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June 13, 2018

Daily Breaking News & Information

News 2019

 

 

News & Information for June 27, 2019

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When a new study debunks standing science, don’t ignore it

The world should know that there’s no biological difference between liberals and conservatives. […] In 2008, Science, one of the top scientific journals, published a paper by a group of psychologists that claimed to find biological differences between liberals and conservatives. According to the paper, conservatives tended to react more to “sudden noises” and “threatening visual images.” This result, which suggests that political liberalism and conservatism spring from deep, indelible sources rather than reactions to the issues of the day, suggests that polarization will never end — that the populace will always be divided into two camps, separated by a gulf of biology. […] Fast forward a decade, though, and the claim is unraveling. In a working paper published this month, another team of psychologists attempted to repeat the experiment, and also conducted other similar experiments. They failed to find any evidence linking physical-threat perception with political ideology. But when they tried to publish their paper, Science desk-rejected it — that is, the editors refused to even send the paper out for peer review, claiming that the replication study simply wasn’t noteworthy enough to be published in a top journal. Meanwhile, another team of researchers also recently tried to replicate the original study, and failed. So even though at this point the evidence proving a biological basis for liberalism and conservatism seems to have been invalidated, it’s unclear whether this fact will make it into the public conversation.

Frequent Nightmares Predictive of Adolescent Suicidality, Self-Injury

There may be an association between frequent nightmares and subsequent suicidality in adolescents, according to study results published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Investigators abstracted data from the Shandong Adolescent Behavior and Health Cohort, an ongoing prospective longitudinal study of adolescent health in Shandong, China. Eligible adolescents in middle school and high school completed a series of self-report structured questionnaires at baseline in 2015, then 1 year later in 2016. The structured questionnaires captured suicidal behavior, nonsuicidal self-injury, depression symptoms, and family demographic characteristics. Participants also reported sleep duration, sleep quality, insomnia symptoms, and nightmare frequency. Logistic regression analyses were performed to determine which sleep variables were associated with suicidality and nonsuicidal self-injury. […] At 1-year follow-up, 190 participants (2.7%) had attempted suicide and 621 (8.8%) had engaged in nonsuicidal self-injury. After adjustments for adolescent and family demographics, depression, impulsiveness, and prior suicide attempt or self-injury, frequent nightmares in the previous year remained a significant predictor of future suicide attempt (odds ratio, 1.96; 95% CI, 1.15-3.33) and nonsuicidal self-injury (odds ratio, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.10-2.08). 

Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults

The relationship of health risk behavior and disease in adulthood to the breadth of exposure to childhood emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, and household dysfunction during childhood has not previously been described. […] Persons who had experienced four or more categories of childhood exposure, compared to those who had experienced none, had 4- to 12-fold increased health risks for alcoholism, drug abuse, depression, and suicide attempt; a 2- to 4-fold increase in smoking, poor self-rated health, ≥50 sexual intercourse partners, and sexually transmitted disease; and a 1.4- to 1.6-fold increase in physical inactivity and severe obesity. The number of categories of adverse childhood exposures showed a graded relationship to the presence of adult diseases including ischemic heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease, skeletal fractures, and liver disease. The seven categories of adverse childhood experiences were strongly interrelated and persons with multiple categories of childhood exposure were likely to have multiple health risk factors later in life. Conclusions: We found a strong graded relationship between the breadth of exposure to abuse or household dysfunction during childhood and multiple risk factors for several of the leading causes of death in adults.

Does Meditation Work? We Investigate.

We’d say the science from the last decade is pretty darn convincing. There’s a 2012 study from Johns Hopkins that indicated practicing mindfulness meditation improved anxiety, depression and pain. Another study conducted in the same year at the University of Washington showed that meditation can help increase focus and productivity. As for long-term benefits, research at UCLA showed that participants who meditated for an average of 20 years had more grey matter volume (which is responsible for processing information in the brain) than non-meditators. And just last year, a study conducted by doctors at the University of Southampton and psychiatrists at University College London found that reducing anxiety through meditation can reduce the risk of developing dementia later in life. Those are the facts, but the choice is yours. 

