Depression – the Latest Evidence; Also, Digital Mental Health (World Psych) and Dr. Castro-Frenzel on Her Cancer (JAMA)

From the Editor

Cognitive behavioural therapy is widely used for the treatment of depression – but the last significant meta-analysis was published a decade ago. What’s the latest evidence? 

In the first selection, Pim Cuijpers (of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and his co-authors try to answer this question with a new meta-analysis including more than 400 randomized trials with almost 53 000 patients (yes, you read that correctly). In this World Psychiatry paper, they compare the therapy with controls, other therapies, and medications. They write: “We can conclude that CBT is effective in the treatment of depression with a moderate to large effect size, and that its effect is still significant up to 12 months.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

Beck: the father of CBT

In the second selection, Dr. John Torous (of Harvard University) and his co-authors look at digital mental health. Despite widespread use of smartphones – perhaps 80% of the world’s population now has access to one – “digital mental health is not transforming care.” In this Editorial for World Psychiatry, they wonder why. They also point a way forward: “Developing a new generation of digital mental health tools/services to support more accessible, effective and equitable care is the true innovation ready to be stoked today by each person who becomes empowered to connect, set up, engage, start/stop, and demand more from mental health technology.”

Finally, in the third selection, Dr. Karla Castro-Frenzel (of the University of Central Florida) writes about a patient with advanced lung cancer. As it turns out, she’s that patient. In this personal essay published in JAMA, she writes about being a doctor and a patient. “My ultimate hope… is that we can create space for illness as well as wellness. In helping our colleagues feel safe and supported when they become patients, we rehumanize our environments and our very selves.”

DG

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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.)

DG

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Reading of the Week: rTMS – the New JAMA Psych Paper; Also, Opioid Overdoses (JAMA Net Open) and Green on Peak Mental Health (NYT)

From the Editor

She’s an accomplished person who had succeeded in business and then writing, all the while raising three children; she also has an amazing smile and lights up the room when talking about her kids. But in my office, sick with depression, she can only focus on her losses and failings; the smile is absent.

Depression is common and disabling. Those who are affected in late-life are particularly challenging to treat. Is there a better way? In the first selection from JAMA Psychiatry, Dr. Daniel Blumberger (of the University of Toronto) and his co-authors consider theta burst stimulation, a newer form of rTMS which has shown promise in earlier work. Their study is a randomized noninferiority trial, directly comparing the two versions of rTMS in elderly patients with depression. The result? “We showed that bilateral TBS was noninferior to standard bilateral rTMS in improving depression, and similarly well tolerated, in a real-world sample of older adults with TRD [treatment resistant depression]…” We review the paper and its clinical implications.

In the second selection, Lori Ann Post (of Northwestern University) and her co-authors draw on CDC data to look at opioid overdoses in the United States with a focus on geography. In a JAMA Network Open research letter, they find: “Overall, opioid-involved overdose deaths rates increased steadily in counties of every urbanicity type, although there were distinct temporal wave patterns by urbanicity.”

And in the third selection, Huw Green (of the University of Cambridge) wonders about mental health and mental illness – and worries that the terms are becoming blurred together. Writing in The New York Times, the psychologist concludes: “When we move away from a focus on psychological problems and toward ‘mental health’ more broadly, clinicians stumble into terrain that extends beyond our expertise. We ought to be appropriately humble.”  

This month, the Reading of the Week enters its ninth year. A quick word of thanks for your ongoing interest.

DG



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Reading of the Week: Anxiety Screening for Adults – Helpful or Not? Also, Bram on His Depression & His Chatbot (NYT)

From the Editor

“A panel of medical experts on Tuesday recommended for the first time that doctors screen all adult patients under 65 for anxiety, guidance that highlights the extraordinary stress levels that have plagued the United States since the start of the pandemic.”

So reports The New York Times late last month with news of the US Preventive Services Task Force’s draft recommendation. The article quotes panelist Lori Pbert (of the University of Massachusetts): “Our only hope is that our recommendations throw a spotlight on the need to create greater access to mental health care – and urgently.”

In the first selection, we look at the recommendation. In making it, the USPSTF reviewed the literature and weighted the advantages and disadvantages of screening. If finalized, the recommendation would have implications on primary care in the United States – and beyond. “The USPSTF concludes with moderate certainty that screening for anxiety in adults, including pregnant and postpartum persons, has a moderate net benefit.” Is this a step in the right direction? Is this well intentioned but problematic?

In the second selection, Barclay Bram writes about his experiences with a therapist bot, working with the Woebot app. In a long New York Times essay, he talks about his depression and his therapy bot. He writes: “Using Woebot was like reading a good book of fiction. I never lost the sense that it was anything more than an algorithm – but I was able to suspend my disbelief and allow the experience to carry me elsewhere.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Exercise & Depression – the New JAMA Psychiatry Paper; Also, Passes & Inpatients (CJP) and Dr. Khadilkar on Suicide (JAMA Neuro)

From the Editor

We often tell our patients about the importance of exercise. But how much exercise? And is this advice really evidence based?

In the first selection from JAMA Psychiatry, Matthew Pearce (of the University of Cambridge) and his co-authors consider exercise and depression with a systematic review and meta-analysis, drawing on data from more than 190 000 people. They conclude: “This systematic review and meta-analysis of associations between physical activity and depression suggests significant mental health benefits from being physically active, even at levels below the public health recommendations.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, we look at a new research letter by Natalia Docteur (of the Sunnybrook Research Institute) and her co-authors. In The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, they consider passes for inpatients, wondering about the effect on length of stay and re-admissions. Interestingly, they conclude: “Overall, passes were associated with poorer post-discharge outcomes including prolonged length of stay and increased psychiatric readmissions.”

Finally, in the third selection, Dr. Amole Khadilkar (of Indigenous Services Canada) writes about his mental health problems. In a deeply personal essay, he notes the challenges of residency and warns against the culture of stoicism. “This is an important lesson to anyone who may be contemplating suicide during what seems like an irreversibly hopeless point in their life. You never know what the next day, the next month, or the next year may bring.”

Please note that there will be no Reading next week.

DG


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Reading of the Week: Equity & Mental Health Care – Post-Partum Follow Up After ED Visits (Lancet Psych) and Race and Prescribing (Psych Services)

From the Editor

We often speak of the challenges patients face in accessing mental health care. But, of course, such challenges may vary greatly, depending on demographics – think rural versus urban, young versus older, White versus non-White. How equitable is care? This week, we look at two new papers; one draws on Canadian data while the other on American. And though the studies are different, they point in a similar direction: unique populations face significant challenges accessing care.

In the first selection, Dr. Lucy C. Barker (of the University of Toronto) and her co-authors consider follow-up after an ED visit for patients in the post-partum period. In a new Lancet Psychiatry paper, they drew on Ontario databases, with more than 12 000 visits analyzed. They write: “Fewer than half of emergency department visits for a psychiatric reason in the post-partum period were followed by timely outpatient care, with social-determinants-of-health-based disparities in access to care.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Jocelyn E. Remmert (of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs) and her co-authors consider depression care and race. In a new Psychiatric Services paper, they look at antidepressant prescribing, finding big differences between White and Black veterans. “Among veterans, Black patients were almost two times less likely than White patients to have an antidepressant prescription, even after the analyses controlled for depression symptoms, demographic characteristics, psychosocial variables, and other clinical symptoms.”

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: 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: 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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