February 1, 2020

Breaking News and Information – January 2020

News 2020


News & Information for January 31, 2020

UCLA researchers lead study following effects of psychotherapy on trauma survivors

School-based psychotherapy can reduce the occurrence of mental health conditions after traumatic natural disasters, according to a UCLA-led study. In a study published in “Psychological Medicine” on Jan. 14, researchers led by UCLA psychiatrist Armen Goenjian documented the course of post-traumatic stress disorder and depression among survivors of the Spitak earthquake in Armenia 1.5 years after the earthquake occurred and 25 years after it occurred. This is the first long-term study to look at PTSD and depression among treated and nontreated early adolescents after a catastrophic natural disaster. […] “We taught (the children of Gumri) coping skills,” Goenjian said. “(As a result), the trajectory (for their mental health) in the coming years was changed.” […] A strong sense of community and social support also correlated to better recovery rates of mental health among survivors, according to the study. In contrast, having a chronic illness, such as asthma, arthritis or heart conditions, correlated to poorer mental health.

Study documents first case of coronavirus spread by a person showing no symptoms

People showing no symptoms appear to be able to spread the novel coronavirus that has caused an outbreak in China and led world health authorities to declare a global emergency, researchers reported Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine. If confirmed, the finding will make it much harder to contain the virus. The case described — from Germany — could help resolve one of the major unknowns about the virus, which as of Thursday night had infected nearly 9,700 people in China and killed 213. About 100 more infections have been reported in 18 other countries, but no deaths. […] “The fact that asymptomatic persons are potential sources of 2019-nCoV infection may warrant a reassessment of transmission dynamics of the current outbreak,” the experts wrote.

Only the lonely: UC San Diego researchers look at risks, therapies for seniors

“Loneliness rivals smoking and obesity in its impact on shortening longevity,” said Dr. Dilip Jeste, a geriatric neuropsychiatrist who led the research team. The small study, published online in the journal Aging and Mental Health, is part of a nationwide push to better understand what happens to people as they get older, and to improve their outcomes. It comes as the population of older Americans is growing. The number of those who are at least 65 went up 34% from 2007 to 2017, according to the Census Bureau, and now totals almost 51 million.

Antidepressant microbes in soil: how soil makes your brain happy

Soil microbes have been found to have similar effects on the brain as prozac, without the negative side effects and potential for chemical dependency and withdrawal. It turns out getting in the garden and getting dirty is a natural antidepressant due to unique microbes in healthy organic soil. Working and playing in soil can actually make you happier and healthier. What gardeners and farmers have talked about for millennia is now verifiable by science. Feeling like your garden or farm is your happy place is no coincidence! The soil microbe mycobacterium vaccae has been found to mirror the effect on neurons in the brain that drugs like Prozac can provide, but without side effects. The way it works is the “happy” microbes in soil cause cytokine levels to rise, which leads to the production of more serotonin. This bacterium is found in healthy soil and when humans are exposed to it, the microbe stimulates serotonin production. Serotonin makes us feel relaxed and happier.


News & Information for January 30, 2020

Chronic Pain and Emotional State

Every gram of alcohol consumed per day linked to 7 days of brain aging

According to an analysis of brain images taken from 11,651 participants in the UK Biobank, a national health register in the United Kingdom, every gram of alcohol consumed per day was linked to 0.02 years [= 7.3 days] of brain aging — that’s about a week of additional aging in the brain. Cumulatively, people who reported drinking every day or on most days, had about 5 months (0.4 years) of additional aging in their brains compared to people who were the same chronological age as them, but reported less frequent drinking, the study finds. That suggests that their frequent drinking habit aged their brains at an accelerated rate.

Drug overdose-related deaths fall for the first time since 1999

A new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a drop in deaths caused by drug overdoses in the U.S. This is the first time a decline has been recorded since 1990. The data is sourced from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS) and covered data beginning in 1999.  In 2018, there were an estimated 67,367 drug overdose deaths in the United States, whereas approximately 70,237 were recorded in 2017, according to the report. This translates to a 4.1 percent year-over-year decline. […] Despite the report, the Chief of the CDC’s mortality statistics branch Robert Anderson told Bloomberg that the U.S. isn’t in recovery from the opioid and drug overdose epidemic. “I think it’s too early to say whether we’ve reached a turning point,” Anderson said. “I’d like to say that we have, but I can’t really say that based on what we’re seeing.”

New insight into how CBD changes the brains of people with psychosis

Published in Psychological Medicine, the research used fMRI scans to examine the brain activity of 13 people with a diagnosis of psychosis under the influence of a single dose of CBD or placebo and 16 controls whilst they were undertaking a memory task. The researchers showed that, during the task, there was a different pattern of activity in the prefrontal and mediotemporal brain areas of people with psychosis under placebo compared to the activity seen in those without psychosis. […] Professor Bhattacharyya added: “This study provides important insight into the brain mechanisms behind the antipsychotic effects of CBD. It gives confidence in the antipsychotic potential of CBD by demonstrating that it targets the function of brain regions implicated in psychosis and indicating that even a single dose may ameliorate some of the brain function alterations that may underlie psychosis.”

Low-tech solutions are the best tools we have to fight dementia

The results of two separate studies released this week suggest that low-tech solutions like exercise, a good night’s sleep, and a “cognitively active” lifestyle could be far more important than we realized in resisting dementia. Kaitlin Casaletto, the first author of a study published in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia tells Inverse that active cognitive and physical lifestyles were linked to a 55 percent slower rate of cognitive decline in 105 patients who carried a gene linked to frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), which is a type of dementia. Now, Casaletto recommends those approaches to almost every patient she sees at UC San Francisco’s Memory and Aging Center. “These are the best current tools we have to prevent cognitive decline,” Casaletto tells Inverse. 

Dopamine fasting: a solution to social media and other addictions

Dopamine fasting has become a popular practice for people hoping to break or change certain unfavorable or overly stimulating behaviors. This form of fasting is considered a remedy to overstimulation or addiction associated with focusing on too many things. Dopamine is a major neurotransmitter that influences humans into engaging in different behaviors or activities such as feeding and smoking, among others (Way, 2019). The amount of dopamine in the neuro system mainly depends on the quantity or frequency one engages in dopamine generating activities.  Dopamine fasting is therefore aimed at helping a person to abandon behaviors that generate high quantities of dopamine including browsing online, taking alcohol, and watching television, among others (Ginovart & Kapur, 2012). Although the long-term effects of brain over-stimulated are still unclear, some studies have revealed that it reduces one’s capacity to enjoy routine tasks, maintain attention, and balance emotions.

Talking Back to Prozac, What Doctors Aren’t Telling You

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

Authors Peter R Breggin MD and Ginger Breggin have re-released their seminal book Talking Back to Prozac: What Doctors Aren’t Telling You About Prozac and the Newer Antidepressants with a new introduction and new information about the SSRI antidepressants, including the granddaddy of them all—Prozac. 

News & Information for January 29, 2020

Results of five industry-funded antidepressant clinical trials kept secret

The results of five large-scale clinical trials of antidepressants have never been made accessible to the public, a data set compiled by an international team of researchers shows. Their discovery highlights the incompleteness of available data on the safety and efficacy of antidepressant drugs. In total, 3,127 people with major depression participated in the five clinical trials, whose results have neither been uploaded onto the public registry nor have been published in an academic journal. […] Erick Turner, a former FDA drug reviewer and co-author of a recently published network meta-analysis of antidepressant drugs told TranspariMED that: “These trials contain data on three widely used antidepressants, so their results should have been made available to meta-analysts, clinicians, and patients. It’s unfortunate that they have been kept secret.”

How depression might be related to your gut

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia conducted a study that demonstrates the biological interaction between brain and gut, starting in animals. “We were able to show that gut bacteria from stress-vulnerable rats if you introduce that into a rat that had never been exposed to stress, that rat would now have some of the depressive characteristics of the rat that was stress vulnerable,” said Jiah Pearson-Leary, a research associate at Children’s Hospital Of Philadelphia. Turns out, becoming more vulnerable from this gut bacteria that caused the stress created another problem in the animals — how they coped with stress. “Animals that are more passive in coping with stress show more vulnerability because they exhibit behaviors that are more hopeless depressive-type state,” said Seema Bhatnagar, an associate professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Health fears as GPs wrongly give antidepressants to menopausal women

Hundreds of thousands of menopausal women are being prescribed antidepressants because poorly trained GPs are misdiagnosing their symptoms, campaigners warn. Women often suffer anxiety and mood swings as they reach the menopause but doctors are mistaking a hormonal imbalance for a mental health problem. […] “The young GPs that are qualifying now really have had no education from the medical schools in menopausal women’s health. “So we have a whole generation of GPs that have no experience whatsoever with hormone replacement therapy in prescribing it or anything else. They just aren’t aware of menopause problems. “Hopefully women themselves will go and bang on the door and say, ‘I want HRT’ because the benefits are huge and the risks are incredibly small.”

Inappropriate antipsychotic use in nursing homes by class and race

Objectives: Previous research suggests black nursing home (NH) residents are more likely to receive inappropriate antipsychotics. Our aim was to examine how NH characteristics, particularly the racial and socioeconomic composition of residents, are associated with the inappropriate use of antipsychotics. […] Results: NHs with high and low proportions of blacks had similar rates of antipsychotic use in the unadjusted analyses. NHs with high proportions of black residents had significantly lower rates of inappropriate antipsychotic use. Conclusion: Findings from this study indicate a decline in the use of antipsychotics. Although findings from this study indicated facilities with higher proportions of blacks had lower inappropriate antipsychotic use, facility-level socioeconomic disparities continued to persist among NHs. Policy interventions that focus on reimbursement need to be considered to promote reductions in antipsychotic use, specifically among Medicaid-reliant NHs.

Popular supplement Resveratrol shown to inhibit previous epidemic coronavirus

Background: Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is an emerging viral pathogen that causes severe morbidity and mortality. […] Here, we analyzed the antiviral activities of resveratrol, a natural compound found in grape seeds and skin and in red wine, against MERS-CoV infection. […] Results: Resveratrol significantly inhibited MERS-CoV infection and prolonged cellular survival after virus infection. We also found that the expression of nucleocapsid protein essential for MERS-CoV replication was decreased after resveratrol treatment. Furthermore, resveratrol down-regulated the apoptosis induced by MERS-CoV in vitro. By consecutive administration of resveratrol, we were able to reduce the concentration of resveratrol while achieving inhibitory effectiveness against MERS-CoV. Conclusion: In this study, we first demonstrated that resveratrol is a potent anti-MERS agent in vitro. We perceive that resveratrol can be a potential antiviral agent against MERS-CoV infection in the near future.
Resveratrol has also been shown to inhibit a wide range of viruses, both in-vitro and in-vivo

Famed psychiatrist learns life-coaching and natural supplements are better than drugs

Dr. Keith Ablow, heralded as America’s Psychiatrist for 25 years, has recently stopped practicing psychiatry and founded The Ablow Center, which offers a unique and powerful combination of life coaching and spiritual counseling. At the same time, he has devised unique protocols of natural supplements to increase mood, reduce anxiety, increase focus and improve sleep. “Over the past year, I have been researching which vitamins, minerals, herbs and probiotics have the most scientific data behind them regarding lifting mood and improving many other facets of mental well-being,” Dr. Ablow said. “It’s amazing how powerful and safe these supplements are and truly an honor to be able to share the best of them with my clients.” […] “When I combine life coaching or counseling with these all-natural remedies,” Dr. Ablow said, “I find myself getting as good or better results in many of those who need their mood improved or anxiety reduced or energy increased than I got when I practiced psychiatry and prescribed medications. That’s stunning information.”

waragainstchildrenofcolor.gifThe War Against Children of Color, Psychiatry Targets Inner City Youth

By Dr. Peter Breggin

In 1992, Dr. Peter Breggin and Ginger Ross Breggin inspired a national campaign against the proposed federal “Violence Initiative,” that aimed at identifying inner-city children with alleged defects that would make them violent when they reached adulthood. Many of the research plans, which are still in operation, involve searching for a “violence gene,” finding “biochemical imbalances,” and intervening in the lives of schoolchildren with psychiatric drugs.

News & Information for January 28, 2020

Brain Scans of Murderers

Researchers: Antidepressant Withdrawal, not “Discontinuation Syndrome”

The term “discontinuation syndrome” is deliberately misleading, according to researchers writing in The British Journal of Psychiatry. Elia Abi-Jaoude and Ivana Massabki suggest that the term is just a euphemism for the more accurate term “withdrawal.” They write that the term “discontinuation syndrome” was coined with pharmaceutical industry support to downplay and discount the testimony of people who experienced adverse effects after stopping SSRI antidepressants. “The term discontinuation syndrome, which appears to have been established and publicized with the support of the pharmaceutical industries to minimize patient concerns regarding the use of SSRI medications, is misleading and should be abandoned in favor of the more appropriate term SSRI withdrawal,” they write. […] Another study found that more than half of people taking antidepressants experienced withdrawal symptoms—and about 25% rated those symptoms as “severe.” Yet another study found that, on average, SSRI withdrawal lasted 90.5 weeks, while SNRI (another class of antidepressants) withdrawal lasted 50.8 weeks.

Study: Parent-set bedtimes linked to better mental health in teens

If you have a high schooler under your roof, it may be a good idea to have a conversation about bed times. Daemen College professor Jack Peltz studied 200 families across Western New York. He followed the sleep patterns of teens ages 14 to 17, and found that sleep directly impacts energy and happiness in teens. Peltz recommends parents have a conversations with their teens about sleep and try to enforce a set bedtime. “Parents need to realize if they work in collaboration with their teens they can create better structures around bed times,” Peltz said. Peltz says he realize parents will probably get some push-back from their teens about bedtimes but he says more sleep will help in the long run.

Five-fold increase in teachers taking antidepressants

‘More teachers than ever’ are reporting mental health problems, according to study looking at data over 26 years. One in 20 teachers in England is taking antidepressants, according to a study published today. The study, by UCL Institute of Education, found an increase in the percentage of teachers prescribed antidepressants medication – from around 1 per cent in the early 2000s to around 5 per cent today. The study analysed data over more than a quarter of a century, between 1992 and 2018, for more than 20,000 teachers and education professionals, and is the first piece of research to examine the mental health and wellbeing of teachers in England over time. […] “The sharp rise in teachers reporting long-term mental health conditions mirrors the increase in the severity of cases that we support through our counselling helpline. Teachers are presenting with ever more severe mental health symptoms.”

