"She doesn’t look like a person with an addiction problem to me," replied the physician to the psychiatrist, referring to a patient who was admitted to the hospital for confusion. She was found at home amidst an array of bottles containing various controlled substances, and a toxicology screen positive for cannabis. She was in a higher socioeconomic bracket having retired from a professional job. The psychiatrist explained that addiction crosses ...

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According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 9.8 million adults (or 4 percent of all adults) over the age of 18 years suffered a serious mental illness in 2015. A serious mental illness is one that affects a patient’s daily functioning. Considering all mental illness in adults in the same time period, 43.4 million adults (or 17.9 percent) who met the criteria for a ...

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A few years ago, as numbers of burnout, depression, and suicide among physicians continued to rise, the notion of “joy in medicine” was conceived. From conferences and books, to support groups and consultants, another health care-related industry popped up around improving provider satisfaction and fostering workplace wellness. It was well-intentioned, as these things often are, but like the familiar adage about roads and good intentions, joy in medicine seems poised ...

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Drug overdose deaths, once rare, are now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., surpassing peak annual deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents, guns and HIV infection. As a former public health official, clinician, and researcher, I’ve been engaged in efforts to control the opioid addiction epidemic for the past 15 years. The data show that the situation is dire and getting worse. Until opioids are prescribed ...

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STAT_Logo One of Max’s friends taught him an easy way to buy shady drugs. What he learned almost killed him, and it opened my eyes to a hiding-in-plain-sight source of dangerous drugs that is amplifying the opioid epidemic. When Max (not his real name) developed pancreatitis a decade ago, his physicians prescribed opioids to ease his extreme ...

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My first memory of encountering a person who appeared to have no place to live was during my first year of college at UCLA. A man was sitting outside a mini-mart, his legs crossed and his hair long. He looked tired, and his clothes had stains on them. Feeling pity for him, I went into the mini-mart and purchased a turkey sandwich on wheat. “Here,” I said as I handed him ...

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For days on end, she looked out of the bedroom window, rocking her baby back and forth on her glider. The maple tree waved at her daily as the breeze came through its branches. Gradually, the leaves made their annual change from green to red and orange and yellow. She watched as the leaves transformed, jealous of their seamless change as she struggled to make her own transition to motherhood. Eventually, ...

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In her recent New Yorker article, “The Sorrow and the Shame of the Accidental Killer,” author Alice Gregory claims there are no self-help books for anyone who has accidentally killed another person.  Nor published research, therapeutic protocols, publicly listed support groups, nor therapists who specialize in their treatment.  She profiles several such tormented souls who bear their burdens largely alone. Yet dealing with guilt, shame, and regret is a mainstay of ...

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Physician burnout and physician suicide have been getting more attention in the last several years. Suicide among physicians is horribly tragic, and maybe moreso because of several factors. Suicide is the quintessentially most preventable fatal event. In order to prevent suicide, the person killing him or herself needs only not do it. To anyone who knows the victim/perpetrator, it seems that if only the right words had been spoken, the ...

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Medical care and understanding have changed since separation of physical and mental health made much sense. We know now that mental state and internal physiology influence one another and that social factors affect disease risk more powerfully than genetic ones. Still, as a health care system, we perpetuate a culture of division, and limit our capacity to help people because of our inability to categorize them neatly. There are so many with unmet mental health ...

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