May 2, 2019

Breaking News and Information – March 2019

Current News


News & Information for March 31, 2019

Part 6: Torturing Patients

Interview VI of VIII, Dr. Breggin describes how Yale’s visiting professor, Jose Delgado, put caps on the heads of patients to stimulate their brain by remote control—and how Dr. Breggin’s reform work stopped all the Harvard/Yale experiments. When Dr. Breggin started his successful international campaign to stop psychosurgery in the early 1970s, he never imagined the mind-control aspirations and racist motivations espoused by key neurosurgeons and psychiatrists. […] For detailed descriptions of Peter and Ginger Breggin’s successful campaigns to stop federally-funded psychosurgical, eugenic and racist programs of behavioral control, see Psychiatry as an Instrument of Social and Political Control.

Ambushed by Antidepressants for 30 Years

Before antidepressants, I was articulate and accomplished. I could think — I could do anything I set out to do. I was a banking executive living in a beautiful apartment in Boston’s Back Bay when a home invasion in 1985 prompted my doctor to prescribe antidepressants for PTSD. Just as my attacker slammed into me, SSRI antidepressants ambushed the neurotransmitters in my brain causing cognitive decline, severe anxiety, panic attacks and suicidal depression. They helped me function for a while, but the debilitating mental and physical side effects of antidepressants held me prisoner. I couldn’t “decide” to get off them. […] Antidepressants caused innumerable mental and physical problems. I merely subsisted from day-to-day trying to cope with what the drugs were doing to me. Uncontrollable high anxiety ruled, and I thought about suicide every day.

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 March 30, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 03.27.19

A very good Open Mic Wednesday, which takes place every last Wednesday of the month at 4 pm NY time.   The number to call from anywhere is 888 874 4888.  Today, calls varied from how to live life without drugs to surviving as a good therapist in professional communities that push drugs.  I also talk about the secrets to life.  The last Wednesday of the month focuses on callers, but you can call my talk radio show at  888 874 4888 at 4 pm NY time any Wednesday while you listen to the show on or its app. 

Denying the Neuroscience of Sex Differences

For decades neuroscience, like most research areas, overwhelmingly studied only males, assuming that everything fundamental to know about females would be learned by studying males. […] Gradually however, and inexorably, we neuroscientists are seeing just how profoundly wrong — and in fact disproportionately harmful to women — that assumption was, especially in the context of understanding and treating brain disorders. Any reader wishing to confirm what I am writing can easily start by perusing online the January/February 2017 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience Research, the first ever of any neuroscience journal devoted to the topic of sex differences in its entirety. All 70 papers, spanning the neuroscience spectrum, are open access to the public. […] Recognizing our obligation to carefully study sex influences in essentially all domains (not just neuroscience), the National Institute of Health on January 25, 2016 adopted a policy (called “Sex as a Biological Variable,” or SABV for short) requiring all of its grantees to seriously incorporate the understanding of females into their research. This was a landmark moment, a conceptual corner turned that cannot be unturned. But the remarkable and unprecedented growth in research demonstrating biologically-based sex influences on brain function triggered 5-alarm fire bells in those who believe that such biological influences cannot exist.

The share of Americans not having sex has reached a record high

The share of U.S. adults reporting no sex in the past year reached an all-time high in 2018, underscoring a three-decade trend line marked by an aging population and higher numbers of unattached people. But among the 23 percent of adults — or nearly 1 in 4 — who spent the year in a celibate state, a much larger than expected number of them were twentysomething men, according to the latest data from the General Social Survey. Experts who study Americans’ bedroom habits say there are a number of factors driving the Great American Sex Drought. Age is one of them: The 60 and older demographic climbed from 18 percent of the population in 1996 to 26 percent in 2018, according to the survey.

The share reporting no sex has consistently hovered around 50 percent, and because that age group is growing relative to everyone else, it has the net effect of reducing the overall population’s likelihood of having sex. […] Young men also are more likely to be living with their parents than young women: In 2014, for instance, 35 percent of men age 18 to 34 were living in their parents’ home, compared with 29 percent of women in that age group. At the risk of stating the obvious, “when you’re living at home it’s probably harder to bring sexual partners into your bedroom,” Twenge said.

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 March 29, 2019

Can What We Eat Affect How We Feel?

Nutritional psychiatrists counsel patients on how better eating may be another tool in helping to ease depression and anxiety and may lead to better mental health.

A study of more than 12,000 Australians published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2016 found that individuals who increased the number of servings of fruits and vegetables that they ate reported that they were happier and more satisfied with their life than those whose diets remained the same. […] Another study of 422 young adults from New Zealand and the United States showed higher levels of mental health and well-being for those who ate more fresh fruits and vegetables. Interestingly, the same benefits did not accrue to those who ate canned fruits and vegetables. “We think this is due to the higher nutrient content of raw fruits and vegetables, particularly B vitamins and vitamin C, which are vulnerable to heat degradation,” said Tamlin Conner, a study author and senior lecturer at the University of Ota. One of the first randomized controlled trials to test whether dietary change may be effective in helping to treat depression was published in 2017. In the study, led by Felice Jacka, a psychiatric epidemiologist in Australia, participants who were coached to follow a Mediterranean diet for 12 weeks reported improvements in mood and lower anxiety levels. Those who received general coaching showed no such benefits.

Association of air pollution exposure with psychotic experiences during adolescence

Question  Is exposure to air pollution associated with adolescent psychotic experiences? Findings  In this nationally representative cohort study of 2232 UK-born children, significant associations were found between outdoor exposure to nitrogen dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter and reports of psychotic experiences during adolescence. Moreover, nitrogen dioxide and nitrogen oxides together explained 60% of the association between urban residency and adolescent psychotic experiences. Meaning  The association between urban residency and adolescent psychotic experiences is partly explained by the higher levels of outdoor air pollution in urban settings. 

Happy Wife = Long Life?

We’ve all heard the adage, Happy wife, happy life. And it turns out it may be true. A study led by a Rutgers University researcher found that a husband’s life satisfaction tended to be greater when his wife described their marriage as a happy one. But let’s take this adage one step further and ask an even more intriguing question: Can having a happy spouse (regardless of gender) not only lead to a happier life but a longer one as well? That is the question a researcher from the Netherlands recently set out to answer. In this study […] The first notable result was this: The life satisfaction of one’s spouse was associated with a significantly reduced risk of dying. Put simply, people with happy spouses (ones who would strongly agree with the statement “I am satisfied with my life”) lived longer than people with unhappy spouses. Importantly, this result remained regardless of the individual’s gender, ethnicity, education level, household income, or sexual orientation.

How to get in a good mood in just 12 minutes

Researchers at Iowa State University suggest that being kind to others for just 12 minutes may do more to make ourselves feel better. “Walking around and offering kindness to others in the world reduces anxiety and increases happiness and feelings of social connection,” says psychology professor Douglas Gentile, who worked on the new study appearing this week in the Journal of Happiness Studies. Gentile and his team asked student-participants to walk around the campus for 12 minutes, and were each assigned a different mood-boosting strategy. Some students were told to observe others around them and sincerely think to themselves, “I wish for this person to be happy” — called the “loving-kindness” strategy. Others were asked to consider their “interconnectedness” with others, perhaps through mutual friends or classes, or shared emotions. Finally, a third group was asked to make a “downward social comparison” by considering how they might be better than others around them. A control group was told to simply observe others noting appearance, fashion and demeanor, with no instruction on thoughts. Those who practiced loving-kindness and wished other well ended-up happier, more caring, and less anxious than the other groups after the 12 minutes. The interconnectedness group grew more empathetic and caring, while the downward social comparison technique showed no benefit. Indeed, they felt less empathetic, caring and connected than other groups.

Can mindfulness help stressed teachers stay in the classroom?

A few years ago, Amy Lopes, a veteran fifth-grade teacher in Providence, Rhode Island, learned that teachers at her school could try a mindfulness and yoga training along with their students. Her immediate reaction: “What a bunch of baloney! I said, OK, I’ll try it, but it’s not going to work,” recalled Lopes, who teaches at the William D’Abate Elementary School. “But, within a couple weeks, I just let go and became a learner along with my students, and my whole world has changed.”

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 March 28, 2019

British psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour

A great guest on the radio today on the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour:  British psychiatrist Joanna Moncrieff, a leader psychiatric reform in Great Britain and around the world.  She will tell us about her psychiatric drug withdrawal project and professional reactions to it as well as potential harms from psychiatric drugs.  We will both answer questions about psychiatry in the world today. The program starts at 4 pm NY time. Listen to our great conversation on, call in to speak with us at 888 874 4888, and listen to the archives on

Study: Older Men With High Levels Of Sex Hormones Less Religious

 For older men, faith may have more to do with hormones than the holiness of their lives. A study by researchers at McGill University in Canada found a possible connection between the levels of the sex hormones testosterone and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) and how religious men are. These findings add to the growing evidence that religiosity is not exclusively influenced by childhood upbringing or psychological makeup; rather, physiological factors could be just as influential. […] “Religion influences a range of cultural and political patterns at the population level. Results from the current study indicate the latter may also have hormonal roots,” explains lead author Aniruddha Das in a news release. “There is therefore a need for conceptual models that can accommodate the dynamic interplay of psychosocial and neuroendocrine factors in shaping a person’s life cycle.”

Study: Parents, toddlers interact more when reading print books vs. e-books

Electronic books are convenient, but they may not be as beneficial for toddlers’ development as print books, according to a small study. Researchers from the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital found parents and toddlers interacted more when reading print books together. “Shared reading promotes children’s language development, literacy and bonding with parents,” lead author Tiffany Munzer, M.D., said in a news release. “… We found that when parents and children read print books, they talked more frequently and the quality of their interactions were better.” […] That recommendation was echoed by authors of a related commentary who praised the study for being able to compare experiences within each parent-toddler pair and called for more research on electronic books. “In the meantime, pediatricians should help parents understand that enhancements often found in electronic books will not help child development as much as enhancements provided by parental interaction,” they wrote.

A New Study Blows Up Old Ideas About Girls and Boys

If there are superstar scholars, Berkeley professor Judith Butler is a superstar. She is best known for pioneering the idea that “male” and “female” are merely social constructs. […] I have debated this topic with followers of Butler and Fine in various settings. When I share with them research […] they more often claim that the research must be meaningless because it involved children or adults. […] So let’s study humans before birth. In recent years, there have been fascinating studies in which neuroscientists have studied the brains of babies in their mothers’ wombs. One remarkable study […] found that the biggest female/male difference in gene transcription in the human brain, for many genes, is in the prenatal period. […] if gendered differences in brain and behavior are primarily a social construct, and not hardwired — then we ought to see zero differences between the female brain and the male brain in the prenatal period […] Now we have another, even more, striking study of the human brain prior to birth. In this study, American researchers managed to do MRI scans of pregnant mothers in the second and third trimesters, with sufficient resolution to image the brains of the babies inside the uterus. They found dramatic differences between female and male fetuses. […] They note that others have found, for example, that female infants have significantly greater brain volume in the prefrontal cortex compared with males. They conclude that “It seems likely that these volumetric differences [found after birth] are mirrored by [the] differences observed in the present study.”

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 March 27, 2019

Open Mic Today on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, March 27, 2019

It’s Open Mic Wednesday on the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, 4 pm NY time, March 27, 2019, the last Wednesday of the month.  You get to chat with Dr. Breggin and his audience live!  Starting at 4 pm, call 888 874 4888 to be on the show!  Voice a concern, ask a question or make a comment, and see where it goes from there.  You can listen to the show on the PRN app or go to  Dr. Breggin will start with some spontaneous remarks.  If you want to react to them or to start a new subject, it’s all up to you.   And remember, you can find hundreds of Dr.  Breggin’s archived shows at

New study suggests meditating on emptiness might be better than mindfulness

In a recent study [full], meditating on emptiness led to a 24 percent decrease in negative emotions. Emptiness meditation may be more effective at improving wellbeing than mindfulness meditation, according to psychologists at the University of Derby, UK. Led by psychologist and lecturer William Van Gordon, an international research team conducted the first-ever study to investigate the impact of Buddhist emptiness meditation. A central Buddhist insight, emptiness is the understanding that neither we nor any phenomenon in the universe — sentient or otherwise — has a permanent, separate, and independent core, or soul. […] “In the last few decades, we’ve seen a significant increase of scientific interest in investigating contemplative Buddhist approaches. This really started with a first phase of investigations concerning mindfulness about 20 or 30 years ago. About 10 or 15 years ago there was a second phase concerning compassion and loving kindness. What we’re seeing now is a third phase of investigation focusing on wisdom, emptiness, and non-attachment.”

Trigger Warnings ‘Not Helpful,’ Study Author Says

So-called trigger warnings, which alert viewers and readers to potentially disturbing content, do little to reduce distress, a new study finds. Such warnings are becoming increasingly common, especially at colleges, but there’s little research evaluating their effectiveness, according to the study authors. “We, like many others, were hearing new stories week upon week about trigger warnings being asked for or introduced at universities around the world,” said first author Mevagh Sanson, a psychology researcher at the University of Waikato in New Zealand. “Our findings suggest that these warnings, though well-intended, are not helpful,” Sanson said. [….] However […] “that doesn’t mean trigger warnings are benign. We need to consider the idea that their repeated use encourages people to avoid negative material, and we already know that avoidance helps to maintain disorders such as PTSD,” she said.

Mental Health Issues Increasing Among Young Americans

The proportion of young people in the United States experiencing mood disorders and other mental health issues has increased significantly over the past 10 years, and researchers found no corresponding increase among older Americans. The findings appear online in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Researchers reported the following findings from their analysis:

  • The rate of major depression symptoms in the last 12 months increased 52% percent in adolescents (from 8.7% in 2005 to 13.2% in 2017) and 63% in young adults age 18 to 25 (from 8.1% in 2009 to 13.2% in 2017).
  • The proportion of young adults experiencing serious psychological distress in the previous 30 days jumped 71% (from 7.7% in 2008 to 13.1% in 2017).
  • The rate of young adults with suicidal thoughts or other suicide-related outcomes rose 47% (from 7.0% in 2008 to 10.3% in 2017).