Nasal spray medicine for treatment-resistant depression not recommended by NICE

A nasal spray for treatment-resistant depression has not been recommended by NICE because of uncertainties over its clinical and cost effectiveness. Esketamine (also called Spravato and made by Janssen) with a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) is not recommended, within its marketing authorisation, for adults with treatment-resistant depression that has not responded to at least two different antidepressants in the current moderate to severe depressive episode. Current NHS practice is to manage treatment-resistant depression with oral antidepressants, then a second drug if symptoms do not improve. Alternative treatments can be used if oral treatments do not work. Drug treatment can also be combined with psychological therapy. […] “There is a lack of evidence comparing esketamine with all relevant comparators, and the committee concluded that the estimates of cost effectiveness were likely to be much higher than what the NHS usually considers value for money.”

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 January 27, 2020

FDA approves drugs faster based on weaker evidence, researchers find

The Food and Drug Administration has gotten faster at approving new prescription drugs over the past four decades, but the evidence it relies on in making those decisions is getting weaker, according to new research published Tuesday. As a result, there are more cures and treatments on the market but less proof that they are safe and effective. “There has been a gradual erosion of the evidence that’s required for FDA approval,” says lead study author Jonathan Darrow, a lawyer with Harvard Medical School’s Program on Regulation, Therapeutics and Law. As a result, patients and physicians “should not expect that new drugs will be dramatically better than older ones.”

Propaganda hides risks and unknowns of puberty blockers

Do we know with certainty that all of the effects of the medications for stopping normal puberty are fully reversible? The answer is no. […] Puberty is more than just a process of genital maturation. It is also a critical time for bone, pelvis, brain, and psychosocial development. All of these processes are adversely affected by puberty blockers. Studies have shown the effects on the pituitary are not immediately reversible. Hormonal levels do not normalize until a year or more after stopping blockers, which prolongs pubertal delay. And, although the studies on this are limited, the data we do have indicate that the overwhelming majority of adolescents on puberty blockers decide not to reverse course, but instead move on to cross-sex hormones and then to sterilizing genital surgeries. This is in marked contrast to the experience of children who experience gender dysphoria but are allowed to go through puberty normally, the vast majority of whom do not persist in identifying with the opposite sex.

New policy reduces anti-psychotic medications in foster children

Rutgers researchers have found that a Texas strategy to reduce anti-psychotic medication for children can serve as a model for other state Medicaid programs. The study was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. “Youth in the United States foster care system are about five times more likely to take antipsychotic medications, a class of medications to manage their mental and behavioral health, than children in the general public,” said Thomas Mackie […] In response, over 31 state Medicaid programs nationally are experimenting with different approaches to ensure safe and judicious use of antipsychotic medications. […] “Although the Texas model enrolled only youths in foster care, similar innovations are increasingly being extended to the general population of Medicaid-insured youth,” Mackie said.  “This study provides important new evidence suggesting that states continue to incorporate or renew the inclusion of these additional behavioral health services into Medicaid-managed care arrangements.”

Second-generation antipsychotics increase risks of pregnancy complications

Prenatal exposure to second-generation antipsychotics (S-GAs) increases the risk of pregnancy complications relating to impaired glucose metabolism, a recent study in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology has suggested. Neonatal problems are common and occur similarly in both first-generation antipsychotic (F-GA) and S-GA users. […] “Prenatal exposure to second-generation antipsychotics is associated with an increased risk of pregnancy complications related to impaired glucose metabolism. Neonatal problems are common and occur similarly in S-GA and F-GA users,” wrote the authors.

National suicide rates rose 40% from 2000 to 2017, with blue-collar workers most at risk

Between 2000 and 2017, the suicide rate in the U.S. increased by 40%, with blue-collar workers in industries such as mining, oil and gas extraction, construction, agriculture, transportation, and warehousing most at risk, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The study used data from 32 states — including Pennsylvania and New Jersey — that participated in the 2016 National Violent Death Reporting System, which combined data from death certificates, coroner and medical examiner reports, and law enforcement reports. Researchers looked at the suicide rates by profession for 20,975 people, ages 16 to 64. They found that both male and female workers in construction, mining, oil, and gas had the highest suicide rates. […] “This is some of the first data that has taken such a systematic look at occupations,” said Gregory Brown, director of the Penn Center for the Prevention of Suicide. “A lot of these professions most at risk are male-dominated, like hunting, fishing, or steel. With those types of professions, you tend to have job instability, which can often lead to a lot of stress.”

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 January 25-26, 2020

Wendy Dolin – Making Akathisia a Household Word

This week on MIA Radio, we interview Wendy Dolin founder of the MISSD foundation. MISSD stands for Medication-Induced Suicide Prevention and Education Foundation in Memory of Stewart Dolin. In 2010, Wendy’s husband Stewart Dolin was prescribed Paxil (paroxetine), a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (“SSRI”) for mild situational anxiety. Within days, Stewart’s anxiety became worse. He felt restless and had trouble sleeping. On July 15, 2010, just six days after beginning the medication, following a regular lunch with a business associate, Stewart left his office and walked to a nearby train station, despite not being a regular commuter. A registered nurse who was also on the platform later reported seeing Stewart pacing back and forth and looking very agitated. As a train approached, Stewart ended his life.

Mental health of school-aged children has worsened, according to national study

The mental health of secondary school-aged children has worsened over the past four years, according to the latest Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) in England National Report, which has been released today. The study, hosted by the University of Hertfordshire in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, captures data on the health, health behaviours and social environment of young people aged 11, 13 and 15 every four years. The report found that over a fifth of young people had experienced a high level of emotional problems during the last six months of the study.

There was also a substantial increase (25%) in the number of 15-year-olds who had felt low at least once a week since 2014 (40% vs. 50%). A decline in the emotional wellbeing of boys was also reflected in data on self-harm; 25% of 15-year-olds reported ever self-harming, with boys reporting a greater increase since 2014 (11% vs. 16%) than girls (32% vs. 35%). Young people were also asked about their relationship with social media and gaming. The report found that one in 10 have a problematic relationship with social media, with girls (14%) more likely than boys (9%) to report problematic use. It was most common among 13 and 15-year-old girls. Over a third (37%) of 15-year-old girls said they contacted their close friends through electronic communication “almost all the time throughout the day”.

Can psychiatry respond to mad activism?

A recent article published in the Journal of Medicine and Philosophyoffers a response from psychiatry to the “Mad activism” of service users and psychiatric survivors. Dr. Mohammed Abouelleil Rashed argues for a move away from narratives of illness in psychiatry, toward alternative methods of cultivating insight and engaging in “identity-making,” with psychiatrists acting as guides rather than experts who dispense bio-medical treatments. “A key difference between Mad activism and treatment-focused endeavors is the former’s formulation of the problem in terms of respect and recognition. What is at stake is the way in which people’s identities are publicly represented and valued, with the dominant view of madness as a disorder of the mind being seen as an affront to a positive identity. The goal is not only to reform psychiatry but to effect cultural change in the way madness is viewed,” writes Mohammed Abouelleil Rashed.

Tenuous links between late-life depression and mortality

A higher risk of mortality in elderly patients with late-life depression may be related to older age, memory trouble, physical disabilities, and mirtazapine use, according to study results published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. […] The investigators looked at sociodemographic data, physical illness and disability comorbidity, depressive symptoms, and antidepressant and antipsychotic medication use to determine predictors of mortality. […] The investigators found no consistent evidence of significant associations between mortality and depression severity; use of antidepressants or antipsychotics other than mirtazapine; or depressive symptoms such as helplessness, hopelessness, anhedonia, poor motivation, and agitation.

10 drug-free ways to treat depression

It can seem simpler to just take a pill, but alternative approaches often bring about powerful relief from depression symptoms while also yielding other desired changes. They can be subtle and take a little longer to see the results, so if you feel inspired, keeping a journal of your progress is a good idea. The world is struggling with depression. In fact, depression is now the world’s leading cause of disablement and suicide. Here are 10 ways you can deal with depression using natural remedies:

Mental health-related ER visits are increasing among teens and young adults

A new study led by fellows at the USC Schaeffer Center shows mental health-related emergency department (ED) visits have increased substantially since 2009, a trend driven by large increases in adolescent and young adult visits to the emergency room for behavioral health-related diagnoses. […] The data showed that not only did the proportion of behavioral health visits increased, the average length of stay for these patients, across all age groups, increased from 6.5 hours in 2009 to 9.0 hours in 2015. This increase was due almost entirely to patients who were admitted or transferred to a psychiatric facility rather than to those discharged home. Patients who were eventually admitted or transferred to a psychiatric facility averaged the longest stays, increasing from 8.0 to 11.4 hours. “Emergency departments are increasingly serving as a key place to initially treat children and adolescents experiencing mental health or behavioral crises. Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more patients with the most serious crises – those who have to be admitted to the hospital – and these patients are staying longer and longer in the ED,” said study co-author Michael Menchine.

More than a quarter of children not getting enough sleep

More than a quarter of young people aren’t getting enough sleep, a World Health Organisation study has suggested. The research found one in four 11 to 15-year-olds in England are failing to get enough shut eye, which is leaving them feeling sleepy and unable to concentrate on their schoolwork. They found that 27% of young people report not having enough sleep to feel awake and concentrate on their lessons, with teenagers more likely to struggle with the issue as they get older. While 17% of 11-year-olds said they battle with sleep, this rose to 28% of 13-year-olds and again to 42% of 15-year-olds. […] It’s possible that the lack of sleep could be linked to a reduction in physical activity with the report revealing just one in six of the youngsters are physically active for at least one hour a day.

Study links kindergartners’ behavior, gut microbiome

A study of early school-aged children shows a connection between the bacteria in their gut and their behavior, and that parents play a key role in their kids’ microbiome beyond the food they provide. The analysis showed that children with behavioral problems and higher socioeconomic stress had different microbiome profiles than those who didn’t […] “Most studies to date have linked microbiome composition to infant and toddler behaviors, such as extroversion, fear and cognitive development,” said Sharpton, the study’s corresponding author. “It hasn’t been clear, though, that the microbiome associates with other forms of behavioral dysregulation or if it links to the onset of psychiatric disorders and problem behaviors.”

 Exposure to aluminum linked to familial Alzheimer’s Disease

A new study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD) supports a growing body of research that links human exposure to aluminum with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Researchers found significant amounts of aluminum content in brain tissue from donors with familial AD. The study also found a high degree of co-location with the amyloid-beta protein, which leads to early onset of the disease. “This is the second study confirming significantly high brain accumulation in familial Alzheimer’s disease, but it is the first to demonstrate an unequivocal association between the location of aluminum and amyloid-beta in the disease. It shows that aluminum and amyloid-beta are intimately woven in the neuropathology,” explained lead investigator Christopher Exley […] The results were striking. The aluminum content of the brain tissue from donors with the genetic mutation was universally high, with 42% of tissues having a level considered pathologically significant, and the levels were significantly higher than those in the control set.

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 January 24, 2020

Living near major roads linked to risk of dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and MS

Living near major roads or highways is linked to higher incidence of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis (MS), suggests new research published this week in the journal Environmental Health. Researchers from the University of British Columbia analyzed data for 678,000 adults in Metro Vancouver. They found that living less than 50 metres from a major road or less than 150 metres from a highway is associated with a higher risk of developing dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and MS–likely due to increased exposure to air pollution. The researchers also found that living near green spaces, like parks, has protective effects against developing these neurological disorders. 

An earlier study from 2017 found the same correlation, now corroborated

Yet another earlier study from 2016 found the same, pointing to a causal pathway

This study reported a possible causal pathway… iron magnetites from automobile exhaust infiltrating into the brain via the olfactory nerve, which were found to be significantly elevated in Alzheimer’s patients. Given that, it’s noteworthy that loss of smell (ie, olfactory-nerve impairment) is an early sign of AD. We have also reported here studies linking air-pollution to depression and suicide, schizophrenia and childhood mental illnesses. If a range of psychiatric disorders originate from air-pollution, at least in some cases, surely the proper remedy is not further polluting the brain with psychoactive drugs.

Antidepressant use makes future recovery from depression less likely

Older adults with major depressive disorder may be less likely to experience remission with venlafaxine if they have previously participated in adequate antidepressant trials, according to study results published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. In addition, the study found that patients who had never been treated with a serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor (SNRI) were more likely to respond to venlafaxine than patients who had previously tried an SNRI. […] Of 93 patients who had no history of prior medication trials, approximately 67% achieved remission. Conversely, 66% of patients with prior inadequate treatment and 39% of patients with prior adequate treatment achieved remission (P <.0001 for the comparison of no prior trials, only inadequate trials, and ≥1 adequate trials).

Doctors urged to recognize post-antidepressant sexual dysfunction

A psychiatrist specialising in sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants is calling for greater recognition of the problems that can endure after treatment stops. Professor David Healy, writing in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, said problems may begin after only a few doses and leave someone affected for life, or a relatively mild dysfunction can worsen dramatically when the person stops treatment. Called Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD), the core features of the condition are genital numbing, loss or muting of orgasm and loss of libido. According to Professor Healy many patients are just as concerned by additional features like emotional numbing or derealisation. Both sexes, all ages and every ethnic group can be affected.

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 January 23, 2020

A look at the unpredictably mind-altering drugs you take every day

Since they were first approved for human use in 1987, tens of millions of Americans have treated and prevented heart issues with statins, a class of drugs that lower fat levels in the blood […] As the BBC recently reported, statins are but one example of commonly used and prescribed drugs—drugs not taken for mental-health purposes—with side effects so serious they can be said to alter or change completely the person who takes them. Common prescription pharmaceuticals and “ordinary medications” bought over the counter linked to significant personality changes include acetaminophen, anti-allergy drugs and asthma medications, as well as antidepressants. Other drugs considered almost benign may also have other, more insidious side effects. Over-the-counter painkillers like acetaminophen, one researcher told the BBC, might affect a human’s ability to experience empathy. And one popular drug used for Parkinson’s disease has been linked to a loss of impulse control, blamed for gambling addictions as well as child pornography possession.

Self-compassion may protect veterans from suicidal behavior

Self-compassion might help temper the link between psychological distress and suicide risk among U.S. military veterans, according to new research published in the scientific journal Mindfulness. The study suggests that adopting a kind and non-judgmental view of oneself can have a protective effect, particularly in times of crisis. “There are several elements of this study that are interesting to me, including the focus on suicide prevention, since suicide rates continue to rise in the United States and in our military and veteran populations,” said study author Jameson K. Hirsch […] “Our findings suggest that, during times of interpersonal and psychological distress, the beneficial association between self-compassion and suicide becomes stronger, rather than weaker. In other words, self-compassion is a coping skill that can be cultivated during the ‘good times’ for use during the ‘bad times,’ when it emerges as a potential self-soothing process,” Hirsch explained.

