Professional Articles

Perimenopause & Depression

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Perimenopause & Depression Research suggests, especially in women with a history of depression or susceptibility to a mood disorder, that reproduction-related hormonal changes raise the risk of depressive episodes.

A few recent studies have concentrated on the perimenopausal period (when women experience skipped and irregular periods), in particular, and found that women in the menopausal transition were up to three times more likely than premenopausal women to report depressive symptoms.

Let’s take a closer look at perimenopause and depression.

The Cost of Mental Illness to Employers & Employees

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

The Cost of Mental Illness to Employers & EmployeesIn a previous post, I asserted the need for people with mental illness who are functioning well to speak out about their success with their disease. I also spoke of the importance for people to hold themselves as examples of how one can live successfully and productively with a mental illness.

On second thought, you may want to be cautious about doing this at work.

Individual contributions help make companies successful, and surely people with mental illness contribute greatly to their employer’s success.

However, people with mental illness may also contribute greatly to their employer’s health care and productivity costs. All companies seek to minimize costs. In doing so they may limit opportunities available to those with a known mental illness in order to avoid the significant costs often associated with psychiatric conditions.

How much does an employee with mental illness cost?

Bibliotherapy: Do You Really Need a Doctor or Government to Tell You to Read?

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Do You Really Need a Doctor or Government to Tell You to Read?In an article that notes there are over 100,000 self-help books (I think the actual number is much larger, since Amazon lists over 285,000 in-print self-help books), apparently Leah Price is enamored at the thought of a doctor “prescribing” reading. And a government agency — the UK’s National Health Service — endorsing the idea.

The idea of a “prescription” for a book is as ridiculous as the idea that you need to be told to shower regularly to remove the stink. Reading to understand something better is a basic skill nearly everyone should have learned in grade school.

That’s patient paternalism x2: that only a doctor could be knowledgeable enough to recommend a good self-help book and that the government needs to legitimize this practice.

Therapists Have Therapy Too

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Therapists Have Therapy TooOne thing that often surprises me is when a therapy user comments on how they admire the therapist because they must never get overwhelmed by the common issues or problems the rest of humanity experiences.

The times I’ve heard people tell me, “I wish I was like you, you are so calm and together.” As much as I appreciate the compliment, that isn’t always true.

I’ve been through psychotherapy before. As a trainee years and years ago, I was required to do at least a year of therapy. And although when I went into therapy I thought I didn’t have any issues to talk about and thought myself self-aware, I soon learned how easy it is fooling oneself.

The Carlat Reports: Independent Publications You Should be Reading

Friday, October 4th, 2013

The Carlat Reports: Independent Publications You Should be ReadingBack in 2008, I met ground-breaking psychiatrist Danny Carlat. You might remember Dr. Carlat because the year before he started a blog and published an important op-ed in the New York Times about the influence that pharmaceutical companies have in marketing their drugs to physicians. (To learn more, read about it when I interviewed him here.)

What you may not have realized is that Dr. Carlat got his start with his own monthly psychiatric newsletter called, fittingly enough, The Carlat Psychiatry Report in 2003. Since its humble beginnings as a single newsletter, the Carlat Publishing empire has grown, now supporting two additional newsletters — The Carlat Behavioral Health Report, and The Carlat Child Psychiatry Report.

They’ve also just recently launched a fourth, new newsletter, The Carlat Report Addiction Treatment.

We’re pleased to be partners with Carlat Publishing in helping publish their older, past years’ archives of these newsletters over at Psych Central Professional. But we’re doubly pleased to offer our readers a special discount subscription to these independent, must-read newsletters.

A Mental Illness Epidemic? Or Hype Masquerading as Journalism?

Thursday, August 29th, 2013

A Mental Illness Epidemic? Or Hype Masquerading as Journalism?Are we in the midst of an epidemic of mental illness?

My dictionary would suggest the word “epidemic” is appropriate when discussing some that is “excessively prevalent” or “characterized by very widespread growth.” Is mental illness really growing as much as some critics claim?

It’s with some interest to examine the claims of those who say we’re in some sort of “epidemic” of mental illness. But owing to their sloppy premise, loose research efforts, and illogically connecting dots that have little to do with one another, I find it a hard claim to swallow.