The study revealed no significant increase in the percentage of older adults experiencing depression or psychological distress. Among adults older than 65, researchers found a slight decline in psychological distress. […] “Young people can’t change their genetics or the economic situation of the country, but they can choose how they spend their leisure time. First and most important is to get enough sleep. Make sure your device use doesn’t interfere with sleep—don’t keep phones or tablets in the bedroom at night, and put devices down within an hour of bedtime,” she said. “Overall, make sure digital media use doesn’t interfere with activities more beneficial to mental health such as face-to-face social interaction, exercise, and sleep.”   

Why Do People Lie? The Truth about Dishonesty

Lying is pervasive, according to both seminal research and anecdotal evidence. A 1996 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that most people lie once or twice a day. That’s about as common as — in the words of a Psychology Today article — how often people brush their teeth. Ironically, 48 percent of children in the United Kingdom lie “occasionally” or “all the time” to their parents about brushing their teeth, based on a study commissioned by dentists behind a toothbrush-tracking app. Thankfully, recent research points to people being honest most of the time. According to the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, a few prolific liars tell the majority of lies. Yet, more questions remain. Why do people lie? What are some of the most common lies? The following sections take a brief look at some of the major topics surrounding dishonesty.

Social Anxiety Disorder Ups Alcohol Use Disorder Risk

Unlike other types of anxiety disorders, social anxiety disorder appears to have a causal influence on the risk for alcohol use disorder, according to a study published online in Depression & Anxiety. “Many individuals with social anxiety are not in treatment. This means that we have an underutilized potential, not only for reducing the burden of social anxiety, but also for preventing alcohol problems,” said lead author Fartein Ask Torvik, PhD, of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health. “Cognitive behavioral therapy with controlled exposure to the feared situations has shown good results.” Dr. Torvik and colleagues came to their findings after interviewing 2801 adult twins in Norway and assessing alcohol use disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, and other specific phobias.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

By Dr. Peter Breggin

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 March 26, 2019

 CBT Beneficial for Reducing Risk of Relapse in First Episode Schizophrenia

Patients with first-episode schizophrenia (FES) benefit from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) in the prevention of relapse and improving symptoms up to 1 year after treatment. This is according to randomized controlled trial findings published in Psychiatry Research. […] At baseline, all patients were clinically stable and no difference was observed between the 2 groups in terms of antipsychotic medication use to week 62. A significantly higher percentage of patients in the TAU-only group relapsed at the end of the trial vs the CBT plus TAU group (32.5% vs 10%, respectively; P=.044). A similarly higher percentage of patients in the TAU-only group also experienced hospitalization during the study, a finding that trended toward significance (20% vs 7.5%; P =.06). In addition, patients receiving CBT plus TAU had a 25% greater reduction in the PANSS total score compared with the TAU-only group (47.5% vs 25%, respectively; P =.036). A higher number of participants in the CBT group also had a current employment position at 62-week follow-up vs patients in the TAU group (24 vs 15, respectively; P =.044).

 The abstract from the study itself may be easier to read:

The present study aimed to provide preliminary evaluation of the effectiveness of a brief CBT intervention focusing on relapse prevention and positive symptom in a Chinese first episode schizophrenia (FES) population. This randomized controlled trial recruited eighty outpatients with FES (as determined using the DSM-IV), aged 16–45 years, and on a current atypical antipsychotic. Patients were randomized to either 10 sessions of individual CBT (intervention group) adjunctive to treatment as usual (TAU) or TAU alone (control group). Outcome assessment of symptoms, relapse, hospitalization, insight and social functioning were administered at baseline and then post treatment (10 weeks), and at 6-month and 12-month follow ups. At 12 months, patients in the intervention group had significantly greater improvements in positive symptoms, general psychopathology and social functioning, as well as significantly lower rates of relapse, compared to the control group. Although patients in both groups demonstrated significantly improved negative symptom and insight scores from baseline, no group differences were found.

This RCT demonstrates that FES patient can greatly benefit from CBT designed to target relapse prevention and positive symptom, with improvements sustained for 1 year following treatment.

Colorado study underlines dangers of edible marijuana

The number of emergency-room visits linked to cannabis in one hospital in the first US state to completely legalize its use tripled within a few years, according to a study that points to the dangers of ingesting the drug. Colorado legalized marijuana for recreational use in 2014, the first state to do so, making the study published Monday in the Annals of Internal Medicine particularly noteworthy. Nine other states have now legalized cannabis for recreational use, while 34 of the 50 allow its medical use. Researchers analyzed a half-million emergency-department visits at the University of Colorado hospital in Aurora from 2012 to 2016, of which roughly 2,500 were at least partially attributed to marijuana consumption. The number of such visits has increased yearly, from less than 250 in 2012 to more than 750 in 2016.

Nearly half of anxiety patients prefer medical marijuana to benzodiazepines

A new study shows that people suffering from anxiety may be able to successfully transition off of traditional medications to medical marijuana. Nearly half of participants in a recent study successfully stopped using benzodiazepines after beginning medical marijuana treatment. The study participants were made up of 146 anxiety patients. All of them were taking benzodiazepine-based anxiety medications like Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Xanax. Researchers found that after six months of using medical marijuana, over 45 percent of participants had completely stopped using their anti-anxiety medication and reported overall better treatment of their symptoms. […] “The opioid crisis gets a lot of air time, but people don’t always realize that behind the [opioid] crisis is benzodiazepine addiction and overuse of antidepressants … By offering a safer alternative like cannabis, we can keep people away from addictive substances.”

Stimulation Device for MDD Cleared for Much Shorter Treatment Session

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has cleared a 3-minute session protocol, Theta Burst Stimulation, for the NBT System (Nexstim) used to treat major depressive disorder (MDD). Previously, the standard protocol time for the therapy was 37 minutes. The Theta Burst Stimulation is a newer form of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation that allows for navigation of stimulation to specific areas of the patient’s brain, according to the Company. The new 3-minute NBT protocol was approved based on results from a study of 414 patients with treatment-resistant depression, which found that intermittent Theta Burst Stimulation was non-inferior to high-frequency transcranial magnetic stimulation.

A religious upbringing greatly helps adolescents

Harvard’s School of Public Health recently published important research by Tyler J. VanderWeele and Ying Chen which evidences the positive role played by traditional religion on the development of youth and their health and welfare. The VanderWeele and Chen study analyzed data from more than 5,000 children and concluded that teens with religious or spiritual practices lead happier and healthier lives in their 20s and beyond.  […] Concluding that “the effects of a religious community are profoundly positive,” the study states, “there is evidence that religion is an important social determinant of health over life-course.” By setting boundaries and standards for children, “religion provides directives for personal virtue to help maintain self-control and develop negative attitudes toward certain behaviors.” In addition, they conclude that “Peer religious youth groups may be an important source of social support and adult role modeling, and they may be an avenue to direct peer influence on behavioral choices. Religious congregations could also connect adolescents to networks and resources in the broader community.”

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 March 25, 2019

Is time-out damaging your child?

Time-out as a method of discipline for toddlers and young children is a hot topic among parents and educators. Is it harmful? Does it damage the attachment bond between parent and child? New research says no. It is still one of the most effective discipline strategies. Research from the University of Sydney has found that the correct use of ‘time-out’ as a form of discipline does not harm a child’s mental health, but rather increases well-being and happiness. The research conducted at the Child Behaviour Research Clinic counters claims in some quarters, including some government advice, that time-out for kids can be dangerous. The lead researcher, Professor Mark Dadds, said parents have nothing to fear from using the technique. “In 30 years, we’ve treated thousands of kids with disruptive behaviour,” said Professor Dadds, of the Child Behaviour Research Clinic based at the University’s Brain and Mind Centre. “When we use time-out as part of a positive parenting program, kids are much happier and much more regulated.”

8 Natural Ways to Control Pain

If you’ve ever struggled with acute or chronic pain, you know how disruptive it can be to your life and well-being. And taking pain-relieving drugs can come with many side effects, including potential addiction. The current opioid crisis in many countries has been largely fueled by an increase in prescriptions to opioid medications for pain control. With this in mind, it’s more important than ever to find alternative ways to relieve pain. The good news is that many different techniques are available to help combat pain — including therapies performed by professionals, as well as practices you can learn on your own.

Teens Who Prefer Their Own Company May Be on to Something

Teens who choose to spend time alone may know what’s best for them, according to new research that suggests solitude isn’t a red flag for isolation or depression. The key factor is choice, say researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Wilmington College: When solitude is imposed on adolescents and young adults, whether as punishment or as a result of social anxiety, it can be problematic. But chosen solitude contributes to personal growth and self-acceptance, they found. “Solitude has gotten a lot of bad press, especially for adolescents who get labeled as social misfits or lonely,” said Margarita Azmitia, professor of psychology at UC Santa Cruz and coauthor of a new paper in the Journal of Adolescence. “Sometimes, solitude is good. Developmentally, learning to be alone is a skill, and it can be refreshing and restorative.” […] “We got clear results that are pretty reliable indicators of adaptive versus maladaptive solitude,” said Thomas. Those who seek solitude because they feel rejected or want to retreat into isolation are at greater risk of social anxiety, loneliness, and depression, and they tend to have lower levels of identity development, autonomy, and positive relationships with others. In contrast, those who seek solitude for positive reasons, such as self-reflection or a desire for peace and quiet, face none of these risks.

Children who eat breakfast with their parents are more likely to have a positive body image of themselves

While there’s debate about whether breakfast really is the most important meal of the day, it seems there could be other benefits, a new study shows. According to new research, teenagers who eat breakfast with their parents regularly are more likely to have a better overall body image of themselves than those who don’t. While breakfast was once lauded as the ‘most important meal of the day’, recent studies have put this up to debate – but it seems there may be another reason why breakfast has its benefits. […] The new study from the University of Missouri (MU) found teenagers who consistently ate a morning meal with their parents were less likely to be affected by the detriments of social media and popular culture, by helping them to form a healthy relationship with food from a young age. […] “Children and adolescents are under a lot of pressure from social media and pop culture when it comes to physical appearance. “Having a healthy relationship with food from eating breakfast and spending meal time with family might have a significant impact on wellbeing,” she adds.

Parents and Toddlers Interact More When Reading Paper Books vs E-Books.

Parents and toddlers who read paper books together speak and interact more compared with those who use e-books, researchers believe. Reading with a child is a hugely important developmental activity as it helps youngsters learn new words, broadens their knowledge, and provides time to bond with loved ones. So scientists wanted to see if parents and children act differently when they read books together using traditional media versus electronic devices like tablets. […] Researchers found parents and toddlers spoke more when interacting with a paper book versus a story on an electronic tablet. What’s more, parents used richer language when using print books compared with tablets, and collaborated more with their children. […] “Parents and toddlers know how to engage over a book, but when adding a tablet into the mix, it deflects from some of the positive benefits of that shared reading experience,” said Munzer.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for March 23-24, 2019

We Are All One: Our obsession with human difference is out of step with scientific evidence on universals that connect us

“Sexy.” “Hard worker.” “Only wants you.” “Understanding and gentle.” “Doesn’t use bad words.” “Cares for kids.” Those phrases could be lifted from an online dating profile, but they are, in fact, the partner preferences offered by the Hadza people of Tanzania, a group of foragers whose traditional way of life is thought to most closely resemble the way all humans lived 10,000 years ago. In a climate of increasing rancor about our political and cultural differences, it’s tempting to emphasize the differences among groups of people. But I think a focus on the positive and deep-rooted traits shared by all humans can help. These traits are shaped by our evolutionary past in order for us live communally, and they include qualities like love and friendship. Humans are not just selfish, tribal, hateful and violent. We owe it to one another, and to ourselves, to understand the powerful and positive forces that unite us not only across so-called tribes within the United States, but across religions and cultures around the world. Even at a time when everything seems to be changing, fundamental ways that humans live together remain constant.

Physical Exercise Can Lower, Even Prevent, Depression

Physical exercise is one of the most reliable ways to improve mood, and this is strongly supported by scientific research. Two new studies published in JAMA Psychiatry continues to suggest that exercise can reduce depression and even help prevent depression. The first study found that more physical activity was associated with better mood, energy, and sleep. […] Exercising in the afternoon was particularly better for mood and energy later on in the day. […] Physical activity and exercise can also prevent depression as well. A second study from researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital examined two large genetic analyses. Researchers found that gene variants associated with being active lowered the risk for depression. 

Can “Blue Space” Provide Therapeutic Benefits?

Research suggests that a shoreline walk may offer an extra dose of happiness.

Thanks to a spate of recent studies, there’s growing evidence that being around “blue space”—natural aquatic features such as lakes, rivers, and coastal waters—can be good for our mental health. That may explain why so many of us feel drawn to the water when it’s time for rest and relaxation. […] A 2018 study from Hong Kong showed that people who regularly visited blue spaces in their free time reported greater well-being, compared to those who didn’t make such visits. […] A review of 35 earlier studies, led by researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health, showed that interacting with blue spaces had a positive impact on mental health and stress reduction. […] Some studies have focused on how participating in outdoor aquatic activities (such as fly-fishing, kayaking, and surfing) may help people with specific health challenges (such as post-traumatic stress disorder, drug and alcohol addiction, and breast cancer).

 Rethinking P-Values: Is “Statistical Significance” Useless?

