Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Psychiatry Website Review: Rajnish Mago's "Simple and Practical Mental Health"

Lately I've been browsing for good psychiatry websites to harvest ideas for an upcoming redesign of The Carlat Psychiatry Report. Everything's fair game in my search, whether industry-funded or not. I'm not going to try to pretend that industry funding inevitably leads to tainted information. Clearly, sometimes it does, but sometimes it doesn't.

I've been finding a lot of quality information out there, much of it for free. So I'll spend the next few posts reviewing some of these sites.

One of the very best is called "Simple and Practical Mental Health" by Rajnish Mago, who is the director of the Mood Disorders Program at Thomas Jefferson University Medical College in Philadelphia. The website is oriented toward prescribing mental health practitioners, though I'd imagine both therapists and consumers would find the information helpful. The site itself doesn't appear to be funded by industry, though Dr. Mago does work with industry (see below).

The really great thing about Dr. Mago is his informal style of laying out information--without excessive jargon. For example, here is how he starts an article about omega-3 fatty acids:

"Do you routinely ask your patients with some form of clinical depression (depressive disorders) or bipolar disorder to take an omega-3 fatty acid supplement? If not, why not? There is data to support use of such supplementation as an adjunct in the treatment of these disorders. 
However, many clinicians may not be clear about which  omega-3 fatty acids to recommend, inwhat ratio, and in what dose. While there is more to learn about this topic, here is some practical information about how to get started in recommending this supplement:"
And then he goes on to give some extremely practical advice on how to decide which fatty acids to prescribe, what the doses should be, and so on. 

While the site is free, he does use it to sell a couple of books, both of which I bought. They're both excellent, but the better of the two is "Side Effects of Psychiatric Medications," which is chock full of down to earth clinical advice about preventing and managing side effects. This is not a particularly sexy topic in psychiatry, but it's important, so it's nice to see that a very smart clinician has put a lot of thought into it. 

I do have a couple of critiques: 

1. There is no clear link to his financial disclosures. He does list them on the site, but the page is almost impossible to find. I had to do a google search which brought me to a link on a different website which then looped me back to a page on the original site. Dr. Mago works with pharma, doing both research and consulting. Nonetheless, the site doesn't seem to be pushing any particular drug, though there is a pro-diagnosis feel to a lot of the articles, which might be seen as disease-mongering by those particularly sensitive to the issue. In his case, my sense is simply that he genuinely believes many psychiatric disorders are under-diagnosed. 

2. There is no search bar, so you have to rely on menu navigation to find anything. 

Overall, I give the site an A-, downgraded only because of the above two issues. Keep it up, Dr. M!

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