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Healthcare related news and updates

More Than Half of American Adults With a Mental Illness Do Not Receive Treatment

56 percent of the 43.7 million people in the U.S. with a mental illness do not receive any treatment for their condition, according to Mental Health America’s Annual Assessment of Americans with Mental Illness.

That percentage is higher amongst the younger population, where 80 percent of the children and adolescents are receiving insufficient treatment, or none at all – even with depression rates on the rise.

Fox News expounded on the findings of the study, stating: “Health care reform expanded mental health care coverage for Americans, but about 56 percent of U.S. adults with mental illness still do not receive treatment.

The Washington Post and Fox News reported on the study.


Physician Group President Urges Congress to Take Action on Mental Health

American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) President Dr. Rebecca Parker publicly urged the Senate to approve the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act of 2016.

The legislation begins to address the inadequacies in the mental health system in the United States, she wrote in the Hill. Parker cites a recent poll conducted by ACEP, showcasing a growing shortage of inpatient beds available for emergency psychiatric patients.

The legislation serves as a way for Congress to reverse the trend of diverting resources away from inpatient and outpatient mental health care in the United States.


Emergency Room Physicians Say Psychiatric Patients Can Wait Long Hours, Days for Inpatient Bed

An online survey of 1,176 emergency room physicians released in October captures the difficulty for psychiatric patients in receiving much-needed inpatient care, according to MedPage Today.

Many of these patients wait long hours – even days – for an inpatient psychiatric bed, according to the survey. It also stated that up to three quarters of physician respondents report seeing psychiatric patients waiting on every shift.

More than 10 percent of the respondents in the survey also reported seeing six to 10 patients waiting for inpatient psychiatric care during their last shift.

The findings were reported at the American College of Emergency Physicians annual meeting.

The Washington Post (10/22, Mufson, Zezima, 6.76M) reported that President Obama made his announcement in West Virginia, which has been so hard hit by the opiate epidemic.  The new measures by the Federal government will include increasing access to drug treatment as well as expanding the training of doctors who prescribe opiates.  Other specific programs include doubling the physicians who are able to prescribe buprenorphine to 60,000 over the next three years and doubling the number of providers that can prescribe naloxone.  Buprenorphine is a drug used to treat opiate addiction, and naloxone is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. 

 Reuters (10/22, Edwards) also reported on the new measures and indicated that President Obama directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to invest $8.5 million in opioid addiction prevention.  According to Reuters, the CDC reports that 45 percent of heroin users in the U.S. are also addicted to prescription opiates.

HealthDay (10/22, Mundell, 5K) reported on these developments as well, relaying disturbing numbers from the Journal of the American Medical Association on the scope of the problem.  Their latest study found that the rate of fatal prescription drug overdoses has nearly doubled in the last decade.  The federal government has plans to work with the American Medical Association, the American College of Emergency Physicians, and other groups to help train more than 540,000 health care workers on matters relating to prescription opioids.

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Steven J. Lipsky MD, FACEP has been a Board Certified Emergency Physician in Arizona for the last 37 years, and a resident of the Town of Paradise Valley for the last 37 years. Steve Lipsky on Google Plus[/author_info] [/author]

Approximately 33 million Americans have an alcohol problem, according to a new article on by Alexandra Sifferlin.  New data that has been compiled on the drinking behaviors of American adults shows that almost 14% have some type of alcohol related problem.

The DSM-5 handbook details a new definition of an alcohol problem, and a study published in JAMA Psychiatry looks at the pervasiveness of alcohol related problems based on this new definition.

According to the new parameters, a problem drinker is defined as someone who has 2 of 11 symptoms associated with drinking.  These symptoms include continuing to drink even if it harms relationships, negatively affects performance at work, and an inability to quit.  The number of symptoms a person has determines the severity of their problem.
The findings are based off of interviews from more than 36,000 people regarding their lifetime drinking habits.  The data shows that while 14% of people currently have a problem, 30% had a problem at one time in their life and most have never sought help (6/13, Sifferlin).