This week, The American Statistician published a special issue, “Statistical Inference in the 21st Century: A World Beyond p < 0.05,” which includes 43 new papers by leading statisticians. The objective of this issue is “to end the practice of using a probability value (p-value) of less than 0.05 as strong evidence against a null hypothesis or a value greater than 0.05 as strong evidence favoring a null hypothesis.” […] The American Statistician editors sum up the main takeaways and common threads in the 43 papers they’ve compiled:

“Based on our review of the articles in this special issue and the broader literature, we conclude that it is time to stop using the term ‘statistically significant’ entirely. No p-value can reveal the plausibility, presence, truth, or importance of an association or effect. Therefore, a label of statistical significance does not mean or imply that an association or effect is highly probable, real, true, or important. Nor does a label of statistical non-significance lead to the association or effect being improbable, absent, false, or unimportant.” 

Wasserstein, Schirm, and Lazar go on to say, “So, let’s do it. Let’s move beyond ‘statistically significant,’ even if upheaval and disruption are inevitable for the time being. It’s worth it. In a world beyond ‘p  < 0.05,’ by breaking free from the bonds of statistical significance, statistics in science and policy will become more significant than ever. Regardless of whether it was ever useful, a declaration of ‘statistical significance’ has today become meaningless.”

Ian’s comments: The publishing journal, The American Statistician, is a journal of the American Statistical Association. So its remarkable editorial conclusion to abandon the ‘statistical significance’ criterion cannot be taken lightly. This revolutionary position has been building at the ASA for some years (see for example ASA 2016 and Greenland et al 2016) and here and now is brought to full fruition and backed up by a 40+ paper case against reliance on the p < 0.05 standard, that has been foundational to modern science theory and method. This disruptive opinion also cannot be disregarded as being related to the ‘soft sciences’ (from which opinions against the statistical-significance criterion first gained notoriety, opinion which was highlighted by critics to belittle social sciences as inherently at odds with the rigorous methodologies of science, ha!) because this opinion comes from none other than the top of the field of statistics itself, the very disciple in which ‘statistical significance’ resides. 

Opioids have killed as many Americans as WWII, but cable news won’t talk about it.

America has been engulfed by the opioid epidemic for nearly two decades, and today, more people are dying as a result than ever before. From 1999 to 2017, almost as many Americans died of an opioid overdose as died fighting in World War II. While it is more critical now than ever before that we draw attention to this epidemic,  the media — and cable news in particular — has continually ignored the magnitude of the issue.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse reported that more than 400,000 Americans have died of an overdose involving opioids since 1999. At its current rate, the opioid epidemic’s death totals are set to surpass the 418,500 American lives lost throughout all of World War II this year alone. If serious action is not taken to combat this crisis, the epidemic may even eclipse the staggering number of causalities from the Civil War by 2025.

So how is cable news covering this generational crisis? Mostly by staying mum. The website, calculated how often certain words were used on major cable news stations between Aug. 25, 2017, and Jan. 21, 2018. […] Cable news was even more fixated on the Russia investigation, stories of possible collusion, Robert Mueller, and General Flynn. The words “Mueller,” “Flynn,” “Russia,” and “Putin” were said nearly 50,000 times on Fox News, MSNBC, and CNN. In all, the Russia investigation and related matters were discussed nearly eight times as often as the opioid epidemic that’s ravaging our country

Infection during pregnancy correlated with autism or depression for baby

A recent study concluded that children exposed to an infection, like the flu or pneumonia, in the womb had a heightened risk of being diagnosed with autism or depression. The study was recently published in JAMA Psychiatry and involved 1,791,520 children […] The study’s findings include a 79 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with autism and a 24 percent increased risk of being diagnosed with depression for children born to mothers who had an infection while pregnant. The study also found an increased risk of suicide. The authors of the study wrote the following in the conclusions and relevance section: “These findings suggest that fetal exposure to a maternal infection while hospitalized increased the risk for autism and depression, but not bipolar or psychosis, during the child’s life. These results emphasize the importance of avoiding infections during pregnancy, which may impart subtle fetal brain injuries contributing to the development of autism and depression.” […] She also said they should be aware of another recent study involving a possible connection between long-term acetaminophen use (commonly found in the pain-reliever Tylenol) and an ADD or ADHD diagnosis. The following is the authors’ conclusion in that study: “Short-term maternal use of acetaminophen during pregnancy was negatively associated with ADHD in offspring. Long-term maternal use of acetaminophen during pregnancy was substantially associated with ADHD even after adjusting for indications of use, familial risk of ADHD, and other potential confounders.”

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 March 22, 2019

Study: Trigger Warnings are basically useless, even if you’ve been through trauma

A new study in the Clinical Psychological Science journal is reporting that trigger warnings have only “trivial effects” on a person’s mental health, even if that person has been traumatized, and that the warnings are therefore mostly useless. Mevagh Sanson, of the University of Waikato, the paper’s first author, told the Association for Psychological Science: “We, like many others, were hearing new stories week upon week about trigger warnings. . . . Our findings suggest that these warnings, though well intended, are not helpful. […] These results suggest a trigger warning is neither meaningfully helpful nor harmful,” Sanson also told the Association for Psychological Science, adding: “Of course, that doesn’t mean trigger warnings are benign. We need to consider the idea that their repeated use encourages people to avoid negative material, and we already know that avoidance helps to maintain disorders such as PTSD,” Sanson continued. “Trigger warnings might also communicate to people that they’re fragile and coax them interpret ordinary emotional responses as extraordinary signals of danger.” What’s more, this new study is actually kinder to trigger warnings than a study that was conducted by Harvard last year. That study, which I wrote about at the time, actually found that trigger warnings weren’t just useless, they were actually harmful.

Young people on amphetamines for ADHD have twice the psychosis risk compared to other stimulants, study says

Teens and young adults with attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, who receive amphetamines such as Adderall for treatment have a higher risk of developing psychosis, compared to those who receive methyphenidates stimulants, such as Ritalin, according to a large new study. […] “We’ve seen cases of people coming in without much of a psychiatric history who are developing this sort of first episode of psychosis in the setting of stimulant use, most commonly Adderall,” said Dr. Lauren Moran, assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, practicing psychiatrist at McLean Hospital, and lead author of the study. Moran said her observations caring for young people experiencing psychosis prompted the research.

Why are Americans getting gloomier?

The World Happiness Report, an initiative of the United Nations that was just released, showed Americans are spiraling toward gloom with our worst showing since the report was first released in 2012. Today Americans rank 19, wedged somewhere below Finland and above Afghanistan. But why? Theories abound. A penchant toward high risk behaviors. Drug addiction. Gambling. Physical connection void of intimacy. But the culprit most love to hate is social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, gaming, texting, emailing, What’s App, YouTube, Vimeo, Snapchat and everything that involves two eyes gazing at a screen. […] Connection today is faster, better and cheaper than ever before in our nation’s history. But how has this technology that created such a vibrant social fabric affected us? Has it made us happier? The fact is this: To be happy and, even more importantly, to thrive, means to feel a connection with your life in a meaningful way that leads to physical, social, and spiritual rewards. To flourish is to grow without boundaries, to be unstoppable in your power, to soar to your heights that resonate deep within you.

High-fructose corn syrup boosts intestinal tumor growth in mice

Does sugar directly feed cancers, boosting their growth? The answer seems to be ‘Yes’ at least in mice according to a study led by researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and Weill Cornell Medicine. Their study, published in Science, showed that consuming a daily modest amount of high-fructose corn syrup—the equivalent of people drinking about 12 ounces of a sugar-sweetened beverage daily—accelerates the growth of intestinal tumors in mouse models of the disease, independently of obesity. The team also discovered the mechanism by which the consumption of sugary drinks can directly feed cancer growth, suggesting potential novel therapeutic strategies.

Delusions may stem from ‘sticky’ beliefs, study finds

Delusions are one of the most common symptoms of psychosis, but little is known about what causes them. A new study from researchers at Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute offers insight into the development of delusions, which could lead to better treatments for people with psychosis. […] Researchers have long suspected that delusions are caused by alterations in the ability to make inferences, which relies on observable evidence to shape beliefs. However, previous experiments have suggested that other cognitive processes may be involved. […] Using computational modeling, the researchers developed a quantitative framework casting delusions as “sticky” beliefs that evolve in an unusually slow way. This may explain why delusional patients seek more information than non-delusional individuals. […] “Previous work suggested that psychotic patients ‘jump to conclusions,’ but in our study we saw that individuals with more delusional beliefs took more beads from the jar before they made up their minds,” Horga continues. “While participants with schizophrenia jumped to conclusions more than healthy individuals, delusions specifically were associated with slower change in individuals’ beliefs.”

Depression in 20s linked to memory loss in 50s, psychologists find

A new large-scale longitudinal study carried out by University of Sussex psychologists has found a clear link between episodes of depression and anxiety experienced by adults in their twenties, thirties and forties, with a decrease in memory function by the time they are in their fifties. The study, published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, is the first of its kind to look at the relationship between depressive symptoms experienced across three decades of early-mid adulthood and a decline in cognitive function in midlife. […] They found that one episode of depression or anxiety had little effect on the memory function of adults in midlife, regardless of which decade it was experienced, but that once the episodes increased to two or three over the course of the three decades, that this predicted a steady decrease in the participant’s memory function by the time they reached fifty.

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 March 21, 2019

As time online increased, teen happiness went down

In the past decade, teens have started spending more time online and less time interacting with friends, reading, and sleeping. They’ve also gotten less happy, according to the newly released World Happiness Report, an annual study sponsored by the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network showing changes in happiness. And generally, writes Jean M. Twenge, a San Diego State University psychology professor who wrote this chapter of the report, teens who spent more time with digital devices were less happy; those who spent more time on other pursuits were happier.

“This creates the possibility that iGen adolescents are less happy because their increased time on digital media has displaced time that previous generations spent on non-screen activities linked to happiness,” she writes. “In other words, digital media may have an indirect effect on happiness as it displaces time that could be otherwise spent on more beneficial activities.”

Study: Reading a book can help extend your life, increase overall happiness

As an adult, if you are not a frequent reader you aren’t alone. According to one survey, one in four Americans say they haven’t read a book in the past year. That means many people are missing several large health benefits. A 2016 Yale University study looked at more than 3,600 over a period of 12 years to determine the effect reading had on longevity. […] The people who read books more than 3 and 1/2 hours a week were 23 percent less likely to die at a given age compared to people who didn’t read at all. The group that read up to 3 and 1/2 hours a week were 17 percent less likely to die. In the study, people who read newspapers and magazines also had a better survival rate, but it wasn’t as good as the book readers, leading the researchers to conclude that it was partially the immersive nature of books that provided the additional advantage.  

Economic growth does not guarantee rising happiness

Philosophers from Aristotle to the Beatles have argued that money does not buy happiness. But it seems to help. Since 2005 Gallup, a pollster, has asked a representative sample of adults from countries across the world to rate their life satisfaction on a scale from zero to ten. The headline result is clear: the richer the country, on average, the higher the level of self-reported happiness. The simple correlation suggests that doubling GDP per person lifts life satisfaction by about 0.7 points. Yet the prediction that as a country gets richer its mood will improve has a dubious record. In 1974 Richard Easterlin, an economist, discovered that average life satisfaction in America had stagnated between 1946 and 1970 even as GDP per person had grown by 65% over the same period. He went on to find a similar disconnect in other places, too. Although income is correlated with happiness when looking across countries—and although economic downturns are reliable sources of temporary misery—long-term GDP growth does not seem to be enough to turn the average frown upside-down.

Everything You Need to Know About the Science of Happiness

Are you really happy? What are the things that make you feel happy? When was the last time you felt like you were at the top of the world? These questions might sound a little childish, but aren’t these the most important questions that everyone should introspect once in a while. On the International Day of Happiness which is celebrated every year on 20th March, let’s escape from our busy schedules and take a moment to ponder on the most trivial topic of our happiness and well being. If we delve deeper into the science of happiness, we will find that there isn’t any clear definition to it. It can vary from person to person and also with the change in situations.

But when you look at the broader aspect, you’ll find that the science to happiness lies in our ability to establish a healthy connection with others, to have a meaningful relationship and in achieving what we want. In your life, you might have come across people who are always ready with an alibi to justify why they were not able to get what they wanted and then there are those who never complain about their hardships and evolve as successful and happy people.

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 March 20, 2019

Dr. Breggin: “Page Not Found” Ends Up “Telling All” About Psychiatry

Just for fun, let’s take a look at how far psychiatry will go when a bit of truth escapes from one of its own publications and must be deleted in clumsy desperation. This is not a blog—it is a special event. Something to lighten your day and deepen your cynicism about psychiatry. By now, most people are aware that psychiatry and drug companies cannot be trusted to tell the truth and that they will, at every chance, suppress and censor information that throws a bad light on them and their treatments. Anyone who has not yet learned this can quickly catch up by reading books such as Peter Gøtzsche’s Deadly Psychiatry, Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic, or my book Medication Madness. …

 The evidence‐based group‐level symptom‐reduction model as the organizing principle for mental health care: time for change?

The content and organization of mental health care have been heavily influenced by the view that mental difficulties come as diagnosable disorders that can be treated by specialist practitioners who apply evidence‐based practice (EBP) guidelines of symptom reduction at the group level. However, the EBP symptom‐reduction model is under pressure, as it may be disconnected from what patients need, ignores evidence of the trans‐syndromal nature of mental difficulties, overestimates the contribution of the technical aspects of treatment compared to the relational and ritual components of care, and underestimates the lack of EBP group‐to‐individual generalizability. A growing body of knowledge indicates that mental illnesses are seldom “cured” and are better framed as vulnerabilities. Important gains in well‐being can be achieved when individuals learn to live with mental vulnerabilities through a slow process of strengthening resilience in the social and existential domains. In this paper, we examine what a mental health service would look like if the above factors were taken into account. The mental health service of the 21st century may be best conceived of as a small‐scale healing community fostering connectedness and strengthening resilience in learning to live with mental vulnerability, complemented by a limited number of regional facilities. Peer support, organized at the level of a recovery college, may form the backbone of the community. Treatments should be aimed at trans‐syndromal symptom reduction, tailored to serve the higher‐order process of existential recovery and social participation, and applied by professionals who have been trained to collaborate, embrace idiography and maximize effects mediated by therapeutic relationship and the healing effects of ritualized care interactions. Finally, integration with a public mental health system of e‐communities providing information, peer and citizen support and a range of user‐rated self‐management tools may help bridge the gap between the high prevalence of common mental disorder and the relatively low capacity of any mental health service.

