Tag: depression

Reading of the Week: Adolescent Experience with Illness – the World Psych Paper; Also, the CANMAT Depression Update and a Letter to the Editor

From the Editor

I’m separated from everyone else.

These are the words of a young patient with depression. We often use diagnoses and lists of symptoms to understand patients. But how do patients themselves understand their illness? In the first selection, Dr. Paolo Fusar-Poli (of King’s College London) and his co-authors attempt to answer that question with a “bottom-up” approach. In a new World Psychiatry paper, they describe the experiences of adolescents with mental disorders. “The study was co-designed, co-conducted and co-written by junior experts by experience – representing different genders, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and continents – and academics, refining an earlier method developed by our group to investigate the lived experience of psychosis and depression.” We examine the paper and its implications.

Childhood depression by Marc-Anthony Macon

Much has changed over the past eight years – who was talking about pandemics in 2016? Last week, the Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) released its first major depression update in eight years. So how has depression management changed? In the second selection, Dr. Raymond Lam (of the University of British Columbia), the co-first author, discusses the update in a Quick Takes podcast interview. “They really are the most widely used guidelines in the world.” 

And in the third selection, in a letter to the editor, Nick Kerman (of the University of Toronto) writes about the recent homelessness paper from JAMA Psychiatry, summarized in a Reading earlier this month. He notes the striking finding: 26% meet the criteria for antisocial personality disorder. “Could it really be 1 in 4 or is there something else that could explain the finding?”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Visual Hallucinations & Outcomes – the New Schizophrenia Study; Also, Opioid Deaths in Canada and Dr. Roy Perlis on Antidepressants

From the Editor

Last week, I met a person who had deeply unsettling auditory hallucinations. I asked him the questions that we all ask: When did the voices start? How many voices do you hear? Do the voices tell you to do things? In contrast, while we know that people with psychotic illnesses can have visual hallucinations, we rarely inquire about them and if we do, it’s in a perfunctory manner, as I did with him. Clinicians aren’t the only ones to gloss over visual hallucinations; they tend to be under-researched, especially with regard to long-term outcomes.

In the first selection, Isabel Kreis (of the University of Oslo) and her co-authors look at outcomes and visual hallucinations in an impressive, new study published in Schizophrenia. They report on 184 people from Norway with first-episode psychosis, followed for ten years, with a focus on visual hallucinations and functionality, suicide attempts, and childhood trauma. “These findings highlight the relevance of assessing visual hallucinations and monitoring their development over time.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection from CMAJ, Shaleesa Ledlie (of the University of Toronto) and her co-authors report on opioid-related deaths in Canada. They drew from a national database and looked at several years of data, including over the start of the pandemic. “Across Canada, the burden of premature opioid-related deaths doubled between 2019 and 2021, representing more than one-quarter of deaths among younger adults.”

And in the third selection, Dr. Roy Perlis (of Harvard University) argues that the time has come for over-the-counter antidepressants in a STAT essay. He notes that many people with depression are untreated and that increasing the availability of these medications would be helpful. “With part of the solution hiding in plain sight, it’s time to do everything possible to give Americans another way to get treatment.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: tDCS for Depression – the New JAMA Psych Paper; Also, Psychiatrists & AI and Dr. Daniel Gorman on Charlatan Syndrome

From the Editor

In her autobiography, psychiatrist Linda Gask writes about her struggles with depression and the moment she realized that she was better: she started to hear the birds chirping again. For many of our patients, the songs of the birds remain elusive. Antidepressants work but some patients don’t respond, and others are cool to the idea of medication management. CBT is effective but difficult to access. What about Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) – an intervention that could be done at home?

Dr. Lucas Borrione (of the University of São Paulo) and his co-authors try to answer that question in a new JAMA Psychiatry paper. They report on a randomized clinical trial including 210 Brazilian adults with a major depressive episode who were offered tDCS and a digital intervention; the study featured two sham interventions. “The findings indicate that unsupervised home use tDCS should not be currently recommended in clinical practice.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

Would tDCS have helped?

Artificial intelligence is having a moment. Not surprisingly, many are seeing the possibilities for mental health care, from better therapy to reduced paperwork. In the second selection, from Psychiatry Research, Charlotte Blease (of Uppsala University) and her co-authors report on the findings of a survey of 138 psychiatrists with both qualitative and quantitative data. “The foremost interest was around the potential of these tools to assist psychiatrists with documentation.”

And in the third selection, Dr. Daniel Gorman (of the University of Toronto) writes about the struggles of taking a child to Disney World in JAMA. Any parent – or aunt or cousin or older sib – can relate. But Dr. Gorman notes the particular challenges that he faces: he’s a child psychiatrist. “Sometimes I fantasize about sharing with parents my doubts about parenting strategies, but the risks always seem too great – the risk of discrediting myself and my profession and the risk of robbing parents of agency and hope.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Do ADHD Meds Reduce Mortality? The New JAMA Psych Study; Also, Dr. Rebecca Lawrence on Her Husband & His Support

From the Editor

For my patient, ADHD medications transformed his life, helping him focus at school and at work – and even drive better. Many have had similar experiences. Do ADHD medications also reduce mortality? We know that those with ADHD have higher mortality rates and thus it’s reasonable to ask about the possible benefits of methylphenidate and sister drugs.

