March 2, 2020

Daily Breaking News & Information – February 2020

News – February 2020


News & Information for February 29 – March 1, 2020

Epidemic Anxiety – The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 02/26/20

Epidemic Anxiety. A life-changing presentation! I examine the causes and recovery from anxiety of all kinds from the corona virus, global warning and political threats to severe clinical anxieties and everyday worries. I describe how to tell the difference between anxiety and rational fears, the origins of anxiety in evolution and childhood, and the steps to take to overcome and transcend it. This pioneering presentation draws on my book, Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions and the concept of negative legacy emotions, which I also call primitive or Stone Age emotions, that we can free ourselves from to live fulfilling lives. 

Antidepressant trials often exclude individuals with suicidality

Individuals with suicidality often are excluded from antidepressant trials, which creates uncertainty about medication efficacy and safety in segments of the target population, according to study findings published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. “Prescribers face significant uncertainty regarding the effectiveness of many antidepressants in suicidal patients,” Ana S. Iltis, PhD, director of the Center for Bioethics, Health and Society at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, told Healio Psychiatry. “Clinicians who treat depressed patients with suicidal ideation or prior suicide attempts ideally should favor antidepressant medications with documented efficacy for suicidal ideation and behavior.” […] “I suspect this is the tip of the iceberg and only one example of a category of medications for which the results are not truly generalizable to the target population — the range of patients likely to be prescribed those medications,” Iltis told Healio Psychiatry. “There is much room for improvement in clinical research.”

How to hack your circadian rhythm and fix your sleep problems for good

Welcome to The Twilight Zone. Not some ­science fiction fantasy, but a real place where up to 90 per cent of us spend the majority of our waking lives. We have built a world that hides us from daylight in dimly-lit offices, and then illuminates the night. We talk of burning the candle at both ends. The midnight oil. There not being enough hours in the day. We depend on night shift workers to mend our roads and staff our hospitals. Small wonder, then, that a third of us are ­struggling to sleep. Finally, though, the degree to which we’ve been playing a dangerous game with our biology is being understood. Until recently, sleep science was ­often synonymous with circadian science, but the latter is now emerging out of the shadows. The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to three scientists in the field of circadian rhythm. As a result of theirs and others’ breakthroughs, we’re waking up to the power of the body’s internal biological clock….

Mindfulness and yoga helps South Bend elementary students cope with stress

“As I breathe in, as I breathe out, my arms reach out to the sides,” George Gandy read aloud to a dozen of his Darden Elementary School classmates. “Lift up to the sky,” the third-grade student said as his arms stretched toward the ceiling, “and then relax back down.” George passed the book, “Good Morning Yoga: A Pose-by-Pose Wake Up Story,” along to another student in the yoga circle. The group continued to practice other exercises pictured, from the bridge to the downward-facing dog. Once the kids were warmed up early on this recent morning, Kourtney Bradshaw-Clay got out a chime for meditation. As the echo of the instrument filled the room, students sat cross-legged on blue yoga mats and placed one hand on their upper chest and the other on their belly. […] “We had a student who typically would elope out of the classroom when things got uncomfortable or stressful,” she said. “He would avoid the situation and run around the building. He couldn’t get his mind to calm down, couldn’t get his body to calm down.” Now, after participating in the mindfulness program, the student is able to “calm his mind” when stressed, Karban said. He still leaves the classroom, but stays in the hallway and practices breathing techniques that he’s learned to gain control.

Dog tests positive for the coronavirus twice, WHO officials confirm

A dog in Hong Kong has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus that’s killed at least 2,859 humans across the world over the last two months, World Health Organization officials said Friday. Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead of WHO’s emergencies program, said the canine tested “weakly positive,” meaning low levels of the virus were found. Hong Kong scientists aren’t sure if the dog is actually infected or if it picked up the virus from a contaminated surface, she said. “We’re working with them to understand the results, to understand what further testing they are doing and to understand how they are going to care for these animals,” Kerkhove said during a press conference at WHO’s headquarters in Geneva. […] The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests pet owners restrict contact with pets and other animals if the owner is infected with COVID-19. That includes “petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food.”

First Covid-19 outbreak in a U.S. nursing home raises concerns

Washington state reported on Saturday the first death in the U.S. from the new coronavirus, the first health care worker to be infected with the disease, and most worrying, the first known outbreak in a long-term care facility. At a nursing facility in Kirkland, Wash, approximately 27 of the 108 residents and 25 of the 180 staff have some symptoms, health officials said during a teleconference with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Authorities report that some among them have pneumonia. “We are very concerned about an outbreak in a setting where there are many older people, as we would be wherever people who are susceptible might be gathering,” said Jeff Duchin, health officer for public health for Seattle and King County. He added that older adults and people with underlying health conditions like diabetes, heart or lung disease should be especially careful to protect themselves by washing their hands, not touching their faces, and avoiding contact with people who are sick.

WHO accused of underestimating coronavirus outbreak


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

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

News & Information for February 28, 2020

Post-SSRI sexual dysfunction, an under-recognized long-term effect

Sexual difficulties after treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) were first reported to regulators in 1991, but it was only in 2006 that these symptoms were formally characterised as a syndrome, now known as post-SSRI sexual dysfunction.12 In May 2019, the pharmacovigilance risk assessment committee of the European Medicines Agency concluded that post-SSRI sexual dysfunction is a medical condition that can persist after discontinuation of SSRIs and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). A month later, EMA recommended that product information on all relevant antidepressants should be updated to reflect reports of long term sexual dysfunction after treatment.3 Post-SSRI sexual dysfunction is under-recognised and can be debilitating both psychologically and physically. Symptoms include genital numbness, decreased sex drive (libido), erectile dysfunction, failure to become aroused or orgasm, pleasureless or weak orgasm, and premature ejaculation. The sensory changes may extend beyond the genital area to a…

Mind matters: forest bathing

I went forest bathing recently. I might have done it in Japan, where forest bathing is a national pastime, but I chose Tasmania. Forest bathing involves walking or resting in a forest and absorbing the environment. I did my bathing in various places, including Mt Wellington. I breathed in fresh mountain air, complete with many unusual organisms for a city boy. There is some evidence that the air in forests contain a wider variety of organisms and that this variety helps our immune system operate – responding well to threats without over-responding. In that air I smelled eucalypts. I felt wind on my skin and soil and rocks beneath me. 

Anti-psychotic drugs linked to structural brain damage

In a first-of-its-kind study using advanced brain imaging techniques, a commonly used anti-psychotic medication was associated with potentially adverse changes in brain structure. This study was the first in humans to evaluate the effects of this type of medication on the brain using a gold-standard design: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. The study, conducted across several North American centers, and just published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, could have an immediate impact on clinical practice according to lead author Dr. Aristotle Voineskos, Chief of the Schizophrenia Division, and Head of the Kimel Family Translational Imaging-Genetics Laboratory at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, Canada. Until the 1990s, antipsychotic medications were primarily administered to people with schizophrenia. But since then their use has expanded to major depression and a range of pediatric, adult and geriatric disorders, including anxiety, insomnia and autism, for which one in five patients are prescribed anti-psychotics. “With the increased off-label prescribing of antipsychotic medications, especially in children and the elderly, our findings support a reexamination of the risks and benefits,” said Dr. Voineskos.

Inappropriate atypical antipsychotics increase mortality in Parkinson disease

A study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry found that inappropriate use of atypical antipsychotic (AAP) agents in older patients with Parkinson disease (PD) is associated with an increase in all-cause mortality, primarily caused by pneumonia. In long-term care facilities, the rate of antipsychotic use in patients with PD ranges from 15% to 30%; however, the efficacy of AAPs in these patients has not been evaluated in large clinical trials. Except for aripiprazole, quetiapine, and clozapine, the American Geriatric Society does not recommend the use of antipsychotic medications in PD given the risk of worsening movement symptoms. In patients with PD, antipsychotics can impair swallowing and increase the risk of aspiration pneumonia, a leading cause of death in PD patients. […] The study authors concluded, “This study provided evidence regarding the risk of mortality due to inappropriate antipsychotic use which is mainly mediated by pneumonia in older patients with PD. Therefore, inappropriate AAP use should be avoided to improve quality of care in PD.”

Coronavirus: Practical Prevention Strategies, Patient Age vs. Case Fatality Rate

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 February 27, 2020

Coronavirus AKA COVID-19: What Pathologists Need to Know Now

The CDC hopes to have a comprehensive Covid-19 testing program operational in the near future, in the meantime the U.S. is largely flying blind into a pandemic, unlike other countries that have comprehensive testing programs ongoing like China, Italy, South Korea and Iran.

Vaping changes oral microbiome, increasing risk for infection

Using e-cigarettes alters the mouth’s microbiome—the community of bacteria and other microorganisms—and makes users more prone to inflammation and infection, finds a new study led by researchers at NYU College of Dentistry. The study—published in iScience, a Cell Press journal—is the first to demonstrate that vaping changes the oral microbiome and adds to our limited understanding of the safety profile of e-cigarettes. The mouth is a gateway to the body and harbors many microbial species that colonize our respiratory and digestive tracts. It is well established that smoking traditional cigarettes raises the risk of gum disease and infection by bringing about physiological and structural changes, fostering an environment in which certain infection-causing bacteria flourish and contributing to immune dysfunction. […] “The oral microbiome is of interest to us because research shows that changes in its microbial community as a result of environmental and host factors contribute to a range of health issues, including cavities, gum disease, halitosis, and medical conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancers,” said Deepak Saxena, PhD, professor of basic science and craniofacial biology at NYU College of Dentistry and the study’s co-senior author.

Wildness in urban parks important for human well-being

A new study led by the University of Washington has found that not all forms of nature are created equal when considering benefits to people’s well-being. Experiencing wildness, specifically, is particularly important for physical and mental health, according to the study published Jan. 29 in the journal Frontiers in Sustainable Cities. Past research has found health and wellness benefits of nature for humans, but this is the first study to show that wildness in urban areas is profoundly important for human well-being. “It was clear from our results that different kinds of nature can have different effects on people,” said lead author Elizabeth Lev, a graduate student in the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences. “The wilder areas in an urban park seem to be affording more benefits to people — and their most meaningful interactions depended on those relatively wild features.” […] “We’re losing the language of interaction with nature and as we do, we also lose the cultural practice of these deep forms of interaction with nature, the wellsprings of human existence,” Kahn said. “We’re trying to generate a nature language that helps bring these human-nature interactions back into our daily lives. And for that to happen, we also need to protect nature so that we can interact with it.”

Study: most adults don’t need booster vaccinations for tetanus and diphtheria

People who got all their vaccinations against tetanus and diphtheria in childhood don’t need booster shots to remain protected against the two rare but dangerous diseases, researchers conclude in a new study that found no difference in disease rates between countries that recommend adult revaccination every 10 years and countries that say completing childhood vaccinations is enough. As of 2017, the World Health Organization recommends vaccinating adults against tetanus and diphtheria only if they didn’t finish their childhood immunization series or don’t know whether they did. The guidelines make exceptions for pregnant women, some types of international travel, and tetanus-prone injuries. But in the U.S., the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, which makes recommendations to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, currently favors booster shots every 10 years for adults. The CDC declined to comment on this new study, published Tuesday in Clinical Infectious Diseases.

Widowhood increases risk of Alzheimer’s, study says

Losing your spouse or life partner and gaining the designation “widow” or “widower” is one of life’s cruelest blows. Now science believes that widowhood may hasten the development of a type of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s. Over a three-year period, cognitive abilities declined three times faster in widowed adults with high levels of beta-amyloid — a key marker for Alzheimer’s — than in married people with equally high levels, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Network Open. Even for those without beta-amyloid accumulation and no signs of cognitive decline, the risk for dementia was greater for men and women who were widowed. “Cognitively unimpaired, widowed older adults were particularly susceptible to Alzheimer disease clinical progression,” the study concluded.

