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It has been quite a long time since I have posted on this blog. Alas, I went to Africa in the summer of 2012 and got malaria while I was there. It took me almost a year to return to my normal state. During that time, I unexpectedly, but excitedly changed residences, and had to deal with changes in all the psychiatric CPT codes (current proceedural terminology) which tell insurance companies what services we have provided patients, as well as changes in documentation requirements for those services.

It seemed that there never was enough time to tackle my pile of articles that I wanted to review for this blog. The longer that went on, the easier it was to avoid it altogether. New patients to my practice told me they had read my blog and really enjoyed it.

So there was an article in the Wall St. Journal this weekend, Our amazingly plastic brains , about the effects of exercise on the brain. (If you have read my previous and now antique posts, you would know that I get most of my medical news from the WSJ. I thought it an interesting article about the changeablity of the brain, as researchers are actually discovering. When I trained, the brain had a million or more cells, and that was it. No more. no healing, no dividing or regenerating like the liver or the skin if injured, we were told. Yet now, researchers are able to find stem cells for the brain.

In previous articles that I have commented, topics have touched on the brains capacity to learn, or change.We humans are evolved from beings that were constantly moving — gathering in tribes, in hunting, in finding shelter. We didn’t always sit behind desks or aspire to be couch potatoes. I have always felt that exercise is under-rated and very important in our physical and mental health. It helps with sleep promotion, anxiety reduction, and effect moods. It has a profound impact on the state and shape of our bodies — weight reduction, blood sugar regulation, some effect on blood pressure and pulse. I encourage all people, not just my patients to get as much aerobic exercise as they can. Now researchers are starting to say the same thing, and in this article — exercise leads to less dementia, less Parkinsons, stroke recovery…..Hmmm.

So with everything else I am juggling, I guess I need to add more exercise. And hopefully, if I have time left over, it won’t take me almost 2 years to post the next entry here.

So in trying to join the new millennium, I decided to give this blog a go many months ago. Alas, my schedule did not allow for much time to consider this enterprise other than saying, “Sure! How hard could it be?” Fast forward almost a year later and well, here it is. This is meant simply to be a place to put observations about life and work in the psychiatric field, mixed in with comments about interesting articles I have stumbled on. It’s a way to laugh at life, and not take oneself so seriously. And, it’s food for thought. Mine and/or yours. I am sure it will evolve, as everything seems to do.

I get most of my medical information these days from The Wall Street Journal. A lot of interesting and relevant sort of stuff. Tuesday, November 17, 2009, Personal Journal had 2 “opposite end of the spectrum” entries. The first, “When Mr. Clean Meets Ms. Messy” is a laugh, sobering though it is, about the nature of relationships, and the passive-aggressive stances some people get into when centered around clutter and cleanliness. Talk about being unable to change a person! Not to mention the feeling of helplessness about a partner that is mis-matched on the other end of the messiness spectrum. Although it may give additional work to my colleagues, it seems more to be a ticking time bomb. It is hard to imagine living like that.

The other, “A Key to Unlocking Memories” is more scientific in nature about the effects of music on memory. Listening to oldies, sing-alongs with old standards that everyone seems to know often, can help a person’s memory, even Alzheimer’s patients that have trouble remembering their spouses. Think back to the craze of Mozart music before taking tests, and you may remember (if you recently listened to music) that IQ scores are raised as well test performances. The Institute for Music and Neurologic Function is trying to get playlists for Alzheimer’s patients identified so relatives can download them onto ipods and play them for “therapy”. Music also has a tremendous effect on mood and has been claimed to “soothe the savage beast”. Take my job away? I dunno. We all can point to certain songs that evoke powerful memories or strong feelings. It’s something to think about—this complicated and engmatic brain of ours. No wonder so many people sing in the shower, or in the car!