PRI Headers (2)

 

  • Mind the Brain: Lily Luo and Emmaly Perks on the PURPLE Program

    Apr 19, 2022
    This week on Mind the Brain, Dr. Epperson is joined by Emmaly Perks and Lily Luo – the directors behind the CU Psychiatry PURPLE program. PURPLE stands for Psychiatry Undergraduate Research Program and Learning Experience, and is designed to introduce young people to the field of mental health by encouraging participation in supervised research activities. On this episode, Dr. Epperson and her guests talk about this program and how it has opened a pathway to careers in medicine for many students.
    Full story
  • Mind the Brain: Dr. Thida Thant and Dr. Rose Mauch on Pandemic Brain and Post-COVID Brain

    Jun 29, 2021
    This week on Mind the Brain, Dr. Neill Epperson is joined by Drs. Thida Thant and Rose Mauch. Dr. Thant is the director of the University of Colorado Consultation-Liaison Psychiatry Service and the Psychiatric Consultation for the Medically Complex clinic. She has expertise in the evaluation and management of psychiatric symptoms in the context of medical and neurological illness. Dr. Mauch is currently a 3rd year psychiatry resident at the University of Colorado, and is interested in how long-term effects of early childhood trauma on psychiatric and medical illness. Together, they discuss a phenomenon many of us have experienced – a phenomenon called ‘pandemic brain.’
    Full story
  • Mind the Brain: Dr. Robert Werthwein on Colorado’s Behavioral Health Task Force

    May 25, 2021
    This week on Mind the Brain, Dr. Neill Epperson is joined by Dr. Robert Werthwein, Director of the Office of Behavioral Health at the Colorado Department of Human Services, to talk about the work of Colorado’s Behavioral Health Task Force and behavioral health reform efforts in our state.
    Full story
  • Mind the Brain: Dr. Joseph Schacht on the Clinical Neuroscience of Substance Use Disorders

    May 25, 2021
    On this episode of Mind the Brain, Dr. Neill Epperson has a conversation with Dr. Joseph Schacht about neuroimaging in clinical research, the part that genetics play in alcohol and substance use disorders, and how genetics can be used to target treatments for these disorders.
    Full story
  • Mind the Brain: Vincent Atchity on Building Mental Health Support Systems and Brain Health Throughout the Lifespan

    May 18, 2021
    On this episode of Mind the Brain, Dr. Neill Epperson talks with Dr. Vincent Atchity (President and CEO of Mental Health Colorado) about the need to advance community mental health support systems and why brain health is imperative to a healthy and abundant life.
    Full story
  • Mind the Brain: Breast Cancer and Brain Health in 2021 with Dr. Anosheh Afghahi and Cancer Survivor Kristi Wilson

    May 11, 2021
    On this episode of Mind the Brain, Dr. Neill Epperson explores the intersection of breast cancer and brain health with her two guests: Dr. Anosheh Afghahi, the Medical Director of the Hereditary Cancer Program at the University of Colorado and an Assistant Professor of Medicine in the division of Medical Oncology, and Dr. Kristi Wilson, a breast cancer survivor—and one of Dr. Afghahi’s patients.
    Full story
 

 

 

Why We Created Mind the Brain

Resilience — what is it and how to boost it — has become a recent focus of numerous medical talk shows, blogs, books and electronic apps. Surveys to calculate one’s resilience quotient have become popular. Of course, facing the morbidity, mortality, social isolation and economic uncertainty that characterizes the COVID-19 pandemic, we crave concrete reassurance that we and our loved ones are going to be okay. We will weather this storm. We will bounce back, as one of my colleagues texted me earlier today, “Bigger, badder, stronger.”

Indeed, the majority of us will demonstrate resilience. We will return to our workplaces, schools, houses of worship, favorite restaurants, and mountain trails with no appreciable adverse health effects from the pandemic.

However, this is not the case for roughly one million Coloradans who will suffer from mental health concerns this year alone. Add the adverse psychological and biological effects of chronic, pervasive and persistent stress to the baseline prevalence of any mental disorder (19%) or serious mental illness (5%) and we should expect — and prepare for — a surge in suicides, depression, post-traumatic stress disorders, anxiety disorders and problems with alcohol and drug use.

 

Mental Illness: The Second Surge?

While we have had other infectious disease scares and disasters in the U.S., we have not experienced a pandemic of this scope for more than a century. This type of disaster is unprecedented in our current society. We are psychologically inexperienced.

However, it is time that we go beyond focusing on emotional supports and discussing resilience, coping strategies, sleep hygiene or exercise routines. While these are all admittedly important to one’s well-being, we must launch a frank dialogue about psychiatric disorders as the “second surge” of this pandemic.

Over the next several weeks, we will begin an open and honest discussion of what we can expect, from a psychiatric point of view, over the coming months. We will publish conversations with experts in the assessment and treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD and other stress reactions, as well as problems with substance use and abuse. These are exceptionally common medical problems in our society and, like COVID-19, are not exclusive to any particular socioeconomic class, race, ethnic or age group, sex or gender.

Our goal is to promote recognition that mental illness can strike any of us during and after this pandemic. It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms in ourselves and others. Mental health care is available through multiple avenues such as one’s primary care provider, the Department of Psychiatry and the Johnson Depression Center. There is no shame in reaching out for help. Suffering from depression or PTSD does not mean that one is not resilient. Resilience is complex and multifaceted. Appropriate and timely treatment can aid a person’s innate resilience and return him or her to health.

We hope you will take a few minutes to read and discuss these articles. The more frequently we speak the words “depression, PTSD, panic, suicide” the less stigmatized they become. I am optimistic that one day we will feel as comfortable seeking treatment for psychiatric and substance use concerns as we are for any other common medical condition. The majority of psychiatric disorders are episodic and highly responsive to treatment. Let’s all do what we can to prevent this second surge from becoming the chronic medical condition that will be the legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

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C. Neill Epperson, M.D.
Robert Freedman Endowed Professor and Chair 
Department of Psychiatry 

C. Neill Epperson, MD


Chair, Department of Psychiatry 


Host, Mind the Brain