Total Covid-19 cases worldwide outside China

Only hours after this graph was posted the number of confirmed cases outside China has grown to 3,862. 🙁

Before a Pandemic

  • Store a two week supply of water and food.
  • Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
  • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
  • Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them, for personal reference. Get help accessing electronic health records.
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for February 26, 2020

Federal judge rules clinical trial sponsors must publish missing data

For years, government research agencies have misinterpreted a law that requires them to collect and post clinical trial data, a federal judge ruled this week, leaving behind a 10-year gap in data that now must be made publicly available. Now, potentially hundreds of universities, drug companies, and medical device manufacturers are on the hook to release previously unpublished data. The ruling affects trials conducted for as-yet-unapproved drugs and devices in that 10-year stretch, according to a lawyer for the plaintiffs — meaning hundreds or even upwards of 1,000 noncompliant trials would be forced to post data. The ruling, from a federal judge in New York’s Southern District, puts sponsors of clinical trials during that span out of compliance if they have not posted results to the government repository ClinicalTrials.Gov. “This decision brings us one step closer to what federal law requires — providing the American public with complete access to clinical trial results on drugs and medical devices approved by the FDA,” said Christopher Morten, a supervising attorney at New York University’s Law & Policy Clinic who represented the plaintiffs. The ruling, he said, “makes it harder for drug companies, device manufacturers, and other trial sponsors to keep unfavorable trial results secret.”

Patient experiences with antipsychotics largely negative, survey shows

According to survey results published in Schizophrenia Bulletin, the majority of patients receiving antipsychotic medications endorsed significant negative effects. Investigators at the department of psychology, University of East London in the United Kingdom created the Experiences of Antidepressants and Antipsychotic Medication Survey, which was administered online to users around the world. […] Roughly two-thirds of patients categorized their experience with antipsychotics as more negative than positive and 34.9% endorsed an “extremely negative” experience. Less than a quarter (22.1%) reported largely positive experiences. Whereas 44.5% of respondents found medications unhelpful and 56.0% felt their quality of life was worse, 40.1% reported that medications were helpful and 34.9% declared improvements in quality of life. The mean OAR score was 2.83±1.93, indicating primarily negative experiences, and older patients were more likely to endorse negative scores (P =.001). Patients with a diagnosis on the schizophrenia spectrum reported more negative scores (P =.004). However, the majority of patients without schizophrenia (63.3%) also endorsed more negative than positive experiences.

The science of mindfulness: K-12 School reduces anxiety among students

While many schools are beginning to introduce mindfulness practice into the school day, including meditation, Campbell Hall, a K-12 school in Studio City, CA, has been integrating mindfulness into some of its classes and has created innovative mindfulness programs since 2007. […] “Every week, students share how they have used the mindfulness tools they have acquired. They calm themselves before tests, focus during a sports game, even teach others, like their grandparents, ways to steady nerves,” she said. Even more importantly, mindfulness has a ripple effect on the school community as a whole.  “Mindfulness practice helps students learn how to step back and recognize how they are feeling,” said Ngo. “They can then make measured choices – whether it’s being less self-critical and more forgiving of themselves or choosing how they will act towards others. Having that moment to check in with yourself before reacting can lead to more compassionate actions for a kinder environment.”

Benzodiazepines implicated in high rate of ED visits across US

Seven out of eight emergency department (ED) visits attributed to adverse events from benzodiazepines involve self-harm or nonmedical use of these drugs, and more than 80% involve concurrent use of alcohol, illicit drugs, or other substances, new research shows. Although benzodiazepines are typically not problematic in terms of acute overdoses when used alone, patients often don’t take them as prescribed or use them with other substances in a self-harm attempt, author Daniel S. Budnitz, MD, MPH, director of the Medication Safety Program, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told Medscape Medical News.

Long-term antidepressant use appears to raise risk for diabetes 

Immediately, the use of antidepressants has change into fairly frequent. According to research, 12% of individuals begin to use antidepressants from the age of 13 in the USA. People who find themselves sad usually resort to antidepressants. However do you know that antidepressants are driving folks into dependancy? […] Long-term antidepressant use increases the risk for type 2 diabetes onset in a time- and dose-dependent manner, according to a study published online Feb. 12 in Diabetes Care. […] The researchers found that 5,225 patients (5.8 percent) developed diabetes. There was an association between antidepressant use and risk for diabetes onset in a time- and dose-dependent manner. For short-term low-dose antidepressant use, the adjusted hazard ratio was 1.27, and for long-term high-dose use, the adjusted hazard ratio was 3.95. The investigators observed lower HbA1c levels among patients who discontinued or reduced the dose of antidepressants.

Nature makes children happier, science shows

Much of the research on how engaging with nature impacts eco-friendly behaviors and happiness has been focused on adults. But in a study published Wednesday in the journal Frontiers in Psychology, researchers examined the impact of a group of children’s “connectedness to nature” on their sustainable behaviors and happiness. This kinship with nature was defined by researchers as a “characteristic of human beings that refers to thinking and feeling emotionally connected with all the elements of the natural environment, with feeling happier as a consequence.” […] Waldorf education emphasizes arts, imagination, movement and nature. “Forest kindergartens,” offered at various locations around the country, provide gardening, nature walks and hikes and other outside opportunities for three hours a day, rain or shine. […] And it’s not just kids. A 2015 study showed that people who take walks in nature report less repetitive negative thoughts. 

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

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

News & Information for February 25, 2020

Before a Pandemic

  • Store a two week supply of water and food.
  • Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
  • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
  • Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them, for personal reference. Get help accessing electronic health records.
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.

CDC expects ‘community spread’ of coronavirus, top official warns of  ‘severe’ disruptions

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday warned that it expects the novel coronavirus that has sparked outbreaks around the world to begin spreading at a community level in the United States, as a top official said that disruptions to daily life could be “severe.” “As we’ve seen from recent countries with community spread, when it has hit those countries, it has moved quite rapidly. We want to make sure the American public is prepared,” Nancy Messonnier, director of CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters. “As more and more countries experience community spread, successful containment at our borders becomes harder and harder,” she said. […] “Disruption to everyday life might be severe,” Messonnier said, adding that she talked to her children about the issue Tuesday morning. “While I didn’t think they were at risk right now, we as a family ought to be preparing for significant disruption to our lives.”

Mindfulness training alleviates depression in autistic adults

Adults with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience high rates of depression and anxiety, and some evidence suggests mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is effective in reducing these symptoms. However, the neural mechanisms of symptom alleviation, and benefit of MBSR beyond education/support groups are unknown. […] Only the MBSR group demonstrated significant reductions in depression, and neither group significantly changed in anxiety. Only the MBSR group increased activity of right MCC during self-reflection, and the increase correlated with depression alleviation. […] Taken together, MBSR may be effective for reducing depression in adults with ASD, and the neural mechanism may be increasing frontal circuit involvement during self-directed thought.

Study: Mediterranean diet alters microbiome, improving brain function and longevity

Yet more bragging rights are in for the Mediterranean diet, long considered to be one of the healthiest in the world. A new study published Monday in the BMJ journal Gut found that eating the Mediterranean diet for just one year altered the microbiome of elderly people in ways that improved brain function and would aid in longevity. The study found the diet can inhibit the production of inflammatory chemicals that can lead to loss of cognitive function, and prevent the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer and atherosclerosis. “Our findings support the feasibility of changing the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier aging,” the study authors said. 

Short meditation helps pain management even for novices

Mindfulness and meditation have long been associated with positive health benefits. Now, a small new study suggests such benefits can emerge even after just a short period of meditation, – and even if you’ve never tried it before. The study involved 17 people, so we can’t make any sweeping generalisations from it, but the volunteer participants coped better with both physical pain and negative emotions when they applied techniques given to them in a short 20-minute mindfulness exercise beforehand. None of the study participants had practiced meditation before, which isn’t often the case with experiments like these. Hence, the results suggest that the brain can quickly get to grips with the state of mind brought on by meditation. “The findings support the idea that momentary mindful-acceptance regulates emotional intensity by changing initial appraisals of the affective significance of stimuli, which has consequences for clinical treatment of pain and emotion,” write the researchers in their published paper.

Coronavirus: how WHO corruption helped it spread

Relationship between arterial stiffness and depression

Metabolic syndrome and inflammation account for one-third of the association between depression and arterial stiffness (AS), according to findings published in JAMA Psychiatry as part of a population-based retrospective cohort study. Patients with depression are at increased risk of AS and subsequent major cardiovascular events (MACEs), including coronary heart disease and stroke. Metabolic syndrome, including hypertension, obesity, dyslipidemia, and hyperglycemia, promote AS, but the extent to which the link between AS, MACE, and depression is mediated by metabolic syndrome is unknown. […] The researchers concluded, “Our study findings identified that about one-third of the proportion of the association between depression and ASI, and consequently, the risk of MACE, may be potentially prevented by addressing the combined effects of [metabolic syndrome] and inflammation.”

The healing power of nature, ‘forest bathing’ and how to de-stress

The growing body of scientific research points to the health and emotional boosts people get when they get outdoors, she emphasized. Williams said researchers found that just 15 minutes immersed in the full sensory effect of a forest with the sounds, the smells and the sights drops a person’s respiratory and heart rate and decreases levels of cortisol — the body’s main stress hormone. She pointed to high test scores among schoolchildren in Finland, who for every 45 minutes in class time get 15 minutes of recess. While visiting a middle school in Indiana, she said she discovered the students there received no recess time during the day. Other research has found that being outside for three consecutive days changes how the brain functions — in a positive way — while some studies demonstrated that exposure to outdoors boosted T-cell counts, the cells that fight pathogens and cancer, and those effects can last for as long as 30 days, she said.

Going off antidepressants can lead to antidepressant discontinuation syndrome

When discontinuing antidepressant medications commonly prescribed to help treat depressive disorders, patients may experience antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. […] Antidepressants have large biochemical effects on the brain. The body becomes physically dependent on them, especially after long-term use. Due to this, discontinuation of antidepressants must be done carefully as uncomfortable antidepressant discontinuation symptoms (ADSs) are likely to occur from antidepressant discontinuation syndrome. Depending on the antidepressant, ADSs can include flu-like symptoms, headache, delusions, insomnia, dizziness, electric shock, anxiety, and hallucinations. These symptoms can appear a few days after discontinuation and can exceed two weeks, depending on how long a patient has been on an antidepressant. […] It is important that both doctors and the public are aware of antidepressant discontinuation syndrome and its symptoms, especially prior to prescribing and taking antidepressant medications. Further research on tapering off antidepressants is needed, as well as overall research on the adverse effects of discontinuing antidepressant medications.

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 February 24, 2020

Worldwide Cases of Covid-19 Outside China

Before a Pandemic

  • Store a two week supply of water and food.
  • Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
  • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
  • Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them, for personal reference. Get help accessing electronic health records.
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for February 22-23, 2020

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Feb 19, 2020

You will be astonished by what you learn from my guest, Commander (R) Mary Neal Vieten PhD. She is the Founder and Director of WarFighter Advance, the best program in the world for the treatment of returning soldiers suffering from war trauma. It is a model for everything good in how to help people in emotional and physical distress. Their drug-free, non-medical education and training approach starts with one very intensive week with professional and peer follow up. It is enormously successful, helping nearly everyone come off drugs and live a better life. Talking with Dr. Vieten on the show leads me to give a heartfelt analysis of just how bad psychiatric treatment has become. I say it outright: Psychiatrists are among the most stupid people on Earth about human nature and human life. We discuss how psychiatry needs to be replaced by innovative, caring programs like WarFighter Advance. You will be inspired and informed by Dr. Vieten, by WarFighter Advance, and by the show.

The coronavirus is picking up steam outside China, narrowing chances of stopping it

There are worrying signs the coronavirus outbreak is entering a new phase, with spread outside of China — until recently at low levels — beginning to rapidly pick up steam. Experts point to the sharp rise of the number of cases in South Korea, which went from 30 on Monday to 204 by Friday, and in Italy, which had no cases at the start of Friday and 16 at the end of it. Five of the infected people in Italy are health workers. Iran — which began the week with no confirmed cases and ended it with 18, four of whom have already died — is a particular source of concern, having exported two cases within 36 hours of announcing it had found two patients infected with the virus. A traveler from Canada and another from Lebanon tested positive for the virus after returning home from Iran.

