January 1, 2019

Breaking News and Information 2018

Including Links to Stories Mentioned on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour

on Live on Wednesdays at 4 pm New York time.

Dr. Breggin’s radio program is archived here

News This Year

News 2018


News & Information for December 31, 2018

Some psychiatrists have concerned about labelling mental health conditions

The Critical Psychiatry Network (CPN) is an association of British psychiatrists who caution against the over-medicalisation of mental ill-health and reliance on psychoactive medicines. “Critical psychiatry offers a critique of the now widely accepted view that mental illness is a brain disease, consisting of a chemical imbalance or other specific abnormality, and that this abnormality can be effectively treated with prescribed drugs,” the organisation said earlier this year. “There is no evidence that people with depression have any specific abnormality of their serotonin system, or any other system. There is no evidence that antidepressants ‘work’ by correcting this hypothetical abnormality.”

Mental health conditions such as schizophrenia and even depression are a myth according to leading experts. So are they all in the mind?

“There is no such thing as depression,” says Dr Lucy Johnstone. Johnstone is a clinical psychologist, trainer, speaker and writer, and a longstanding critic of biomedical model psychiatry. “There is no medical illness ‘depression’”, she elaborates. “Neither are there conditions such as schizophrenia, or psychosis. Telling people they have borderline personality disorder is unethical, unscientific, unprofessional, inexcusable. “Biomedical clinical psychiatry is an ideology and it is wrong for professionals to impose this on people.” […] “There is considerable evidence that people with a psychiatric diagnosis are disproportionately adults who have experienced trauma, and children who have been in care, or have experiences such as extreme poverty, violence or sexual abuse in their background,” he says. “We are in danger of perpetuating something that is really not working for people.” 

Try baking to relieve stress and 9 other alternatives to psychiatric meds

Britons with mental health conditions could face delays of up to a year before accessing professional help, according to new research. But studies show that many enjoyable leisure activities are just as effective as psychotherapy or medication, especially if they involve exercise. This generates a surge of new neurons in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for emotion, say researchers at King’s College London. Playing football boosts self-confidence and happiness. A 2017 Scottish study found that playing the beautiful game boosted mood and self-confidence in psychiatric patients due to the competitive element which, researchers say, encourages confidence. Knitting twice weekly eases stress, low mood and anxiety, according to a review of 15,000 people. It distracts us from mental or physical pain, evoking a state of relaxation that also lowers blood pressure. Studies show that gardening reduces suicidal thoughts in those with depression by up to 20 percent. Exploring nearby greenery, a pastime known as ‘forest bathing’, encourages calm. National University of Taiwan researchers found just 48 hours in a forest reduced anxiety, exhaustion and hostility in 16 middle-aged women.

Feeling Depressed? Gut-Brain Dysfunction May be to Blame

Recent theories of depression suggest that an imbalance in gut microbiota and dysfunction in the axis connecting the gut and the brain may be involved. This article will explain some of these mechanisms. The gut is the largest organ in the human body and contains billions of organisms called microbiota. In fact 90-95 percent of the cells in the gut are microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and so on. A healthy balance of microorganisms is essential for both mental and physical health. […] New theories of depression emphasize the role of leaky gut, gut microbiota, and gut-brain axis dysfunction in depression. Some possible mechanisms include gut leakage leading to chronic inflammation, a dysregulated HPA axis resulting in increased cortisol, or changes in brain neurons and neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and GABA. Both probiotics and Omega-3’s show some initial promise in balancing gut microbiota and decreasing depression, but research is still in the preliminary stages.

Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and their Families

Nothing in the field of mental health will do more good and reduce more harm than encouraging withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. The time is past when the focus in mental health was on what drugs to take for what disorders. Now we need to focus on how to stop taking psychiatric drugs and to replace them with more person-centered, empathic approaches. The goal is no longer drug maintenance and stagnation; the goal is recovery and achieving well-being.

News & Information for December 30, 2018

Dr. Breggin: The Minds of Men: A Stunning New Film About Covert Mind Control

The importance of a remarkable new film, The Minds of Men, was underscored by otherwise inexplicable recent events surrounding government support and sponsorship of electroconvulsive treatment (ECT). The Minds of Men is among the most important and informative documentaries we have ever seen. With film footage and FOIA materials that represent truth rather than “conspiracy theories,” The Minds of Men tells the story of the government’s secret efforts to support mind control research. From ECT and psychosurgery to drugs like LSD, it goes further to expose other psychosis-inducing experiments on unwitting volunteers by highly respected doctors taking covert federal dollars.

The Conscience of Psychiatry – The Reform Work of Peter R. Breggin, MD

The Conscience of Psychiatry is a biographical tribute to Dr. Breggin’s professional career that draws on more than fifty years of media excerpts and more than seventy new contributions from professionals in the field. The result is not only the story of his principled, courageous confrontations with organized psychiatry, drug companies, and government agencies —it is also a probing critique of the psycho-pharmaceutical complex.

News & Information for December 29, 2018

Opioids are killing more children and teens, too, study says

A growing number of children and adolescents in the United States are dying from opioid poisonings, a new study shows. Nearly 9,000 pediatric deaths were attributed to opioids from 1999 through 2016, according to a report published Friday in the journal JAMA Network Open. During that 18-year span, the mortality rate for youth due to opioid poisonings nearly tripled. “What began more than 2 decades ago as a public health problem primarily among young and middle-aged white males is now an epidemic of prescription and illicit opioid abuse that is taking a toll on all segments of US society, including the pediatric population,” researchers wrote. “Millions of children and adolescents are now routinely exposed in their homes, schools and communities to these potent and addictive drugs.” Research released earlier this year in the journal Pediatrics showed that the number of children admitted to hospitals for opioid overdoses nearly doubled from 2004 to 2015.

Use of Psychotropic Drugs in Suicide Attempt Linked to Prescribed Access

The results of a case-control study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry indicate that individuals using psychotropic medication in a suicide attempt were significantly more likely to have prescribed access to the drug. […] These data highlight a significant need for safety interventions among individuals at high risk for suicide with prescribed access to psychotropic drugs. Further research is necessary to identify groups at the highest risk for using drugs prescribed to them in a suicide attempt and to parse out effective means of intervention.

Study finds antidepressants a risk factor for REM Sleep Behavior Disorder

Taking antidepressants for depression, having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), or anxiety diagnosed by a doctor are risk factors for rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder. This is according to a study published in the Dec 26, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study also found men are more likely to have the disorder. […] “While much is still unknown about REM sleep behavior disorder, it can be caused by medications or it may be an early sign of another neurologic condition like Parkinson’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies or multiple system atrophy,” says study author Ronald Postuma, MD […] Researchers found those with the disorder were over two-and-a-half times as likely to report taking antidepressants to treat depression, with 13% of those with the disorder taking them compared to 6% of those without the disorder. 

Antipsychotics Tied to Higher Risk of Death in Children

David Healy in Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder, there was a fivefold increase in the use of antipsychotics in preschoolers and preteens. The second-generation atypicals (Zyprexa, Risperdal, Abilify, Seroquel, and others) were often prescribed off-label for a variety of indications, including depression, ADHD, mood stabilization, and behavioral control. From the outset, they were known to contribute to cardiovascular and metabolic problems, chiefly weight gain, tardive dyskinesia, and diabetes. But whether the drugs themselves were associated with an increased risk of death was, at least officially, unknown. That is no longer the case. The first sizable (250,000-person) study on the subject was recently published online in JAMA Psychiatry, largely concerning children and teens diagnosed with ADHD. Led by Wayne A. Ray at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, the study controlled for multiple factors, including schizophrenia, suicide, and overdose. Of the three groups studied, it determined that the one receiving a higher dose of antipsychotic medication had a “significantly increased risk of unexpected death compared with the group that received control medication.”

Video: Mood foods: the link between depression and diet

In a new paper, researchers analyzed the results of 41 studies on depression and food. They found eating a Mediterranean diet was linked to a 33 percent lower risk of depression. The Mediterranean diet includes foods like veggies, fruits, nuts, legumes, fish and healthy oils that contain monosaturated and omega-3 fats. “Especially the Omega-3 fatty acids, those are known to have pretty clear effects with depression,” Dr. Charles Conway said. On the flip side, the researchers found a diet high in processed foods, sugar and saturated fats upped the risk of depression. Steer clear of products with ingredients like flour, hydrogenated oil, sugar, artificial sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup. Some foods that have been shown to boost your mood include avocados, berries, tomatoes, leafy greens like kale and spinach, walnuts, seeds and beans. And don’t forget to throw in some physical activity for good measure. 

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

Dr. Breggin’s Empathic Therapy training film will help you to bring out the best in yourself so that you can bring out the best in others. With his genuine and profoundly engaging style of psychotherapy, Dr. Breggin shows how to relate to patients and clients in a manner that engenders trust, mutual understanding, and the opportunity for recovery and growth.

News & Information for December 28, 2018

More college students diagnosed with mental illness

Increasing numbers of college-aged students in the U.S. have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. According to a survey conducted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 27 percent of students have depression and 11 percent have anxiety. […] Anxiety disorders are the most common of any mental health disorder, with nearly 40 million people in the U.S. experiencing an anxiety disorder in any given year. On campus, between 18 and 25 percent of incoming freshman in the dorms are on psychiatric medication of some type. This can include antidepressants, Ritalin, ADHD medications, particular sleep aids and antipsychotics. 

Why You Should Make Self-Compassion Your New Year’s Resolution in 2019

Many of us will start out the New Year by making a list of resolutions – changes we want to make to be happier such as eating better, volunteering more often, being a more attentive spouse and so on. But, as we know, we will often fail. After a few failures we will typically give up and go back to our old habits. Why is it so hard to stick to resolutions that require us to make effective or lasting changes? I would argue the problem isn’t that we try and we fail – the problem is how we treat ourselves when we fail. I study self-compassion, and my research and that of others show that how we relate to personal failure – with kindness or harsh self-judgment – is incredibly important for building resilience. From early childhood, we are taught that we must succeed at all costs. What most of us aren’t taught is how to fail successfully so we can change and grow. One of the best ways to deal with failure is to have self-compassion.

UK: Group warns rise in number of children given antidepressants may show ‘prescription pad’ is too easy an option

Prescriptions to under-12s in Tayside went up by 17% between 2015 and this year, and by 5% among 12 to 17-year-olds. The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition (SCSC), which represents third-sector bodies, is concerned by the increase. A spokesman for the group said: “For some children and young people, antidepressants are the best course of action, but our concern is that for too long we have focused on treating the symptoms rather than the contributing factors of poor mental health. We must ensure that we provide well-resourced services, such as talking therapies, to tackle issues such as depression, before resorting to the prescription pad. Our concern is also that because child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) are so over-stretched, with an increasing demand on services, the use of antidepressants is seen as an easier option.”

PTSD drug may increase nightmares, insomnia, suicide risk

The drug prazosin, used with PTSD patients, is supposed to reduce nightmares, insomnia and suicide risk but a new study suggests it could make them worse. […] The study included 20 PTSD patients, including two military veterans and several civilian women who had been sexually assaulted. All had active suicidal thoughts, some had previously attempted suicide, and most were taking antidepressants and/or had them prescribed for the study. For eight weeks, participants took prazosin at bedtime with an aim of preventing nightmares and suicidal thoughts. They were assessed weekly for severity of suicidal thoughts, nightmares, insomnia, depression and PTSD. The drug “did not seem to do much for suicidal ideation and that was somewhat disappointing, but the thing what was mind-blowing was that it actually worsened nightmares,” McCall said in a university news release. “Maybe it’s not for everybody.” The unexpected increase in nightmares and insomnia might owe to the severity of a patient’s PTSD or the once-a-day dose of prazosin, he said.

Xanax, Valium tied to higher suicide risk in COPD patients With PTSD

People suffering from two common conditions — post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and the breathing disorder known as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) — may be increasing their risk for suicide if they take benzodiazepine drugs, a new study suggests. […] But when used over long periods by patients with both PTSD and COPD, the drugs are tied to more than double the risk of suicide and increase the odds of being admitted to a hospital for psychiatric problems, researchers found. […] “Although long-term benzodiazepine use among patients with COPD and PTSD is not linked with overall mortality, the association with suicide is concerning,” Donovan said.

Reclaiming Our Children – A Healing Plan for a Nation in Crisis, by Peter Breggin, MD

Reclaiming Our Children discusses the overall situation of children in America, including the stresses on their lives in the family, school, and community. The author urges parents, teachers, and other concerned citizens to retake responsibility for all our children. He sees the necessity of transforming ourselves and our society in order to meet the needs of all of our children for meaningful relationships with adults, as well as for unconditional love, rational discipline, inspiring education, and play. He makes specific recommendations for improving family and school life based on sound psychological and ethical principles.

News & Information for December 27, 2018

Science-based tips for a better, happier New Year

There is no secret to happiness, but there is a science to it, says Tim Bono, a psychology lecturer in Arts & Sciences who teaches courses on happiness at  Washington University in St. Louis. […] Based on his own research and other scientific studies, Bono offers the following tips for getting and staying happier in the coming year: Get outside, move around, take a walk. Research confirms that a few minutes of exercise in nature can boost both mood and energy levels. Exercise is key to our psychological health because it releases the brain’s “feel good” chemicals. Get more happiness for your money. Studies show little connection between wealth and happiness, but there are two ways to get more bang for your happiness buck — buy experiences instead of things and spend your money on others. […] Carve out time to be happy, then give it away. People dream of finding an extra 30 minutes to do something nice for themselves, but using that time to help someone else is more rewarding and actually leaves us feeling empowered […] Delay the positive, dispatch the negative. Anticipation itself is pleasurable, and looking forward to an enjoyable experience can make it all that much sweeter. […] Enjoy the ride. People who focus more on process than outcome tend to remain motivated in the face of setbacks. […] Embrace failure. How we think about failure determines whether it makes us happy or sad. […] Sweet dreams. Get a full night’s sleep on a regular basis. [See many more tips…] 

Does a happy marriage lead to a longer life?

A new study published in the Journal Health Psychology reveals a happy marriage correlates to better health, ranging from a healthy heart to a slimmer waistline. Participants who rated their marriage as very happy or pretty happy were 20 percent less likely to die during the study time frame compared to those who rated their marriages not so happy. Researchers believe there are several reasons for this. Happily married people may encourage each other to adopt healthy habits, such as eating well, seeing a doctor regularly, and exercising. […] On the opposite end, watch out if you aren’t very happy in your relationship. Unhappy marriages have been linked to everything from high blood pressure to a higher risk of heart disease. Interestingly, Time magazine says the divorce rate doubled for people 55 to 64, tripled for those over 65, but fell 18 percent for millennials and people under 45… now the question is, are they happily married?

Higher schizophrenia risk scores tied to early-onset emotional problems

Development of emotional problems in early childhood was linked to higher risk for schizophrenia, study findings published in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed. […] Analysis revealed that higher schizophrenia polygenic risk scores were linked to a trajectory of early-onset increasing emotional problems compared with a trajectory of low-stable emotional problems in the study population. In addition, later exposure to bullying boosted the risk of transitioning from a trajectory of low-stable emotional problems during childhood to an increasing trajectory during adolescence. “The findings suggest that there are at least two routes into an increasing trajectory of emotional problems during adolescence,” Riglin and colleagues wrote. “The first is via genetically influenced childhood-onset emotional problems, which show strong continuity with adolescent emotional problems, and the second is via exposure to peer victimization, which alters the developmental course of individuals who are initially on a low-risk trajectory to a less favorable trajectory.”

[email protected] Podcast: Study on Mindfulness

This is A-State Connections on KASU.  This is the weekly segment called “A-State Connections and [email protected]: Making Connections That Count”.  In this interview, I spoke with Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Irina Khramtsova.  Khramtsova and her students Leea Carver, Madalyn Crittenden, Shelby Danielle, and Diana Huynh.  They worked on research on mindfulness and will all present at the Hawaii International Conference on Education in January.  Dr. Khramtsova talks about the research.

Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry – by Peter Breggin, MD

A comprehensive contemporary scientific reference on brain dysfunctions and behavioral abnormalities produced by psychiatric drugs including Prozac, Xanax, Halcion, Ritalin, and lithium. Dr. Breggin shows that psychiatric drugs achieve their primary or essential effect by causing brain dysfunction. Many of Breggin’s findings have improved clinical practice, led to legal victories against drug companies, and resulted in FDA-mandated changes in what the manufacturers must admit about their drugs.

News & Information for December 26, 2018

Self-Compassion Reduces Negative Mood over Time

New research headed by psychologist Brett Ford at the University of Toronto explored just this question. Specifically, it looked at if the amount that people “accept” their negative emotions is associated with (a) better mental health and (b) reduced negative moods over time. By acceptance, these authors do not mean simply allowing and being okay with negative things happening to you or being mistreated, but rather, experiencing and thinking about your own negative emotions in a non-judgemental way. […] Taken together, these studies suggest that one way to reduce negative moods is to stop beating yourself up about thinking bad thoughts and having negative feelings. Accepting them—and this might be easier said than done but is still possible—can greatly improve your mental health.

I studied 5,000 people to understand what it really means to ‘work smart,’ and figured out how successful people get ahead without burning out

So, how do the best performers lower their risk of burning out? Several “work smarter” practices we tested correlated with both better job performance and lower levels of burnout. Each practice entailed being more selective on the job. Whereas many of us take on more tasks, projects, or priorities in an attempt to excel at work, some people choose just a few key priorities and then channel effort into doing exceptional work in those areas. They work less, but then obsess so as to excel. Likewise, whereas many of us accept any opportunity for collaboration that comes our way, some people are more disciplined, taking on just a few partnerships but then taking steps to help them succeed. Both of these practices — “Do Less, Then Obsess” and “Disciplined Collaboration” — can protect people from becoming physically and mentally exhausted at work, because they leave people with fewer tasks to accomplish and keep track of.

The Surprising Role of Childhood Trauma in Athletic Success

Research suggests that many of the world’s greatest athletes may have similar stories of childhood adversity. One study led by sport psychology professor Lew Hardy in the United Kingdom compared 16 Olympic champions against 16 non-medaling Olympians. All of the medalists were exposed to trauma as children—including parental death or divorce, physical and verbal abuse, or an unstable home environment—compared to only four of the non-medalists. […] When faced with adversity—in sport or in life—the most successful athletes in these studies were the ones who were able to learn from and reflect on the experience. […] The best way to produce resilient athletes is to provide a challenging and supportive sport environment—one where athletes feel physically and psychologically safe in their experiences of success and failure. Trauma may present itself as a unique learning opportunity for some people but is far from a recipe for global success.

A single personality trait is the foundation for almost all mental illness: study

A range of various mental illnesses, such as depression, substance abuse, and psychosis, are linked to the same personality trait, research suggests. Neuroticism is one of the five higher-order personality traits and pretty much everyone has it to some extent. People who score high on neuroticism are easily worried and are more likely to experience negative feelings such as fear, anger, frustration, jealousy, guilt, and loneliness. They tend to interpret common situations as threatening, or to feel that small challenges are hopelessly difficult. […] “Previously we thought that mental illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and substance abuse, were completely separate diseases,” Ystrøm says. But research has now shown that these illnesses are often linked. If you suffer from one mental illness, you are more likely to develop another. And if someone in your immediate family has a psychiatric illness, your risk increases not only for this disorder, but for all other disorders.

Medication Madness – The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime

Medication Madness reads like a medical thriller, true crime story, and courtroom drama; but it is firmly based in the latest scientific research and dozens of case studies. The lives of the children and adults in these stories, as well as the lives of their families and their victims, were thrown into turmoil and sometimes destroyed by the unanticipated effects of psychiatric drugs.  In some cases our entire society was transformed by the tragic outcomes.

News & Information for December 25, 2018

The four things that make practically everyone feel loved, according to a new survey

According to Gary Chapman’s theory of love languages, different people need different things in order to feel loved. Some people will feel most appreciated when they spend quality time with their loved ones, while others prioritize physical touch, and still others need words of affirmation in order to feel truly cherished. Show your affection to your partner in their preferred manner, the theory goes, and it will go a long way toward reducing conflict. […] In a study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships […] The study, led by Saeideh Heshmati and Zita Oravecz, the latter of whom co-authored a 2016 paper on the same subject, identified some behaviors that nearly all participants agreed would make people feel loved. There was strong consensus around the following four scenarios:

If You Feel Thankful, Write It Down. It’s Good For Your Health

And noting your gratitude seems to pay off: There’s a growing body of researchon the benefits of gratitude. Studies have found that giving thanks and counting blessings can help people sleep better, lower stress and improve interpersonal relationships. Earlier this year, a study found that keeping a gratitude journal decreased materialism and bolstered generosity among adolescents. In another study from August, high school students who were asked to keep gratitude journals also reported healthier eating. There’s also some evidence it could lower your risk of heart disease and lower symptoms of depression for some people. That’s why gratitude features heavily in Santos’ happiness class. “It’s one of the practices that really wins out from the field of positive psychology,” she says, because it takes very little time, and “the benefits are so powerful.”

Study: Christmas is an accident-prone time of year

A new study reveals celebrating Christmas can be a risk to your health, including mishaps while decorating the Christmas tree, hanging electrical lights and kids falling off the laps of Santa Claus impersonators. KABC medical expert Dr. Daliah says not only are people injury-prone, but travelers often misplace important prescriptions.  But she has a solution. ”I tell everybody to split up their medicines, you know in their travel case, versus their suitcase, so if they do lose their medicine. Most doctors are out of Dodge. They’re not going to be calling in prescriptions.” Researchers also found kids are sometime hurt during interactions with a Santa impersonator — for example, by falling off his lap or falling while running away in fear. The study will be published in the journal Advances in Integrative Medicine.  It is based on an analysis of hospital records for injuries connected to Christmas products and activities between 2007 and 2016.

The MIND Diet Can Help Ward Off Alzheimer’s While Shrinking Your Waist

it’s not just your body you should focus on — maintaining a healthy brain is just as important, especially as we age. You may have heard of the link between gut and mind health with diets such as the Mediterranean diet and DASH diet. […] They cite a study done at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago that resulted in a 35 percent lower risk of Alzheimer’s in participants who only followed the MIND diet “moderately well,” and a 53 percent lower risk in those who followed it more strictly. MIND puts particular emphasis on whole grains and leafy greens — and requires no calorie counting or cutting. In fact, being full and satiated is encouraged, as long as it’s done with the approved foods.

Christmas Weight Gain Is Not Inevitable According To New British Study

A new study published in the British Medical Journal found that it is possible to reduce the amount of weight gained during the Christmas season with the help of some behavioral interventions.  […] The goal of the current study was to have participants gain no more than 1.1 pounds. Participants had to agree to weigh themselves twice weekly regularly throughout the Christmas period and were provided with weight management strategies and diagrams showing the calorie count of popular Christmas food and drinks. […] “we were really surprised at how motivated participants were, with 85 per cent weighing themselves at least twice per week over the course of the study. This shows us that the public can be really responsive to simple strategies to help them control their weight during holidays.” […] At the end of the study, on average, participants in the intervention group weighed 1.08 pounds less than the comparator group. On average, the comparator group gained some weight whereas the intervention group did not.

The Conscience of Psychiatry – The Reform Work of Peter R. Breggin, MD

The Conscience of Psychiatry is a biographical tribute to Dr. Breggin’s professional career that draws on more than fifty years of media excerpts and more than seventy new contributions from professionals in the field. The result is not only the story of his principled, courageous confrontations with organized psychiatry, drug companies, and government agencies —it is also a probing critique of the psycho-pharmaceutical complex.

News & Information for December 24, 2018

Mindfulness meditation enhances flow state and mental health among baseball players in Taiwan

This study aimed to evaluate the effect of mindful sport performance enhancement (MSPE) on mental health, flow state, and competitive state anxiety using a 4-week workshop. […] Result: After the workshop and follow-up 1 month later, we found improvements in flow state, cognitive anxiety in competitive anxiety, global eating disorder, marked shape concern, and weight concern. Scores of sleep disturbance showed significant improvement at follow-up. We also found significant association between flow state and mindfulness ability. Conclusion: This is the first mindfulness intervention to enhance athletes’ performance in Taiwan, and also the first application of MSPE for team sports. Our study results suggested that mindfulness ability is associated with flow state, and that MSPE is a promising training program for strengthening flow state and mental health.

Ian’s thoughts: it’s sad that researchers increasingly erase the word ‘meditation’ from the classical term mindfulness meditation for the practice rooted in Buddhism studied here. This is part of an effort in science to secularize the meditation practices being investigated, which are largely from Eastern religious traditions. Researchers want to wash the practices of ‘religious taint’. There is some good sense in doing that, to just extract the objective components of meditation practices that anyone of any faith could utilize for benefits. And it sure seems that doctors can’t rightfully prescribe a course of Buddhism. However, by rebranding meditation they’re effectively expropriating intellectual products cultivated by careful observations accumulated over centuries under the offices of religion by de facto traditional scientists. Today’s secular scientists are not discovering those ancient practices anew, they are merely confirming to their satisfaction that legendary benefits of meditation are importantly real and thus that ancient scientist priests did real science. 

Workplace-based mindfulness meditation programs reduce stress bio-markers

Mindfulness-based interventions (MBI) have been related with improved job satisfaction, wellbeing, health, and reduced workplace stress with employees. However, until now, synthesis of the evidence of the effect of MBIs on physiological indices associated with stress and ill-health has been lacking. Therefore the current systematic review aimed to synthesise the literature from employee samples to provide guidance for future investigations in terms of which physiological indicators and biological systems may be most impacted by MBIs. […] Taken together, the findings suggest that MBIs are a promising avenue for intervention for improving physiological indices of stress. Our findings suggest that changes in daytime cortisol secretion and HRV coherence may be particularly influenced by MBIs. 

Scientific American podcast: Mindfulness: The Science Behind the Practice

The practice of mindfulness is everywhere. Business leaders, professional athletes, mental health professionals, and, of course, your neighbor down the street are all discussing how being mindful can improve our mental state and general well-being. Mindfulness is used as an approach for treating pain, depression, anxiety, OCD, addiction, chronic diseases, and HIV treatment side effects, as well as an aid in weight loss and in being more productive. So what is mindfulness? And what does the research have to say about its ability to better our lives? […] The meditation and emphasis on being fully aware of your surroundings often associated with the practice of mindfulness have similarities to traditional Buddhist practices, but today’s reincarnation of mindfulness is entirely secular. Mindfulness-based stress reduction programs (known as MBSRs) typically focus on internal self reflection and the reduction of distractions as you focus your thoughts on the present. What are the evidence-backed benefits of participating in a mindfulness program?

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

Dr. Breggin’s new book will show you how to identify, to reject and to triumph over your self-defeating, painful emotions and to transcend them with more positive feelings and better approaches to life. Imagine your life when you leave guilt, shame, anxiety, chronic anger or emotional numbness behind and exercise your emotional freedom! 

News & Information for December 23, 2018

Why Do We Stay in Unhappy Relationships?

In a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, researchers sought out to discover whether people in relationships consider not only their own wants and needs, but the feelings of their partners when deciding whether or not to end a romantic relationship. […] The researchers thus concluded that, indeed, we tend to stay in romantic relationships that are not particularly fulfilling, not for ourselves, but for our partners: “We found that our effects were not moderated by feelings of being appreciated, suggesting that even people who felt less appreciated or relatively more taken for granted by their partner still took their partner’s feelings into account when making stay/leave decisions. Across both studies, we did not find moderations by satisfaction, investment, quality of alternatives, or commitment. These results suggest that people are less likely to break up with a romantic partner who is highly dependent on the relationship even if the relationship is not doing a particularly good job of meeting their own needs.”

A Nobel Prize-winning psychologist says most people don’t really want to be happy

We think we want to be happy. Yet many of us are actually working toward some other end, according to cognitive psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in economics. Kahneman contends that happiness and satisfaction are distinct. Happiness is a momentary experience that arises spontaneously and is fleeting. Meanwhile, satisfaction is a long-term feeling, built over time and based on achieving goals and building the kind of life you admire. On the Dec. 19 podcast “Conversations with Tyler,” hosted by economist Tyler Cowen, Kahneman explains that working toward one goal may undermine our ability to experience the other. For example, in Kahneman’s research measuring everyday happiness—the experiences that leave people feeling good—he found that spending time with friends was highly effective. Yet those focused on long-term goals that yield satisfaction don’t necessarily prioritize socializing, as they’re busy with the bigger picture.

Cough medicine plus antidepressant caused serotonin syndrome

Many people don’t realize that something as simple as an over-the-counter cough medicine containing dextromethorphan could cause a problem as serious as serotonin syndrome […] antidepressants that act on serotonin, such as fluoxetine (Prozac) or sertraline (Zoloft), also may trigger serotonin syndrome, particularly when combined with another medication such as a triptan for migraine treatment, tramadol for pain or the antibiotic linezolid. The interaction of escitalopram and dextromethorphan has caused serotonin syndrome leading to hospitalization (BMJ Case Reports, Aug. 7, 2017).

The Antidepressant Fact Book – by Peter Breggin, MD

From how these drugs work in the brain to how they treat (or don’t treat) depression and obsessive-compulsive, panic, and other disorders; from the documented side and withdrawal effects to what every parent needs to know about antidepressants and teenagers, The Anti-Depressant Fact Book is up-to-the minute and easy to access. Hard-hitting and enlightening, every current, former, and prospective antidepressant-user will want to read this book.

