Psychiatry

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Even Doctors Can Perpetuate The Stigma Of Mental Illness

Mental illness has always been highly stigmatized. Mental Health Month and other awareness programs attempt to bring mental illness out of the shadows, yet many of those who should be leading the fight to de-stigmatize mental illness, my fellow physicians, continue to foster stigma through their actions and words. Many patients have been irreparably harmed by physicians from every area of medicine who don't read, don't listen, and don't care about mental illness.
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Let's Talk About The Other Side Of Big Pharma

Many believe pharmaceutical companies are repugnant. There were several serious issues that built the foundation of the anti-pharma movement. While not all companies are guilty or equally responsible, many behaved unethically. They didn't always fully disclose research and safety data if it didn't support their product. They attempted to prevent researchers from voicing serious concerns. They created inappropriate relationships with physicians, leaving the impression that doctors were being bought, and sometimes that was true. This had to change.
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Are Your Alternative Cures Helpful Or Hooey?

It pains me to hear the nonsense my patients are subjected to by sometimes well-meaning, yet utterly uninformed, self-taught mental health experts. Their lack of scientific training is merely a preamble ("I'm no doctor but..."). They speak with enthusiasm and authority as they peddle supplements, homeopathic tinctures, detox enemas and antioxidant smoothies, with the goal of liberating my patients from their evidence-based treatments and dollars from their wallets.
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I Want My Patients To Love Their Drugs

The trouble is, there is no recipe book for prescribing psychiatric medications. Every individual is unique, so with the guidance of their doctor, patients must find the treatment that's right for them. If a drug makes them feel worse, it's not the right drug, but that doesn't mean there are no other options. The right treatment must be found and sometimes that takes time, effort and creativity. Feeling like a zombie is never an acceptable outcome.
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When Psychiatrists Won't Talk to Families Everyone Loses

So why wouldn't mental health professionals want to talk to these families? Too often it is due to a misguided sense of the rules regarding confidentiality. Sometimes mental health care teams are over-extended and don't want to deal with the expectations of family members. Excluding family from important decision-making discussions leaves them frustrated and demoralized and is often not in the patient's best interest.
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These Psychiatrists Dare to Set the Record Straight on Mental Illness

Two recent books by high profile psychiatrists provide readers with background knowledge that is essential in shaping our own responses to one of the biggest social problems of our times: severe mental illnesses. Now that psychiatrists are increasingly willing to enter into the messy public arena, it's up to the public to see what we can do with the information they are providing.
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Why We Need To Increase Insurance Coverage For Private Psychological Care

Increasing insurance benefits increases access to private care, which has become a necessity in Canada. Those wanting psychological treatments must either choose between public care (ex: psychologist in a hospital) or private care (ex: psychologist in private practice). Unfortunately, there tend to be unreasonable wait lists for access to public care (typically one year or longer).
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What I've Learned After a Decade of Researching Suicide

The death of comedian Robin Williams last month sparked a worldwide discussion about suicide, its underlying causes and how it might be prevented. And, with World Suicide Prevention Day taking place Sept. 10, the subject is certain to generate more debate as people seek to understand this important health issue. Having spent 10 years researching the subject while working as a professor of psychiatry, I believe there are things we can do as a community to tackle this problem. With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to reflect on what researchers have learned over the years about strategies for preventing suicide.
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These Clues Help Identify a Mentally Ill 'Lone Gunman' Before Tragedy Strikes

Lone-acting offenders were far more likely to have a history of mental illness than offenders who had been part of a group. Lone-actors with mental illness were also more likely to have a spouse or partner who was part of a larger movement (making them more vulnerable to outside influences) and to have parents who were divorced. Though offenders acting alone are often characterized as being "loners" without any real sources of emotional support, that doesn't appear to be the case.
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More Psychiatrists Won't Fix a Broken Mental Health System

In Ontario, the fee schedule does not have limits on duration or frequency of visits. Changing that may be one way of opening up room for psychiatrists to see more patients. Another idea, adopted in Australia, the U.K and the U.S., includes shifting the psychiatrist's role to that of a consultant on a multidisciplinary team. In such a model, psychiatrists provide the initial diagnosis, oversee any pharmaceutical treatment, and work with a team of social workers and psychologists to provide psychotherapy, support and to monitor progress.
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Why Smoking 'Skunk' Cannabis May Lead to Early Psychosis

They also found that patients who started smoking cannabis at age 15 or younger preferred to smoke high-potency "skunk" cannabis rather than lower potency "hash" type cannabis. The earliest onset of psychotic episodes occurred in males who have been smoking high-potency cannabis on a daily basis -- on average, their first psychotic episode occurred six years earlier than for non-users.
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Do You Suffer From Mental Illness? Turning To Religion May Help

Let's make use of our churches in providing care for the mentally ill. Churches have been a refuge for hundreds of years. For many of us, places of worship are perfect for assisting in the care of the mentally ill because sometimes all one needs is someone to listen, a shoulder to lean on, a cup of tea, or a quiet place. Spiritual care is available to all, rich or poor, religious or not. And the infrastructure is already in place.