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 June 26, 2019

Exercise makes people happier than money, according to a Yale and Oxford study

The researchers concluded that, on average, Americans who regularly exercise feel unwell for 35 days per year, while Americans who are more sedentary feel unwell for 53 days per year. Additionally, they found that physically active Americans feel equally as well as Americans who are more sedentary but earn approximately $25,000 more per year. Money, in fact, does not buy happiness, according to research by Yale University and the University of Oxford. Rather, regular exercise, not economic status, is the greatest predictor of one’s overall happiness. In a Lancet-published study, researchers from Yale and Oxford cross-examined data on the emotional moods, physical activities and income levels of 1.2 million adult Americans. […] The researchers concluded that, on average, Americans who regularly exercise feel unwell for 35 days per year, while Americans who are more sedentary feel unwell for 53 days per year. Additionally, they found that physically active Americans feel equally as well as Americans who are more sedentary but earn approximately $25,000 more per year.

Junk food irreversibly damages male fertility by age 20: Harvard study

Eat well, finish better. Pizza, candy, chips and other processed, high-fat food can cause permanent damage to sperm, according to a new study from Harvard University. The researchers studied nearly 3,000 men ages 18 to 20 and found that vegetarians and those with diets rich in fruit, veggies, chicken and fish had higher sperm counts than those on a “Western diet” of processed meats and junk food. The results will be presented this week at the annual European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology conference in Vienna. “It’s almost certain that this is down to an effect that those with the better diets are taking in more antioxidants,” fertility expert professor Allan Pacey of Sheffield University tells The Independent. “With pizza, chips and red meat we know that the [oxidative] stress goes up and that is bad for sperm.”

Those taking antidepressants require 3 to 4 times more opioid medicine to lessen pain

Common antidepressants interact with the opioid pain medication tramadol to make it less effective for pain relief, according to a study from University Hospitals (UH). These findings have important implications for the opioid epidemic, suggesting that some patients suspected of drug-seeking may in fact be under-medicated and just are seeking more effective pain relief. They also could help explain why some people exceed the prescribed dose of tramadol, increasing their risk of addiction. The study was published in the journal Pharmacotherapy. […] Those patients who also were taking the antidepressants Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine) or Wellbutrin (bupropion) required three times more pain medication per day to control “breakthrough” pain throughout the day, when compared with patients not taking those antidepressants. “As we looked at in secondary analysis, it ended up being four times as much over their entire hospital stay,” said Derek Frost, a pharmacist at UH and lead author of the study.

Ian’s thoughts: this has to make you wonder how many opioid overdoses have been due to simultaneous antidepressant use forcing people to take 4 times more opioids than they would otherwise. 

New study: antidepressants significantly raise the risk of suicide among adults

Adults who start treatment with antidepressants for depression are 2.5 times more likely to attempt suicide when compared to placebo, according to new research published today in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. The study found that approximately 1 in every 200 people who start treatment will attempt suicide due to the pharmacologic effects of the drug. This number is significant given around 7.4 million people were prescribed antidepressants in England alone last year, and given international estimates which suggest around 1 in 20 suicide attempts will end in death. The study, ‘Newer-generation antidepressants and suicide risk in randomized controlled trials: A re-analysis of the FDA database’, reanalyses the safety summaries submitted to the FDA (the US drug regulator) for new generation antidepressants (SSRI, SNRI and atypical serotonergic-noradrenergic antidepressants like mirtazapine). The study was led by Dr Michael P. Hengartner, a senior research fellow at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences and member of the Council for Evidence-based Psychiatry (CEP), and Dr Martin Plöderl, senior researcher at Paracelsus Medical University, Salzburg.

Do brain injuries affect women differently than men?

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three women over the age of 15 has experienced what it categorizes as “intimate partner violence.” When Valera extends her sample to the overall population, she gets estimates that as many as 31 million women might have had a T.B.I. and 21 million might have had multiple mild ones. “Using annual estimates of severe physical violence,” Valera notes in a study published last fall in the Journal of Neurotrauma, “1.6 million women can be estimated to sustain repetitive T.B.I.s in comparison to the total annual numbers of T.B.I.s reported for the military and N.F.L. at 18,000 and 281 respectively.” Yet most of what scientists know about the potential prevalence and consequences of mild traumatic brain injury has come from studying contact sports, especially football — so, mostly men and boys — over the past 15 years. […] Unfortunately, they may never benefit from adequate research. Part of the problem is that women hurt by intimate partners tend to hide that fact, making them hard to identify and study. But the bigger issue is that public outrage and advocacy play a major role in determining what research gets funded. In the case of head trauma, almost all the attention is going to football — and so, by extension, to only one gender.