News & Information for December 22, 2018

Widow asks Supreme Court to toss GSK’s win in lawsuit over Paxil labeling, lawyer’s suicide

Asserting a Chicago federal appeals panel wrongly invalidated a jury’s verdict, attorneys for the widow of a Chicago lawyer who committed suicide after taking the generic version of the antidepressant drug Paxil, have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out the appellate ruling and order more proceedings on whether pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline should be made to pay for allegedly not revising their drug’s warning label to reflect an increased risk of suicide. […] “The Seventh Circuit’s decision creates a world where a drug manufacturer is permitted under the First Amendment to promote its drug for non-FDA approved indications, … but a drug manufacturer is prohibited from issuing warnings concerning life threatening risks associated with its drug,” Dolin’s attorneys wrote in their petition.

Data on safety, effectiveness of common acne drug unreliable, some researchers say

Isotretinoin, a drug for severe chronic acne, has long been linked to miscarriages, birth defects and other serious problems, but a research review suggests much of data on the drug’s safety, effectiveness and side effects may be unreliable. The analysis in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews concludes that the available evidence is of such low quality that it’s hard to say for sure how well isotretinoin works or how dangerous it may be. “After 35 years of use, oral isotretinoin is widely accepted among dermatologists as the most effective available treatment for acne,” said a coauthor of the analysis, Dr. Edileia Bagatin of the Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo in Brazil. “But lack of high quality evidence observed in this systematic review raises uncertainties regarding its real effectiveness and safety,” Bagatin said by email […] The FDA also warns that isotretinoin may increase the risk for inflammatory bowel disease and psychiatric side effects including depression, psychosis, and suicidal thoughts. 

The Joy Of Giving Not Just Receiving Is The Key To Lasting Happiness

In fact, people who are concerned about the well being of others rather than only their own are much happier, claims a recent study published in the journal ‘Psychological Science’.  “Helping, giving, volunteering, and other actions undertaken to benefit others play a critical role in protecting health, promoting education, fighting poverty and hunger, and providing disaster relief,” the researchers said, as reported by ANI. […] Simply promising to behave generously activated the altruistic area of the brain and intensified the interaction between this area and the area associated with happiness. “It is remarkable that intent alone generates a neural change before the action is actually implemented,” says Tobler.

Don’t Call Your Mom—Video Chat Instead

While all types of social interaction can help older people stay connected to family and friends, a new study from researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and University of California Davis found that participating in video chats cuts the probability of developing depressive symptoms in half, compared to those who may use other forms of communication technology but don’t use this type. […] Statistics show that more and more older people use the internet, and even nursing homes and other residences for the elderly are starting to provide internet access. Previous studies found that video chats with family in these circumstances last longer than landline phone calls and, although not scientifically proven, suggest that face-to-face chats may help reduce symptoms of agitation such as pacing, resistance and verbal outbursts, in residents with dementia. 

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

Dr. Breggin’s Empathic Therapy training film will help you to bring out the best in yourself so that you can bring out the best in others. With his genuine and profoundly engaging style of psychotherapy, Dr. Breggin shows how to relate to patients and clients in a manner that engenders trust, mutual understanding, and the opportunity for recovery and growth. — Makes the Perfect Holiday Gift!

News & Information for December 21, 2018

Latest Quarterly Data Records Progress in Reducing Antipsychotics in Nursing Centers

New quarterly data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released on Dec. 20 showed the continuation of a years-long trend of reduced use of antispsychotics in skilled nursing centers. All 10 reporting regions across the country recorded either steady or declining use from the first quarter of 2018 to the second quarter, with some individual states like Arkansas and California marking more than 40 percent declines since the first quarterly measurements taken in the final three months of 2011, the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes said. […] “In 2011 Q4, 23.9 percent of long-stay nursing home residents were receiving an antipsychotic medication; since then there has been a decrease of 38.9 percent to a national prevalence of 14.6 percent in 2018 Q2,” the group said.

Benzodiazepine Use, Misuse Spike in the US

More than 30 million US adults, or roughly 1 in 8 people age 18 and above, used benzodiazepines in the past year — with over 5 million reporting misuse, new research reports. Investigators analyzed 2015-2016 data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and found that almost 13% of respondents reported past-year use of benzodiazepine, with only 10% using these agents as prescribed and 2% reporting misuse. Misuse accounted for almost one fifth of overall use. The highest prevalence of use was found in adults ages 50 to 64 years, while the highest prevalence of misuse was found in those aged 18 to 25 years. “The focus has been on the badness of benzodiazepine, specifically in older adults, but with growing use in midlife superimposed on the opioid epidemic, this problem is not going away,” lead author Donovan Maust, MD.

Feeling Anxious? These 12 Vitamins, Minerals & Herbs May Help

When anxiety reaches a fever pitch, many people want to reach for something that will help soothe their nerves and bring them back to calm—STAT. That’s understandable; anxiety and stress can be unbearable and hugely interfere with your life—including your health, your job, and your relationships. We have a lot of pharmaceutical options to choose from, many of which provide extremely quick and effective relief. It’s important to remember, however, that these pharmaceutical options are not without side effects, which range from weight gain to muscle weakness to decreased libido. The good news is that there are actually plenty of safe and effective supplements for anxiety.

Failure of Timely Stop to Certain Prescription Drugs Is Common

Legacy prescribing of certain drugs [Rx-drug use that has not been appropriately discontinued, see], such as antidepressants and proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), is common, according to a study published in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine. […] The researchers found that 46 percent of patients had a legacy prescription (3,766 of 8,119) for antidepressants at some time during the study period, 14 percent (228 of 1,592) had legacy prescriptions for bisphosphonates, and 45 percent (2,885 of 6,414) had legacy prescriptions for PPIs. Many patients held current prescriptions. For all legacy prescriptions, the mean duration of prescribing was significantly longer than that for nonlegacy prescriptions. A potential prescribing cascade was seen with concurrent legacy prescriptions for both antidepressants and PPIs.

The Conscience of Psychiatry – The Reform Work of Peter R. Breggin, MD

The Conscience of Psychiatry is a biographical tribute to Dr. Breggin’s professional career that draws on more than fifty years of media excerpts and more than seventy new contributions from professionals in the field. The result is not only the story of his principled, courageous confrontations with organized psychiatry, drug companies, and government agencies —it is also a probing critique of the psycho-pharmaceutical complex.

News & Information for December 20, 2018

Use of Benzodiazepines Up, Despite Scrutiny

A new report finds that more Americans are using benzodiazepines than ever before despite efforts to curtail their use. Benzodiazepines are used to treat conditions such as anxiety and insomnia and include alprazolam (Xanax, Niravam) diazepam (Valium), clonazepam (Klonopin), lorazepam (Ativan) as well as others. Efforts to curb use of this class of medications stem from findings that show misuse of benzodiazepines is common and linked to exploitation of or dependence on prescription opioids or stimulants. Experts state that safer alternatives are available especially given the associated harms related to the opioid epidemic. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, more than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines, which are themselves habit-forming and potentially addictive.

How to come off antidepressants

How you stop depends on the reasons for coming off. If you are stopping at the end of a treatment episode, then you would do it more gradually than if you were stopping because of a lack of response or excessive side effects early in a treatment episode. Make sure you talk to the prescriber before stopping. Your doctor should advise you on the sorts of discontinuation symptoms which you might experience, it is always easier if you know what to expect. A reasonable reduction regimen for coming off after completion of a treatment episode would be to reduce the dose by 50 per cent every two weeks until you get to the lowest dose pill available, which you stop after two weeks. […] Withdrawal symptoms usually last about 10 days to two weeks. They can be difficult to describe and include a general feeling of being unwell with dizziness or heaviness, like having flu, and unusual sensory experiences which are often described as ‘head zaps’ or ‘head shocks’. These can be unsettling if you have not been forewarned but they are not a sign of serious physical pathology.

Study: We feel as much love from our pets as a human saying ‘I love you’

That feeling you get when your beagle is happy to see you when you come home from work, or a heartfelt “I love you” from your partner? Turns out that many of us register feelings of love on just about the same level for those two experiences. That was one of the findings of a study called “What Does It Mean to Feel Loved: Cultural Consensus and Individual Differences in Felt Love,” where people of all ages reported on their “everyday experiences” of feeling loved, both romantically and non-romantically.

The joy of giving lasts longer than the joy of getting

The happiness we feel after a particular event or activity diminishes each time we experience that event, a phenomenon known as hedonic adaptation. But giving to others may be the exception to this rule, according to research forthcoming in Psychological Science […] In two studies, psychology researchers […] found that participants’ happiness did not decline, or declined much slower, if they repeatedly bestowed gifts on others versus repeatedly receiving those same gifts themselves. “If you want to sustain happiness over time, past research tells us that we need to take a break from what we’re currently consuming and experience something new. Our research reveals that the kind of thing may matter more than assumed: Repeated giving, even in identical ways to identical others, may continue to feel relatively fresh and relatively pleasurable the more that we do it,” O’Brien explains.

Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry – by Peter Breggin, MD

A comprehensive contemporary scientific reference on brain dysfunctions and behavioral abnormalities produced by psychiatric drugs including Prozac, Xanax, Halcion, Ritalin, and lithium. Dr. Breggin shows that psychiatric drugs achieve their primary or essential effect by causing brain dysfunction. Many of Breggin’s findings have improved clinical practice, led to legal victories against drug companies, and resulted in FDA-mandated changes in what the manufacturers must admit about their drugs.

News & Information for December 19, 2018

How Going On Antidepressants For The First Time Changed My Skin

In 2014, after a particularly tough breakup, I started taking antidepressants for anxiety and OCD. I’d struggled with my mental health since around 2010, but had never tried medication because I was scared of the side effects. […] Since I began taking sertraline, the generic for Zoloft, my skin has become much more temperamental. Acne around my jawline and chin is now the norm, my lips and cheeks go through weird dry spells, and I sweat — a lot. I’m talking night sweats and panic sweats, which affect my face as well as my body. Although I know this sounds pretty minimal, it’s hard sometimes. Finding a course of treatment that helps my mental health is absolutely the priority, but side effects that show up so obviously on your skin can really get you down. […] “Excessive sweating is a very common side effect of antidepressant use, with some studies stating that approximately 20% of users are affected,” she says. Excess sweating can wreak havoc on your face, particularly your forehead, creating an ideal environment for spots to thrive.

Study: Illicit use of Ritalin may cause changes in brain

Nonprescription use of Ritalin may cause irreversible structural changes in certain areas of the brain, according to researchers in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology and UB’s Clinical and Research Institute on Addictions (CRIA). […] Many college and high school students without ADHD use Ritalin as a stimulant in order to feel more focused, receive a “high,” or lose weight. “We found that chronic use of this drug by those without ADHD-like symptoms resulted in neuroinflammation in regions of the brain which are related to motivated behavior,” Thanos says. “One month after use was stopped, the inflammation and structural changes were still there,” he adds. “This could result in long-term risks for young adults, as these areas of the brain also influence addiction and the ability to respond to changes in the environment.”

Opioids no more effective for treating chronic pain than over-the-counter options, study finds

Opioids are no better at treating chronic pain than over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen and naproxen, according to a study that raises questions about how often the drugs are prescribed, considering the risks they pose. The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was an analysis of nearly 100 studies on the effectiveness of opioids at treating chronic non-cancer pain. The studies compared opioids to a placebo as well as other pain-relieving drugs. The researchers concluded that opioids are slightly better than a placebo at treating pain and provide similar benefits as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and naproxen. […] According to the study, the research also showed that the modest benefits provided by opioids seemed to wane over time, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. 

Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and their Families

Nothing in the field of mental health will do more good and reduce more harm than encouraging withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. The time is past when the focus in mental health was on what drugs to take for what disorders. Now we need to focus on how to stop taking psychiatric drugs and to replace them with more person-centered, empathic approaches. The goal is no longer drug maintenance and stagnation; the goal is recovery and achieving well-being.

News & Information for December 18, 2018

Increasing use, and misuse, of benzodiazepines

More than one in eight U.S. adults (12.6 percent) used benzodiazepines in the past year, up from previous reports. Misuse of the prescription drugs accounted for more than 17 percent of overall use, according to a study published online today in Psychiatric Services in Advance. The researchers defined misuse as any way a doctor did not direct, including using the drug without a prescription or more often or longer than prescribed. Misuse was highest among young adults 18 to 25 (5.6 percent) and was as common as prescribed use. […] Benzodiazepine use has come under increasing scrutiny given the associated harms and safer alternatives, particularly in light of the opioid epidemic. The study found benzodiazepine misuse was strongly associated with misuse of or dependence on prescription opioids or stimulants.

Spike in number of Australian children put on antipsychotic drugs

Doctors are putting more than 1000 additional Australian children per year on sedating antipsychotic drugs that can cause obesity, diabetes, brain impairments and movement disorders, “very concerning” federal government figures show. […] Federal health department data provided to show the number of children aged 17 or under prescribed antipsychotics increased by 24 per cent between 2013-14 and 2017-18, far outstripping the age group’s 5 per cent population growth. […] Dr Karanges said causes of the increase in use included a “continuation of trends that have been occurring in psychiatry for decades — diagnosis of illness at lower thresholds, more ready use of medication, a greater reliance on drugs”.

Antipsychotics Tied to Higher Unexpected Death Risk in Kids

Children and young adults taking higher-dose antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, treatments for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and depression for diagnoses other than schizophrenia were significantly more likely to die unexpectedly than other youths on low-dose medication, or no medication, according to a retrospective study of Medicaid enrollees in Tennessee. There was a 4.3-fold increased risk of death from cardiovascular or metabolic causes. In this study, unexpected deaths included unintentional drug overdoses. […] The youth in this study, without life-threatening somatic illness or psychosis, who took high-dose drugs had an 80% higher risk of death that was attributed to a more than three-fold increased risk of unexpected deaths, after adjusting for exposure duration and other factors, as compared with patients on low-dose drugs or controls. The risk of unexpected death was 3.51 (95% CI 1.54-7.96) times greater with high-dose antipsychotics than low-dose drugs or controls.

The Heart of Being Helpful: Empathy and the Creation of a Healing Presence

Dr. Breggin illustrates the importance of developing a therapeutic bond, or healing presence, between helping professionals and their clients. He provides useful vignettes, case studies, and personal insights to help beginning and experienced therapists develop more empathy in therapeutic relationships. 

Makes the Perfect Holiday Gift!

News & Information for December 17, 2018

Editing consciousness: How bereaved people control their thoughts without knowing it

A new study shows that avoidant grievers unconsciously monitor and block the contents of their mind-wandering, a discovery that could lead to more effective psychiatric treatment for bereaved people. The researchers, who studied 29 bereaved subjects, are the first to show how this unconscious thought suppression occurs. […] “The major challenge of our study was to be able ‘look under the hood’ of a person’s natural mind-wandering state to see what underlying processes were actually controlling their experience,” says Noam Schneck, lead author of the study […] “What we’ve shown in this paper is that outside of our conscious awareness, we are constantly editing our own mental experiences to control what does and does not get in. And this process of editing is not always helpful.”

Dalai Lama: Religion is like medicine, one doesn’t suit all

“Religion is like medicine, and there is no single medicine that suits all,” the 14th Dalai Lama said on Friday. The Dalai Lama was speaking at the Techfest organised by the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay on Friday. “Fundamentally, all religions preach the same things. I never said Buddhism is the best religion for inner peace, it is up to an individual what will work for them.” […] “Education is very important. With the help of education people can control their emotions better.” The Nobel laureate said that a calm mind is necessary for excelling in life. “It’s only with a calm that mind we can think clearly, too many emotions hampers decision making, when we have inner peace only then is the mind neutral and capable of intelligent investigation […] The 21st century should be one of peace and happiness. If this generation is educated with a combination of science and technology and inner values, then the world will see peace,” he said.

Learning to Meditate: Four Common Questions

If you are thinking about starting to meditate, it might be difficult to navigate the overwhelming numbers of self-help books on meditation and online meditation advice of varied quality. You might be wondering whether meditation would be right for you and which form you should try. How can you choose? […] If you are looking for ways to reduce stress, anxiety, or chronic pain, a mindfulness course might be a suitable start. […] However, if you are attracted to meditation as a means to deepen your spiritual exploration, a more traditional type might be relevant. […]  If sitting quietly is not your thing, you might be relieved to find out that there are many different types of meditation. There are walking meditations, thinking meditations, movement meditations such as Tai Chi, and styles emphasizing the importance of practicing meditation during everyday activities. And some meditation schools, such as Dzogchen, encourage meditating with eyes open—after all, meditation isn’t about escaping what is in front of us, but about understanding the world more deeply and learning to work with it skilfully.

Effects of in-motion meditation on major depressive disorder: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Tai Chi, Qigong, and Yoga are recognized as the most popular complementary approaches for alleviating musculoskeletal pain, improving sleep quality, and reducing blood pressure. The therapeutic effects of these meditative movements for treating major depressive disorder (MDD) is yet to be determined. […] Meta-analysis on 15 fair-to-high quality RCTs showed a significant benefit in favor of meditative movement on depression severity and on anxiety severity. Meditative movement interventions showed significantly improved treatment remission rate and response rate over passive controls. […] Emphasizing the therapeutic effects of meditative movements for treating MDD is critical because it may provide a useful alternative to existing mainstream treatments (drug therapy and psychotherapy) for MDD. Given the fact that meditative movements are safe and easily accessible, clinicians may consider recommending meditative movements for symptomatic management in this population.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

Dr. Breggin’s new book will show you how to identify, to reject and to triumph over your self-defeating, painful emotions and to transcend them with more positive feelings and better approaches to life. Imagine your life when you leave guilt, shame, anxiety, chronic anger or emotional numbness behind and exercise your emotional freedom! — Makes the Perfect Holiday Gift!

News & Information for December 16, 2018

Effects of Antidepressants Span Three Generations in Fish

he effects of antidepressant exposure during early development can pass down through three generations of offspring—at least in zebrafish. A new study, published today (December 10) in PNAS, reveals that fluoxetine, a commonly used antidepressant that goes by the brand name Prozac, can alter hormone levels and blunt stress responses in an exposed embryo and its descendants. […] The team also found that the effects were more pronounced and consistent in male offspring than in female ones. […] Trudeau notes that there are good reasons to believe that the effects they observed in this study could also occur in humans. After all, he says, humans and zebrafish share similarities in stress-response machinery—for example, cortisol levels will rise in both fish and humans in stressful situations—and researchers have found changes in cortisol levels in infants born to mothers treated with SSRIs during pregnancy. 

Study Finds Being On Your Phone Constantly Can Be Harmful

A new study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking has found that being constantly online and on your phone can make you feel worse. Researchers found that checking your phone decreased mindfulness and caused people to be preoccupied and more distracted. Being plugged into your smartphone creates a state of “online vigilance” where one’s mind is automatically monitoring communications like email, texts, or phone notifications. This state of constant alertness does not give your mind a time to rest and focused on what happened in the past or future– in other words, the opposite of mindfulness or training the mind to focus on being aware of the present moment. […] Being online and monitoring your texts or email can become so automatic you may not even be aware of how much it is adding stress to your life. If so, these might be signs to give yourself some time to disconnect from your phone and instead choose to connect with the people or experiences right there in that moment.

The Many Heath and Sleep Benefits Of Music

Music is an incredibly therapeutic tool for emotional health, daily performance, and sleep. It has been used as a healing therapy for most of human history. Ancient Arabic cultures had musicians working alongside physicians. The Greeks used music to treat mental illness. After WWII, musicians were brought to US hospitals to aid the healing of soldiers’ physical and emotional trauma. […] Several studies have tested music’s effectiveness to reduce stress in high-anxiety situations—often, in patients undergoing medical treatments, like surgery. In these circumstances, researchers have found listening to music can lower anxiety significantly, even more effectively than prescription drugs. […] Research further shows how music can be effective in relieving the symptoms of depression and other mood disorders. It can improve both depression and sleep in people with post-traumatic stress disorder, according to recent research. Depression and sleep also showed improvement in a study that investigated the effects of relaxing music for people with schizophrenia.

Johnson & Johnson knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its Baby Powder

Facing thousands of lawsuits alleging that its talc caused cancer, J&J insists on the safety and purity of its iconic product. But internal documents examined by Reuters show that the company’s powder was sometimes tainted with carcinogenic asbestos and that J&J kept that information from regulators and the public. […] Hobson knew that talc and asbestos often occurred together in the earth, and that mined talc could be contaminated with the carcinogen. Coker sued Johnson & Johnson, alleging that “poisonous talc” in the company’s beloved product was her killer. J&J denied the claim. Baby Powder was asbestos-free, it said. […] A Reuters examination of many of those documents, as well as deposition and trial testimony, shows that from at least 1971 to the early 2000s, the company’s raw talc and finished powders sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos, and that company executives, mine managers, scientists, doctors and lawyers fretted over the problem and how to address it while failing to disclose it to regulators or the public.

The Conscience of Psychiatry – The Reform Work of Peter R. Breggin, MD

The Conscience of Psychiatry is a biographical tribute to Dr. Breggin’s professional career that draws on more than fifty years of media excerpts and more than seventy new contributions from professionals in the field. The result is not only the story of his principled, courageous confrontations with organized psychiatry, drug companies, and government agencies —it is also a probing critique of the psycho-pharmaceutical complex.

News & Information for December 15, 2018

Study: Meditation effectively treats late-life depression

Participants [in the study] learned a specific type of technique, Sahaj Samadhi meditation, developed by the international non-profit The Art of Living. Coaches came in to teach patients how to meditate. The combination of the mind-calming activity and standard depression treatment was three times more effective than just the standard treatment alone. “They got into remission much faster,” said Dr. Akshya Vasudev, an associate scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute […] “We do know meditation helps but I was surprised in clinical patients with pretty bad depression . . . they came out with thumbs up, they were happy with it.” The study group involved patients with moderate depression. 

Teen becomes puppeteer in battle to beat depression

What started as a hobby to make other people smile, ended up helping a Kansas teen find his own smile as well. Down in his parents’ basement Joseph Disberger creates his own masterpieces. He is a puppeteer, and he hopes to work for The Muppets or on Sesame Street someday. Joseph is only 16-years-old. He taught himself how to do hundreds of different voices and he creates every puppet. “People made it sound like it was rocket science, and had to go to a website to learn how to do this, and you had to buy this pattern to do that, and I was like I don’t have money,” says Joseph.

Start-ups use tech to treat mental health issues

These startups use a whole gamut of latest technology —from chatbots and deep learning to artificial intelligence (AI) and video chats — to provide the services they do. A few players in the segment providing counseling and support, along with anonymity — a key requirement for many prospective customers — include InnerHour, YourDOST, TrustCircle,, a vertical in, Wysa, GrowthEX and ePsyclinic. These companies use AI and data-based approaches to resolve several mental health issues, and they are seeing significant traction. […] Other platforms like Wysa and TrustCircle also provide similar services. The former is an AI-based chatbot which response to emotions one expresses and uses methods like cognitive-behavioral techniques (CBT) to build mental resilience skills, while the latter provides affordable and accessible mental health care, with basic screening tests to determine if someone needs professional help. 

How Helping People Affects Your Brain

During a recent study, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh gave 45 volunteers an option: They could complete a task that benefited themselves, a charity, or a particular friend in need. Afterwards, a brain scan showed a noticeable — and fascinating — difference based on their choice. Not only did the participants who chose to help a particular person display increased activity in two “reward centers” of their brain, but they had decreased activity in three other regions that help inform the body’s physical response to stress through blood pressure and inflammation. A second study from the University of Pittsburgh, this time utilizing nearly 400 volunteers who were asked to self-report their “giving” habits, showed similar results. “Humans are born especially vulnerable and dependent on others” […] “As a result, we require a prolonged period of intense caregiving following birth in order to survive.” That instinctive desire to help others may depend on those specific areas of the brain. They guarantee more supportive behavior. “The same mechanisms that ensure giving to others may also contribute to the long-term health effects we see from giving,” said Inagaki.

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

Dr. Breggin’s Empathic Therapy training film will help you to bring out the best in yourself so that you can bring out the best in others. With his genuine and profoundly engaging style of psychotherapy, Dr. Breggin shows how to relate to patients and clients in a manner that engenders trust, mutual understanding, and the opportunity for recovery and growth. — Makes the Perfect Holiday Gift!

News & Information for December 14, 2018

How to discontinue antidepressants

There has been a lot of attention to problems patients face in discontinuing antidepressant drugs. However, there appear to be few indications, particularly in guidelines and reviews. In an article in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Giovanni Fava, MD and Carlotta Belaise, Ph.D., analyse data that can guide antidepressant discontinuation. […] According to the authors, the time has come to initiate research on withdrawal phenomena related to antidepressants, and to redefine the use and indications of these medications, including their differential likelihood of inducing behavioral toxicity.

My Fight Against Antidepressants, Part III: Breaking Free

The first time I was able to come off antidepressants was in July of 2013. It was one of the best experiences of my life… or so I thought for an amazing six months. […] I managed to get off the antidepressants by tapering relatively slowly and it was a complete revelation for me. I was absolutely elated. The return of my emotions, sensory acuity and general reconnection to life was almost miraculous for me given that I had tried unsuccessfully to come off the drugs for over thirteen years by then. As I mentioned, this lasted six months.

Getting out of the house for cultural activities beats depression in old age

Regular visits to the cinema, theatre or to museums could dramatically reduce the chances of becoming depressed in older age a new study has found. Researchers found a clear link between the frequency of ‘cultural engagement’ and the chances of someone over 50 developing depression. It is the first such study to show that cultural activities not only help people manage and recover from depression but actually help to prevent it. […] “Generally speaking, people know the benefits of eating their five-a-day and of exercise for their physical and mental health, but there is very little awareness that cultural activities also have similar benefits. People engage with culture for the pure enjoyment of doing so, but we need to be raising awareness of their wider benefits too.”

Antipsychotic-induced metabolic alterations

Atypical antipsychotics (AAPs) […] produce troublesome adverse effects, particularly hyperphagia, hyperglycemia, dyslipidemia weight gain, diabetes mellitus, insulin resistance and QT prolongation which further develops metabolic and cardiac complications with subsequent reduction in life expectancy, poor patient compliance, and sudden death. AAPs-induced weight gain and metabolic alterations are increasing at an alarming rate and became an utmost matter of concern for psychopharmacotherapy. […] Antipsychotics induced imbalance in energy homeostasis, reduction in energy expenditure which is linked to altered expression of uncoupling proteins (UCP-1) in brown adipose tissue and reduced hypothalamic orexin expressions are emerging insights. In addition, alteration in gut-microbiota and subsequent inflammation, dyslipidemia, obesity, and diabetes after AAPs treatment are also associated with weight gain and metabolic alterations. 

The Antidepressant Fact Book – by Peter Breggin, MD

From how these drugs work in the brain to how they treat (or don’t treat) depression and obsessive-compulsive, panic, and other disorders; from the documented side and withdrawal effects to what every parent needs to know about antidepressants and teenagers, The Anti-Depressant Fact Book is up-to-the minute and easy to access. Hard-hitting and enlightening, every current, former, and prospective antidepressant-user will want to read this book.

News & Information for December 13, 2018

The 5 Deadliest Drugs in America Include a Common Anti-Anxiety Prescription

Alprazolam, which you’re probably more familiar with under the brand name Xanax, was involved in more than 6,000 drug overdose deaths in 2016, according to a new report from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). The data, published this week, tallied the drugs most frequently involved in such deaths from 2011 to 2016 as reported on death certificates. […]  Diazepam (Valium)—also used to treat anxiety—was linked to more than 2,000 overdose deaths in the new report. In 96% of drug overdoses that involved either of these benzodiazepines, other drugs were also involved.

Probiotics could help millions of patients suffering from bipolar disorder

However, an emerging field of research is exploring the use of probiotics–often thought of as “good bacteria”–as a potential new avenue for treatment of bipolar and other psychiatric mood disorders. And a new study […] finds that a probiotic supplement may reduce inflammation of the gut, which is known to exacerbate bipolar disorder. Probiotic organisms are non-pathogenic bacteria that, when present in the gut flora, are known to improve the overall health of the host. […] Overall, these results indicate that changes in intestinal inflammation can alter the trajectory of psychiatric mood disorders and that modulating the intestinal microbiota may be a new avenue of treatment for patients suffering from these diseases.

Neonatal Vitamin D Deficiency May Raise Schizophrenia Risk

Neonatal vitamin D deficiency is associated with a 44% increased risk of schizophrenia later in life, according to a study published in Scientific Reports[…] researchers are now suggesting that treatment of vitamin D deficiency in the earliest stages of life may reduce the risk of later developing schizophrenia. “As the developing fetus is totally reliant on [the] mother’s vitamin D stores, our findings suggest that ensuring pregnant women have adequate levels of vitamin D may result in the prevention of some schizophrenia cases in a manner comparable to the role folate supplementation has played in the prevention of spina bifida,” said researcher John McGrath, MD, PhD, of Aarhus University, Denmark, and the University of Queensland, Australia.

Treating major depression with yoga: A prospective, randomized, controlled pilot trial

This randomized controlled trial with blinded outcome assessors examined an 8-week hatha yoga intervention as mono-therapy for mild-to-moderate major depression. […] In intent-to-treat analysis, yoga participants exhibited significantly greater 8-week decline in BDI [Beck Depression Inventory-II] scores than controls […] In sub-analyses of participants completing final 8-week measures, yoga participants were more likely to achieve remission […] Effect size of yoga in reducing BDI scores was large […] CONCLUSION: In adults with mild-to-moderate major depression, an 8-week hatha yoga intervention resulted in statistically and clinically significant reductions in depression severity.

Brain-Disabling Treatments in Psychiatry – by Peter Breggin, MD

A comprehensive contemporary scientific reference on brain dysfunctions and behavioral abnormalities produced by psychiatric drugs including Prozac, Xanax, Halcion, Ritalin, and lithium. Dr. Breggin shows that psychiatric drugs achieve their primary or essential effect by causing brain dysfunction. Many of Breggin’s findings have improved clinical practice, led to legal victories against drug companies, and resulted in FDA-mandated changes in what the manufacturers must admit about their drugs.