Even low levels of leisure time physical activity lowers risk of death

Even low-level physical activities, such as walking or gardening, are associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, cancer or any cause finds a large observational study published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Higher amounts of activity or more vigorous activities, such as running, cycling and competitive sports, are associated with additional health benefits that are not outweighed by the risks of participating in these activities, the authors say. […] Reductions in risk of death from cancer also corresponded with increasing activity levels. In terms of risk of death from cardiovascular events such as strokes and heart attacks, individuals who were active for 10-59 min/week during their leisure time saw their risk fall by 12%, and those who did 120-299 min/week by 37%, compared with people who were inactive. However, much greater levels of physical activity were not associated with any greater benefits; individuals who were active for 1500 min or more per week had a reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease of 33% – so their risk of death was slightly higher than those who met recommended activity levels but undertaking more moderate amounts.

People don’t become ‘adults’ until their 30s, say scientists

Have you ever been told to “grow up” in your 20s or need an excuse as to why you still find cat videos on the internet really funny? Well now you might have an official reason as to why you’re not acting like a mature adult. People don’t become fully “adult” until they’re in their 30s, according to brain scientists. […] Professor Peter Jones, from Cambridge University, said: “What we’re really saying is that to have a definition of when you move from childhood to adulthood looks increasingly absurd. “It’s a much more nuanced transition that takes place over three decades.” He added: “I guess systems like the education system, the health system and the legal system make it convenient for themselves by having definitions.”

Happiness for Sale

People are crazy about money. We spend an average of 90,000 hours during our lifetimes earning it, and the rest of our time spending it. Nearly everything we do requires money, from paying the rent and putting food on our tables, to vacation travel and buying those new shoes we’ve been eyeing. There’s no doubt that money is an important force in our psychological lives. It’s one of the most common issues couples fight about, as well as a major factor in divorce. It’s a frequent reason people seek to switch jobs, and it’s the top consideration influencing which jobs they ultimately accept. Given all this fuss, it’s interesting that most people say they believe the old saying “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” at least according to one informal poll. So which is it? Is money an important facet of our psychological well-being or not? According to research, the answer is “both.” Dozens of studies show that money does indeed by happiness. In a recent article published in the journal Nature, for instance, researchers analyzed data on income and well-being from the Gallup World Poll, a representative survey of more than 1.7 million people worldwide. Perhaps not surprisingly, they found that the higher income people reported, the happier they were. 

Daily use of high potency marijuana linked to higher rates of psychosis, study finds

Daily cannabis use, especially of the high potency strains, is linked to an increased risk of developing psychosis, according to new research released Tuesday. The European study, which looked at cannabis use in 11 major cities and Brazil, is the first to show the impact of marijuana use on rates of psychosis, a severe mental condition, in large populations. The link with psychosis was strongest in London and Amsterdam where high potency strains — marijuana which contains over 10 percent THC, the psychoactive component of the drug — are highest and most commonly available. […] “Our findings are consistent with previous studies showing that the use of cannabis with a high concentration of THC, also known as skunk-like cannabis, has more harmful effects on mental health than weaker forms. For the first time we have consistent evidence that there is a dose-dependent relationship between cannabis use and induced psychosis at a population level. The more cannabis you consume the more likely you are to develop a psychotic disorder.”

How exercise can help boost happiness

With many studies linking exercise to a reduced risk of mental health problems such as depression and a better mood, here we round up some of the recent research which shows that being active could make you happier. A small US study found that working out in a group could bring bigger reductions in stress levels and bigger improvements in quality of life than working out alone, even though those who exercised alone worked out for twice as long. A European study which looked at elite and junior elite athletes also found that those who took part in individual sports were more likely to develop symptoms of depression than those who take part in team sports. The researchers explained that as social contact also appears to be a key factor in preventing depression, taking part in team rather than individual sports could also be beneficial.

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 March 19, 2019

People are happier in more beautiful surroundings, study confirms

Researchers claim to have provided the first large-scale quantitative evidence that people are happier in more beautiful surroundings. The study, led by a team from the Data Science Lab at Warwick Business School, The Alan Turing Institute and the University of Sussex,  suggests that this effect does not only hold in areas of natural beauty, but in towns and cities as well. […] “Crucially, we show that it is not only the countryside with which we see this association: built-up areas, which might comprise characterful buildings or bridges, also have a positive link to happiness. Therefore, this research could be useful for informing decisions made in the design of our towns, cities and urban neighbourhoods, which affect people’s everyday lives. […] Taken together, our findings demonstrate how crucial it is that planning decisions consider beauty, and that AI may be able to help operationalise this at large scale, helping us ensure that we don’t fail to notice the presence of hidden gems in our built and natural environments.”

Why many Americans are turning to Buddhism – it helps with mental-health problems

Dressed in flowing gold robes, the bald female meditation teacher told us to do nothing. We were to sit silently in our plastic chairs, close our eyes, and focus on our breath. I had never meditated, but I’d gone to church, so I instinctively bowed my head. Then I realized, given that this would last for 15 minutes, I should probably find a more comfortable neck position. This was the first of two meditation sessions of the Kadampa Buddhism class I attended this week near my house, in Northern Virginia, and I did not reach nirvana. Because we were in a major city, occasional sirens outside blasted through the quiet, and because this was a church basement, people were laughing and talking in the hallways. One guy wandered in to ask if this was an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. The more we focused on our breath, the teacher assured us, the more these distractions would fade away.

One of the Most Effective Treatments for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Part 1/2

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a psychological disorder associated with obsessions (recurrent thoughts, such as about germs) and compulsions (repetitive actions, like cleaning).¹ In previous posts, I discussed the nature of OCD, consequences of obsessions and compulsions, the need for control, potential reasons compulsions appear to work, and why we need compulsions to work. Then, in my last article, I began discussing an effective treatment for OCD called exposure and response prevention (ERP). Though other interventions (e.g., psychodynamic therapy, antidepressants) are also used in managing obsessive-compulsive disorder, research shows that ERP is one of the most effective treatments for OCD.² What is exposure and response prevention? Exposure and response prevention is essentially a behavioral technique (some versions also contain cognitive exercises which help identify thinking errors). ERP has two components. The first component requires exposure to a feared situation that an individual with, say, germ worries, has been avoiding (e.g., shaking hands with strangers); the second component requires refraining from engaging in compulsive behavior during or after exposure (e.g., washing thoroughly after shaking hands).

More Teens, Kids Seeking Mental Health Care in ERs

 U.S. emergency departments are seeing a surge in the number of kids and teens seeking help for mental health problems, new research warns. Between 2011 and 2015 alone, there was a 28 percent jump in psychiatric visits among Americans between the ages of 6 and 24. “The trends were not a surprise,” said study author Luther Kalb, given that “using the emergency department for mental health reasons has been increasing for a while” among all age groups. But why is it happening among young people? “The rising suicide and opioid epidemics are surely a factor,” given that “the ER plays a critical role in treating overdoses,” he said. […] “There is also an increase in outpatient mental health service use overall among youth in the U.S.,” he noted. “This may lead to a trickle-down effect, where the provider sends the child to the [emergency department] during times of crisis.”

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 March 18, 2019

Dr. Breggin Interview
Mad with Medication: A new view on Psychiatric drugs

Antidepressants and other drugs for psychiatric conditions are credited with improving and saving countless lives. But what if that’s not the whole story? Today, we get another view from psychiatrist Dr. Peter Breggin, author of “Medication Madness” and director of the International Center for patient-oriented psychiatry. He says his profession has gone mad with medication.

Nutritional psychiatry: can you eat yourself happier?

Felice Jacka’s work showing that junk food shrinks the brain was motivated by personal experience. Growing up in Melbourne, Australia, Jacka struggled with anxiety and panic disorders; by the time she enrolled at art school, she was accustomed to regular bouts of depression, too, leaving her “devoid of happy feelings and unable to experience pleasure”. […] “When I first started, people were terribly sceptical – they thought it was just rubbish,” says Jacka. “In psychiatry, people are trained to think about particular molecules in the brain that can be targeted by certain drugs and they’ve lost sight of the bigger picture – the body as a whole complex system.” More than 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers later, Jacka has amassed evidence from all over the world showing that “what we stick in our mouths matters to our mental health”. […] The elephant in the room is the global food industry. “Big Food has completely altered the food environment so that unhealthy foods are the cheapest, most ubiquitous, heavily marketed, [most] difficult to resist and socially acceptable – as a result, the [world’s] health has gone down the toilet.”

Study finds 12 weeks of yoga reduces body-image dissatisfaction in women

Practicing yoga can improve negative self-attitude about one’s physical appearance, according to a new study in the journal Sex Roles that examined college-aged women. Previous studies have found that women who are dissatisfied with their body are at increased risk of developing eating disorders and are more likely to suffer from depression and low self-esteem. […] Women tended to see reductions in body-image dissatisfaction after completing the 12 weeks of yoga. These participants tended to evaluate their appearance more positively, become more satisfied with specific body areas, and decrease the amount of time and energy spent focused on their appearance. […] “yoga is a widely available way for young women to get physical activity and improve body-image dissatisfaction without the barriers and stigma associated with traditional mental health treatment.”

‘Killer’ Pill: Drug safety fears as common anti-depressant Zoloft linked to heart problems and deaths

Heart problems have been reported in at least 14 people who were taking sertraline [Zoloft] when they died. Liam Batten, 24, suffered cardiac arrest last July, after taking the common anti-depressant to relieve his anxiety and agoraphobia. He died nine days after his GP changed increased his dose to a higher level, which was still within the recommended range, the Mail on Sunday reported. A post-mortem found that Liam had “elevated” levels of sertraline in his system, at 0.57mg a litre, which could prove fatal, the newspaper reported. But an inquest concluded his death was down to sudden arrythmic death syndrome (SADS), in which the heart stops beating for no specific reason. His dad Shane told the inquest: “I’m just concerned with the medications. Especially for a big lad as well. “Surely it could not be very good for the heart.”

The Antidepressant Fact Book, What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

Known as “the Ralph Nader of psychiatry,” Dr. Peter Breggin has been the medical expert in countless court cases involving the use or misuse of psychoactive medications. This unusual position has given him unprecedented access to private pharmaceutical research and  correspondence files, information from which informs this straight-talking guide to the most prescribed and controversial category of American drugs: antidepressants. 

News & Information for March 16-17, 2019

Dr. Breggin on the Home Schooling and the Ron Paul Curriculum

Smartphone mindfulness app may help curb loneliness

Adults who spend just 20 minutes a day using a smartphone mindfulness training app may feel less lonely and have more social interactions than people who don’t, a small experiment suggests. While mindfulness training has long been linked to reductions in social isolation, much of this research has focused on longer in-person sessions that continue over several weeks or months. With its focus on brief digital training sessions, the current study suggests that group sessions and the social contact that comes from in-person meetings may not be required for people to benefit from mindfulness interventions, said lead author Emily Lindsay, a psychology researcher at the University of Pittsburgh. “Smartphone training is accessible and inexpensive,” Lindsay, who did the study while at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, said by email. “The majority of American adults own smartphones, so the smartphone platform provides an opportunity to learn mindfulness meditation for people who might not have resources for longer, in-person mindfulness training programs,” Lindsay added.

Psychiatric Torture and the Unspeakable Suffering It Causes

Psychiatric torture is one of the more terrifying methods the Chinese regime uses to rein in those classed as “seriously interfering with public order” and who “disrupt social stability.” Falun Dafa practitioners, political dissidents, and citizens who dare to protest government policies frequently have these labels slapped on them to justify confining them in psychiatric hospitals. The number of mental hospitals was increased across the country after the persecution campaign against Falun Dafa practitioners began in 1999. In September 2004, the Ministry of Public Security issued a public notice requiring provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities to set up psychiatric hospitals as soon as possible if they didn’t have them already. […] In these facilities and other detention centres, authorities forcibly administer psychiatric drugs to Falun Dafa practitioners to destroy their will and force them to “transform” (abandon the practice). This approach is clearly laid out in an internal Party document that states Falun Dafa practitioners “must undergo a medical treatment method,” and “involve drugs when necessary and use medical methods and clinical experimental guidelines to achieve scientific transformation.”

Your Environment Is Cleaner. Your Immune System Has Never Been So Unprepared.

Should your children pick their noses? Should your children eat dirt? Maybe: Your body needs to know what immune challenges lurk in the immediate environment. Should you use antibacterial soap or hand sanitizers? No. Are we taking too many antibiotics? Yes. “I tell people, when they drop food on the floor, please pick it up and eat it,” said Dr. Meg Lemon, a dermatologist in Denver who treats people with allergies and autoimmune disorders. “Get rid of the antibacterial soap. Immunize! If a new vaccine comes out, run and get it. I immunized the living hell out of my children. And it’s O.K. if they eat dirt.” Dr. Lemon’s prescription for a better immune system doesn’t end there. “You should not only pick your nose, you should eat it,” she said. […] “Our immune system needs a job,” Dr. Lemon said. “We evolved over millions of years to have our immune systems under constant assault. Now they don’t have anything to do.” She isn’t alone. Leading physicians and immunologists are reconsidering the antiseptic, at times hysterical, ways in which we interact with our environment. Why? Let us turn to 19th-century London. The British Journal of Homeopathy, volume 29, published in 1872, included a startlingly prescient observation: “Hay fever is said to be an aristocratic disease, and there can be no doubt that, if it is not almost wholly confined to the upper classes of society, it is rarely, if ever, met with but among the educated.”