Dirt microbiome may act as an antidepressant

Your garden has its own microbiome, and research suggests it’s good for you. Our health depends on the flourishing microbiome in our guts—and on how much of the natural world’s microbiome we let infiltrate. Lately, thanks to modern life, we don’t let in a lot. But in a string of pioneering studies, scientists are beginning to look at what would happen if we literally inject microbes from the soil into our bodies, reintroducing us to the ancient relationship between bacteria and human. So far, the results have been uplifting—to both the scientists and the subjects they study. […] The world of biomedical research has already fallen in love with the promising realm of the human gut microbiome. A body of emerging evidence tells us the millions of microbes in our digestive tract influence our immune systems, our smells, our mood, and possibly even our attractiveness to mosquitoes—and to other people. But M. vaccae expands this thinking to the microbiome of the pile of mulch in your backyard.

The microbes in your gut could predict whether you’re likely to die in the next 15 years

The microbes in our guts have been linked to everything from arthritis to autism. Now, scientists say they can even tell us about our future health. Two new studies find that our “microbiome”—the mix of microbes in our gut—can reveal the presence of many diseases better than our own genes can—and can even anticipate our risk of dying within the next 15 years. “I am hopeful and enthusiastic that the community will reach a point where we’re able to develop microbiome-based therapeutics and diagnostics,” says Samuel Minot, a microbiome researcher at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who was not involved in the research. “I think that this is within the realm of possibility.”

Children used as guinea pigs for gender change drugs, ex-patient tells court

 A young woman has joined a landmark High Court fight to stop the NHS prescribing ‘powerful and experimental’ puberty blockers to children who want to change gender. Keira Bell, 23, began hormone treatment to become a boy at the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in London – but now ‘seriously regrets’ the process. […] ‘The current affirmative system put in place by the Tavistock is inadequate as it does not allow for exploration of gender dysphoric feelings, nor does it seek to find the underlying causes of this condition. ‘Hormone-changing drugs and surgery does not work for everyone and it certainly should not be offered to someone under the age of 18 when they are vulnerable.’

Most Americans are lonely, and our workplace culture may not be helping

More than three in five Americans are lonely, with more and more people reporting feeling like they are left out, poorly understood and lacking companionship, according to a new survey released Thursday. Workplace culture and conditions may contribute to Americans’ loneliness. And loneliness may be on the rise. The report, led by the health insurer Cigna, found a nearly 13% rise in loneliness since 2018, when the survey was first conducted. (Cigna is a provider of health insurance for NPR employees.) The report surveyed over 10,000 adult workers in July and August 2019, relying on a measure of loneliness called the UCLA Loneliness Scale, used as a standard within psychology research. Respondents rated their reactions to statements such as “How often do you feel outgoing and friendly?” and “How often do you feel alone?” which were used to calculate a loneliness score on an 80-point scale.

The Ritalin Fact Book 
What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You About ADHD and Stimulant Drugs

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

This book is the easiest and most direct way to get information on the stimulant drugs including Ritalin, Ritalin SR, Adderall, Adderall XR, Dexedrine, Focalin, Concerta, Metadate ER and Cylert. It contains the latest research on side effects, including permanent brain damage and dysfunction, and guidance on how to help out-of-control children without resort to drugs.

News & Information for January 22, 2020

 Researchers find link between child misbehavior and gut microbiome

A study of early school-aged children shows a connection between the bacteria in their gut and their behavior, and that parents play a key role in their kids’ microbiome beyond the food they provide. […] “Kids’ development trajectories are affected by their own genes and environmental factors, and also by the community of microbes living in, on and around their bodies.” […] “Most studies to date have linked microbiome composition to infant and toddler behaviors, such as extroversion, fear and cognitive development,” said Sharpton, the study’s corresponding author. “It hasn’t been clear, though, that the microbiome associates with other forms of behavioral dysregulation or if it links to the onset of psychiatric disorders and problem behaviors.”

Walnuts promote heart healthy microbiome

Now, a team of investigators at Penn State University has uncovered new evidence that walnuts may not just be a tasty snack, they may also promote good-for-your-gut bacteria and that these “good” bacteria could be contributing to the heart-health benefits of walnuts. […] “The walnut diet enriched a number of gut bacteria that have been associated with health benefits in the past,” Petersen said. “One of those is Roseburia, which has been associated with the protection of the gut lining. We also saw enrichment in Eubacteria eligens and Butyricicoccus.” […] “Foods like whole walnuts provide a diverse array of substrates—like fatty acids, fiber, and bioactive compounds—for our gut microbiomes to feed on,” explained senior study investigator Regina Lamendella, PhD, an associate professor of biology at Juniata College. “In turn, this can help generate beneficial metabolites and other products for our bodies.”

Are diet and mental health linked? Yes!

In a recent study, published in Nutrition Journal, researchers reported a relationship between diet and mental health using a 12-item General Health Questionnaire (GHQ) among a Japanese population. An analysis of 4,701 participants was conducted for around five years based on the general health and food frequency questionnaire to analyze the mental health status and the dietary intake of various foods, including fish, dairy products, chicken, and meat along with the specific nutrients including vitamins, calcium, and fatty acids. The researchers reported that proteins, calcium, vegetables, vitamin D, vitamin B12, saturated fatty acids, and carotene intake were associated with good mental health, however, consumption of monounsaturated fatty acids was linked to poor mental health.

Link found between maternal depression and atopic dermatitis in children

Maternal depression in the postpartum period, and even beyond, is associated with the development of atopic dermatitis (AD) throughout childhood and adolescence, according to a recent study published in the journal Dermatitis. AD is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease typically characterized by itch, pain, and sleep disturbance. It has also been strongly linked to a number of mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. […] “Our results further suggest that postpartum depression is associated with AD even in older children and adolescents, with more persistent disease and greater sleep disturbance,” Silverberg said. “This could potentially suggest more severe AD.”

Lack of sleep linked to poor physical and mental health, new study suggests

From an increased risk of stroke and heart attacks to higher levels of anxiety and suicidal thoughts, lack of sleep is a growing public health concern affecting millions. Not only that, the percentage of those suffering from insufficient sleep has risen rapidly over the past decade, with no signs of stopping. In a recent study published in the Journal of Community Health, researchers evaluated sleep patterns of 158,468 working adults, ages 18 and older, between 2010 and 2018. Participants resembled the U.S. population in terms of race, employment, marital status and number of household dependents allowing authors to determine populations most at risk.

Studies show pet ownership can improve health

Researchers in Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States continue to expand public understanding about the health benefits of pet ownership – benefits that can begin prenatally and extend over an entire lifespan. A 13 percent decrease in asthma has been found in children exposed to a dog during the first year of life. Exposure to furry pets early in infancy (and even prenatally), increases two gut bacteria, Ruminococcus and Oscillopira. Ruminococcus has been linked to fewer allergies in children while Oscillopira is associated with a decrease in a risk for obesity. The simple act of early exposure to pets might mitigate a lifetime of suffering. […] Clinical depression in people aged 60 and older is less likely for those who have a pet. A wagging tail and a happy bark can be fun to come home to. Seniors with pooches were even found to make fewer doctor visits.

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 January 21, 2020

 First-of-its-kind study links unhealthy diet to depression in youth

According to a new study from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, teens who consume foods with high levels of sodium and low levels of potassium are more likely to develop symptoms of depression. The study, published in Physiological Reports, suggests that diet is a modifiable risk factor for adolescent depression. “Depression among adolescents in the United States has increased by 30 percent over the last decade, and we wanted to know why and how to decrease this number,” said Sylvie Mrug, Ph.D., chair of the UAB Department of Psychology. “Very little research has been conducted on diet and depression. Our study shows the need to pay attention to what our children are eating.” […] The unique combination of high sodium and low potassium best predicted an increase in adolescent depression. […] “Interventions are needed to ensure adolescents are receiving proper nutrition to decrease their risk of depression,” Mrug said. “Food such as fruits, vegetables and yogurt contain low of levels of sodium and high amounts of potassium and should be encouraged as part of a teen’s daily diet.”

Soybean oil alters genes in the male brain for the worse

Soybean oil consumption has increased greatly in the past half-century and is linked to obesity and diabetes. To test the hypothesis that soybean oil diet alters hypothalamic gene expression in conjunction with metabolic phenotype, we performed […] both the soybean oil-rich diets produced a considerable dysregulation of gene expression in the hypothalamus of male mice, the most notable of which is the gene coding for oxytocin […] The results presented here demonstrating the impact of dietary soybean oil on gene expression in the hypothalamus lead to the provocative suggestion that dietary fat, in general, and soybean oil, in particular, may have an impact on mental as well as metabolic health. The results also clearly indicate that additional studies are needed to determine the effects of both high-LA and low-LA soybean oil on hypothalamic, and potentially other brain function and underscore the need for a careful evaluation of the extensive use of soybean oil-based food products, including infant formula, animal feed and other processed foods. 

 Marijuana may hurt your heart & tea lowers depression in seniors

Why I resigned from Tavistock: Trans-identified children need therapy

Over the past five years, there has been a 400 percent rise in referrals to the Tavistock Centre in north London, the only National Health Service (NHS) clinic in Britain that treats children with gender-identity developmental issues. During this period, there also has been an abrupt shift in the composition of the children seeking treatment. Formerly, a significant majority of patients had been young male-to-female children. Now, a significant majority are biological females who claim to have a male gender identity, often following the rapid onset of gender dysphoria in their teenage years. […] A number of my patients had gone through gender-reassignment surgery, and often were angry at the loss of their biological sexual functioning. They also were aggrieved with psychiatric professionals, who, they believed, had failed to adequately investigate the underlying psychological difficulties associated with gender dysphoria.

Risk of self-harm increases after psychiatric diagnoses are given

Psychiatric disorders are established risk factors for self-harm. However, variation in the risk of self-harm by specific psychiatric disorder and stratified by gender and age is rarely examined in population-representative samples. This study aimed to investigate the risk of self-harm following diagnosis of different psychiatric disorders […] Between 2000 and 2010, we followed up a cohort of 86,353 people with a first-recorded diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder of interest, and 134,857 matched controls. […] First-recorded diagnoses of psychiatric disorders were significantly associated with an elevated risk of subsequent self-harm. The associations varied considerably by diagnostic categories across gender and age subgroups. Our findings highlight the need to develop more efficient and targeted preventive measures in psychiatric care management, with specific attention to demographic characteristics linked to increased risk within the same diagnostic category.

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 January 20, 2020

Amanda Burrill: Self-Advocacy and Self-Belief – Escaping Psychiatric Drugs

This week on MIA Radio, we interview Amanda Burrill. After a successful career as a Surface Warfare Officer and Rescue Swimmer in the United States Navy, Amanda was on track to continue her career as a professional triathlete and marathon runner, as she had already been competing internationally while still in uniform. Around the time of her discharge, she was prescribed a cocktail of psychiatric medications that caused physical injuries, leading to an early end to her rapidly accelerating career.

Implications of ideological bias in social psychology on clinical practice

Ideological bias is a worsening but often neglected concern for social and psychological sciences, affecting a range of professional activities and relationships, from self‐reported willingness to discriminate to the promotion of ideologically saturated and scientifically questionable research constructs. Though clinical psychologists co‐produce and apply social psychological research, little is known about its impact on the profession of clinical psychology. Following a brief review of relevant topics, such as “concept creep” and the significance of the psychotherapeutic relationship, the relevance of ideological bias to clinical psychology, counterarguments and a rebuttal, clinical applications, and potential solutions are presented. For providing empathic and multiculturally competent clinical services, in accordance with professional ethics, psychologists would benefit from treating ideological diversity as another professionally recognized diversity area.

Blue Monday and the nine drug-free ways to boost your frame of mind

Today is Blue Monday, officially the most depressing day of the year, and even without a dark January day to contend with, Brits are dangerously prone to depression. Around one in five of us show symptoms, and prescriptions for antidepressants reached an all-time high in 2018, the British Medical Journal reported earlier this year. As more research uncovers new treatments and helpful lifestyle measures, the catalogue of ways to help alleviate depression or generally lift the mood – whether you choose to take antidepressants or not – is bigger than ever. Exercise for three hours a week Fact: exercising regularly and having high aerobic fitness can help fight depression. Epidemiological studies have shown that exercise can not only shorten the duration and severity of depression, it may also lower risk.

Do certain medications increase dementia risk?

With mounting evidence of a connection between dementia and anticholinergic drugs, you may be concerned about your own risk or a loved one’s medications. In this Q&A, geriatric pharmacist Gina Ayers, PharmD, BCPS, BCGP, explains what we know and what you can do about it. […] There is evidence that certain medications — both prescription and over-the-counter — are associated with an increased risk of dementia. The latest study to confirm this connection came out in June 2019 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). This large, robust study showed a definite link between anticholinergic medications and patients who have dementia, but it didn’t prove that there was a direct cause. […] These medications include benzodiazepines and medications like zolpidem (Ambien®). Doctors often prescribe them to help with sleep or anxiety. Fortunately, there are alternative agents that can be used. So when patients have dementia or problems with memory, we often try to substitute a different medication with fewer cognitive effects. Other examples of these drugs include diazepam (Valium®), lorazepam (Ativan®), and alprazolam (Xanax®)

Benzodiazepines might be a ‘hidden element’ of the US’ overdose epidemic

Doctors have been increasingly prescribing benzodiazepines, also known as “benzos,” in recent years. Looking at data from 2014 to 2016, new research found this class of central nervous system depressants was prescribed at about 65.9 million office-based doctor visits. That’s a rate of 27 annual visits per 100 adults. The research, which analyzed data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, was published on Friday by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. […] Despite the risks, among the doctor visits at which benzodiazepines were prescribed, approximately one-third involved an overlapping opioid prescription at a rate of 10 annual visits per 100 adults from 2014 to 2016. That prescription combination increased from 0.5% of doctor visits in 2003 to 2% in 2015.

Swimming instructor’s brain tumour misdiagnosed as mental illness

A swimming instructor who had a brain tumour the size of a tennis ball was wrongly told by medics she was suffering from a mental illness. Doctors prescribed antidepressants to Laura Skerrit from Templecombe, Somerset, after she began suffering from migraines, sickness and psychosis, saying her symptoms were caused by anxiety, depression – and even bi-polar disorder. But when the 22-year-old’s condition deteriorated and she struggled to walk and started having seizures in November 2018, a brain scan was carried out that revealed the devastating truth. Medics at Yeovil District Hospital transfered Laura to Southmead Hospital in Bristol, where she underwent emergency surgery to prevent her potentially having a fatal stroke or seizure.

Talking Back To Ritalin, What Doctors Aren’t Telling You About Stimulants and ADHD,  by Peter R Breggin, MD

This book of Dr. Breggin’s details the side effects and potential problems with Ritalin and other stimulants. It also thoroughly and critically examines the condition and diagnosis of ADHD and ADD, explores the economics and who profits from the diagnosis and the prescribing of stimulants for children, and offers six chapters for parents and other adults on how to help children in their care without resorting to Ritalin or other psychiatric drugs.

