America is arguably one of the most diverse nations in the world. While such diversity can provide opportunities for unique social and cultural interactions, it can also present opportunities for poor medical care. Many studies show that ethnic and cultural minorities do not receive the same level of care as patients in majority groups. The mental health care system, in particular, is susceptible to cultural insensitivities that may lead to substandard, inappropriate, or ineffective treatment.
Arguably, one of the greatest public health advances in the last century has been the advent of safe and effective vaccines for deadly diseases. Today, several vaccine-preventable diseases have all but disappeared from our lives, thanks to all 50 states mandating vaccination for school children and making routine vaccination a public health priority. Children today receive dozens of doses of vaccines to prevent at least 16 illnesses throughout their infancy, childhood, and adolescence. For almost every child, these vaccines are safe and effective, leaving behind no more than a sore arm or leg for a few hours. However, the number of parents refusing vaccines for their children is rising.
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has evaluated the risk of suicide associated with antiepileptic drugs. The FDA examined 11 antiepileptic drugs, among nearly 28,000 patients, and found that patients taking an antiepileptic drug have an increased risk for suicidal behavior or ideation, compared to 16,000 patients receiving a placebo. The FDA's assessment consisted of reviewing 199 placebo-controlled trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of various antiepileptic drugs (also known as anticonvulsants).
A recent study in JAMA reported that patients treated for type 2 diabetes are at risk for developing depression. The study also reported that patients with depression are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The study confirmed what other studies have reported, and clinicians have seen in practice, that symptoms of depression place patients at an increased risk for developing diabetes. Depressive symptoms including being overweight, poor eating habits, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle are all known risk factors for developing impaired glucose tolerance and type 2 diabetes. However, lifestyle factors only partly explain the association between depression and diabetes.