News & Information for December 12, 2018

Atypical Antipsychotics Heighten Gestational Diabetes Risk

A team of investigators from Harvard Medical School has examined the risk of developing gestational diabetes associated with the continuation of treatment with aripiprazole, ziprasidone, quetiapine, risperidone, and olanzapine during pregnancy, compared with discontinuation of these antipsychotic drugs in 1,543,334 pregnancies detailed in a Medicaid database. The researchers found that compared with women who discontinued use of an atypical antipsychotic medication before the start of pregnancy, women who continued treatment with olanzapine or quetiapine had an increased risk for gestational diabetes. They concluded that this may be explained by the metabolic effects associated with these two drugs.

★ Lead author of shocking new Prozac study interviewed

When University of Ottawa biologists Marilyn Vera-Chang and Vance Trudeau began to study the effects of a popular antidepressant on reproduction levels in zebrafish, they stumbled across something that changed the course of their work. […] “Marilyn Vera-Chang and colleagues under my supervision investigated the effects of fluoxetine—an antidepressant commonly known as Prozac – on reproduction in goldfish and zebrafish” […] What did you discover? “That a cortisol deficiency is induced as a result of the Prozac exposure. Much to our surprise, we discovered that upon exposing fish embryos to fluoxetine for a period of 6 days, cortisol levels dropped in the young fish that persisted till adulthood. An unusual pattern emerged when we measured the residual effects of the medication in the fish’s offspring going as far as 3 generations–cortisol and it’s response to various stresses remained reduced. Cortisol is best known as the stress hormone. When we experience stress, our cortisol goes up, helps us adapt, then goes back to normal. The same goes for all animals. Cortisol helps the body deal with stress by increasing metabolism and sending a signal to the brain to prompt action. Animals, including humans, explore their immediate environment to find food, shelter from predators, and to find a mate. The ability to explore one’s environment and to react appropriately to stressors is essential to the survival of a species.”

Ian’s thoughts: Not even mentioned is what this implies for wild fish which scores of studies report are being exposed to non-trivial amounts of antidepressants from human waste water (see for example Richmond et al, 2018). The report from yesterday (below) has video showing how impaired the prozac-exposed fish were versus the normal exploratory behavior of control fish. This could have negative consequences for survival in the wild.

Fentanyl is the deadliest drug in America, CDC confirms

Fentanyl is now the most commonly used drug involved in drug overdoses, according to a new government report. The latest numbers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics say that the rate of drug overdoses involving the synthetic opioid skyrocketed by about 113% each year from 2013 through 2016. The number of total drug overdoses jumped 54% each year between 2011 and 2016. In 2016, there were 63,632 drug overdose deaths. According to Wednesday’s report, which analyzed death certificates for drug overdose deaths between 2011 and 2016, fentanyl was involved in nearly 29% of all overdose deaths in 2016. In 2011, fentanyl was involved in just 4% of all drug fatalities. At the time, oxycodone was the most commonly involved drug, representing 13% of all fatal drug overdoses.

 Antipsychotic use may increase risk for unexpected death among youth

Youth aged 5 to 24 years beginning antipsychotic therapy who received doses higher than 50 mg chlorpromazine equivalents had a 3.5-fold increased risk for unexpected death, study findings indicated. “Antipsychotics have potentially life-threatening cardiovascular, metabolic and other adverse effects, although in children and adolescents, these adverse effects are most frequently associated with medication overdose, and fatal outcomes are rare,” Wayne A. Ray, PhD, from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine […] In this retrospective cohort study […] Children and youth in the higher-dose group had an 80% increased risk for death that was attributable to a more than three times greater risk for unexpected deaths. 

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

Dr. Breggin’s new book will show you how to identify, to reject and to triumph over your self-defeating, painful emotions and to transcend them with more positive feelings and better approaches to life. Imagine your life when you leave guilt, shame, anxiety, chronic anger or emotional numbness behind and exercise your emotional freedom! 

News & Information for December 11, 2018

Screen Time Changes Structure of Kid’s Brains

Scientists are trying to understand what no one currently does: how all that screen time impacts the physical structure of your kids’ brains, as well as their emotional development and mental health. At 21 sites across the country scientists have begun interviewing nine and ten-year-olds and scanning their brains. They’ll follow more than 11,000 kids for a decade, and spend $300 million doing it. […] The first wave of data from brain scans of 4,500 participants is in and it has Dr. Dowling of the NIH and other scientists intrigued. The MRI’s found significant differences in the brains of some kids who use smartphones, tablets, and video games more than seven hours a day. […] The colors show differences in the nine and ten-year-olds’ brains. The red color represents premature thinning of the cortex. That’s the wrinkly outermost layer of the brain that processes information from the five senses.

Researchers found one way that long-term marriages get happier

The first few years of a marriage are rife with conflicts, but the emotional weather eventually changes, according to a new study by psychology researchers at UC Berkeley. In time, humor—friendly teasing, jokes, and silliness—becomes more prevalent, and bickering and criticisms decline. These findings, which must be among the sweetest to enter the crowded field of relationships research, were reached after psychologists analyzed videotaped interactions of 87 couples who had been married 15 to 35 years, and followed them over 13 years. The study’s conclusions contradict an existing theory that positive emotions fade over time in a long relationship […] However, they align nicely with other recent longitudinal studies that show a U-shaped pattern of happiness in lengthy marriages. 

How to raise a grateful child

“[What] we know pretty solidly from the children, adolescent and adult literature is that the more materialistic people are, the lower their personal well-being,” […] It turns out there may be a simple way to make children less materialistic and more grateful for what they have. […] One group was told to record their daily activities in a journal for two weeks. The other was told to write about who and what they were thankful for in a gratitude journal for the same time period. […] The results were striking, Chaplin says. There was no change in the levels of materialism and gratitude among the children who simply wrote about their daily activities, while those who kept a gratitude journal saw a significant decrease in their materialism and increase in thankfulness. […] After handing in their journals, the kids were given 10 $1 bills and told they could keep the money or donate some or all of it to charity. Those who kept a gratitude journal gave more than two-thirds of their money to charity, while those who only recorded their daily activities kept more than half of it.

 Parents Might Pass Harmful Effects of Prozac on to Future Generations

According to a new study published today in the journal PNAS, developing zebrafish embryos exposed to the active ingredient of Prozac are less equipped to cope with stress later in life—and these effects are passed on through future generations. While the results have yet to be repeated in human populations […] we have more in common with these mighty minnows than you might think: About 70 percent of human genes have an obvious zebrafish counterpart. Like us, zebrafish respond negatively to stressful events and release many of the same hormones—some of which are even more comparable to those in humans than those produced by rodents. […] But the most surprising results were still to come. When the fluoxetine-treated fish had offspring of their own, they, too, produced less cortisol and were less eager to explore their tanks—despite never having seen the Prozac themselves. And, amazingly, when these zebrafish gave rise to another generation, the effect was still there. Somehow, the single exposure the first set of zebrafish had experienced during development was being passed down through the generations like an insidious inheritance.

Medication Madness, The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime

Medication Madness reads like a medical thriller, true crime story, and courtroom drama; but it is firmly based in the latest scientific research and dozens of case studies. The lives of the children and adults in these stories, as well as the lives of their families and their victims, were thrown into turmoil and sometimes destroyed by the unanticipated effects of psychiatric drugs.  In some cases our entire society was transformed by the tragic outcomes.

News & Information for December 10, 2018

20% of nursing home residents receive antipsychotics, while only 2% have required diagnosis

As of the second quarter of 2018, 20% of nursing home residents received antipsychotics, however just 2% have a diagnosis that calls for an antipsychotic. In facilities throughout the U.S., the percentage of residents who are receiving antipsychotic drugs ranges from 0% to 100%. These findings were reported in “U.S. Nursing Home Antipsychotic Drugging Rates: 2018Q2” by the Long-Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC). Researchers for the LTCCC analyzed data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding psychotic drug prescription rates for covered individuals, identifying those located in nursing home facilities. 

Bugs on Drugs – How Pharmaceutical Pollution Spreads up the Food Chain

The food chain is one of the most basic structures for life on Earth. Small bugs get eaten by big bugs. Birds eat big bugs. Mammals eat birds, and big mammals eat small mammals. […] ‘Stream life is swimming in a mixture of pharmaceuticals. Our study is the first to show that this chronic drug pollution can concentrate in aquatic insects and move up food webs, in some cases exposing top predators to therapeutically-relevant doses.’ […] Pharmaceuticals were present in every insect or spider tested – even from those samples collected in the supposedly pristine Dandenong Ranges National Park. The team estimate that the concentrations of drugs they found would have a biological effect on predators that fed on them higher up the food web.

Five Proven Ways to Increase Our Happiness

A growing body of research finds that we can choose to be happy. Here are five proven ways to boost your happiness quotient. 1. Head outdoors Spending time in nature has been shown to give our moods a boost. […] 2. Fake it till you make it When we act happy […] our actions influence our inner feelings, making us feel happier inside. […] 3. Focus on gratitude Getting into the habit of appreciating the many blessings in your life can transform the way you think. […] 4. Turn off your phone A number of recent studies show markedly higher happiness levels among people who spend less time online. […] 5. Do something for someone else Recent studies have shown that being a giver tends to make us happier.

Blurred Vision: Bias in taxpayer-funded research

There’s ongoing debate over whether any benefits of drinking in moderation outweigh the known risks. To find out for sure— a new, ten-year $100 million dollar government study began signing up test subjects last January. The Moderate Alcohol and Cardiovascular Health trial […] It turns out that the alcohol industry, five of the largest alcohol beverage producers are funding the majority of the study. They’re spending nearly $70-million dollars in this study. And it is a direct violation of an NIH policy that prohibits such solicitation of gifts or money from industry. NIH added $30 million tax dollars to the study, too. But we examined insider emails suggesting the whole project was secretly designed to be little more than free advertising for industries selling beer, wine and spirits.

Gardening could be the hobby that helps you live to 100

Many of the world’s centenarians share one common hobby: gardening. Could you extend your life and drop your stress by taking up the pursuit, too? […] there is evidence that gardeners live longer and are less stressed. A variety of studies confirm this […] In a recent Dutch study, researchers asked participants to complete a stressful task, then split them into two groups. One group read indoors and the other gardened outdoors for 30 minutes. The group that read reported that their mood “further deteriorated”, while the gardeners not only had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol afterwards, they also felt “fully restored” to a good mood. Australian researchers following men and women in their 60s found that those who regularly gardened had a 36% lower risk of dementia than their non-gardening counterparts.

Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal, A Guide for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and their Families

Nothing in the field of mental health will do more good and reduce more harm than encouraging withdrawal from psychiatric drugs. The time is past when the focus in mental health was on what drugs to take for what disorders. Now we need to focus on how to stop taking psychiatric drugs and to replace them with more person-centered, empathic approaches. The goal is no longer drug maintenance and stagnation; the goal is recovery and achieving well-being.

News & Information for December 9, 2018

What These Medical Journals Don’t Reveal: Top Doctors’ Ties to Industry

One is dean of Yale’s medical school. Another is the director of a cancer center in Texas. A third is the next president of the most prominent society of cancer doctors. These leading medical figures are among dozens of doctors who have failed in recent years to report their financial relationships with pharmaceutical and health care companies when their studies are published in medical journals, according to a review by The New York Times and ProPublica and data from other recent research. […] Dr. Jeffrey R. Botkin, an associate vice president for research at the University of Utah, recently argued in JAMA, a leading medical journal, that researchers should face misconduct charges when they do not disclose their relationships with interested companies. “They really are falsifying the information that others rely on to assess that research,” he said. “Money is a very powerful influencer, and people’s opinions become subtly biased by that financial relationship.”

New documents reveal the truth about CIA’s illegal MKUltra mind-control experiments

The new documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal how the CIA experimented on both humans and animals using drugs, hypnosis and electronic devices as part of the top secret – and illegal – mind control project MKUltra.  Shockingly the swathes of information still missing or redacted in the records could mean the CIA is STILL carrying out the experiments to this day, according to experts. One document details how the CIA planned to drug “criminals awaiting trial held in a prison hospital ward” in a bid to develop “improved techniques in drug interrogation”. Another document details the CIA’s interest in developing ways to cause amnesia in humans using experiments “no matter how weird, inconclusive or unusual”. It goes on to detail how they were looking to find ways of developing hypnotic speaking techniques which would control the minds of “large audiences” and “heighten group susceptibility”. Experiments which were “too dangerous, too shocking, too unusual for routine testing would be of interest to us,” the memo from 1956 reads. 

Internet Therapy Apps Effectively Reduce Depression, Psychologists Find

Psychologists from Indiana University have found that a series of self-guided, internet-based therapy platforms can effectively reduce depression. In their new study, Lorenzo Lorenzo-Luaces and colleagues reviewed 21 earlier studies that involved nearly 4,800 participants. […] The researchers found that internet-based therapy platforms effectively alleviate depression and worked significantly better than fake apps and placements on a therapy waitlist. “A conservative interpretation of our findings is that the patient population sampled in the literature on self-guided iCBT is relatively comparable with that of studies of antidepressants or face-to-face psychotherapy,” Lorenzo-Luaces and colleagues wrote in their study, which was published in the November issue of the Journal of Medical Internet Research.


News & Information for December 8, 2018

Childhood Antibiotics Could Raise Risk of Mental Illness, Study Finds

Yolken and his colleagues in Denmark looked at the medical history of all Danish residents born between 1995 and 2012, totaling just over a million children. They specifically studied children who had taken antimicrobial drugs, almost always antibiotics, for an infection sometime before the age of 18. Then they tracked their mental health history for an average of 10 years. […] “What we basically found out was that exposure to antibiotics, particularly long-term antibiotics or multiple doses of antibiotics, was associated with an increased risk of any number of different psychiatric disorders,” Yolken told Gizmodo. […] Children who were hospitalized and treated for an infection were 84 percent more likely to be hospitalized for mental illness and 42 percent more likely to be given antipsychotics. 

Study highlights correlations between violent death and substance use

A group of researchers at the University of São Paulo’s Medical School (FM-USP) in Brazil recently published the results of a study on the links between alcohol and drug use and the occurrence of violent deaths. […]  It shows that the consumption of alcohol or at least one type of drug correlated with more than half (55%) the violent deaths that occurred in the city between June 2014 and December 2015. […] Of the 365 victims, 55.3% (202) had consumed alcohol or drugs before dying: 63 had used only alcohol and 92 only drugs, while 47 had used both. “One in two victims had alcohol and/or drugs in their blood. So half used alcohol or drugs, or both, shortly before they died,” Andreuccetti said. Alcohol was the most prevalent substance found, followed by cocaine, cannabis, and benzodiazepines. 

Prescription for disaster: New Mexico’s lax psychiatric drug oversight endangers kids

“The boys had morning meds and at lunch. They got meds at school,” Barnes ticks down the list. “At around 3:30 or 4 they got meds. And before they went to bed they got meds. The only one who wasn’t on six or seven meds a day was the baby.” For nearly 20 years, the world’s leading psychiatrists and researchers have condemned this practice, which is so notorious it has its own catchphrase: “Too much, too high, too young.” […] Hundreds of medical studies confirm that these drugs can cause extreme obesity, diabetes, heart disorders, high blood pressure and irreversible tremors in children. They are also believed to harm the developing brain. At least 44 states have introduced formal protocols or programs to boost oversight and monitoring of psychotropic drug use by children. […] Not New Mexico.

 Web-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy of mild to moderate depression found effective

Depression is common but undertreated. Web-based self-help provides a widely accessible treatment alternative for mild to moderate depression. However, the lack of therapist guidance may limit its efficacy. The authors assess the efficacy of therapist-guided web-based cognitive behavioural treatment (web-CBT) of mild to moderate depression. […] With regard to the primary measures […] scores indicated recovery of 49% of the participants in the treatment group compared with 6% in the control group (odds ratio = 14.5; p < .004). On average, the effects were stable up to 18 months (n = 39), although medication was a strong predictor of relapse. The results demonstrate the efficacy of web-CBT for mild to moderate depression and the importance of therapist guidance in psychological interventions.


News & Information for December 7, 2018

UK: Children treated for addiction to anti-anxiety drugs like Xanax doubles

The amount of under-18-year-olds being treated for addiction to sleeping and anxiety pills has almost doubled in a year, figures show. Cases of addiction to benzodiazepines have increased by 96 per cent, from 161 in 2016 to 2017, to 315 in 2017 to 2018.  Treatment for addiction to Xanax, a powerful type of the anti-anxiety drug, saw an increase of five-fold among youngsters. Experts say the figures are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’, as many more children may be addicted to Xanax, which is more than 200 times stronger than Valium. […] ‘These kids are combining it with alcohol as well. Benzodiazepines and alcohol both supress respiratory performance, which can reduce your breathing.’ 

 Study: ADHD drug users have 8 to 9X higher chance of Parkinson’s-related disorders later in life

The likelihood of developing a Parkinson’s disease-related movement disorder was two to three times higher in individuals with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) than in those who did not have the diagnosis, and eight to nine times higher in those who were prescribed psychostimulants for the condition. But whether it is the underlying ADHD or the psychostimulants that cause the movement disorders is a question that requires further research, independent experts said. […] The study raises many questions, the lead study author Glen R. Hanson, DDS, PhD, vice dean and professor of pharmacology at the University of Utah School of Dentistry in Salt Lake City, told Neurology Today. “Amphetamines damage the same pathway that is involved in Parkinson’s — the nigrostriatal dopamine pathway… What is going on at the molecular level? Can we do something to stop it?”

Anxiety Can Be a Good Thing—Here’s How I Make Mine Work for Me

A few days ago I was settling into my office, getting ready to start work for the day, when I was hit with a familiar wave of anxiety—a heart-racing, mind-spinning sense of dread and unease that gushed from the pit of my stomach to the knot in my throat. […] This time I turned to the strategy I’ve been using for the past year to make my anxiety work for me rather than let it drag me down. The idea, essentially, is to avoid looking at it as a roadblock, and instead focus on my relationship with anxiety. “When you’re afraid of anxiety, you are going to make it worse,” says Alicia Clark, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist. […] “Too much of the information out there is unintentionally scaring people about anxiety because the message is that it’s bad,” Clark says.


News & Information for December 6, 2018

Too Much Sleep Increases Risk of Death, Cardiovascular Disease

A study published Wednesday found that people who slept for more than the recommended six to eight hours per day – including daytime naps – had an increased risk of dying and developing cardiovascular disease. It was discovered that too much sleep can seriously impact someone’s health, including developing diseases of the heart or blood vessels in the brain. Published in the European Heart Journal, the study observed 116,632 people aged 35 to 70 from 21 countries over nearly eight years. Researchers found that people who slept for eight to nine hours per day had a 5 percent increased risk of developing harmful health conditions compared to people who slept for the recommended six to eight hours.

Research shows impact of school start times on teens’ sleep

Delaying high school start times by as little as 10 minutes can increase adolescents’ length of sleep by almost 25 minutes, says new Brock-led research. Similarly, shifts to earlier start times for secondary school were associated with less sleep among the students, says the study, “School start time changes in the COMPASS study: associations with youth sleep duration, physical activity, and screen time.” Lead author, Brock Assistant Professor of Health Sciences Karen Patte, says the results are significant because at least one-third of adolescents don’t get the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep. “Sleep deficiency increases the risk of various health concerns and risk behaviours, such as substance use, lower academic achievement, poor mental health, accidents and injuries, obesity and unhealthy eating habits,” says Patte.

The discrepancy in recommended sleep times in the above two studies is due to youth vs adult recommendations. Teens are recommended to sleep 8 to 10 hours whereas 7 to 9 hours are recommended for adults (see).

Why You Should Avoid Social Media After a Failure

When Nava failed the bar exam for lawyers she was devastated. Trying to delay telling her friends and family the bad news she did what she often did to pass the time: She pulled out her phone and surfed through friends’ Facebook and Instagram feeds. […] But the more time Nava spent looking through her friends’ posts the worse her mood became. And then something happened that happens to many of us: She began to feel bad about the fact that she was feeling bad. […] The question is, why did seeing friends’ Facebook and Instagram posts, many of which were inspirational and supportive in nature, make Nava feel worse about her failure?  […] When our negative feelings are not validated by others, or when, like Nava and the participants in the study, we see around us messages that imply it is wrong or incorrect to have negative feelings, we are likely to experience the double whammy of feeling bad about the failure and then feeling bad about ourselves for feeling bad.

UK: Rising teen antidepressant use in Tayside as mental health charity warns more young people reaching crisis

Figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request reveal prescriptions of antidepressant drugs to youngsters aged 10-17 in the region increased by 15% last year, with the largest number handed out to those aged 13 and older. The sharpest rise was seen among 17-year-olds, where prescriptions increased from 289 in 2016/17 to 367 in 2017/18. Children as young as five, and at least four under the age of 10, were also given the drugs last year. NHS Tayside stressed the number of prescribed antidepressants should not be used to infer a rise in the number of patients with depression. The health authority said the medication can be used for a wide range of conditions, including pain and bedwetting.

This Company Treats “ADHD” With Video Games

Digital therapeutics delivers real treatment to patients through phones and tablets. At Akili Interactive, medicine comes in the form of a game. Akili Interactive has created the medical equivalent of nutritious snack cakes. The company, based in Boston and San Francisco, develops video games that deliver sensory and motor stimuli engineered to treat conditions like ADHD, autism, depression, and MS. When Akili’s first product comes to market following FDA approval, possibly by next year, doctors will prescribe it like medicine. But it is medicine that has no serious side effects, adapts to patients’ functioning in real time, and is a pleasure to take. “That is not something that was in the world before,” founder and CEO Eddie Martucci says.


News & Information for December 5, 2018

Study reveals dangerous prescribing practices for Idaho patients on opioids

A quarter of chronic opioid users in Idaho were at risk for overdose from unsafe combinations of prescriptions for controlled substances in 2017, according to research presented at the ASHP (American Society for Health-System Pharmacists) 53rd Midyear Clinical Meeting and Exhibition. Forty-four percent of the dangerous overlapping prescriptions were written by more than one prescriber. “Patients with chronic pain are often under the care of several different physicians to manage their different disease states,” said Catherine Oliphant, Pharm.D., a professor of pharmacy practice at Idaho State University and faculty advisor for the study led by student pharmacist James Berain. “This co-management can lead to patients receiving unintentional prescription combinations that put them at higher risk for an opioid overdose.”

10 reasons you might be gaining weight that have nothing to do with your diet

Certain medications, particularly antidepressants, can cause you to gain weight as a side effect of the drug. “[SSRI antidepressants] have weight-gain potential when taken for more than a couple of months,” Dr. Lofton said. “That’s a really common [reason for weight gain]. You could just do an online search and see if weight gain is one of the side effects of your medication. That’s readily available information online,” she added. “Also, talk to your doctor. If the medication you are on does have weight-gain potential, there are likely some alternatives in similar classes that might be better for you.”

A change in marital status affects the number of daily steps

According to a recent study, changes in relationships have links to physical activity. The total number of non-exercise steps was reduced during a four-year follow-up study for men who divorced. For women who found a new spouse between the measurement points, the total steps decreased significantly when compared to women married throughout the period. According to the researchers, it is difficult to provide a single explanatory factor about the effects of changes in marital status on physical activity. “It seems that the changes in relationships affect the physical activity of men and women differently,” says postdoctoral researcher Kasper Salin from the University of Jyväskylä, Faculty of Sports and Health Sciences.

The study states: “In women re-coupling or finding a new partner was associated with decrease in total steps (p=0.010) and being single was associated with increase in non-aerobic steps (p=0.047) during weekdays from 2007 to 2011 compared to women who were married. In men, divorcing was associated with decrease in non-aerobic steps (p=0.049).”

How Introverts Can Make it in an Extraverted World

New research shows how introverts can learn to become happier with themselves. […] The findings, according to Lawn et al., support the idea that people high in introversion who adhere to the extraversion-deficit model [believing one needs to be an extrovert] become unhappy with themselves as the result of comparing themselves to an extraverted cultural ideal. On the other hand, if people high in introversion can avoid adopting the extraversion-deficit mindset, they could be far less unhappy. […] By recognizing that not everyone can be an extravert, and that it’s fine to be their authentic, quiet selves, they can indeed flourish and achieve long-term fulfillment.


News & Information for December 4, 2018

Two more blood pressure drugs recalled for potential cancer risk

Teva Pharmaceuticals has launched a voluntary recall into two drugs used to treat high blood pressure as yet more medications face concerns over a possible cancer risk. In a statement from Teva posted by the Food and Drug Administration, the recall affects all lots of combination tablets featuring the drugs amlodipine and valsartan and another combo drug featuring amlodipine, valsartan, and hydrochlorothiazide. The drugs could contain an impurity called N-nitroso-diethylamine (NDEA), which has been classified as a possible human carcinogen, the FDA said.

Cutting social media use to 30 mins per day significantly reduces depression and loneliness

In 2008, American adults used their mobile phones for about a half hour a day. Nearly a decade later, that number jumped up to 3.3 hours per day.  […] What is our obsession with smartphones doing to us? Researchers have been hard at work trying to answer this question. […]  students were either instructed to continue using social media as they typically did or to limit their time on each platform to 10 minutes per day. […] After analyzing the data, Hunt concluded that “experimentally limiting social media usage on a mobile phone to 10 minutes per platform per day for a full three weeks had a significant impact on well-being.” 

The study concludes: “Our findings strongly suggest that limiting social media use to approximately 30 minutes per day may lead to significant improvement in well-being.”

Study: Antidepressant foods, an evidence-based nutrient profiling system for depression

Aim: To investigate which foods are the most nutrient dense sources of nutrients demonstrated by the scientific literature to play a role in the prevention and promotion of recovery from depressive disorders. […] Results: Twelve Antidepressant Nutrients relate to the prevention and treatment of depressive disorders: Folate, iron, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), magnesium, potassium, selenium, thiamine, vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and zinc. The highest scoring foods were bivalves such as oysters and mussels, various seafoods, and organ meats for animal foods. The highest scoring plant foods were leafy greens, lettuces, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables.


News & Information for December 3, 2018

We feel rubbish about our relationships when compared on Facebook, Instagram

We often come across sweet gestures and romantic moments on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram which can make it easy to draw comparisons with our own relationships. Among the 2,000 Britons surveyed by dating website, 36% of couples and 33% of singles were left feeling disillusioned with love. The research reveals these ‘perfect’ partnerships left many feeling jealous or trying to portray their own relationship as great even if things are not going well. The study found that 60% of those in a relationship and three-quarters of singles feel social media, films and TV have given people unrealistic expectations. University of Oxford professor and evolutionary anthropologist Dr Anna Machin said: ‘Humans naturally compare themselves to each other.

Patients treated worse than animals in Pakistani psychiatric hospitals

“Have you visited psychiatric hospitals of late,” the CJP asked from the secretary health during hearing of the case regarding condition of mental hospitals. Justice Nisar said condition of patients at all those hospitals was worse than animals. “Even people don’t keep their dogs in such conditions at their homes,” he lamented. He deplored that patients at psychiatric hospitals were trussed up and made to lie on the ground. “We have improved the conditions after your visit to the facilities, while we are also establishing a separate fountain house,” Secretary health responded.

New study tracks community dancing therapy on veterans with PTSD

PTSD treatments have primarily focused on different psychotherapy solutions, including cognitive behavior therapy, exposure therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing, as well as prescribed medications, including antidepressants and antianxiety drugs. However, another approach is being studied  […] In a Louisville-based program called “Dancing Well: The Soldier Project,” 17 veterans and their accompanying family members participated in a 10-week experiment consisting of weekly 90-minute community dances featuring live music and dance calling by Denefield. Gustafson explained that people with PTSD respond positively if there is predictability in their routine and if they maintain connectivity with the wider world — but those considerations often fail to overlap. […] “Although it was a small sampling, we found significant improvement from the participants,” she said, noting that the program had a smaller than normal sampling for a project of this magnitude. “It takes a lot of time to collect data from people recovering from PTSD.”

A Massive New Study of 5,000 Men Says One Surprising Thing Predicts Happiness

A massive new study says there’s a single, highly surprising factor that predicts whether men will describe themselves as “happy” (and to rank highly on a gauge called the Positive Mindset Index). In fact, the results of this recent, survey-based analysis of 5,000 American men (it only focused on men, not women) seems to directly contradict the results of longer, much more famous studies, like the Harvard Grant Study. The research was led by John Barry, a University College London psychologist who is co-founder of the male psychology section of the British Psychological Society. Here’s the survey, the results, and what it tells us about American men today.


News & Information for December 2, 2018

Adopting a pet can help relieve symptoms of depression, study claims

According to a study published in a Journal of Psychiatric Research, adopting a pet could offer respite to those with severe depression that has low rates of remission and cannot be easily treated with antidepressant medications or psychotherapy. Two Portuguese researchers recruited 80 participants with this kind of depression, known as “treatment-resistant major depressive disorder” […] By the end of the study, Pereira and Fonte found that more than a third of the group who adopted pets had improved their scores on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Global Assessment of Functioning Scale to the point where their symptoms could be considered mild.

Research Progresses on Mindfulness Based Interventions for Adolescents

A team of researchers, led by Darren Dunnings from the University of Cambridge, conducted a study exploring the effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions (MBIs) on adolescent’s mental health. The meta-analysis, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, assessed randomized control trials (RCTs), considered the ‘gold standard’ for evidence, significantly contributing to the growing body of mindfulness research. Results of a previous meta-analysis on the effects of MBIs for youth suggest improved psychological symptoms, attention, cognition, stress, and resiliency.


