Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

19 Av 5761 - August 8, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD

Diplomate, Board Certification of Emergency Medicine

Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine Ma'ayenei Hayeshua Hospital

Our sponsor has asked me to speak on a subject that is somewhat sensitive. Psychiatric illnesses are much more common than you think and are almost always misunderstood. Psychiatric illnesses are not just street people who are dirty and speaking to themselves (although these people need our prayers as well) but extend to some of the most affluent in our society. Some can be treated with a person with a good ear or psychological therapy, some may require medications, some are incurable.

Schizophrenia and related diseases are the most serious and difficult to treat. Commonly called a nervous breakdown, this disease is most common in males in its chronic form. These people may hear voices, feel that their thoughts are being broadcasted, and they may feel that they are being given orders to do unusual things. Occasionally, they have depression mixed in which may make them tend towards hurting themselves, or paranoia which makes them suspicious of people -- they fear people are out to get them. They may have delusions.

This disease can be treated with some of the new medications, and in people with good functioning before the onset, the results are quite good. Those who have this disease and also have personality problems are less likely to do well.

Depression is very common and we have discussed this in the past. It is characterized by mood changes, sleep and eating extremes (such as not sleeping or sleeping too much) and a feeling of the lack of worth of one's life. It is very common after childbirth, but this disease can affect anyone and especially the elderly. It is not grief -- grief is for a shorter period of time.

These people can be at danger of hurting themselves, but if they take their medication, they usually live normal lives and are indistinguishable from the normal population. Newer drugs are now safer and with few if any side effects, and our sponsor's one is Seroxat. I believe this is a very effective treatment for this disorder without affecting one's functioning.

A related disorder is the bipolar disorder or manic depression characterized as mood swings between depression and mania, which is uncontrolled happiness, money spending, and talking a lot. This disorder responds well to lithium compounds.

We'll speak more on this subject next week, but please keep in mind these important points. Psychiatric illness is common and does not mean you are "nuts." These people need to prayed for their recovery, they need to be accepted as normal individuals once they have been treated, and all must know that treatment is available. Write me in care of the Yated.


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