Robert Whitaker – Scientific Censorship in Psychiatry – March 9, 2019

“Scientific Censorship in Psychiatry” by Robert Whitaker, Science Journalist, Boston. Robert Whitaker is speaking here at the Symposium about Scientific Freedom which is celebrating the inauguration of the Institute for Scientific Freedom. The Institute has three visions: (1) All science should strive to be free from financial conflicts of interest. (2) All science should be published as soon as possible, and made freely accessible. (3) All scientific data, including study protocols, should be freely accessible, allowing others to do their own analyses. The Institute’s primary area of work is healthcare. and

Mental Health Concerns Not “Brain Disorders,” Say Researchers

The journal Behavioral and Brain Sciences features several prominent researchers in its latest issue debunking the notion that mental health concerns are “brain disorders.” It begins with a paper by researchers in the Netherlands arguing that neurobiology will never convincingly explain any mental health concerns. The rest of the issue includes dozens of commentaries by influential researchers, some supporting the initial premise, and others attempting to argue against it. In response, the initial study authors point out that none of the responses can provide any convincing evidence that neurobiological reductionism has succeeded in a meaningful way. The lead article and response to the commentaries were written by Denny Borsboom at the University of Amsterdam, Angélique Cramer at Tilburg University, and Annemarie Kalis, at Utrecht University, all in the Netherlands. “None of the commentators appears able to point to convincing evidence that, generically speaking, mental disorders are brain disorders,” they write, “in fact, it seems that most commentators do not even bother. This brings us to the first important conclusion of this response to commentaries: The thesis that mental disorders are brain disorders enjoys no appreciable support.”

Video: Social media linked to rise in mental health disorders in teens, survey finds

Mental health issues have risen significantly over the last decade and the rise of digital media may be one reason why, according to a national survey released Thursday. The research, published by the American Psychological Association, found sharp increases in the number of young adults and adolescents who reported experiencing negative psychological symptoms — specifically in those born in 1995 or later, known as iGen. Coincidentally, the greatest spike in symptoms occurred in 2011, around the same time social media bursts onto the scene. “We found a substantial increase in major depression or suicidal thoughts, psychological distress, and more attempted suicides after 2010, versus the mid-2000s, and that increase was by far the largest in adolescents and young adults,” said lead author Jean Twenge, author of the book “iGen” and professor of psychology at San Diego State University. “These trends are weak or non-existent among adults 26 years and over, suggesting a generational shift in mood disorders instead of an overall increase across all ages.”

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

By Dr. Peter Breggin

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 March 15, 2019

  Why Our Understanding of Mental Health Is Transforming

Our understanding of mental health – what undermines and what promotes it – is transforming […] Among the most significant sources of influence, long overlooked by our mental health professions, is how the food we consume affects our mental health. Interestingly, new research is confirming the old adage, “you are what you eat.” […]  A study from Loma Linda University found that adults who consumed more unhealthy food were also more likely to report symptoms of either moderate or severe psychological distress than their peers who consumed a healthier diet. […] another study of 46,000 people has found that weight loss, nutrient-boosting and fat reduction diets can all reduce the symptoms of depression. That study, from the University of Manchester, combined data from clinical trials of diets for mental health conditions.  It found evidence that dietary improvement significantly reduces symptoms of depression […] A new study here joins with previous knowledge about the impact of a largely fruit and vegetable diet upon various measures of physical health – for example, the well-known China study; and ongoing research conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and the Culinary Institute of America. […] The findings, published in Social Science and Medicine, indicate that eating just one extra portion of fruits and vegetables a day could have an equivalent effect on mental well-being as around 8 extra days of walking a month. According to co-author Peter Howley, “The results are clear: people who do eat more fruit and vegetables report a higher level of mental well-being and life satisfaction than those who eat less. There appears to be accumulating evidence for the psychological benefits of fruits and vegetables.”

Depression and suicide rising among young Americans. This may be a reason why

Since the late 2000s, the mental health of teens and young adults in the U.S. has declined dramatically. That’s the broad conclusion of a new study published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology. Between 2009 and 2017, rates of depression among kids ages 14 to 17 increased by more than 60%, the study found. The increases were nearly as steep among those ages 12 to 13 (47%) and 18 to 21 (46%), and rates roughly doubled among those ages 20 to 21. In 2017—the latest year for which federal data are available—more than one in eight Americans ages 12 to 25 experienced a major depressive episode, the study found. The same trends held when the researchers analyzed the data on suicides, attempted suicides and “serious psychological distress”—a term applied to people who score high on a test that measures feelings of sadness, nervousness and hopelessness. Among young people, rates of suicidal thoughts, plans and attempts all increased significantly, and in some cases more than doubled, between 2008 and 2017, the study found. […] While not all the evidence is consistent, a substantial amount of research has found associations between heavy technology use and poor mental health outcomes among adolescents and young adults. Research aside, many parents, teachers, guidance counselors and others who work with young people say social media and heavy technology use are a problem. The way young people communicate and spend their leisure time “has fundamentally changed,” Twenge adds. “They spend less time with their friends in person and less time sleeping, and more time on digital media.”

Negative Emotions May Make Us Trust Less

As research attests, experiencing negative emotions can result in more than “hating everybody and everything.” Negative moods can impair our associative memory, alter our judgments of others by making us more prone to stereotyping and forming less favorable impressions, and even lead us to feel more pain.  Negative emotions, it seems, may also make us more distrustful. In a new study published in Science Advances, an international team of researchers from the University of Amsterdam and the University of Zurich set out to explore what effect negative emotions have on trust. Trust is among the most cardinal of social lubricants. From families to governments, it is deeply woven into the very fabric of human societies. Which makes it even more crucial to understand the mechanisms of trust – what feeds it and what erodes it. As new research shows, negative emotions might make us less trusting. Even if these emotions are incidental and are triggered by situations that are unrelated to our present circumstances. […] The results showed that when feeling anxious, the participants trusted other players much less and, hence, invested less of their money. 

Chronic Rhinosinusitis Associated With Risk for Depression and Anxiety

In a nationwide analysis, patients with chronic rhinosinusitis were at higher risk for developing depression and anxiety compared with individuals without chronic rhinosinusitis, according to a study published in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery. The investigators of this retrospective study sought to examine the association between chronic rhinosinusitis and the risk for developing depression and anxiety in a nationwide cohort. Furthermore, the associated risk for mental health problems was assessed according to phenotype: chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps and chronic rhinosinusitis without nasal polyps. […] The investigators suggest that chronic rhinosinusitis regardless of phenotype is associated with an increased incidence of depression and anxiety. However, patients with phenotype chronic rhinosinusitis without nasal polyps were considered at higher risk for developing depression and anxiety than those with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps.

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 March 14, 2019

Dr. Breggin on the Unnecessarily Stressful Lives of Our Children

Cancer death rate higher for patients with mental health history

Cancer patients who have been hospitalised for mental health problems prior to their cancer diagnosis were 73% more likely to die from their cancer compared to those who had never had psychiatric help, according to new research published in the British Journal of Cancer. The study of more than 675,000 cancer patients from Ontario, Canada, looked at those who had been diagnosed with one of the 10 most common cancers. Nearly half of all the cancer patients had undergone a psychiatric assessment as an outpatient, often by a GP. Around 7,900 cancer patients had either been treated as an emergency and more than 4,000 had been hospitalised for their mental health in the five years prior to their cancer diagnosis. […] “A recent psychiatric history should be a red flag to all doctors and nurses treating cancer patients. It’s essential we keep a close eye on these patients to make sure they’re receiving the best possible care and are followed up if and when cancer appointments are missed.”

Video: FDA medical adviser: ‘Congress is owned by pharma’

Pharmaceutical companies are under the spotlight with congressional hearings on the cost of drug prices and allegations of the industry’s role in the opioid crisis. Dr. Raeford Brown, a pediatric anesthesia specialist at the UK Kentucky Children’s Hospital and chair of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Committee on Analgesics and Anesthetics, has been openly critical of big pharma and the lack of proper oversight from the FDA. Despite many politicians, particularly declared presidential candidates, beginning to speak out against big pharma, Brown does not think that anything will come out of it “because Congress is owned by pharma. The pharmaceutical industry pours millions of dollars into the legislative branch every single year,” he told Yahoo Finance. “In 2016, they put $100 million into the elections. That’s a ton of money.”

Study: losing sleep might make us worse citizens

I have sleep on the mind this week — and not just because I lost an hour of it this weekend to daylight saving time. People in the developed world are sleeping less than they used to. In the US, one 2015 study found the age-adjusted mean sleep duration was 7.18 hours, down from 7.4 hours in 1985. That’s why the premise of a new study in Nature Human Behavior is so intriguing. Published this week, the study argues that getting less sleep makes us less prosocial — less inclined to vote, to donate money to charity, to sign petitions. […] It turns out that Americans living “near the immediate eastern side of the US time-zone boundaries have been shown to achieve a significant 20–25 minutes less sleep per night (on average) than those living near the immediate western side of the same time-zone boundary.” That’s a terrifying, startling statistic — does an arbitrary choice of time really affect us that profoundly One source for the finding is a different regression discontinuity analysis, published in 2017, which explains: “In counties lying on the eastern (right) side of a time zone boundary, sunset time occurs an hour later than in nearby counties on the opposite side of the boundary. More generally the onset of daylight is delayed by an hour. … Because of the delayed onset of daylight and the biological link between environmental light and the production of melatonin throughout the day, individuals on the late sunset side of a time zone boundary will tend to go to bed at a later time.”

Infant Regulatory Problems Increase Risk for Mental Health Difficulties in Childhood

Infants who have multiple moderate-to-severe regulatory problems have more than 10 times the odds of experiencing mental health problems during childhood, and these problems worsen over time. In a large, prospective, community-based Australian study published in Pediatrics, Fallon Cook, PhD, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues examined the profiles of infant regulatory behaviors and associated familial and child characteristics. In the present study, the investigators included 1759 12-month-old infants who were of average birth weight, with 50% being male and 50% being firstborn infants. Participating mothers completed the Kessler 6 Psychological Distress Scale (K6), with scores ≥8 indicating significant psychological distress. Mothers reported the presence and severity of children’s sleep problems, excessive crying, temper tantrums, and mood swings. Participating mothers also noted whether their infants coughed, choked, or gagged on foods of various textures.

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 March 13, 2019

Psychologist’s critique: What’s Under the Hood of APA’s Guidelines for Boys and Men

Pharma Company Behind Controversial Drug Facing DOJ Probe

Acadia Pharmaceuticals is facing a Department of Justice probe over marketing practices related to its controversial Parkinson’s drug Nuplazid (pimavanserin). The investigation was disclosed in an SEC document and was first reported by CNN. In the filing, the company said it had received a civil investigative demand from the DOJ asking for documents under the False Claims Act. […] As of April 2018, more than 700 deaths linked to Nuplazid had been reported to an FDA adverse events database since the drug’s approval in 2016. As a result, the FDA conducted an additional evaluation of Nuplazid, but didn’t find any new safety issues with the drug. Like other atypical antipsychotics, Nuplazid contains a “black box” warning that those with Parkinson’s disease taking the drug have a higher risk of death.

New British Study Points to Efficacy of Mindfulness Training among Medical Students

The findings of a recently published new study, led by the University of Bristol and described as the first of its kind in Britain, indicate that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has far-reaching beneficial effects on the mental health and well-being of university students. […] The far-reaching benefits of meditation and mindfulness, long recognized by many spiritual traditions, have been gaining increasing traction in the West in recent years, both within and outside the Buddhist world. Perhaps nowhere is this positive impact being more keenly felt, and with the greatest potential to improve the future, than at the growing number of schools that are incorporating these practices into their daily curriculums. “Recent evidence suggests that university students are more likely to develop mental health problems when compared with the general population,” the University of Bristol said in a report. “The . . . study aimed to establish whether mindfulness could be effective at improving mental health and wellbeing in medical students who are considered more at risk of developing a stress-related illness.” […] “We have developed a theoretical model of the medical student ‘stress signature,’ mapping how mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can break the cycle of specific vulnerability through the development of new coping strategies,” said Dr. Malpass. (University of Bristol).

IU School of Medicine researchers discover groundbreaking test for post-traumatic stress disorder

A cutting-edge blood test discovered by Indiana University School of Medicine researchers could help more accurately diagnose military veterans and other people experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder, and potentially provide more precise treatments and prevention. A study led by psychiatry professor Alexander Niculescu, MD, PhD, and published this week in the high-impact Springer Nature journal Molecular Psychiatry, tracked more than 250 veterans in over 600 visits at the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis to identify molecules in the blood that can help track stress intensity. The researchers used a careful four-step approach of discovery, prioritization, validation and testing. According to Niculescu’s findings, the blood test can accurately identify people who are at risk of stress disorders or are experiencing them severely.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

By Dr. Peter Breggin

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 March 12, 2019

Dr. Breggin on Active Shooters Trained by Video Games Not Loving Dads

What’s the Problem with “Traditional Masculinity”?