News & Information for January 18-19, 2020

The Management of Captive Populations with Psychiatric Drugs

Dr. Anthony Ryan Hatch is a sociologist and associate professor of Science in Society, African American studies and Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University, who studies how medicine and technology impact social inequality and health.

CDC: Benzodiazepines prescribed at 27 office visits per 100 adults

Benzodiazepines were prescribed at 27 annual physician office visits per 100 adults during 2014 to 2016, according to a study published online Jan. 17 in the National Health Statistics Reports, a publication from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. […] The researchers found that the rate of visits at which benzodiazepines were prescribed was 27 annual visits per 100 adults during 2014 to 2016. About one-third of visits at which benzodiazepines were prescribed involved an overlapping opioid prescription (rate of 10 annual visits per 100 adults). The rates for both visits were higher for women and increased with age. A problem related to a chronic condition was the most common reason for visits at which benzodiazepines were prescribed and for visits at which benzodiazepines and opioids were coprescribed. The most frequent primary diagnosis category for visits at which benzodiazepines were prescribed was mental disorders, while coprescription of benzodiazepines and opioids was most frequent for a primary diagnosis category of diseases of the musculoskeletal system and connective tissue.

Clinically proven ways to beat seasonal affective disorder

Winter can be a dark, difficult season. Long nights, short days, and plummeting temperatures have many reaching for electric blankets or booking vacations to warmer climes. But for about 10 million Americans, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) makes the winter months even more trying. According to the Mayo Clinic, people with SAD often experience daily feelings of depression, loss of interest in activities, low energy levels, sleep difficulties, weight gain or appetite changes, sluggishness or agitation, concentration difficulties, feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or worthlessness, and thoughts of death or suicide. The good news is that if you or any of your patients have SAD, there are numerous treatment options. Some of them are more conventional, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) or antidepressants. Others you might not be aware of, but are scientifically proven to be effective. Here are 4 ways to beat SAD and the winter blues.

Study: U.S. alcohol deaths have doubled since 1997

    • From 1997 to 2017, alcohol-related deaths among Americans aged 16 and older doubled from 35,914 to 72,558.
    • From 2011 to 2017, the average number of drinks consumed by binge-drinkers rose from 472 to 529.
    • A 2018 study showed that people who consume six or more drinks per week are more likely to die early.
    • Alcohol deaths among Americans ages 16 and older doubled from 35,914 in 1997, to 72,558 in 2017.
    • The death rate increased 50.9% from 16.9 to 25.5 per 100,000.
    • 944,880 alcohol‐related deaths were recorded between 1999 and 2017.
    • In 2017, alcohol was associated with 72,558 deaths, making it more deadly than illegal drugs, including opioids.
    • Only cigarettes are more deadly than alcohol in the U.S

 Family-focused therapy vs enhanced usual care for Bipolar Disorder

Question  Is family-focused therapy for youths at high risk for bipolar disorder effective in delaying mood disorder episodes? Findings  This randomized clinical trial included 127 youths (aged 9-17 years) with symptomatic mood disorder and a family history of bipolar disorder. For a mean of 2 years, youths at high risk for bipolar disorder who received 12 sessions of family-focused therapy (psychoeducation, communication, and problem-solving skills training) with their families had longer well intervals between mood episodes compared with youths who received less intensive family and individual psychoeducation. Meaning  The findings suggest that family-focused therapy is associated with longer times between mood episodes among youths at high risk for bipolar disorder.

A skeptic tries ‘forest bathing’

The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku is about soaking up nature with all your senses. Whereas hiking is usually about reaching a destination, and a nature walk would take an inquisitive look at plants and animals, forest therapy encourages participants to engage slowly and deliberately with nature. Guided forest-bathing sessions typically include deep breathing exercises, suggestions for aspects of nature to focus on, and invitations to share what you’ve noticed. This mindful approach to nature has interesting health benefits. Research studies in Japan and Italy have shown forest bathing lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and concentrations of the stress hormone cortisol. It increases sleep duration and boosts the number of natural killer cells, a type of white blood cell that fights infected or tumor cells. There are theories as to why it works, but science has yet to prove them.

Researchers address dangers of polypharmacy and inappropriate medication use

In a foreword to Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety’s special issue, “The role of de-prescribing in polypharmacy and inappropriate medication use,” authors Dee Mangin of McMaster University and Doron Garfinkel of Israel Cancer Association, address the insidious and widespread effects of inappropriate medication use and polypharmacy (IMUP). The authors write that the harmful effects of IMUP are well documented and include detrimental influences on physical and mental well-being, the burden of expensive treatments, and problems in mobility. They state that the problem with multiple medication use can be described as “the point when the burden of treatment outweighs the capacity to benefit.” […] “Older adults prescribed more medications are likely to be hospitalized for an adverse drug reaction. Moreover, adverse drug events account for more morbidity and mortality than most chronic diseases, with death rates higher than many common cancers.”


A critique of the study reported just below…

Psychosocial Approaches to Deeply Disturbed Persons,  by Peter R Breggin, MD

A humanist approach to treating ‘psychotic’ patients focusing on psychological and social therapeutic techniques rooted in the contributors’ own practices working with deeply disturbed individuals. The 11 essays discuss contrasting therapeutic approaches, schizophrenic realities and modes of being, hallucinations and terror, communities for psychotic persons, illustrative therapy with schizophrenics, co-counseling, and working with the families of schizophrenic patients.” SciTech Book News

News & Information for January 17, 2020

Limiting screen time & reading more may boost child brain development

A new study finds taking away screens and reading to our children during the formative years of birth to age 5 boosts brain development. We all know that’s true, but now science can convince us with startling images. […] In addition to brain scans, the children were also given cognitive tests. When it came to screen time, kids who used screens more than one hour a day had poorer emerging literacy skills, less ability to use expressive language, and tested lower on the ability to rapidly name objects. In contrast, children who frequently read books with their caregiver scored higher on cognitive tests. “We found essentially the opposite effects of screen time,” Hutton said. “But it does seem to be very localized in the sort of classic language and imagery tracks that are more directly relevant to reading.” Screen time, on the other hand, gets in the way of more than reading, “such as playing with toys, using imagination and going outside,” Hutton said, “thus interfering with all kinds of activities that would benefit different parts of the brain that aren’t just related to reading.”

Psychotropic medications cause weight gain in psychiatric patients, study finds

Psychotropic medications lead to early weight gain in people with psychiatric disorders by altering expression of the CRTC1 gene, a study found.  The study […] was published in the journal Clinical Epigenetics. A complex interplay between genetic and environmental factors underlie metabolic diseases such as obesity. Patients with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and major depressive disorder (depression) are at risk of developing metabolic diseases. In part, this is due to the appetite-stimulating side effects of psychotropic medications such as antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, and some antidepressants. […] “These findings give new insights on psychotropic-induced weight gain and underline the need of future larger prospective epigenetic studies to better understand the complex pathways involved in psychotropic-induced metabolic side effects,” they stated in the study.

Can using the pill in adolescence increase depression risk?

Using data from 1,236 women in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Christine Anderl of the University of British Columbia and her colleagues compared the outcomes of women who had never used the pill, women who reported first using the pill in their teenage years, and women who started after age 19. Overall, 131 of the women met the DSM-5 criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD) within the prior year when they were interviewed in adulthood. Compared to those who had started using the pill in their teenage years, the researchers found, those who started using oral contraceptives later in life had about half the odds of meeting the MDD criteria. Women who had never used the pill had roughly one-third the odds. The findings were published in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry

Antipsychotics linked to more head & brain injuries among Alzheimer’s patients

The use of antipsychotics is associated with increased risks of head and brain injuries among persons with Alzheimer’s disease, according to a recent study from the University of Eastern Finland. The risk increase was highest at the initiation of antipsychotic use. The results were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society (JAGS). “As adverse effects, antipsychotics may cause sedation, orthostatic hypotension, and arrhythmias which all may lead to falls. Among older persons, falls are the most common reason for traumatic brain injuries,” Researcher Vesa Tapiainen from the University of Eastern Finland explains as a possible mechanism for the association.

Mix of stress and air pollution may lead to cognitive difficulties in children

Children with elevated exposure to early life stress in the home and elevated prenatal exposure to air pollution exhibited heightened symptoms of attention and thought problems, according to researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia Psychiatry. Early life stress is common in youth from disadvantaged backgrounds who also often live in areas with greater exposure to air pollution. […] “Prenatal exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a neurotoxicant common in air pollution, seems to magnify or sustain the effects of early life social and economic stress on mental health in children,” says first author David Pagliaccio, PhD, assistant professor of clinical neurobiology in psychiatry at Columbia Psychiatry.

Benzodiazepine prescriptions reach ‘disturbing’ levels in the US

Benzodiazepine drugs are prescribed at about 66 million doctor appointments a year in the US, according to a report by the US National Center for Health Statistics. This means that for every 100 adults that visit an office-based doctor over the course of a year, 27 visits will result in a prescription for a benzodiazepine. The figures, based on surveys conducted between 2014 and 2016, are “discouraging and disappointing”, says Lois Platt at Rush University in Chicago. “The statistics we have are disturbing, and everyone should be concerned about bringing them down,” she says. Benzodiazepine drugs are sedatives that tend to be prescribed for sleep disorders and anxiety. The drugs are addictive – people can become dependent on them in a matter of days, and withdrawal symptoms make it hard to quit. Overdoses can be fatal.

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 January 16, 2020

Concussions in high school athletes may be a risk factor for suicide

Concussion, the most common form of traumatic brain injury, has been linked to an increased risk of depression and suicide in adults. Now new research […] suggests high school students with a history of sports-related concussions might be at an increased risk for suicide completion. The research, which recently appeared in the November issue of the Journal of Affective Disorders, examined the link between self-reported history of concussion and risk factors for suicide completion. It was the first study to include a nationally representative sample of high school students. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second-leading cause of death in Americans ages 10 to 34.

Veterans view mindfulness meditation as helpful for mental health

Many military veterans who receive care through the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) are using mindfulness meditation, according to new research. But nearly all of them appear to be using it outside the VHA. The findings have been published in the journal Mindfulness. “There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) may be clinically useful. We were interested in seeing how frequently military veterans are currently using mindfulness, for what reasons, and how useful they are finding mindfulness to be,” explained study author Simon B. Goldberg, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and affiliate faculty at the Center for Healthy Minds. […] “Military veterans commonly use mindfulness meditation. In fact, it is one of the most commonly used complementary and alternative medicine practice among veterans. We found that about 18% of veteran respondents reported using mindfulness in the past year, although most reported using it outside of the Veterans Health Administration,” Goldberg told PsyPost.

Teenagers, screens and social media: a narrative review of reviews and key studies

In this narrative review I examined the previously completed systematic reviews and meta-analyses considering the effects of digital technology and social media use on well-being, and supplemented these with selected studies that illustrate new methodological and theoretical approaches. In all, they show that the research area examining these crucial questions does not deliver concrete results, but is instead weighed down by a lack of quality that causes the production of much conflicting evidence. Across the board a small negative correlation between digital technology use and adolescent well-being can be located, but it is not clear whether this represents a clear causal relationship or an association driven by third factors. By implementing improvements to the research approach I proposed above, research investigating the effects of digital technologies should increase in transparency, consistency and efficiency. Therefore improving our measurement, diversifying our research focus and examining effect sizes might hold the key for producing results that provide more than conflicting evidence. In times of greatly accelerating technological innovation the demand for timely and high-quality research on whether and how new technological features are affecting the population will only increase. Improving the mostly stagnating and conflicting research area will, therefore, be crucial to ensure that science continues having a voice in future debates about novel technologies and their potential effects on society.

Concept creep: psychology’s expanding concepts of harm and pathology

Many of psychology’s concepts have undergone semantic shifts in recent years. These conceptual changes follow a consistent trend. Concepts that refer to the negative aspects of human experience and behavior have expanded their meanings so that they now encompass a much broader range of phenomena than before. This expansion takes ‘horizontal’ and ‘vertical’ forms: concepts extend outward to capture qualitatively new phenomena and downward to capture quantitatively less extreme phenomena. The concepts of abuse, bullying, trauma, mental disorder, addiction, and prejudice are examined to illustrate these historical changes. In each case, the concept’s boundary has stretched and its meaning has dilated. A variety of explanations for this pattern of ‘concept creep’ are considered and its implications are explored. I contend that the expansion primarily reflects an ever-increasing sensitivity to harm, reflecting a liberal moral agenda. Its implications are ambivalent, however. Although conceptual change is inevitable and often well motivated, concept creep runs the risk of pathologizing everyday experience and encouraging a sense of virtuous but impotent victimhood.

Surprise: 28-year study finds no correlation between sleep duration and brain health

Study Objectives: To examine the association between sleep duration trajectories over 28 years and measures of cognition, gray matter volume, and white matter microstructure. We hypothesize that consistently meeting sleep guidelines that recommend at least 7 hours of sleep per night will be associated with better cognition, greater gray matter volumes, higher fractional anisotropy, and lower radial diffusivity values. […] Methods: We studied 613 participants (age 42.3 ± 5.03 years at baseline) who self-reported sleep duration at five time points between 1985 and 2013, and who had cognitive testing and magnetic resonance imaging administered at a single timepoint between 2012 and 2016.  […] Results: No differences in cognition, gray matter, and white matter measures were detected between [average sleep duration] groups. Conclusions: Our null findings suggest that current sleep guidelines that recommend at least 7 hours of sleep per night may not be supported in relation to an association between sleep patterns and cognitive function or brain structure.

Dogs: Our best friends in sickness and in health

Dogs, often hailed as humans’ best friends, have been the topic of many scientific studies looking into how they might boost our well-being. In this Spotlight, we’ll explain how your friendly pup can benefit your health across the board. […] It is really difficult not to cheer up, even after a hard day’s work, when you are greeted with — often vocal — enthusiasm by a friendly dog. This, researchers explain, is due to the effect of the “love hormone” oxytocin. “During the last decades,” write the authors of a review that featured in Frontiers in Psychology, “animal assistance in therapy, education, and care has greatly increased.” When we interact with dogs, our oxytocin levels shoot up. Since this is the hormone largely responsible for social bonding, this hormonal “love injection” boosts our psychological well-being. Previous studies analyzed in the review have revealed that dog owners have more positive social interactions, and that the presence of canine friends makes people more trusting…and also more deserving of trust.

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 January 15, 2020

Mindfulness for Hypertension

Diet quality could be a key treatment target for patients with depression

Depression severity was correlated with dietary quality in patients who reported appetite loss, according to study data published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. The same trend was not observed in patients with depression who reported increased appetite. […] These data suggest that dietary quality may play an important role in mediating symptom severity in patients with MDD-DE [ Major Depression Disorder with decreased appetite ] . As a cross-sectional study with limited cohort size, however, results must be extrapolated with care. The investigators wrote, “Taken together, these results support the idea that dietary quality may be a modifiable treatment target for individuals who report a decrease in appetite during their major depressive episode.”