News & Information for December 1, 2018

Life expectancy in the United States is falling and we haven’t seen a trend like this since World War I

When I was growing up, life expectancy was continually rising, and it was generally believed that it would keep rising for many decades to come.  But that hasn’t happened.  Instead, average life expectancy started to stall and now it has been declining.  You might assume that this is because rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes are going up, but the numbers are telling a different story.  In fact, brand new numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are telling us that life expectancy is going down in the United States because of a dramatic increase in drug overdoses and suicides.

Antidepressants overtake painkillers among Erie’s Medicaid prescriptions

The most prescribed class of drugs for Medicaid patients in Erie County doesn’t treat asthma, heart disease, diabetes or even severe pain. It treats depression. Nearly one of every 10 prescriptions filled last year was for either antidepressants or prescription stimulants, according to a new report from the Erie County Medicaid Inspector General’s Office. And the number is growing. Stimulants are often prescribed to treat both acute cases of depression and attention deficit disorder. […] One reason why antidepressants may be so frequently prescribed is that patients diagnosed with depression often take antidepressants for months or even years at a time. For instance, while far more Erie County Medicaid patients were prescribed antibiotics than antidepressants last year, the number of antidepressant prescriptions filled was at least five times greater.

★ Youngest Students in Class More Likely to Be Diagnosed With ADHD

August-born children living in states with a school enrollment cut-off date of September 1 are 30 percent more likely to receive a diagnosis of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), compared with their slightly older peers enrolled in the same grade, according to a new study led by Harvard Medical School researchers. […] “Our findings suggest the possibility that large numbers of kids are being over-diagnosed and overtreated for ADHD because they happen to be relatively immature compared to their older classmates in the early years of elementary school,” said study lead author Dr. Timothy Layton […] At this age, the younger child might have a harder time sitting still and concentrating for long periods of time in class, said Layton. That extra fidgeting may result in a medical referral, followed by diagnosis and treatment for ADHD.

The study is @ Attention Deficit–Hyperactivity Disorder and Month of School Enrollment

WaPo: Harvard study: Children who start school early more likely to get ADHD diagnosis — even if they don’t have it

The Harvard researchers knew that most states have arbitrary age cutoffs for entry into public school, usually Sept. 1, and as a result, one child can start school at the same time as another who is nearly a year older. A child who was born in August could begin school and be in a class with children up to a year older because their birthdays are in September. That means the September-born child had a lot more time to develop socially. “As children grow older, small differences in age equalize and dissipate over time, but behaviorally speaking, the difference between a 6-year-old and a 7-year-old could be quite pronounced,” study senior author Anupam Jena, an associate professor of health-care policy at Harvard Medical School, said in a statement. “A normal behavior may appear anomalous relative to the child’s peer group.”


News & Information for November 30, 2018

When You Love Someone More Than They Love You

When you fall in love, you hope that the way you love will be returned to you in kind. You want your love to be reciprocated, to be unconditional, to be fulfilling. […] So what happens when we find ourselves in yet another relationship in which we love our partner more than they love us? […] Here are some essential points to help you see your relationships more clearly — what’s really there and not just what you want to see — and hopefully, beyond the cloud of emotion that often obfuscates the reality of the situation.

Loneliness Kills

Living on my own in the kingdom of loneliness for over three months has made me more aware of the pernicious effects of loneliness on health and wellbeing. It does not surprise me that the U.K now has a Minister of Loneliness, and that Prime Minister Theresa May has recently released a loneliness policy report: “A Connected Society: A Strategy for Tackling Loneliness—Laying the Foundations for Change” (October 15, 2018).  May calls loneliness a “great public health challenge” and plans to have GPs within the NHS to be able to refer patients to community programs geared to ease loneliness.

Family and friends are the bare necessities of life, poll claims

Family is the key to happiness, according to a survey of 2,000 Britons who revealed the checklist for a happy life included quality time with family, time alone and a good catch up with friends. […] ”Whether that’s playing around in the kitchen with new ingredients or throwing myself into a new workout routine. Hopefully this research will motivate others to make time to start their own journey of discovery and spend more time on the ‘good stuff’.”

I studied happiness for a living – then realised I had to quit my day job and leave the country to be true to my research

I’d spent more than ten years at different universities, trying to understand what the most important contributors were to well-being. But what I found was that I was burnt out. Given the nature of my research, the irony of this was not lost on me. […] I felt despondent. What was the point in writing another academic paper? Perhaps, I thought, I ought to be doing something a bit different. Not only to rediscover meaning and purpose, but to continue striving for an authentic existence and, through that, perhaps a little more happiness too. It was then that I finally decided that it was time to leave my full-time job at the university and to start my cycling odyssey to Bhutan. […] Maybe I don’t actually need to go all the way to Bhutan. Maybe what I’ve done is enough. Either way, I can rest assured that happiness is found in the journey – not the destination. 

Losing just two hours of sleep makes you angrier

Losing just two hours of sleep a night makes people angrier, research reveals. The study is among the first to prove a direct link with lack of shuteye, experts say. Previous research shows sleep loss increases negative emotions, such as anxiety and sadness, and decreases positive emotions, including happiness and enthusiasm. But researchers at Iowa State University found losing sleep raised anger directly — not just as a result of feeling more negative. Their findings were published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. […] Study leader professor Zlatan Krizan said: “In general, anger was substantially higher for those who were sleep restricted.”

10 productivity tricks from a CEO with ADHD

When Peter Shankman was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in his thirties, he finally understood why he’d been going to such extreme lengths to achieve a heightened focus, including skydiving and triathlons. In his popular podcast, Faster Than Normal, he interviews ADHD experts and discusses how he’s learned to use his unique brain wiring to professional advantage as an entrepreneur, angel investor, and author of four books. […] Here are Shankman’s tips for boosting your productivity… 


News & Information for November 29, 2018

Self-compassion is associated with less stress and depression in women managers

Women have been assuming more responsibilities and higher positions in major companies, which exposes them to high levels of stress. Higher perceived work stress is related to higher emotional reactivity.  […] Our aim was to evaluate the associations between self-compassion (SC) scores to depression symptoms, perceived stress and mindfulness […] SC is compassion directed towards oneself in situations of difficulty or suffering. […] Our data suggest that women with higher SC scores respond to affective stimuli with […] lower levels of stress and depression and show greater attention in everyday activities. SC may be an important characteristic for women leaders because of its association with higher sensitivity to emotional stimuli and mindfulness. These skills may allow them to be more aware of others while being less susceptible for stress and depression symptoms.

Older drivers taking multiple medications could be at higher risk of accidents

Many older drivers are taking multiple medications that may increase the risk of car crashes, a new U.S. study suggests. Half of older drivers interviewed for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety study were taking seven or more medications, and one quarter were taking 11 or more, researchers found. And nearly one in five were taking medications the American Geriatrics Society has called potentially inappropriate medications, or PIMs. According to the society, these medications should be avoided by seniors because they have very limited benefit, pose excess harm, or both. Most of these PIMs, which include benzodiazepines and some antihistamines, have been shown to cause impairments, such as blurred vision, confusion, fatigue or incoordination. 

Chronic-pain patients denied legitimate opioid treatment due to epidemic

I’ve tried over 19 medications and treatments. So far, the only thing that helps is what all the doctors say isn’t recommended for fibro and that’s oxycodone. I’m in my own body, know what I feel, and what works. But I’m too afraid to ask my doctor for a therapeutic dose instead of a bare minimum dose that only gets me a few hours of relief a day. […] And no, we aren’t in pain because we are depressed. We are depressed because we are in pain. There is a difference, so please stop giving us antidepressants to use as pain meds! Stop ignoring chronic pain patients. Some are at the point where they can’t take the pain anymore and the doctors that could save their lives are too concerned with the opioid epidemic to help!

Listen to Dr. Breggin’s interview of pain-treatment activist Richard Lawhern on this important matter. 

Increased All-Cause Mortality by Antipsychotic Drugs: Updated Review and Meta-Analysis

It is almost ten years since the Banerjee 2009 report established that inappropriate prescribing of antipsychotics in the elderly was occurring in the UK and such patients had an 85% increased risk of adverse events and greater mortality. […] Since 2009, many significant studies worldwide (including several more recent large retrospective studies) provide more extensive longitudinal data for the adverse impacts of antipsychotic drugs in dementia. We have used the data in these studies including from over 380,000 dementia patients, with 85,069 prescribed antipsychotic agents as well as from 359,235 non-dementia antipsychotic drug users to provide an up-dated meta-analysis. […] From the above meta-analysis including several large retrospective studies recently reported, the data is consistent for risk of increased all-cause mortality associated with dementia or other patients when prescribed the antipsychotic drugs. 


News & Information for November 28, 2018

Antidepressant caused the emergence of “superbugs,” Australian scientists claim

In recent years, bacteria have been growing increasingly resistant to antibiotics – our strongest weapon against them. […] “Our previous study reported that triclosan, a common ingredient in toothpaste and hand wash can directly induce antibiotic resistance […] We also wondered whether other non-antibiotic pharmaceuticals such as fluoxetine can directly induce antibiotic resistance.” […] “Fluoxetine is a very persistent and well-documented drug in the wider environment, where strong environmental levels can induce multi-drug resistance,” Guo said. “This discovery provides strong evidence that fluoxetine directly causes multi-antibiotic resistance via genetic mutation.”

Video: Positive drug-free advice on how combat holiday depression

A new survey by the American Psychological Association uncovered some interest data about the holiday blues. While the majority of people in the survey reported feelings of happiness, it is often accompanied by feelings of fatigue, stress, irritability, bloating, and sadness. Thirty-eight percent of people surveyed said their stress level increased during the holiday season. Another poll of more than 1,000 adults by the Principal Financial Group, a global investment company, found that 53 percent of people experience financial stress due to holiday spending, despite the fact more than half set budgets for their holiday spending.

How Skype can help beat depression

There are different ways through which technology can help tackle depression, especially with seniors. One tool that has been tested recently is the communication platform Skype. Video communication was shown to reduce depressive symptoms. Scientists working at Oregon Health and Science University undertook a study to examine the extent that social media can reduce feelings of depression. For this they looked at four different types of online communication technologies: video chat, email, social networks and instant messaging. […] “Video chat came out as the undisputed champion. Older adults who used video chat technology such as Skype had significantly lower risk of depression.”

Are Emotional Disorders Really Disorders of Love?

We now know enough about human biological evolution to understand that our social nature is built into our instinctual biological core. We are not loosely connected separate entities; we are by our very nature shaped and motivated by mutuality, cooperativeness and love. […] We humans are literally made of each other, physically, psychologically and socially. Nurturing in the first few years of life guides the development and expression of our social nature and our power as a species to survive and to thrive; and lack of that nurturing leads to psychological and social impairments. […] Love and empathy are key to our social nature. Across the psychological, spiritual and political spectrums, many thoughtful people have concluded that love and its expression as empathy are the central principles of living a good and productive life.


News & Information for November 27, 2018

Autism prevalence now 1 in 40 US kids, study estimates

A survey of parents across the United States estimates that one in 40 children has autism spectrum disorder, according to a study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics. In other words, the condition was reported in 2.5% of children, representing an estimated 1.5 million kids ages 3 to 17. A report released this year by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the prevalence at one in 59 children or about 1.7%, based on 2014 data. […] “What is happening is that these studies use methods that are a bit more liberal and inclusive than the CDC’s methods,” Frazier said, adding that he prefers the CDC’s numbers but understands “that they are likely a bit conservative.”

Study refutes effectiveness of drug combination for treatment-resistant depression

A large clinical study led by researchers at the Universities of Bristol, Exeter, Keele, Manchester and Hull York Medical School evaluated the effectiveness of adding mirtazapine to an SSRI or a serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) antidepressant for patients who remain depressed after at least 6 weeks of conventional (SSRI or SNRI) antidepressant treatment. […] According to Dr. David Kessler from the Centres for Academic Mental Health and Academic Primary Care at the University of Bristol, half of patients in primary care who take antidepressants remain depressed despite sticking to their treatment, yet there is little evidence about how to treat those for whom the drugs don’t work. 

Therapist Empathy Predicts Success in Psychotherapy

A new study, published in Psychotherapy, explores the role of therapist empathy in predicting psychotherapy outcomes. The results of this meta-analysis, conducted by Robert Elliot and a team of researchers, suggests that therapist empathy leads to moderately better results in psychotherapy. […] They found that empathy contributes to moderately better psychotherapy outcomes. More specifically, empathy as defined by client, therapist, and observer perceptions that the therapist is understanding, is a reasonably reliable predictor of successful therapy, accounting for about 9% of the variance in psychotherapy outcomes.

The acne drug that can steal young men’s virility

While many have clearly benefited from the drug, it has also been increasingly associated with reports of serious psychiatric side-effects, ranging from anxiety and panic attacks to depression and suicide. […] but now evidence is emerging that isotretinoin may also be responsible for a hidden epidemic of permanent sexual dysfunction, that continues long after the drug is stopped, depriving young men of the chance to have normal relationships. Furthermore, parents and experts believe there is a clear link between this and the suicides associated with Roaccutane.


News & Information for November 26, 2018

UK: Young people are being prescribed dangerous antidepressants

The two drugs most widely prescribed as first choice [for children] are paroxetine and venlafaxine, both SSRIs. These are powerful drugs, and the effect on developing brains is little researched. What little research there is suggests an increased risk of suicidal thoughts. But not only that, they are the two SSRIs with the most devastating withdrawal symptoms. Antidepressant withdrawal (“antidepressant discontinuation syndrome”) is seldom referred to when antidepressants are prescribed, for obvious reasons. The symptoms can be very serious, very frightening, and sometimes worse than the initial presenting symptoms. Withdrawal needs to be closely supervised and extremely gradual to minimise these symptoms. And drug companies make it more difficult to achieve by not producing low enough dosages to facilitate gradual tapering.

Review finds high level of inappropriate prescriptions for home nursing patients

The prevalence of potentially inappropriate medicines among home nursing clients is very high, a study has found, with three quarters of this group taking drugs linked to a risk of adverse events including falls and hospitalisation. […] “Their medication lists are very messy and that becomes a risk for the nurses when they go into a client’s home. […] A review of patients found a long list of PIMs including drugs linked to a risk of falls, fractures, adverse events and hospitalisations in elderly people.

10 Mood Boosting Foods that Just Happen to be Vegan

Many of us have reached for food when in a bad mood. The only problem is that a lot of us tend to reach for unhealthy foods that actually worsen our mood and trigger binge eating. Eating the right foods doesn’t just help stabilize your mood, it can ease anxiety and depression. Researchers say that foods that contain tryptophan can increase your serotonin levels, which leads to a better mood. In fact, many of the nutrients found in vegan foods can help improve your mood. Below are 10 vegan mood boosting foods to try next time you’re eating your feelings.

Videos on app help patients resist obsessive compulsions

A brain-training app could help people with obsessive compulsive disorder to manage symptoms such as excessive handwashing. Cambridge University researchers found that after watching videos of themselves confronting their fears, such as touching soiled surfaces, participants showed a 25 per cent reduction in OCD symptoms in a week. Contamination fears and excessive washing affect up to 46 per cent of OCD patients, according to the researchers. This can be harmful as people may use spirits, surface cleaners or bleach to clean their hands. The compulsion can also affect people’s relationships and ability to keep jobs. 

Children with autism languish for years in prison-style cells

CHILDREN and adults with autism and learning difficulties are kept in prison-style cells for months or years, in what an ex-health minister says is “an intolerable abuse of human rights”. Many are sedated with “chemical cosh” drugs used to treat the seriously mentally ill, while their families say there is no proof they are needed. In some cases patients are held with murderers and rapists, families claim. Former health minister Norman Lamb launches a campaign next week to end the scandal […] “It needs to stop I’m calling on the Government to end this and have launched a petition. Nearly 14,000 have signed it in the last two weeks. I’m calling on the health secretary and the prime minister to intervene now.  This barbaric detention needs to stop.” 

★ A petition worth signingStop the detention of people with autism & learning disabilities


News & Information for November 25, 2018

Vitamin D can ward off depression this winter

According to a landmark study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, participants (there were 80 in the trial) with the lowest levels of vitamin D were 11 times more prone to depression. […] But some in the science community say there needs to be more evidence of a link between vitamin D deficiency and depression […] “After years of skepticism, I’ve finally found some evidence in the Sepehrmanesh study that vitamin D actually might be a treatment for depression […] Omega-3 fatty acids have far more data in support of their use in depression (as long as they’re EPA-rich, according to one important meta-analysis),” he adds.

Why Seem Happy When You Can Feel Fulfilled, Balanced And Grateful

I know I don’t have the kind of contagious smile or joyous exuberance you instantly connect with happiness. I’ve been told I often seem serious and still,  and on some level there is often an expectation that even if I don’t feel it, I should at least try to seem happy. However, while the focused pursuit of the momentary elation we confuse with happiness can cause a lot of anxiety and stress, there are habits that have been shown to be consistent among people who regard themselves as being fulfilled. These habits, luckily, can be learned.

Focus on happiness, love and respect

According to the World Health Organisation, half of all mental illness begins by the age of 14, and most cases remain undetected and untreated. Worldwide, depression affects more than 300 million people and suicide is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 29-year-olds […] These statistics are a source of concern to parents, educators and policymakers. How best to respond? In my opinion, positive education — defined in a report by the World Government Summit as “the approach to education that blends academic learning with character and wellbeing” — is the answer. The report explains that positive education prepares students with life skills including grit, optimism, resilience, growth mindset, engagement and mindfulness […] Instead of waiting for mental health issues to arise and then addressing them with therapy and medication, positive education opts to build the mental attitudes and resilience of young people to enable them to productively engage with life’s challenges. 

How Schools Thwart Passions

I’ve spent part of my academic career researching the outcomes of Self-Directed Education—that is, outcomes for people who did not go to a curriculum-based school, but, instead, educated themselves by pursuing their own interests […] Unschoolers are people who for legal purposes are homeschoolers, but are not bound by a curriculum and are continuously free to pursue their own interests. The most interesting finding, for our concern now, is that a high percentage of these young adults were pursuing careers that were direct extensions of passionate interests they had developed as children in play […] So, How Does School Thwart Passions? It’s almost too obvious. Schools thwart passions by: 1. Requiring everyone to do the same things at the same time […] 2. Replacing intrinsic motivation with extrinsic motivators, such as grades and trophies. […] 3. Threatening students with failure or embarrassment, which generates fear  […] 4. Teaching that there is one right answer to every question, or one right way to do what you are supposed to do […] 5. Teaching children that learning is work and that play, at best, is just a break from learning.


News & Information for November 24, 2018

Why ADHD was The Greatest Gift I Was Ever Given

World renowned motivational speaker Les Brown once said, “The reason most people in life don’t succeed is not because they aim too high and miss, but because they aim too low and hit.” These words have never been truer for many adults and children diagnosed with ADHD. […] Big picture thinking: People with ADHD have an exceptional ability to see the big picture. Give me a 100 piece jigsaw and I’ll see in seconds how it goes together — the only problem is, I find it really hard to know which piece I should start with. […] Multi-tasking: when harnessed, we can manage multiple projects, people and tasks with a finesses that others never will. This is often perceived as a lack-of-focus.

ICU stay can lead to depression, says study

Patients who are treated in an intensive care unit (ICU) and survive are at increased risk of depression, a new study suggests. And depression in ICU survivors was linked with a higher risk of death in the next two years, researchers found. More than half of former ICU patients reported symptoms of psychological disorders, including anxiety, depression and PTSD, according to the study published in Critical Care. “Psychological problems – anxiety, depression, PTSD – after being treated for a critical illness in the ICU are very common and often complex when they occur,” said the study’s lead author […] “Patients who reported symptoms of depression were 47 percent more likely to die from any cause during the first two years after discharge from the ICU than those who did not report these symptoms.”

How A 60-Second Expression Of Gratitude Can Change Your Life

“The evidence has been mounting that a simple and low cost practice of enunciation one’s thanks can have an enormous impact on mental wellbeing and creativity, especially if practiced consistently. […] as soon as you register that you’re awake I want you to think of three things you’re grateful for. You needn’t be fully awake for this, just awake enough to realize you’re no longer asleep! The timing of this is critical. The power of making gratitude the first thing you have on your mind comes from you prioritizing it, in effect, making your entire mind and body aware that a major focus of this day (and everyday going forward) is going to be an exercise of your mental muscles of gratitude.

 ‘Not doing what you’re told isn’t a mental disorder’: Expert accuses the NHS of medicalising bad behaviour 

Among two to four-year-olds, the most common mental health disorder is ‘oppositional defiant disorder ‘(ODD), according to figures released yesterday. This is defined as children refusing to do what they are told and acting aggressively towards their parents. […] But there are doubts about whether it is a real psychological illness […] ‘We are turning everything into a mental health problem,’ Professor Julian Elliott, from the University of Durham, told The Telegraph. ‘For many of these children they don’t have a mental disorder; it’s a question of conduct. The main problem with three and four-year-olds is that they don’t do what they’re told.’.


News & Information for November 23, 2018

Activists tell mental health conference delegates: ‘You’re helping no-one but yourselves’

Members of the Mental Health Resistance Network (MHRN) were outside a conference in central London on Tuesday to protest at the “deeply harmful” impact of mental health services on the wellbeing of people living with mental distress. […] An MHRN spokesperson said: “Action to hold the government to account is now long overdue as its reckless and contemptuous treatment of mental health service users and disabled people, removing vital support services and holding the threat of cutting our benefits constantly over our heads, is causing great harm and driving some to suicide.”

Why do more young people have mental health problems?

The evidence that more children and young people are suffering from mental health problems leads to one obvious question: why? […] Statistics point to associations with family adversity, mentally ill parents, social media, school exclusion and drugs […] Among these children, the use of social media […] was an important possible explanation  […] 29.4% of those aged 11 to 19 with a disorder spent more than four hours a day on social media, just 12% of those displaying no symptoms did the same thing. Those who have a disorder were much more likely to compare themselves with others on social media and to say that “likes, comments and shares impact my mood”. They were also likelier to spend more time on social media than they meant to.

1 in 8 children and teens in England has a mental health disorder

 One in eight children and young people between the ages of five and 19 in England has a mental disorder, according to a new report. The report, “Mental Health of Children and Young People in England, 2017,” published Thursday by the UK’s National Health Service, gives the first official figures since 2004 exploring mental health problems among the young. Its findings are based on a survey of more than 9,000 young people. One in six (16.9%) 17- to 19-year-olds was found to have a mental disorder and the group most at risk of mental illness was young women, with nearly one in four of 17- to 19-year-old girls struggling with mental health problems.

Could Anticholinergics Be Making Your Fibromyalgia Worse?

In recent years, researchers have issued warnings about the use of anticholinergic medications, particularly in the elderly. Studies suggested that anticholinergic medications could cause problems with dementia and memory loss in seniors. […] Medications in the anticholinergic category are commonly prescribed to people with fibromyalgia, often off-label. […]  Some of the medications that are considered anticholinergics include the following: […] Antidepressants, which may be prescribed off-label to fibro patients to help sleep or chronic pain. […] Anti-psychotic medications such as Zyprexa (olanzaprine) which are often prescribed to help with sleep or in conjunction with antidepressants to help with treatment-resistant depression. […] Keep a log of your symptoms to share with your doctor, who can help you decide if your symptoms are medication side effects or due to other causes.

‘Pills should be last solution not the first’ – Widower’s call after suicide of wife on antidepressants

The widower of a former dancer who killed herself after being prescribed antidepressants is on a mission to prevent pills being a doctor’s first port of call. […] Mr Hughes believes the pills and treatment she received had a negative impact on her mental health and led to her having suicidal thoughts. The mother-of-one jumped from the top of the multi-story car park at Centrale Shopping Centre in Croydon at around 4.30pm on July 7, 2014. […] Mr Hughes, who lives with his 12-year-old daughter, Ruby, said: “Very soon after she was put on Sertraline she said to me, “John I keep getting spontaneous images coming into my mind of jumping off the building next door, I am not choosing to think them, they keep coming into my mind.”


News & Information for November 22, 2018

Children under 10 among those given strong antidepressants in UK

Children aged 10 and under are among hundreds of young people being given strong antidepressant drugs – in breach of official guidance – that increase the risk of suicide, the Guardian can reveal. Figures show 597 children and teenagers were given paroxetine and venlafaxine last year. Government guidance cautions against their use due to increased suicidal thoughts and behaviour in younger people, but some experts argue they can be used as a last resort when all other treatments have failed. […] “Paroxetine and venlafaxine should not be prescribed as first-line treatment, that is for sure – there is no data to support this and special cautions should be taken as we don’t know the impact of these drugs on the developing brain,” said Andrea Cipriani, a psychiatrist at Oxford University.

Video: Learn about the forgotten woman whose tireless efforts made Thanksgiving a holiday

The very first Thanksgiving happened almost 400 years ago – long before the nation was born. How did it evolve into America’s quintessential national holiday? Credit largely goes to two people – one, a name you know [Abraham Lincoln]; the other, you’ve probably never heard [Sarah Josepha Hale] – but should. Melanie Kirkpatrick, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, gives us the run-down on how a harvest party between Pilgrims and Indians became our oldest national tradition.

Effects of a 12-week running programme in youth and adults with complex mood disorders

Although numerous studies suggest a salutary effect of exercise on mood, few studies have explored the effect of exercise in patients with complex mental illness. […] Participants were members of a running group at St Joseph Healthcare Hamilton’s Mood Disorders Program, designed for clients with complex mood disorders. […] Data collected for 46 participants from April 2012 to July 2015 indicated a significant decrease in depression, anxiety and stress scores. Whereas younger participant age, younger age at onset of illness and higher perceived levels of friendship with other running group members were associated with lower end-of-study depression, anxiety and stress scores, higher attendance was associated with decreasing BDI and BAI scores over time. Conclusions: Aerobic exercise in a supportive group setting may improve mood symptoms in youth and adults with complex mood disorders, and perceived social support may be an important factor in programme’s success. 


News & Information for November 21, 2018

Did you know? Video chats can fight depression in older adults

Using video chatting platforms like Skype to connect with friends and family can stave off depression in older adults, a study has found. Researchers compared four different types of online communication technologies — video chat, email, social networks and instant messaging — used by people 60 and older and then gauged their symptoms of depression based on survey responses two years later. “Video chat came out as the undisputed champion,” said Alan Teo, associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University in the US. “Older adults who used video chat technology such as Skype had a significantly lower risk of depression,” said Teo, lead author of the study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Drug used for PTSD may worsen nightmares, not reduce suicidal thoughts

Nightmares and insomnia often accompany posttraumatic stress disorder and increase suicide risk. A small study looking at whether the drug prazosin, best known for treating high blood pressure but also used to treat PTSD-related sleep problems, can reduce suicidal thoughts has yielded surprising results. […] “It did not seem to do much for suicidal ideation and that was somewhat disappointing, but the thing what was mind-blowing was that is actually worsened nightmares,” says McCall. “Maybe it’s not for everybody.” He notes that with PTSD, a patient’s nightmares often focus on the trauma that produced their disorder.

Tobacco increases risk of schizophrenia, psychosis

Tobacco smokers are at increased risk of psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia, according to University of Queensland researchers. Their review of eight long-running studies has found strong evidence of an association between smoking and mental illness, which they suggest is most likely caused by nicotine. Associate Professor James Scott said the findings raised serious concerns about the increasing use of nicotine through e-cigarettes by young adults. “People who smoke tobacco have an approximately twofold increased risk of developing schizophrenia or psychosis,” Dr Scott said. […] “More research is urgently needed to examine the association between e-cigarette use and psychosis, particularly in adolescents and young adults,” Dr Scott said.

Gene testing doesn’t add much information for antidepressant or antipsychotic prescribing

Pharmacogenetic tests are marketed as an aid to psychiatrists in selecting the antidepressant or antipsychotic medication that will work best in individual patients, based on their genetic makeup. But for most patients, these pharmacogenetic tests don’t provide much useful information, beyond a basic understanding of how antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs are metabolized, suggests a study in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice. Knowing the drug metabolism generally leads to the same conclusion as gene tests, according to the new research […]  “Given these results, one could predict which drugs are found in the ‘green bin’ more than 90 percent of the time of the time simply on the basis of knowledge of their oxidative drug metabolism without knowing the results of the patient’s genetic testing,” the researchers write.


News & Information for November 20, 2018

Revealed: How saying thank you can help to ease depression

One of the most important lessons in good parenting is teaching your child to say thank you. And recent research suggests we should all be making an effort to do it, as it could work wonders for our health. Scientists have discovered that ‘gratitude therapy’ — deliberately expressing thanks, for instance to parents, teachers or friends for their support — has a powerful impact on aspects of both mental and physical health. Simply writing a thank-you letter appears to have such a strong impact on psychological wellbeing, it has a knock-on effect on physical health. Benefits include combating depression, easing pain and improving heart health.

Yale graduate sues university for removing her over her depression

A Yale University graduate is suing her former school, claiming she was removed from campus because she sought counseling for depression. The alleged incident happened two years ago. The woman says she sought counseling the same month that two students committed suicide. She claims the school placed her on mandatory medical leave because they were worried about more negative publicity. Yale would not comment on the lawsuit. The woman alleges she was unlawfully held for involuntary treatment at Yale-New Haven Hospital and hospital staff illegally gave her medical information to Yale officials. She was reinstated in the fall of 2017 and graduated this year.