On the heels of the American Psychological Association’s new Guidelines for the Psychological Practice with Boys and Men,1 Gillette released an ad (“We Believe: The Best Men Can Be”).2 Both the ad and the guidelines were clearly intended to work toward ending male violence and the objectification of women, but both have been the subject of significant backlash. On YouTube, as of March 10, 2019, the Gillette ad garnered almost twice as many “dislikes” (1.4 million) as “likes” (778,000). The Egard Watch Company even created a counterpoint video “dedicated to all those [men] who sacrifice everything to make the world safer and better for all of us.”3 […] Psychologist Chris Ferguson, a member of the APA who reviewed the draft guidelines before they were finalized, warned the authors that they were portraying traditional men as “nearly monstrous, their cultural values associated with everything from sexism to promiscuity to their own declining health (which essentially places blame on them, something we generally try to avoid with other groups).” He added, “Probably the document’s main weakness is that much of it, instead of reading as an actual practice guideline, tends to read as an invective against ‘traditional’ masculinity.”6 Psychiatrist Sally Satel wrote in the Washington Post, “when the APA encourages practitioners to engage in vaguely defined activities — ‘address issues of privilege and power related to sexism’ or ‘help boys and men, and those who have contact with them become aware of how masculinity is defined in the context of their life circumstances’ — it seems more focused on a political agenda than on the patient.”7 […] This could have been avoided. In 2015, social psychologists Duarte, Crawford, Stern, Haidt, Jussim, and Tetlock, in their article Political diversity will improve social psychological science,8 describe the same problems in social psychology that these APA guidelines seem to expose in the clinical field. A lack of political diversity can undermine any field’s validity by embedding ideological values into research questions and methods, and playing into the confirmation bias. This produces both conclusions that are ideologically skewed and mischaracterizations of alternative views. When political diversity is embraced, on the other hand, “institutional disconfirmation” defeats confirmation biases because they are canceled out in the process of everyone grappling with one another’s concerns. If the authors of the guidelines had taken seriously the concerns that Ferguson brought them, their guidelines could have been revised to be empirical instead of ideological, and may have been more widely embraced.

Depression, Antidepressants, and Atrial Fibrillation: What Do We Know?

Depression is a debilitating disease that has been associated with an increased risk for a variety of cardiovascular disorders, such as diabetes, hypertension, and coronary artery disease, and their subsequent complications, including myocardial infarction, stroke, and death. […] Psychiatry Advisor had the opportunity to discuss the relationship between depression, antidepressant use, and AF [atrial fibrillation] with Parveen K. Garg, MD, MPH, Division of Cardiology at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles. […] What’s particularly interesting about our study is that individuals who used antidepressants were found to have a similarly increased risk for AF as those who had high CES-D scores. So our findings raise important questions regarding whether antidepressants may have proarrhythmic properties, as prior literature has suggested, that may mitigate any benefit associated with an improvement in depressive symptoms. […] Following our publication, a European study reported a similar correlation between AF and depression but really focused on the association with antidepressant use.6 In the study, antidepressant treatment was associated with a three-fold higher risk for AF during the first month, with risk gradually attenuated over the following year. Most notably, the risk for developing AF was highest in the month before starting antidepressants. Further studies are needed in larger cohorts that are appropriately powered to detect significant interactions and with more comprehensive and clinically validated assessments of depression. Additionally, once a diagnosis of depression is established, a better understanding of how antidepressant medication or other therapeutic interventions might then modify the risk for subsequent AF is also needed.

Popular Spice Rivals Stimulant for ADHD

The popular and expensive spice saffron (Crocus sativus L), appears to be as effective as the stimulant methylphenidate (MPH) in treating symptoms in youngsters with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), new research suggests. In a randomized 6-week trial, a team of investigators from Tehran University of Medical Sciences in Iran, found there were no significant differences in efficacy or adverse events in the saffron vs MPH group.

The study:

The spice Saffron versus Ritalin in treatment of children with ADHD

Objective: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is one of the most common neuropsychiatric disorders of childhood and adolescence. About 30% of patients do not respond to stimulants or cannot tolerate their side effects. Thus, alternative medication, like herbal medicine, should be considered. The aim of this trial is to compare the safety and efficacy of Crocus sativus (saffron) versus methylphenidate [Ritalin] in improving symptoms of children with ADHD. […] Discussion This study provides evidence for satisfactory outcomes with saffron in treatment of ADHD. In this double-blind randomized trial of C. sativus versus methylphenidate in treatment of ADHD, C. sativus was as effective as methylphenidate. The clinical relevance of these findings was emphasized by improvements seen in both Parent and Teacher Rating Scale scores. Also C. sativus was safe and showed equally or lesser adverse effects. […] Conclusion The results of this study must be considered as preliminary. This 6-week course of treatment with saffron showed the same efficacy as methylphenidate in children with ADHD. In terms of safety, there is no significant difference between the two study groups in frequency of side effects. Considering the memory-enhancing and antidepressant effects of saffron, future studies on the effectiveness of saffron compared with placebo should include a broader spectrum of ADHD patients, including those with comorbid mood and anxiety disorders, sleep problems, and ADHD patients with inattentive presentation. Nevertheless, larger “placebo-controlled studies” with longer treatment periods are indicated for future studies.

Lawsuit says Johnson & Johnson was opioid “kingpin”

Johnson & Johnson was the “kingpin” that fueled the country’s opioid crisis, serving as a top supplier, seller and lobbyist, according to a state official leading the legal fight against the companies that helped create the crisis. Why it matters: Purdue Pharma, which makes OxyContin, has been the main target so far in lawsuits. But court documents show attorneys general also are trying to cast a wider net, drawing more attention to J&J’s role in the global opioid market. Driving the news: The first big trial of the opioid epidemic is set to begin in May in Oklahoma. It will set the stage for similar litigation in other states, as well as the consolidated nationwide lawsuit that has been compared to the tobacco litigation of the 1990s.

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 March 11, 2019

Dr. Breggin on How People End Up on Psych Drugs

Study suggests humor could be an emotion regulation strategy for depression

Humor can help decrease negative emotional reactions in people vulnerable to depression, according to new research published in the journal Brain and Behavior. The findings offer preliminary evidence that humor could be an effective emotion regulation strategy. “I spent many years working with depressed patients and this made me realize important it is to provide vulnerable people with evidence-based tools for dealing with negative emotional experiences. Indeed, in some vulnerable people, even a slightly lowered mood can escalate into clinical depression, and the main factor that underlies this process is impaired ability to regulate negative emotions,” explained study author Anna Branieck […] When participants were asked to make a humorous comment, they tended to report less negative emotions and more positive emotions after viewing the picture. “These findings may have practical value mostly for people at risk for depression, in particular for those who have already experienced a depressive episode in the past, because they are in the highest-risk group for further depression,” Braniecka told PsyPost.

Dangers of Antidepressants: My Personal Struggle with Conventional Medicine

I never even needed to be on that pill is all I could keep telling myself, feeling weak and ashamed. There are so many other coping mechanisms I could have used for my anxiety. Why didn’t I do my own research? What was I thinking?! Why did I trust the doctors? These thoughts went over and over in my head after I had finally cracked the code and figured out what was causing my horrific and bizarre symptoms. Why will the medical doctors not admit it? Why does the psychiatrist just want me to take more drugs and doesn’t believe a word I say? It’s all over the internet and so many have told their horror stories on countless forums. I thought I was going to die or go insane. For a while, I even thought that I could have quite possibly been under spiritual attack.

Researchers Make the Case to Rename Schizophrenia

A recent editorial, published in Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences, makes an argument for getting rid of the schizophrenia diagnosis, listing five reasons for the change, five signals of change, five challenges of change, five promises of change, and five steps for change. The authors argue that changing the name for schizophrenia is a necessary step to modernize psychiatry and mental health services worldwide. “Renaming a particular form of mental suffering should be accompanied by a broader debate of the entire diagnosis-evidence-based-practice (EBP)-symptom-reduction model as the normative factor driving the content and organization of mental health services that may be detached from patients’ needs and reality, overlooks the trans-syndromal structure of mental difficulties, appraises the significance of the technical features over the relational and ritual components of care, and underestimates the lack of EBP group-to-individual generalizability,” write the authors, Sinan Guloksuz and Jim van Os.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for March 10, 2019

Video: We Shut Down State Mental Hospitals. Some Want to Bring Them Back.

Is “mental illness” a fraudulent concept for locking up social deviants? Or does forced treatment free the ill “from the Bastille of their psychosis?” […] This story looks at the history of mental illness, institutionalization, and the role of coercion in psychiatry. It features an array of voices and viewpoints, including Linda Mayo, the mother of twin daughers with severe psychiatric diagnoses, who advocates for court-ordered psychiatric treatment; Richard Krzyzanowski, a patients’ rights advocate who fights against coercive treatment laws; DJ Jaffe, the founder of Mental Illness Policy Org., who argues that the state should make it much easier to commit mental patients; the late Thomas Szasz, a controversial libertarian psychiatrist who fought compulsory treatment and questioned the very existence of mental illness; and Scott Zeller, a psychiatrist who’s developed a new model that he hopes will reduce coercion in the system. 

Increased risk of diseases of the basal ganglia and cerebellum strongest in those labeled “ADHD” and given drugs

Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is marked by an ongoing pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity and involves dysregulated dopaminergic pathways. Dopaminergic agents (i.e., amphetamine and methylphenidate) are thus prescribed to treat ADHD. As little is known regarding long-term consequences of either ADHD or its treatment, the objective of this study was to determine if either alters the risk of diseases of the basal ganglia and cerebellum, including Parkinson’s disease. Statewide medical records from 1996 to 2016 were retrieved from the Utah Population Database to conduct a retrospective cohort study.  […] Patients with ADHD (N = 31,769) had a 2.4-fold increased risk of basal ganglia and cerebellum diseases (95% confidence interval (CI): 2.0–3.0; P < 0.0001) compared with 158,790 non-ADHD persons, after controlling for sex and age and adjusting for tobacco use and psychotic conditions. In 4960 ADHD patients prescribed psychostimulants, risk of basal ganglia and cerebellum diseases between ages 21 and 49 years was especially pronounced, at 8.6-fold (95% CI: 4.8–15.6; P < 0001). The association of ADHD patients prescribed psychostimulants with higher risk of diseases of the basal ganglia and cerebellum may reflect a more severe ADHD phenotype rather than a direct association between prescribed stimulant use and basal ganglia or cerebellum disorders. Future studies to assess and stratify patient risk so as to inform treatment are warranted.

The Antidepressant Fact Book, What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

Known as “the Ralph Nader of psychiatry,” Dr. Peter Breggin has been the medical expert in countless court cases involving the use or misuse of psychoactive medications. This unusual position has given him unprecedented access to private pharmaceutical research and  correspondence files, information from which informs this straight-talking guide to the most prescribed and controversial category of American drugs: antidepressants. 

News & Information for March 9, 2019

Dr. Breggin on the APA and AMA

Risk of Depression Higher for Women Working More Than 55 Hours a Week

Given that today’s work environment allows for round-the-clock access to work, it’s no surprise that more and more people are clocking in longer hours. However, those long hours are now being connected to mental health concerns, particularly in women. An observational study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health reports that women who worked 55 hours or more a week and/or who worked most/every weekend experienced significantly more depressive symptoms than women working standard hours. “There’s something called ‘weisure’ that refers to people not having a work-life balance, where they work and grab moments of leisure when they can,” Deborah Serani, PsyD, professor of psychology at Adelphi University in Garden City, New York, told Healthline. “We’ve seen this since the internet and cell phones and how they really negatively impact mental health because you don’t get to reboot, you don’t get to refuel.”

Daylight saving time: Health risks and how to adjust to losing an hour of sleep

Daylight saving time arrives this weekend, which means it’s once again time to move the clocks ahead an hour. The change, which takes effect at 2 a.m. this Sunday, will cost millions of Americans an hour of sleep and leave many of us feeling extra groggy. Health experts say there can also be some more serious consequences. “The main impact of daylight savings time is the loss of sleep and the need to ‘shift’ the timing of sleep after the clocks change. This has two consequences,” Dr. M. Safwan Badr, a pulmonologist at DMC’s Detroit Receiving Hospital, told CBS News. “First, missing an hour of sleep makes people sleepy, especially if their sleep time is already short the week before.  Furthermore, It takes most people several nights to shift their circadian rhythms and get their sleep back on track.” […] “Plan ahead. Allow time to adjust. Stick to healthy sleep habits. Reset your clocks Saturday afternoon, and if you are sleepy, go to bed a little early Saturday evening,” Badr said. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends the following tips to reduce the health effects of daylight saving time:

Neuroscientist Researching Brain Chips To Make People Superintelligent

What if you could make money, or type something, just by thinking about it? It sounds like science fiction, but it might be close to reality. In as little as five years, super smart people could be walking down the street; men and women who’ve paid to increase their intelligence. Northwestern University neuroscientist and business professor Dr. Moran Cerf made that prediction, because he’s working on a smart chip for the brain. “Make it so that it has an internet connection, and goes to Wikipedia, and when I think this particular thought, it gives me the answer,” he said. Cerf is collaborating with Silicon Valley big wigs he’d rather not name. Facebook also has been working on building a brain-computer interface, and SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is backing a brain-computer interface called Neuralink. “Everyone is spending a lot of time right now trying to find ways to get things into the brain without drilling a hole in your skull,” Cerf said. “Can you eat something that will actually get to your brain? Can you eat things in parts that will assemble inside your head?”