How to be more spiritual in 2020

We’re not long into 2020, but it’s time to contemplate what you really want to do in this decade. Think about where you were 10 years ago: What has changed? What hasn’t? Why? Might a little more spirituality in your life be the change you’re looking for? So let’s start by breaking down what we mean by spiritual here. Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines it as “of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit.” Spirit, meanwhile, is defined as “a life-giving force”—and that is what I want to focus on: your individual life-giving force, that thing that keeps you going and helps guide you through dark times. This isn’t going to be a list about religion, but rather about finding the things that give you life. Hopefully each of these things will feed and nourish you so that you can become the best version of yourself.

Innovative use of virtual reality to aid drug withdrawal

Kyle ER & Hospital and Cynergi Health Partners have paired virtual reality (VR) with traditional medication-assisted detox to ease withdrawal symptoms in patients with addiction. […] “Our community hospital paired a suite of virtual reality experiences — which can reduce apprehension and panic during withdrawal — with a traditional medication-assisted detox program for patients suffering from substance abuse,” Dr. Singh said. “We’ve used the latter for many years, but the VR component adds soothing imagery and sounds and leverages proven psychological techniques to make the process easier.  The technology can be used alongside medical treatment for many addictive conditions, including alcohol, opioid and benzodiazepine (benzo) addictions, according to Singh. 

Man’s face ‘peels off’ after rare condition triggered by his antidepressant

A man had his eyes stitched shut and his face covered in pig skin after suffering a rare reaction to an antidepressant which caused him to ‘burn from the inside’. Jonathan Laird, from Greenfield, Indiana, was prescribed lamotrigine tablets in April 2016 to boost his mood after being diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. Within a month of taking the pills, the 38-year-old was suffering flu-like symptoms and his eyes became so sore it felt as through ‘glass was piercing them’. The symptoms rapidly escalated and he developed red raw sores inside his mouth and lips, as well as at the back of his throat and across his entire body.

‘I don’t remember much. I fell in and out of consciousness. I felt like I was dreaming all the time, I don’t think I really knew that my eyes were stitched shut. ‘I had to communicate with my parents with pen and paper because I couldn’t talk, so they would say something, and I would write (my answers). ‘I said something like, “Am I going to die?” because I didn’t know and that was really hard for them to read. I just looked horrible, I looked like a plane crash.’ Mr Laird said he initially dismissed his symptoms as his body adjusting to his medication.

More and more ‘transgender’ people regret surgery, want to return to a normal life

It is a startling reaction, but LGBT advocates are continuing their campaign to ostracize “transgender” people who want their appearance once again to reflect their sex. Charlie Evans fits the profile of a “former transgender” who felt shunned by LGBT members and was labeled a “traitor.” She naively set out to help teenagers avoid making the same “horrendous mistakes” she had made when starting to “transition” at age 17. She began living as a boy, binding her chest and shaving her head. […] The numbers mounted, according to nonprofit websites. Walt Heyer — who had his sex-obscuring surgery reversed — thinks this phenomenon is far more common than what the public has been led to believe. That is why he launched the website “People don’t fare well in life experience after undergoing gender surgery,” Heyer tells National Review. “So it’s always kind of troubling for me why we would pay for something … that is actually [going to] be more harmful than if we left the person alone and dealt with the psychological component.”

Gut inflammation linked to Parkinson Disease

A Danish study of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and Parkinson disease (PD) found that patients with IBD had a 22% increased risk of developing PD over patients without IBD. The study, published in Gut, examined all Danish residents aged 15 years or older from 1977 to 2014 in the largest and longest population-based study of links between enteric inflammation and PD.1A growing body of research points to the role of the gut-brain axis in the development of PD, with inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut, and altered gut microbiota observed in the gut, often years before the onset of symptoms of PD.2The disease is strongly associated with the accumulation of Lewy bodies, which are eosinophilic deposits that occur within cell cytoplasm and are composed of a misfolded protein, alpha-synuclein. Some research points to the gut as the origin of the misfolded protein, spreading via the vagus nerve into the brain.3

Study shows the devastating impact of low-income on mental health

According to a new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, every one dollar increase to the federal minimum wage accounts for a 3.4% to 5.9% decline in suicide rates in young adults. Collectively, this figure suggests 1,059 fewer suicides per year. From the report:  “Social welfare policies such as the minimum wage can affect population health, though the impact may differ by the level of unemployment experienced by society at a given time. Minimum wage increases appear to reduce the suicide rate among those with a high school education or less and may reduce disparities between socioeconomic groups. Effects appear greatest during periods of high unemployment.” […] “Suicide is often associated with financial stressors such as job loss, debt or financial hardship, but less is known about how economic interventions such as minimum wage policies could ameliorate these risk factors. Suicide and depression disproportionately affect individuals with lower educational attainment and lower incomes.”

Talking Back to Prozac, What Doctors Aren’t Telling You

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

Authors Peter R Breggin MD and Ginger Breggin have re-released their seminal book Talking Back to Prozac: What Doctors Aren’t Telling You About Prozac and the Newer Antidepressants with a new introduction and new information about the SSRI antidepressants, including the granddaddy of them all—Prozac. 

News & Information for January 14, 2020

Science Says: Religion is Good For Your Health

– 80% of research on spirituality/religiousness and health focuses on mental health. This is because most associations with faith are related to how one thinks about the world and their role in it. Words that are often associated with religious beliefs include connectednesshopeoptimism, trust and purpose. All of which have been shown to boost mental health. Compassion, forgiveness and gratefulness are also qualities that are strongly associated with individuals who are spiritual and religious. Practicing these qualities is thought to be associated with deceased stress and increased resiliency. […] While mental and physical health are intricately intertwined, the physical manifestations of spirituality and religious beliefs are indirect. What this means is that our belief system drives the way we think and behave, which in turn impact our health-related actions. For example, people with greater depression and anxiety have more physical health problems. In turn, worse mental health and physical health lead to lower quality of life and a shorter life expectancy.

Is strength or cardio better for mental health?

An Australian study has found adding just one strength training session to your weekly fitness regime can lead to significant mental health improvements. The research, the largest study to examine the mental health effects of both aerobic and strength training, is the first to show that combining the two is more beneficial than doing either alone. […] The results, published in Depression and Anxiety, showed those who did twice the recommended amount of physical activity were half as likely to have depression compared to those who were inactive. “Our study advocates that combining strength training with aerobic activities like jogging or cycling is likely to be the best thing for your mental health,” Dr Bennie said.

Cardiorespiratory exercise improves brain health, decelerates decline in gray matter

new study, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings, provides evidence of an association between cardiorespiratory fitness — which refers to the ability of the circulatory and respiratory systems to supply oxygen during physical activity — and brain health, particularly in gray matter and total brain volume. […] The researchers found that increases in peak oxygen uptake were strongly associated with increased gray matter volume. “The most striking feature of the study is the measured effect of exercise on brain structures involved in cognition, rather than motor function,” said Mayo Clinic neurologist Professor Ronald Petersen, co-author of an editorial that accompanied the study. “This provides indirect evidence that aerobic exercise can have a positive impact on cognitive function in addition to physical conditioning.”

‘Realistic relationship goals’: Experts explain what it takes for love to last

The hashtag #realisticrelationshipgoals went viral this week as people shared advice on how to make a romantic relationship work. The tips ranged from silly to simple, often emphasizing kindness, empathy, and having fun. Some standouts include: “Being able to communicate with one look that this event is boring and we need to GFTO,” shared one user. “Giving each other alone time when you need it,” another wrote. “Stop pretending your relationship is perfect,” one user emphasized, while another endorsed getting “with someone who embraces your weird quirks and wobbly bits.” […] To become an Aristotelian lover, Pawelski says, is to engage in “an ongoing process.” Along the way, she explains, the science of positive psychology can help “by teaching us how to practice healthy habits to build lasting relationships.”

Scientists discover why anxious people smoke marijuana

When we’re stressed or anxious, we tend to turn to things that make us feel better — and for some, that means cannabis. In fact, this is one of the primary reasons for smoking weed or taking CBD, according to a 2009 study on young adults. But despite its popularity as a salve for anxious brains, scientists don’t know how the chemicals in marijuana work to calm anxiety — but the discovery of a molecule that affects an anxiety-producing super-highway in the brain could hold the key. In a study published this week in the journal Neuron, scientists describe a powerful molecule called 2-AG, which appears to disrupt the production and transfer of neurochemicals linked to anxiety across this neural highway — effectively halting an anxiety attack in its tracks. Cannabis works in much the same way, the researchers find. The new study, conducted in mice, shows 2-AG and cannabis act on the same receptors in the brain, the endocannabinoid system, which modulates anxiety.

Music triggers 13 key emotions, says new study

In a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, an international team of researchers examined the feelings evoked by 2,168 music excerpts in the U.S. and China. Using large-scale statistical tools, the scientists uncovered 13 distinct types of subjective experience associated with music in both cultures: amusement, joy, eroticism, beauty, relaxation, sadness, dreaminess, triumph, anxiety, scariness, annoyance, defiance, and feeling pumped up. […] “We wanted to take an important first step toward solving the mystery of how music can evoke so many nuanced emotions. We have rigorously documented the largest array of emotions that are universally felt through the language of music,” said University of California, Berkeley’s Professor Dacher Keltner.

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 January 13, 2020

Remembering Bonnie Burstow

Dr. Bonnie Burstow was a legend in her own time. She died too young, at 74, surrounded by close friends and loving students, after a short stay in the palliative care unit of Toronto General Hospital. Bonnie had become more and more ill and disabled over the past many years, suffering from multiple rare disorders, some undiagnosed. The world has lost a truly great woman: a phenomenal antipsychiatry/anti-electroshock warrior, and a tireless fighter for human rights. And I have lost a beloved sister. Bonnie has long been a widely respected faculty member at the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), and was a recipient of its Excellence in Teaching award. Known not only as a brilliant and outspoken scholar and author, she was also a leading radical feminist therapist, specializing in trauma; an innovative and beloved mentor, who created and conducted empowering courses on trauma and trauma counselling; and a powerful antipsychiatry activist. […] Bonnie was a prolific and brilliant author and blogger. Much of her recent work can be read here at Mad in America. One of her last books, and one of my personal favourites, was the novel The Other Mrs. Smith, a gripping narrative featuring a woman who survived electroshock.

Bonnie Burstow on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, November 27, 2019

Overuse of sleeping pills among the elderly raises concerns

According to the study commissioned by the Swiss Medical Board, one in five Swiss residents over 65 took sleep-inducing benzodiazepines in 2017 and the percentage increases with age. Women popped sleeping pills almost twice as much as men (25.1% compared to 14.6%). Female consumption is higher in French- and Italian-speaking cantons. The Swiss Medical Board said the study’s results into the use of sleeping pills was a “cause for concern”. “Benzodiazepines are drugs used to treat sleep problems. However, they also have side effects that increase with age. Benzodiazepines should therefore not be taken for long periods of time,” it said in a statement. […] It found that treatment exceeds 15 days in 80% of cases. For 40% of those who received at least one prescription of sleeping pills, more than 90 therapeutic doses were taken during the year. “Considering that use of [benzodiazepines] is typically not recommended beyond 2–4 weeks of treatment, the prevalence of benzodiazepine overuse among older people in Switzerland is likely to be as high as 16%,” the authors wrote. 

Baby and adult brains sync up during play time

New research suggests that during play time, parents and their babies might be “on the same wavelength,” experiencing similar brain activity in the same brain regions. The study by researchers at Princeton University found measurable similarities in the neural activity of baby and adult brains during natural play. In other words, baby and adult brain activity rose and fell together as they shared toys and eye contact, according to the study, which was conducted at the Princeton Baby Lab, where researchers study how babies learn to see, talk, and understand the world. “Previous research has shown that adults’ brains sync up when they watch movies and listen to stories, but little is known about how this ‘neural synchrony’ develops in the first years of life,” said Elise Piazza. […] When they looked at the data, the researchers found that during the face-to-face sessions, the babies’ brains were synchronized with the adult’s brain in several areas known to be involved in high-level understanding of the world, perhaps helping the children decode the overall meaning of a story or analyze the motives of the adult reading to them.

Vitamin D deficiency symptoms: Experiencing this mood disorder could mean you’re at risk

VITAMIN D is essential for a range of bodily functions, but deficiencies can arise if a person doesn’t take in enough vitamin D or their skin has an impaired ability to synthesise it from the sun. Experiencing a certain mood change could be a sign you are vitamin D deficient. What is it? This is when a change in mood could occur and if a person experiences a low mood it could mean they are not getting enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is important because it helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are vital nutrients for keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Lacking in the vitamin could lead to bone deformities such as rickets or osteomalacia in adults, which is why knowing the early signs of the condition is so important and if needed supplementation may help.

Lonely in a crowd: Overcoming loneliness with acceptance and wisdom

Researchers found the main characteristics of loneliness in a senior housing community and the strategies residents use to overcome it. […] “Loneliness rivals smoking and obesity in its impact on shortening longevity,” said senior author Dilip V. Jeste, MD, senior associate dean for the Center of Healthy Aging and Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Neurosciences at UC San Diego School of Medicine. “It is a growing public health concern, and it’s important that we identify the underlying causes of loneliness from the seniors’ own perspectives so we can help resolve it and improve the overall health, well-being and longevity of our aging population.” 

Instagram selfie photo manipulation linked to depressive symptoms in women

A study recently published in the journal Sex Roles sheds new light on the relationship between selfie behaviors, self-objectification, and depressive symptoms in women. Since women often receive the message that they are valued primarily for their physical attractiveness, the researchers were interested in exploring how self-objectification was related to online behaviors. “I have been collaborating with Mindy Erchull on issues related to objectification theory for several years. I had also begun to be interested in the effects of social media on people’s experiences and had recently taught a senior seminar on the topic,” explained the study’s lead author, Miriam Liss, a professor of psychological science at University of Mary Washington.

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 January 11-12, 2020

A Menace So Horrific, It Surpasses Psychiatry!

My discussion with researcher-filmmakers Aaron and Melissa Dykes will open your mind to what the future holds for all our brains and minds. It is far more insidious and potentially transformative of society than the primitive and yet tragic shenanigans of so-called modern psychiatry. For anyone who has wondered where a failed psychiatry will go—here is the answer that is now unfolding and it could be a far larger tragedy for the world and for humanity. I have spent much of my life fighting psychiatric oppression in the form of primitive attempts at controlling the brain and mind through neurotoxic drugs, electroshock, and psychiatric brain surgery. Now the FDA has approved electronic mind control in the form of Monarch, a device for flooding the brains of children with wholly destructive electrical impulses in the name of treating ADHD. Yet Monarch is crude compared to what billionaire entrepreneurs are close to implementing, not just for the “mentally ill,” but for all of us. Please listen pay attention to this stunning analysis and exposé of mind control—past, present and future—with researcher filmmakers Aaron and Melissa Dykes, who created the incredible full-length documentary film, The Minds of Men, which has now been seen by millions.

