I was shocked and deeply saddened when my daughter announced at the dinner table that Robin Williams had died of an apparent suicide. My wife and I and the three of our children home at the time all pretty much gasped audibly in unison, and then for a moment after, you could have heard a pin drop. For a bit after that, we talked about our shock and sorrow. And then after that, ...

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We are civilized people in the United States. We don't set up leper colonies or concentration camps or psychiatric snake pits to banish people with severe mental illness. Instead we send them to jail or prison -- almost 400,000 of them, more than 10 times the number receiving care in hospitals. And we also blithely ignore the fact that additional hundreds of thousands live homeless on the streets or in ...

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Top stories in health and medicine, August 20, 2014From MedPage Today:

  1. Moving Target for BP Guidelines. The current blood pressure target recommendations may need to be revisited in hypertensive patients with coronary artery disease who are 60 years and older.
  2. Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair Rivals Surgery. Survival rates with catheter-based mitral valve repair are comparable to classic surgery and better ...

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A wise friend who had completed residency told me prior to my starting training that the key to having fun was “never sit down when you get home from work.” Three years out of fellowship and practicing as a psychiatrist in Brooklyn, the words still resonate today.  The residents and medical students that rotate with me marvel at the stories of my full time acting career as a resident performing in ...

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As doctors we prescribe a lot for our patients -- pain relievers, medications for specific ailments, exercise, or vitamins. However, too often we forget the power of vitamin C: human connection. As a therapist and medical doctor for children and adults with ADHD, I don’t underestimate the power of employing a variety of treatments that treat the patient as a whole; this may include medication, recommendations about diet, exercise and lifestyle ...

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OpenNotes is “a national initiative working to give patients access to the visit notes written by their doctors, nurses, or other clinicians.”  According to their website, three million patients now have such access, generally online.  Participating institutions include the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas, Beth Israel Deaconess in Boston, Penn State Hershey Medical Group, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, and several others. Patients with a premium account in the My HealtheVet program at the VA have access to outpatient primary ...

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Somewhere late morning, after rounding on my first day of internship, I received a call from my sister. “She wants to kill herself. What do I do?” We had been through this before with our mother, fifteen years ago, the week I moved out of her house. She ended up in the psychiatric unit as we packed our bags to move in with our grandmother. This time, fifteen years later, things were ...

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At the recent gubernatorial candidates forum on mental health, Martha Coakley repeated the oft-heard phrase that depression is like diabetes. Her motivation was good, the idea being to reduce the stigma of mental illness, and to offer "parity" or equal insurance coverage, for mental and physical illness. However, I am concerned that this phrase, and its companion, "ADHD is like diabetes," will, in fact, have the exact opposite effect. A ...

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I am a great supporter of mental health research but worry that it has lost its sense of proportion and is chasing the wrong priorities. The really glamorous stuff consumes almost all of the enormous NIMH budget and now has behind it the huge addition of a $650-million private donation aimed at solving the genetics of mental illness. Neuroscience is an extremely easy sell to Congress and rich philanthropists because it promises ...

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It was with much distress that I read a New York Times front page article by Benedict Carey about the heart wrenching plight of the Serpico family in their journey to get proper psychiatric treatment for their two sons. As a child and adolescent psychiatrist who has served children and families for more than 30 years, trained many child psychiatrists, and served as president of the American Academy of ...

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