From the Editor

What’s the role of antidepressants in the treatment of bipolar disorder? That question is openly debated.

In a New England Journal of Medicine paper that was just published, Dr. Lakshmi N. Yatham (of the University of British Columbia) and his co-authors try to shed light on this issue. In their study, people with bipolar depression who were in remission were given an antidepressant or a placebo and followed for a year. The study involved 209 people from three countries. “[A]djunctive treatment with escitalopram or bupropion XL that continued for 52 weeks did not show a significant benefit as compared with treatment for 8 weeks in preventing relapse of any mood episode.” We consider the paper and its implications.

In the second selection, Drs. Avraham Cooper (of Ohio State University) and Adam Rodman (of Harvard University) consider AI and medical education in The New England Journal of Medicine. They talk about previous technological advancements in history, including the stethoscope. AI, in their view, will change practice and ethics – with clear implications for training and education. “If we don’t shape our own future, powerful technology companies will happily shape it for us.”

And in the third selection, Keith Humphreys (of Stanford University) writes about words and word choices to describe vulnerable populations in an essay for The Atlantic. He notes historic disputes, such as the use of the term patient. “[M]aking these judgments in a rigorous, fact-based way would prevent experts, policy makers, and the general public from being distracted by something easy – arguing about words – when we need to focus on doing something much harder: solving massive social problems.” 

DG

Continue reading