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Latest Posts

Depression: Is It A “Character Issue” And A Disqualifier For Leadership?

When the Republicans took back the House of Representatives [recently], John Boehner, the presumptive new Speaker and current Senator from Ohio, unleashed a “sob heard round the world.” As The New York Times quotes:

“I’ve spent my whole life chasing the American dream,” (Boehner) said, beginning to cry. He swallowed and tried again. But describing all the bad jobs he had once led to near sobbing when he got to the line, “I poured my heart and soul into running a small business.”

Boehner has cried in public many other times, the recent election night being only the largest stage to date. The tears also flow at his annual golf tournament, or while watching a child pledge allegiance to the flag, listening to a Republican colleague speak about his Vietnam War experiences, the unveiling of a statue of Ronald Reagan, while accepting various awards, during a rendition of “America the Beautiful,” etc. Could these tears be signs of major depression? Should melancholy be a disqualification for leadership? Were Clinton’s tears any better? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles*

Okay To Be A Doctor AND Bipolar?

“I have bipolar disorder. Can I be a doctor?” One of our readers asked this. It’s one of those questions to which there is no real answer.

Being a doctor takes a long time, it requires reliability, diligence, and a willingness to learn things you may not want to learn (organic chem anyone?) and do things you may not want to do. It requires endurance and passion. You need to be tolerant of many things: Arrogant supervisors, irritable colleagues, sick people who may not be charming and who may, in their distress, be downright nasty. You have to tolerate a militaristic order and be willing to work with a system that may be very difficult, wrong, and demand your obedience in ways that may be uncomfortable. (Oh, I am so happy to no longer be a medical student or a resident in training.)

So can you do it with bipolar disorder? Can you do it with diabetes? Can you do it with attention deficit problems? Can you do it if you’re disorganized or ugly? Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Shrink Rap*

Twitter Used To Gauge The Nation’s Mood

A team from Northeastern University and Harvard Medical School has been analyzing words used in tweets by American users in an attempt to gauge the public mood around the country.

What they discovered was that users on the West Coast seem to be quite a bit jollier than those on the East Coast. It’s not clear whether the data was collected during the summer or winter months and accordingly adjusted, for that surely would affect the readings.

Researchers were able to infer the mood of each tweet using a psychological word-rating system developed by the National Institute of Mental Health’s Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention. The system ranks words based on how they make people feel. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Medgadget*

The Male Menopause Story: Journalists All Over The Map

An article on the Knight Science Journalism Tracker comments on German media coverage of the “Is there male menopause?” question. An excerpt:

One study, but very different types of headlines: “‘Male Menopause’ discovered” and “Men have no Menopause.” Both types of headlines are based on one study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, which analyzed 3219 European males between 40 and 79. Blood samples provided testosterone levels and questionnaires (!) asked about the “general, sexual, physical, and psychological health.”

What the scientists found was nothing more and nothing less than a correlation between a low testosterone level and three clinical symptoms (“decreased frequency of morning erection, decreased frequency of sexual thoughts, and erectile dysfunction”). So, one could call it an age-related testosterone deficiency, affecting only a minority (about 2%) of elderly men.

But one shouldn’t name it “andropause” or “male menopause” — and the scientists themselves did NOT use the term in the whole article — because this term immediately suggests a relation to menopause, which is a completely different and natural developmental phenomenon for every woman above the age of 50. Read more »

*This blog post was originally published at Gary Schwitzer's HealthNewsReview Blog*

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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