Specific gut bacteria in infants linked to future anxiety

Lower levels of a specific gut bacteria in infants are associated with the development of anxiety in toddlers, new research shows. In one of the first human studies to compare the composition of a baby’s gut bacteria with brain development, investigators found that levels of Prevotella in fecal samples at 12 months of age were linked to anxiety-like behaviors at age 2 years.

Can gut bacteria predict your personality?

New research finds interesting associations between gut bacterial diversity and personality traits, such as sociability and neuroticism. The findings also draw attention to the potential benefits of eating foods rich in pre- and probiotics. Katerina Johnson, Ph.D., from the Department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University, United Kingdom, set out to examine if there was a connection between the composition of the gut bacteria and personality traits such as sociability and neuroticism. She explains the motivation for her research, saying, “There has been growing research linking the gut microbiome to the brain and behavior, known as the microbiome-gut-brain axis. Most research has been conducted in animals, while studies in humans have focused on the role of the gut microbiome in neuropsychiatric conditions. In contrast, my key interest was to look in the general population to see how variation in the types of bacteria living in the gut may be related to personality.” […] The scientist published her results in the Human Microbiome Journal.

UW study: Indoor lights mimicking sunrise, sunset would improve well-being

Researchers at the University of Washington recently published a study showing that indoor lights mimicking sunrise and sunset would improve our sleep cycles, moods, and energy levels. Our eyes are trained to recognize the changing lights in a sunrise and sunset, and this helps set our circadian rhythms. But the artificial lights we tend to use indoors during Washington winters are so different from natural light that they can interfere with our internal clock.

Study names Seattle the nation’s ‘gloomiest city,’ Seattleites shrug. In gloomy, dark Seattle winters, we live under artificial lights, but these aren’t good for our health and happiness. “In certain places where it’s gloomy outside like Seattle, there’s lots of people who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, and there’s just all sorts of problems of living under artificial lights all the time where we’re just not as happy and healthy as we hope we would be,” UW School of Medicine ophthalmology professor Jay Nietz said.

Gut microbiota composition during infancy and subsequent behavioural outcomes

Despite intense interest in the relationship between gut microbiota and brain development, longitudinal data from human studies are lacking. This study aimed to investigate the relationship between the composition of gut microbiota during infancy and subsequent behavioural outcomes. Findings: In an unselected birth cohort, we found a clear association between decreased normalised abundance of Prevotella in faecal samples collected at 12 months of age and increased behavioural problems at 2 years, in particular Internalizing Problem scores. This association appeared independent of multiple potentially confounding variables, including maternal mental health. Recent exposure to antibiotics was the best predictor of decreased Prevotella. Interpretation: Our findings demonstrate a strong association between the composition of the gut microbiota in infancy and subsequent behavioural outcomes; and support the importance of responsible use of antibiotics during early life.

Mindfulness training bolsters resilience in firefighters

Motivated by the growing interest in promoting resilience in first responders and other professionals who face threatening professional circumstances, the current study investigated the effectiveness of offering a short-form mindfulness training (MT) program to firefighters. The overarching question was to determine if psychological and cognitive markers of resilience are bolstered via MT. Firefighters (n = 121) were assigned to an MT program (n = 42), an active-comparison relaxation training program (RT, n = 31), or served as no-training controls (NTC, n = 48). Both the MT and RT programs were contextualized for firefighters and consisted of 4, 2-h training sessions delivered over 4 weeks by the same expert trainer, as well as 10-15 min of daily out-of-class practice. Intent-to-treat analyses revealed a significantly greater increase in psychological resilience from baseline (T1) to post-training (T2) in firefighters who received MT vs. RT or no training. In addition, positive affect and objective attentional task performance demonstrated a greater increase over time (from T1 to T2) with more days per week of out-of-class practice for the MT group but not for the RT group. These results suggest that MT moreso than RT bolsters markers of resilience in firefighters.

Coronavirus: Largest study suggests elderly and sick are most at risk

Health officials in China have published the first details of more than 44,000 cases of Covid-19, in the biggest study since the outbreak began. Data from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) finds that more than 80% of the cases have been mild, with the sick and elderly most at risk. The research also points to the high risk to medical staff. A hospital director in the city of Wuhan died from the virus on Tuesday.

The findings put the overall death rate of the Covid-19 virus at 2.3%. China’s latest official figures released on Tuesday put the overall death toll at 1,868 and 72,436 infections. […] This is by far the most detailed study of the coronavirus outbreak within China. It gives us incredible insight into what is happening, but the picture is far from complete. You can study only the cases you find, and other scientists have estimated there could be 10 times as many people infected as are ending up in the official statistics. That means the overall death rate is likely to be lower than the one reported in this study. The report also suggests the outbreak peaked in late January, but it is too soon to know for sure. What this analysis clearly describes is a “highly contagious” virus that spreads “extremely rapidly” even in the face of an “extreme response” by China. That should be a warning to the rest of the world.


News & Information for February 21, 2020

Wuhan Virus is Extremely Contagious

Declining physical activity at age 12 predicts depression at 18

Declining physical activity starting at age 12 is associated with depressive symptoms at age 18, new research shows. In the first study to objectively measure physical activity in teens, investigators found that every additional 60 minutes of sedentary behavior per day at age 12, 14, and 16 was linked to an increase in depression scores of 11.1%, 8%, and 10.7%, respectively at age 18. Conversely, every additional hour of light activity per day at age 12, 14, and 16 was tied to a decrease in depression scores of 9.6%, 7.8%, and 11.1%, respectively, when measured at age 18. “We showed that there was a consistent association between sedentary behavior and depressive symptoms, which has been quite hard to study. Traditionally, sedentary behavior is measured using questionnaires, which tend not to be particularly reliable,” study investigator and PhD candidate Aaron Kandola […] The study was published online February 11 in Lancet Psychiatry.

Plant-based diet helps promote healthy aging in older people

Research published in the BMJ journal: Gut suggests that eating a Mediterranean diet can curb the advance of frailty and cognitive decline The five-country study indicates that eating a Mediterranean diet for a year boosts the types of gut bacteria linked to ‘healthy’ aging while reducing those associated with harmful inflammation in older people. […] It was associated with stemming the loss of bacterial diversity; an increase in the types of bacteria previously associated with several indicators of reduced frailty, such as walking speed and handgrip strength, and improved brain function, such as memory; and with reduced production of potentially harmful inflammatory chemicals. […] A more detailed analysis revealed that the microbiome changes were associated with an increase in bacteria known to produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids and a decrease in bacteria involved in producing particular bile acids, overproduction of which are linked to a heightened risk of bowel cancer, insulin resistance, fatty liver and cell damage.

Mind-body therapies for the management of pain: How effective are they?

Fears about the overprescription of opioid analgesics and the opioid epidemic have resulted in initiatives to try to get physicians to prescribe these more judiciously. However, concerns about whether these will result in patients needlessly suffering untreated or undertreated pain have been raised. Unfortunately, many lay people and even many health care providers still believe that opioids are always the optimal treatment for all forms of pain and there are no good alternatives to their use. However, studies have shown that nonopioid pharmacologic therapies and nonpharmacologic therapies can be as effective and even, in many instances, more effective than opioids. A new systematic review and meta-analysis of mind-body therapies (MBTs) for patients whose pain is being treated with opioids highlights how useful these modalities can be and the importance of considering them when caring for patients suffering pain.1

When a teen loses a friend to suicide, life as they know it can shatter

The deaths deeply affected Brooke, as with many young people who lose someone to suicide. A friend or classmate’s suicide can encourage greater suicidal thinking and higher depression in teens, according to one study. Seeking therapeutic help in the first year after the death is critical. Within six years, other factors are more relevant in explaining any suicidal ideation. […] The suicides shook Brooke’s steady religious faith, bringing up “a lot of stuff about my fear of the world, my anger with God, a lot of existential stuff that I didn’t even know I even cared about or thought about.” “I would look in the mirror,” she said. “I would look at nothing. I mean I didn’t even know what I was seeing. I felt like I didn’t know anything about myself. I didn’t know anything about the people in my life. I felt like I didn’t know anything about the world. I just didn’t see a point to anything. I didn’t see a future in the kind of world that we live in.”

Study: Nurses at greater risk of suicide than others

A new UC San Diego study found nurses are at higher risk of suicide than the general population. The study found female nurses are 1.4 times more likely to take their own lives than others. Researchers point to the need for more suicide prevention programs. At UCSD, the Healer Education Assessment and Referral Program or “HEAR”, allows nurses to anonymously get help if their mental health starts to decline. “No one at work will ever know that you went to see the therapist or that you got counseling. You can even remain anonymous where you speak through an encrypted email,” said Judy Davidson, a nurse and research scientist with UC San Diego.

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 February 19, 2020

How much of your happiness is under your control?

Do you know the happiness pie chart? If you’ve read a book or listened to a talk about happiness in the past 15 years, there’s a good chance you heard that 50 percent of our happiness is determined by our genes, 40 percent by our activities, and 10 percent by our life circumstances. Neat and tidy, the pie chart—originally proposed in a 2005 paper by researchers Sonja Lyubomirsky, Kennon M. Sheldon, and David Schkade—painted a clear picture of what contributes to our well-being. Unfortunately for some of us, the chart suggested, the genes we got from our parents play a big role in how fulfilled we feel. But it also contained good news: By engaging in healthy mental and physical habits, we can still exert a lot of control over our own happiness. In recent years, critics have raised questions about this simple formula—one that many summaries (including mine above) misreport anyway. And now, a decade and a half after the pie was baked, two of the authors are coming out to say that they agree with many of the criticisms. Even so, they add, their broader message still holds: It’s possible to take deliberate steps to get happier and to stay happier in life.

‘Time-outs’ won’t cause long-term problems, study says

Time-out or no time-out? It’s a question parents often contemplate when trying to get their child to calm down. Now, a recent study looks at whether taking a ‘time-out’ has any negative long-term effects on our children. “This study was looking at ‘time-outs’ over several years, and found there were no long-term effects for kids that were put in ‘time-out’ versus those kids that weren’t, and they looked at emotional and behavioral functioning,” said Emily Mudd, Ph.D […] She said if a child is acting out, or having a tantrum, they need guidance to help them regulate their emotions, as very small children don’t yet have the skills to do so on their own. Dr. Mudd recommends trying to ‘name’ the feeling first. Say things like, ‘I can see that you’re very angry right now,’ which may help the child begin to manage their emotions, and a ‘time-out’ may not be necessary. […] If parents do choose to use a time-out, Dr. Mudd said it’s best to keep it short. “If you are going to use time-outs and it’s something that works for your family, a good rule of thumb is to do one minute per year of age, starting, not much younger than age one – 18 months would really be the youngest age we would recommend,” she said. “So, a two-year-old would get two minutes time-out, and really at that age, it’s just really teaching them how to regulate their bodies.

Neuroscientists discover ‘engine of consciousness’ hiding in monkeys’ brains

A team of researchers has found an “engine of consciousness” in the brain — a region where, in monkeys at least, even a little jump start will make them wake up from anesthesia. Consciousness is a mystery. We don’t know for certain why creatures are sometimes awake and sometimes asleep, or which mechanisms in the brain are most important for a conscious state. In this new paper, though, researchers turned up some important clues. Using electrodes across the brains of awake and sleeping macaques, as well as macaques under different forms of anesthesia, the team found two key pathways in the monkeys’ brains for consciousness. The researchers also found a specific brain region that seems to get those pathways going, like an engine they could start using some highly specialized jumper cables. That region is known as the central lateral thalamus. “It is unlikely that consciousness is specific to one location in the brain,” said Michelle Redinbaugh, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and lead author of the paper, published Feb. 12 in the journal Neuron.

Research has overestimated role of hopelessness in suicidal ideation

Hopelessness is likely a driving factor for suicidal ideation in patients with depressive disorder, largely because it covaries with depressive symptoms, according to study findings published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. However, researchers noted that severity of depressive symptoms may predict suicidal ideation more accurately than hopelessness. “Taken together, in patients with depressive disorders, the explanatory power and predictive value of hopelessness for significant suicidal ideation, when adjusting for the severity of depression, are low,” Ilya Baryshnikov, MD, PhD, of the department of psychiatry at University of Helsinki in Finland, and colleagues wrote. “In light of this finding, the cognitive theory of suicidal ideation may have overemphasized the role of hopelessness in the development of suicidal ideation.”

