psychiatry

Mental illness still carries a stigma in society, particularly for those who suffer from a severe form, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. High-profile incidents, in which a mentally ill person commits a violent crime, has led to the stereotype that the mentally ill pose a dire threat to society.

It is certainly true that rates of violent crime are higher among the severely mentally ill than among the general population, with approximately 5 to 10% committing an act of violence within 5 years of diagnosis. Still, the vast majority of them never do so. The question, then, is how psychiatrists can identify the subset of patients who are most likely to become violent. Some risk assessment tools already exist, but most are either unreliable or overly complicated. Now, a team...

Depression and anxiety, as well as severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia, have become more openly discussed in society. Yet, one aspect of mental health remains largely in the shadows: Nightmares.

Not just the product of children's over-active imaginations, about 5% of adults experience frequent nightmares. A study published in 2001 demonstrated that men who suffered from frequent nightmares were more likely to commit suicide than those who did not. However, the study included war veterans, a group who suffers more frequently from nightmares compared to the general population, most likely as a result of PTSD.

So, a new team of researchers wanted to separate veterans from civilians and ...

It is a longstanding myth that suicides surge during the holiday season.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics, the suicide rate reaches its lowest of the year in the month of December.  

The Spring and Fall apparently reflect peak times— a rather consistent finding in recent years.  Regardless of this nuance, suicide is a major public health threat impacting all ages, careers and socioeconomic strata prompting a rippling devastation of families and communities throughout the calendar year.  

Spurred by the Germanwings Flight 4U 925 crash last year, the journal ...

There is an ever-growing body of evidence that reinforces the health benefits of animals.  The cardiovascular and mental health ones are known and well-documented.  

A new study published in BMC Psychiatry sought to explore the role pets had in support, self-management and personal networks of those suffering from long-term significant mental illness (e.g. bipolar disorder, schizophrenia).  It concluded “pets should be considered a main rather than a marginal source of support in the management of long-term mental health problems, and this has implications for the planning and delivery of mental health services.”

The qualitative research involved interviews of 54 individuals...

With medical letters and the general health of the U.S. Presidential candidates being the big topic of discussion last week, we were all treated to analyses of issues like blood clots and BMI and other topics. Pundits on both sides suggested some concern about the medical fitness of the opposing candidate.

But, where did this interest in medical fitness come from? What's fit or unfit in 2016?  Basically, what would cause you, or the leadership of a major party, to declare a candidate not medically qualified to be President and not worthy of a vote?  

This answer is different for a physician.

Fitness is not as obvious as you might think. Doctors, me included, will automatically defer to the primary physician of a candidate as the final arbiter of medical health,...

Do you know what a "bezoar” is? Probably not, but you have likely heard the term "psychosomatic," which means an ailing mind can actually physically bother or impair your body.

Sometimes the primary disease is truly in your head, or at least it seems to have started there.

First, in answer to the question. A bezoar (1) is various masses of material that can't be digested - "calculi" - usually found in the gastrointestinal organs. As a result, it becomes like a rock in the body prompting mechanical obstruction and nutritional problems to occur.

In olden days, such a "bezoar stone" was considered to possess magical properties, especially if it came from animals. One belief was that they were mystical and could cure poisons. In the 16th century, the famous surgeon,...

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LSD, ecstasy (MDMA), Magic mushrooms (psilocybin) and marijuana have, for decades, been designated as drugs of abuse. But there has been a resurgence of interest in utilizing psychedelic/psychoactive substances to treat mental disorders including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and addictions.

In the 1950 s and 1960 s psychedelics, particularly...

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Though many advances have been made in the medical field with regard to psychiatry, still many mysteries exist and much of the human mind remains an unknown. Some mental-disorder diagnoses are clear-cut, whereas others are somewhat of a stretch. Given this, researchers at Auburn University decided to question the validity of seasonal affective disorder as a psychiatric diagnosis.

SAD is a mood disorder that has been part of the Diagnostic and Statistical...

Depression has often been associated with symptoms such as sadness, apathy and anxiety. But researchers are coming to understand that depression can manifest itself differently in men than it does in women - and as a result, men s depression has been under diagnosed.

Researchers looking to understand the disparities in depression rates between men and women found that when symptoms such as anger, aggression and drug abuse were accounted for, those disparities disappeared.

The study, published online in JAMA psychiatry, used data from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), including 3,310 women and 2,382 men. Researchers developed two scales. The Male...