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Thursday, December 13, 2012

PTSD and Depression in Postwar Libya

A really great illustration of the psychological pain that war and its aftermath can bring to the people who experience it firsthand. This article was just published today in BBC News Magazine, and sheds light on how the fighters and those who lost loved ones in the Libyan revolution are (barely) coping with their trauma. Of particular interest is the city of Misrata, where some of the revolution's bloodiest battles took place, and where there is a severe shortage of mental health professionals:

"Dr Khaled al Madani, head of the psychology department of Misrata University, has been trying to establish proper mental healthcare services in the city for more than a year.
He says at present there is only one part-time psychiatrist from Tripoli available to hold a regular but limited clinic in Misrata."

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Dr. Robert Gupta and the "Soloist"

Also listened to a TED talk by Dr. Robert Gupta who combines his love for music and mental health (posted on 10/2/12):

Description: "When Robert Gupta was caught between a career as a doctor and as a violinist, he realized his place was in the middle, with a bow in his hand and a sense of social justice in his heart. He tells a moving story of society’s marginalized and the power of music therapy, which can succeed where conventional medicine fails." (c/o iTunes, TED)

Vikram Patel & Mental Health in Developing Countries

I just listened to a great TED Talk by Vikram Patel posted on iTunes on 9/11/12:

Description: "Nearly 450 million people are affected by mental illness worldwide. In wealthy nations, just half receive appropriate care, but in developing countries, close to 90 percent go untreated because psychiatrists are in such short supply. Vikram Patel outlines a highly promising approach -- training members of communities to give mental health interventions, empowering ordinary people to care for others." (c/o iTunes and TED)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

medical students matching into psychiatry

There is new data from the match in recent years supporting that psychiatry is becoming a popular field especially among M.D. Ph.D. students. Indeed, there is so much to be discovered in this fascinating field. This is one of the perks among many who join the field NOW!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Dr. Phil - Biofeedback Appetite Control

Thought this was neat! It worked for this woman with a chocolate addiction, as you'll see in this clip. The device is approved by the FDA.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

WHO Calls For End To Stigma On World Mental Health Day

"Wednesday (October 10th) is World Mental Health Day," VOA News reports, noting, "The World Health Organization is using the occasion to call for an end to stigma against those who suffer from depression and other mental disorders" (DeCapua, 10/9). Depression affects 350 million people worldwide, with nearly five percent of the world's population suffering from depression annually, according to Medical Daily (Tucker, 10/9). More than three-quarters of people living with mental health disorders reside in developing countries, BBC News notes, adding, "According to the World Health Organization (WHO), eight in every 10 of those living in developing nations receive no treatment at all" (Roberts, 10/10). The WHO "warns stigma is a huge problem that prevents many people from seeking help," VOA writes (10/9).

Copied from:

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mental Illness rarely leads to violence

Here's a short 2 mins follow up clip:

Dr. Sylvia Gearing talks about how the real danger is not mental illness; it's drug or alcohol abuse.

The only mental illness which increases the risk of violence is paranoid thinking, but only when the paranoia has reached the point of psychosis (complete loss of contact with reality).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Shootings expose cracks in US mental health system (but mentally ill people are no more violent)

This is a tragic story:

Although laws may be slowly changing in some states, it is often difficult to get people the help they need before it's too late.

Keep in mind, although this highlights the violence that can transpire when people with mental illness don't get treatment, the vast majority of people who have a mental illness are not violent!

In fact, studies show that mentally ill people are no more violent than others in the general population.

However, people who have a dual diagnosis (ie. mental illness with drug addiction) do show increased violence if they are not adherent to their medications.  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Struggling in Silence: Physician depression and suicide

This is a great documentary we showed medical students in Israel awhile back.

Here's the link:

The following 5 cases are presented in the film:

1) suicide of a renown burn surgeon
2) medical student suffering from depression & anxiety who was on the brink of dropping out of medical school
3) plastic surgeon suffering from major depression
4) neurologist suffering from bipolar disorder
5) suicide of another physician

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stockholm syndrome

Here's a short clip:
Victims of Stockholm syndrome develop compassion and loyalty toward their captors.