Why gut health is mental health

Scientists like Dr. Michael Gershon, a professor of pathology and cell biology and father of neurogastroenterology, adamantly believe that we have a second brain in our gut. In fact, he states there is bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain. With more than 100 million nerve cells lining our intestinal walls, it’s no wonder that when we disrupt the bacteria in this region with antibiotics, poor diet and toxic environment, it creates a neuropsychiatric effect influencing our mood and mental health. Suffering from depression, anxiety, fatigue, brain fog, insomnia and intestinal distress, I couldn’t put the pieces together until I interviewed Richard Lin, CEO of microbiome wellness company Thryve Inside. His story was very similar to mine, and so I had him send me Thryve’s easy-to-use home test kit. Thryve then determined my wellness based on several gut health parameters: how diverse the species of bacteria was in my gut, the balance of good versus bad bacteria and how I compared with healthy people. I was shocked when my results came in. I was depleted in a bacterium called bacteroides. The latest research has shown patients with depression have fewer bacteroides in their gut.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for February 18, 2020

The health benefits of a random act of kindness

This year, Random Acts of Kindness” Day falls on Monday, but the foundation behind it wants you to consider being kind every day. In fact, they want you to be a “RAKtivist,” or a “Random Acts of Kindness activist.” Here’s why: Spreading kindness not only helps others feel better about themselves — it can also boost the giver’s health and happiness, according to research. It’s a win-win for all. Studies have shown that putting the well-being of others before our own without expecting anything in return — or what is called being altruistic — stimulates the reward centers of the brain. Those feel-good chemicals flood our system, producing a sort of “helper’s high.” Volunteering, for example, has been shown to minimize stress and improve depression.

Mediterranean diet reduces frailty and improves health of older people

Objective: Aging is accompanied by deterioration of multiple bodily functions and inflammation, which collectively contribute to frailty. We and others have shown that frailty co-varies with alterations in the gut microbiota in a manner accelerated by consumption of a restricted diversity diet. The Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) is associated with health. In the NU-AGE project, we investigated if a 1-year MedDiet intervention could alter the gut microbiota and reduce frailty. […] Results: Adherence to the diet was associated with specific microbiome alterations. Taxa enriched by adherence to the diet were positively associated with several markers of lower frailty and improved cognitive function, and negatively associated with inflammatory markers including C-reactive protein and interleukin-17. Analysis of the inferred microbial metabolite profiles indicated that the diet-modulated microbiome change was associated with an increase in short/branch chained fatty acid production and lower production of secondary bile acids, p-cresols, ethanol and carbon dioxide. Microbiome ecosystem network analysis showed that the bacterial taxa that responded positively to the MedDiet intervention occupy keystone interaction positions, whereas frailty-associated taxa are peripheral in the networks. Conclusion: Collectively, our findings support the feasibility of improving the habitual diet to modulate the gut microbiota which in turn has the potential to promote healthier aging.

Parents, your kids need some anxiety to learn to cope with it

When we repeatedly interrupt kids’ normal experiences to save them from experiencing negative feelings, it actually heightens their anxiety — and our own. Every parent is well aware of the mental health issues facing young people. Nearly one in every three teens will suffer from an anxiety disorder, according to the National Institutes of Health; one in 10 will have a major depressive episode. And a 2020 study published by the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry recently confirmed that teens’ depression and anxiety can be linked to social media use — but even if we could pluck social media out of our children’s lives, they’d still have to contend with climate change, school shootings, opioid addiction, and a long list of other terrors.

Depression linked to all-cause and cardiovascular mortality

A team, led by Ruiwei Meng, PhD, School of Public Health at Huazhong University of Science and Technology, examined whether depression is linked to the risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality in Chinese adults. […] While the findings show depression is consistently linked to higher risk of all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality, when stratified by sex, the associations were only significant in men. “These findings suggest that depression is associated with an increased risk of all-cause and [cardiovascular] mortality in adults in China, particularly in men,” the authors wrote. “These findings highlight the importance and urgency of depression management as a measure for preventing premature deaths in China.”

Lifestyle strategies to keep brain healthy and resist dementia

Recent research has begun to detail the lifestyle strategies that could most effectively protect our minds, and it now seems possible that we could further push back the average age for the onset of dementia, says Sarah Lenz Lock, executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), a research group. Delaying the onset of dementia by five years could dramatically improve people’s quality of life and cut overall incidence in half, Lock says. “People think that cognitive decline is inevitable as you age,” Lock says. “That’s just not true.” There are a number of ingredients in what Snyder refers to as the “specific lifestyle recipe” that’s linked to a reduced risk of cognitive decline. We’re still figuring out the best ways to combine these components, but we know enough ­already to say that these strategies are key.

A later bedtime linked with obesity for children under 6, study says

A new study has linked a later bedtime with an increased risk of obesity for kids — although the researchers say parents shouldn’t rush to put their preschoolers to sleep earlier as a result. Instead, concerned moms and dads should focus on maintaining a regular routine when it comes to scheduling meal and bed times, said Dr. Claude Marcus, a professor of pediatrics at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and an author of the study, which published Tuesday in the journal Pediatrics. […] They found that children who habitually went to sleep late — defined by the researchers as past 9 p.m. — had a wider waist and higher BMI (body mass index) by the end of the study. “This late bedtime was one factor that really stood out. It was associated with increased weight,” said Marcus. “However, what we can see is [only] an association. If you put your kids to bed earlier, would it change anything? That’s something we don’t know.”

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

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

News & Information for February 17, 2020

Don’t be SAD: 8 tips to combat seasonal depression

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that is connected to the change in seasons. SAD typically begins in the Fall and worsens during the Winter when the daylight periods are the shortest, according to Douglas Spotts, M.D., FAAFP, vice president and chief health officer of Meritus Medical Group. Though many people feel the symptoms of the “winter blues” such as lethargy and minor gloominess, SAD differs in that it is a much more severe form of seasonal depression and may require treatment. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, SAD is a major form of depression that begins and ends during a specific season every year and completely diminishes during other seasons. It also must occur for at least two years and a person must have more seasons of depression than seasons without depression over their lifespan to be considered a true case of SAD. 

Sometimes a Placebo Is not a Placebo

Placebos are used in clinical trials to demonstrate that an experimental drug is superior to the control or “inactive” pill (1). A placebo is usually defined as an “inert substance” (no effect), given to trial participants with the aim of making it impossible for them, and usually the researchers themselves, to know who is receiving an active or inactive therapy. The exact contents of a placebo pill are often unknown; the “recipe” is not disclosed to the trial subjects, nor is it published in the peer-reviewed literature. […] Failing to accurately match a placebo to the experimental drug can result in underreporting of harms or misleading trial outcomes. Not only is it important to foster public confidence in therapies that rely on comprehensive and independent assessments, it is an ethical and legal requirement to provide fully informed consent for research involving human participants.

The dangerous denial of sex

Transgender ideology can take on a comical character, as in a recent American Civil Liberties Union commentary objecting to sales tax on tampons and similar products while pondering: “How can we recognize that barriers to menstrual access are a form of sex discrimination without erasing the lived experiences of trans men and non-binary people who menstruate, as well as women who don’t?” Yet it’s one thing to claim that a man can “identify” as a woman or vice versa. Increasingly we see a dangerous and antiscientific trend toward the outright denial of biological sex. “The idea of two sexes is simplistic,” an article in the scientific journal Nature declared in 2015. “Biologists now think there is a wider spectrum than that.” A 2018 Scientific American piece asserted that “biologists now think there is a larger spectrum than just binary female and male.” And an October 2018 New York Times headline promised to explain “Why Sex Is Not Binary.”

Meditation is proven to reduce stress

Researchers at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland and Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia reviewed a large number of previous studies and analysed how meditation impacted a number of hormones related to stress. The study, published in the journal Cell Press, found a connection between meditation, the endocrine system, and health and wellbeing. […] “This work shows that meditation influences the regulation of the HPA axis, which may reduce stress levels. “Another key finding was linked with the HPT axis, which determines and regulates thyroid hormone production and is particularly associated with depression and anxiety. “The findings indicate that meditation and yoga influenced the HPA axis to a varying degree.

Why concussions are never a minor thing

Athletes tend to portray themselves as invincible on the field, where playing rough is not off limits. Football players and boxers consider mild blows and jolts to the head as occupational hazards. On the contrary, they should not treat concussions lightly because experiencing several mild head injuries consecutively have consequences.  Concussions can also occur from a strike to the head that makes the brain and head jump instantly back and forth. It can bruise the head but has the biggest impact on the brain. The condition may sometimes but not always lead to losing consciousness and is never immediately life-threatening. It can happen during a road accident, a fall or slipping at the grocery store. 

Getting high on pot makes you vulnerable to ‘false memories’

People who are high on cannabis are more likely to form false memories, in which they wrongly “remember” information that they never actually learned or recall snippets of an event that never happened, new research suggests. False memories can arise spontaneously when people draw faulty inferences from their actual experiences. For instance, you might remember your co-worker being at the big meeting last Monday because everyone else attended when, in reality, he was out sick. In other cases, external sources supply the misleading information that fuels false memories, whether in the form of leading questions, faulty personal accounts from other people or misinformed media coverage. Everyone occasionally crafts false memories, even when sober. But now, a study published Feb. 10 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that cannabis use may raise the risk of forging false memories — a point that could prove critical in court. 

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 February 15-16, 2020

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Feb 12, 2020

Judith A. Reisman PhD is my hero and my guest on this week’s radio/TV hour.  Against enormous opposition, Dr. Reisman exposed the scientific fraud and outright child abuse perpetrated by Alfred Kinsey, a fake researcher and advocate for the destruction of sexual morality, who led the exploding sexual revolution that begin in 1948 and has never slowed down since then.  His unethical, criminal activities–masquerading as science and published as bestsellers–helped to corrupt Western values, causing inestimable harm. We owe to him an escalation in broken families, the degradation of love and sexuality, and a rise in child abuse.  Become one of the few to have heard this story.  Without it, you will have no idea what drove the sexual revolution in America.

Cochrane co-founder blows whistle on antidepressant study Cochrane won’t publish

About half of the patients on depression pills, or over 50 million people worldwide, will experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to come off them, and in half of these, the symptoms are severe. This dependency is a major reason why many people continue taking the pills for decades or even lifelong. A review of methods for safe withdrawal of depression pills would therefore be hugely important. We describe here what happened when we tried to get a protocol for a Cochrane review approved. The process took two years and we did not succeed. It seems to us that the Cochrane group sent us on a mission that was impossible to accomplish, raising their demands along the way to absurd levels with many irrelevant requirements in a face-saving operation aimed at protecting the psychiatric guild and its false beliefs. […] The Cochrane Collaboration has developed from being an idealistic grassroots organisation to a self-serving juggernaut whose leaders do not seem to care about the ever-increasing workload they create for the unpaid volunteers who produce all the wealth Cochrane has.15,16 It is very sad. This pattern often develops over time, not only in religious sects but also in charities like Cochrane.

Traumatic brain injuries raise risk of psychiatric ills in soldiers

 U.S. soldiers who suffer a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) are more likely to suffer other mental health woes than those with other serious injuries, a new study finds. It also showed that the rate of mental health disorders among seriously injured soldiers is much higher than previously reported. “A central takeaway is that severe TBI is associated with a greater risk of mental health conditions — not just PTSD [post-traumatic stress disorder],” said lead investigator David Chin, an assistant professor of health policy and management at University of Massachusetts Amherst. “Our findings suggest that patients who are critically injured in combat and sustain severe TBIs have particularly high rates of mental health disorders,” Chin said in a university news release. […] Overall, 71% of the severely injured soldiers in the study were later diagnosed with at least one of five mental health conditions: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and mood disorders, adjustment reactions, schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders, and cognitive disorders.