How to Overcome the Three Myths of Happiness

I used to think that I would be happy when I landed my dream job, got married to the perfect woman, and I had enough money so that I didn’t have to work another day at a job I hated. Unfortunately, I found that none of these things had a long-term impact on my happiness. Over the years I have spent a lot of time researching why the things that I thought would make me happy didn’t have a long-term impact on my happiness. I found is I was believing several myths. You may be believing the same myths. […] But, you can increase your happiness by understanding and overcoming these three myths. Pick an activity that fits your personality and lifestyle. For me, it’s writing down the three things that I am grateful for every morning. It’s working on my relationships with my wife and daughter, and it’s giving my time and money to causes that I can relate to.

War between science and religion is far from inevitable

There are many sciences, many religions. A scientific innovation problematic for one religious tradition may be irrelevant to another. One science may pose a threat to religious beliefs when other sciences do not. Arguing for an essential conflict between science and religion fails because, as the philosopher John Gray has written, terms such as “religion” and “atheism” have no essence. […] Can religions survive in technological societies? They already have – and for an important reason. They confer identity and seek to find meaning in events, to interpret the universe, not primarily to explain it. As Terry Eagleton memorably put it: “The blunder of believing that religion is a botched attempt to explain the world … is like seeing ballet as a botched attempt to run for a bus.”

Men and women experience happiness differently – here’s why

Who’s happier, men or women? Research shows it’s a complicated question and that asking whether males or females are happier isn’t really that helpful, because essentially, happiness is different for women and men. Women’s happiness has been declining for the past 30 years, according to recent statistics. And research shows that women are twice as likely to experience depression compared with men. Gender differences in depression are well established and studies have found that biological, psychological and social factors contribute to the disparity.


News & Information for November 19, 2018

Parents Say Bullying, ADHD Meds May Have Led to 9-Year-Old Daughter’s Suicide

The grieving parents of a 9-year-old child who hanged herself say they believe bullying and ADHD medication might have driven her to take her own life. Now, they’re speaking publicly about their daughter’s tragic death in hopes that it will spare others the same pain. […] In the weeks prior to her death, Maddie has also started a new medication for her ADHD, which lists suicidal thoughts as a potential side effect. “The bullying plus the medicine, I think, gave her the boost to do that,” Lt. Williams added.

Video: The Terrible Potential Consequences Of Giving Psychiatric Drugs To Kids | The Matt Walsh Show Ep 146

A young child began taking ADHD medicine that could cause suicidal thoughts. Weeks later she killed herself. The suicide rate among children has skyrocketed as the prevalence of psychotropic drugs has also skyrocketed. Is there some kind of connection here? Yes. And the drug companies know it. Today we’ll talk about the practice of drugging kids, and the horrible things that can happen as a result.

Opinion : Why millennials are suffering from depression

Several of my 23-year-old daughter’s friends have been—or are—in therapy for depression. Cases of depression are rising in elite institutes like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs). This is not just anecdotal stuff. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that in 2015, over 50 million Indians suffered from depression. It also says that suicide has become the second leading cause of death for individuals 15 to 29 years of age. […] But study after study has shown that millennials feel lonelier than earlier generations. There is also enough research to prove that people who spend longer periods on social media tend to feel lonelier than those who spend less time. On social media, one does not make real friends. Here, one is only looking for that little dopamine rush that comes with every “like” and retweet.

Preschool sleep problems precede ADHD diagnoses

Sleep problems in preschoolers could predict the risk of children developing conditions such as autism and ADHD, a study conducted by a medical student at James Cook University has found. […] “Sleep problems in this age group are more likely to persist than those from infancy and importantly, strongly predict problems in later childhood and even into adulthood,” Ms Sawyer said. Insufficient sleep has been associated with a range of detrimental outcomes such as poor learning, heightened emotional reactivity, and poor mental health. Ms Sawyer said that sleep problems have also been found in many major forms of child emotional and behavioural disorders, including anxiety, depression and ADHD.

Alert 67: More Huge ECT News

After decades of denial, the largest manufacturer of electroconvulsive treatment machines has just admitted for the first time that a risk of “brain damage” is associated with ECT. The unprecedented admission by Somatics, Inc., the manufacturer of Thymatron, came in the form of a Regulatory Update just posted on its website in October 2018.


News & Information for November 18, 2018

Study: Your Cat’s Personality Is Likely To Match Yours

The study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, found a correlation between the owners’ personalities and those of their cats. Owners who scored highly on the dominance scale were more likely to have dominant, impulsive, extroverted, and neurotic cats, while impulsive owners frequently saw their impulsivity reflected in their pets.  Owners who demonstrated Dark Triad traits, meanwhile, were more likely to own dominant, neurotic, and impulsive cats.

The science behind the health benefits of a daily gratitude practice

Gratitude as an emotion is complex. It can be a blend of joy, contentment, happiness, and other seemingly unrelated states of mind, like relief. But the real power of gratitude is turning off a very unproductive emotion: fear. And it can be done at a cellular level. […] The National Institute of Health performed a study using MRIs to show that subjects who focused on gratitude had an increase in blood flow to the hypothalamus, which is the almond-size part of your brain just above your brainstem that controls stress and sleep. Enhanced activity in this part of the brain can also help inhibit cortisol, a stress hormone known to increase heart rate and blood pressure. So every time you focus on gratitude, you’re helping combat depression and anxiety by minimizing your cortisol production. […] One study found a daily gratitude journal made participants 15% more optimistic and improved their sleep quality by 25%. It also made them 10% happier, which is the same boost to happiness you’d get from doubling your income. 

Ian’s thoughts: The title of that study nicely summarizes the concept of gratitude here: “Counting blessings versus burdens.” Learning to see the cup as half full, not half empty. A steady stream of studies posted here show that consciously directed cognitive training (inputs) can influence psychological states (outputs) — self-directed psychological programming. What drug companies don’t want us to know!

Study: Spiritual Practices in Childhood Good for Health and Well-being

People who are engaged in spiritual practices in their childhood and teens are more likely to be healthier in early adulthood, according to a Harvard study. […] “Many children are raised religiously and our study shows that this can powerfully affect their health behaviors, mental health, and overall happiness and well-being,” said first author of the study Ying Chen […] “These findings are important for both our understanding of health and our understanding of parenting practices.” The study is published the November 2018 issue in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

The study: Associations of Religious Upbringing With Subsequent Health and Well-Being From Adolescence to Young Adulthood: An Outcome-Wide Analysis


News & Information for November 17, 2018

Traumatic brain injuries can lead to long-term neurological and psychiatric disorders

Traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in children, and rates of injury have increased over the past decade. According to a study being presented at the 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition, these injuries have long-term consequences; researchers found children who experience traumatic brain injury are at higher risk of developing headache, depression, and mental or intellectual disorders up to 5 years after the event. […] “These data provide evidence to support close monitoring of injured children, even years after the event”

Concussions tied to doubled risk of suicide

Survivors of traumatic brain injuries may be more than twice as likely to die by suicide as individuals without a history of injuries like concussions or skull fractures, a research review suggests. The findings are drawn from six studies with a total of more than 700,000 people who experienced concussions or other traumatic brain injuries and more than 6.2 million individuals who didn’t have these diagnoses. Half of the participants stayed in the studies for two to 12 years or more. […] “This study underscores the need for more concussion prevention for regular people everyday such as wearing seat-belts, using helmets, and avoiding reckless stunts,” Redelmeier, of the University of Toronto and Sunnybrook Hospital, said by email.

Never take ibuprofen with antidepressants… and 5 other drug combos to avoid at all cost

Philip Crilly, pharmacy teaching fellow at Kingston University, says that not only can drugs interact with each other, they can also interact with food and drink, as well as popular herbal remedies. […] Not all antidepressants are the same and the ones you want to be careful about are a class called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). Taking these alongside anti-inflammatory painkillers like ibuprofen can increase your risk of internal bleeding, symptoms of which can include dark poo, stomach cramps, feeling tired, blood in vomit and feeling faint.

Iain Lee reveals “absolute hell” of withdrawal from antidepressants 

Iain Lee revealed coming off anti-depressants has left him feeling suicidal in a heartbreaking tweet on Thursday. […] He wrote: ‘Coming off anti-depressants. Sweet lord. It’s hard. Harder than coming off a coke binge. Much harder. More emotional. Longer. Drawn out. So f*****g dark. ‘Was in pieces last night. Suicidal. Luckily I have a good mate to talk me off the edge. But people need to know how tough these drugs are to come off. Torture. Absolute hell. […] “The best way I can describe it… after I took LSD for the first time, and I’ve only done it a handful of times, for the next year at least I saw and perceived everything differently.” 

Getting off psychiatric drugs can be more dangerous that starting, so before you try, please read Dr Breggin’s, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal.


News & Information for November 16, 2018

Non-trauma-focused meditation versus exposure therapy in veterans with PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a complex and difficult-to-treat disorder, affecting 10–20% of military veterans. […]  This study aimed to compare the non-trauma-focused practice of Transcendental Meditation (TM) with prolonged exposure therapy (PE) in a non-inferiority clinical trial […] 61% of those receiving TM, 42% of those receiving PE, and 32% of those receiving HE [health education] showed clinically significant improvements […] A non-trauma-focused-therapy, TM, might be a viable option for decreasing the severity of PTSD symptoms in veterans and represents an efficacious alternative for veterans who prefer not to receive or who do not respond to traditional exposure-based treatments of PTSD.

5 books you absolutely need to read when struggling with depression

Fighting depression is definitely a hard journey which you need to go through until you find your inner peace and get in touch with all your deepest thoughts and feelings. It is an entire adventure which you feel like you are not ready for because it takes all your powers and motivation to eliminate the negative and dark thoughts which stop you from enjoying all the amazing experiences which your life offers you […] Reading books is an amazing experience because from the first to the last page of the book you enter the universe of the author and become a part of all the emotions, actions, and characters which you find in the story you are reading. Read below what are the 5 books which talk about depression which you should read when struggling with this problem.

7 Habits That Literally Cause Your Brain To Shrink

“The brain is neuroplastic, which essentially means it can change. Negative behaviors and toxic environments can affect the manifold functions and structure of the brain and can potentially cause the brain to ‘shrink’ over time.” […] Typically, the brain only truly shrinks in size due to aging and/or disease, which destroys cells within the brain making it physically smaller over time, cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Jared Cooney Horvath, tells Bustle. Most other processes simply reduce brain density, which mean they don’t kill cells, but they decrease the amount of communication between them. To keep your brain as healthy as possible, you’ll want to be mindful of these seven habits that could cause it to shrink, according to experts.

Why work friendships are critical for long-term happiness

Real friendship is the key to our long-term career success, health and happiness. Our basic human need for friendship gives us the sense of belonging, purpose, confidence and satisfaction that we crave. Yet we often overlook our fellow co-workers as friends because we try to separate our needs in the office from those at home. […] The study revealed that nearly 1 in 10 people have no friends at work, and more than half have five or fewer. Those with few friends said they felt lonely either very often or always and disengaged in their work. Almost two-thirds said they would be more inclined to stay at their company longer if they had more friends. […] A separate study, by Officevibe, found that 70 percent of employees say friends at work is the most crucial element to a happy working life, and 58 percent of men would refuse a higher-paying job if it meant not getting along with co-workers.

Study: Decorating earlier for Holidays can increase happiness

Christmas is more than a month and a half away, but some have already decorated their homes. A study said those who decorate earlier may be happier. “Studies have suggested that it does make people happier and it makes sense why people are decorating earlier and earlier. So that they can extend that feeling,” said Kelsie Hendrickson, a clinical psychologist with St. Luke’s. 


News & Information for November 15, 2018

New evidence that social media increases loneliness

According to the first author of the new study, which featured in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology, no scientific study has proven a causal connection between the two until now. University of Pennsylvania psychologist Melissa G. Hunt believes that her team is responsible for the first experimental study of Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram use. She argues that previous studies were either limited in scope or used “unrealistic situations,” such as monitoring participants for only brief periods in laboratory settings. “We set out to do a much more comprehensive, rigorous study that was also more ecologically valid,” says Hunt.

What the Opioid Crisis in Maryland Looks Like For Mothers

At a recent town hall on the opioids crisis in Maryland, Carmen Skarlupka picked up a microphone and told the story of her daughter’s death. […] Her daughter, Samantha “Sam” Prouty, was 26 when she overdosed in April. […] Sam was on the autism spectrum. She was bullied as a child, and she was sexually assaulted at a daycare center when she was eight years old. Her first emergency psychiatric evaluation happened the same year, the result of an in-school mental health care assessment that concluded that she was a suicide risk. Since that time, Samantha had 19 in-patient psychiatric hospitalizations throughout the state of Maryland. Over the course of her life, Sam was on a total of 40 different psychotropic medications. She also cut herself.

New Push to Help Mental Health Patients Determine Their Treatment in Emergencies

Psychiatric advance directives have been around for some time in North Carolina, but they’re still not widely used. A psychiatric advance directive (which many people refer to as a PAD) goes into effect if a person is temporarily incapable of making sound decisions for himself, like Bill was over the holidays when he contemplated suicide. […] “This is a perfect opportunity for folks who may go into crisis at a certain time just to have a voice in a treatment,” said Marcus Boyd, a court liaison for the Mecklenburg County court system who was also at the meeting. He said there’s an “understanding that ‘Hey if it becomes a situation where we can’t take all of those plans into consideration we’ll definitely do our best to abide by it as much as possible.’”

Scientists Still Looking for Biomarkers of Psychiatric Diagnoses

Minimal overlap was found in neurologic variation among individuals with severe psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia-spectrum disorders and bipolar disorder, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. […] Investigators concluded that, “group-level differences disguised biological heterogeneity and interindividual differences among patients with the same diagnosis. This finding suggests that the idea of the average patient is a noninformative construct in psychiatry that falls apart when mapping abnormalities at the level of the individual patient.”

How to end an unhealthy relationship

Our relationships with people, whether they are between friends, significant others or family, are an essential part of life. But some relationships may be toxic, and one Baylor College of Medicine expert discusses the importance of being able to end an unhealthy relationship. […] Lawson emphasized the importance of periodically evaluating whether your relationships are still positive and enjoyable. With our busy schedules, free time can be limited so it is essential that when we do spend time with someone, we really enjoy the time. “Relationships should for the most part be reciprocal, or balanced in terms of give and take. Feeling bad about ourselves or the time spent together with someone is a strong clue that the relationship is unhealthy,” Lawson said.

Narcissism May Have Some Previously Unrecognized Upsides

Contrary to popular belief, we’re all narcissistic to some degree. Do you know how narcissistic you are? If you’re curious to find out, it only takes about five minutes to fill out this interactive online Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) questionnaire which gauges narcissistic tendencies for educational purposes.  […] In recent months, there’s been some groundbreaking research that warrants reexamining long-held views and stereotypes about narcissism. […] First, a recent international study found that adolescents who score high on certain aspects of subclinical narcissism tend to display more mental toughness and perform better in school. According to the researchers, if someone scores high on mental toughness, it generally means he or she can perform at his or her very best in high-pressured and diverse situations.


News & Information for November 14, 2018

Why natural depression therapies are better than pills

Winter is upon us. And with it comes the annual worsening of depressive symptoms. Sadly, in the United States, suicide continues to claim more lives than firearms, and suicide rates are increasing in nearly all states.  […] The far more exciting and underplayed point, to me, is that multiple non-drug treatments have been shown to be as effective. As a staunch critic of alternative medical regimes such as chiropractic, acupuncture and homeopathy, it surprises me to note that the following “natural” therapies have rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific studies to support their use:

As millennials strive for perfection, anxiety and depression increase

This January, the American Psychological Association reported that recent generations of college students have reported higher levels of perfectionism than earlier generations. This “irrational desire to achieve along with being overly critical of oneself and others” takes a toll on young people’s mental health, according to its research, which analyzed data from more than 40,000 American, Canadian and British college students. Three types of perfectionism were measured: an irrational personal desire to be perfect, perceiving excessive expectations from others, and placing unrealistic standards on others.

Light therapy for nonseasonal depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis

The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of light therapy in the treatment of geriatric depression […] We identified eight trials involving 395 participants that met the inclusion criteria. Light therapy was significantly more effective than comparative treatments, including placebo or dim light […] In addition, six of the eight trials used bright (white) light, resulting in significantly reduced severity of geriatric depression […] Furthermore, pale blue light therapy reduced the severity of geriatric depression […] Our results highlighted the significant efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of geriatric depression.

Mom Realizes Her Son’s ADHD Symptoms Were Caused By Sleep Deprivation

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a very real disorder that affects kids and adults. It can be difficult to diagnose in children, and unfortunately, it’s often misdiagnosed or over-diagnosed. […] Melody’s 8-year-old son Kian was having a hard time. In school, at home, everywhere. His behavioral issues started in first grade, with outbursts and tantrums. His anger and aggression got worse at home, and the smallest little thing could set him off on a major tantrum. […]  Kian began seeing a therapist, who recommended ADHD testing. […] The article in the Washington Post made the connection between ADHD symptoms, sleep-disordered breathing, and mouth breathing. Melody recognized her son in all of the symptoms mentioned in the article, and immediately made appointments with a sleep center, an orthodontist, and an ear, nose, and throat specialist. 

Adults on the autism spectrum prescribed mental health drugs without diagnoses

Adults on the autism spectrum are being prescribed mental health drugs in instances where there is limited supporting evidence to do so. This was one of the findings of a UNSW-led study that looked at the use of psychotropic medication – or medication for mental health problems – by adults on the autism spectrum. […] First author on the study […] said that in these cases it is “likely that mental health medications were being used to manage behaviour. This is concerning, because there is little evidence to support the use of mental health medications to manage behavioural features of autism spectrum disorders, and this practice exposes people to potential harms,” Dr Cvejic said.


News & Information for November 13, 2018

Those using psychotropic drugs in suicide attempts more likely to have had prescriptions

Researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have found that prescribed access to anti-anxiety and anti-psychotic medications may make it easier for some patients to use the drugs in attempted suicides. “In a study focused on people who attempted suicide, those who used a psychotropic drug in an attempt were 70% more likely to have prescribed access than patients who used other methods in their attempt,” said Talia Brown, MS, Ph.D., lead author of the study from the Colorado School of Public Health.

Cutting back on Facebook or Snapchat will make you less depressed, study says

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania claims to be the first to find a direct causal link between cutting back on social media use and improvements in loneliness and depression. The study finds that students who limited their daily use of Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to 10 minutes each per day experienced significant declines in depressive symptoms. […] “It is ironic, but perhaps not surprising, that reducing social media, which promised to help us connect with others, actually helps people feel less lonely and depressed,” the study reads.

Life after depression: Why so little is known about people who go on to thrive

 There’s a “startling lack of attention” being paid to people who thrive after recovering from depression, a recent study found. Research on such patients is disappointingly rare even though they may carry within them an antidote to the illness, the authors wrote. So the bleak notion of depression as a “lifetime psychological prison sentence” persists even though a significant number of people can go on to flourish, noted the paper, published in Perspectives on Psychological Science. “Everyone is thinking how bad depression is, and they don’t think maybe it’s not uniformly bad or there are some people who come out the other side.”


News & Information for November 12, 2018

Neuroscientists give 9 tips that could make you happy again

You can read thousands of “miraculous” recipes how to find happiness. Today they handed out right and left all and Sundry, writes Doctor Andrei Laslau. But when the happiness begins to speak neuroscientists – is to listen carefully, because these people in the subject (and our brains) really understand. Here are 9 habits that, according to neuroscientists, will help you gain long-awaited happiness…

Linking Screen Time, Smartphones, and Stress Among Young Adults

Research exposing adverse outcomes associated with smartphones, social media, and heavy screen time is piling up. Many have linked anxiety, depression, compromises in sleep quality, compromised social skills, increased ADHD-type symptoms and compromised self-esteem to excess screen time, and these outcomes appear to span over generations. However, because new developments in technology so often serve to increase efficiency and, in some cases, access to education, it can be tempting to dismiss known risks.

Video: Survival of a Whistleblower – Peter Gøtzsche at Summer Institute 2018

To be a whistleblower is not easy. […] Most whistleblowers suffer a terrible fate. Peter Rost has described how things went for 233 people who blew the whistle on fraud: 90% were fired or demoted, 27% faced lawsuits, 26% had to seek psychiatric or physical care, 25% suffered alcohol abuse, 17% lost their homes, 15% got divorced, 10% attempted suicide and 8% went bankrupt. But in spite of all this, only 16% said that they wouldn’t blow the whistle again. I shall try to explain how it was possible for me to blow the whistle for 30 years and yet still have a highly rewarding career.

Action! Sign Petition to Support Peter Gøtzsche, under siege for speaking truth to power

We are writing to express our concern over the possible dismissal of Peter Gøtzsche from his job at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen. We feel that Dr. Peter Gøtzsche´s work at the Nordic Cochrane Centre has been an important service to patients, taxpayers and the scientific community in Europe and globally. For many years the prestigious activity and publications of Dr. Gøtzsche have played a pivotal role in favour of the transparency of clinical data, the priority of public health needs and the defence of rigorous medical research carried out independently of conflicts of interest. The recent crisis within the Cochrane Collaboration that involved Dr. Gøtzsche and many other prominent long-time members of Cochrane should be seen in this light.


News & Information for November 11, 2018

The evidence is overwhelming that spanking children does lasting harm

It was very encouraging to see that a major medical association, comprised of 67,000 pediatricians, has come out with a strong statement against physical (or corporal) punishment. The American Academy of Pediatrics now joins dozens of other professional organizations and two mainline religious denominations (the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church USA) with statements, policies or resolutions against parents or teachers hitting children.

Happiness 101: U Penn’s first large-scale positive psychology class

In “The Pursuit of Happiness” […] helps students define and apply different ways of developing happiness in their lives. […] The interdisciplinary class combines philosophy and positive psychology, which Pawelski defines as complementary to mainstream psychology. While mainstream psychology focuses on what is not going well in people’s lives, positive psychology aims to cultivate the strengths in people’s lives that allow them to thrive. […] “Being happy is something we can practice, something we can learn, and we can get better at,” Pawelski added. 

Why Shared Vibrations May Be the Root of All Consciousness

Why is my awareness here, while yours is over there? Why is the universe split in two for each of us, into a subject and an infinity of objects? How is each of us our own center of experience, receiving information about the rest of the world out there? Why are some things conscious and others apparently not? Is a rat conscious? A gnat? A bacterium? […] Over the last decade, my colleague, University of California, Santa Barbara psychology professor Jonathan Schooler and I have developed what we call a “resonance theory of consciousness.” We suggest that resonance — another word for synchronized vibrations — is at the heart of not only human consciousness but also animal consciousness and of physical reality more generally. 


News & Information for November 10, 2018

New Zealanders’ use of antidepressants increases but it’s not helping: study

Antidepressant prescribing rates are continuing to increase in New Zealand but there is no sign of improving people’s mental health, according to a study published on Friday. […] New Zealand ranks the eighth highest consumer of antidepressants per person in the OECD, statistics showed. […] “Giving more and more people antidepressants doesn’t seem to be a good strategy,” he said.

Childhood trauma reverberates in adulthood

Trauma experienced in childhood may be psychologically carried through adulthood, a new study suggested. Among a cohort of over 1,400 individuals, those who experienced trauma in childhood had a higher odds of having a psychiatric disorder in adulthood (adjusted OR 1.3, 95% CI 1.0-1.5, P<0.05), reported William Copeland, PhD, of the University of Vermont in Burlington, and colleagues in JAMA Network Open. […]  the researchers found that children who had three or more traumatic events had the highest chances of developing an adulthood psychiatric problem, as well as poor overall functioning in society, even if they also experienced psychiatric problems in childhood.

Is There a Science to Psychotherapy?

CBT [Cognitive behavioral therapy] has been proven effective by many high-quality clinical trials and therefore is a prime candidate for biological studies, but can the same be said for such widely used but not empirically-validated treatments as psychoanalysis and psychoanalytic psychotherapy? […] Psychotherapy is a form of life experience that changes the way the brain works, often ameliorating abnormalities caused by adverse experience and stressful life events. So yes, there is a science to psychotherapy, one that can be readily understood by learning about some of the fundamental and fascinating ways our brains work. 

Group CBT May Be Best Choice for Anxiety Disorders in Kids

Group cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) appears to be the best choice of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents, according to a network meta-analysis of 11 different therapies. As many as 20% of children and adolescents will experience anxiety disorders, researchers say, and psychological treatments such as CBT are commonly used. […] “This network meta-analysis suggests that group CBT might be considered as the initial choice of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents,” they conclude. 

Editorial: ‘Post-election stress disorder’ may be stress, but it’s not a disorder

It probably was no coincidence that Wednesday, the day after Election Day, was designated National Stress Awareness Day. […] The majority of Americans in a survey “pointed to our nation’s political climate as a source of increased stress, with more Democrats than Republicans feeling stressed by politics,” clinical psychiatrist Thomas G. Plante wrote. […] But too many Americans are choosing to take that stress to an eye-rolling extreme by referring to post-election stress as a “disorder.” […] “It is not a mental disorder to feel normal emotions in response to life stress,” psychiatrist Dr. Allen Frances told last year. 


News & Information for November 9, 2018

You should exercise to improve your mental health

working out one’s body has unequivocal yet often overlooked benefits on one’s mental state. According to a National Center for Biotechnology Information article, exercise greatly improves mental health. “Some of these proposed psychological benefits are improved confidence … anxiety reduction, and positive effects on depressed mood and intellectual functioning,” the article said. […] Regular exercise can also calm a person’s propensity for panic. According to APA writer Kirsten Weir, the body faces similar sensations from exercising when it is put into a fight-or-flight situation. These feelings may include sweating, increased pulse and greater respiration.  

Group therapy most effective treatment for anxiety in young people

Group cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) could be the best choice of psychotherapy for anxiety disorders in children and adolescents, according to a new network meta-analysis study from Oxford University, Department of Psychiatry. CBT is a talking therapy designed to help people manage problems by encouraging positive changes in the way they think and behave. […] The new study showed that only group CBT was significantly more effective in reducing anxiety symptoms than other psychotherapies and all control conditions immediately after treatment and at short term follow up.

One in eight Kiwi adults prescribed antidepressants

New statistics, revealed in a University of Otago study, show almost one in eight New Zealanders over the age of 15 are on antidepressants despite little evidence the drugs are helping curb the country’s alarming suicide rates. […] Researchers said giving people more antidepressants did not seem to be working and warned of the significant side-effects of the drugs and the limited evidence about the long-term impacts. […] She described feeling numb to the core, loosing all social awareness, gaining a lot of weight and being even more depressed than before starting the medication.

British doctors may soon prescribe art, music and dance instead of psychiatric drugs

An ambitious initiative unveiled this week by British Health Secretary Matt Hancock may soon enable the country’s doctors to prescribe therapeutic art- or hobby-based treatments for ailments ranging from dementia to psychosis, lung conditions and mental health issues. […] “We’ve been fostering a culture that’s popping pills and Prozac, when what we should be doing is more prevention and perspiration,” Hancock said in a Tuesday speech at the King’s Fund health care think tank. “Social prescribing can help us combat over-medicalising people.”


News & Information for November 8, 2018

Some good words about “ADHD”

Among all of Shankman’s interests, he is perhaps best known for his unusual and very personal take on ADHD. He is convinced that the condition, often considered a hindrance, has helped him, by making him “faster than normal.” He is the creator and host of a podcast of the same name that is ranked the internet’s top podcast on the subject. Shankman believes that people just like him—what he calls “the new neuroatypical generation” have the potential to change the workplace and the world for good. 

What is Neurofeedback? A game-changing drug-free ADHD treatment

Neurofeedback is not a new type of gaming experience. It’s more like a good fitness workout. While it’s true that the developers of gaming systems have created some impressive video screens, the difference between video games and neurofeedback is that your fingers don’t move the characters to do neurofeedback. Your brain does, when it produces the “right” kind of brain activity. When it is not producing the desired activity, the images that you are trying to control stop moving.

Kids buying hallucinogenic plant seeds online are at risk of serious side effects

“The hallucinogenic effect of morning glory seeds was discovered in 1959, when an American researcher learned they were being used by Central American tribes in shamanic ceremonies,” said Kamlet, medical director of Tristar Wellness on Miami Beach. It’s a high that comes with a painful price, triggering severe nausea, vomiting, stomach pain and intractable vomiting. “They can actually cause heart problems, paralysis and stroke-like symptoms. They may do something crazy like drive or jump off a cliff, thinking they can fly,” Brown said. […] Addiction specialists urge parents to be on the lookout for what their children may be buying online.

Teens who stop using cannabis for one month can improve their memory

“What we find is that adolescents and young adults who stop using cannabis improve in their ability to learn new information and those who continue to use don’t show that same improvement. We found that much of this improvement happens in the first week of abstinence,” Randi Schuster, PhD, the study’s lead author and assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, told Healthline. The study is one of the first of its kind to use an experimental prospective model in which active adolescent marijuana users were compared with a group of their peers who were asked to abstain from marijuana use for 30 days. 


News & Information for November 7, 2018

AAP says spanking harms children

Corporal punishment—or the use of spanking as a disciplinary tool—increases aggression in young children in the long run and is ineffective in teaching a child responsibility and self-control. In fact, new evidence suggests that it may cause harm to the child by affecting normal brain development. Other methods that teach children right from wrong are safer and more effective. […] Corporal punishment and harsh verbal abuse may cause a child to be fearful in the short term but does not improve behavior over the long term and may cause more aggressive behaviors, according to the AAP. […] Research has shown that striking a child, yelling at or shaming them can elevate stress hormones and lead to changes in the brain’s architecture. Harsh verbal abuse is also linked to mental health problems in preteens and adolescents.

The AAP’s Policy Statement. This follows on another study showing harms of hitting children we cited previously below. 