Lin Li (of the Karolinska Institutet) and her co-authors try to answer that question in a new JAMA Psychiatry paper. Drawing on Swedish databases, they analyzed data from almost 150 000 people with ADHD and looked at two-year mortality, including for those who die by unintentional injuries, suicide, or poisonings, by doing a target trial emulsion – simulating a randomized trial. “Among individuals diagnosed with ADHD, medication initiation was associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality, particularly for death due to unnatural causes.” We consider the paper, the editorial that accompanies it, and the clinical implications.

ADHD meds: life saver?

And in the other selection, Dr. Rebecca Lawrence writes about support in a blog for Doctor and Patient. She is personal – besides working as psychiatrist, Dr. Lawrence has been treated for depression, including with ECT. She notes the incredible help her husband has given her over the years. “I look at myself in the mirror and am appalled, but he still smiles at me.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Exercise for Depression – the new BMJ Study; Also, Pogue on Her Career & Illness

From the Editor

Studies have shown that exercise is helpful for those with depression. But is one type of exercise better than the others? How much exercise? And what should you tell your patients when they ask?

Michael Noetel (of the University of Queensland) and his co-authors attempt to answer these questions in a new study for The BMJ. They did a systematic review and network meta-analysis, drawing on 218 studies with almost 14  200 participants. “Exercise is an effective treatment for depression, with walking or jogging, yoga, and strength training more effective than other exercises, particularly when intense.” We look at the study, the accompanying editorial, and consider the implications for practice.

And, in the other selection from Psychiatric Services, Ye Zhang Pogue (of RTI International) writes about her advocacy for those with mental illness and her hesitation in disclosing her own diagnosis. In a personal essay, she talks about her aspirations, her fears, and her experiences with discrimination. She calls for a change to corporate culture. “Changing corporate culture will be a slow process, but the cumulative efforts of individuals will make a difference on a systemic level.” Note that this was the most-read paper in any APA journal in 2023.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Depression & Lived Experience – the new World Psych Paper; Also, the Life of Dr. John Talbott and Chairs & Patient Satisfaction

From the Editor

“For me, it feels like gravity just starts working on my body harder than it works everywhere else in the world.”

So comments a person with depression about his experience. Typically, we describe depression with a list of symptoms from the DSM-5. But how do patients understand their illness? In a new World Psychiatry paper, Dr. Paolo Fusar-Poli (of King’s College London) and his co-authors attempt to answer that question with a “bottom-up” approach. “To our best knowledge, no [depression] studies have adopted a bottom-up approach (from the lived experience to theory), whereby a global network of experts by experience and academics are mutually engaged in co-writing a joint narrative.” We look at the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, from The New York Times, reporter Trip Gabriel writes an obituary for Dr. John A. Talbott, an American psychiatrist who had championed deinstitutionalization, only to later regret the move away from hospital care. Dr. Talbott once wrote: “The disaster occurred because our mental health delivery system is not a system but a non-system.”

At this time of year, The BMJ runs its light-hearted Christmas issue, featuring much British humour. In the third selection, Ruchita Iyer (of the University of Texas Southwestern) and her co-authors describe a deception trial that increased patient satisfaction without increasing physician time. The “nudge” intervention involved: “Chair placement, defined as positioning the chair within 3 feet (0.9 m) of the bedside and facing the bed.” 

There will be no Readings for the next two weeks. We will return with force (though no British humour) on 11 January 2024.

All the best in the holiday season.

DG

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Reading of the Week: MST vs ECT – the new JAMA Psych Study; Also, Dr. Niall Boyce on Frasier and the Latest in the News

From the Editor

Electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT, is a highly effective treatment for depression. But patients often complain about side effects, including cognitive problems.

Could magnetic seizure therapy, or MST, provide the benefits of ECT without these issues? In a new paper for JAMA Psychiatry, Zhi-De Deng (of Duke University) and co-authors attempt to answer that question. In a study where 73 patients with depression were given ECT or MST, they found similar results. “This randomized clinical trial found that the efficacy of MST was indistinguishable from that of ultrabrief pulse [right unilateral] ECT, the safest form of ECT currently available.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Dr. Niall Boyce (of the Wellcome Trust) mulls the return of Frasier Crane, the “pompous but kind-hearted American psychiatrist.” In a Lancet perspective, he writes about the original TV comedy and the new revival of Frasier – and also notes the change in perception of psychiatry over the years. His assessment of the show: “Is the new Frasier worth watching? On the early evidence, I would say yes.”