Here's a great article:
You can get an understanding of the psychology behind this.

It can be found in many family, romantic, and interpersonal relationships.

The syndrome was coined "Stockholm syndrome," after 4 people who were taken hostage at a bank in Stockholm in 1973 appeared to have "bonded" with their captors. Upon rescue, the hostages feared the law enforcement. One woman later became engaged to one of the criminals and another developed a legal defense fund to help in their legal defense fees.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Father's age increases risk of Autism & Schizophrenia in Children

New finding correlates older father's age to increased risk of getting genetic mutations that could contribute to higher incidence of Autism and Schizophrenia in the offspring.

Here is the full article:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Olympics and Mental Health

With the London Summer Olympics under way, Medscape interviewed Dr. Ira Glick, Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California, and founder of the International Society for Sport Psychiatry, to discuss the potential mental health effects of athletics and athletic training regimens.

Medscape: Could you give an overview of what psychiatric illnesses, effects, and/or mental health issues might be of concern in young Olympic athletes? And which sports pose the biggest risks of athletes developing these kinds of problems?
Dr. Glick: In young athletes, the major problems are in the "thin" sports like gymnastics, running, and dancing, where you get eating disorders. The other big thing with Olympic athletes is the issue of overtraining and burnout. We've looked at this issue of athletes versus nonathletes, and although no one has studied this scientifically, the incidence of major psychiatric illness is either less than or equal to that of the general population. That's because most of the stuff we treat is genetic. We know NIMH [National Institute of Mental Health] studies have shown that there's a 15% incidence of mental illness in the general population. And you have to figure that that's going to be in athletes also. No one has ever systematically studied 100 gymnasts and seen what percentage have eating disorders; the best we can figure is that it's a low incidence.
Medscape: Even if there's not a big split in terms of incidence compared with the general population, what's unique about treating a high-level athlete for mental health issues?
Dr. Glick: There are 2 major issues. One is the gladiator mentality: There's narcissism; they believe nothing can go wrong; they don't need help; they can overcome it. And just for that alone, they don't want to go to therapy, either for psychotherapy or medication. The medication issue becomes a little more complicated because they're afraid that it's going to impair their performance. The other part of this is that there's a stigma to going to see psychologists or psychiatrists -- or even nonpsychiatrists, internists, or general practitioners. If they go for help, it's a sign of weakness. The stigma of mental illness becomes a very important issue.
Another issue is that when it's over, it's over. Their whole life is focused around this. And then suddenly they're left without it. Unless they've lived a balanced life and have other things going in their lives, it's very difficult for them to adjust to being a regular guy or gal.
Medscape: How might the stigma of mental illness in athletes be addressed? Does it need to start with the athletes or with the institutions that they are involved with?
Dr. Glick: The institutions that they're involved with are gradually -- but very, very slowly -- beginning to get mental health components into their programs. But the focus has been on performance enhancement. It's only been when there's a focus not only on performance enhancement, but solving problems of the sport, the stresses of a particular sport, and recognizing that athletes, like non-athletes, are subject to the same illnesses. Another thing that you can do is have athletes come out with their struggles. Actors and other famous people with mental and physical illnesses are coming out and saying that they've been treated. And that's helped. All of this has worked toward breaking down the stigma of working with athletes.

