busy 1Long time followers of this blog may have noticed a marked drop in the frequency of blog posts in the last couple of weeks.  I was away on vacation and that could partly explain the reduction, but the fact of the matter is that I have never been as busy in my practice as I am right now.

Everyone who works in mental health knows that there are times when a practice gets busy and other times when there aren’t many people calling.  Why this happens is something of a mystery.

University of California, Berkeley professor Ralph Catalano and I were briefly involved in a study trying to identify patterns in psychiatric emergency visits. We looked at seasons, weather, economic data, days of the week, lunar cycles and a host of other potential explanations and, other than a “check effect” (when social security disability checks were distributed did have some effect on the number of people in crisis) there was not much that Professor Catalano found.

However, the mind hates the idea that events might be random, and as each week goes by and new milestones of busyness are reached, I have found myself wondering whether something is going on in my community.

What makes me think that this may not just be a coincidence is the fact that several other people I have spoken with who practice in the Bay Area also report that they have been unusually busy.

And the types of symptoms that people are reporting includes an unusually large number of people with what are called “mixed” manic and depressed symptoms: irritability, impulsiveness, hyperactivity and cynicism and doubt.

Just last week I had four former patients get in touch with me in a three-day period asking to come back for a consultation.

It’s always nice to hear from people that I worked with in the past. In a typical month I might hear from one former patient, so four is remarkable.

If you live in the Bay Area let me know if you have noticed anything unusual this past month. And watch out when you are on the road, if there really are that many irritable people out there you don’t want to get into an accident.

And I promise I will get back to the work of updating the site.