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In Depth Articles

Doctors Need to be Taught How to Discuss their Patients’ Excess Weight

August 24, 2016

With 80% of adults and close to one-third of children expected to be overweight or obese by 2025, doctors are increasingly likely to be working with people who are overweight or obese.
An individual’s weight is a complex and sensitive issue, which may be related to many factors that are not …

Type 2 Diabetes Increasingly Affects the Young and Slim; Here’s What We Should Do About It

August 17, 2016

It is well recognised that increasing rates of type 2 diabetes are mainly driven by obesity and lifestyle factors. But that’s not the whole story. Genetics and epigenetics – changes in gene expression – also play an important role.
We are starting to see an increase in type 2 diabetes in …

Not What You Were Expecting: Paraneoplastic Phenomena

Paraneoplastic phenomenon are rare but interesting complications of certain cancers that produce hormones, peptides or cytokines (e.g. causing endocrine symptoms) or whose proteins cross react immunologically with normal tissue (e.g. causing neurological symptoms). The most common tumours associated with this are small cell tumours of the lung, breast cancers, ovarian …

Medicines to Treat Side Effects of Other Medicines? Sometimes Less is More Beneficial

August 10, 2016

About two-thirds of people who are 75 years and older take five medicines or more. This is known as “polypharmacy”. Many of these people are on more than ten medicines a day (hyperpolypharmacy).
It can be appropriate to prescribe multiple medicines for someone with complex or multiple illnesses if there is …

Are Antidepressant Medications Really Ineffective?

On the 6 June this year, a large meta-analysis was published by Oxford University, studying fourteen of the most common antidepressants used in children and adolescents.1 Thirty-four trials were deemed eligible, including 5260 participants. The quality of evidence was rated as very low in most comparisons.1  The study authors concluded that …

4 Ways to Manage Tinnitus

August 03, 2016

Tinnitus – ‘the perception of sound in the absence of any external stimuli’, or more commonly known as ‘ringing in the ears’ is commonly experienced by Australians of all ages, with prevalence increasing with age.
Many people who experience tinnitus do so at night time, in a quiet environment, or after …

Mapping the Brain: Scientists Define 180 Distinct Regions, But What Now?

In big news for neuroscience, a team of American researchers recently mapped the human brain’s outler layer, the cerebral cortex, into 180 distinct regions.
Using imaging data from the Human Connectome Project – a United States government-led initiative to map the brain’s structural and functional connections – neuroscientists analysed the brains …

Blood Pressure Targets – What Does the New Guideline Say and How Low Should You Go?

July 27, 2016

This week, the Heart Foundation launched new national guidelines on the management of high blood pressure (hypertension). There are several changes since the last edition, but the one making headlines is a lower blood-pressure target. Instead of aiming for a (systolic) target of 140 in most people with hypertension, 120 …

Teenage Pain Often Dismissed as ‘Growing Pains’, But it Can Impact Their Lives

Most of us know someone who has “a bad back”. Research tells us up to 70% of people will experience back pain at some stage during their lives. But what about when a child or teenager complains of musculoskeletal pain such as back or neck pain?
The most common type of …

Mal de Debarquement Syndrome

July 20, 2016

Mal de debarquement syndrome (MdDS) is uncommon and is a condition that is not well known to many doctors. It is becoming more frequently identified in patients due to increasing global travel.
MdDS is the inappropriate and persistent sensation of feeling unsteady, dizzy or rocking after passive travel (typically boat cruises, …

Antidepressants May Not Be as Effective as we Thought, and Shouldn’t Be the Only Treatment for Depression

July 14, 2016

The treatment of depression too often means treatment with antidepressants. Australia has one of the highest rates of antidepressant use in the world. This continues to increase despite mounting evidence they are not especially effective.
My colleague Andrew Chanen and I have just published an article that describes the apparent falling …

The Link Between Chronic Pain and Depression: Which Comes First?

July 06, 2016

It’s easy to imagine that people with persistent pain have cause to become depressed. After all, it’s a problem that affects every part of life, not just the bit that got injured.
But like so much to do with persistent pain, it becomes harder to unravel exactly what the relationship is …