Tag: World Psychiatry

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?”


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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.


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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.”


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Reading of the Week: Lived Experience & Psychosis – the New World Psych Paper; Also, the Evidence for Cannabis (QT) and Bob Bell on Psychotherapy (Globe)

From the Editor

“Something as basic as grocery shopping was both frightening and overwhelming for me. I remember my mom taking me along to do grocery shopping as a form of rehabilitation… Everything seemed so difficult.”

So comments a patient on the experience of a relapse of psychosis.

Typically, we describe psychosis with lists of symptoms. But how do patients understand these experiences? In a new World Psychiatry paper, Dr. Paolo Fusar-Poli (of King’s College) and his co-authors attempt to answer this question with a “bottom-up” approach. As they explain: “To our best knowledge, there are no recent studies that have successfully adopted a bottom-up approach (i.e., from lived experience to theory), whereby individuals with the lived experience of psychosis (i.e., experts by experience) primarily select the subjective themes and then discuss them with academics to advance broader knowledge.” We discuss their paper.

In the second selection, we consider a new Quick Takes podcast. Dr. Kevin Hill (of Harvard University) reviews the cannabis literature and weighs the evidence. He notes the hazards of CBD, the lack of evidence for cannabis and sleep, and his fondness for the Chicago Bears. “There are very strong proponents for cannabis and there are people who are entirely sceptical about it. And the answers to a lot of these questions are somewhere in the middle.”

Finally, in the third selection, Dr. Robert Bell (of the University of Toronto) and his co-authors advocate for the expansion of public health care to cover psychotherapy. Dr. Bell, who is a former Deputy Minister of Health of Ontario, makes a clear case drawing on international examples. “Canadians understand that good health requires mental-health support, and co-ordinated investment in mental-health treatment would pay dividends in reducing the impact of mental-health disability on the economy.”


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Reading of the Week: High Tech and Low Tech Opportunities for Mental Health Care

From the Editor

Social media. Bots. VR.

When I applied to psychiatry residency programs in my last year of medical school at the University of Manitoba, none of these were mentioned when we talked about mental health care. But technology is changing our world. We are seeing a digital boom in mental health care – or is it really a digital mirage?

In the first selection, we move past the big rhetoric with a thoughtful paper by Dr. John Torous (of Harvard University) and his co-authors. In World Psychiatry, they review the literature and make insightful comments about the potential and reality of digital mental health care. “It now seems inevitable that digital technologies will change the face of mental health research and treatment.” We discuss the paper and its implications.


Woebot: Too cool to be clinical?

If the first selection considers cutting-edge technology for bettering patient care, the second is very different. Dr. Thomas E. Smith (of Columbia University) and his co-authors study “the strength of associations between scheduling aftercare appointments during routine psychiatric inpatient discharge planning and postdischarge follow-up care varied by level of patient engagement in outpatient psychiatric care before hospital admission” in a paper for Psychiatric Services. Spoiler alert: there are no chatbots mentioned. “Discharge planning activities, such as scheduling follow-up appointments, increase the likelihood of patients successfully transitioning to outpatient care, regardless of their level of engagement in care prior to psychiatric inpatient admission.”


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Reading of the Week: Are Those with Mental Illness at More Risk of COVID? Also, a Podcast on Apps (QT) and Horton on Advocacy & Doctors (Macleans)

From the Editor

Are people with mental illness more likely to contract COVID-19? Are they at greater risk of dying?

With the pandemic in its eighth month, we think we have answers to these questions, but data is lacking. In the first selection, we consider a new paper, just published in World Psychiatry. QuanQiu Wang (of Case Western Reserve) and her co-authors analyzed a nation‐wide database of electronic health records of 61 million American patients, aiming to assess the impact of mental illness. “These findings identify individuals with a recent diagnosis of a mental disorder as being at increased risk for COVID‐19 infection, which is further exacerbated among African Americans and women, and as having a higher frequency of some adverse outcomes of the infection.”


In the second selection, we consider a new podcast discussing digital tools. I talk with Dr. John Torous (of Harvard University). We discuss apps and mental health. And, yes, he has tips on how to pick apps for your patients and their families.

Finally, in the third selection, we look at a new essay by Dr. Jillian Horton (of the University of Manitoba). Should doctors “stay in their lanes?” She argues against the idea, championing a new activism. “So, to my brothers and sisters in medicine: forget about staying in our lane. This is our call to flood the freeways. We cannot stay parked in neutral. There is no more time.”

Please note: there will be no Reading next week.


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Reading of the Week: Cuijpers on Depression Treatment (WP); Also, Suicide (NEJM), and Sinyor on DeRozan & Depression (Star)

From the Editor

How to treat depression? How do we approach suicide? Who is the greatest Raptor of all time?

This week, we consider three pieces.

In the first selection, Pim Cuijpers (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) and his co-authors do a network meta-analysis of depression treatment, weighing psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and the combination of the two. They find: “combined treatment is more effective than psychotherapy or pharmacotherapy alone in the short‐term treatment of moderate depression, and there are no significant differences between psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy.”

In a short New England Journal of Medicine paper, Drs. Seena Fazel (Oxford University) and Bo Runeson (Karolinska Institutet) review a topic of relevance to all clinicians: suicide. “Management of suicidality calls for a comprehensive approach to assessment and treatment.”

TORONTO, ON - SEPTEMBER, 25 DeMar DeRozen poses for photos. It was media day for the Toronto Raptors at their training facility, the BioSteel Centre. Coaches and players met with media, answered questions and had a variety of photographs taken. (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)Yes, we talk about basketball this week

Finally, in the third selection, the University of Toronto’s Dr. Mark Sinyor writes about basketball and his favourite Raptor – and, yes, stigma.


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Reading of the Week: Is Cannabis Helpful? Can We Prevent Depression? What’s It Like to be Depressed & in Medicine?

From the Editor

In most Readings of the Week, a paper or essay is selected and then discussed. This week, we return to an older format, and look at several selections, offering an overview of a few topics.

The selections ask thought-provoking questions:

Is cannabis helpful?

Can we prevent depression?

What’s it like to be depressed – and in medicine?


Cannabis: Hype or Help?



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Reading of the Week: Mood & Anxiety in Four Countries – More Care, Better Outcomes? The Jorm et al. Paper

From the Editor

Earlier this month, the Commonwealth Fund released a report that surveyed 11 countries for the performance of their health-care systems; it received much media attention. Their work helps provide perspective on our system’s strengths and weaknesses.

International comparisons are relevant in mental health, of course. As stigma fades and as evidence-based treatment options have expanded, we can ask: are people with common mental health problems getting better? And are there lessons to learn from our national experiences?

Four countries, one big problem?

This week, we look at a study that has just been published in World Psychiatry, drawing data from four countries. In the paper, Jorm et al. find that – looking at the prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders and symptoms – people aren’t better off today. The authors consider several explanations.

This paper hasn’t gather much attention here in Canada. But as we look to increase funding for mental health services, it’s an important and relevant paper.

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