Tag: The American Journal of Psychiatry

Reading of the Week: Cannabis & Cardiac Health – the New JAHA Study; Also, Burnout & Outcomes, and Dr. Mary Seeman on Scaling Down

From the Editor

Our patients increasingly use cannabis, and we worry about the impact on their mental health. But what about the impact on their physical health?

In the first selection, Abra M. Jeffers (of Harvard University) and her co-authors consider cannabis and cardiac health. In a new paper for the Journal of the American Heart Association, they analyzed cardiac outcomes, drawing on survey data and involving more than 400 000 participants, some of whom used cannabis. “Cannabis use is associated with adverse cardiovascular outcomes, with heavier use (more days per month) associated with higher odds of adverse outcomes.” We review the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Nina A. Sayer (of the University of Minneapolis) and her co-authors look at burnout in a new paper for JAMA Network Open. In a cohort study involving 165 therapists and almost 1 300 patients, they note a connection between provider burnout and PTSD outcomes. “These findings suggest that interventions to reduce therapist burnout might also result in more patients experiencing clinically meaningful improvement…”

Dr. Mary Seeman (of the University of Toronto), who died in late April, had a storied career as a psychiatrist. She had major roles, including the Tapscott Chair in Schizophrenia at the University of Toronto. In a 2003 paper for The American Journal of Psychiatry, she reflects on her work with a patient. This essay – the third selection this week – notes the decades-long connection between doctor and patient. “Her faith in me keeps me coming into work each morning, often tired and achy, sometimes trying unsuccessfully to remember the comforting word I want to be able to say.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: How Problematic are Benzodiazepines? The New AJP Study; Also, Dickson on His Illness & Humility

From the Editor

Singer Olivia Rodrigo may have a catchy song about getting a driver’s license and Ariana Grande has a ditty about past relationships, but, in the late 1960s, the Rolling Stones wrote a whole song about diazepam, “Mother’s Little Helper.” The choice of topic isn’t so surprising: between 1968 and 1982, diazepam was the most prescribed medication in the United States and commonly used around the world.

But the pendulum has swung in the other direction. Today, we hesitate on prescribing benzodiazepines like diazepam, in part because of concerns about substance misuse and dose escalation. But how addictive are these meds? How significant is dose escalation over time? Though smaller studies have sought to answer these questions, Dr. Thomas Wolff Rosenqvist (of the University of Copenhagen) and his co-authors drew on Danish databases in an important, new study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry. They looked at two decades of data involving almost a million Danes who have used benzodiazepines. “A limited portion of the population that received benzodiazepines prescriptions were classified as continuous users, and only a small proportion of this group escalated to doses higher than those recommended in clinical guidelines.” We consider the study, the editorial that accompanies it, and the implications for practice.

Denmark: beautiful buildings, rich history, great data on benzodiazepines

In this week’s other selection, Michael Dickson (of the University of South Carolina) writes about the symptoms of schizophrenia. Dickson, who is a professor of philosophy, touches on philosophical concepts but, also, on personal experience – as an individual with the illness. In a paper published by Schizophrenia Bulletin, he recalls a psychotic episode, his ongoing symptoms, and how he came to terms with the disorder. “This attitude has made life better and has made the ‘near-collapses’ much rarer.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Improving Self-Esteem in Youth – the New JAMA Psych Paper; Also, Black Females & Suicide and Dr. Jon Hunter on the End

From the Editor

Can we help youth before the onset of full disorders to build skills and avoid deeper problems? Several school-based efforts, offering DBT and mindfulness skills, have been tried without much success. Ecological momentary interventions (EMIs) – provided to patients during their everyday lives and in natural settings, giving unstructured recommendations with structured interventions – is a newer therapy that has gained attention.

But does it work? In a new paper for JAMA Psychiatry, Ulrich Reininghaus (of the University of Heidelberg) and his co-authors describe an RCT focused on youth with low self-esteem who have had past adversity, involving 174 Dutch participants. “A transdiagnostic, blended EMI demonstrated efficacy on the primary outcome of self-esteem and signaled beneficial effects on several secondary outcomes.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Victoria A. Joseph (of Columbia University) and her co-authors look at US suicide rates in Black females. In their American Journal of Psychiatry letter, they analyze suicides over two decades, drawing data on age and region from a national database. They conclude that: “increasing trends in suicide death among Black females born in recent years and underscores the need to increase mental health care access among Black girls and women, and to reduce other forms of structural racism.”