New evidence bolsters link between sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s disease

A new study, to be presented at the upcoming American Academy of Neurology’s 71st Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, reveals a connection between sleep apnea and increased levels of a toxic brain protein commonly associated with Alzheimer’s disease. These findings bolster the growing body of evidence linking sleep problems with the onset of neurodegenerative conditions. It is becoming increasingly clear that sleep plays an incredibly important role in our overall cognitive health. Disrupted sleep has long been associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, however scientists have only recently started to unpack exactly how bad sleep is linked with cognitive decline. This new study examined the link between increased levels of tau and episodes of stopped breathing during sleep. Tau is one of two proteins strongly implicated in the neurodegenerative effects associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Belief in a god capable of punishment helped human cooperation evolve

A team of researchers set out to investigate the driving force behind prosocial behavior across large societies throughout history and how religion may have influenced this behavior. The experts determined that the belief in a god that was capable of punishment played an important role in cooperation. “The emergence of large-scale cooperation during the Holocene remains a central problem in the evolutionary literature,” wrote the study authors. “One hypothesis points to culturally evolved beliefs in punishing, interventionist gods that facilitate the extension of cooperative behavior toward geographically distant co-religionists. Furthermore, another hypothesis points to such mechanisms being constrained to the religious ingroup, possibly at the expense of religious outgroups.” […] The study revealed that people were more likely to allocate a bigger share of coins to themselves or to others members of their own religion. However, individuals who strongly believed in a punitive god made much more equitable decisions. The researchers said this also represents interactions that have taken place on a societal scale throughout history. “These results provide support for the hypothesis that beliefs in monitoring and punitive gods help expand the circle of sustainable social interaction, and open questions about the treatment of religious outgroups,” wrote the study authors.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

By Dr. Peter Breggin

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 March 8, 2019

Dr. Breggin on Big Pharm’s Control of Drug Studies

Ireland: Prescription drugs implicated in most deaths by overdose

Prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines are implicated in the majority of deaths by overdose, according to data compiled by the Health Research Board. By contrast, just 5 per cent of drug-related deaths are among people who inject drugs. The figures are contained in the National Drug-Related Deaths Index for 2016, which gathers data on deaths due to overdose as well as deaths among drug users due to causes such as cardiac arrest or hanging. Overall, prescription drugs were linked to seven out of 10 deaths, or 238, by overdose in 2016. […] Benzodiazepines were the most common prescription drug group implicated in these deaths. Deaths linked to pregabalin, a drug used to treat epilepsy and anxiety, have risen significantly, with an increase of 33 per cent between 2015 and 2016, from 49 to 65. […] In all, there were approximately 21,300 of potential life years lost because of drug-related deaths during the 12-month period.

What you need to know before quitting antidepressants

Things got nasty for Magie Serpica when she decided to quit Zoloft. Serpica, a 38-year-old tattoo artist from West Brighton […] Zoloft in particular, she says, caused her to gain weight, and it was making her joints hurt. So she decided to go off the meds, following general guidelines for tapering — and was met with a litany of unpleasant symptoms, including nausea, extreme fatigue and a jarring phenomenon called “brain zaps,” which Serpica describes as a jolt to the brain. “I remember having thoughts of, ‘Is this ever going to end?’” Serpica tells The Post. “I feel like doctors downplay withdrawal symptoms.” A new paper suggests that her concerns are warranted […] British psychiatrists Dr. Mark Horowitz and Dr. David Taylor argue that the standard recommendation for tapering off antidepressants — about four weeks under a physician’s guidance — is wildly misguided. They believe tapering should take months, not weeks, and consist of ever-smaller doses. […] “If I had known coming off of Zoloft would be this hard, I’m not sure I would have started,” says Serpica, who hopes sharing her struggle will prevent others from making hasty decisions about their mental health.

Green spaces may increase happiness, help you trust strangers: Study

Green spaces and colourful urban design elements may lead to higher levels of happiness, greater trust of strangers and environmental stewardship than locations without those amenities, a study has found. The study, published in the journal Cities and Health, suggests that simple, inexpensive urban design interventions can increase well-being and social connections among city residents. “The urban design interventions we studied are relatively simple and low-cost, but show great potential to improve individuals’ emotional and social lives,” said Hanna Negami, a PhD candidate at the University of Waterloo in Canada. “Something as simple as adding greenery to a concrete lane or painting a rainbow crosswalk could help to enrich urban public spaces,” Negami said. […] “We know that the design of a city has direct, measurable, psychological impact on its citizens,” says Colin Ellard, a professor at the University of Waterloo. “We have been able to show how such impact can be measured and what it can tell us about good, psychologically sustainable design,” Ellard said.

5 situations where meditation helps & how to do brief meditations in everyday life.

You don’t need to do meditation everyday in order to benefit from it. If you devote a period of time to learning meditation skills, you can then roll them out when relevant situations come up. I’m not a very regular meditator but these are situations in which I use it. […] It’s very useful for new meditators to meditate daily for 30 days to get the hang of it.  You don’t have to do long sessions of it. I often only meditate for 3 to 5 minutes, so it’s fine to stick with this on most of your practice days. Once you feel familiar with meditation you can pick it up as and when you want. Check out this post on meditation for beginners to get started. That article outlines a 10 minute walking meditation, which is a nice one to try. Try guided meditations. Googling “meditation mp3” will yield lots of results and here are some I recommend.  When you listen to meditations, try not to get hung up on things like “I don’t like this person’s voice” or “I hear some crackle in the audio.”  Being able to experience and let go of thoughts like that is part of developing meditation skills.  If you find you don’t like longer guided meditations, that’s fine.  You can stick to the short, self-directed kind.

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 March 7, 2019

Dr. Breggin on Negative Influences on Children

Religious People Drink Less Than Those With No Religious Affiliation

A Pew Research Center study found that 51 percent of adults who attend religious services at least once a month reported drinking alcohol in the last month, compared to 62 percent who attend services less often or not at all. Additionally, 13 percent of people attending services monthly report binge drinking, while 21 percent who attend less often report binge drinking, defined as having four or more drinks on a single occasion. People of certain religions were less likely to be drinkers than others. As a whole, Protestants were less likely to have consumed alcohol than Catholics. Sixty percent of Catholics and 51 percent of Protestants reported drinking in the last 30 days. While 15 percent of Protestants reported binge drinking, 17 percent of Catholics reported the same. […] People with no religious affiliation are the most likely to drink and binge drink. Among those unaffiliated, people who are agnostic, claiming neither faith nor disbelief in God, are most likely to drink and binge drink, at 76 and 33 percent, respectively.

Doctors reveal the best way to come off antidepressants and reduce withdrawal symptoms

A new piece of research has offered up an effective strategy to help people come off antidepressants without suffering ‘severe’ withdrawal symptoms. In a study published in The Lancet, a pair of medical researchers warned that ‘all classes of drug that are prescribed to treat depression’ can cause withdrawal so serious it ‘might compel patients to recommence their medication’. This could lead people to think their mental health has taken a turn for the worse make them start popping pills again. ‘Although the withdrawal syndrome can be differentiated from recurrence of the underlying disorder, it might also be mistaken for recurrence, leading to long-term unnecessary medication,’ the authors wrote. […] ‘We therefore suggest that SSRIs should be tapered hyperbolically and slowly to doses much lower than those of therapeutic minimums, in line with tapering regimens for other medications associated with withdrawal symptoms. ‘Withdrawal symptoms will then be minimised.’

Which Misused Prescription Meds Send Americans to the ER?

 Most folks treated in a U.S. emergency room for misuse of prescription medications get into trouble because they mix different substances, a new study reports. Benzodiazepines like Xanax (alprazolam) and Ativan (lorazepam) are most commonly implicated in health crises that lead to an ER visit, followed by prescription opioids, researchers found. But in most cases, the patients fell ill because these drugs were taken with other substances and created a dangerous interaction, said lead researcher Dr. Andrew Geller. He’s a medical officer with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s medication safety team. “Most of the time there may have been only one pharmaceutical involved, but there were other non-pharmaceutical substances or psychoactive drugs or alcohol involved as well,” Geller said. “When people get into trouble with misusing medicines, they’re usually taking more than one substance.”

Effects of melatonin in children with ADHD and sleep disorders after Ritalin

Methylphenidate (MPH), the first-line medication in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is associated with increased risk of sleep disorders. Melatonin has both hypnotic and chronobiotic properties that influence circadian rhythm sleep disorders. This study explores the effectiveness of melatonin in children with ADHD who developed sleep problems after starting MPH. […] Conclusion: In children with ADHD with sleep problems after receiving MPH treatment, melatonin may be an effective and safe treatment, irrespective of gender, age and comorbidities.

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 March 6, 2019

Dr. Breggin on a Review of Active Shooters on Psych Drugs

Study: Plant-based, vegan diets reduce depression symptoms

New research is showing a relationship between food and your mood. If you are thinking of cutting back on meat, you might not get just a body benefit — you might get a brain benefit too. This study in the British Medical Journal says a plant-based diet might hold the secret to more happiness. In this study, researchers were looking at those who have a higher disposition toward depression: those with type 2 diabetes. After reviewing 11 studies with more than 400 participants, those who ate either a plant-based diet or went completely vegan were found to have improved moods compared to those who did not eat this way. They found that depression symptoms went down within about seven months of eating this way. It’s not known why eating this way may have reduced depression symptoms. It may be that good health habits are contagious, meaning if you cut back on, for example, burgers do you also cut back on french fries? Or do you start giving your body nutrients you need in fruits and vegetables that we know play a role in your emotional health?

FDA approves Johnson & Johnson’s ketamine-derived drug for treatment-resistant depression

The U.S. Food & Drug Administration Tuesday approved Johnson & Johnson’s ketamine-derived nasal spray Spravato for treatment-resistant depression. The green light means ketamine—an anesthetic abused as a party drug but promoted by some doctors without FDA approval as a necessary treatment for the most severely depressed patients—has spawned the first materially new depression treatment in decades. […] To dissuade abuse and address safety concerns, Johnson & Johnson is requiring patients receiving Spravato to go to a certified facility and administer the nasal spray to themselves under the supervision of a healthcare professional twice a week for a month, then once a week or every other week on an ongoing basis. […] As much as people with treatment-related depression need better options, the clinical trials on esketamine have not been uniformly positive. In a memo to the FDA advisory committee that voted to approve esketamine 14-2 with one abstaining on February 12, Tiffany R. Farchione, acting director of the FDA’s Division of Psychiatry Products, noted that the phase-3 clinical trial evidence supporting approval of esketamine came from one short-term study with a flexible dose and a randomized withdrawal study, when most approved antidepressants have at least two positive short-term trials. Another short-term study with designated doses did not demonstrate that esketamine helped patients more than a placebo.

Alert 88: What To Say When Debating ECT?

I have posted a new response on Mad in America to my colleagues who still think there must be some place for ECT in “extreme cases” and that surely “some people” have been helped or “back in my training I saw two patients who were helped.” Find my new March 3, 2019 blog here. For my Frequent Alert readers, I want to make an additional suggestion of what you might say to someone who defends ECT even the slightest little bit. When dealing with someone who fancies themselves knowledgeable or even a professional in the mental health field, and who defends ECT, you might say something like this:

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 March 5, 2019

Dr. Breggin on His Expert Testimony Against Eli Lilly’s Prozac

Why We Should Think of Exercise as Its Own Reward

Many of us think of exercise as something we need to bribe ourselves to do. But maybe we’ve got it all wrong. An enjoyable workout can be intrinsically rewarding, just like tasty food is, according to a study published in the February issue of Physiology & Behavior. In rodents, scientists had already shown that exercise can be powerfully rewarding, says study coauthor Hans-Peter Kubis, a senior lecturer in sport and exercise science at Bangor University in Wales. Rats and mice will not only use running wheels without prompting. They’ll actually learn to work to gain access to the running wheels, and they’re vocal about their eagerness to get moving. “One study showed that rats, which had been given restricted daily access to wheel running, emitted 50 kHz calls in anticipation of and during running,” Kubis says. “These calls are known to signal a positive affective state usually seen in the context of food rewards and social play.” […] On a personal level, these are some things you can do to help maximize the reward potential of exercise:

Another potential side effect to the pill: making it harder for women to read certain emotions

Women who take oral contraceptives have a harder time recognizing emotions like pride or contempt in other people’s faces in comparison to women who aren’t on birth control, new study shows. Slowly but surely, scientists are finding out more about the subtler side effects of taking the pill. One group of German researchers now ran emotional recognition tests with two groups of healthy women, 42 of whom were on the pill, and 53 who weren’t. They found that the women on the pill were about 10 percent worse on average at reading what the scientists called “more complex” emotions like pride and contempt. In their study in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, the scientists didn’t notice any effect in women being able to spot what they categorized as “more simple” emotions, like happiness or fear.  […] As for the impact of his findings, Lischke will also look into how the pill’s potential emotionally impairing side effect could play out in women’s intimate relationships in a future study. But for now, he asks women to not be concerned: “On the basis of present findings there is no need for women to worry about oral contraceptive use leading to impairments in emotion recognition and deleterious effects on their social lives.”

Study shows that trauma of war increases religious belief

It’s been said that there are no atheists in foxholes, but a new study led by Joseph Henrich has shown that the impact of war on religion extends well beyond the front lines. The chair of the Department of Human and Evolutionary Biology, Henrich and a team of international collaborators gathered survey data from several locations around the globe and found that, following the trauma of seeing a friend or loved one killed or injured during conflict, many became more religious. The study is described in a Jan. 28 paper published in Nature Human Behavior. “I became interested in this question through my prior work, which has been focused on how religious beliefs can cause people to cooperate more in a group,” Henrich said. “The idea is that if you can expand the sphere of cooperation, then that group can more successfully compete against others, sometimes even through violent conflict. “But this study suggests that this could lead to a vicious circle,” Henrich continued. “If you receive a war shock and become very religious, and then begin to outcompete other groups through conflict, that could result in a runaway effect.” […] “One of the more interesting findings was that in some cases we found the effect endures,” Henrich said. “In Tajikistan we find the effect even 13 years post-conflict, and there’s no sense in which it declines.”

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 March 4, 2019

Dr. Breggin on Psychiatric Drug Warning Labels

Let’s Not Go Overboard About ECT

By Peter Breggin, MD In an internet email discussion among a large group of supposedly enlightened mental health professionals, few came forward to outright condemn or ban ECT. One participant responded to my comments with, “It worries me how this debate gets so polarized. I appreciate Peter’s opposition to ECT. But that doesn’t mean ECT has not ‘helped people’ even though it might be a placebo effect.” Another declared it was “fashionable” to criticize ECT, but all treatments had their pros and cons. Most seemed to agree that “it sometimes works.” This refusal to say or to accept something polarizing is a hallmark of most so-called reformers in the field of mental health. What about lobotomy—most of which my 1970s campaign stopped? What about insulin coma therapy? The spinning chair? What about freezing baths? What about the bleeding and purgatives? What about all the other atrocities committed by psychiatry on helpless “patients”? Should we never have simply said, “Stop!”?