In an June 4 article on, Alyson Hurt reports that alcohol disorders are most prevalent among men, Native Americans, young adults, and singles.  The problem is the worst among young adults, with more than 26% of those under 30 reporting that they had had trouble with drinking in the past year.

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Steven J. Lipsky MD, FACEP has been a Board Certified Emergency Physician in Arizona for the last 37 years, and a resident of the Town of Paradise Valley for the last 36 years. Steve Lipsky on Google Plus[/author_info] [/author]

New Report on Depression and Serotonin

According to an April 21st article on by Alexandra Sifferlin, 1 in 10 Americans are on anti-depressants or SSRIs, even though there is little understanding in the medical community about how these medications actually work.

A new paper in the BMJ published by Bangor University professor of psychiatry David Healy suggests that there is little proof regarding the connection between depression and serotonin, a key point that is often used in marketing SSRIs.

While many members of the psychiatric community continue to support SSRIs for treatment of depression, others like Dr. Victor I. Reus, professor of psychiatry at the University of California-San Francisco, agree with Healy. “He’s preaching to the choir at this point,” says Reus.

Reus goes on to explain that it is not necessarily the efficacy of these medications that is the issue.  Rather, it is their overblown marketing and the fact that industry leaders do not understand how and why these drugs work that causes concern.

Additionally, Reus goes on to explain that the drugs have been over-prescribed, especially to people with mild depression.

“You wonder what the real risk benefit ratio is in that population,” he says. “They’ve been oversold.”

Study indicates working from home reduces stress.

Dr. Steven J. Lipsky MD, FACEP

In today’s society, the challenge of balancing work and family priorities can be stressful. Whether you work in a job that requires 24/7 attention or you work from home, the increase in demands can leave an employee feeling pulled in multiple directions and questioning who should receive more attention, work or family. The New York Times (8/24, BU4, Korkki, Subscription Publication) recently released the results from a study by The American Sociological Review examining whether the stresses of work-life conflicts could be eased if an employee was given more flexibility over their schedule and work location. The study reported that employees who were given flexibility in their schedules felt happier, less stressed, had more energy and used their time more effectively. However, for this flexible schedule to succeed it must have full managerial and department support. The study was financed by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many doctors say that Alzheimer’s Disease is the largest public health problem for the next 50 years. The Alzheimer’s Association has listed 10 signs that may signal the onset of the brain destroying illness:

  • Memory changes that disrupt daily life;
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems;
  • Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, work, or leisure;
  • Confusion with time or place;
  • Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships;
  • New problems with words in speaking or writing;
  • Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps;
  • Decreased or poor judgment;
  • Withdrawal from work or social activities;
  • Changes in mood and personality.

Also, according to Dr. J. Carson Smith of the University of Maryland Public School of Health, just by putting seniors suffering from mild memory impairment on a three-month exercise regimen focused on regular treadmill walks, their brain function improved along with the ability to remember familiar names. According to him: “no study has shown that a drug can do what we showed is possible with exercise!”

Finally, Dr. Gwenaelle Douard of Oxford University gave volunteers either a placebo or a combination of B12, B6, and Folic Acid (all “B” vitamins) and found that those who took the vitamins had 29% less brain degeneration that those taking the placebo.

For more information  go to: or call the Alzheimer’s Association’s 24hr hotline at 1-800-272-3900.

Stroke and Depression

Researchers such as Susan Everson-Rose at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis have found in a 10yr study of more than 4000 adults with an average age of 77 found that those with the most depression, blues, negative outlook and general dissatisfaction with life were 3x as likely to die from stroke, and 54% more likely to be hospitalized because of a 1st stroke. Dr. Erik Peper of San Francisco State University found that simply sitting more erect reverses bad moods, and that people who slouch were more likely to feel depressed. Medicare now covers the Ornish Program as an “intensive cardiac rehab plan”. It teaches a vegetable-based diet, yoga, and meditation and can reverse heart disease. Medicare will cover up to 72, one-hour sessions, and $70/hr.!

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