Contact vs Noncontact Sports

Medscape: We've talked mostly about noncontact sports. How do you compare the mental health ramifications of noncontact vs contact sports? Head injuries, for example, must present different issues versus excessive weight loss or overtraining.
Dr. Glick: Contact sports such as football or soccer have the additional burden of traumatic brain injuries, which cause both brain damage and subsequent psychiatric symptoms like depression, difficulty getting along, and difficulty thinking clearly. There's an association with early-onset dementia because there's real brain damage as well as personality effects. It's harder to cope with the normal stresses of life. In Olympic sports, there's obviously some contact in soccer and basketball. In addition, with these sports there are associated injuries that would show up 20-30 years later, such as traumatic arthritis and other residua of orthopedic injuries, which cause a lot of physical pain and emotional pain associated with depression and decreased function.
Medscape: Do you think that going through so many years of grueling physical activity makes athletes more prone to psychiatric side effects, such as trying to cope with long-term physical ailments that develop because of their careers?
Dr. Glick: Being less able to cope is a problem, also the fact that their orthopedic injuries are more severe. But in addition, they could also be working with a less functional brain, which is causing significant problems in socializing and in relationships. Now not everybody gets this. But it certainly increases the risk for having long-term problems.
Medscape: Can you elaborate on the mental health systems in place for young athletes? What improvements are needed to improve mental health outcomes in this population?
Dr. Glick: I think there's a lot of improvement needed. Everybody I've spoken to, the athletes and other sports psychiatrists, say that youth athletic programs are slowly bringing mental health into the picture. But it's a very slow process and it's very difficult to get psychiatrists and psychologists involved, especially psychiatrists. Psychologists seem more socially acceptable because they're there presumably not because there's something wrong with the athletes but because they're helping them to do better in their sport. And some of the pro leagues, like the NBA, have very extensive programs for helping athletes. They work with the rookies. They have people in their office that they bring in to talk to them about life, relationships, and working with coaches. But they're really the exception. So, it's slowly changing, but very slowly. And what we're advocating is much greater use of professionals in both youth and adult programs -- the same way it would be unheard of now to have a program without a trainer or an internist or a general or family physician.
Medscape: Olympic athletes can compete at as young as 15 years of age. Does the fact that such a person is still developing, yet competing at the elite Olympic level, change the management approach?
Dr. Glick: They have incredible physical attributes, but mentally they're just kids and their brains are just developing. Their personalities are developing. And again, nobody is following this. Nobody has done a long-term, follow-up study to know for sure the science of this. Obviously, the media speculates that there might be longer-term problems with them. You can argue that these are people with terrific personalities; they're able to use their personality to become good at a sport. Or you can say that there are terrific stresses here. And a lot of these kids are going to end up with long-term problems. All you read about are those who have done well. Once a year there's a story on a gymnast who's now in her twenties and is doing okay. But nobody knows the systematic follow-up of those who you don't hear about. So it's certainly a real concern.
Medscape: In high-profile settings such as the Olympics, what beneficial interventions might sports psychologists or psychiatrists offer?
Dr. Glick: It would be useful to have a psychiatrist there to at least do supportive, brief therapy as problems come up in the course of competition. In terms of the future, what's the future going to hold for these athletes? It would help them to have some counseling or psychotherapy available as part and parcel of the Olympic experience, rather than have it be seen as a sign of weakness.
Medscape: You mentioned how athletes looked at going to a psychiatrist or psychologist as a means of gaining a performance edge, as opposed to as a way to cope. How do you think we change that perception to one about learning how to deal with the internal challenges that athletes might be struggling with?
Dr. Glick: I think the media can help by pointing out that seeking mental health is an old stigma (if you went, there was something wrong with you) and that teams have adapted from that. Second, it can be emphasized that working with a psychologist might help athletic performance. But that's a relatively recent phenomenon. And again, there's very little science behind it. It's all pop psychology. There are techniques like imaging and straight psychotherapy, but it's hard to know whether they really increase performance. There's never been a controlled study of, say, taking 100 wrestlers and giving 50 of them the pop psychology intervention and 50 of them no intervention to see which group does better. That's what would be needed. There's no question that if you're sick, going to a doctor usually helps rather than harms; at the very least, it doesn't hurt you. We want to instill the same thing in athletes about mental health: Just as having a physician available to treat your cold or bronchitis or sprained knee is helpful, so, too, is having a psychiatrist available to help you deal with the stress of having to succeed.
Medscape: What are the biggest risks that athletes run in regard to long-term mental health? What are the most potentially damaging issues that athletes face once their playing days are over?
Dr. Glick: One thing is that not everybody succeeds -- almost everybody fails. I was reading this book called The Art of Fielding -- a great book. One of the concepts in it is that what separates those who are successful from those who are not is the ability to cope with failure. Almost everybody in the Olympics is going to fail, so the ability to cope is number one. Number two is having to cope with physical injuries. And number three is being out of the spotlight; you have to have developed the balance to go on to the next part of your life. That is really the biggest issue: staying balanced. Sports are a means to a happy, successful life, but they're not the end.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Borderline Personality Disorder & Dialectical Behavior Therapy

This is a neat overview of DBT, a branch of cognitive behavioral therapy. Dialectical behavioral therapy has become the most effective treatment for people with borderline personality disorder. This clip teaches you about the 4 main components involved.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Dual diagnosis in Psychiatry

This is an article from Deb which I should have posted a long time ago. 