How the Mental Health Industry Exploits Schoolchildren

Concurrently, federal, state, and municipal governments launched a series of aggressive “mental health” education campaigns across the country to better educate front-line providers and families. The campaigns were bolstered by an endless stream of magazine, radio, and television ads sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry claiming that the early symptoms of mental illnesses could be detected in children as young as two and successfully treated with psychiatric drugs. Unlike other direct-to-consumer drug ads, these failed to mention any side effects or risks to the developing brains and bodies of children and adolescents. Soon, doctors began working hand in hand with educators to identify, label, and medicate any child who might be inattentive, different, bored, too slow, poor, anxious, argumentative, defiant, or acting out. Supposedly, according to biological psychiatrist Stan Kutcher, medication could “fix various brain circuits that are not working the way they should be”—despite a lack of evidence that any childhood behaviors are due to faulty brains. The result: Schools, under the direction of government ministries, have been transformed into hubs for the diagnosis of mental illnesses. According to this industry, no child is considered too young for scrutiny. And so, the drugging continues.

We get happier as we get older, but it comes at a cost

It’s generally considered common sense that the typical teenager has a different set of emotional sensitivities than a middle-aged or older person. As we age, we get less angsty, certainly. But do we actually get happier? This is one question that was examined in a groundbreaking new study recently published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, which is one of the largest studies of its kind to examine how people of all ages detect subtle changes in social cues, and to measure how our emotional sensitivity intensifies or wanes as we get older, reports […] “It’s well established that there is an age-related decline in the ability to decode emotion cues, in general, but here we see very little decline in the ability to detect differences in happiness. What’s remarkable is that we see declines in many visual perceptual abilities as we get older, but here we did not see such declines in the perception of happiness,” she said. “These findings fit well with other research showing that older adults tend to have more positive emotions and a positive outlook.”

Moving the body, boosting the mind: running your way to better mental health

As little as 10 minutes of regular exercise can help alleviate depression. But even professionals don’t always make the link between mental and physical health. […] A recent study published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal supported the theory that physical activity is an effective prevention strategy for depression. (Although it adds that “physical activity may protect against depression, and/or depression may result in decreased physical activity”.) The link between exercise and mental health is not new – in 1769, the Scottish physician William Buchan wrote that “of all the causes which conspire to render the life of man short and miserable, none have greater influence than the want of proper exercise” – but it is becoming more widely understood, says Dr Brendon Stubbs, head of physiotherapy at the South London and Maudsley NHS foundation trust. […] “For a long time, there has been a good deal of ignorance about the voluminous catalogue of mental benefits that different kinds of exercise can provide. People are slowly becoming more aware of these benefits, as barely a week goes by without some new trial or study being published that connects certain kinds of physical activity with mental wellbeing, but there is still some way to go with persuading people that moving outdoors is something of a miracle cure for many modern ills.”

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for March 3, 2019

Anti-depressants cause mania in 25% of bipolar patients, study says

Drugs designed to calm mental health symptoms could be making them worse, a study says. Nearly a quarter of people with bipolar disorder in Scotland are misprescribed antidepressants, which can bring on mania in people with the condition, a study revealed in the Thursday issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry. […] “Specifically, we found that there was a gradual decline in the prescribing of lithium (the best for bipolar disorder) and a pattern of consistently high prescribing of antidepressants on their own. For many patients, the use of antidepressants in bipolar disorder runs the risk of making the long-term course of the illness worse, rather than better.” During the time of the study, antidepressant use remained steady, while antipsychotic and anticonvulsant drug prescriptions increased. This is important because these drugs can cause mood destabilization and possibly mania.

Dr. Breggin on Prozac and Direct-to-Consumer Advertising

5 Ways Mindfulness Helps Treat Addiction

Do you find yourself looking forward to your nightly glass (or glasses) of wine a bit too much? Do you struggle with late-night trips to the 7-11 for junk food? Are you dabbling in illicit drug use? Or becoming obsessed with checking your smartphone? Are you loathe to call your habit an addiction? Okay, maybe it’s easier to call it a strong attachment, but regardless of the semantics (for the purposes of this post, we’ll go with the term “addiction”), it’s unsettling to feel as if you’ve gotten locked into a pattern which feels a bit out of your control and which may be taking you down a dangerous path, either slowly or quickly. There are numerous ways to treat addiction, but one crucial skill is to increase our ability to tolerate life as it is, rather than how we would prefer it to be. How can the practice of mindfulness help with this? […] Some reasons why mindfulness can help problems with addiction include:

Flam: Is taking Ketamine worth the risk?

Clinical trials are not enough to prove any drug is safe and effective – especially one that could be as widely used as Johnson & Johnson’s depression drug esketamine, a slightly altered form of the street drug ketamine. The FDA approval process is a balancing act, weighing safety and efficacy testing against the need to get potentially life-saving drugs out as soon as possible. An advisory panel to the FDA decided this month that the benefits outweigh the risks, and approval is expected soon. But scientists who study depression say there’s a lot more to learn about esketamine’s long-term effects. While best known as a recreational drug, ketamine has been used since the 1970s as an anesthetic, in doses much higher than what’s likely to be given to depression patients. The trials so far seem to show that the drug is not highly addictive, according to a story in the medical website STAT. But time will tell.

How Mindfulness Meditation Can Make You A Better Parent

Until recently, the term mindfulness meditation was largely unknown. Now, however, it’s in vogue in North America. But while many have heard the term, or given it a whirl, this ancient tradition is still largely misunderstood. While I am no master myself, I have spent the last three years (which is infancy for a meditation practice) learning about the skills of developing a mindfulness practice. I have followed the research to find the empirical evidence of the benefits, which are numerous to every population: veterans, the terminally ill, those suffering anxiety or depression. But it also holds tremendous value to parents and the unique stress of raising children.

The Antidepressant Fact Book, What Your Doctor Won’t Tell You

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

Known as “the Ralph Nader of psychiatry,” Dr. Peter Breggin has been the medical expert in countless court cases involving the use or misuse of psychoactive medications. This unusual position has given him unprecedented access to private pharmaceutical research and  correspondence files, information from which informs this straight-talking guide to the most prescribed and controversial category of American drugs: antidepressants. 

News & Information for March 2, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, Feb, 27 – Last Wednesday of the Month, Listener Call In

Today’s hour is the deepest I have gone in talking about empathy as an intentional listening to, acceptance and understanding of another person. It is open mic Wednesday, which is always the last Wednesday of the month, and I began the hour by focusing on empathy and so did my callers. If you want to understand how to find friends, to start relationships, and to make them grow, this is the hour for you. In response to a lonely caller, I talk about all that she, or anyone, needs to do to quickly begin finding people who want meaningful, caring and even loving relationships. Then I explain how the same empathic approaches and attitudes can change your life for the better, along with lives of almost everyone you know. Find out what it means to experience “empathic self-transformation”-it could change your life. The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour is every Wednesday at 4 pm NY Time on Call in live to be on the show any Wednesday at 888 874 4888 or go to the archive on

Your Brain on Spiritual Experiences

We live in a time that seems increasingly close-minded and divisive—a world coming apart. However, if you look at religion (one of the most outwardly divisive forces of all) from inside the brain, the results can help you see the world from a very different perspective. A recent brain-imaging study at Yale University called “Neural Correlates of Spiritual Experiences” shows that the brain reacts in very similar ways to our diverse spiritual experiences—regardless of tradition, race, creed, or gender. […]  Spiritual experiences often involve losing touch with space and time and having an expanded “sense of self,” the researchers explain. Decreased activity in the parietal lobe may suggest that, during their spiritual experience, the participants momentarily lost some of their sense of self as they connected with something greater. “Taken together,” the researchers conclude, “the present finding suggests that spiritual experiences may involve a perceived encounter with a spacious ‘presence’ or entity external to oneself.” The way that we experience spirituality may look different on the outside but is actually very similar on the inside. At the root of most religions and philosophies is a focus on oneness and compassion. Research shows that having a sense of oneness with others (even strangers) or with nature and animals also begets greater feelings of kindness and compassion. Scientific studies like these, however, could help bridge the divide that exists between religious traditions. Given that the effect of religious or spiritual practices are more similar than dissimilar, a greater sense of belongingness seems in order. 

Study examines how sensitivity to emotions changes across the lifespan

Why do we become more positive as we grow older? Why are adolescents so sensitive to negative social cues? […] These are a few of the questions addressed in “Emotion Sensitivity Across the Lifespan: Mapping Clinical Risk Periods to Sensitivity to Facial Emotion Intensity” […] “We found that sensitivity to anger cues improves dramatically during early to mid-adolescence,” said Rutter. “This is the exact age when young people are most attuned to forms of social threat, such as bullying. The normal development of anger sensitivity can contribute to some of the challenges that arise during this phase of development.” On the other end of the life span, the study showed that sensitivity to facial cues for fear and anger decrease as people age, but the ability to detect happiness cues stays the same. “It’s well established that there is an age-related decline in the ability to decode emotion cues, in general, but here we see very little decline in the ability to detect differences in happiness,” Germine said. This is even though the study was designed to be sensitive to differences in happiness sensitivity with age, based on principles from psychometrics and signal detection theory. “What’s remarkable is that we see declines in many visual perceptual abilities as we get older, but here we did not see such declines in the perception of happiness,” she said. “These findings fit well with other research showing that older adults tend to have more positive emotions and a positive outlook.”

Global Trend: Mindfulness in Schools

Earlier this month, England announced they will begin teaching mindfulness in up to 370 schools nationwide. Damian Hinds, the British secretary of education, said: “Children will start to be introduced gradually to issues around mental health, well-being, and happiness right from the start of primary school.” This is intended to combat the rise in anxiety, depression and other mental-emotional challenges in British youth per a recent National Health Survey. While not too far away, the government in New Delhi, India launched a “Happiness Curriculum” last July, which starts with mindfulness exercises every morning in the classroom. Are we in the average American classroom missing the mindfulness boat? […] Mindfulness is a fancy word for paying attention without judgment to what’s happening either inside of you (for example, your thoughts and bodily sensations) or in the outer world. Research shows that students who practice mindfulness exercises often improve their attention, grades, behavior, mood and ability to self-regulate. Said differently, mindfulness can help our students slow down and ultimately make smart choices even when emotionally triggered. […] But to answer my earlier question: No, I don’t think America has missed the mindfulness boat, but we certainly need to do some paddling to keep up. 

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 March 1, 2019

The Minds of Men Interview Part 5: Fate Stops Psychosurgeon From Mutilating More Victims

Interview V of VIII. After losing courtroom battles, a surprising turn ultimately stops Harvard psychosurgeon H. T. Ballentine from mutilating any more patients. When Dr. Breggin started his successful international campaign to stop psychosurgery in the early 1970s, he never imagined the mind-control aspirations and racist motivations espoused by key neurosurgeons and psychiatrists.

Background Music Blunts Creativity, Says New Study

In a series of three experiments, a team of psychologists from Lancaster University, the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Gävle investigated the impact of background music on creativity. Their findings challenge the popular view that music enhances creativity, and instead demonstrate that music, regardless of the presence of semantic content (no lyrics, familiar lyrics, or unfamiliar lyrics), disrupts creative performance in insight problem solving. […] “Background music is an environmental stimulus known to influence cognitive performance, which has also been claimed to enhance people’s creativity for tasks involving spatial abilities such as drawing. [… However…] They found that background music ‘significantly impaired’ people’s ability to complete tasks testing verbal creativity — but there was no effect for background library noise. For example, a participant was shown three words (e.g., dress, dial, flower), with the requirement being to find a single associated word (in this case ‘sun’) that can be combined to make a common word or phrase (i.e., sundress, sundial and sunflower). “We found strong evidence of impaired performance when playing background music in comparison to quiet background conditions,” said study co-author Dr. Neil McLatchie, a researcher at Lancaster University.

Psychiatry: Case notes may ‘justify’ or prevent involuntary commitment 

Using notes made by the attending healthcare professionals about psychiatric patients enables impending coercive measures to be predicted in advance — potentially even through automated text analysis. When psychiatric patients pose a danger to themselves or others, the use of coercion is sometimes unavoidable. Measures such as relocation to an isolation room or forced medication are regarded as a last resort, however: they are kept to a minimum and their use is strictly regulated. […] The results showed that the case notes before seclusion were more extensive, meaning they contained a significantly higher number of words. “It seems that the attending staff describe problematic behavior more comprehensively in order to improve information transfer between different shifts, justify upcoming coercive measures and ensure that they are legally protected,” says Dr. Clara Stepanow, author of the study. […] “Our study demonstrates previously little-used factors that could be helpful in improving risk evaluation,” says study leader and psychiatrist Dr. Christian Huber. “If the subjective perception of healthcare professionals can be integrated properly into electronic documentation practice, automated text analysis could help in future to prevent coercive measures through timely intervention.”

Here’s how to use your salary to buy happiness

Research has demonstrated that we can derive greater life satisfaction from spending our money strategically. If you’re fortunate enough to be a high-earning physician, here are some research-backed ways you can put your riches to work enriching your life. Buy Time A recent Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study showed that adults […] reported that using money to buy time gave them greater life satisfaction. […] So what should a doctor do to buy time? The study shows that doctors looking to improve their life satisfaction should purchase time-saving services that alleviate “end-of-day time pressure.” Hate cleaning your bathroom? Hire a cleaning service. […] Buy an experience A landmark 20-year study has shown that those who seek happiness should spend their money on experiences, not things. The study looked at groups across demographics, and participants said that purchases made with the intention of having a life experience yielded more happiness than material goods. […] Buy something for someone else From a happiness perspective, it’s truly better to give than receive. That’s a scientifically proven fact. A study published in Science indicated that those who spend money on others had a more positive impact on happiness than those who spent on themselves. The study looked at a demographically representative group of about 600 Americans and used statistical analysis to show no correlation between personal spending and happiness, whereas “higher prosocial spending was associated with significantly greater happiness.”

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