Diana Feliz Oliva, a 45-year-old transgender woman who grew up outside Fresno, Calif., remembers being bullied when she was younger and feeling confused about her gender identity. She was depressed and fearful about being found out, and she prayed every night for God to take her while she slept. “I was living in turmoil,” said Oliva, who now works as health program manager in a clinic for transgender people at St. ...

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Here it comes — another email about “physician wellness,” advertising mindfulness training, an ice cream social, or a volunteer day. As a psychiatrist, I can attest to the importance of tending to one’s own mental and physical health in order to strive for wellness. However, the trend of implementing physician wellness programs throughout the U.S. is nothing more than putting proverbial lipstick on a pig. Or, stated differently, this may ...

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Jim Johnson is the director of the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy, and an advocate on the front lines of the opioid epidemic. During his previous job as the police chief from Huntington, WV he spearheaded a comprehensive initiative of education, syringe exchanges, and Naloxone distribution that has shown promising results in a community where up to 10 percent of the population is plagued with opioid dependence. His ...

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When I walked into the hospital room with my team to meet him for the first time, what struck me was how young he looked. He was listed as 26 years old, but he looked younger than that. He looked so young that it was hard to believe he had served a tour in Iraq a few years prior, or that he likely saw things there that no one would ...

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As a medical student, I immortalized myself with my classmates when I informed a lecturing psychiatry professor that I considered Freud’s theories slightly more credible than the nuns’ tales about guardian angels. The lecturer ignored my obnoxious comment and continued his lecture. But Freudians have been on the defensive for the past decade. This trend culminated when the Library of Congress was forced to cancel a tribute to Freud in ...

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"Please walk slowly," cautioned Sunita, my interpreter, as I crept down the stony switchback trail towards the rural Nepali village of Dhulikhel. Sunita, in her petite navy ballet flats, hopped down the rocks as easily as the speckled goats grazing nearby. Emboldened by her speed, I stepped along eagerly, only to catch my size-ten neon running sneaker on a root and splat face-first into the dust. Looking up, I saw four ...

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STAT_Logo My grandmother was filled with grief as she told me by phone about life on the island of St. Thomas after Hurricanes Irma and Maria had blasted through it. “Tears keep running from my eyes uncontrollably because everyone on the island is suffering,” she lamented, then paused, too sad to continue. I could picture her in her ...

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A resident suffering from depression drinks too much and sleeps through a hospital shift the next morning. Another resident walks out of a patient room in the midst of a panic attack. As family medicine educators, how do we best handle these health concerns in our residents? The pendulum in medical training can swing in two directions. At one end, residents are indoctrinated into a macho mentality, where the need for self-care ...

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It’s 3 a.m., and I wake with a jolt. My heart is pounding out of my chest. I stumble out of bed to take a beta blocker hoping it’s enough to quiet my heart so I can doze off again. I sleep fitfully the next three hours, experiencing weird dreams and terrifying nightmares. At 6 a.m., I take my Valium. Nauseated, I lie in bed for 30 minutes, so I keep ...

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I have been working with psychiatric patients for the better part of 30 years. During this time, I have worked in psychiatric emergency rooms, prison wards, substance abuse treatment centers and inpatient psychiatric units. I have been proud of the fact that, despite working in some dangerous areas, I have never been harmed by a patient. I have been threatened, swung at — but never injured. Once a patient decided ...

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