Toxic Pssychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for June 25, 2019

★ New health alert over antidepressants as study finds higher risk of suicide for patients on pills

Taking antidepressants raises the risk of suicide, a study suggests. Experts last night warned that patients should be told of the dangers before they start taking the pills. The research found depressed people on the drugs were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide as similar patients who were not taking them. 

  • People on antidepressants are ‘more than twice as likely to attempt suicide’
  • Research finds antidepressant drugs are producing an excess rate of suicides
  • Experts warn that patients should be told of the dangers before taking the pills
  • More British people take them than those in almost every other Western country

Study leader Dr Michael Hengartner, of Zurich University in Switzerland, said: ‘We can be confident that these drugs are producing an excess rate of suicides, beyond the depression itself. ‘There is no doubt that this must be a response to the pharmacological effect of the drugs themselves.’ Although the increased risk appears stark, in real terms the researchers calculated only 77 extra suicides per 100,000 patients taking the pills. […] The study found that people prescribed antidepressants were 2.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than depressed people taking placebo pills. The research, published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, combined the results of 14 studies involving nearly 32,000 people taking a variety of antidepressants.

Nutritional psychiatry: does food affect your mental health?

Ever wondered whether the proverbial saying ‘you are what you eat’ might actually be true? According to one school of thought called nutritional psychiatry, it may well be. A growing body of research has found that the foods we consume can affect our mental health; with certain nutrients benefiting our wellbeing, while others have been found to exacerbate conditions such as depression and anxiety. […] Nutritional psychiatry is about employing diet as a means to improve and safeguard your mental wellbeing. ‘Nutritional psychiatry utilises food and supplements as an alternative to medication in the treatment of mental health,’ says Fairclough. ‘Linking the food that you eat with the effect it has on your brain,’ adds Camfield. ‘Science has shown that not only can what we eat impact our physical health, it can also influence our mental health as well with research emerging to suggest nutritional interventions as a possible strategy for the management of psychological health.’

The secret to happiness is learning to love yourself (here’s how to start)

Happiness seems like it should be simple, but learning how to be happy can actually be a really difficult thing. This is because, in the pursuit of happiness, life tends to present both great struggles and great difficulty. This means that authentic happiness tends to be fleeting because it’s hard to love yourself and when troubling times strike to be able to answer the question, “What is happiness?” Life tends to present you with great love and successes as well as great losses and grief, so figuring out how to be happy in life doesn’t always come easily.

When your happiness is governed by your mood, it also tends to be fleeting. Everyone has good moods and bad moods. Real happiness is not just a mood, but a deep joy within you. Real happiness doesn’t come from outer circumstance or temporary moods, but from an inner relationship to yourself. It is a deep joy within you, a steadiness, a peace, a love, a connectedness that you have to life where your spirit and your heart are awakened.

8 signs getting in the way of your own happiness

Most of us want to be happy, right? Of course, life has its share of unfortunate circumstances and sad moments, but you mostly crave joy and happiness as you go about your day. Why, then, do you often feel unhappy or have a nagging feeling that doom and gloom are at your heels—even when things are going well for you? Experts say there are several reasons you might be unable to experience the happiness you deserve. And guess what? The common thread that’s likely holding you back is… you. Here are eight ways you might be getting in the way of your own happiness.

