Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The 29th Annual Mood Disorder Symposium at Johns Hopkins

Today I went to the 29th Annual Mood Disorders Symposium: Back to the Basics.  I somehow have missed the first 28, but this one was really excellent.  Let me give you the quick recap:

Karen Swartz, MD talked about "Reasons to Still Love Lithium."  The upshot-- it's very effective in treating and preventing manias and hospitalizations, and it has some anti-suicide properties that hold even for those people where it's not terribly effective as a mood stabilizer.  It works for depression as well.  You need to monitor kidney and thyroid function.  It doesn't work for everyone and everyone doesn't tolerate it.   And we're still learning how to best dose it.

Rosalyn Walker Steward, MD, MS, MBA talked about "The Recognition and Treatment of Depression in Primary Care Settings."  She discussed how most depression is treated in primary care settings and discussed the differential diagnosis for major depression versus grief/demoralization and how a primary care doc approaches diagnosis and treatment.

Lisa Townsend, PhD gave a quick introduction to "Dialectical Behavior Therapy: The Basics and Beyond."  She focused on the importance of recognizing and validating the patient's emotional experience.  

Mr. & Mrs. Jones talked about the patient's perspective of depression.  I have to say, I love when successful people talk about their struggles -- it does so much towards getting rid of stigma.  When psychiatrists and politicians talk about the need to decrease stigma...well, I find it a bit hollow.  So Mr. Jones is very articulate, and very successful despite his difficulties with major depression.

Kay Redfield Jamison, PhD gave a talk called "Writing a Life" and talked about the research she's doing for a book on poet Robert Lowell.  She always has interesting stuff to say.

And finally, poet/historian/atheist Jennifer Michael Hecht, PhD talked about the history of suicide and how she has been impacted by it.  

Some quotes I liked: 

Dr. Swartz: "If someone is taking lithium, you want them to be a partner with you in their treatment." 

Dr. Steward: "SIGECAPS"  Really, there's a mnemonic I'd never heard of?  To assess for major depression: Sleep/Interest/Guilt/Energy/Concentration/Appetite/Psychomotor changes/Suicidality.  It needs an "L" for Libido.  Or two "S's" for  Sex.  

Dr. Townsend: "Your response is understandable and real but it isn't getting you where you want to be." 

Dr. Jamison: "People get treated but they don't necessarily get healed."    It might have been worth the whole day for that one sentence.  

Dr. Hecht: "Poetry is the queen of places to expore new ideas."

Save the date for the 30th Annual Mood Disorders Symposia: 
April 19, 2016.


Anonymous Liz said...

i'm not successful yet, but i will be, i think. in june, i'm going to start an internship in a state hospital.... the last time i spent a summer in a state hospital i was a patient. i am thinking of exploring these memories and new experiences in a series of blog posts. i continue to affirm the effectiveness of dialectical behavior therapy. it saved my life. while i'm not totally "open" about my mental health issues, when i feel that my experiences may help someone else, i try to be willing to share. peace! liz

Anonymous said...

I wish my old psychiatrist went to that symposium. She put me on lithium but after the lithium level hit the therapeutic level, she stopped checking levels for years. It took another three years to get all the way off it with my current psychiatrist. The lithium didn't help, gave me years of side effects, and she destroyed my thyroid. The worst part of all is that technically, the "standard of care" is only to check the lithium level once per year, so technically, and despite the damage to my thyroid, she is not liable.

Your field needs some serious training.