And, finally, we explore the latest in the news with consideration of recent articles from The Globe and Mail and other publications. Among the topics: the (over) prescription of antidepressants, safe supply, and hairdressers and psychotherapy in Togo.

DG


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Reading of the Week: Global Burden of Schizophrenia – the new Molecular Psych Study; Also, MedEd’s Evolution & Saxbe on Helping Depressed Teens

From the Editor

Is there more mental illness than before? Or is there greater awareness? 

Dr. Marco Solmi (of the University of Ottawa) and his co-authors attempt to answer these questions in a new paper for Molecular Psychiatry that focuses on schizophrenia. Drawing on 30 years of data globally, they consider prevalence (how many have the illness), incidence (the number who develop it each year), and the disability-adjusted life-years (the loss of one healthy year of life) using more than 86 000 points of data. They find: “Globally, we show that, from 1990 to 2019, raw prevalence increased by over 65%, incidence by 37.11%, DALYs by over 65%, but age-adjusted prevalence and incidence estimates showed a slight decrease, and burden did not change.” We consider the paper and its implications.

Textbooks, highlighters, and classrooms? The world of medical education is changing. Today, we have AI, sim, and e-learning. In the second selection, we look at the new Quick Takes podcast with Dr. Ivan Silver (of the University of Toronto), former vice president of education at CAMH who marvels at the potential. “This is the renaissance period for health professional education.” 

And in the third selection, psychologist Darby Saxbe (of the University of Southern California) writes in The New York Times about ways to help depressed adolescents. Drawing on recent studies showing the failure of school-based psychosocial interventions, she argues for a different approach. “It’s critical to keep pace with the evidence and attend to the first principle of all health care providers: First, do no harm.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Self-stigma & Depression – the new JAD Study; Also, ChatGPT & Mental Health Care, and Dr. Catherine Hickey on the Opioid Crisis

From the Editor 

Depression is the result of character weakness. So explained my patient who had a major depressive disorder and hesitated to take medications.

Though fading, stigma about mental illness continues to exist, including self-stigma, the negative thoughts and beliefs that patients have about their own disease – as with my patient. How common is self-stigma? How does its prevalence differ around the globe? What are risk factors for it? Nan Du (of the University of Hong Kong) and co-authors attempt to answer these questions in a new Journal of Affective Disorders paper. They do a systematic review and meta-analysis of self-stigma for people with depression, drawing on 56 studies with almost 12 000 participants, and they a focus on international comparisons. “The results showed that the global prevalence of depression self-stigma was 29%. Levels of self-stigma varied across regions, but this difference was not significant.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

In this week’s second selection, we look at ChatGPT and mental health care. Dr. John Torous (of Harvard University) joins me for a Quick Takes podcast interview. He sees potential for patients – including making clinical notes more accessible by bridging language and knowledge divides – and for physicians, who may benefit from a more holistic differential diagnosis and treatment plan based on multiple data sets. He acknowledges problems with privacy, accuracy, and ChatGPT’s tendency to “hallucinate,” a term he dislikes. “We want to really be cautious because these are complex pieces of software.” 

And in the third selection, Dr. Catherine Hickey (of Memorial University) writes about the opioid crisis for Academic Psychiatry. The paper opens personally, with Dr. Hickey describing paramedics trying to help a young man who had overdosed. She considers the role of psychiatry and contemplates societal biases. “[I]n a better world, the needless deaths of countless young people would never be tolerated, regardless of their skin color.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Running vs SSRIs for Depression – the new JAD Paper; Also, Climate Change & Mental Health, and Understanding My Schizophrenia

From the Editor

“Go for a Run to Beat Depression – It’s Just As Effective As Taking Medication”

– New York Post

“Running could be just as effective at treating depression as medication, scientists find”

– The Independent

Patients often ask what they can do to get better from their depression. Should we be advising them to put on a pair of runners and go for a jog? A new paper published in the Journal of Affective Disorders seems to suggest as much – and it’s caused a bit of media buzz. In the first selection, Josine E. Verhoeven (of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and her co-authors describe this 16-week study that offered 141 people with depression and/or anxiety either a running intervention or medications, and looked at several mental and physical health outcomes. “We showed that while antidepressant medication and running therapy did not statistically significantly differ on mental health outcomes… the interventions had a significantly different and often contrasting impact on several physical health outcomes, with more favorable outcomes for those in the exercise intervention.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Pim Cuijpers (of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and his co-authors discuss climate change and mental health in a new viewpoint for JAMA Psychiatry. Though they note the lack of high-quality research in the area, they argue that it would disproportionately affect low and middle-income nations. They then point a way forward. “There is no doubt that climate change will have a major impact on mental health in the coming decades.”

And in the third selection which is written anonymously, a person with schizophrenia talks about his experiences in a paper for Schizophrenia Bulletin. He tries to empower himself, working to limit side effects and cope with the voices. “My brain disease is incurable, but it is not an excuse for me to be irresponsible or to give up on life.” 

DG

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