Money does make you happy, but only to a point

Staying within a healthy weight range does not just reduce the risk of chronic illnesses. “Fat is active in terms of inflammatory markers for your brain and it makes you unhappy,” Mosley said. “It’s true whether you are obese or whether you are overweight – you have an increased risk of becoming depressed by about 27 per cent.” Its not just weight, it’s what you eat, added Mosley, who favours the Mediterranean diet: “People do say to me ‘if the Mediterranean diet is so good, then why are people in Greece so fat?’ and I say, ‘Because they’re not eating the Mediterranean diet anymore.’” Those who are eating the real deal – which is a diet rich in oily fish, leafy vegetables, fruit and nuts – like the Swedes, are seeing the benefits. Research by the Food and Mood Centre has found depressed participants who ate a Mediterranean diet for three months experienced a ”much greater reduction in their depressive symptoms”, compared with those who received standard psychiatric care over the same period.

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 June 24, 2019

Antidepressants Can Lead To Reduced Responses To Pain Empathy

Antidepressant treatment can lead to impaired empathy regarding perception of pain, and not just the state of depression itself, according to a collaboration involving social neuroscientists, neuroimaging experts, and psychiatrists from the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna. Depression is a disorder that often comes along with strong impairments of social functioning. Until recently, researchers assumed that acute episodes of depression also impair empathy, an essential skill for successful social interactions and understanding others. However, previous research had been mostly carried out in groups of patients who were on antidepressant medication. […] After three months of antidepressant treatment, the research revealed relevant differences: patients reported their level of empathy to be lower, and brain activation was reduced in areas previously associated with empathy.

★ Common drugs including antidepressants could increase dementia risk

Common drugs including antidepressants could increase the risk of dementia by up to 50 per cent, a major study has found. Experts said the findings had “enormous implications” for millions of Britons, with half of middle-aged people taking one of the medications. The class of drugs – which are also prescribed to treat bladder conditions, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy- are called anticholinergic medication. Scientists said they could be could be responsible for as many as one in 10 cases of dementia. The study by Nottingham University, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, involved more than 280,000 UK patients over the age of 55 – including around 59,000 with a diagnosis of dementia. […] Their findings showed an almost 50 per cent increased risk of dementia among patients aged 55 and over who had used strong anticholinergic medication daily for three years or more.

The drug classes with the highest elevation of dementia risk in the study were antidepressants, antiparkinsons and antipsychotics.

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 June 22-23, 2019

Dr. Breggin interviewed regarding medications and rising Gen Z suicide

More than 200 prescription medications list depressive symptoms or suicidal thinking as possible side effects. The risk of these side effects increases if a person takes multiple prescriptions carrying those possible side effects.  Psychiatrist Peter Breggin, the author of Medication Madness, told CBN News far too many people who are taking these drugs don’t read the warning labels, and too many doctors don’t mention the possible side effects of drugs they prescribe. “Any drug that is affecting your mind, your mood, your feelings, has the potential to cause a disaster. Most of the school shooters have been on psychiatric drugs, and a great number of them were on psychiatric drugs at the time or shortly before they committed violence. And violence and suicide go together. Are you going to turn your rage out or are you going to turn your rage inward?” he said.

.No Significant Differences Between CBT Delivery Formats for Depression

The efficacy of individual, group, telephone-administered, and guided self-help delivery formats for cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) do not differ significantly in the treatment of depression, according to a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. […] A total of 155 studies with 15,191 patients met the inclusion criteria; 2 studies that had 2 CBT interventions underwent separate comparisons. Individual, group, guided self-help, and telephone CBT were significantly more effective than unguided self-help CBT (standardized mean difference 0.34-0.59). There were no statistically significant differences between individual, group, guided self-help, and telephone CBT; a small but significant superiority of group CBT over guided self-help CBT was found (standard mean difference 0.25). Unguided self-help was statistically less effective than individual, group, telephone, and guided help CBT. Results of these analyses were broadly confirmed in several sensitivity analyses.

