Here is a round of of several recent articles of interest:
1) This article discusses the changes in brain activity that occur in individuals with chronic pain. Without getting technical, let me just say that chronic pain sucks - it sucks to treat, and it obviously sucks to experience. Chronic pain is difficult to quantify, resistant to treatment, and is associated with other issues, such as depression. Mental health professionals also have the additional burden of convincing clients with chronic pain that we are not saying "It's all in your head." Rather, treatment focuses on using one's brain to reduce the experience of pain, which is a subtle, but nonetheless very important, difference. Research like this will (hopefully) help to identify the mechanisms involved in chronic pain, as well as the associated problems.
2) As my regular readers will no doubt be aware (all two of you), I am a big believer in (and regularly blog about) the interface between mental health and medicine, especially in how mental health professionals can assist physicians in many vital ways, through addressing mental health issues that also impact physical health. The research keeps pouring in: this article discusses how, following heart problems, patients who subsequently experience depression over the next year experience a deterioration of their health. The medical profession, I believe, will continue to recognize how therapists can help with this stuff, so that the doctors can focus on their stuff.
3) My regular readers have also, no doubt, noticed that I am a crusader for better sleep. Here's a shocker - quit smoking!
4) This one may seem like a no-brainer, but it is actually more complicated (isn't it always?): weight gain from the use of prescribed antipsychotic medication can be counteracted by exercise. The article identifies some of the problems, including the fact that the medication's side effects sometimes include increased appetite and decreased energy, as well as some of the deficits that clients who require antipsychotic medications often cope with (and make following a structured routine difficult). The program studied in the research, however, would seem to be manageable, in some form, at inpatient facilities, including state hospitals. The weight loss itself provides tangible treatment benefits (i.e. improved self-esteem), and there may be other benefits as well (reduction of depression, higher motivation to quit smoking, etc.). A fitness trend would be a welcome development...
I actually like the round up format, so look for a higher frequency of such posts in the future! (Unless, of course, my hard core readership decries such a trend. I am at the mercy of my fans...)