Recently, I gave a lecture entitled, “Treating Depression in Primary Care,” at an annual conference for physician assistants.  I spent a good portion of the talk on the fundamentals that have been essential to me during my 15 years of practice.  When things go awry in mental health care, the majority of the time it is because one or more of these fundamental principles was neglected. My fear is ...

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I first met Carol* (name and identifying details have been changed) when she came to my clinic after a severe asthma attack had sent her to the intensive care unit.  After a few days, she had been extubated and had acquired a new diagnosis: asthma.  When she saw me in clinic, she felt better than she had when she had come to the hospital, but she continued to complain of ...

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For more than a decade I’ve taught a seminar in dynamic psychotherapy to psychiatry residents. One tricky issue that arises every year is the apparent choice between conducting a “supportive” psychotherapy, versus an “analytic” or “insight-oriented” one. I developed a sailing analogy to clarify this issue, and to teach an important point about it. Most patients appreciate emotionally comforting support. Many seek a therapist who will provide a listening ear, who ...

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Test your medicine knowledge with the MKSAP challenge, in partnership with the American College of Physicians. A 24-year-old woman is evaluated for increasing asthma symptoms. Her symptoms now require her to use her as-needed albuterol inhaler two to three times per week, and she has been waking up at night at least once a week with asthma symptoms that require her inhaler. She is still able to perform ...

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Dont forget those where cancer screening didnt make a differenceI had the opportunity recently to participate in a Twitter chat on the topic of colorectal cancer awareness. The chat was intended to bring attention to a nationwide campaign called "80 by 2018" designed to increase colorectal cancer screening rates to 80% of the population over the next 4 years. If it is successful, we should see a decline in both incidence ...

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Headlines soared recently with the CDC report that the number of children with autism diagnoses had increased by 30% in the past 2 years. “Reality is there are many children who are having serious struggles because they can’t communicate well and have a hard time being with people,” Dr. Chuck Cowan clearly stated to me this morning. Like a bell on a quiet night, I feel parents need to hear this most: ...

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Most humans have spent most of human history nearly starving to death. So it’s no surprise that we spend a lot of time thinking about food. And it’s no surprise that food has acquired cultural, social, and religious significance in almost every society. Because food is so important, and because it’s nearly impossible for us not to ascribe powerful effects to anything important to us, every society imbues special health ...

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Allow me to describe a recent case and ask your opinion.  Today, you are the intake nurse at hospice and you are asked to evaluate Stan.  This gentleman has incurable cancer, but treatment would probably prolong his survival.   However, Stan has refused that treatment and been referred to you.  It is your job to decide if he is “hospice appropriate.” Why has Stan refused therapy?  It is not that he denies ...

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There is nothing more disheartening for a physician than watching a patient die from a preventable cause. And, of course, the loss for the family involved is unimaginable. But it’s important, especially for parents, to understand the potential consequences of preventable, infectious diseases. Here’s a scenario doctors across the country are witnessing first-hand: A 2-year-old girl develops what seems like a cold. Over the next several days, her breathing rate increases. At ...

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"I know its my ADHD acting up," a mother of three young children recently said to me as an explanation for her inability to recall a particular piece of information. My observation, in the setting of mybehavioral pediatrics practice, of increasing numbers of mothers of young children being diagnosed with ADHD is in keeping with a recent report from Express Scripts. This report, based on pharmacy claims data, showed a 53% rise in writing of prescriptions for ADHD in ...

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