Why focusing on meaning, and not happiness, makes us better off

The notion that emotional pain and suffering reflect a deviation from a default happy baseline has been referred to as the “assumption of healthy normality.” But it’s a mistaken assumption. Estimates of the lifetime prevalence of psychiatric disorders indicate that around one in two adults will meet the criteria for a mental-health condition at some point in their lives. Given that psychological pain is so ubiquitous, we should focus less on what might make us happy, and more on achieving a sense of meaning, regardless of how we’re feeling. Psychotherapy should help people manage effective functioning while they are distressed, above and beyond aiming to reduce symptoms such as difficult thoughts, emotions, and sensations. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) takes this approach, using mindfulness, acceptance, and other behavioral strategies to promote more flexible and value-driven behaviors. The goals in ACT are not necessarily to change or reduce one’s problematic thoughts or emotions, but to foster meaningful and effective behaviors regardless of mood, motivation, or thinking. In other words, the primary goal is to promote what therapists call “valued living.”

Fast food intake leads to weight gain in preschoolers

There is a strong link between the amount of fast food that pre-school age children consume and their likelihood of becoming overweight or obese, according to a new Dartmouth-led study, published in the journal Pediatric Obesity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 25 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 5 years are overweight or obese in the U.S. These conditions increase the risk of numerous physical and psychosocial problems during childhood, including fatty liver disease, type 2 diabetes, and depression. “We now know from our studies and others, that kids who start on the path of extra weight gain during this really important timeframe tend to carry it forward into adolescence and adulthood, and this sets them up for major health consequences as they get older,” says first author Jennifer Emond, PhD, MS, an assistant professor of biomedical data science and of pediatrics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth.

See also: Obesity, depression linked in teen girls, new study shows and ‘Strongest evidence yet’ that being obese causes depression.

Update on COVID-19 outbreak with Neil Ferguson, Ilaria Dorigatti and Lucy Okell

Your questions answered: Professor Neil Ferguson on the current status of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak (15-02-2020). Together with Dr Ilaria Dorigatti and Dr Lucy Okell, he addresses the work of the team on estimated COVID-19 severity in Wuhan, amongst travellers and overall fatality ratio of infections. Read all reports including estimates of epidemic size, transmissibility, severity and phylogenetics here:

Click through to read a thread by an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard wherein he argues that a global Covid-19 pandemic is likely.

Courtroom psychology tests may be unreliable, study finds

Courts are not properly screening out unreliable psychological and IQ tests, allowing junk science to be used as evidence, researchers have concluded. Such tests can sway judges or juries and influence whether someone gets custody of a child or is eligible for bail or capital punishment. The scientists looked at hundreds of different psychological tests used in recent court cases and found that a third of those exams weren’t reviewed in the field’s most prominent manuals. Of those that were reviewed, just 40% were graded favorably. Nearly a quarter were deemed unreliable. “There’s huge variability in the psychological tools now being admitted in U.S. courts,” said Tess Neal, an Arizona State University psychology professor and co-author of the study published Saturday in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for February 14, 2020

Moving away from diagnoses in mental health work

Psychiatric diagnosis has come under increased scrutiny in recent years following the release of the fifth edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) in 2013. Two organizations that played a prominent role in challenging the Bible of psychiatry prior to 2013, the British Psychological Society and the Society for Humanistic Psychology (American Psychological Association – Division 32) subsequently joined to form the Task Force for Diagnostic Alternatives (TFDA).

What is love? Stanford researchers and scholars examine matters of the heart

It turns out there might be some scientific proof to the claim that love is blind. According to one Stanford study, love can mask feelings of pain in a similar way to painkillers. Research by scientist Sean Mackey found intense love stimulates the same area of the brain that drugs target to reduce pain. “When people are in this passionate, all-consuming phase of love, there are significant alterations in their mood that are impacting their experience of pain,” said Mackey, chief of the Division of Pain Medicine. “We’re beginning to tease apart some of these reward systems in the brain and how they influence pain. These are very deep, old systems in our brain that involve dopamine – a primary neurotransmitter that influences mood, reward and motivation.” While love can dull some experiences, it can also heighten other feelings such as sociability. Another Stanford study found that oxytocin, also known as the love hormone because of its association with nurturing behavior, can also make people more sociable. Here is some of that research. 

What makes people happier than money, according to a new study: exercise!

Researchers from the two prestigious universities have published new findings suggesting that  exercise is more important for your mental health than your bank account. The benefits of routine exercise have been well documented. Blaring headlines tout weight loss, muscle gain, lower cholesterol, improved mental health, sharper focus, stronger bones and a stronger heart, among other improvements. But a new study has shown that exercise may actually be more important to happiness than wealth. In a large survey of 1.2 million Americans, researchers from Yale and Oxford universities have shown that people who exercise are markedly happier than people who don’t — even if they have less income. The study, just published in the leading medical journal Lancet, shows that people who are active report they have 35 days of poor mental health a year. Those who are sedentary report an average of 18 additional down days. What is remarkable about this study, is that income seems to have less of an impact on happiness than we thought. On average, a sedentary person would have to earn an additional $25,000 to be as happy as a person who exercises.

How yoga exercises its positive effect on depression

Yoga appears to improve mood through increased activity of an amino acid neurotransmitter known to influence mood, anxiety, and sleep, a small randomized trial suggests. Investigators found yoga was associated with improved mood and increased levels of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA) in patients with major depressive disorder (MDD). “The study suggests that the associated increase in GABA levels after a yoga session are ‘time-limited,’ similar to that of pharmacologic treatments such that completing one session of yoga per week may maintain elevated levels of GABA,” lead investigator Chris Streeter, MD, associate professor of psychiatry and neurology and at Boston University School of Medicine in Massachusetts, said in a press release. Research shows that about 40% of the depressed patients who are treated with anti-depressants don’t completely recover. “The data is very suggestive that when these patients start practicing yoga, they improve,” Streeter told Medscape Medical News. “I think clinicians should consider this as a kind of a ‘whole package,’ said Streeter, who is also the director of the Boston Yoga Research Center at the medical school. “It shouldn’t be just ‘take the pill’; it should be ‘take the pill and do some type of stress reduction’ and yoga is certainly acceptable” in terms of doing this.

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

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

News & Information for February 13, 2020

Shock therapy forced on patients in 2020

Petition: Unlock Coronavirus research for world’s scientists

Right now, thousands of scientific studies about the Coronavirus are locked behind subscription paywalls, blocking scientists from getting access to research needed to discover antiviral treatments and a vaccine to stop the virus. Although publishers have made some research available via Open Access, thousands of articles remain locked behind paywalls. Publishing companies like Elsevier make billions in profit from subscriptions fees paid by scientists. Scientists working in the developing world often cannot afford these costly subscriptions, which are needed to get past paywalls to access studies. The Liberian Minister of Health Dr. Bernice Dahn warned us that crucial Ebola research was inaccessible to scientists during the height of the 2014 Ebola epidemic. A subscription fee stood between Ebola scientists and life-saving research. 

Publishers must immediately unlock every scientific article containing the term “Coronavirus.” It is a moral imperative. Please sign this Petition.

Strengthening Your Immune Response to Viral Infections (COVID-19)

The Novel Coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, is Highly Contagious and More Infectious Than Initially Estimated

The novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a recently emerged human pathogen that has spread widely since January 2020. Initially, the basic reproductive number, R0, was estimated to be 2.2 to 2.7. Here we provide a new estimate of this quantity. We collected extensive individual case reports and estimated key epidemiology parameters, including the incubation period. Integrating these estimates and high-resolution real-time human travel and infection data with mathematical models, we estimated that the number of infected individuals during early epidemic double every 2.4 days, and the R0 value is likely to be between 4.7 and 6.6. We further show that quarantine and contact tracing of symptomatic individuals alone may not be effective and early, strong control measures are needed to stop transmission of the virus.

16 Instant Mood Boosters – When you’re down, try one of these tips for a fast mood boost!

Some days, we just feel off. We’re sad, or frustrated, or angry, and happiness feels out of reach. On days like this, simple actions can help us feel better—and might be all we can manage. Here are some excellent ways to boost your mood. Go outside. Studies have shown that nature calms us and makes us happier. This is the reasoning behind the Japanese practice of “shinrin-yoku,” or forest bathing, which is a stress-relieving activity that’s growing in popularity all over the world. If you have time, try this in your local forest or park; just walk through slowly or sit in silence, breathing deeply and listening to the natural sounds. …

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for February 12, 2020

Click through to read an informative thread on breaking news about the Wuhan virus from NY Times journalist.

Psychiatric hospitals still force shock treatment. One patient has been shocked 500 times

Shock therapy, also known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), was developed in the late 1930s as a psychiatric treatment for severe psychosis and catatonia. Patients undergoing the procedure receive jolts of electricity from electrodes placed on their temples, triggering a brain seizure and convulsions that last up to a minute. After the two Italian psychiatrists who invented the treatment reported positive results, a 1938 news headline declared “Madness Cured with Electricity.” It soon became evident, though, that the treatment could cause severe cognitive impairment and memory loss. In a 1944 study, shock therapy recipients “described losses such as the inability to recognize friends and acquaintances” which “remained after years and appeared to be permanent.” Another study worryingly concluded that patients who improved or recovered after the seizure-inducing treatments had a “high frequency of relapse.”

Jordan Peterson placed in coma in desperate attempt to break benzodiazepine addiction

In the wake of news that Jordan Peterson spent eight days in an induced coma in Russia to overcome a physical dependency on a benzodiazepine drug, questions have been raised about the nature of this commonly prescribed drug, its symptoms and the best way to treat withdrawal. In a video and transcript provided to the National Post, the psychologist’s daughter, Mikhaila, said that her father was initially prescribed a low dose of a benzodiazepine a few years ago for anxiety, but he only developed a physical dependence on the drug after his dose was increased last April following his wife’s terminal cancer diagnosis. She said Jordan was misdiagnosed at several hospitals in North America and “nearly died several times” before his family made the decision to fly him to Russia for emergency treatment. Mikhaila’s account has raised questions about the difference between physical dependence and psychological addiction, side effects associated with benzodiazepines, and potential treatments. Here’s everything you need to know about the drugs.

High levels of antidepressants, caffeine found in Nairobi River

Danger lurks in Nairobi River and it is not the first time the once majestic resource is finding itself in trouble. A new research now shows Nairobi River has nearly 1,000 times more drugs from active pharmaceutical ingredients than those in the developed world. Samples from Nairobi and part of Athi rivers tested positive for elevated levels of caffeine (stimulant), carbamazepine (antiepileptic), amitriptyline (antidepressant) and fluconazole (antifungal). There were also high levels of trimethoprim, sulfamethoxazole ciprofloxacin, which are antibiotics. These ingredients were found up to 75km downstream from Nairobi. […] The study, published in the Journal Science of The Total Environment, identified the primary sources of the chemicals as “direct discharge of untreated domestic wastewater from slums, the industrial area of Nairobi where drug formulation is known to occur, a major landfill site and veterinary medicines from upstream agricultural use”.

Conservatives and liberals have similar physiological responses to threats

About a decade ago, a study documented that conservatives have stronger physiological responses to threatening stimuli than liberals. This work launched an approach aimed at uncovering the biological roots of ideology. Despite wide-ranging scientific and popular impact, independent laboratories have not replicated the study. We conducted a pre-registered direct replication (n = 202) and conceptual replications in the United States (n = 352) and the Netherlands (n = 81). Our analyses do not support the conclusions of the original study, nor do we find evidence for broader claims regarding the effect of disgust and the existence of a physiological trait. Rather than studying unconscious responses as the real predispositions, alignment between conscious and unconscious responses promises deeper insights into the emotional roots of ideology.

Keep your teen moving to reduce risk of depression, study says 

Science shows moderate to vigorous aerobic exercise is good for us — it improves sleep; lowers blood pressure; protects against heart disease, diabetes and cancer; reduces stress; boosts mood; and fights anxiety and depression. It’s especially important in adolescence, where the first signs of depression often begin, studies show. But unless your child is an athlete, it can be tough to wean them away from social media and the ever-present screen to swim laps or go for a blood-pumping jog. A new study has some good news: even light exercise may help protect children against developing depression. The study, published Tuesday in the journal Lancet Psychiatry, found that 60 minutes of simple movement each day at age 12 was linked to an average 10% reduction in depression at age 18. The types of movement ranged from running and biking to walking, doing chores, painting or playing an instrument.