‘Hallucinations’ or spiritual experiencesare surprisingly common

The census was carried out in 1889-97 on behalf of the International Congress of Experimental Psychology, and drew on a sample of 17,000 men and women. This survey showed that hallucinations — including ghostly visions — were remarkably widespread, thus severely undermining contemporary medical views of their inherent pathology. […] Things slowly began to change in about 1971, when the British Medical Journal published a study on “the hallucinations of widowhood” by the Welsh physician W Dewi Rees. Of the 293 bereaved women and men in Rees’s sample, 46.7 percent reported encounters with their deceased spouses. Most important, 69 percent perceived these encounters as helpful […] Rees’s paper inspired a trickle of fresh studies that confirmed his initial findings — these “hallucinations” don’t seem inherently pathological nor therapeutically undesirable. On the contrary, whatever their ultimate causes, they often appear to provide the bereaved with much-needed strength to carry on.

Study offers a mixed bag for opioid users taking benzos

Benzodiazepines are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the country, often used to treat anxiety. But a new study warns that taking benzodiazepines can be both helpful and risky for those with opioid use disorder. The study shows a paradox. It found that patients prescribed benzodiazepines — or “benzos” — were less likely to stop taking their buprenorphine, an addiction medication that eases opioid cravings. “Keeping people in care wasn’t something we necessarily expected to find,” said Boston Medical Center psychiatrist Dr. Tae Woo Park, first author of the study. “People in buprenophine treatment often have co-occurring mental health disorders, and benzodiazepines are an efficacious way to treat anxiety.”

We can’t ignore the effects of antidepressants on our sex lives

Chances are, you or someone you know takes antidepressants to treat conditions such as anxiety and depression. 2018 saw over 70,000,000 antidepressant prescriptions dispensed and the Mental Health Foundation describes depression as being the ‘predominant mental health problem worldwide’. It’s common knowledge that most medications come with a plethora of unwanted side effects, but few acknowledge that some of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants include side effects that can get in the way of your sex life. […] ‘A reduction in sexual interest may be the result of a central effect of antidepressants on centres relating to reward and pleasure, whereas problems such as delayed ejaculation or difficulties in achieving orgasm probably result from effects on peripheral nerves.’

Antipsychotics and the risk of mortality or cardiopulmonary arrest in hospitalized adults

Prior studies in outpatient and long‐term care settings demonstrated increased risk for sudden death with typical and atypical antipsychotics. To date, no studies have investigated this association in a general hospitalized population. We sought to evaluate the risk of death or nonfatal cardiopulmonary arrest in hospitalized adults exposed to antipsychotics. […] In this cohort of adult hospitalizations from a large academic medical center, typical antipsychotics were associated with increased mortality or cardiopulmonary arrest, whereas atypical antipsychotics were only associated with increased risk among adults age 65 and older. The observed associations persisted after adjusting for demographics, comorbidities, other medication exposures, and time spent in the ICU, and they were robust to different analytic approaches and sensitivity analyses. Although associations between typical and atypical antipsychotics and death were demonstrated previously in the ambulatory and long‐term care settings, our study adds to newly emerging data on the risks of antipsychotics in the inpatient setting.

Antidepressant prescribing for Canadian youth has increased: study

There has been a steady increase in the prescribing of antidepressants to children and adolescents in Canada, according to new research. The study, published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, analyzed data collected from 2012 to 2016 for youths under 18. Over the five-year period, Calgary researchers found that prescribing of antidepressants in that age group rose by 36 per cent, from 120 per 100,000 to 160 per 100,000people. Antidepressant Fluoxetine was the most commonly recommended drug, according to the study. […] “We’ve also looked at the issue of if prevalence of depression is increasing in this age group and we haven’t found evidence that it is so we didn’t expect to see an increase in prescription of these medications,” says Patten, a professor at the Cumming School of Medicine in Calgary.

Women may be more prone to video game addiction, says study

According to a large-scale exploratory study by the folks at Clutch, women could be more prone to video game addiction in comparison to men. At first glance, that might strike you as surprising, considering women are generally recognized as less inclined towards gaming than men. Gaming Disorder – It’s A Thing. There’s quite a lot to unpack from this observation, though. Perhaps the biggest point of contention here is around the concept of video game addiction itself. Interestingly, video game addiction is in the process of becoming formally recognized as a legitimate mental health disorder. Gaming disorder, as it is termed in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11),  covers a criteria of video gaming behaviors (both online and offline) deemed excessive.

How to make exercise a habit in a way that makes you feel good

A lot of fitness professionals will tell you that if you only work out occasionally, it’s not a “real” workout because it’s not part of a consistent program. My fellow personal trainer pals and I laugh bitterly about this exclusionary “dudebro” point of view — every single workout benefits your body in very real ways, including boosting your mood and improving mental focus. That said, my interest as a trainer is helping people make exercise — whatever that means for them — part of their regular routines. So how do you make exercise a habit? […] It might still be intimidating to try to make exercise a habit, especially if you’ve tried before and it hasn’t stuck around. The key is to define exercise for yourself, and to create your workout habit around activities you enjoy. These five habit-forming hacks can help get you there. …

Wow I'm an American

Wow, I’m An American,  by Peter R Breggin, MD

Celebrate being an American and help others to do so as well. Wow, I’m an American: How to Live Like Our Nation’s Heroic Founders inspires us to live by principles of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in a responsible and loving manner.Wow, I’m an American! captures the essence of what makes America great, while showing how to apply these principles to living our everyday lives. A resource for those of us who want to share our values with upcoming generations while reaffirming for ourselves what America really stands for—freedom and responsibility under God!

News & Information for January 10, 2020

Podcast: Polarization, Social Media and its Effects on Society

Jonathan Haidt (@JonHaidt), a social psychologist at NYU-Stern, joins Erik on this episode. They Discuss: – What are the problems with social media and are they temporary or lasting issues – How social media has affected Gen Z – What led to the rise of polarization – What needs to happen to solve the issues of social media – When do you design for humanity’s evolutionary flaws – Has politics replaced religion as a source of identity – Activism versus truth seeking – Is Democracy doomed

How antidepressants can impact your sleep

“Until I started taking medication I hadn’t experienced any issues with sleep, apart from the typical disturbed nights that come with having a baby and toddler,” says Helen*, 30. “But my sleep worsened noticeably in the six weeks after I started taking antidepressants… I would find myself awake in the middle of the night with a cosmic feeling of unsettledness combined with a sensation similar to restless legs, but across my back. I also had severe nightmares, which is not something I’ve ever suffered with before in this kind of frequency.” […] This was certainly the case for Ivana, 35. She began to take antidepressants while going through a divorce and struggling with postnatal depression. “I began to suffer from restless leg syndrome (RLS) not long after I started to take antidepressants,” she recounts. “The sensation is hard to describe, but you feel the need to almost constantly move your leg. This causes a huge discomfort, especially at night. For me, the only thing that relieved this was walking, so I would end up getting up from bed and walking up and down my apartment multiple times a night.”

Study links social media use to anxiety, depression among teens

Social media use and screen time can lead to an increase in depression and anxiety among teens and adolescents, a new study finds. According to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, researchers observed more than 3,000 seventh to 10th graders in the greater Montreal area over a period of four years. Researchers measured how much time students spent in front of social media, television and computers. The data revealed the more time kids spent engrossed in digital screens, their symptoms of anxiety and depression became more severe.

Study: relaxation can induce anxiety in some with generalized anxiety disorder

Some individuals with generalized anxiety disorder prefer worrying over relaxing to avoid experiencing a sharp spike in negative emotion, according to new research published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. The study sheds light on a phenomenon known as relaxation induced anxiety, which up until now has received little empirical investigation. “I became interested in this topic since I could see in some of my clinical cases that patients feel even more anxious while they are trying to relax themselves,” explained study author Hanjoo Kim, a clinical psychology doctoral student at Pennsylvania State University. “Relaxation training (also called applied relaxation) is one of the most widely used cognitive behavioral therapy techniques, which is designed to help individuals with anxiety disorders. The paradoxical increase during relaxation training is called relaxation induced anxiety (RIA) and this phenomenon was suggested by anxiety researchers in 1980s but remained untested for almost 30 years.”

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 January 9, 2020

Sci-Fi Short Film “Regulation”

 Their kids died on the psych ward. They were far from alone, a Times investigation found

Julian had suffocated himself with a plastic bag. Her son was dead. How many others die in California psychiatric facilities has been a difficult question to answer. No single agency keeps tabs on the number of deaths at psychiatric facilities in California, or elsewhere in the nation. In an effort to assess the scope of the problem, The Times submitted more than 100 public record requests to nearly 50 county and state agencies to obtain death certificates, coroner’s reports and hospital inspection records with information about these deaths. The Times review identified nearly 100 preventable deaths over the last decade at California psychiatric facilities. It marks the first public count of deaths at California’s mental health facilities and highlights breakdowns in care at these hospitals as well as the struggles of regulators to reduce the number of deaths. The total includes deaths for which state investigators determined that hospital negligence or malpractice was responsible, as well as all suicides and homicides, which experts say should not occur among patients on a psychiatric ward. It does not include people who died of natural causes or other health problems while admitted for a psychiatric illness.

New study links smoking with increased rates of depression among young adults

New research has found that smoking may not only have a negative impact on our physical health — it could also be having an effect on our mental health. Carried out by researchers at Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s-Hadassah Braun School of Public Health and Community Medicine, Israel, the University of Belgrade, Serbia and the University of Pristina, Kosovo, the new study looked at more than 2,000 students enrolled at Serbian universities, who were surveyed about their smoking habits and depressive symptoms. The findings, published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, showed that the among the students who smoke the rates of clinical depression were two to three times higher than among the non-smoking students. […] “Our study adds to the growing body of evidence that smoking and depression are closely linked,” said study author Professor Hagai Levine. “While it may be too early to say that smoking causes depression, tobacco does appear to have an adverse effect on our mental health.”

Brain injury risk spikes when Alzheimer’s patients are treated with antipsychotics

Antipsychotic use increases head and traumatic brain injury risk in people with Alzheimer’s disease, according to Finnish researchers. Clinicians should restrict prescriptions to cases of severe need, they say. Investigators compared outcomes among nearly 22,000 adults with Alzheimer’s who either did or did not take antipsychotic medications. Those who took the drugs had 29% greater odds of head injury, and a 22% higher risk of traumatic brain injury. “Persons with Alzheimer’s disease have a higher risk of falling, head injuries, and traumatic brain injuries and worse prognosis after these events in comparison to those without Alzheimer’s disease,” said lead author Vesa Tapiainen, M.D., from the University of Eastern Finland. “It is important to avoid further increasing risk with antipsychotics in this vulnerable population, if possible.”

People’s Pharmacy: Antidepressant has ruined woman’s sex life

Q. I’ve been on fluoxetine for two years to treat depression. Now my sex drive is completely gone. I tried lowering my dose, but, due to confusion, I had to return to the higher dose again. This whole situation is killing me. I feel sexless. I’m in a beautiful relationship with a wonderful man I love very much. He is very understanding and patient, but I fear that I will lose him over the lack of sex. I’ve even contemplated ending the relationship, but I don’t want to lose the love of my life just because I need an antidepressant. Do you have a solution to suggest?

A. Many antidepressants lower libido and interfere with sexual pleasure. There is even a medical name for this condition: treatment emergent sexual dysfunction. 

The medications that change who we are

Others have not been so lucky. Over the years, Golomb has collected reports from patients across the United States – tales of broken marriages, destroyed careers, and a surprising number of men who have come unnervingly close to murdering their wives. In almost every case, the symptoms began when they started taking statins, then promptly returned to normal when they stopped; one man repeated this cycle five times before he realised what was going on. According to Golomb, this is typical – in her experience, most patients struggle to recognise their own behavioural changes, let alone connect them to their medication. In some instances, the realisation comes too late: the researcher was contacted by the families of a number of people, including an internationally renowned scientist and a former editor of a legal publication, who took their own lives.

How US sewage plants can remove medicines from wastewater

The research points to two treatment methods — granular activated carbon and ozonation — as being particularly promising. Each technique reduced the concentration of a number of pharmaceuticals, including certain antidepressants and antibiotics, in water by more than 95%, the scientists’ analysis found. Activated sludge, a common treatment process that uses microorganisms to break down organic contaminants, serves an important purpose in wastewater treatment but was much less effective at destroying persistent drugs such as antidepressants and antibiotics. “The take-home message here is that we could actually remove most of the pharmaceuticals we studied. That’s the good news. If you really want clean water, there are multiple ways to do it,” says Diana Aga, PhD, Henry M. Woodburn Professor of Chemistry in the University at Buffalo College of Arts and Sciences.

Toxic Pssychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

Written in 1991, Toxic Psychiatry remains Dr. Breggin’s most complete overview of psychiatry and psychiatric medication. For decades it has influenced many professionals and lay persons to transform their views on the superior value of psychosocial approaches compared to medication and electroshock. 

News & Information for January 8, 2020

Study: children, adults overusing devices

The results of a survey of 2,000 parents of school-aged children ages 5 through 18 suggest that families should be finding more screen-free ways to spend time together. Half of the survey’s respondents have been asked by their child to put their phone away, and 79 percent believe that their relationship with their children would benefit if everyone spent less time on devices. “Screens and tech can make up some of your playtime, but parents should be mindful of creating balance […] A wide variety of toys and games will help create rich childhood memories, lead to optimal physical, cognitive and social-emotional development and nurture critical skills like creativity and out-of-the-box thinking.” […] Singh said a healthy media plan for families can be found by visiting The site features a create-your-own media plan and a media time calculator that families can fill out.

Implicit bias training doesn’t work

From Google to Papa John’s to Buffalo Wings and Starbucks, more companies are introducing implicit bias training. These HR-sponsored courses are intended to foster diversity and inclusion by making employees more aware of unconsciously believed negative stereotypes. The idea is that if we can combat our underlying biases, we’ll decrease discriminatory behaviors at work and level the playing field for women and underrepresented minorities. And yet despite the growing adoption of unconscious bias training, there is no convincing scientific evidence that it works. In fact, much of the academic evidence on implicit bias interventions highlights their weakness as a method for boosting diversity and inclusion. Instructions to suppress stereotypes often have the opposite effect, and prejudice reduction programs are much more effective when people are already open-minded, altruistic, and concerned about their prejudices to begin with.

Can tea cut depression symptoms in older people?