Here you get a glimpse of Antonio Lambert's life story with an accompanying video.

Antonio Lambert has a combined diagnosis: a mood disorder and drug addiction, among the scariest diagnoses in psychiatry.  Each problem ‘inflames the other,’ in a vicious cycle.  Antonio is an ex-convict who has had several run-ins with the law.

He has used a combination of coping strategies, medication, and spirituality to combat his illness.  However, he still has tendencies of relapsing, but is able to detect the lurking ‘monster’ and seek help when needed.

He has become a ‘peer counselor’ to help others with similar backgrounds. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Refugee Mental Health

In this clip you can see a news report about refugee mental health. With over 40 million refugees worldwide, health experts are concerned that not enough is being done to address the impact of displacement on mental health.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mental Health in Kenya

Long time everyone! Let's get this rolling again!

Here's a clip which gives you a picture of mental healthcare in Kenya:

Less than 1% of the budget from the Ministry of Health in Kenya is allocated towards mental health, yet the WHO estimates that roughly 15% of global burden of disease is attributable to mental illness. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Circadian sleep disorders

Roughly 50% of people suffer from sleep related problems.

Sleep is closely linked to the field of psychiatry. Not only is sleep often affected by mental disorders and medications, an irregular sleep pattern has profound effects on our mood.

This is a segment from Nightline with Ted Koppel from 1996 about Circadian sleep disorders.

Dim those lights when it gets dark out. It can help reset your clock and mood!

Part 1:
Part 2:
Part 3:

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Treating depression with electrodes inside the brain

An interesting article and accompanying video from Dana, about deep brain stimulation for treatment resistant depression. Read the story of Edi Guyton who had debilitating depression for 40 years until her experimental brain surgery. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rudolf Hess: Inside the mind of Hitler's deputy

I thought this was an interesting article about the British trying to get into the mind of the Nazis. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Israel bans 'underweight' models

Israel, like many other countries, has a high rate of eating disorders among adolescents. I think this is a big step forward. Hopefully other countries will soon adopt similar regulations.

Here's the news clip:

Here's an article:

Friday, March 16, 2012

PTSD in the Military

Here's a short clip about PTSD in the military:

And here's another clip about current news; the soldier suspected of killing 16 Afghan civilians, perhaps hit a breaking point:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Anorexia's Childhood Roots

Here you get to hear the story about Isabelle Caro and her traumatic childhood. She explains how her mother had a phobia that she would grow which triggered her endless struggle with anorexia. Sadly, Isabelle died at the age of 28. A couple of months following her death, her mother killed herself, unable to cope with the guilt.

During Isabelle's struggle, she was a powerful advocate against anorexia; advocating for the recognition and dangers of the disease. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Culture bound syndromes - Wendigo psychosis

Wendigo psychosis is a mental disorder where a person intensely craves human flesh and thinks they are turning into a cannibal despite an abundance of food available. This was mainly present in specific Aboriginal communities.

Click the link above to see a brief video about cannibalism and a subsequent explanation of Wendigo psychosis. Dr. Volkan, professor of psychology, gives an explanation about the disorder briefly at 2 mins.

The following is part 2 of a series which Deb started a while back

It features a brief description of 17 different Culture- bound disorders

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Brain function can start declining 'as early as age 45'

Some interesting research being done in the UK shows that brain function can start declining "as early as age 45". Previous research had suggested that cognitive decline does not begin much before the age of 60.

These new findings indicate that the early changes in Alzheimer's could begin much earlier than we once thought. Take a look at the short video above!