15 Frightful Facts About Nightmares

A dream is a recollection of subjective experiences that happen during rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep. On the other hand, nightmares are markedly dysphoric dreams with intense negative emotions which primarily manifest during late-night REM sleep. Due to dreams themselves being subjective, the research on dreams has been largely empirical. Lots of dream research connects it to mental health. Ever since Freud wrote that “the interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind” in his book Interpretation of Dreams in 1899, experts have been interested in the relationship between mental pathology and dreams. To learn more, let’s take a look at these 15 facts about nightmares:

Depression, Inflammation and Women’s Mental Health

The link between depression and the body’s inflammatory response continues getting stronger, with more research showing an ever-tighter correlation. Whether inflammation causes depression has been difficult to nail down, but findings from a new study suggest we could be getting closer to an answer. For women in particular, it seems higher levels of inflammation can lead to an underlying condition that fuels depression. […] “The study is the first to show that there are sex differences in neural sensitivity to reward in response to inflammation, which has important implications […] This may suggest one reason women experience depression at a far greater rate than men, particularly for the kinds of depression that may be inflammatory in nature.” […] “This [study] suggests that women with chronic inflammatory disorders may be particularly vulnerable to developing depression through decreases in sensitivity to reward,” added the study’s first author Mona Moieni, Ph.D., a postdoctoral researcher. “Clinicians who treat female patients with inflammatory disorders may want to pay close attention to these patients for the possible onset of depressive symptoms.”

Lee Coleman – Breaking Out of the Circle: Creating a Non-Violent Revolution

This week on MIA Radio, we continue our series of discussions with Doctor Lee Coleman. In previous podcasts, we have discussed Lee’s views as a critical psychiatrist and the role of psychiatry in the courtroom. This time, we turn our attention to the need for action to address the inherent power held by psychiatry and how society might respond.

How strong is the link between mental health and crime?

In my job, I assess and treat patients in prisons, secure locked forensic psychiatric units and in court during criminal trials. Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of my patients are men. What I’m interested in (and what keeps me in a job) is the link between mental illness and violence and also the reasons behind the gender bias. Men are grossly overrepresented in terms of violent offences. According to the Ministry Of Justice national statistics, 85 per cent of all arrests in 2016/2017 were of men and in 2018 95 per cent of prisoners were male. […] As for the link between violence and mental illness, different studies yield disparate results. There are many reasons behind this: different populations are studied, the definition of mental illness can vary and violence can be defined and measured in alternate ways (arrests vs convictions; severe vs more minor). The general consensus is that although the vast majority of patients with serious mental illnesses (such as schizophrenia) will not behave violently, there is still an indisputable link.

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 June 21, 2019

The Rise and Fall of the Depression Gene

This landmark study, in the midst of an endless nature-nurture debate, was evidence that not only were both genetic and environmental factors important, the two worlds actually depended on each other. This demonstration of what was called a “gene-environment interaction” became a cornerstone principle in our understanding of how behavior, both typical and atypical, develops. […] A new study, now, throws all of this into question. [… it] has dealt a major blow to the entire candidate gene world.  Using samples of up to nearly half a million people, the researchers decided to try and replicate the results of dozens of previously published links (which were often based on much smaller samples) between 18 particular candidate genes and depression, either on their own or in interaction with environmental factors such as early abuse or poverty.  What they found was essentially nothing, and the authors argued that these particular genes are “no more associated with depression… than genes chosen at random.” In the end, the authors call researchers to “abandon” candidate gene research in depression.  And since the release of the paper, few people seem to be arguing otherwise.

Why psychiatry & nutrition need to go together

Nutritional psychiatry is a growing facet in the mental health industry. In it, professionals prescribe foods that will nourish the brain in the best possible way, giving the brain the tools it needs to fight inflammation and rebalance. This nutrition-inclusive mindset makes sense. Your brain is constantly churning 24/7—as the powerhouse of the body, it never really gets a break. It needs high-quality, nourishing fuel to keep it functioning smoothly, a lot like a sports car. Give it the wrong fuel (or a low grade of fuel), and you might do some costly damage. When you think of it that way, it’s amazing that nutrition isn’t already an essential component of any mental wellness protocol. As more and more mental health professionals turn to nutrition to provide relief for depression, anxiety and low self esteem, here are three widely-researched nutrition principles that exert some of the most powerful control over our moods.

Early regular cannabis use associated with impaired cognitive control

The development of neural circuits in youth, at a particularly important time in their lives, can be heavily influenced by external factors — specifically the frequent and regular use of cannabis. A new study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP), published by Elsevier, reports that alterations in cognitive control — an ensemble of processes by which the mind governs, regulates and guides behaviors, impulses, and decision-making based on goals are directly affected. The researchers found that these brain alterations were less intense in individuals who recently stopped using cannabis, which may suggest that the effects of cannabis are more robust in recent users. Additional findings from the study also suggest greater and more persistent alterations in individuals who initiated cannabis use earlier, while the brain is still developing.