(same study) Too much sitting in adolescence linked to higher risk of depression

Adolescents who sit for much of the day have a greater risk of depression by the time they reach adulthood, a UK study has found. Growing numbers of young people with depression and increased time spent sedentary could be two linked trends, researchers at University College London (UCL) believe. They found that those who did an additional hour of light activity each day, such as walking or chores, saw a reduction in depressive symptoms when they reached 18. They analysed data on 4,257 adolescents, who were taking part in the University of Bristol’s Children of the 90s cohort study. […] “Our findings show that young people who are inactive for large proportions of the day throughout adolescence face a greater risk of depression by age 18.”

Risk for social anxiety disorder in youth influenced by parental psychopathology

Cross-sectional study data published in the Journal of Affective Disorders identified parental history of psychiatric conditions as a significant risk factor for social anxiety disorder (SAD) in children and adolescents. In a nationally representative cohort of Iranian youth, the lifetime prevalence of SAD was estimated at 1.8%. […] The study highlights the significant burden of SAD among youth, particularly those with a parental history of psychiatric symptoms. However, the study was limited by the lack of a control group and the cross-sectional nature of the study. The researchers called for future research to examine the impact of SAD on life quality, as well as the assessment of current therapies and pathophysiology of SAD, “an important public health issue.”

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 February 11, 2020

Keeping a plant on your desk can reduce workplace stress

The findings, recently published in the HortTechnology journal, showed that the number of employees with high scores on an anxiety measurement test decreased their scores slightly. Another 27% of employees in the study showed a significant decrease in resting heart rate. Many studies have been done on the health effects of indoor plants, but most of those were performed in either laboratories or quasi-office settings and only included passive interaction. This study verified the stress-reducing effect of gazing intentionally at a plant for a few minutes and actively engaging in the care of it in a real office setting when an employee felt fatigued. The results suggest that if employers provided active encouragement for workers to take three minute “nature breaks,” the mental health of their employees would improve, said Dr. Masahiro Toyoda, lead author of the study and professor at the University of Hyogo, where he specializes in horticultural therapy.

Biohaven anxiety treatment fails late-stage study, shares fall 16%

Shares of Biohaven Pharmaceutical Holding Company Ltd fell 16% on Monday after its treatment for anxiety disorder failed to meet the main goal in a late-stage study. In the study, patients receiving the experimental drug, troriluzole, twice everyday did not show improvement in anxiety symptoms, compared to a placebo, the company said. Biohaven said it would not develop the drug as a standalone treatment for generalized anxiety disorder, which is characterized by excessive and persistent worry that are difficult to control and interfere with day-to-day activities.

More evidence links social media use to poorer mental health in teens

Smartphones, and being on Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and the like may be taking a big toll on teens’ mental health, a new survey of collected data on the subject shows. Canadian researchers pored over dozens of studies and said the negative effects of social media on teens’ well-being is on the rise. “Physicians, teachers and families need to work together with youth to decrease possible harmful effects of smartphones and social media on their relationships, sense of self, sleep, academic performance, and emotional well-being,” said study lead author Dr. Elia Abi-Jaoude. He’s a staff psychiatrist at The Hospital for Sick Children and Toronto Western Hospital, both in Toronto. […] “The authors’ recommendations — to use a strong therapeutic relationship to coach our patients on cutting back their time on Facebook and other messaging applications — seems very sensible,” Grosso said. “They also suggest, very wisely, that parents not prescribe this kind of abstinence until they take that particular prescription themselves.”

Skepticism about new coronavirus having 24-day incubation

At least 500 Wuhan medical staff infected with coronavirus

At least 500 hospital staff in Wuhan had been infected with the deadly new strain of coronavirus by mid January, multiple medical sources have confirmed, leaving hospitals short-staffed and causing deep concern among health care workers. While the government has reported individual cases of health care workers becoming infected, it has not provided the full picture, and the sources said doctors and nurses had been told not to make the total public. The reason for this edict was not explained, but the authorities have been trying to boost morale among frontline medical staff, especially following the death of Li Wenliang, who was killed by the disease weeks after being reprimanded by police for warning colleagues about the new virus. […] A doctor from a major hospital in Wuhan, who requested anonymity, said the development had hit morale, adding that many medical workers were “devastated” when they saw the CAT scans of colleagues who had been infected.

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 February 10, 2020

Jordan Peterson suffering severe benzodiazepine addiction with akathisia

In a video and script given to the National Post, Mikhaila Peterson provides an update on her father, the author and professor Jordan Peterson, who is currently recovering from near death at a clinic in Russia.

Coronaviruses like nCoV can remain infectious on surfaces for up to 9 days

Currently, the emergence of a novel human coronavirus, temporary named 2019-nCoV, has become a global health concern causing severe respiratory tract infections in humans. Human-to-human transmissions have been described with incubation times between 2-10 days, facilitating its spread via droplets, contaminated hands or surfaces. We therefore reviewed the literature on all available information about the persistence of human and veterinary coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces as well as inactivation strategies with biocidal agents used for chemical disinfection, e.g. in healthcare facilities. […] Conclusions Human coronaviruses can remain infectious on inanimate surfaces for up to 9 days. Surface disinfection with 0.1% sodium hypochlorite or 62-71% ethanol significantly reduces coronavirus infectivity on surfaces within 1 min exposure time. We expect a similar effect against the 2019-nCoV. 

Median coronavirus incubation period is three days but may stretch up to 24 days

People infected with the new coronavirus normally come down with symptoms after about three days, but the disease can incubate in some people for up to 24 daysnew research by Chinese scientists shows.

Ian’s thoughts: The study found: “The median incubation period was 3.0 days (range, 0 to 24.0 days).” So presumably some infected people can go about their daily activities with no symptoms while spreading it others (and Chinese experts confirm asymptomatic transmission) for 24 days! That is perhaps the most disturbing fact I’ve heard about this virus to date and sounds like it might be unstoppable. 

Happy Meals: Making positive change to diet also helps ward off depression

If the winter blues are bringing you down, consider changing your diet. A new study finds that healthier eating habits can relieve symptoms of depression, whether the dietary changes focus on weight loss or improved nutrition. The University of Manchester study determined that the benefits of dietary changes positively impact mood in all individuals, not just those formally diagnosed with depressive disorders. Lead author Joseph Firth, a researcher with the university, says that the impact of diet on mood and mental health was not well understood before this study was undertaken. “But,” Firth explains in a university release, “our recent meta-analysis has done just that: showing that adopting a healthier diet can boost peoples’ mood.” […] “Eating more nutrient-dense meals that are high in fiber and vegetables, while cutting back on fast-foods and refined sugars appears to be sufficient for avoiding the potentially negative psychological effects of a ‘junk food‘ diet,” he says. 

Eating meat associated with increased cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality

Importance  Although the associations between processed meat intake and cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality have been established, the associations of unprocessed red meat, poultry, or fish consumption with CVD and all-cause mortality are still uncertain. […] Conclusions and Relevance  These findings suggest that, among US adults, higher intake of processed meat, unprocessed red meat, or poultry, but not fish, was significantly associated with a small increased risk of incident CVD, whereas higher intake of processed meat or unprocessed red meat, but not poultry or fish, was significantly associated with a small increased risk of all-cause mortality. These findings have important public health implications and should warrant further investigations.

Wow I'm an American

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

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

News & Information for February 8-9, 2020

Basic Key to Successful Living

THE BASIC KEY TO SUCCESSUL LIVING: With my marvelous guests, psychiatrist Pinar Miski MD and nutritionist/physician Pam Popper PhD we discuss perhaps the single most important key to success in life: Identifying our feelings of helplessness, then refusing to become helpless and finally determining instead taking charge of our lives. As a corollary, we discuss becoming a person who does not impose helplessness on others—a person who encourages people to be strong and self-determining. These are not just words or slogans. Nothing is more important life that learning to identify feelings of helplessness that can overcome us at critical moments in life when we must marshal all of psychological and intellectual resources in order to overcome emotional and real-life obstacles. And few things matter more in life than also empowering the people in our lives to overcome helpless and to become self-determining.

Coronavirus is bad. Comparing it to the flu is worse

The whataboutism of infectious disease is as dangerous as it is hackneyed. There’s a deadly virus spreading throughout China right now, but SELF Magazine has a calming message for Americans: “For perspective,” the publication tweeted Thursday, “the flu is a bigger threat in the U.S.” This was just the latest in an epic run of such comparisons: “The virus killing U.S. kids isn’t the one dominating headlines,” the Daily Beast advised; “Don’t worry about the new coronavirus, worry about the flu,” said Buzzfeed. Even the U.S. Surgeon General has gotten in on this idea. There are as many as 5 million severe cases of flu worldwide each year, and 650,000 deaths; in other words, says Axios, “If you’re freaking out about coronavirus but you didn’t get a flu shot, you’ve got it backwards.” Call it “viral whataboutism.” The appeal to hypocrisy has long been endemic to our political discourse; and in recent years the pox has spread. Now this mutant form of rhetoric has come into discussions of what could be a massive epidemiological threat. Is the new coronavirus something to worry about? Yeah, sure, but so’s the flu… and you don’t seem to care too much about that! For goodness’ sake, stop. 

Thread by virologist (click through thereto), he points out the widow within which international spread needs to be stopped, now until late March.

2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Update

Ian: The official death rate from nCov in China is ~ 2%. The international death rate right now is 0.3% (1 death among 315 cases, a rate 3x normal flu), but this rate is likely biased low as early-phase cases stream into the count faster than severe cases have termianted in death. On the high side, a JAMA study mentioned in the video above examining one hospital in Wuhan reports at least 4.3% fatality among 138 cases (see below), most of whom are still in hospital.

Clinical characteristics of 138 hospitalized patients with 2019 Novel Coronavirus

Importance  In December 2019, novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV)–infected pneumonia (NCIP) occurred in Wuhan, China. The number of cases has increased rapidly but information on the clinical characteristics of affected patients is limited. […] Conclusions and Relevance  In this single-center case series of 138 hospitalized patients with confirmed NCIP in Wuhan, China, presumed hospital-related transmission of 2019-nCoV was suspected in 41% of patients, 26% of patients received ICU care, and mortality was 4.3%.

Department of Homeland Security Pandemic check list

Before a Pandemic

  • Store a two week supply of water and food.
  • Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
  • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
  • Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them, for personal reference. Get help accessing electronic health records.
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.

Urban forest bathing debuts exclusively at Mandarin Oriental Boston Spa

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Boston, the only Forbes Five-Star spa in Massachusetts, has an exclusive new Forest Therapy Journey ritual inspired by the Japanese practice of Shinrin-Yoku, or forest bathing. The concept of forest bathing is traced back to the 1980s in Japan, where it was promoted by the government as an antidote to the daily stressors of modern life, particularly in urban areas. Studies have showed that immersive nature walks are beneficial for lowering blood pressure and cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone. Furthermore, chemicals called phytanyls that are released by trees and plants reportedly have been found to help boost the immune system. […] The therapist customizes aspects of the treatment to your specific needs, so he or she can “freestyle” and target particular problem areas.  […] “The oil has lots of phytanyls, which you absorb when you are in nature, and this helps reduce stress and lower cortisol levels in the body,” Toth says. “It’s anti-bacterial and anti-fungal, which is beneficial, especially at this time of year when immune systems get attacked.”

Having a hard time remembering when you ever felt happy? Here’s why

Depression makes you more likely to remember negative events than positive events, compounding the whole “life sucks” feeling. Depression can also make it hard to remember upcoming appointments, what you did last weekend, or the next step in baking those chocolate chip cookies you really hoped would make you feel better. Read on to find out what the connection is between depression and forgetfulness. […] In a 2018 report, researchers wrote that overgeneral memory is connected with longer duration of depression, possibly because of impaired executive function and problem-solving. The researchers also noted that memory problems can in turn worsen depression, stating “a bias to repeatedly retrieve painful memories could clearly sustain a depressive episode…” In another study from 2017, researchers found a connection between depression, inflammation, and memory loss. The study showed that depression and inflammation can each individually worsen memory, but together, they have an even bigger impact on memory. People with depression may have trouble with their “working memory,” the short-term memory process for holding information while you actively complete a task.

Study says toddlers are getting too much screen time.

