The News – 22 September 2014

Overview

  • To stop the spread of ebola, there must be no physical contact with the infected – which makes for a particularly cruel fate for those who already have the disease…
  • Researchers who measured the slipperiness of banana peel, the ability of pork strips to stop nosebleeds, and the reactions of reindeer to people in polar bear suits were among the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes.
  • Antidepressant use has risen sharply in recent years. Yet experts say it’s not just a case of depression treatments being given out too readily.


Stories Discussed
News on Health Professional Radio. Today is the 22nd September 2014. Read by Rebecca Foster.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-18/chapman-when-love-can-kill/5752718

To stop the spread of ebola, there must be no physical contact with the infected – which makes for a particularly cruel fate for those who already have the disease, …

Ebola, at various stages, causes sweating, diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding, all fluids which readily pass the virus to anyone coming into contact with those suffering. Corpses can also act as highly efficient pathways for transmission.

Medicine Sans Frontiers has described desperate scenes of relatives delivering sick family members to facilities but being turned away because these facilities simply cannot cope with more patients. …Medicine Sans Frontiers, the Red Cross and the World Health Organisation have been pleading with governments for extra support to try and contain the outbreak that has now claimed a conservative 2,500 lives, with new cases now rising exponentially.

With no vaccination yet available, prevention and containment strategy for communicable disease outbreaks takes us back to those used in the days before modern pharmaceuticals …

With ebola, if those infected continue to live in the community, epidemic spread is guaranteed. It is imperative that at the very first symptoms that they be taken to isolation facilities and nursed. In the absence of a cure, treatment consists of rehydration and nutrition, and nursing by staff in the impenetrable “space suits” …

But the isolation facilities in place are now totally inadequate. …

…Obama is sending 3,000 troops. The Australian government has just given $7 million.

…The rise in infections is already exponential, with a doubling in the past three weeks.

http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2014/09/19/4090936.htm

Researchers who measured the slipperiness of banana peel, the ability of pork strips to stop nosebleeds, and the reactions of reindeer to people in polar bear suits were among the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes.

The annual awards for some of the more unusual or wacky scientific research projects have become the traditional comical counterpart to the prestigious Nobel Prizes, which will be announced in Stockholm next month.

Among this year’s ten Ig Nobel awards, four went to researchers who had a peculiar interest in food.

A team of Japanese scientists earned the Ig Nobel prize in Physics for their paper titled “Frictional Coefficient under Banana Skin” which detailed the hazards of stepping on a banana peel.

Prizes were also awarded for studying what happens in the brains of people who see the face of Jesus in their toast, how infant poop can be used in the production of fermented sausages, and how pork strips can be stuffed into nostrils to stop nosebleeds.

Other Ig Nobel prizes went to researchers who measured the relative pain people suffer while looking at an ugly painting, investigating whether cat ownership can be mentally hazardous, and studying to see if people who routinely stay up late can be more psychopathic.

Former winners of real Nobel prizes handed out the awards at a ceremony at Harvard University in Massachusetts.

http://www.abc.net.au/health/features/stories/2014/09/18/4087816.htm

For a condition as complex, poorly understood and stigmatised as depression, it should come as no surprise that one of the major treatments – antidepressants – suffers the same problems.

Those who are most likely to benefit are often reluctant to take antidepressants, while those less likely to benefit are often given them due to a lack of more suitable alternatives.

One thing is clear – we are taking antidepressants in greater quantities than ever before. A 2013 OECD report showed Australia to be second-biggest consumer of antidepressants in the OECD, second only to Iceland, with 89 adults per 1000 taking the drugs compared to 71 in the United Kingdom, and an average of 56 across all OECD nations.

Between 2000 and 2011, antidepressant use in Australia increased by a staggering 95.3 per cent, according to one study.

Yet there is also evidence that depression is undertreated. A 2009 survey found only around one-third of people who met the criteria for a mental disorder made use of mental health services.

Part of the problem is depression is a complex condition, ranging in severity, cause, biochemistry and outcome. Antidepressants work very well for some people, but for others they may be ineffective, so there cannot be a one-size-fits-all treatment approach, says Dr Jan Orman, a GP at the University of Sydney and GP Services consultant for the Black Dog Institute.

“Antidepressants are great if the patient has the right kind of depression or if their anxiety is disabling them, because antidepressants work very well in both those situations,” says Ormand.

The ‘right’ kind of depression is generally melancholic depression, as opposed to non-melancholic depression. In melancholic depression, according to the Black Dog Institute, physical and biological factors play a much bigger role whereas in non-melancholic depression, personality and life stressors contribute much more to the depression. This distinction has important implications for treatment, says Orman.

However, the evidence suggests most prescriptions for antidepressants are written by general practitioners, who are also much more likely to be treating those with non-melancholic depression – the kind that responds much better to non-pharmacological therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy.

Unfortunately, there is considerable pressure on GPs to prescribe antidepressants, says Orman, particularly because, despite recent initiatives around mental health, there is still a shortage of psychology and psychiatry services.

This has been the news on Health Professional Radio. For more information on today’s items head to hpr.fm/news and subscribe to our podcast on itunes.

Liked it? Take a second to support healthprofessionalradio on Patreon!