Author: Emma Yasinski

Emma Yasinski

I am a freelance science and medical journalist, fascinated by how the scientific process leads to incredible discoveries, but also can lead to publication bias leaning toward positive findings and minimizing negatives. With a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Lafayette College and a Master’s in Science and Medical Journalism from Boston University, I’ve written about clinical trial transparency, organ donation, and basic molecular biology for publications like The Scientist, The Atlantic, Undark.org, Kaiser Health News, and more. At MedShadow, I research and write about the sometimes unexpected ways that medicines can affect us, and what we can do if and when it does.

Shalamar suffered from chronic insomnia. She couldn’t fall asleep after her late-night shifts as a server at a New York City bar. To address the insomnia, she sought advice from a psychiatrist who prescribed pills and told her to take them both at night and in the morning. She thought it was odd that she would need to take a pill to help her sleep during the day, but her doctor said that is how the medicine worked. She followed the doctor’s recommendations, though. “It did help me to sleep. I slept like a rock,” she says.  What her doctor…

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In the last week of September 2021, a group of more than 90 doctors and researchers published a call to action, cautioning against the liberal use of Tylenol (acetaminophen) during pregnancy. The studies suggested that exposure to the drug could increase the risk of a baby having neurodevelopmental, reproductive and urogenital disorders. The authors added, however, that Tylenol has long been considered one of the few safer options to treat pain in pregnancy, since Advil (ibuprofen) and opioids are considered riskier. They pointed out that, in some cases, a woman’s condition (fever and pain, for example) could be worse for…

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Shortly after she was diagnosed with psoriatic arthritis, Sarah Lawrence was prescribed Otezla (apremilast). In less than two months after beginning the drug treatment, she says, she started experiencing suicidal ideation. “The thoughts were so intense and so different from my normal thought process, I knew something was horribly wrong.”  Neither she nor anyone in her family has a history of mental illness or suicide. Once she stopped using the drug, it took only a few days for the suicidal thoughts to dissipate. She considers herself lucky in that she was able to recognize the thoughts as a drug side…

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Physician’s assistant Ben Tanner lives alone. During the pandemic, he’s spent much of the time at home, working online. Because he was unable to get away from work, he soon found himself fixating on insignificant details. Little by little, his anxiety increased and he began struggling to sleep at night. Then he took a break over Thanksgiving weekend, during which he realized that he had had no idea how badly he had needed a respite. After four days away from his job, “there was an almost palpable contrast as the constant analysis and overthinking faded away,” he says. “I felt…

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Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, but for some people, it can become overwhelming and debilitating. People with types of anxiety disorder feel apprehensive and uneasy, and it’s common for them to experience negative thoughts that make them more fearful. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH): More than 40 million American adults ages 18 and older have an anxiety disorder, and nearly one-third of adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their life. Anxiety disorders frequently co-occur with depressive disorders or substance abuse. Most people with an anxiety disorder also have depression.  Most…

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A common side effect of antipsychotic medications is that they can cause users to gain weight. Now researchers believe they have found a way to counteract that weight gain. Scientists from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center discovered that serotonin 2C receptors interacting with antipsychotics for schizophrenia and depression leads to the increase in weight. Similar side effects occur with other metabolic changing drugs, such as many types of birth control and thyroid medications. According to the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, many people who use antipsychotics have found that after using these drugs for an…

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