And in the third selection, Dr. Jon Hunter (of the University of Toronto) contemplates endings – including his ending – in a personal and moving paper for CMAJ. He notes the need to clean up his possessions. But what about his practice and the many patients that he has followed for years? “I’d rather not shy away from the uncertainty and loss of the ending, and to try to help one more time.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Ethnicity, Bias, and Alcohol – the New AJP Paper; Also, Global Mental Health & AI (JAMA Psych) and Halprin on Her Mother (Globe)

From the Editor

He drinks heavily, but does he have a diagnosed alcohol use disorder?

Does the answer to that question tie to ethnicity and biases? In a new American Journal of Psychiatry paper, Rachel Vickers-Smith (of the University of Kentucky) and her co-authors suggest it does. Drawing on US Veterans Affairs’ data with over 700,000 people, they analyzed the scores of a screening tool and the diagnoses with ethnicity recorded in the EMR. “We identified a large, racialized difference in AUD diagnosis, with Black and Hispanic veterans more likely than White veterans to receive the diagnosis at the same level of alcohol consumption.” We look at the paper and mull its implications.

In the second selection, Alastair C. van Heerden (of the University of the Witwatersrand) and his co-authors consider AI and its potential for global mental health services in a new JAMA Psychiatry Viewpoint. They focus on large language models (think ChatGPT) which could do several things, including helping to train and supervise humans. “Large language models and other forms of AI will fundamentally change how we treat mental disorders, allowing us to move away from the current model in which most of the world’s population does not have access to quality mental health services.”

And, in the third selection, Paula Halprin discusses her mother’s alcohol use in an essay for The Globe and Mail. In a moving piece that touches on anger, trauma, and regret, Halprin writes about her re-examination of her mother’s life. “I now understand my mother drank not because of a weak character, but to cope with a body wearing out before its time from unremitting pregnancy and as a way to swallow her anger and disappointment. It was also a way to mourn a loss of self.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Polypharmacy & Health – the New AJP Paper; Also, Melatonin Gummies (JAMA) & Mehler Paperny on Involuntary Care (Globe)

From the Editor

When it comes to antipsychotics, polypharmacy (the use of more than one antipsychotic) has fallen out of fashion – the psychopharmacological equivalent of bell bottoms. Providers worry about side effects and the long-term physical health implications. Are the concerns overstated? In the first selection, Heidi Taipale (of the University of Eastern Finland) and her coauthors analyze Finnish data for The American Journal of Psychiatry. The study includes almost 62,000 patients with schizophrenia with a median follow up period of more than 14 years, and they find that the use of more than one antipsychotic isn’t linked to poorer health outcomes. “The results show that antipsychotic monotherapy is not associated with a lower risk of hospitalization for severe physical health problems when compared with antipsychotic polypharmacy.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

Melatonin is a popular recommendation for sleep, but what’s the quality like? In the second selection from JAMA, Dr. Pieter A. Cohen (of Harvard University) and his co-authors try to answer that question with a focus on melatonin gummy products, looking at 30 brands. “The great majority of melatonin gummy products were inaccurately labeled, with most products exceeding the declared amount of melatonin and CBD.”

Gummy melatonin: colourful but what’s the quality?

In the third selection, in an essay for The Globe and Mail, journalist Anna Mehler Paperny writes about the push for more coercive care by different governments. Drawing on her personal experiences, she notes potential problems. “There is a role for coercive care. It’s arguably necessary for some people, sometimes. But used injudiciously, it can sour people on care and set them up for failure.”

There will be no Reading next week.

DG

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Reading of the Week: The Cutting Edge – Pharmacotherapy for Depression, Apps for Mental Health & AI for Everything (or Maybe Not)

From the Editor

He’s been depressed for years and you are considering augmentation. Should you choose an antipsychotic? Which one?