Today’s toddlers are spending more time watching phones, tablets and TV than ever before, according to a recent study. The study looked at more than 1,000 two and three-year-old children. Researchers found most of the children exceeded recommended screen-time guidelines, which call for a daily maximum of one-hour of screen time per day. “They found that 79 percent of two-year-olds and 97 percent of three-year-olds actually exceed those guidelines,” said Eva Love, M.D. […] “But, the most striking finding, was that the most common variable between those two age groups, leading to excessive screen time, was actually maternal screen time use, meaning how much mom was looking at her screens.” […] “Excessive screen time can actually directly impact cognitive and physical development,” said Dr. Love. “It’s important to understand that when kids are on a screen, and they’re sitting – they’re not walking, they’re not running, they’re not engaging with motor skills, and they’re also not having those social exchanges with their caregivers.”

Mindfulness helps obese children lose weight

Mindfulness-based therapy may help reduce stress, appetite and body weight in children with obesity and anxiety, according to a study published in Endocrine Connections. They reported that obese children on a calorie-restricted diet alongside mindfulness therapy lose more weight and are less stressed and hungry, than children on a calorie-restricted diet alone. These findings suggest that mindfulness has potential to help obese children lose more weight through dieting and may reduce their risk of serious health issues, such as high blood pressure or stroke, although further research is needed to confirm this. […] “Our results suggest that restricted diets may in fact increase anxiety in obese children. However, practicing mindfulness, as well dieting, may counteract this and promote more efficient weight loss,” Dr López-Alarcón comments. These findings provide evidence that mindfulness may have potential for managing anxiety and weight in obese children on calorie-restricted diets, by reducing appetite and stress hormones. The increased levels of anxiety observed in the calorie-restricted only group, suggest that current weight loss strategies should consider psychological factors, as well as physical and lifestyle factors, in order to achieve better results.

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 February 7, 2020

Hungerford mother suffering died after a session of electroconvulsive therapy, an inquest heard

Kathryn Carbone, 57, became depressed and suffered “severe delusions” after her husband was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour. A decision was made to try ECT after a number of different treatments and anti-depressant drugs failed to help Kathryn. The treatment induces a controlled seizure by passing small electric currents through the brain to effect changes in brain chemistry that can reverse symptoms of certain mental health conditions. But although catering assistant Kathryn, from Hungerford, initially responded well to the therapy, a nurse later found her suffering a seizure that stopped her heart. A cardiac team failed to revive her, and the mother-of-one was pronounced dead on July 24, 2018. […] The inquest heard Kathryn’s condition seemed to have improved a little when she came round and she was moved to a recovery ward. But some time later, the jury was told, a nurse found her suffering a seizure which caused her heart to stop and a cardiac team was unable to revive her.

Antidepressant withdrawal. . . five minutes with John Read

John Read, professor of clinical psychology at the University of East London, talks about why he is launching a GP survey on antidepressant withdrawal. “We are launching this survey to assess GPs’ knowledge in relation to withdrawal from antidepressants. It’s in response to the recommendations from Public Health England’s prescribed medicines review.1 This looked at antidepressant prescribing and called for enhanced clinical guidance.  […] “Until now, it hadn’t been publicly acknowledged that this is a serious problem. We’re literally talking about millions of people.The review said one in six adults in England were prescribed antidepressants last year, and we know that roughly half of those will experience some kind of withdrawal when they come off them, and for half of those it will be severe. These are large numbers of people. Anything that can enhance our understanding of how GPs practise and what they need will help us to support them in their efforts in dealing with this situation. This is not anew problem, patients have been talking about this online for decades, but this is really the first time it’s been acknowledged by a national organisation like Public Health England, so we’re trying to seize this moment.” The antidepressant withdrawal survey will launch on 6 February 2020 and has no confirmed end date. It can be accessed here.

Could the gut microbiome be the key to new antidepressant therapies?

In the last decade, researchers have increasingly focused on the gut microbiome and its role in diseases; unsurprising, given the adult gut microbiome has more genes than its human host and generally spans 60 genera. It has also been discovered that the gut contains the largest number of neurons in the body, outside of the brain. In recent years it was discovered that the gut-brain axis may be bidirectional, facilitating communication between the brain and the gut microbiome and vice versa. Since this development, a growing body of literature has implicated the gut microbiome in shaping a variety of psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder (MDD). […] According to the review, supplementing the gut microbiome with pre- and probiotics could be a method to improve depressive symptoms; psychobiotics are a new class of drug specifically designed to improve mental health by delivering probiotics to the host microbiome, acting as microbial interventions.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

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

News & Information for February 6, 2020

The Red and Processed Meat Issue continued

Greater cardiorespiratory fitness linked to increased gray matter volume

A higher level of cardiorespiratory fitness is associated with greater gray matter volume in the temporal, frontal, and cerebellar regions of the brain, a study in Mayo Clinic Proceedings suggests.1 […] Researchers from this study also suggest that cardiorespiratory fitness may have a stronger influence in people ≥45 years of age. In an accompanying editorial, Mayo Clinic researchers wrote that “this is encouraging because hippocampal atrophy and a decline in recent memory are commonly observed features of aging” and that “[i]f some of these aging changes could be counteracted by lifestyle changes, this would send a positive message to older individuals.”2

What it’s like to be involuntarily committed

After I finished my bachelor’s degree in 2005, I landed a cushy job as an analyst with a top sales and marketing company in the consumer packaged goods industry and then got promoted to a category development manager. What happened next is not something I could have predicted—it is hard for me to admit, but I had a mental breakdown after the Virginia Tech massacre. I’d been diagnosed with lichen planus, a rare autoimmune skin disease, right after the massacre and was placed on steroid treatments, so it is hard for me to know if that caused the extreme anxiety I was feeling or if it was truly my reaction to the shocking events at the university from which I graduated (where my younger sibling was still a student and had a class in the same building where the massacre occurred). During my breakdown, I voluntarily underwent psychiatric treatment, covering the cost with the excellent private healthcare benefits my job offered.

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 February 5, 2020

The charade of new drug approvals for schizophrenia

In December 23, the FDA approved a new drug for schizophrenia, lumateperone, which was said to be a “first-in-class” medication, suggesting that its mechanism of action differed from antipsychotic drugs in current use. This new drug, an article in JAMA Psychiatry concluded, “demonstrated efficacy for improving the symptoms of schizophrenia and a favorable safety profile.” […] While that is the public story, an in-depth look at the “evidence” for lumateperone reveals that the clinical testing and approval of this drug is best described as a charade, a game of scientific pretense. The clinical trials, in their design, served as the study of a drug for use after chronic patients have abruptly quit taking their psychiatric medications, as opposed to a study of a “drug for schizophrenia.” And even in that context, the drug did not reliably best placebo in any of three studies.

Richland school says cell phone ban has led to more engaged and conversational students

A Richland school is hoping to look out for their student’s mental health and encourage meaningful relationships over screen time with a new cell phone policy. When students got back from winter break, Liberty Christian School instituted a cell phone ban. School administrators say they’ve already seen positive impacts. “I think the biggest thing that we’ve been conditioned to is we want instant communication, instant feedback, instant gratification,” said Superintendent of Liberty Christian School Jim Cochran. […] Dr. Gutierrez said studies show excessive cell phone use can hurt how a student performs academically. She said cell phones are a distraction and just having one nearby can cause someone to not give full attention to important tasks. She says if kids rely too much on cell phones for communication, they could miss out on learning important skills like how to read body language and facial expressions. “When kids do not learn appropriate social skills, it makes them prone to anxiety disorder,” Dr. Gutierrez said.

Study links cell phone use at night to mental health issues in teens

For the first time, a new study shows a direct link between cell phone use and mental health issues in teenagers. According to the journal “Child Development,” using cell phones at night makes teens more likely to battle depression and anxiety. It can also lower their self-esteem. Katey McPherson, an expert on the social-emotional needs and wellness of students, as well as youth mental health, isn’t surprised by the study. She says it’s not just phones causing anxiety and depression in teens. Other anxiety triggers for teens include academics, friendships, family discord, fear of school shootings, and financial worries. The use of cell phones, especially before bed, can make that anxiety worse, McPherson says. Sleep is crucial for teenagers; experts say kids between 9 and 18 years old need 8 to 12 hours per night. McPherson says screen time before bed can hurt the quality of sleep teens get. Overscheduling can be an issue, too, which is why she suggests parents help teens find balance with their academics and activities.

Children’s mental health is effected by sleep duration

Depression, anxiety, impulsive behaviour and poor cognitive performance in children is effected by the amount of sleep they have researchers from the University of Warwick have found. Sleep states are active processes that support reorganisation of brain circuitry. This makes sleep especially important for children, whose brains are developing and reorganizing rapidly. […] “Our findings showed that the behaviour problems total score for children with less than 7 hours sleep was 53% higher on average and the cognitive total score was 7.8% lower on average than for children with 9-11 hours of sleep. It highlights the importance of enough sleep in both cognition and mental health in children.” Professor Edmund Rolls from the University of Warwick’s Department of Computer Science also commented: “These are important associations that have been identified between sleep duration in children, brain structure, and cognitive and mental health measures, but further research is needed to discover the underlying reasons for these relationships.”

Online bullies make teen depression, PTSD even worse: survey

Cyberbullying can worsen symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder in young people, new research shows. That’s the conclusion of a recent survey of 50 teens who were inpatients at a suburban psychiatric hospital near New York City. Researchers reported that those who had been bullied had higher severity of PTSD and anger than those who were not bullied. “Even against a backdrop of emotional challenges in the kids we studied, we noted cyberbullying had an adverse impact. It’s real and should be assessed,” said study co-author Philip Harvey, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine. […] “Cyberbullying is possibly more pernicious than other forms of bullying because of its reach,” Harvey said in a university news release. “The bullying can be viral and persistent. To really be bullying, it has to be personal — a directly negative comment attempting to make the person feel bad.”

Michigan schools surveil student emails for suicide risks, raising ACLU concerns

Thirty-one Michigan school districts are using a controversial surveillance service that reads students’ school emails to identify students in crisis and alert school officials. The Michigan schools are among roughly 1,400 districts across the United States that have hired Gaggle, an Illinois-based company, to use artificial intelligence and staff to search nearly 4 billion emails and school-email based documents last school year for examples of bullying, inappropriate behaviors, school violence and other harmful situations inside students’ communications. […] “We have numerous concerns about the idea that school districts are monitoring the private conversations and thoughts of all of their students,” said Chad A. Marlow, a senior advocacy and policy counsel with American Civil Liberties Union. 

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 February 4, 2020

John Read – UK Esketamine Approval – Not so Fast

This week on MIA Radio we chat with Professor John Read of the University of East London. John worked for nearly 20 years as a Clinical Psychologist and manager of mental health services in the UK and the USA, before joining the University of Auckland, New Zealand, in 1994, where he worked until 2013. He has published over 140 papers in research journals, primarily on the relationship between adverse life events (e.g. child abuse/neglect, poverty, etc.) and psychosis. He also researches the negative effects of biogenetic causal explanations on prejudice, the opinions, and experiences of recipients of antipsychotic and antidepressant medication, and the role of the pharmaceutical industry in mental health research and practice.

Diets rich in fruits, veggies could lower your odds for Alzheimer’s

Older adults who regularly consume a group of antioxidants called flavonols may have a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, a new study suggests. The compounds exist in many fruits and vegetables, with the richest sources including green vegetables like kale, spinach and broccoli, apples and tea. The researchers found that of over 900 older adults they followed for six years, the one-fifth with the highest flavonol intake were 48% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s than the one-fifth with the lowest intake. […] Flavonols are known to act as antioxidants and fight inflammation, and animal research has suggested particular brain benefits: In lab mice engineered to have a “model” of Alzheimer’s, flavonols can curb the buildup of abnormal protein deposits in the brain, and improve memory and learning abilities.

Kids are terrified, anxious and depressed about climate change. Whose fault is that?

