Hello everyone! Welcome to another edition of Best 5 Reads. Lets begin!
We hear a lot these days that modern digital technology is rewiring the brains of our teenagers, making them anxious, worried and unable to focus.
Don’t panic; things are really not this dire.
Despite news reports to the contrary, there is little evidence of an epidemic of anxiety disorders in teenagers. This is for the simple reason that the last comprehensive and representative survey of psychiatric disorders among American youth was conducted more than a decade ago, according to Kathleen Ries Merikangas, chief of the Genetic Epidemiology Research Branch at the National Institute of Mental Health.
Lately it seems like everyone has been talking about mental health, so it’s not surprising that our favorite TV shows are taking on topics pertaining to the psyche more and more, too.
This is Us beautifully and fairly portrays binge eating disorder, alcoholism, and panic disorder. Shameless features a mother and son who both have bipolar disorder, and it thoughtfully represents their challenges. The last season of Handmaid’s Tale showed a variety of responses to trauma, sexual assault, and peri- and postpartum mood disorders. Representation like this on television is a great way to destigmatize mental illness — but that only works if the representation is fair and accurate. Unfortunately mental health storylines are much more likely to be fear-mongering and wildly wrong. As a psychiatrist, this both piques my interest and upends my work-life balance. Whether I’m watching everyone’s favorite medical drama or “reality” TV, it’s impossible not to switch into physician mode, angry on behalf of all of my patients and the many viewers who are being misled.
The focus of mental health policy and treatment for individuals with schizophrenia in the United States has shifted in recent years from stabilization of those with chronic disease to intervention in the early stages of the illness.
I wrote this column while in a hospital recovering from spinal surgery for lumbar stenosis. I required two decompressions (where excessive bone pressing on spinal nerves is removed) and a fusion employing small titanium rods and screws (to remedy slippage between two low-back vertebrae). I wanted to restore my mobility, which had become progressively limited.
The surgery began with my receiving midazolam (Versed) intravenously from the anesthesiologist as I lay on the gurney to be transferred to the operating table. Midazolam is a benzodiazepine medication, in the same class of drugs as alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), and clonazepam (Klonopin). But elephants are in the same class (genus) as gerbils, and midazolam is the elephant. I was unconscious in a second.
The surgery ran almost four hours. I recall virtually nothing of the immediate postoperative period. I awoke, blissfully and dopily, in the recovery area with no pain, despite a lot of reconstruction in my back, and a five-inch incision to prove it. My, we doctors have powerful tools to sedate and anesthetize a patient. But, as we know, these drugs and their related opioids have become ubiquitous outside of operating theaters and recovery rooms.
Among study participants who developed a lifetime use of nicotine, 50% had initiated use by age 15.3 years.
Thank you and see you tomorrow for weekend quotes. Enjoy your weekend!