Two neurological breakthroughs further understanding of human thought

Thanks to a number of neurological breakthroughs, neuroscientists are zooming in on the brain’s different parts and giving new insights about cerebral mechanisms in learning, decision-making and more. […] In a new study, biologists at Stanford University found that PVT [paraventricular thalamus] helps humans and animals decide what to learn by serving; “as a kind of gatekeeper, making sure that the brain identifies and tracks the most salient details of a situation. We showed thalamic cells play a very important role in keeping track of the behavioral significance of stimuli, which nobody had done before,” said senior author Xiaoke Chen.


News & Information for November 6, 2018

Antidepressant withdrawal review: authors respond in detail to Mental Elf critique

In this response we will clearly evidence why Hayes and Jauhar’s blog critique of our systematic review was often factually incorrect and was replete with misrepresentations (and/or misunderstandings) that will lead some readers to conclude wrongly that our findings are not robust. […] For the reasons stated we believe Hayes and Jahaur’s commentary to be inaccurate and misleading overall. In some cases the critiques they offer are based on obvious misrepresentations of study findings.

Mood stabilizers associated with increased risk for stroke in bipolar disorder

The use of mood stabilizers may be associated with an increased stroke risk in patients with bipolar disorder, according to study results published in The British Journal of Psychiatry. […] After regression analysis, investigators found that mood stabilizers were collectively associated with a significantly increased risk for stroke in participants with bipolar disorder.

Study: Online program helps prevent teen depression

researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have been working to evaluate and compare interventions that prevent depression. Their research shows an online program that teaches teens coping skills is effective at reducing depressive symptoms, especially among those with more severe symptoms. The study, published in JAMA Network Open, evaluated more than 350 teens between the ages of 13 and 18 from both rural and urban areas. […] “This study tells us that the online intervention works best for teens who are experiencing worse symptoms,” said Dr. Benjamin Van Voorhees, the principal investigator and head of pediatrics at the UIC College of Medicine, in a statement. 

Antidepressants, Valium among 60 pharmaceuticals found in Australian stream wildlife

Scientists have sobering new evidence of how manufactured chemicals are infiltrating the food chain. Aquatic animals taken from six streams near Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne, population 4.8 million, contained more than 60 pharmaceutical compounds, including antidepressants. […] “In light of this evidence that a diverse suite of pharmaceuticals accumulates in the tissues of aquatic invertebrates, it is imperative to understand the risks that chronic exposure to these contaminants pose to predators, such as fishes and other wildlife, that rely on these invertebrates as their primary food resource,” the researchers write in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

Health Secretary plans “social prescribing” to end the culture of pill popping

GPs should prescribe “personal playlists” to help patients with dementia, and end a culture of doling out a pill for every ill, the Health Secretary will say today. Matt Hancock will say the NHS has for too long fostered “a culture that’s popping pills and Prozac” […] Today he will announce plans for National Academy for Social Prescribing, to ensure that GPs in all parts of the country refer patients for hobbies, sports and arts groups which can keep them active and fend off loneliness. […] “Social prescribing can help us combat over-medicalising people … dishing out drugs when it isn’t what’s best for the patient and it won’t solve their problem.”


News & Information for November 5, 2018

Anti-psychotic drugs ‘shrinking brains of children’

Antipsychotic medications may be shrinking the brains of thousands of Australian children, leaving them with permanent mental impairments, leading psychiatrists warn. The powerful drugs, increasingly prescribed to children with common behavioural problems, could be causing young brains to “not only shrink but not grow normally”, according to a co-­author of a commentary published by the Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. […] Juvenile monkeys and rats given antipsychotics showed brain shrinkage of between 6 and 11 percent, while volume reductions have also been associated with antipsychotics in adult human study findings that remain contested.

Treating depression symptoms through lifestyle choices – cognitive-behavioral therapy, exercise and sunlight

No generation before us has had such high rates of depression, a large problem because of its fatal association with suicide. Depression is treatable. However, there is a significant problem with treatments: it is very difficult to determine which form of treatment will work best for an individual. There is no universal answer, as some treatments work better for some and not at all for others. Thankfully, there are many lifestyle treatments you can try.

How stigma and social factors drive the negative health outcomes associated with autism

In their article published in Society and Mental Health, Monique Botha and David M. Frost apply the minority stress model to an investigation of quality of life and mental health in a sample of adults self-identified as having Asperger syndrome (AS) or high-functioning autism (HFA). Individuals with AS and HFA are understood as “neuro-minorities” in the publication, and their experiences are examined through this socio-contextual framework. […] Botha and Frost assert that stigmatization begins with the process of labeling. Then, “labels absorb the meaning society gives them, and […] assigning value-based meanings to labels can often perpetuate stigma.”

Cannabis use again tied to risk for psychotic-like experiences

The association between cannabis use and “psychotic-like experiences” appeared to be largely influenced by genetic predisposition, according to a cross-sectional study. Across a sample of twin and non-twin sibling pairs, frequent cannabis users were more likely to report psychotic-like experiences than their relatives who used cannabis less frequently. […] “At the end of the day, I’m in clinical psychology,” she said. “Targeting or reducing cannabis use in individuals who are at risk might be a really important method of treatment.”


News & Information for November 4, 2018

As opioid overdoses soar, FDA approves new painkiller 1,000X more powerful than morphine

Purdue Pharma and other pioneers of powerful opioid painkillers probably felt a twinge of regret on Friday when the FDA approved a powerful new opioid painkiller that’s 10 times stronger than fentanyl  – the deadly synthetic opioid that’s been blamed for the record number of drug overdose deaths recorded in 2017 – and 1,000 times more powerful than morphine, ignoring the objections of lawmakers and its own advisory committee in the process. 

Call to Action: Upcoming hunger strike against ECT

On May 12, at a location still to be determined, the multi-day hunger strike will begin. Connie will be striking, accompanied by supporters. Optimally, she will also be accompanied by women and men fasting in solidarity with her. The days of the hunger strike will similarly be replete with speeches and testimonials, and hopefully with frequent interaction with the media. The pièce de la résistance, of course, is Connie herself. Who can just dismiss an eighty year old shock survivor so committed that she is in essence putting her frail body on the line?

Does declining religiosity increase self-reports of pain?

Writing in the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion [David Johnson, of Kennesaw State University] charted the frequency of the words ‘pain’ and ‘hurt’ since the year 1800 in four linguistic databases […] What he found was a sharp increase in “pain language” in American English since the 1960s. […] His theory is that “this growth parallels the era when language related to the divine was in sharp decline”. In other words, a much greater willingness to talk about pain is correlated to a decrease in religious motivation for enduring pain.

Trigger warnings and mass psychogenic illness

Contrary to the tradition of free inquiry, many college students now demand the suppression of ideas they find offensive. As if to raise the stakes by transforming the issues in play into medical ones, many also claim that such ideas traumatize them. […] A medical argument calls for a medical reply. […] 

By definition, PTSD is caused by a trauma or “stressor.” Over time, and contrary to the intent of the original designers of the diagnosis, the lowering of the diagnostic threshold made it possible to claim that events well within the scope of common experience set off PTSD. […] Could those who crafted the diagnosis of PTSD with Vietnam veterans in mind have foreseen the day in 2014 when students at the University of California, Santa Barbara, passed a resolution calling on professors to alert them in advance to material “that may trigger the onset of symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder”? 


News & Information for November 3, 2018

 Benzodiazepine users with PTSD more than twice as likely to commit suicide 

Veterans with PTSD who received benzodiazepines were more than twice as likely to die due to suicide and were almost twice as likely to have medically documented suicide attempts than patients without benzodiazepine exposure, according to study findings. […] Veterans who used benzodiazepines were also significantly more likely to die by suicide (HR = 2.74; 95% CI, 2.4-3.13) and to have medically documented suicide attempts (HR = 1.85; 95% CI, 1.65-2.08) and suicidal thoughts (HR = 1.57; 95% CI, 1.48-1.67). […] “From a clinical perspective, these results suggest that prescribers should carefully weigh the benefits and risks of prescribing a benzodiazepine, particularly the increased risk of suicide, among veterans diagnosed with PTSD.”

FDA Panel fails to support novel opioid for depression

Members of a US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committee agreed overwhelmingly that the company behind a proposed new combination opioid product for treating major depression did not provide sufficient efficacy data. Meeting delegates were concerned about data inconsistencies, use of a questionable study design, and a switch that was made to an outcome measure, among other issues.

Antidepressants were supposed to help me but they ended up making me impotent

In the early 2000s, I was prescribed anti-depressants and anti-psychotics as a 10-year-old; they were meant to help with the symptoms of my OCD and Tourette’s Sydrome. They never stopped my tics, or the repetitive behaviour that’s part of my OCD, but not taking them was never considered. I never imagined the treatments I had as a child would have the effect it did though – essentially making part of my body numb and cease to work. […] He confirmed that I had Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD), and said that I would not necessarily go back to normal as there is no cure.


News & Information for November 2, 2018

Chris Cornell’s widow sues his doctor for ‘recklessly prescribing the 940 doses of benzos that caused his suicide’ 

Chris Cornell’s widow and two children are suing his doctor for allowing him to easily get his hands on an unnecessary amount of prescription pills that they believe ultimately caused his death. The Soundgarden frontman died by suicide in May 2017 […] documents refer to the 940 doses of benzodiazepines the 52-year-old was prescribed in his final 20 months alive. […] The widow claims negligence, alleging Koblin was aware of Cornell’s history with addition because he had been referred in 2004 by his substance abuse therapist.

The reason you’re suddenly having more frequent, vivid and bizarre dreams

We’ve all had some crazy dreams here and there over the years, from the frightening to the downright bizarre. But what does it mean when you’re dreams suddenly become clearer or stranger all of a sudden?  […] Common antidepressants such as Paxil and Zoloft, as well as medications like Ritalin, have been known to suppress dream sleep, when you stop taking them, your dreams come back in full force, this can result in a flood of vivid dreams that you haven’t been used to.

How interpersonal and social rhythm therapy can help treat bipolar disorder

If you’ve never heard of interpersonal and social rhythm therapy (IPSRT), it may just sound like a bunch of vaguely psychological words strung together. In reality, IPSRT can be incredibly helpful for some people with bipolar disorder. […] IPSRT is designed to teach someone with bipolar disorder how to prevent or better manage these shifts in mood and behavior. This form of therapy focuses on stabilizing a person’s daily rhythms, like sleeping, waking up, and eating meals, according to the Mayo Clinic. 

Antidepressants cause withdrawal symptoms in over half of patients who try to quit them, review shows

More than half of all patients who come off their prescription antidepressantsexperience potentially serious withdrawal symptoms the can last for months, according to a major new report. Across the UK millions of people coping with depression could be affected, the research commissioned by the by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Prescribed Drug Dependence suggests.


News & Information for November 1, 2018

Are anti-anxiety meds making your life worse?

The number of US adults downing benzodiazepines, a class of drugs that includes Xanax and Valium in addition to the Klonopin, soared by 67 percent — to 13.5 million — between 1996 and 2013, according to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this year. “Many prescribers don’t realize that benzodiazepines can be addictive and when taken daily can worsen anxiety, contribute to persistent insomnia, and cause death,” the authors wrote. […] Beating a benzo-use disorder is possible […] Detoxing may require a personalized tapering approach, new medication to keep withdrawal symptoms in check and a fresh game plan for managing mental health going forward.

Brain implants used to treat Parkinson’s can be hacked and used to control people, scientists warn

Vulnerabilities in brain implants used to treat Parkinson’s disease could be hacked by cyber attackers and used to control people, scientists have claimed. A report by the Oxford Functional Neurosurgery Group and cyber security company Kaspersky claims that people’s memories could be exploited by hackers and has called on cyber security companies, manufacturers and healthcare companies to develop new technology to stop them.

AI systems shed light on root cause of religious conflict: Humanity is not naturally violent

Artificial intelligence can help us to better understand the causes of religious violence and to potentially control it, according to new research. The study combined computer modelling and cognitive psychology to create an AI system able to mimic human religiosity, allowing them to better understand the conditions, triggers and patterns for religious violence. […]  It is only when people’s core belief systems are challenged, or they feel that their commitment to their own beliefs is questioned, that anxiety and agitations occur. However, this anxiety only led to violence in 20% of the scenarios created — all of which were triggered by people from either outside of the group, or within, going against the group’s core beliefs and identity.

Fewer sex partners means a happier marriage

People who have had sex with fewer people seem to be more satisfied after they tie the knot. Is there hope for promiscuous romantics? […] Americans who have only ever slept with their spouses are most likely to report being in a “very happy” marriage. Meanwhile, the lowest odds of marital happiness—about 13 percentage points lower than the one-partner women—belong to women who have had six to 10 sexual partners in their lives. For men, there’s still a dip in marital satisfaction after one partner, but it’s never as low as it gets for women. […] Other studies’ findings have also supported the surprising durability of marriages between people who have only ever had sex with one another. 


News & Information for October 31, 2018

Perfectionism can breed anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts in college students

This “irrational desire to achieve along with being overly critical of oneself and others” takes a toll on young people’s mental health, according to its research, which analyzed data from more than 40,000 American, Canadian and British college students. Three types of perfectionism were measured: an irrational personal desire to be perfect, perceiving excessive expectations from others and placing unrealistic standards on others.

Behavioral risk factors for depression vary with age, study finds

Behavioral risk factors including smoking, obesity, limited physical activity and a less healthy diet strongly predict the likelihood of depression—and that likelihood increases with each additional risk factor a person possesses. Additionally, the risk factors most strongly linked to depression change with age. […] This study sought to identify how the risk factors varied among three age groups […] Participants who had little physical activity were more likely to have depression as they grew older. And a less healthy diet was linked to depression in the middle-aged and older groups only.

Care homes ‘resort’ to anti-psychotics for some residents

A new study has indicated that some people are given anti-psychotic medicine in nursing homes because of poor resources and a lack of training by those providing care. The study, led by Kieran Walsh of the Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, University College Cork, looked at the determinants of appropriate, evidence-based, anti-psychotic prescribing behaviours for nursing home residents with dementia, based on a sample of 27 participants from four nursing homes involved in the care of residents.

30 years after Prozac arrived, we still buy the lie that chemical imbalances cause depression

This explanation, widely cited as empirical truth, is false. It was once a tentatively-posed hypothesis in the sciences, but no evidence for it has been found, and so it has been discarded by physicians and researchers. Yet the idea of chemical imbalances has remained stubbornly embedded in the public understanding of depression. […] One reason the theory of chemical imbalances won’t die is that it fits in with psychiatry’s attempt, over the past half century, to portray depression as a disease of the brain, instead of an illness of the mind. 


News & Information for October 30, 2018

From the brink of depression, heavyweight champ demonstrates the power of positive thinking and self-belief

Contentment is the word we’re looking for; contentment doesn’t come from material stuff—jobs, positions, fame, glory, money, anything. You’ll never find contentment while you’re chasing that sort of stuff. My message would be – look around yourself, and be thankful for what you do have today. Don’t look for what you don’t have. You’ve got to be happy with who you are, and a wise man once said you’ve got to know yourself before you can know anybody else. Study yourself, try and understand yourself, think what makes you happy and do that, and what makes you sad don’t do that!

Why kids (and everyone) need magnesium

Children are under-diagnosed when it comes to magnesium deficiency. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), juvenile delinquency, and childhood depression are associated with magnesium deficiency, and some experts say these conditions can be caused by the deficiency. […] Sufficient magnesium is associated with reduced behavior problems, including ADHD, depression, and anxiety. Magnesium also plays a big role in boosting brain function, which is critical for learning.

Condition often mistaken for mental illness but it can be cured by antibiotics

Many of the symptoms associated with Pandas — such as anxiety, depression, irritability, aggression, hyperactivity, deterioration in school performance, tics and other motor or sensory abnormalities, hallucinations and a compulsion to urinate frequently — can easily be mistaken for signs of other medical or psychiatric disorders. […] The few doctors who recognise Pans-Pandas fear some of the increase in the prescription of psychiatric drugs to children could be due to a widespread failure in the medical profession to recognise the conditions.

Children with autism spectrum see benefits from equine therapy

In the first large, randomized study of its kind, researchers at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus have shown a lasting reduction in irritability and other positive social and communication impacts on children with autism spectrum through therapeutic horse riding. “There is growing evidence that human-animal interventions can improve emotional health and social wellness in youth, particularly those with autism spectrum disorder,” said the study’s principal investigator and lead author Robin Gabriels, PsyD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “Our study was rigorous and the findings remarkable.”


News & Information for October 29, 2018

Ten drug combinations that show the risks of psychiatric polypharmacy

Using multiple drugs to treat a single condition is growing, said Paul Zarkowski, MD, a clinical assistant professor at Harborview Medical Center and psychiatrist in Seattle, Washington […] There is not a lot of data about these drug combinations, Zarkowski said. Most trials are limited to 1 drug at a time. Zarkowski said between 1996 and 2006, the average person went from 1 psychiatric medicine per indication to 2, according to one study. That goes for antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anti-anxiety medications, he noted.

Silicon valley nannies are phone police for kids

Silicon Valley parents are increasingly obsessed with keeping their children away from screens. Even a little screen time can be so deeply addictive, some parents believe, that it’s best if a child neither touches nor sees any of these glittering rectangles. These particular parents, after all, deeply understand their allure. […] From Cupertino to San Francisco, a growing consensus has emerged that screen time is bad for kids. It follows that these parents are now asking nannies to keep phones, tablets, computers and TVs off and hidden at all times. 

Vox examines a proposal for mass psychiatric medication via the public-water supply 

Ghaemi and a number of other eminent psychiatrists […] think we could save tens of thousands of lives a year with a very simple, low-cost intervention: putting small amounts of lithium, amounts likely too small to have significant side effects, into our drinking water […] while Ghaemi is very enthusiastic about the potential of groundwater lithium, other researchers are more wary. A comprehensive list of lithium studies, updated just last month, shows that while many studies find positive effects, plenty more found no impact on suicide or other important outcomes. In particular, a large-scale Danish study released in 2017 found “no significant indication of an association between increasing … lithium exposure level and decreasing suicide rate.”

Taking a hot bath twice a week is ‘BETTER than exercise’ for treating depression

Taking hot baths could be a better way of treating depression than exercising, a study has found. People who go to a spa for an hour twice a week show better improvements in their mental health than those who work out regularly. Experts suggest this could be because it restores the body’s natural temperature rhythm over the course of a day, which can be disrupted in depressed patients. Regular bathing is faster-acting and easier than exercise, scientists said, and the study showed people are more likely to continue with it over the long term.


News & Information for October 27, 2018

Schools tracking mental health: a good idea or social engineering?

The psychological health of children and teenagers has been declining, and we are apparently in the midst of a child mental health crisis. The problem has largely been attributed to excessive screen time and social media exposure, as well as increased pressure to pass standardized tests. Naturally, the proffered solution is not to get kids away from the screen and prevent atrocities like oxymoronic “smart playgrounds,” but rather to introduce extensive mental health assessments into schools. […] It is impossible to deny that caring for the mental health of children and adults is vitally important, but as our education system increasingly embraces standardized testing, is it also working to standardize children’s minds?

For area nursing home residents with dementia, antipsychotic drug use remains common

They’re not clinically indicated for dementia, so why is the use of these highly potent drugs so widespread among such vulnerable residents? Read the story and listen to the podcast. […] antipsychotics are not clinically indicated for treating dementia. In 2005, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued what’s known as a “black box warning” label. The warning calls attention to the serious side effects and increased risk of death related to antipsychotic use in older adults with dementia. These include increased risks of stroke, heart attack, diabetes, symptoms associated with Parkinson’s disease and falls.

Is your child’s ADHD possibly a misdiagnosed breathing problem?

More than half of the people diagnosed with ADHD are mouth breathers. That is too significant a statistic to be a coincidence. Children who breathe through their mouths because of a dental issue may be easily misdiagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The result can be a lifetime of being given powerful drugs unnecessarily. “Mouth breathing is often caused by an obstruction in the nasal airway, frequently resulting in lower oxygen to the brain,” says Dr. Ami Barakat.

Neuroscientists discover a new type of brain cell

another historic neuroanatomical milestone has been achieved by a global team of neuroscientists — the discovery a new type of human brain cell, called the rosehip neuron. […] The team found a group of compact human interneurons, with bushy branching, and axonal boutons that resemble large rosehips, the bulbous fruit of rose plants, in the human brain. Rosehip neurons are inhibitory neurons. Inhibitory interneurons help slow or cease excitation. When inhibitory neurons are activated, they release GABA, a neurotransmitter that hyperpolarizes the postsynaptic neurons. GABAergic neurons make up an estimated 20-25% of all neurons in the human cortex.


News & Information for October 26, 2018

Trump to sign anti-opioid abuse package in rare bipartisan step

Medical treatment would be more widely available to opioid abusers, while mailing illicit drugs would become more difficult under a rare bipartisan measure aimed at tackling the nation’s addiction crisis expected to be signed into law on Wednesday by US President Donald Trump. […] The legislation expands access to substance abuse treatment in Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled; cracks down on mailed shipments of illicit drugs such as fentanyl, a synthetic opioid far more powerful than heroin; and provides a host of new federal grants to address the crisis.

High psychopathy scores associated with lower self-reported empathy levels

Psychopathy scores were negatively associated with self-reported empathy levels and attenuated responses to empathy induction, according to data published in Psychiatry Research. […] violent offenders consistently scored higher on all measures of psychopathy and aggression […] Psychopathy scores were negatively associated with altruistic sharing behavior across all participants.

Long-term healthy diet associated with greater hippocampal volumes

Study data published in the American Journal of Medicine suggest an association between a long-term healthy diet and larger total hippocampus volume. […] Hippocampal volumes were lower in older individuals […] This study presents strong evidence for an association between a healthy diet and hippocampal volumes. Component analyses support the hypothesis that frequent, intensive alcohol consumption may have a deleterious effect on the brain compared with low consumption.  

The association between short-term ambient air pollution and outpatient visits for schizophrenia

Limited studies have been conducted to assess the relationship between short-term exposure to ambient air pollution and schizophrenia attacks. This study aimed to investigate the associations between short-term air pollution exposure and schizophrenia outpatient visits […]  In conclusion, short-term exposure to ambient air pollution (PM10, SO2, and NO2) can be associated with increased risk of daily outpatient visits for schizophrenia, which may contribute to the further understanding of the potential adverse effects of air pollution in schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders.

Psychiatrist over-medicated hundreds of children in his care, search warrant says

The warrant accuses Hall of over-medicating 754 children in his care, prescribing an “elevated” number of psychiatric medications that were “outside normal prescribing habits.” […] “Hall has been a scourge of child psychiatry, and people have known about his bad practices for years,” said George Davis, CYFD’s former director of psychiatry. “He was widely known as one of the worst prescribers in New Mexico.”

Today, the longtime Albuquerque practitioner is under investigation by the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office in connection with the drug overdose deaths of 36 patients, according to a search warrant filed in Second Judicial District Court on Sept. 5. 


News & Information for October 25, 2018

Aerobic exercise has antidepressant treatment effects

An analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials indicates that supervised aerobic exercise has large antidepressant treatment effects for patients with major depression. The systematic review and meta-analysis is published in Depression and Anxiety. […] 455 adult patients (18-65 years old) with major depression as a primary disorder, supervised aerobic exercise was performed on average for 45 minutes, at moderate intensity, 3 times per week, and for 9.2 weeks. It showed a significantly large overall antidepressant effect compared with antidepressant medication and/or psychological therapies.

Are your meds making you fat? What you need to know

Your medicine cabinet could be making you fat. Most people don’t realize that many common drugs cause weight gain from bloating, increasing the appetite, or by slowing down the metabolism. […]  “The drugs we are concerned about are drugs for chronic diseases, like diabetes and psychiatric problems.” 

Why do we stay in relationships that make us unhappy?

Why persist in a joyless romance when we could simply break up? A new study has found a surprising answer. […] Some existing research has suggested that people may find it hard to let go of partners who make them unhappy because they are afraid of being single. Other studies note that people are more likely to stay in a relationship if they perceive that the effort their partner puts into its success matches their own. […] However, the current study suggests that a key factor in a person’s decision to stay in an unhappy relationship may actually be an altruistic one. “When people perceived that the partner was highly committed to the relationship they were less likely to initiate a breakup,” Joel explains.

Deaths due to tainted herbal medicine underreported

As part of health and wellness tourism, Western travelers to many Asian countries now often visit herbal centers. […] “This type of health tourism is based upon learning about and consuming traditional medicinal herbs and is an important part of the worldwide medical tourism industry […] The composition of many of these products is uncertain, there may be contaminants and pharmaceutical additives, and their interaction with prescription medications is unpredictable,” says Professor Byard. […] Adulterants have been linked to a range of side effects of varying severity, including hypertension, heart problems, psychiatric disorders, and in some instances even deaths.


News & Information for October 24, 2018

The nose knows: scientists confirm scent of lavender reduces anxiety

Purple and pleasant, lavender has long been used by folk medicine to induce calmness. Now, a study published Tuesday in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience offers new insight into how linalool, one of the relaxation-inducing components found in lavender, works. […] In addition to noting the anxiolytic effects of the linalool, researchers found that mice were able to navigate an elevated maze without trouble – indicating linalool didn’t impair motor functions. Mice injected with benzodiazepines exhibited signs of drunkenness.

Medicating our kids: a new perspective on ADHD

This post will focus on ADHD, but psychiatry is like a blob consuming as much of our population as it can. From 1994 to 2003, for instance, there was an 8,000% increase in children 0-19 treated for Bipolar Disorder. Critics have implicated direct to consumer advertising (only legal in the US and New Zealand) including comics for kids, financial courtship of doctors who claim to be beyond influence, ghost-written, and pharmaceutically funded research, and paid key opinion leaders positioned to dismiss safety concerns. Psychiatric studies funded by pharma are 4x more likely to be published if they are positive, and only 18% of psychiatrists disclose their conflicts of interests when they publish data.

OCD symptoms could be reduced with ‘brain-training’ app, study says

People with obsessive compulsive disorder could manage their symptoms, including excessive handwashing and contamination fears, by using a “brain training” app, according to its developers. Researchers from the University of Cambridge in Britain, who tested the smartphone app on people without the disorder but had strong contamination fears, found one week of training can lead to significant improvements of OCD symptoms. The findings were published Tuesday in Scientific Reports.

There’s a prescription app for that? Digital therapeutics on the rise

More and more, digital therapeutics are making headlines, from the work being done to treat schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis by Pear Therapeutics and Novartis to a prescription-restricted app for patients with substance abuse disorder. In fact, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved about 30 of these apps this year alone.


News & Information for October 23, 2018

Antipsychotic drugs don’t ease ICU delirium or dementia

Powerful drugs that have been used for decades to treat delirium are ineffective for that purpose, according to a study published online Monday in the New England Journal of Medicine. […] “There’s not a shred of evidence in this entire investigation that this aggressive approach to treating delirium with antipsychotics, which is commonplace and usual care, did anything for the patients,” he concludes.

Government accused of giving migrant kids psychotropic drugs despite court order barring it

Immigrant children held at a Texas detention facility are being given Zoloft and other psychotropic medications, despite a judge’s order to stop doing so, attorneys said in a Friday court filing. Earlier this year, civil rights attorneys presented written statements from children held at the Shiloh Residential Treatment Center claiming to have been given injections and forced to take pills, including what lawyers said were “antipsychotics with very limited FDA-approved uses in children and adolescents.”

Are some people more sensitive to drug side effects?

Q: I rarely take pharmaceutical medicines but when I must, I always seem to have side effects. Are some people just more sensitive to medicines in general? A: Yes. Some people are more sensitive to medications. […] Doctors began to recognize individual differences in drug metabolism in the 1950s. By the 1970s, the London researchers found that slow metabolism of drugs can be an inherited genetic trait. In 1980, they showed that approximately 9 percent of the British population were slow metabolizers.

Flooding the world with psychiatric drugs could boost the burden of mental disorders

To reduce the rising burden of mental disorders around the world, the Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development has declared a need to increase psychiatric services globally […] While reducing the burden of mental disorders is certainly a laudable goal, we believe that implementing this plan will increase the global burden of mental disorders rather than decrease it.


News & Information for October 22, 2018

Higher levels of urinary fluoride associated with ADHD in children

Higher levels of urinary fluoride during pregnancy are associated with more ADHD-like symptoms in school-age children, according to University of Toronto and York University researchers. “Our findings are consistent with a growing body of evidence suggesting that the growing fetal nervous system may be negatively affected by higher levels of fluoride exposure.”

Dr Breggin: ADHD is a diagnosis of exclusion where there is no physical cause. If true this would be a neurotoxic encephalopathy and not a psychiatric disorder — Peter Breggin MD.

A billionaire pledges to fight high drug prices, and the industry is rattled

Billionaire John D. Arnold is spending a chunk of his fortune to campaign against America’s high drug prices. The drug industry is spending a chunk of its fortune to counter him. Mr. Arnold is the biggest single spender on his side of the battle. […] He funded research about the relationship between pharmaceutical packaging and drug costs, leading Medicare to pass new rules that took effect in 2017. The state of California, advised by an Arnold-funded group, passed a law in 2017 requiring drugmakers to justify steep price increases.

How our government helps drug-dealing doctors kill us

Psychiatry and Pain Management’s soaring profits since 1990 were fed by a unique combination of favorable circumstances never before seen: First, they’re paid mostly by federal funds. These include Medicaid, Medicare, and tax subsidies for employer-paid healthcare. But unlike other federally subsidized industries, health industry goods and services are covered by insurance, so high costs don’t deter client use of them. Just imagine all the fine food and posh restaurants we would access if we had hunger insurance that paid for them.

Researchers have discovered how to slow aging

Previous research showed it was possible to reduce the burden of damaged cells, termed senescent cells, and extend lifespan and improve health, even when treatment was initiated late in life. They now have shown that treatment of aged mice with the natural product Fisetin, found in many fruits and vegetables, also has significant positive effects on health and lifespan. […] “These results suggest that we can extend the period of health, termed healthspan, even towards the end of life,” said Robbins. 

