Medicine for the Mind 101

In this episode...

Today The Soul of Life is a crash course on medicine for the mind with Dr. Joel Bernanke, a Columbia and Cornell-trained psychiatrist. We cover the power, potential and pitfalls of psychopharmacology and its alternatives.

We try to alleviate some of the common fears of talking to a psychiatrist and expose misconceptions that stop people from treating their mind like any other part of their body.

We focus especially on treatment for depression, anxiety, and one of Dr. Bernanke’s research areas—ADHD.

The "shadow" epidemic

Recently, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published results from a survey that found prevalence of depression symptoms in the U.S. increased more than 3-fold during the COVID-19 pandemic, from around 8% of the population before COVID-19 to about 28% during COVID-19. We discuss lifestyle changes proven to prevent or reduce anxiety and depression, and men (like me!) that avoid asking for help with emotional health.

Topics we cover in this episode:

• Misconceptions about how medicine for the mind works
• The “pill-pushing” psychiatrist
• Can genetic testing improve psychiatric outcomes?
• What role does marijuana play in causing or treating depression?
• Safety of pediatric psychiatry including ADHD treatment
• Could “California rocket fuel” help treat depression?

Says Dr. Bernanke, “Maybe you have trouble concentrating, difficulties [with] motivation, it might be really hard for you to make lifestyle changes, or it’s really hard for you to engage meaningfully in psychotherapy. And the evidence supports that’s where we see really profound benefits from medication.”

A bright future is possible

There can be a bright future ahead for anyone willing to start or re-start mental health treatment.

Please help Dr. Bernanke and I reach others with our hopeful message in this episode and share it where you can.

If you’re a mental health professional please share this with your colleagues. Health care providers are especially at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Want to help others who are struggling?

** If you or someone you know are experiencing thoughts of self-harm please call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255 **

Behavioral health crisis and non-crisis resources:

Training
Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Weill Cornell Medical College
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital
Child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship
Columbia University Medical Center
New York State Psychiatric Institute
General psychiatry residency

Education
Weill Cornell Medical College
Doctor of Medicine
Chapter president and inductee of Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society
Boston University School of Public Health
Master of Science in Epidemiology
Inductee of Delta Omega Honor Society in Public Health
Bard College at Simon’s Rock
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, summa cum laude

"We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals."

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Episode 16