In fact, research shows that prevalence rates for mental illness have actually declined somewhat from 1994, making it hard to understand where some are coming from about this “epidemic” nonsense.

American Psychological Association 2013 Coverage

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

American Psychological Association 2013 Coverage
Aloha, from Honolulu, Hawaii!

Just a quick note to let you know that we will be bringing you continuing meeting coverage of the 2013 annual convention of the American Psychological Association here on Psych Central. Our special coverage can be found here and will be updated regularly over the next few days.

7th Canadian Conference on Dementia

Sunday, July 28th, 2013

7th Canadian Conference on DementiaDementia, a term used to describe declines in mental ability, such as memory and thinking, that interfere with daily life, affects millions of people in the U.S. and Canada. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are just two of the debilitating diseases encompassed by the term dementia.

From October 3-5, 2013, a world-renowned faculty of national and international speakers will gather at the 7th Canadian Conference on Dementia in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The conference offers a wide range of topics related to dementia. There will be opportunities for stimulating debate, interactive workshops and exposure to the latest research via oral and poster presentations.

Biomarkers: Can Blood & Brain Scans Help with Future Depression Treatment?

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Biomarkers: Can Blood & Brain Scans Help with Future Depression Treatment?Are predictive biomarkers the wave of the future of depression treatment?

Recent research has demonstrated — in small pilot studies — that brain PET scans and, in a separate study, blood proteins, may act as important biomarkers for determining whether an antidepressant or cognitive behavioral therapy might be the best treatment for a person’s clinical depression.

Such an indicator would be a potential boon for those seeking treatment for depression. Currently, depression treatment is characterized by a trial-and-error approach, with most professionals recommending most people get both medications and psychotherapy.

These studies point to the possibility that, in the future, we may have a more reliable way of directing people to the treatment that’s going to be the most effective for them.

With Obesity, A New Disease is Born: Its Profound Implications for Psychiatry

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

With Obesity, A New Disease is Born: Its Profound Implications for PsychiatryA new disease was discovered the other day — or rather, one was created.

There is no “lab test” for this disease, nor is there an X-ray, MRI, or CT scan that can detect it. It is diagnosed on the basis of a mathematical formula that many believe is simplistic and poorly-validated.

Sometimes this “disease” results in metabolic abnormalities, sometimes not.

Many clinicians view the decision to recognize this disease as another example of “medicalizing” a problem stemming from the person’s “life-style” — not from a specific pathological process. In fact, the declaration that this condition is a “disease” was the result of a vote among a group of doctors at a medical meeting in Chicago.

In effect, this condition became a disease through a show of hands.

Project ECHO: Can We Teach Physicians to Better Diagnose Mental Disorders?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

Project ECHO: Can We Teach Physicians to Better Diagnose Mental Disorders?I’m conflicted about the announcement of Project ECHO’s expansion last week. The ECHO Institute was founded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the GE Foundation and the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center to help primary care physicians do a better job with common, chronic condition diagnosis and treatment via Project ECHO.

On Friday, they announced a new initiative focusing on mental health treatment. The new effort will involve having academics train primary-care physicians to strengthen and better coordinate their mental health care.

It’s the right focus, because family doctors and general practitioners prescribe the majority of antidepressants in this country, and are often the first-line professional to see a patient who may have a mental health concern.

But then the director of Project ECHO, Sanjeev Arora, spoke.

Not in the DSM-5: Internet Addiction & Parental Alienation Disorder

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

Not in the DSM-5: Internet Addiction & Parental Alienation DisorderDisappointing to some professionals, I’m sure, is the fact that two disorders didn’t make it into the DSM-5 at all — not even in the chapter “Conditions for Further Study.”

Those two lonely disorders? “Internet addiction” and parental alienation disorder.

This is a nice respite from the hype surrounding both these concerns and reaffirms what we’ve been saying here for years — these are not mental disorders. Do some people have a usually-temporary and almost-always transitory problem with figuring out how much time to spend on the Internet? Sure they do — it’s just not a disorder-level concern.

And the evidence is simply too sparse for “parental alienation disorder,” which I believe has propagated more for legal than clinical reasons.

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