The study: Fisetin is a senotherapeutic that extends health and lifespan


News & Information for October 21, 2018

How art helps ease anxiety

Art has helped psychiatric patients cope with anxiety and stress, a mother of two said yesterday. Davonne Campbell added that drawing had provided an emotional outlet for her when under stress. She explained: “Sometimes I need to slow down — because my mind is racing. When I draw, I can really shut everything else out. I don’t show emotion very much. So when I draw, I actually feel more emotional.”

Why anxiety reaches an all-time high during menopause – and 6 tips to ease the pain

An estimated 37 million women in the US and 13 million women in the UK are currently peri- or post-menopausal in the UK which equates to one-third of the entire female population. One in four women will experience debilitating symptoms that can last up to 15 years. […] Anxiety is a common symptom of menopause but it can often be overlooked. Dr Meg Arroll a psychologist on behalf of wellbeing brand Healthspan advises on ways to tackle anxiety during this time.

5 keys to successful relationships

So where to do couples get stuck in their relationships? In my long years of doing couple therapy, I’ve found that there are 5 key areas where couples struggle. If you are able to master these, you have a solid foundation for a successful relationship. See how well you do in each of these areas…

The latest way to conquer social anxiety uses a new mindset, a new study suggests…

People with high levels of social anxiety are more likely to experience these feelings on a regular basis, even in situations that don’t have such high stakes and uncertainty. University of Sydney’s Matthew Modini and Maree Abbott (2018) believe that social anxiety is fed by rumination, or constant thinking, about an upcoming event that leads to these worries. Running over and over again in your mind the many possible things that can go wrong not only causes you to be more anxious, but can also impact your behavior once you’re in the actual situation.   


News & Information for October 20, 2018

Aerobic exercise has antidepressant treatment effects

An analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials indicates that supervised aerobic exercise has large antidepressant treatment effects for patients with major depression. The systematic review and meta-analysis is published in Depression and Anxiety. […] Also, aerobic exercise revealed moderate-to-large antidepressant effects among trials with lower risk of bias, as well as large antidepressant effects among trials with short-term interventions (up to 4 weeks) and trials involving preferences for exercise.

Immigrant children still being drugged at shelter despite judge’s order, lawyers say

The government is violating a federal judge’s order to stop medicating immigrant children held at a troubled Texas shelter without proper consent and to move the children to other housing, attorneys for the children allege in new court filings. […] one child told the lawyers: “The drugs make me feel really tired and sluggish. … Sometimes I have stomach pain and a lot of headaches. … No one from Shiloh has asked permission from my mother or my aunt to give me the medications.”


News & Information for October 19, 2018

Lower your risk of dementia with life choices

There is so much information out there about genetic reasons for developing Dementia. However, there will never be just one Alzheimer’s gene, and genetic predisposition for a disease is not your destiny. Although getting older is the biggest risk factor for dementia, evidence shows there are things you can do to help lower your risk. You can influence your genes with food and with your thoughts. […] Avoid medication that shows evidence of being linked to Alzheimer’s: some pain medication, sleep medication, antidepressants, and several COPD, asthma, & bladder control medicines.

Pooling data may hide negative outcomes for antidepressants

A new study, published in Psychological Medicine, found evidence for a specific type of publication bias distorting the evidence about antidepressant efficacy. Negative studies (studies that found that antidepressants were ineffective) were far more likely to be published only in pooled-trials studies, usually addressing secondary questions. On the other hand, positive studies were likely to be published as stand-alone publications touting the effectiveness of antidepressants, in addition to pooled-trials studies. This skews the published evidence for the primary question of antidepressant efficacy.

Brain scans cast doubt on ‘average patient with schizophrenia’

Vast individual differences in brain structure make the concept of “the average patient with schizophrenia” practically meaningless, suggests a study published online in JAMA Psychiatry. “The brains of individuals with schizophrenia differ so much from the average that the average has little to say about what might be occurring in the brain of an individual,” said researcher André Marquand, PhD, of Radboud University Medical Center in the Netherlands. […] The idea of an average patient with schizophrenia, researchers concluded, “is a noninformative construct in psychiatry that falls apart when mapping abnormalities at the level of the individual patient.”

How to find yourself — whatever that means

I need to find myself,” is the type of thing that people say right before they announce a break from dating, decide to go on a silent meditation retreat, or quit their job. It’s a pretty vague phrase, but it’s also dramatic, so it often gets the point across that you need a change in some capacity. But what does “finding yourself” really mean? And how do you know when you’ve found it? “When people say ‘finding themselves,’ what they really mean is finding meaning in life,” says Jenny Yip, PsyD, board-certified clinical psychologist and clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine. 


News & Information for October 18, 2018

Benzodiazepines may increase suicide risk in some patients

Long-term use of benzodiazepines may increase the risk of death by suicide in patients with both chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study published online in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society. […] Long-term use of benzodiazepines in patients with COPD who also had PTSD, they found, more than doubled the risk of suicide and raised the rate of psychiatric admissions.

Sex-crazed fish becoming super horny because of huge levels of antidepressants in water supply

Fish are becoming increasingly horny because of massive quantities of unnatural chemicals in the water, according to a study. Prozac, used as an antidepressant in humans, is making fish hellbent on reproduction, researchers from Monash University found. […] Mr Bertram wrote in Science Trends : “In one-on-one mating trials, males in the high-fluoxetine treatment performed more frequent copulatory behaviour towards females than did males in the unexposed treatment.”

3 tips for seeing the happiness you already have

Have you ever stopped to think about what it means to be happy? It’s not an uncommon question to ponder. After all, most of us are pursuing happiness in one form or another. And if we are pursuing something it should mean that we have defined it, right? […] Happiness often hides in plain sight. Seeing it, however, will require a different approach than many of us are accustomed to taking. Check out these three tips for finding the happiness that is likely right in front of you.


News & Information for October 17, 2018

The Cochrane Collaboration has failed us all

Gøtzsche has been “expelled” from the collaboration, removed from the governing board by a 6-5 vote, and ousted as a contributing member of the organization, I am slapping the side of my head, and wondering why I ever thought it would be otherwise. In his public statements about psychiatric practices and its treatments, Gøtzsche had publicly donned the cloth of the heretic, and there is a long history, at least in this discipline of psychiatry, of heretics being booted from the tribe, or at least sent out to pasture. Loren Mosher, Peter Breggin, and David Healy are some of the more familiar names that tell of such banishment.

How we experience happiness changes with age

A new study has found that the way people experience happiness can actually depend on their age. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania discovered that young people tend to link happiness with excitement and people in older age groups are happiest when they feel content. […] “When a 20-year-old and a 60-year-old express feeling ‘happy,’ they are likely feeling quite different things.” The research shows that our definition of happiness, our values, and priorities all change as we age. The findings are important to consider for people who find themselves experiencing joy differently and potentially confusing this with unhappiness.

National bans on hitting kids linked to lower rates of youth violence

A new international study has revealed that national bans on physically reprimanding children by slapping or spanking them are linked to a major reduction in youth violence. The researchers found that rates of physical fighting among young people are 42 to 69 percent lower in countries that prohibit corporal punishment at home and at school compared to countries without any such bans in place.


News & Information for October 16, 2018

Marine biologist: “Our oceans are swimming in antidepressants”

In 2009, the NYC Department of Environment Protections discovered numerous pharmaceuticals floating around in the city’s tap water. A 2010 follow-up study concluded that trace amounts of Ibuprofen, caffeine, Butalbital, DEET—yes, insect repellant—and a variety of prescription and illicit drugs, along with personal care products, posed no threat to us. […] And now, a new study published in British Journal of Psychiatry is targeting doctors and Big Pharma: marine life is suffering due to our overuse of antidepressants.

Exercise can alleviate Depression in Parkinson’s patients, review shows

The study also revealed that exercise can increase BDNF levels in Parkinson’s patients, highlighting exercise’s potential not only to treat depression, but also motor symptoms typically associated with Parkinson’s disease. […] Another study reported similar findings in depressed Parkinson’s patients who participated in a 12-week exercise program.

Sloan Kettering researchers correct the record by revealing company ties

Top researchers at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center have filed at least seven corrections with medical journals recently, divulging financial relationships with health care companies that they did not previously disclose. […] Beyond revisiting disclosures, Memorial Sloan Kettering is undertaking a broader review of its staff’s interactions with the health care and pharmaceutical industries, including whether senior leaders should sit on the boards of publicly traded companies. 

Is happiness what we think it is?

When what one is truly seeking is lasting fulfillment, but one mistakenly looks for it in the ephemeral pleasures of materialism, financial success, sex, food and other forms of instant gratification, what we are actually doing is trying to ‘pleasure our way to fulfillment’ as O’Brien suggests. We search endlessly outside ourselves, struggling with the circumstances of our lives, working harder, being busier, striving further, all for the love, belonging and wholeness – the fulfillment – that already exists inside each of us. 


News & Information for October 15, 2018

Harsh parenting may make kids antisocial: Study

Parents, take note! A harsh environment at home and less emotional warmth can make children aggressive and antisocial, a study has found. […] The study, published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, showed that the twin who experienced stricter or harsher treatment and less emotional warmth from parents had a greater chance of showing aggression as well as a set of characteristics known as callous-unemotional (CU) traits.

Common drugs may be contributing to depression

Over one-third of Americans take at least one prescription drug that lists depression as a potential side effect, a new study reports, and users of such drugs have higher rates of depression than those who don’t take such drugs. […] About 200 prescription drugs can cause depression, and the list includes common medications like proton pump inhibitors (P.P.I.s) used to treat acid reflux, beta-blockers used to treat high blood pressure, birth control pills and emergency contraceptives, anticonvulsants like gabapentin, corticosteroids like prednisone and even prescription-strength ibuprofen. Some of these drugs are also sold over-the-counter in pharmacies.

Hundreds of supplements are tainted with hidden pharmaceutical drugs

A new analysis of 10 years of FDA records reveals that from 2007 to 2016, almost 750 dietary supplements were found to be contaminated with secret doses of totally unregulated drugs, including prescription medicines, banned and unapproved chemicals, and designer steroids. […] Other chemicals included hidden antidepressants, a withdrawn weight loss drug called sibutramine, and undeclared anabolic steroids or steroid-like substances.


News & Information for October 14, 2018

Scotland’s secret addicts?: the patients hooked on antidepressants – and harmed by withdrawal

Mrs Duthie’s experience is one of hundreds of Scottish patient accounts submitted last week to Public Health England’s landmark inquiry into prescribed drug dependence. It also comes as figures published this week revealed that a record 902,168 people in Scotland were prescribed antidepressants last year, and new research indicates that the percentage of patients who suffer severe and long-lasting withdrawal effects is much higher that previously estimated.

Light therapy may improve sleep, depressive symptoms in perimenopausal women

Among perimenopausal women with depressive symptoms, light therapy combined with other sleep interventions improved mood and sleep scores in as few as 2 weeks, according to findings from a preliminary study […] the researchers found that light treatment combined with total and partial wake therapy improved symptoms by phase advancing women’s circadian rhythms of melatonin in relation to the sleep/wake cycle.


News & Information for October 13, 2018

Depression: Why a dog is better than Prozac

Renowned psychologist Martin Seligman says we should stop treating depression as an illness to be fixed with pills. Martin Seligman has spent decades trying to help miserable people to feel less unhappy. Now, at the age of 76 and acclaimed worldwide as “the father of positive psychology”, he believes that our approach to depression is all wrong. We are, he says, treating it as an illness when often it is not. As a result, doctors are too quick to prescribe antidepressants when other remedies, such as therapy or even getting a pet, may be more effective.

Benzodiazepines could increase suicide risk in COPD and PTSD patients

Researchers have found that long-term use of benzodiazepine medications in patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) could lead to an increased risk of suicide. […] They found that long-term use of benzodiazepines in COPD patients who also had PTSD more than doubled their risk of suicide. These patients also had higher rates of psychiatric admissions.

Millions addicted to benzos as overdoses skyrocket

Overdoses in benzodiazepines have grown eightfold between 2002 and 2016. That’s due in large part to a stiff increase in the amount of benzos being prescribed. The number jumped 67 percent from 1997 to 2013. Some consider benzos the other big prescription drug problem after opioids […] Once you’re hooked on benzos, detoxing from them can be a struggle. “If you think of this kind of drug to be calming, the withdrawal symptoms are the complete opposite,” Dr. Manipod says. Quitting cold turkey can cause anxiety, decreased sleep, and the possibility of seizures.

Getting off psychiatric drugs can be more dangerous that starting, so before you try, please read Dr Breggin’s, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal.


News & Information for October 12, 2018

Eating junk food raises risk of depression, says multi-country study

Eating junk food increases the risk of becoming depressed, a study has found, prompting calls for doctors to routinely give dietary advice to patients as part of their treatment for depression. In contrast, those who follow a traditional Mediterranean diet are much less likely to develop depression because the fish, fruit, nuts and vegetables that diet involves help protect against Britain’s commonest mental health problem, the research suggests.

Clozaril is associated with secondary antibody deficiency

Clozapine [Clozaril] use was associated with significantly reduced immunoglobulin levels and an increased proportion of patients using more than five antibiotic courses in a year. Antibody testing is not included in existing clozapine monitoring programmes but may represent a mechanistic explanation and modifiable risk factor for the increased rates of pneumonia and sepsis-related mortality previously reported in this vulnerable cohort.

Online insomnia therapy offers round-the-clock benefits

Digital cognitive behavioral therapy (dCBT) improves not only insomnia symptoms, but functional health, psychological well-being, and sleep-related quality of life, according to a year-long study involving 1,711 people. […] Previous research has identified insomnia as a risk factor for the development of mental health disorders, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. […] “In clinical studies, dCBT has repeatedly achieved statistically significant and clinically meaningful results for outcomes including sleep, mental health, and daytime functioning.” 


News & Information for October 11, 2018

The global ‘mental health’ movement – cause for concern

On October 10th, 2018, World Mental Health Day, The Lancet Commission on Global Mental Health and Sustainable Development published a report outlining a proposal to “scale up” mental health care globally. At the same time, the UK government is hosting a Global Mental Health Ministerial Summit with the intention of laying out a course of action to implement these mental health policies globally. In response, a coalition of mental health activists and service-users have organized an open letter detailing their concerns with the summit and report. The response has attracted the support of critical professionals, psychologists, psychiatrists, and researchers.

Prozac-induced Stevens-Johnson syndrome and liver injury

A 41-year-old female presented with a skin rash and abnormal liver function tests after the recent initiation of fluoxetine. Skin and liver biopsies showed features of SJS [Stevens-Johnson syndrome] and DILI [Drug-induced liver injuries], respectively. Fluoxetine [Prozac] was stopped, following which there was improvement in her liver function tests and skin rash, without progression to fulminant hepatic failure.

Couples who use pronouns ‘we’ and ‘us’ may be happier in love

Researchers from the University of California investigated the correlation between the use of first-person plural pronouns (such as “we”, “our”, “us”) and the health of romantic relationships. […] They came to the conclusion that “we-talk” proved beneficial in all categories, corresponding with happier relationships on all counts.

Recovering emotions after 24 years on antidepressants

The last morning antidepressant I took, I had to stop taking it when people told me how zombie-like I was. I spoke and moved very slowly. After almost 25 years of taking antidepressants, I had no emotion left whatsoever. I felt dead and wanted to be dead. I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t do daily tasks, keep up on my daily chores, or manage my own house. We had 36 acres of property that I had been managing, but I couldn’t do it anymore.


News & Information for October 10, 2018

Soaring antidepressant use is turning our waters into a ‘drug soup’ and changing marine life’s ability to mate, feed and move

Rising use of antidepressants is turning our waters into a ‘drug soup’ and harming marine life, experts warn. […] the drugs can cause havoc in the natural world after they pass out of the body of the person taking them in the form of urine and faeces and enter the water supply. Effects include the chemicals causing limpets to lose their ability to cling to rocks, as well as shrimp swimming towards areas populated by predators.

Your antidepressants are bad for the environment, study shows

“Antidepressant and antianxiety medications are found everywhere, in sewage, surface water, ground water, drinking water, soil, and accumulating in wildlife tissues.” […] “Laboratory studies are reporting changes such as how some creatures reproduce, grow, the rate at which it matures, metabolism, immunity, feeding habits, the way it moves, its colour and its behaviour,” says Ford.

Soaring anti-depressant use in the North East is ‘dangerous’

North East MP Ronnie Campbell has warned that a surge in anti-depressant prescriptions has reached “dangerous” levels. Official figures show that the North East tops the league table for anti-depressant prescriptions across the UK. The number of prescriptions across the North East rose by 285,189 in one year, from 4,868,544 in 2016/17 to 5,153,733 in 2017/18, NHS data shows.

30 medical professionals on notice for overprescribing opioids

The U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Friday, Oct. 5, it identified this group of people “prescribing opioids in significantly higher quantities than their peers or to patients who may pose a high risk of abuse or diversion. […] We aim to make these medical prescribers — who are outliers — aware of their atypical practices, so that they can make informed decisions about whether their opioid prescriptions are for a legitimate medical purpose. We will also continue to monitor prescribing habits.”

Here’s why you shouldn’t take OTC sleeping pill every night

“Many OTC sleep aids—such as Benadryl and Tylenol PM—contain diphenhydramine,” says Dr. Donovan Maust, co-author of the recent study and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Michigan Medicine. Diphenhydramine is an anticholinergic drug, which means it blocks activity of a brain chemical called acetylcholine, which plays a role in muscle activation and also in brain functions like alertness, learning and memory, Maust says.

Four certified ways to get out from depression

Depression is way more than your momentarily feeling of sadness. It’s a mood disorder characterized by prolonged feeling of sadness and loss of interest in daily activities. As depicted by the definition above,it’s certainly not a good state to be in,the good news is this-just as you can think yourself depressed and fearful…you can think your way out of depression. […] Real quick, Here are 4 Practical ways to deal with depression…


News & Information for October 9, 2018

Benzodiazepines linked to risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Researchers found that use of benzodiazepines and related drugs was associated with a 6% increase in the odds of developing AD. There was a dose–response relationship between benzodiazepine and related drug use and AD risk, but this disappeared when adjusted for other psychotropic use, suggesting that the association could be partially explained by other psychotropics or concomitant use of these medicines.

5 signs you need couples’ therapy, according to experts

Inevitably, all relationships have their ups and downs — and most of the lows are things that that the two of you can work through, so long as you are a united front, and if you are both willing to put in the effort to make the relationship work. Even the happiest and most loving couples have moments of tension and friction that, if left unresolved, can quickly grow into more serious issues and turn into toxic patterns that will doom the romance. Fortunately, before that happens, you might be able to spot the signs you need couples therapy so that you can fix the situation.

Limpets under threat due to rise in antidepressant use, scientists warn

Limpets are being killed due to the rise in antidepressant use which means they struggle to cling onto rocks, scientists have warned. A new study argues that aquatic creatures in and around the UK are now “bathing in a soup” of the drugs after prescription rates doubled in the last ten years. Experts have called for doctors to consider the effect on the environment before offering medication such as Prozac, saying its presence in the ecosystem can affect everything from a creatures’ growth and shape to its movement and feeding habits.


News & Information for October 8, 2018

GPs are failing to warn millions on antidepressants about their potential side-effects

Millions of people on antidepressants are never warned about their side-effects, experts say. And many doctors are unaware of the medication’s potential dangers, according to a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Prescribed Drug Dependence. A survey of 319 antidepressant users – all of whom were trying to quit the pills – reveals 64 per cent were given no information about the potential risks and side effects by their doctors. And 25 per cent say they got no advice on how to give up the drugs.

The Best-kept Secret of Love

Why is it that some people can stay in love for decades while others fall out of love as soon as the novelty wears off and the rose-colored glasses become clear? Surely, the attitude we bring to a relationship before it even begins contributes greatly to its longevity. We must know that love requires a lot of attention and is hard work at times. To expect magic instead of mutual growth within the connection can be a fatal mistake. It is also extremely helpful if the couple has loving habits as well as loving skills, such as rewarding the partner’s attempts to learn and grow.

New way to boost happiness and lower depression

At a recent seminar, someone asked me if there was a research finding I wished more people were aware of. There are many, I said, but here are two findings I wish more people knew about.

1.     You can have a direct impact on your well-being by identifying your core strengths and using them in your life.

2.     You can have a direct impact on your depression by identifying your core strengths and using them more in your life.


News & Information for October 7, 2018

Less than half of clinical trials comply with legislation to accurately report results

A new study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), has found that research sponsors continue to fail at reporting their results as required by recent legislation. More than half of new clinical trials in the European Union failed to comply with this legislation. […] To solve this problem, the US, the EU, and other national and international bodies have created legislation designed to force research sponsors to post their results—whether they find what they are looking for or not. 

Nonclinical factors are associated with long-term benzodiazepine use in older adults

A new study, led by Lauren Gerlach, assistant professor in psychiatry at the University of Michigan, examines factors related to long-term benzodiazepine use in older adults. The results of the study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, indicate that poor sleep quality, white race, a larger initial prescription are all associated with transitioning from short-term to long-term benzodiazepine use. 


News & Information for October 6, 2018

12 ways religion can boost well-being

Benefits of religion become cliché when speaking about family, values and community building. While all those are true, there are many real, well-studied aspects of religion that don’t get enough attention. Some of these benefits, such as gratitude, don’t require religion, but the faithful will find themselves practicing it more often. So here we go:

How to start keeping a journal for increased health and happiness

Journaling has been an emotional and creative anchor for me for as long as I can remember. I got in the habit as a young girl, after coming across my poet-grandmother’s notebooks in the attic of our home, where I found her composition books filled with beautiful copperplate penmanship. […] “We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospection,” she said. Keeping a detailed and vivid account of your life allows you to savor and relive the moments that might otherwise disappear from memory.

Interpersonal psychotherapy helps depressed women with histories of sexual trauma

In the study, researchers compared the results of treating depressed women with sexual abuse histories with either Interpersonal Psychotherapy-Trauma or traditional clinic psychotherapy. Interpersonal Psychotherapy is a time-limited therapy that focuses on reducing psychological distress by resolving interpersonal conflicts and strengthening social relationships. Such women constitute more than 20 percent of female patients in publicly funded community mental health centers.


News & Information for October 5, 2018

Hug it out: study shows hugs really do make us happier, especially on hard days

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University say people who consider themselves huggers actually have better overall health and stronger relationships. Previous research has shown the benefits of hugs and the role of touch, but studies have typically focused on romantic relationships. This latest work sought to examine the power of hugging among various social circles.

Overlapping opioid and benzodiazepine prescriptions in chronic pain: rates and related outcomes

Concurrent use of benzodiazepines and long-term opioids was found in 25% of patients with chronic pain, as well as to be associated with elevated risk of falling and visiting the emergency department, in a study published in Pain Medicine. […] After controlling for confounding factors, the presence of a psychiatric diagnosis was found to be the only variable significantly associated with concurrent prescription of opioids and benzodiazepine. […] Participants with prescriptions for both opioids and benzodiazepines vs opioids alone were found to experience 3.27 times more falls in the 3 months before the study (P <.001), and to be 1.66 times more likely to visit the emergency room in the year preceding the study period.

NICE guidelines on antidepressant withdrawal in ‘urgent need of correction’, say researchers

Researchers call for guidance to be “urgently” updated after finding that seven out of ten studies providing data on the duration of antidepressant withdrawal symptoms contradict UK and US withdrawal guidelines. […] They found that withdrawal incidence rates from 14 of the studies ranged from 27% to 86%, with a weighted average of 56%. […] It was also found that it was not uncommon for people to experience withdrawal for several months and beyond — two of the studies reviewed indicated that for 40% of people who withdraw, the effects lasted for at least 6 weeks and for 25% they lasted 12 weeks or more.


News & Information for October 4, 2018

Doctors must wake-up to patients hooked on depression pills

Stevie Lewis went to see her GP for help with insomnia after struggling with the pressures of starting up a business consultancy. […] And instead of sleeping tablets, she was given a prescription for paroxetine, a type of antidepressant known as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), thought to work by increasing the level of a mood-enhancing brain chemical, serotonin. […] However, her shock at being prescribed an antidepressant was nothing compared with the horror that awaited her when she tried to wean herself off paroxetine.

My agony hooked on antidepressants and the hell of withdrawal

 There are millions of us on antidepressants — around seven million in England alone. That’s 16 per cent of the adult population — one of the highest rates in the world. […] four million face the risk of serious withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop taking their medication. These can include disorders such as nausea, insomnia, extreme irritability and chronic fatigue. Researcher Dr James Davies, of Roehampton University, said: ‘This new review reveals what many patients have known for years — that withdrawal from antidepressants often causes severe, debilitating symptoms which can last for weeks, months or longer.’

Antidepressants may be making your depression worse

Healy warns that regardless of what causes depression, the drugs used to “treat” the illness are not improving. He says that in some cases, the safety and efficacy of new drugs is declining. Not only may antidepressants not address the root cause of depression, but they could also be dangerously and permanently altering brain function.

In reversal, GSK to restart limited payments to doctors

British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline will resume payments to doctors for promotion of its medicines in certain situations, stepping away from a 2013 pledge which had banned the practice. GSK will now allow payments to healthcare professionals who speak about its products in promotional settings, as well as pay for travel costs for doctors outside the U.S. to attend GSK-organized events. 


News & Information for October 3, 2018

Study: Limiting kids’ screen time improves brain function

Cutting back on screen time, along with the right amount of sleep and physical activity, is linked to improvements in cognition among children, a study suggests. […] “Evidence suggests that good sleep and physical activity are associated with improved academic performance, while physical activity is also linked to better reaction time, attention, memory and inhibition.” 

Carrie Ann Inaba reveals antidepressants caused her to hallucinate she was stabbing herself

Carrie Ann Inaba revealed she once suffered a hallucination she was stabbing herself after taking antidepressants. […] “I want to share something, when I took the med it caused me to have this weird hallucination of me stabbing myself over and over again […] I was lucky that I was healthy enough and had a good support system that I could say, ‘What is this? It doesn’t feel like me.’”

Notice it was critical that she realized that wasn’t her. Yet many are told by their doctor, after such adverse reactions, that now they also need an antipsychotic because the antidepressant has “unmasked” an underlying psychosis. Such a polypharmacy sink hole is frightfully common. 

AHCA members record progress in reducing use of antipsychotics

New government data show that skilled nursing facilities that are members of the American Health Care Association (AHCA) recorded a greater percent reduction than nonmember facilities in the use of antipsychotic drugs […] According to the new statistics from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), 23.6 percent of residents in AHCA member centers received an antipsychotic medication in the fourth quarter of 2011 compared with 14.8 percent of residents in the first quarter of 2018.

Antidepressant withdrawal symptoms severe, says new report

Half of all those taking antidepressants experience withdrawal problems when they try to give them up and for millions of people in England, these are severe, according to a new review of the evidence commissioned by MPs. […] The review, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, focused on 14 studies of antidepressants that had relevant data on withdrawal symptoms. The studies, which were diverse, showed that between 27% and 86% of people suffered from them, with a weighted average of 56%.

It can be more dangerous to get off than on psychiatric drugs. Before you try, please read Dr Breggin’s, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal.

Antidepressants were the second most prescribed drug in Halton last year

General Practitioners have called on the Government to increase the funding for psychotherapist services to rely less on these drugs as more people seek help for mental health problems. Figures show that antidepressant prescriptions in Halton clinical commissioning group (CCG) went up by 17% from 2014-15 to 2017-18, the latest period with updated data.


News & Information for October 2, 2018

Study confirms link between violent video games and physical aggression

The latest in the long-standing debate over violent video games: They do cause players to become more physically aggressive. An international study looking at more than 17,000 adolescents, ages nine to 19, from 2010 to 2017, found playing violent video games led to increased physical aggression over time. […] “Based on our findings, we feel it is clear that violent video game play is associated with subsequent increases in physical aggression.”

The study’s conclusion:

On the basis of this metaanalysis, we conclude that playing violent video games is associated with greater levels of overt physical aggression over time, after accounting for prior aggression. These findings support the general claim that violent video game play is associated with increases in physical aggression over time. Furthermore, the results speak to three specific criticisms of this literature by demonstrating: (i) that violent video game play is associated with increases in measures of serious aggressive behavior (i.e., overt, physical aggression), (ii) that estimates of this effect are only slightly decreased by inclusion of statistical covariates, and (iii) by finding no evidence of publication bias.

College of Physicians should investigate seniors’ antipsychotics prescriptions

The news that one in four seniors living in B.C. long term care facilities are being given antipsychotic medication without a supporting diagnosis is appalling. […] As a society we have a responsibility to advocate for seniors’ safety and well-being in long-term care and must ensure abuse with drugs is not part of the equation.

Does the quantity of social interactions affect happiness?

These results are correlational: They show an association between interaction time and happiness, not that one necessarily causes the other. But putting all of this together, it seems reasonable that spending time around other people is a benefit. Even ordinary interactions may reinforce your bond to other people, which can make you happier and more satisfied with your life.


News & Information for October 1, 2018

  New Video Series: ‘Parenting Today’

Parents are bombarded on all sides—from mainstream media, school teachers and administrators, mental health professionals, pharmaceutical companies, and their own peers—with the following message: something called “the mental disorders of childhood” exists and your child may well have one (or more) of them. Isn’t your child restless? Isn’t he squirming? Isn’t he sad? Doesn’t he say “no” a lot? All of these are symptoms of mental disorders! Watch out: your child probably has one.