These are good questions, especially when treating patients with treatment-resistant depression. In the first selection, Drs. Manish K. Jha (of the University of Texas) and Sanjay J. Mathew (of Baylor College of Medicine) look at four antipsychotics in an American Journal of Psychiatry paper. They review the literature for augmentation, including the use of cariprazine, which has just received FDA approval for this purpose. They find evidence, but “their long-term safety in patients with MDD is not well established, and they are potentially concerning regarding weight gain, metabolic dysfunction, extrapyramidal symptoms, and tardive dyskinesia.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

In the second selection, S. E. Stoeckl (of Harvard University) and her co-authors consider the evolution of mental health apps in a new paper for the Journal of Technology in Behavioral Science. Looking at hundreds of apps, they analyze data on updates, including new features. They find: “This study highlights the dynamic nature of the app store environments, revealing rapid and substantial changes that could present challenges for app selection, consumer safety, and assessing the economic value of apps.”

And in the third selection, Dr. Dhruv Khullar (of Cornell University) writes for The New Yorker about AI and mental health. In a long essay that touches on chatbots for therapy and screening tools for suicide prevention, he wonders if AI can help clinicians (and non-clinicians) overcome issues around access. “Can artificial minds heal real ones? And what do we stand to gain, or lose, in letting them try?”

Note: there will be no Readings for the next two weeks.

DG

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Reading of the Week: Antipsychotics – Good for Work Ability? Also, Mental Health Research Funding (CJP) and Murdoch on Her Career (CBC)

From the Editor

As clinicians, we often think about symptoms and symptom scales – important measures of a patient’s journey. Patients may focus on other things, like functionality, including employment.

Do antipsychotics help those with psychosis for their ability to work? Do some antipsychotics provide more advantage than others? Dr. Marco Solmi (of the University of Ottawa) and his co-authors try to answer these questions in a new American Journal of Psychiatry paper. They draw on Swedish databases involving more 21,000 people. They conclude: “Among individuals with first-episode nonaffective psychosis, antipsychotic treatment (with long-acting injectables in particular) was associated with about 30%–50% lower risk of work disability compared with nonuse of antipsychotics in the same individuals, which held true beyond 5 years after first diagnosis.” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

In the second selection, Florence Dzierszinski (of the University of Ottawa) and her co-authors look at mental health research funding in Canada. In a Commentary for The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, they argue that funding is lacking and, in fact, declining. They write that: “Adequate research funding could go a long way to addressing prevention, care, and treatment for the one in four Canadians who experience mental health problems in a given year, improving outcomes for individuals and for Canada’s society and economy.”

And in the third selection, published by CBC First Person, Darleen Murdoch talks about her career and retirement – and her diagnosis. She notes that, during her first hospitalization decades before, she was told by her physician she would never work. She writes: “In my own way, I have proven to the medical field that ‘miracles’ can happen.”

DG

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Reading of the Week: Buprenorphine for Opioids – the New AJP Paper; Also, Cannabis & Hospitalizations (CJP) and Dr. Rosenberg’s Career & Illness (NYT)

From the Editor

A rise in substance use. Staff shortages and burnout. Waits for care.

The problems of the pandemic on mental health care have been clear and unfortunate. But how has care changed – and possibly improved – over the pandemic? In the first selection, Lewei Lin (of the University of Michigan) and her co-authors look at buprenorphine treatment before and during the pandemic. In a new paper for The American Journal of Psychiatry, they find a shift in care and a success story: “The number of patients receiving buprenorphine continued to increase after the COVID-19 policy changes, but the delivery of care shifted to telehealth visits…” We consider the paper and its clinical implications.

In the second selection, drawing on Canadian data, Chungah Kim (of Brock University) and her co-authors look at cannabis legalization and cannabis-related hospitalizations. In this new Canadian Journal of Psychiatry brief report, they find: “the initial legalization was followed by clinically significant increases in cannabis-related hospitalizations; however, the subsequent increase in retail stores, availability of cannabis edibles, and COVID-19 pandemic was not associated with a further increase in hospitalizations in Ontario.”

In the third selection, we consider the life and legacy of Dr. Leon E. Rosenberg with the obituary from The New York Times. Dr. Rosenberg had a storied career – a pioneer in genetics research, a dean of Yale, and the chief science officer at Bristol Myers Squibb. He’s also a person who had bipolar disorder and took lithium. “I am proof that it is possible to live a highly successful career in medicine and science, and to struggle with a complex, serious mental illness at the same time.”

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

DG


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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: 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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