Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Psychiatry in the Third World

In "Psychotherapy for All: An Experiment," the author describes a new program that trains non-physician health professionals how to diagnose and treat depression and anxiety in the Third World. The program, which is based in Goa (a region of India), addresses the huge need that exists for such services in these areas. While the Goa (see image) program is relatively limited in scope, data collected from the effort if positive may help fund more such programs in the future. As the article notes, non-physicians diagnosing psychiatric illnesses is cost-effective:
Dr. Simon, a psychiatrist who studies mental health in the developing world, said the Goa strategy grew from a crucial idea. Unlike, say, heart disease and stroke, which can require expensive interventions, depression is relatively simple to diagnose and treat. Many studies have shown that talk therapy and antidepressants lead to significant improvement in most patients.
You're telling me! Not to belittle the toll depression takes, but from a diagnostic standpoint, it's not clear to me what more the residents / attendings above me are doing besides SIGECAPS. After 2 weeks of my psychiatry rotation, I'm a SIGECAPS expert!

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