Usage of depression pills almost halved among children in Denmark

Authorities throughout the world have warned against using depression pills for children and adolescents after the FDA had shown in 2004 and 2006 that these pills double the risk of suicide compared to placebo in the randomised trials.1 2 We know the mechanism of action for this effect. The pills can cause akathisia (an extreme form of restlessness that predisposes to suicide, violence and homicide), emotional numbness and psychosis.

Children who attend religious services are happier adults

While previous studies have linked adults’ religious involvement to better health and well-being, including lower risk of premature death, this one included more than 5,000 youths who were followed eight to 14 years. […] Participation in both religious services, prayer and meditation during childhood and adolescence, however, seem strongly associated with subsequent health and well-being.

Psychotropic polypharmacy is common in Alzheimer’s disease

Up to half of people with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) use a psychotropic drug, and one in five uses two or more psychotropics concomitantly […] Psychotropic drug use was more common among persons with Alzheimer’s disease already five years before the diagnosis, and the difference to comparison persons without AD increased at the time of diagnosis. Four years after the diagnosis, psychotropic drug use was three times more common in persons with AD than in comparison persons.


News & Information for September 30, 2018

Rise in number of antidepressants prescribed by doctors in St Helens

Figures show that antidepressant prescriptions in St Helens Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) went up by a fifth from 2014-15 to 2017-18, the latest period with updated data. Over that period, the number of registered patients in the area hardly varied, rising by 1.3 per cent. From April 2017 to March 2018, medical services prescribed antidepressants 345,565 times, 57,164 more times than three years earlier. 

Antipsychotics Induced Sexual Dysfunction

Sexual side effects due to antipsychotics are now considered as under reported side effect all over the world. Even though incidence rates of SD [sexual dysfunction] are higher only few are reported due to various reasons. […] Physicians should aware of routinely asking about undesired treatment effects of antipsychotics including effects on sexual function, as these drugs have the potential to cause various kinds of abnormalities. 

Psychotropic drug prescribing in residential aged care homes

Sedating psychotropic drugs, including antipsychotics and benzodiazepines, are commonly prescribed in residential aged care facilities (RACFs), despite extensive evidence of their limited efficacy for treating behavioural and psychological symptoms in older people and of their potential for eliciting serious adverse effects, including death.


News & Information for September 29, 2018

Feeding seniors antipsychotic drugs they don’t need is abuse

One in four British Columbia seniors living in a long-term care facility is being given antipsychotic medication without a supporting diagnosis. It’s a horrific statistic that amounts to nothing less than abuse of seniors. It’s important to emphasize the fact that the seniors we’re talking about have no illness to support giving them these extreme medications. There is no medical reason to give them these drugs.  […] We are left to suppose that these drugs are being given to essentially dope these people into oblivion, so they snooze all day and aren’t a ‘problem’ for their often overworked caretakers.

Consumer Reports: Can your medications cause depression?

A ll medications have the potential to cause unwanted side effects, and depression is among them. In fact, one-third of Americans are now taking meds that can cause this mood disorder, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association this past June. […] 9 Drugs Types That May Cause Depression […] 2. Antidepressants: sertraline (Zoloft and generic), citalopram (Celexa and generic), bupropion (Wellbutrin and generic), and amitriptyline.


News & Information for September 28, 2018

  The secret ingredient to one nursing home’s dramatic drop in antipsychotic use 

Holly Heights Nursing Center in Denver has demonstrated dramatic reductions in the use of antipsychotic drugs in recent years. Janet Snipes, whose been with the home for more than 40 years, says there is one crucial component to their success. “The secret ingredient is staff engagement and buy-in, to get them all to have the drive, commitment and dedication to want to improve quality” […] The nursing facility has been able to drop the percentage of residents receiving antipsychotics from 19.6% in 2013 down to just 1.7% in the year that followed. They’ve been able to maintain that low rate ever since.

13 memory-boosting tips from brain scientists

Certain drugs, including some antidepressants, tranquilizers, and blood pressure medications, have been linked to forgetfulness, according to the Harvard Health Blog. […] Spending time with friends and loved ones is an important factor in slowing memory decline as we age, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, but having a rich social life is also a great way to make sure you have lots of opportunities to rehearse and relive the memories you’re forming, and thus improve your memory.

Rates of ADHD diagnosis and prescription of stimulants continue to rise

Two new articles find that rates of ADHD diagnosis and stimulant prescription continue to rise all over the world. One study found that the ADHD diagnosis has increased in prevalence in the US for the past 20 years; the other study found that stimulant medication use has increased across the world, in all of the countries studied—but with wide variation between regions.

Do you know the value of positive psychology?

The field of positive psychology has many resources to help us increase positivity in our daily lives. […] Most people want to feel good. They strive for positive emotions. Positive psychology analyzes these emotions: what they are, how they improve well-being and how to make them a bigger part of your life. They include compassion, happiness, love, gratitude and satisfaction. They are often based in relationships, achievements and a sense of purpose or meaning. Of course, none of this works if we simply ignore problems.


News & Information for September 27, 2018

Xanax abuse among San Diego teens on the rise

Institute For Public Strategies (IPS) released a report this week warning about the rise of Xanax abuse among teens. The report, compiled from several sources, found most teens gained access to the drug through the medicine cabinets of family members or friends. […] “With opioid addiction, withdrawing and coming off that is uncomfortable but not deadly. Benzos are different. You can’t stop cold turkey because doing so can result in seizures or death.”

Volunteering can greatly benefit one’s mental health

Studies have found that those who volunteer report shorter periods of sadness and depression than those who do not. When one volunteers they are guaranteed to get out of the house and meet other people. Volunteering can boost self-esteem and expand connections in a community, which have been linked to longer life expectancy and better health. Volunteering has been known to give one a sense of purpose and makes one feel good about themselves. 

Older adults being overprescribed sedatives

Older adults in Canada are being overprescribed benzodiazepines and other sedative-hypnotic drugs with brand names such as Ativan, Valium and Xanax, according to University of Alberta experts. […] According to a study the researchers published earlier this year, benzodiazepines make up 20 to 25 per cent of inappropriate prescriptions in the elderly, with rates of use ranging from five to 32 percent in community-dwelling older adults.

Study suggests medical errors now third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Analyzing medical death rate data over an eight-year period, Johns Hopkins patient safety experts have calculated that more than 250,000 deaths per year are due to medical error in the U.S. […] According to the CDC, in 2013, 611,105 people died of heart disease, 584,881 died of cancer and 149,205 died of chronic respiratory disease — the top three causes of death in the U.S. The newly calculated figure for medical errors puts this cause of death behind cancer but ahead of respiratory disease.


News & Information for September 26, 2018

Wrongful expulsion of Peter Gøtzsche tears apart the Cochrane Collaboration

The board of the Cochrane Collaboration, a prestigious group that reviews health evidence, has been reduced from 13 to 6 members, following [protest of] a controversial vote to expel a member for the first time in its 25-year existence. On 14 September, Peter Gøtzsche, director of the Cochrane’s Nordic centre and a member of its governing board, posted a statement on the centre’s website announcing that he had been expelled as a member […] Gøtzsche’s statement says that there is a “growing top-down authoritarian culture and an increasingly commercial business model” taking root at Cochrane that “threaten the scientific, moral and social objectives of the organization”. 

Cochrane Collaboration in turmoil after expulsion of co-founder

Late last week, a narrow majority of the organization’s Governing Board apparently decided to end the Cochrane membership of Peter Gøtzsche […] In a phone interview with Science, Gøtzsche speculated that some foundations funding the collaboration had pressured it to get rid of him because of his highly critical views about pharma. He says he had become increasingly unhappy with what he describes as a “more commercial and more industry-friendly direction” in the organization.

Patients with panic disorder maintain long-term improvement after drug-free treatments

Patients with panic disorder who responded to treatment with either panic-focused psychodynamic psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy or applied relaxation training maintained improvement 1 year after end of therapy, study data revealed. […] “When patients improve in a well-administered and monitored panic-focused psychotherapy, it appears that gains are maintained over the year following treatment regardless of the specific type of psychotherapy for panic disorder that is delivered.”

Before you or a loved one tries to quit psychiatric drugs, please read Dr Breggin’s, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal.       

Polypharmacy associated with higher risk of dementia in nationwide survey in Taiwan

Polypharmacy, defined as the concomitant use of 5 or more medications, has a documented negative association with cognitive impairment such as delirium and is associated, potentially, with a higher risk of dementia. […] Conclusions: Polypharmacy is common in the elderly and is associated with significantly lower cognitive capacity and higher risks of MCI and dementia, especially for persons without diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, or cerebrovascular diseases.


News & Information for September 25, 2018

Are antidepressants essential?

Despite increased antidepressant prescriptions in recent years, reductions in suicides or all-cause mortality did not occur. [1][13] Recent evidence reveals that administered antidepressants actually increase suicide risks by 2-5 times. [2][3][4][5][6][9] A recent meta-analysis, level I evidence, clearly demonstrated that SSRIs double the risk of suicide and violence in adults. [4]

Surge in Kiwi teens taking antidepressants, study shows

A University of Otago and the Best Practice Advocacy Centre (BPAC) study looked into the pharmaceutical use of 1.4 million New Zealand children in a bid to identify trends and areas with inappropriate prescribing. The research collected data from 2010 and 2015 and found that prescriptions of fluoxetine – an antidepressant – increased by 50 per cent in children over 12 across the five-year period. […] The use of methylphenidate to treat attention-deficit disorder, mainly in children older than six, increased by 37.7 per cent.

Why depression pills could be fueling the rise of superbugs

Antidepressants could be contributing to the rise in superbugs. Research suggests that an ingredient in the commonly prescribed antidepressant fluoxetine — or Prozac — causes a mutation in some bacteria, making them resistant to antibiotics.

Overmedication Common in Understaffed Assisted Living Facilities; Zanthion Promises to Ease Burden Ethically

In an average week, approximately 179,000 residents of nursing and assisted living facilities across the country are given unnecessary antipsychotic drugs. The technical term for this unethical “treatment” is “chemical restraint,” and it points to an endemic crisis of overstretched senior care facilities at which such medications serve to make residents “docile” and easier for a harried staff to manage. […] Chemical restraint is very common due to the fact that over 90% of nursing facilities are short-staffed, some severely so.


News & Information for September 24, 2018

Shifting from Unhappiness to Happiness

A study by Moligner et al. (2011) showed that happiness is not fixed and that across the life span, there’s a shift in the meaning of happiness. They studied 12 million personal blogs and found that younger people associated happiness with excitement, and older people are more likely to associate happiness with a sense of peacefulness. 

Running helped me beat depression AND lose 140 lbs

After more than 20 years of being on and off antidepressants, Penny has stopped taking medication for good thanks to taking up running. “Exercise has changed my life. I’ve even tried things like paddle-boarding as a new way of keeping fit.” And Penny’s children have noticed the difference too. “The kids are really happy and proud. The whole atmosphere in the house is better now.”

New York Times covers important study exposing antidepressant-study biases 

A recent study in Psychological Medicine examined how four of these types of biases came into play in research on antidepressants. The authors created a data set containing 105 studies of antidepressants that were registered with the Food and Drug Administration. […] Only half of the research was positive. Almost no one would know that. Even thorough reviews of the literature would find that nearly all studies were positive, and those that were negative were ignored. This is one reason you wind up with 10 percent of Americans on antidepressants when good research shows the efficacy of many of the drugs is far less than believed.

The study: The cumulative effect of reporting and citation biases on the apparent efficacy of treatments: the case of depression


News & Information for September 23, 2018

Antidepressant prescriptions up by 18 per cent in West Suffolk in three years

General Practitioners have called on the Government to increase funding for psychotherapist services to rely less on these drugs as more people seek help for mental health problems. […] From April 2017 to March 2018, medical services prescribed antidepressants 407,041 times, 60,894 more than three years earlier. The figures account for the total number of items prescribed by GPs in the NHS, so several of them could have been issued for the same patient.

Addicted to your smartphone? It might not be what you think it is

Johan Bollen, associate professor in the IU School of Informatics and Computing […] analyzed the group for people who followed one another on the network, creating a social network of about 102,000 users with 2.3 million connections. […] A statistical analysis of that final group found that 94.3 percent of these users had fewer friends on average than their friends. Significantly, it also found that 58.5 percent of these users weren’t as happy as their friends on average. […] This analysis contributes to a growing body of evidence that social media may be harmful to users who ‘overindulge’ in these services.

Antidepressants were the second most prescribed drug in Halton last year

Figures show that antidepressant prescriptions in Halton clinical commissioning group (CCG) went up by 17% from 2014-15 to 2017-18, the latest period with updated data. […] From April 2017 to March 2018, medical services prescribed antidepressants 191,309 times, 27,923 more than three years earlier. These figures account for the total number of items prescribed by GPs in the NHS, so several of them could have been issued for the same patient.

Good news because petting a dog can reduce anxiety and lower your blood pressure

New research conducted by Tombola has shown that petting a dog or any animal really for just 15 minutes has the glorious power to reduce your blood pressure by up to 10 percent. […]  The research also showed that even traditionally hard animals like turtles had the same effect […] “Researchers found that petting a living creature, whether furry or shelled, massively reduced anxiety in the participants,” said the research.


News & Information for September 22, 2018

Antidepressant prescriptions soar across Bradford district, NHS figures reveal

The number of times GPs across the Bradford district have prescribed antidepressants has soared by almost 100,000 in the past three years, according to NHS data. […] The drugs were prescribed a total of 735,671 times across the Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, Bradford City and Bradford Districts Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) between April 2017 to March this year. This equates to a 15 per cent rise from 637,736. The England average was 18 per cent.

More antidepressant prescriptions in West Norfolk

There were over 50 thousand extra prescriptions for anti depressants compared to three years ago. […] Figures from West Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group went up by nearly 20 percent from 2014/15 to 2017/18. Those numbers are for the total number of items prescribed by GPs in the NHS, so several of them could have been issued for the same patient.

Derek Summerfield: NHS antidepressant prescribing—what do we get for £266 million per year?

The more that the mental health field promotes its technologies, such as anti-depressants, as necessary interventions in potentially any area of life, the more there is a downgrading in collective assumptions about the resilience of the average citizen. Ivan Illich called this “cultural iatrogenesis.” […] Can anyone seriously argue that UK society is healthier and happier as a result of our epidemic of antidepressant prescribing: 64.7 million in 2016, up from around 9 million in the 1990s? [6] Antidepressants cost the NHS £266 million in 2016, and these are only the direct costs.

Studies show happiness affects physical health

Studies have shown happiness can not only affect your mental well-being, but also your physical health. […] “The question really shouldn’t be, ‘Are you the kind of person that sees the glass as half-empty or half-full?’” Dr. Glassman said. “The question we should be asking is, ‘How long, how closely, how consistently are you looking at the half-full part?’”

Why being near water is scientifically proven to help you relax

“‘Blue Mind’ is a mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity, and a sense of general happiness associated with water,” Nichols explains. “One of the most important things is how easy it is to experience Blue Mind; being near or on the water can help you escape Red Mind and the distracted, anxious mode you might live in.” Here are four science-backed benefits of blue mind…


News & Information for September 21, 2018

B.C. seniors advocate questions why undiagnosed seniors getting antipsychotics

one in four seniors living in B.C. long-term care facilities is receiving antipsychotic prescriptions without a supporting diagnosis. It is 19.3 per cent higher than the national average (25.3 per cent vs. 21.2 per cent). The rate in the province has decreased by 31.2 per cent compared to five years ago while the national rate dropped 32.7 per cent over the same time period. 

Loneliness hurts more than our feelings — and it could be our next public health crisis

Lonely people are at risk of premature mortality at rates comparable with other well-established risk factors, including lack of physical activity, obesity, substance abuse, poor mental health, injury and violence. […] some of the most troubling spikes of super loneliness were seen amongst men, she said, particularly between the ages of 45 and 64, and in certain categories.”Single, male parents are very lonely — 40 per cent are reporting being lonely,” she said.

Antidepressant use up nearly 17 per cent across Dorset

Figures show that antidepressant prescriptions in the Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group area went up by 17 per cent from 2014-15 to 2017-18, the latest period with updated data. Over that period, the number of registered patients in the area hardly varied, rising by 2.1 per cent. […] From April 2017 to March 2018, medical services in Dorset prescribed antidepressants 970,631 times, 141,623 more than three years prior.

More evidence showing exercise may be good for your mood

All types of exercise appeared to influence how often people reported poor mental health. Some of the strongest associations were found with team sports and cycling, which were associated with a 22% reduction in poor mental health days compared with not exercising, followed by aerobic and gym exercises, which were linked to a 21% reduction. Mindfulness exercises like yoga and tai chi were also linked to a 23% reduction in poor mental health days, relative to no activity at all.


News & Information for September 20, 2018

Making happiness last longer, Goal setting strategies can influence positive emotions

For most people, the sense of happiness derived from a luxurious vacation, a good movie or a tasty dinner at a restaurant may seem short-lived, but what if it were possible to extend these feelings of enjoyment? […] “Our findings suggest that people can change the amount of happiness they get out of an experience,” Ahluwalia says. “A general happiness goal can leave a longer-lasting positive emotional imprint.”

20% of children, adolescents use prescription medications

The researchers found that 19.8 percent of children and adolescents used at least one prescription medication during 2013 to 2014 and 7.1 percent used acute medications (used for no more than 30 days). Concurrent medication use was 7.5 percent overall and was highest among 6- to 12-year-old boys (12 percent) and 13- to 19-year-old boys and girls (10 percent for both). Pooled data from 2009 to 2014 showed that 8.2 percent of concurrent prescription medication users were at risk for a potentially major DDI [drug-drug interactions]. Antidepressants were involved in the majority of interacting regimens, and they occurred more often among adolescent girls than boys (18.1 versus 6.6 percent); this was mainly driven by increased rates of acute medication use.

Why people lose interest in you, and what you can do about it when they do.

It’s a common experience: You meet someone new and things are going great—but after a short time, you’re left wondering, what went wrong? […] The list below provides reasons why people suddenly lose interest and suggestions to prevent it from happening again.

Report: N.H. ranks among top states for foster kids receiving psychiatric drugs

About one-third of children in foster care in New Hampshire in 2013 received psychiatric drugs, one of the highest rates in the country, according to a federal study that urges more monitoring of such children to prevent over-prescription. […] Only two other states – North Dakota and Virginia – had a higher percentage, according to the report, although a number of states had percentages close to that of New Hampshire. The figure for Vermont was 31.6 percent and for Maine was 32.7 percent; data was not available for Massachusetts. 


News & Information for September 19, 2018

More antidepressants prescribed in Shropshire

GPs have called on the government to increase the funding for psychotherapist services to rely less on these drugs as more people seek help for mental health problems. Figures showed a total of 342,242 prescriptions in Shropshire from April 2017 to March 2018. This total is 39,004 more times than for the same period in 2014-17.

UK: How we’ve hooked a generation of children on depression pills they don’t need

Teenagers who take common antidepressants are more likely to feel suicidal, according to a study released last year. A major study concluded children and adolescents have a doubled risk of aggression or suicidal behaviour when taking one of five common drugs to combat depression. […] As I’ve described previously in the Mail, after just two days, I became dangerously psychotic; hallucinating, attacking myself with a knife and believing I had killed my ­children. Doctors didn’t realise my psychosis was caused by a reaction to escitalopram and put me on more pills. The results were ­catastrophic. 

The more drugs, the less the benefit

Anyone taking six different pills (prescription, over the counter, alternative therapies or vitamins and minerals) has a 40 percent chance of an adverse effect from the medication and once 11 are consumed, daily the side effect risk is 100 percent.  […] Often the only way to correct polypharmacy is to institute a drug holiday. Work with one physician to discontinue as many medications as possible.


News & Information for September 18, 2018

Follow-up: Treatment Planning and Medication Monitoring Were Lacking for Children in Foster Care Receiving Psychotropic Medication

medications can have serious side effects and, as ACF suggests, should be used in conjunction with treatment planning mechanisms and effective medication monitoring. […] We selected a sample of 625 children in foster care from the 5 States that had the highest utilization of psychotropic medications in their foster care populations. […] We found that State requirements for oversight of psychotropic medication did not always incorporate these professional practice guidelines.

Rise in number of anti-depressants prescribed in Worcestershire

Figures show that antidepressant prescriptions in south Worcestershire clinical commissioning group (CCG) went up by 18% from 2014-15 to 2017-18, the latest period with updated data. […] From April 2017 to March 2018, medical services prescribed antidepressants 411,178 times, 61,760 more than three years earlier. 

Antidepressant prescriptions in East Lancashire have risen in three years

Figures show that antidepressant prescriptions in East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Group went up by 15% from 2014/15 to 2017/18, the latest period with updated data. Over that period, the number of registered patients in the area hardly varied, rising by 2.1%. From April 2017 to March 2018, medical services prescribed antidepressants 517,947 times, 67,655 more than three years earlier. These figures account for the total number of items prescribed by GPs in the NHS, so several of them could have been issued for the same patient. 

Strengthen your mood with weight training

Pumping iron might inflate not only your muscles, but also your mood, says a study in published in the June issue of JAMA Psychiatry. The study’s authors came to this conclusion after examining the results of 33 randomized clinical trials involving more than 1,800 people. They found that people with mild to moderate depression who performed resistance training two or more days a week saw “significant” reductions in their symptoms, compared with people who did not.


News & Information for September 17, 2018

Mental health patients photographed sleeping on floor of the Royal Hobart Hospital

Psychiatric patients waiting for beds at the Royal Hobart Hospital say they were forced to sleep on the floor of the Emergency Department on Sunday night, with one man saying he felt like he was being treated like an animal. […] “I just felt like an animal. I wouldn’t treat my dog at home like I was treated in that emergency department.”

BREAKING! Few safeguards for foster kids on psych drugs

Thousands of children in foster care may be getting powerful psychiatric drugs prescribed to them without basic safeguards, according to a federal watchdog’s investigation […] The report due Monday [today] from the Health and Human Services inspector general’s office found that about 1 in 3 foster kids from a sample of states were prescribed psychiatric drugs without treatment plans or follow-up, which are considered standard for sound medical care.

How Alaska’s mental health crisis finally reached a breaking point

For years, workers were terribly injured at Alaska Psychiatric Institute […] API’s safety officer sent an email to 19 state officials blowing the whistle on repeated cases of patients inappropriately restrained, secluded and punished, and whose rights were violated […] Patient advocate Faith Myers obtained state reports showing that out of 1,486 patients at API in 2017, 144 were injured. […] API discharged fragile patients directly to homeless shelters without follow-up. Another group is affected, too. Everyone who encounters the many mentally ill people wandering Anchorage streets.

18 vegan doctors who drive the plant-based movement

Following a plant-based diet can help prevent, treat, and even reverse most of today’s chronic diseases. Luckily, we know of these powerful effects thanks to a handful of passionate and famous vegan doctors without whom this huge movement wouldn’t have grown nearly as much as it already has.


News & Information for September 16, 2018

Government probe into why so many girls want to be boys

An urgent investigation has been launched into why soaring numbers of girls aged as young as four want to change gender – and whether social media is to blame. Equalities Minister Penny Mordaunt has ordered officials to discover the reasons why the number of girls being referred for ‘transitioning’ treatment has increased by 4,415 percent.

Boulder County Jail sees increase in inmates placed on suicide precaution

Jail records show that 454 inmates were placed on suicide precaution in 2008. The following year, the number dropped sharply to 333. The number, however, has continued to trend upward, breaking 400 in 2014, 500 in 2015 and 600 in 2016. Last year, the number reached 681.

Dr. Breggin’s powerful talk on drugs & spirituality 

On August 2, 2018, I addressed the International Association of Biblical Counselors at their annual conference in Denver Colorado. It was the second time in more than 20 years that I addressed the group. Those many years ago, I was working closely with minister Ed Bulkley to empower families to help their children without resort to psychiatric drugs and diagnoses, and I am doing so again.


News & Information for September 15, 2018

Suicide is a public health crisis

80 percent of the individuals who die by suicide are men. Each day in the United States, 123 people take their own lives. For each of those deaths, at least 25 more people attempt suicide. The statistics from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention support Dr. Ahmad Hameed’s opinion that suicide has become a public health crisis.

Childhood trauma tied to greater social dysfunction in adults with major mental illness

Childhood trauma is tied to impaired social cognition in adults diagnosed with major psychiatric disorders, according to a new Irish study published in the journal European Psychiatry. ‘Social cognition’ is a psychology term related to how people process and apply information regarding other people and social interactions.

Prevalence of prescription medications with depression as a potential adverse effect among adults

Prescription medications are increasingly used among adults in the United States and many have a potential for causing depression. […] In this cross-sectional survey study, use of prescription medications that have depression as a potential adverse effect was common.


News & Information for September 14, 2018

GlaxoSmithKline, Walgreen accused of negligence for allegedly selling Paxil to pregnant women

A group of mothers are suing GlaxoSmithKline […] alleging the defendant companies failed to adequately warn of the alleged dangers of taking the drug paroxetine while pregnant. […] According to the complaint, between 1998 and 2005, the mother plaintiffs were prescribed and used branded paroxetine, sold under the brand name Paxil, during their pregnancies, allegedly resulting in birth defects.

Diagnosis and use of psychotherapy among children and adolescents prescribed antipsychotics

Researchers analyzed medical records from 1,127 children (aged 0 to 17 years) prescribed antipsychotics […] Outcomes suggest that roughly half of these patients did not go to psychotherapy; 39% of the patients did not have a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, psychotic disorder, or autistic disorder.

Just a few days ago (below) I asked who can believe the explosion of antipsychotic drugging is due to an explosion of psychosis. Well there it is, 39% of children given these most harmful drugs didn’t even have a related diagnostic label slapped on them.

‘Robbed of precious time’: chemical restraints and aged care

Nearly two-thirds of aged care residents are prescribed psychotropic drugs regularly. […] The overuse of sedative medication as “chemical restraints” in aged care homes is not a new problem. In the past 20 years, there have been several government inquiries into an over-reliance on medication to manage the behaviour of residents. […] Royal Australian College of General Practicioners president, Bastian Seidel, said: “Medical sedation is a foul compromise for ­inadequate nursing care”.  


News & Information for September 13, 2018

Why bad moods are good for you: the surprising benefits of sadnes

Homo sapiens is a very moody species. Even though sadness and bad moods have always been part of the human experience, we now live in an age that ignores or devalues these feelings. In our culture, normal human emotions like temporary sadness are often treated as disorders. Manipulative advertising, marketing and self-help industries claim happiness should be ours for the asking. Yet bad moods remain an essential part of the normal range of moods we regularly experience.

This is how to raise emotionally intelligent kids: 5 secrets from research 

Most advice on parenting focuses on how to deal with misbehavior. While helpful, this is also akin to only offering advice on how to survive after a nuclear holocaust and not talking about how to prevent one. What’s the secret to making sure your living room doesn’t resemble a scene from “Mad Max: Fury Road”?

World sinks to 10-year happiness low: survey

 World happiness levels are at their lowest level in over a decade, with the number of people who say they feel stressed and worried rising, according to a survey published on Wednesday. […] “Collectively, the world is more stressed, worried, sad and in pain today than we’ve ever seen it,” the group’s managing editor, Mohamed Younis, wrote in a foreword to the study.

Church leaders and declining religious service attendance 

Church attendance has edged down in recent years. Gallup’s latest yearly update from its daily tracking survey shows that in 2017, 38% of adults said they attended religious services weekly or almost every week. When Gallup began asking this question in 2008, that figure was 42%.


News & Information for September 12, 2018

Happiness and religion

We use four ways of the European Social Survey, covering 2000 to 2008, to analyze the effect of religion on happiness. Our findings confirm that religious individuals are generally happier than non-religious ones.

Scientists discover a link between antidepressants and superbugs 

Superbugs are pretty much just as terrifying as they sound. Over time, these strains of bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics, making them incredibly hard to kill even with the most reliable, commonly used treatments. And according to new research, one of the most widely prescribed antidepressants could be contributing to the problem.

Millions of elderly Americans are hooked on Xanax

Millions of elderly Americans are becoming highly addicted to anti-anxiety medicines that treat depression, anxiety and sleep issues, a new study had warned. […] Of the close to 50 million US adults aged 65 or older, about nine percent are prescribed benzos such as Xanax and Valium – more than any other age group – and the rate of use only increases with age. 

See the video there of people reporting devastating effects of benzos, like causing panic attacks and agoraphobia for the first time. 

Before you or a loved one tries to quit psychiatric drugs, please read Dr Breggin’s, Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal.

Happiness hinges on personality, so initiatives to improve well-being need to be tailor-made

Psychologists have conducted hundreds of studies of the correlates of well-being. You might think well-being is determined by your circumstances — such as the size of your social circle or your pay cheque. These factors are important, but it turns out a far stronger role is played by your personality.


News & Information for September 11, 2018

A history of human guinea pigs 

Medical science has always had a lax relationship to consent – especially with the marginalized

Religion and depression: a review of the literature

People who are involved frequently in organized religion and who highly value their religious faith for intrinsic reasons are at substantially reduced risk of depressive disorder and depressive symptoms. They also appear to recover more quickly from depressive episodes and are less likely to become depressed over time.

Sharp rise in young people overdosing on painkillers and antidepressants

Soaring numbers of children, teenagers and young adults have been deliberately poisoning themselves with overdoses of drugs such as painkillers and antidepressants as a response to feelings of distress, according to a new study. […] The study also found a threefold to fourfold leap in people aged 10 to 25 being poisoned by antidepressants.

Antidepressants don’t work for people with dementia 

Dr. Robert Dudas from the University of Cambridge, in the U.K., told Reuters Health by email. “The findings are in line with our clinical experience, which is that antidepressants don’t always work well for patients who have dementia in addition to their depression.”