One key debate on the benefit of tea over mental health is whether the potential impact comes from the biochemical components of tea or the social context of tea drinking. In the study, Feng Qiushi, associate professor at National University of Singapore Sociology, and his team controlled for covariates that could have significant associations with elderly depression. They looked at nationwide data from China, using the Chinese Longitudinal Healthy Longevity Survey (CLHLS) ranging from 2005-2014. Researchers analyzed data from over 13,000 elderly participants. […] In all cases measured for, consistent daily tea drinking remained a significant preventive factor against depressive symptoms. Urban living, education level, marital status, economic adequacy, better health, and engagement in social activities also related to less depressive symptoms. […] This correlation between drinking tea and depressive symptoms isn’t proof the link is causative, but Feng says, “Consistent and frequent tea-drinking may effectively reduce the risk of depressive symptoms for the Chinese elderly. The promotion of the traditional lifestyle of tea drinking could be a cost-effective way towards healthy aging for China.”

Nurse accuses NHS of prescribing ‘experimental’ drugs to kids

Susan Evans was employed at the the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which runs the UK’s only gender identity development service (GIDS). She left after becoming increasingly concerned that young children were being given “experimental treatment” without adequate assessments. Ms Evans has also accused gender-diverse support groups of having undue influence on what happens at the clinic. Her lawyers will argue that the provision of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones at the clinic to under-18s is illegal as children cannot give valid consent to treatment. […] “I used to feel concerned it was being given to 16-year-olds, but now the age limit has been lowered and children as young as perhaps nine or 10 are being asked to give informed consent to a completely experimental treatment for which the long-term consequences are not known. […] She added: “I don’t believe a child of nine or 10 can possibly understand – no matter how clever they are or how mature they seem – can possibly comprehend what their future adult life will be like and also then what they are consenting to possibly giving up, or the risks to their health.”

Mind Matters: Dealing with loneliness

Can you definitely measure and quantitate something like loneliness? The UCLA Loneliness Scale, according to this AARP article, is the gold standard for research purposes. It is a 20-item questionnaire that asks about the feelings associated with loneliness, without asking about the thing itself. How to approach loneliness? First, like many illnesses and conditions, this article states that we must recognize that there are likely multiple etiologies for what we see. These can include genetics, social situation and family environment. We must also try to look at this problem from the point of social connection, not loneliness per se. Why? Because like obesity and other conditions, people who are lonely often are subject to stigma and may be looked on as social failures. We can encourage those who are lonely to volunteer, help others, and encourage activities that qualify as life experiences that build connections and memories. 

Severe deprivation during childhood may cause a smaller brain

“The English and Romanian Adoptees study addresses one of the most fundamental questions in developmental psychology and psychiatry – how does early experience shape individual development?” said KCL’s Professor Edmund Sonuga-Barke in a statement. Reporting their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team discovered that the Romanian adoptees had brains that were roughly 8.6 percent smaller than those of their English counterparts. What’s more, every month of deprivation experienced was linked to an extra 0.27 percent reduction in brain volume. The researchers note that the changes in brain size were linked to symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a lower IQ, implying that deprivation might lead to structural changes in the brain that in turn cause mental health issues and cognitive problems.

Surviving psychiatry: A typical case of serious psychiatric drug harms

Over the years I have received many stories from patients, so many that I could write an interesting book based on them. In November, I received an outstanding account from a patient whom I had met when I lectured. I reproduce here this patient’s journey as she presented it to me, shared at her request. She was seriously harmed by psychiatric drugs; her life became endangered; and she suffered an excruciating withdrawal phase because she did not receive the necessary guidance. But she is doing well today. She gave birth to her second daughter in 2002 after a hard time with “all kinds of trials and hormone treatments.” After giving birth, she wasn’t well. She was afraid of losing her daughter and of not being able to protect her well enough. The doctors diagnosed her with depression, and she was told it was perfectly normal and that she should just take Effexor (known as an “antidepressant” but more accurately called a depression pill) so that her brain would work again. Possibly for the rest of her life, but at least for five years.

Your Drug May Be Your Problem – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

Whether the drug is a sleeping pill, tranquilizer, stimulant, antidepressant, mood stabilizer, or antipsychotic, Your Drug May Be Your Problem reveals its documented withdrawal symptoms, demonstrating what many doctors don’t know, understand, or consider: withdrawal symptoms often mimic the symptoms for which a person has been medicated in the first place. Armed with this essential background information, readers will then be able to choose for themselves when and how to withdraw from psychiatric drugs.

News & Information for January 7, 2020

I spent half my life on antidepressants. Today, I’m off them and feel fine.

At age 30, I found myself hanging halfway out my Manhattan high-rise window, calculating the time it would take to hit the ground. Still depressed despite my antidepressants — possibly caused by the possible decrease in antidepressants’ efficacy over time or because I’d never properly dealt with loss and trauma — I regularly considered suicide. As I looked for breaks in the pedestrian traffic patterns, a thought dawned on me: I’ve spent half my life — and my entire adult life — on antidepressants. Who might I be without them? The suicidal gears in my mind came to a screeching halt. I pulled myself back inside my apartment, scheduled an appointment with a new psychiatrist and made the decision to get off all the drugs before deciding whether to take my life. I needed to figure out my true baseline. If I didn’t like what I found, well, the window was always open.

Study explores the effect of antipsychotics on older hospitalized patients

Delirium (sudden confusion or a rapid change in mental state) remains a serious challenge for our health care system. Delirium affects 15 to 26 percent of hospitalized older adults and can be particularly problematic because those experiencing the condition may interfere with medical care or directly harm themselves or others. Besides behavioral therapy and physical restraints, antipsychotic medicines are among the few therapeutic options healthcare providers can use to ease delirium and protect patients and caregivers–but antipsychotics also come with risks of their own. […] The researchers learned that adults taking “first-generation” or “typical” antipsychotic medications (medicines first developed around the 1950s) were significantly more likely to experience death or cardiopulmonary arrest, compared to people who did not take those drugs. Taking “atypical” or “second-generation” antipsychotics (so named because they were developed later) raised the risk for death or cardiopulmonary arrest only for people aged 65 or older.

Mindfulness makes it easier to forget your fears

Mindfulness has been shown to reduce negative emotions in both healthy individuals as well as patients with psychological problems. Studies have also shown that mindfulness is effective for treating clinical emotional problems like anxiety, depression, stress and trauma related disorders. […] In a new study, researchers at University of Southern Denmark, Uppsala University, Lund University, Peking University and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, can now show that mindfulness training facilitates extinction of conditioned fear reactions, producing lasting reductions in threat related arousal responses. […] We can show that mindfulness does not only have an effect on subjective experiences of negative emotions, as has been shown previously, but that you can actual see clear effects on autonomic arousal responses, even with a limited amount of training.

New study indicates pursuing evolutionary-relevant goals provides purpose in life

The pursuit of some basic life goals — such as caring for one’s family members — could help to foster a sense of purpose in life, according to a new study published in the scientific journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. “Research shows that purpose in life is positively associated with numerous facets of well-being. However, research also shows that concern with building life purpose has been dropping with each new generation since the Baby Boomers,” said study author Matthew Scott, a graduate student in social psychology at Arizona State University. “Relatedly, young adults are engaging less with the traditional structures that once provided purpose in life, such as organized religion. Finding ways to build purpose in life seemed like a useful endeavor.” […] “The takeaway is that we might well find purpose in life by pursuing at least some of our basic, hardwired social needs. In particular, finding and keeping a romantic partner, caring for our families, and gaining the respect of others seem to bring a feeling of purpose in life,” Scott told PsyPost.

The influence of religiosity/spirituality on sex satisfaction and frequency

Prior literature has generally found either a null or positive association between sex life satisfaction and religiosity. […] This study drew on the nationally representative 2017 Baylor Religion Survey (N = 1501) to test relationships among sex life satisfaction, sexual frequency, and a variety of different religious measures while testing for demographic moderators. Results suggest that religion and spirituality have a strong and significant association with sex life satisfaction while controlling for basic sociodemographic variables, and that this relationship is consistent across marital status, age, and gender. The positive association between religion and sexual frequency appeared to be limited to more intrinsic, personal forms such as self-rated spirituality and frequency of prayer. This association did not exist for non-married individuals, however, and among non-marrieds those who attend religious services more reported lower sexual frequency. Possible explanations for these results are discussed.

Epigenetic considerations around antidepressant exposure

Epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms that are capable of being inherited and are caused by the modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself. […] What epigenetics and the study like the aforementioned SSRI-affected zebrafish transgenerational study tells us about antidepressants is that SSRIs aren’t just drugs that might “wear off” after a few hours like we might have assumed. Instead, epigenetics research and these studies show us that the use and aftermath of these drugs are much more serious and potentially permanent. Use of SSRI drugs changes how our body makes and regulates itself. Even more, the drugs can cause lifelong alterations to how an unborn child’s body learns to develop and live, as well as children of at least several generations afterward—and epigenetics shows us how.

Nurse to take legal action to stop ‘experimental’ puberty blockers

A psychiatric nurse is taking legal action to stop the NHS prescribing “experimental” puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones to children who wish to undergo gender reassignment. Lawyers acting for Susan Evans will lodge papers at the High Court this week in the case against the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust, which runs Britain’s only gender identity development service (GIDS). Ms Evans was employed by the Tavistock as a psychiatric nurse but became increasingly concerned that young children were being given “experimental treatment” without adequate assessments. She has also accused gender-diverse support groups of having undue influence on what happens at the clinic. […] She said: “I just couldn’t see that enough psychological work had been done with the children. They’ve lowered the age group for this experimental treatment. “It’s an off-licence treatment, the drug was not developed for the purpose for which it’s being used.”

Psychosocial Approaches to Deeply Disturbed Persons,  by Peter R Breggin, MD

A humanist approach to treating ‘psychotic’ patients focusing on psychological and social therapeutic techniques rooted in the contributors’ own practices working with deeply disturbed individuals. The 11 essays discuss contrasting therapeutic approaches, schizophrenic realities and modes of being, hallucinations and terror, communities for psychotic persons, illustrative therapy with schizophrenics, co-counseling, and working with the families of schizophrenic patients.” SciTech Book News

News & Information for January 6, 2020

Medicating Normal Trailer

For more information, including links to the scientific evidence base for the statements in this video, as well as further resources, please visit our website:

★ Researchers fail to predict antidepressant treatment success

In a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry, researchers investigated whether they could use EEG (electroencephalograph) technology to predict whether people would feel better after taking an antidepressant medication. They found a number of slight correlations in their EEG results, but the predictive value was almost nothing (about 5%). A somewhat more stable correlation was found for better placebo response, rather than better antidepressant response. However, most, if not all, of the results might have been due to statistical noise and might not represent true results. The researchers write, “The effect sizes were small for most of the significant features found to moderate treatment outcome and, therefore, call for replication.”

One easy choice can help anxious people manage their worries — study

In 2011, Schroder and colleagues came across a study showing that expressive writing improves test performance among students with high test anxiety and were struck with an idea. They decided to conduct their own study evaluating how expressive writing could help anxious people complete tasks better. […] the brain scans showed that the people who engaged in expressive writing used fewer brain resources during the process, showing that exercise helped them be more efficient. […] “I would say that writing is most beneficial in this sort of exercise when the focus is on emotion,” he says. “In therapy, we encourage individuals to open up and get in touch with their feelings. Expressive writing is another way of doing this in a focused way.”

Just 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation improves learning and memory, study finds

New scientific research published in the journal Memory & Cognition provides evidence that a brief mindfulness meditation exercise can enhance verbal learning. […] The researchers found that the mindfulness exercise increased verbal learning and memory encoding capabilities despite not improving general attention abilities or general verbal fluency. In other words, participants who listened to the 10-minute mindfulness exercise tended to be better at recalling newly learned words — but they were not any better at retrieving verbal material stored in long-term memory. “The average reader can take away the fact that mindfulness seems likely to improve their ability to learn new verbal information and then be able to remember it later. Most of the information we rely on for school, work, and social situations is verbal in nature,” Lueke told PsyPost.

This 3-minute, $3 habit could lower your stress and anxiety at work

Indoor plants can be an inexpensive way to brighten up the decor of an office space, and a new Japanese study suggests that they can also improve your mental health at work. […] About 27% of participants experienced a significant decrease in their pulse rate by the end of the plant-tending period, and most participants’ anxiety scores decreased too.  […] other promising research has shown that simply spending time with nature has a positive effect on people’s memorymoodcreativity and productivity. A 2014 study, for example, found that adding plants to an office can increase workers’ productivity by 15%. And a 2012 study suggests that walking in nature can be helpful for people with major depressive disorder.

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 January 4-5, 2020

 Overcoming the Madness in Us All

Your Drug May Be Your Problem – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

Whether the drug is a sleeping pill, tranquilizer, stimulant, antidepressant, mood stabilizer, or antipsychotic, Your Drug May Be Your Problem reveals its documented withdrawal symptoms, demonstrating what many doctors don’t know, understand, or consider: withdrawal symptoms often mimic the symptoms for which a person has been medicated in the first place. Armed with this essential background information, readers will then be able to choose for themselves when and how to withdraw from psychiatric drugs.

News & Information for January 3, 2020

Frequent Alert 130: Overcoming the Madness in Us All

Come along with me on my psychological and spiritual adventure.  My blog, “Overcoming the Madness in Us All,” is being featured on Madness in America.  I love this new blog.  It captures some of my deepest thoughts about human suffering and human relationship—thoughts I hope will help people live lives that exceed all their expectations.   That’s what these ideas have done for me—helped me to live a far happier and more satisfying life than I ever imagined and to keep me doing so for many decades. 

The blog “Overcoming the Madness in Us All” is the written approach these ideas that I’ve been refining with the approach of the New Year. On my YouTube Channel, you can find my two earlier spontaneous presentations on my radio/TV show that led up to the blog.  The first TV video is “What Makes Us Suffer and Ultimately Recover—Or Not”  The follow-up video presented on January 1, 2020 is called “The Best Stuff I Have Learned from Life.”   

Peter R. Breggin

Drop-out rates in antidepressant drugs trials: A systematic review and meta-analysis

OBJECTIVE:To study the drop-out rates in trials of selective serotonin and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs and SNRIs).  METHODS:This study is a systematic review and meta-analysis of trials. The main outcome measure: Overall drop-out rate. […] We obtained clinical study reports (CSRs) of five antidepressant drugs from the European Medicines Agency and the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency. […] RESULTS:We included 71 CSRs (67,319 pages) with information on 73 trials (11,057 patients on SSRI or SNRI drugs, and 7,369 on placebo). […] Significantly more patients dropped out on active drug than on placebo […] There were more drop-outs due to adverse events on active drug than on placebo […] CONCLUSIONS:By using CSRs, we were able to demonstrate for the first time that more patients dropped out on active drug than on placebo. As it can be argued that the drop-out rate reflects the patients’ overall assessment of the balance between benefits and harms, our review adds to the growing concern that SSRIs and SNRIs might not have the desired effect. Our review also highlights the importance of using CSRs for undertaking reviews of drugs.