How to handle such fears? The adult world seems unsure, at best. The Brays, for their part, think it’s important to work through the anguish and keep talking to their kids. “We’ve decided to be open and honest. They have feelings, we validate them,” Chris says. At the same time, he admits, “It’s sad, it’s hard.” […] “Eco-anxiety” or “climate depression” is playing out in real terms among young people, sometimes in extreme ways: A 2008 study in an Australian medical journal chronicled the case of a 17-year-old boy who was hospitalized after refusing to drink water during a nationwide drought, in what the authors called the first case of “climate change delusion.” A psychiatrist I interviewed told me a patient had confessed that she secretly wished a pandemic would strike to ease stress on the planet.

For farmworkers facing debilitating depression, is teletherapy a solution?

The new NCFHP farmworker teletherapy program, which provides mental health treatment to agricultural workers in rural reaches of North Carolina, is one of the first of its kind in the U.S.—and its creators are hoping it can become a model for others. […] Through their mental-health plight receives far less attention, farmworkers face a greater suicide risk higher than farmers do, and rank third among occupational groups in the revised CDC study. Various other studies corroborate the fact that agricultural workers—83 percent of whom are Hispanic, 33 percent of whom live below the poverty level—often struggle with depression and anxiety. One study of Latinx farmworkers in North Carolina found that 52 percent experience depression and 16.5 percent experience anxiety. Another study of 248 women in Latinx farmworker families also in North Carolina, revealed that 31 percent—almost a third—exhibited significant signs of depression, compared to the 11 percent depression rate among Hispanic women more generally in the U.S. A third study found that 80 percent of women farmworkers in California faced on-the-job sexual harassment, including 24 percent reporting sexual coercion or on-the-job blackmail that affected their physical and psychological health.

Northwestern study warns of increased antidepressant use after school shootings

A study conducted by Northwestern, Yale and Stanford researchers reports the rate of antidepressant use among youth rises in the wake of fatal school shootings. School shootings have become a more regular occurrence in the United States, with the annual number rising from 16 in 2011 to a high of 116 in 2018, according to a study from the Center for Homeland Defense and Security at the Naval Postgraduate School. “Antidepressants and prescriptions were a very good measurement because they are objective and cover the entire U.S.” researcher and SESP Prof. Hannes Schwandt said. “It’s really important that we observe prescriptions before and after a shooting and also in schools that didn’t experience a shooting to identify the causal effects.”

National study confirms nurses at higher risk of suicide than general population

In the first national study of its size, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Health, Department of Nursing, have found that male and female nurses are at higher risk of suicide than the general population. Results of the longitudinal study were published in the February 3, 2020 online edition of WORLDviews on Evidence Based-Nursing. […] “It is time to take urgent action to protect our nursing workforce. The HEAR program is ready for replication at the national level to address this newly recognized risk among nurses,” said Davidson, who co-chairs a task force for the American Nurses Association to address nurse suicide.

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 February 3, 2020

The four simplest things you can do for mental well-being

These days I’m in the business of listening.  After listening, I do my best to give good counsel and (often) I hand out prescriptions.  Some patients come to me and want a pill for everything – every problem they have they want a pill for.  To those patients I usually say at some point: “I’m sorry, but Prozac isn’t going to fix your marriage.”  In other words, if you have problems with your relationships, your career, or with the way your life is generally put together, pills aren’t going to fix those — you have to do that yourself, although a good therapist might help you sort it out.  Other patients come to me against their own judgment or under duress (for example from their partner or a primary care doctor) and don’t want to take any psychiatric pills. […] But to every patient I see for the first time, I always say the following: “There are four simple things everyone can do to improve their mental health that have nothing to do with taking pills.”

Forest bathing is fashion’s way to find calm

When shoe and accessory designer Aurora James was nine years old, she walked deep into a forest with her mother before they broke into separate areas to meditate. It was her first time forest bathing. Over the years, communing with nature “made all of my teenage problems seem much more temporary and fleeting,” James, 35, writes over email. “I have only just recently heard of forest bathing, but I’ve been doing it my entire life.” The practice of shinrin-yoku isn’t new—the Japanese government has spent millions funding research…

College students get no help after posting about depression on Facebook

Scottye Cash is the lead author of a recent Ohio State study that found when college students post about depression on Facebook, it’s unlikely that their followers will encourage them to seek mental-health help when in responses. […]  Participants were then asked to describe how people responded to their post from their followers. […] The majority of participants in the study reported receiving supportive responses to their Facebook posts, such as requests to hang out, questions about what was wrong, or messages like “hang in there.” But none of their Facebook friends were proactive in actually helping their friend get help, Cash said. […] “People really struggle with how to address emotionally sensitive information,” she said. “I think it’s always just indicative of how much we have to do around helping people support others.” 

Screen time for 2 to 3 year olds leads to lazy sedentary kids

Background: Screen viewing is a sedentary behaviour reported to interfere with sleep and physical activity. However, few longitudinal studies have assessed such associations in children of preschool age (0–6 years) and none have accounted for the compositional nature of these behaviours. We aimed to investigate the associations between total and device-specific screen viewing time at age 2–3 years and accelerometer-measured 24 h movement behaviours, including sleep, sedentary behaviour, light physical activity, and moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) at age 5·5 years. […] Interpretation: Longer screen viewing time in children aged 2–3 years was associated with more time spent engaged in sedentary behaviour and shorter time engaged in light physical activity and MVPA in later childhood. Our findings indicate that screen viewing might displace physical activity during early childhood, and suggest that reducing screen viewing time in early childhood might promote healthier behaviours and associated outcomes later in life.

Severe brain injury in combat increases risk of mental illness

The teenagers pour off buses near Denver’s Union Station under a baking September sun. Giggling with excitement at skipping out on Friday classes, they join a host of others assembled near the terminal. Native American drummers and dancers rouse the crowd, and there’s a festive feeling in the air. But this is no festival. The message these young people have come to send to their city, to their state, to the nation — to the world of adults — is serious. Deadly serious. “We won’t die from old age,” reads one of the signs they hoist above their heads. “We’ll die from climate change.” […] How to handle such fears? The adult world seems unsure, at best. The Brays, for their part, think it’s important to work through the anguish and keep talking to their kids. “We’ve decided to be open and honest. They have feelings, we validate them,” Chris says. At the same time, he admits, “It’s sad, it’s hard.”

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 February 1-2, 2020

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – Jan 29, 2020

Two psychiatrists, Peter R. Breggin, MD and Gail Tasch MD, squarely face the question as it has never been faced before: Is there a place for psychiatry on the face of the Earth. We look at and compare our training, consider the history and shortcomings of our profession and our colleagues, and come to a stunning conclusion. If psychiatrists can see the light at the end of the their own tunnel, they can become a heroic profession. They can save millions of people, perhaps hundreds of millions, from a plague of neurotoxicity that’s more widespread than any known viral epidemic.

 A closer look at the importance of gut mechanisms in depression

More than 1 kg of bacteria normally resides in the gut, an equivalent in weight to the whole brain, and represents more organisms than there are cells in the human body.1, 2 The variety of genes in gut bacteria is greater than 100 times the quantity of the human genome.1, 2 Thus, it is not surprising that a range of physiologic conditions in the body and the brain are increasingly linked to the status of the gut microbiome.1, 2 The gut-brain axis encompasses 3 main systems in the human body: the central nervous system, the enteric nervous system, and the digestive system. It is involved in gut motility, secretion of hormones, and production of acid, bicarbonates, and mucus.3 The gut-brain-microbiota axis is a bidirectional communication system allowing gut microbes to communicate with the brain and for the brain to then send signals to the gut.1 Recent studies have pointed to the specific pathway via the vagus nerve and mechanisms of communication between the gut and brain that contribute to the expression of depression.1 In a 2018 review,3 Kim and Shin reported, “There is a high correlation between stress-related mental symptoms (such as anxiety) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). This correlation has provided a stimulus to study the importance of the gut-brain axis. More than 50% of IBS patients have comorbid depression or anxiety.” These findings suggest that the gut-brain axis might provide essential new targets for the prevention and treatment of depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders.1,2,3

Gutted! Unraveling the role of the microbiome in Major Depressive Disorder

Microorganisms can be found in virtually any environment. In humans, the largest collection of microorganisms is found in the gut ecosystem. The adult gut microbiome consists of more genes than its human host and typically spans more than 60 genera from across the taxonomic tree. In addition, the gut contains the largest number of neurons in the body, after the brain. In recent years, it has become clear that the gut microbiome is in communication with the brain, through the gut-brain axis. A growing body of literature shows that the gut microbiome plays a shaping role in a variety of psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder (MDD). In this review, the interplay between the microbiome and MDD is discussed in three facets. First, we discuss factors that affect the onset/development of MDD that also greatly impinge on the composition of the gut microbiota-especially diet and stressful life events. We then examine the interplay between the microbiota and MDD. We examine evidence suggesting that the microbiota is altered in MDD, and we discuss why the microbiota should be considered during MDD treatment. Finally, we look toward the future and examine how the microbiota might become a therapeutic target for MDD. This review is intended to introduce those familiar with the neurological and psychiatric aspects of MDD to the microbiome and its potential role in the disorder. Although research is in its very early days, with much yet to be the understood, the microbiome is offering new avenues for developing potentially novel strategies for managing MDD.

Wuhan virus (2019-nCoV) to date compared to SARS coronavirus epidemic 

As of Feb 1, 2020, 2:00 am EST @

Looking at barriers to depression treatment among social media users

Social media users with major depression are more likely to seek treatment, report unmet treatment needs, and have a higher risk of suicide than individuals with minor depression, according to study results published in Depression and Anxiety. Attitudinal barriers, such as the wish to handle the problem alone, were highest in individuals with major depression, while individuals with mild depression experienced more structural barriers, such as financial concerns. […] “The findings of this study have implications for how social media can be used to help minimize barriers to treatment for depression through mental health literacy. Specifically, engagement strategies may take into account how barriers to treatment vary by severity of depression symptoms,” the investigators concluded.

 Wuhan virus: Hospital admissions by age group, first cases ( Dec 1, ‘19 to Jan 2, ‘20 )

If you’re not elderly and get the virus, don’t assume you won’t end up in ICU. Figure 1 @ Huang et al 2020.

Climbing Intervention Effective, Durable for Depression?

Bouldering psychotherapy (BPT), an intervention that combines a unique style of rock climbing with psychotherapy, may offer an effective and durable treatment option for depression, new research suggests. Results from a randomized controlled trial show that BPT reduced symptoms in patients with mild to moderate depression. This effect was maintained up to 12 months. “The results of this study indicate positive short- and long-term effects of BPT on severity of depression,” the investigators, with lead author Laura Schwarz, a medical student and doctoral candidate at Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen-Nürnberg, Germany, write. The study was published online in Heliyon.

Effects of ‘bouldering psychotherapy’ on depression last 12 months at least

Background: Previous studies have identified positive effects of Bouldering Psychotherapy (BPT) on symptoms of depression. The aim of the present study was to investigate the short- and long-term effects of BPT on 97 participants with depression. Methods:BPT took place once a week over a period of 8 weeks. In a waitlist control group design, participants were assessed at baseline and after 8 weeks (end of BPT for the intervention group; start of BPT for the waitlist group), 16 weeks, and 12 months. The main outcome was severity of depression measured with the Beck Depression Inventory II (BDI-II). […] Results: Depression scores dropped by 7.21 on the BDI-II during the first intervention period with a Cohen’s d of 0.59. A regression analysis at t1 showed that group allocation (p < .001) was the only significant predictor besides the baseline depression score (p < .001). A 12-month (after t0) follow-up measurement showed that the decrease in depression severity remained stable during that time, with values of d = 0.37 for the intervention group and d = 0.43 for the waitlist group.

More U.S. veterans have committed suicide in the last decade than died in the Vietnam War

More U.S. veterans have committed suicide between 2008 and 2017 than died during the entire Vietnam War. According to the defense news site, these alarming rates were shared earlier this fall in a report by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The U.S. suffered around 58,000 fatalities over the course of the Vietnam War — which lasted from 1955 to 1975 — and these deaths made it one of the most culturally affecting wars of the post-WWII era. That conflict has now taken a back-seat to the ongoing crisis of U.S. veteran suicides, which has now claimed the lives of more than 60,000 U.S. veterans. This utterly confounding statistic serves as a stark reminder that a focus on mental health for those returning from combat may be far more critical than treatment from physical injuries.

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.


January 2020