Dueling Claims About Flu Drugs

The CDC is telling doctors to prescribe more antiviral flu medications, because, “If you get them early, they could keep you out of the hospital and might even save your life.” But the FDA explicitly prohibits the drugs’ makers from making claims that these drugs can reduce hospitalizations or deaths, and scientists who’ve reviewed the evidence on these flu drugs say they’ve only been shown to reduce the duration of symptoms. Who’s right? Read more in my latest FiveThirtyEight story here, then listen to an audio discussion about the story.

The problem with “reunion porn.”

Heart-warming broadcast homecomings have become the public face of post-deployment family reunions, but the intense happiness of these moments can mask the challenges that lie ahead as military families navigate life after their loved ones return from war. “We call it reunion porn,” says Amy Bushatz, managing editor of Military.com’s SpouseBuzz blog and the wife of an infantry soldier. “The feeling among the people I work with and my readers is that it’s not a fair representation.” The happy welcomes tell only the “mushy reunion half of the story,” she says. “What happens when he gets home? Not just that night, but three weeks from then?”

Read the rest at the Washington Post.

 

Mental Health: Recovery is Possible

In my latest Washington Post column, I answer questions about how to find help for mental health problems such as: Where can you find a mental health professional? What’s the difference between a psychiatrist, a psychologist and a social worker? The piece also explains what to look for in a provider and outlines the factors that best predict successful treatment. Read it here.

 

 

Does CrossFit push people too hard?

It seems as though nearly everyone who has heard of CrossFit has an opinion about it — even people who have never tried it. Aficionados claim that this brand of high-intensity workouts is a fast and fun way to get fit. Critics say that it’s a fast track to injury.

Read more of my latest Washington Post column here. 

 

Understanding suicide, which is surprisingly common in spring

Washington Post, April 7, 2014

Excerpt:

Spring, with its longer days, blooming flowers and rising temperatures might seem like a time of peak happiness, but some studies indicate that suicides are more common in the spring and summer months than in December. Researchers don’t know why they’re higher in these seasons, but they say that friends and loved ones should not be lulled into thinking a brighter season necessarily means a brighter mood for someone who is struggling with mental health issues. Intervention is important no matter the month.

Read the rest at The Washington PostUnderstanding suicide, which is surprisingly common in spring.

 

Breast cancer’s latest saga: misfearing and misplaced goalposts

A new Canadian study adds to the amassing research suggesting that most of what mammography has done is turn healthy people into sick, but grateful cancer survivors. It’s time to change our goals. We should be aiming to save lives, not create as many cancer patients as we possibly can.

Read more about my take on the latest mammography study at Last Word On Nothing and Slate.

Is your doctor in good standing?

Recently a reader wrote me to ask how patients can perform background checks on their doctors, to make sure that they’re in good standing. He had a reason for asking: A few years ago, he said, he’d agreed to have a spinal fusion performed by an apparently well-regarded surgeon. The operation left him worse off than when he started, and he later discovered that there were numerous malpractice lawsuits pending against the surgeon.

How do you make sure this doesn’t happen to you? My latest Washington Post column offers ways to check your MD’s background.