Video: How to treat seasonal affective disorder

“It’s hard because a lot of times you wake up in the morning and it’s dark, you come home in the afternoon and it’s still dark, and then in between it’s kind of gloomy and gray a lot of times,” said Dr. Megan Feng, a primary care physician. The decrease in sunlight can disrupt your biological clock, or circadian rhythm. It can also cause a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood, and your melatonin levels, which play a role in sleep patterns and mood. So what can you do? Doctors say get outside! Take a walk, or eat lunch at the park. Even on a cold or cloudy day, that light is good for you. “Things like sleep, things like physical activity, making sure that you’re eating healthy foods, trying to keep up with some social activities and having that interaction with people. None of these things are medications, but can also really affect your mood and are all different tools you should consider when trying to treat anxiety and depression,” Dr. Feng added.

Your brain will thank you for these morning exercises

These activities are, of course, in tandem with getting a good rest at night. We tend to hit a mental roadblock from time to time. That is because just like the other organs, the brain needs attention, too. And the best way to feed it, is to make it sharper. Before you begin your day, try some of these brain-boosting exercises. These activities are likely to bring your stress levels down, and get you focused and ready for your day at work. Read on.

These 100 benefits of meditation will finally convince you to try it 

3. It eases anxiety. “Meditation is literally the perfect, portable anti-anxiety treatment,” says health coach Traci Shoblom. Taking just a few minutes to close your eyes and do breathing exercises can turn off the mechanisms in your brain that cause anxiety.
4. It reduces depression symptoms. Depression is a series mental health condition often triggered by stress and anxiety. Research suggests meditation can change areas of the brain, including the “me center” and “fear center,” that are linked to depression. People who meditate also show increased gray matter in the brain’s hippocampus, responsible for memory.
5. You’ll get a mood boost. Meditation helps you deal with stress, anxiety and difficult situations, which makes you happier and feel better. “We’re just able to deal with difficult things without letting it affect your mood,” Washam says.
9. It enhances serotonin levels. Serotonin is a chemical produced in nerve cells that works as a natural mood stabilizer. When you meditate, you’ll increase serotonin levels, which Washam says acts like a natural anti-depressant. 
47. Meditation eases loneliness. A study published in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity showed older adults, who took part in an eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction program, saw a decrease in pro-inflammatory gene expression—and, this reduced feelings of loneliness.
55. It promotes emotional stability. Meditation lets you focus on your mind and identify thought patterns, so that you can address them, Rodriguez says. You’ll discover healthy ways to deal with your emotions and repressed feelings.
60. Meditation keeps your brain younger. When you focus on your breath during meditation, you’re also giving the brain a boost, says Tara Huber of Take Five Meditation. Research published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement shows that regular mindfulness meditation can even slow the aging process and reverse brain aging.

Ecotherapy aims to tap into nature to improve your wellbeing

As many as one in six adults experience mental health problems like depression or anxiety every week. And not only is mental ill-health one of the most common causes of disease worldwide – it’s also on the rise. Finding ways to improve mental health is therefore essential. One type of therapy that is starting to become more popular is “ecotherapy”; which advocates claim can improve mental and physical wellbeing. Sometimes referred to as green exercise or green care, this type of formal therapeutic treatment involves being active in natural spaces. It’s also sighted to be one of 2020’s biggest wellness trends, though the practice is far from new

The benefits of travel on your mental health

Taking a vacation is one of the best things you can do to reduce your stress level. Taking time off work isn’t enough — you need to get away from your everyday environment. Traveling allows you to rest while you shift your focus to your new surroundings. To get the most stress-relief out of your next vacation, prohibit yourself from doing any work-related activities that aren’t absolutely necessary. Don’t check your email, voicemail, or text messages. Unplug entirely, if possible. Also, make an effort to keep your vacation to-do list fun and stress-free. Traveling boosts happiness, even before you leave for your trip. A study by the University of Surrey found that people are happiest when they are anticipating a future vacation. The idea of going on a vacation is exciting and gives you something to look forward to during your daily routine. Traveling makes people happy for other obvious reasons. You get to see new places, take a break from work, and enjoy experiences that you can’t find at home. You also get more time to focus on your loved ones and strengthen your relationships. After your trip, although you may be temporarily disappointed that it’s over, you’ll have fond memories to look back on. 

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 January 2, 2020

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Jan 1, 2020

On New Year’s Day 2020, Dr. Peter Breggin offers a heartfelt discussion of “The Best Stuff I’ve Ever Learned from Life.” He describes the experiences, ideas and attitudes that have contributed to his eight decades of vigorous, exciting and passionate living. This spontaneous, direct, often personally revealing hour will give you a window into how to live a good, satisfying and successful life of your own—one you can look upon each day proudly and with satisfaction. You probably know about Dr. Breggin’s decades of reform work and may be familiar with his blogs, books or videos; now hear what has guided his life.

After decades of research, Professor Frans de Waal argues animals are just as emotional as we are

Dogs trained to lie still in MRI scanners show the same brain activity when they are expecting to be given a frankfurter to eat as businessmen have when they’re promised a monetary bonus. Scientists are gradually beginning to accept that humans are not the only species with the capacity to feel emotions. 

  • Meadow vole has high oxytocin leading to ‘addiction’ to their sexual partners
  • Apes understand jokes of deception as well as appreciating slap-stick comedy
  • Dogs are fully capable of envy and Terrier Greyfriars Bobby proves their loyalty

After four decades of research into animal behaviour, including thousands of hours watching Mama and the other chimpanzees, the question for me has never been whether or not animals have emotions, but how science could have overlooked them for so long. I believe that many emotions long-thought to be uniquely human can be found in all mammals, from voles to elephants, dolphins and whales. […] it’s well known that apes love slapstick movies, probably because of all the physical mishaps. When a person they like walks toward them and slips, their first reaction is worried tension, but if the person turns out to be fine, they laugh with apparent relief, the way we do in similar circumstances.

Experiences of depression connected to declining sense of purpose

Research has suggested that there is a divergence between scientific understandings of depression and the way that depression is experienced by those diagnosed. A new study, conducted by a team of researchers led by Miraj Desai at the Yale University School of Medicine, explored these discrepancies further. In-depth interviews with individuals who had screened positive for depression indicated that their experiences were connected intimately to a declining sense of purpose. People who screened positive for depression were “dealing with profound ruptures to what they were living for—their dreams for work, relationships, and a meaningful life,” Desai and his co-researchers write. Rather than describing their experience in terms of a “depressive illness,” participants in this study traced their declining sense of purpose to the ways their goals and values in life had been threatened. In turn, they experienced accompanying constrictions in their energy, action, and body. “The present study found that the experiences underlying a positive depression screen were best characterized as a context-dependent, life-historical phenomenon,” Desai and team write.

New Year’s resolutions that cut your risk of Alzheimer’s disease

If you need any added incentive to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, healthy lifestyle changes can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. “There are things that you can do today — this very minute — to reduce your risk of developing dementia. It’s never too late and it’s never too early to incorporate healthy habits,” said Sara Kofman, public policy director for the Alzheimer’s Association Oregon and Southwest Washington Chapter.

Biogen pushes FDA to approve failed Alzheimer’s drug

A new article inLancet Neurology examines how Biogen’s experimental Alzheimer’s drug aducanumab was canceled amid two clinical trials, failing to show efficacy and causing a high rate of dangerous fluid retention in the brain. However, some participants were still allowed to continue in the trials. After they completed, Biogen re-analyzed the data and found a slight statistical effect in favor of the drug in some post-hoc analyses in one of the trials. At a recent conference, Biogen suggested that the FDA should now use these failed trials as examples of successful trials and approve their drug. Lon Schneider, the author of the Lancet Neurology article, is a researcher at USC and an expert researcher focusing on Alzheimer’s disease. He is the director of the California Alzheimer’s Disease Center and principal investigator on a large-scale trial of antipsychotics for Alzheimer’s disease. Schneider writes: “Biogen frame their analyses as showing one positive trial and a second, negative trial in which a subset comparison is offered as supportive of the positive trial. They do this because the FDA might accept such a result as meeting its regulatory criteria for ‘substantial evidence of effectiveness,’ which is defined as ‘one adequate and well-controlled study and additional confirmatory evidence.’ A conundrum for Biogen, however, is whether the EMERGE trial is, in fact, positive and well-controlled.”

The Japanese way to cleaning up your mind and home in 2020

Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy of self-improvement through incremental progress. It preaches temperance by stages rather than in one fell swoop: So, instead of trying to turn vegan one fine day, why not make gradual changes to your diet over several weeks, even months, until the transition from enjoying rare steaks to fixing avocado shakes does not feel as dispiriting as it otherwise might? Sarah Harvey, who lived in Japan after fleeing a high-pressure publishing job in London, teaches you tricks to change your habits of eating, exercise, conducting relationships and spending money, drawing on examples from her own messed-up millennial life.

Beat the winter blues

I was surprised when one of my teachers at the Naturopathic Institute told us to stop wearing sunglasses unless sunlight poses a safety risk, like while driving. It’s through our eyes that we absorb the most vitamin D from the sun, our best source for catalyzing our body’s production of vitamin D, a hormone that affects many functions of the body, including those that contribute to feeling joy, balanced emotions and appropriate energy levels. Since Michigan winters put us at a disadvantage to soaking up the mood-enhancing rays, many people have turned to light therapy lamps. […] Light therapy lamps have helped many people who struggle during the short days of Michigan winters avoid antidepressants by regulating natural daily rhythms, called circadian rhythms, that influence sleep and hormones. 

Wow I'm an American

Wow, I’m An American,  by Peter R Breggin, MD

Celebrate being an American and help others to do so as well. Wow, I’m an American: How to Live Like Our Nation’s Heroic Founders inspires us to live by principles of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in a responsible and loving manner.Wow, I’m an American! captures the essence of what makes America great, while showing how to apply these principles to living our everyday lives. A resource for those of us who want to share our values with upcoming generations while reaffirming for ourselves what America really stands for—freedom and responsibility under God!

News & Information for January 1, 2020

Frequent Alert 129: The Best Stuff I’ve Learned from Life

Today, New Year’s Day 2020, Dr. Peter Breggin offers a heartfelt discussion of “The Best Stuff I’ve Ever Learned from Life.”  He describes the experiences, ideas and attitudes that have contributed to his eight decades of vigorous, exciting and passionate living.  This spontaneous, direct, often personally revealing hour will give you a window into how to live a good, satisfying and successful life of your own—one you can look upon each day proudly and with satisfaction.   You probably know about Dr. Breggin’s decades of reform work and may be familiar with his blogs, books or videos; now hear what has guided his life.

Listen in @, Today @ 4 PM, NY Time

Or listen to the radio archives @

Or the TV archive @

Safe spaces are stifling vigorous intellectual debate

Study finds deep sleep ‘rewires’ the brain to eliminate anxiety

According to the research team at UC Berkeley, deep sleep, scientifically referred to as non-rapid eye movement (NREM) slow-wave sleepstabilizes our emotions, promotes highly-synchronized neural movements between synapses, and lowers heart rate and blood pressure. In short, falling into a deep sleep quite literally soothes the brain into a relaxed state, allowing it to reset inter-neural connections and reinvigorate itself. “We have identified a new function of deep sleep, one that decreases anxiety overnight by reorganizing connections in the brain,” explains senior author Matthew Walker […] in a release. “Deep sleep seems to be a natural anxiolytic (anxiety inhibitor), so long as we get it each and every night.” Overall, this new set of research is among the strongest pieces of evidence ever connecting sleep to anxiety relief on a neural level. Furthermore, the study’s authors believe their findings designate sleep as a natural, non-pharmaceutical alternative for anxiety disorder treatment.

What 12 studies told us about family life in 2019

From Alzheimer’s research to sleep studies, from helping kids lead healthy lives to keeping marriage strong, we learned a lot in 2019.  Sociologists and health researchers are just some of the experts who published dozens of studies in 2019 that impact family life and how we trip up or thrive. Our family beat team looked at lots of them this year, from weight gain to Alzheimer’s screening and how religion impacts a couple’s intimacy. Here are 12 things these studies told us.

Mental health: which is better – team sports or solo exercise?

Exercise is not only good for your physical health, it’s good for your mental health, too. Indeed, many people even take up exercise as a way of boosting their mental well-being. But is all exercise equally beneficial – and does it matter whether you do it alone or in a group? One notable study examined how the setting people exercised in related to mental health. The study looked at students aged between 16 and 24 years old, comparing those who took part in team sports, informal fitness groups (such as yoga classes or running groups), and those who exercised alone at least once a week. They followed up six months later to measure their mental health. The study found that the students who did group physical activity (either in team sports or informal fitness groups) had better mental health than those who exercised alone. Students exercising in groups were also more physically active, doing nearly twice as much activity as those who exercised alone. They also reported feeling more connected to people around them.

The Opposite of Empathy

In 1949, Dymond declared empathy to be a neglected field of study in psychology. Thirty years later the African-American psychologist Kenneth B. Clark again lamented the lack of in-depth studies of empathy [7]. Empathy is a popular topic of research today, but its cultivation is still neglected. Despite a number of recent initiatives, most schools and universities lack dedicated programs to foster empathy. We have been keen to train our intelligence and individualism in western societies but have not similarly educated our empathy or altruism, as biologist and Buddhist monk Mathieu Ricard has noted [8]. Now, at the dawn of a new decade, it is time for our social education to promote sensitivity to others’ experiences.

The Decade of the Microbiome

Microbiome. Today, it’s a household word. But a decade ago, “microbiome” was unheard of, unless you were a specific type of scientist. The microbiome is the collection of microbes in an ecosystem, whether in the human gut or a boreal forest. These community of microbes were incredibly difficult to study before the rise of sequencing technology, which became cheaper at a pace faster than Moore’s law throughout the 2010s. The availability of this technique cascaded into a boom in products and academic research centered around the microbiome. […] With the rise of microbiome research centers across the country, two biologists at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) decided to create and lead the Microbiome Centers Consortium. Research across multiple fields using techniques and methods related to microbiome science is rapidly changing. The UCI biologists thought that a consortium to share innovations, challenges, and solutions could improve the quality and quantity of academic microbiome research.

Volunteering and other altruistic acts can ease physical pain, study suggests

Doing good deeds has been proven to have myriad health benefits, such as boosting mood and easing anxiety, and a new series of studies suggests that performing altruistic acts could also help alleviate physical pain. “Whereas most of the previous theories and research have emphasized the long-term and indirect benefits for altruistic individuals, the present research demonstrated that participants under conditions of pain benefited from altruistic acts instantly,” the study authors wrote.


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 2019