The U.S. suicide rate reaches its highest level in decades

Suicide doesn’t discriminate: It affects people regardless of age, race, class, gender or income level, and for every completed suicide, there are 25 other attempts. That’s why it’s a public health crisis — it is the tenth leading cause of death in United States. And now that number may be on the rise. According to a new report, suicide rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, with a particular uptick observed in indigenous women. The report, published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, found the suicide rate was 33 percent higher in 2017 than in 1999, making it the highest since World War II. The increase affected both women and men; however, Native American and Native Alaskan rates were particularly high.

Ian’s thoughts: Suicide is rising despite the fact that antidepressant use has also been rising. According to CDC data, when SSRIs were first hitting the market, during 1988-1994, only 1.8% of Americans were taking antidepressants. But during 2011-2014 that percentage had risen markedly to 10.7% of Americans. So, on average, approximately 1 out of every 10 Americans you see are taking an antidepressant! Yet rather than reducing the worst consequence of depression, suicide has also been rising. No surprise to those of us familiar with Dr. Breggin’s work!

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 June 20, 2019

Women Are Ditching Their Antidepressants At Higher Rates Than Men

I was first prescribed antidepressants for chronic, low-level depression in 2013. That doesn’t make me special; Harvard Health Publishing estimates that one in 10 women ages 18 and over are on antidepressants, and women are twice as likely as men to take antidepressant medication, according to national survey data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). […] Research shows that nearly a quarter of antidepressant prescriptions are never filled and 30 to 60 percent of all patients commencing treatment with antidepressants stop taking the medication within the first 12 weeks. Women are less likely to adhere to their prescriptions than men. […] “There’s a continuum of treatments for all people with depression that starts with lifestyle changes, including things like meditation, following a healthy diet, and talk therapy” […] There’s a reason antidepressants come with a black-box warning from the Food and Drug Administration: they can be associated with an increased risk of suicidal thinking, feeling, and behavior. That’s what happened to Jandra S., 29, who was prescribed antidepressants for anxiety and depression. “The first time I took antidepressants, I didn’t even notice that my symptoms were getting worse,” she says. “I just remember hitting a low point—on the verge of suicide—and I couldn’t remember how I got there.” She stopped taking the meds about a month after being prescribed them.

Video chat with friends, family for a mental health boost

A recent study from Oregon Health & Science University in Portland found that the use of video chat with friends and family also may be an effective way for older adults to dramatically reduce their risk for depression. The study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, used data from the National Institute on Aging’s Health and Retirement Study, which surveys older Americans every two years. […] Researchers found that older adults who connected with their loved ones through email exchanges, Facebook posts or instant messaging sessions had about the same rate of depression compared to those who did not. By contrast, those who communicated through video chat cut their probability of depression by nearly half. “We need to get beyond a discussion of technology being good or bad […] The conversation we need to be having, and I hope that this study helps move forward, is what ways should we be using our technology and what particular types of platforms might be the most beneficial for our health and happiness.”

Spending time outdoors is linked to a serious boost in well-being, the kind that lasts a lifetime

It’s been established that people who spend more time in parks and other natural settings tend to report higher levels of health and happiness, but new research shows there’s actually a magic number for it. According to a study published this week in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, spending 120 minutes a week strolling a tree-lined street or sitting by a lake can greatly enhance a person’s overall sense of well-being. Less time didn’t yield any significant benefit, the research showed. Those who got in two to three hours in nature were about 20 percent more likely to report high overall satisfaction with their lives than those who spent no time outdoors at all. The benefits to physical health were even greater, with those who met the outdoors benchmark being 60 percent more likely to report being in good health than their cooped-in counterparts. […] That’s exactly what the current research does, using a nationally representative sample of 20,000 people living in England. The authors note their approach is similar to what governments have used in the past to develop physical activity guidelines for adults and children. They envision the creation of similar guidelines around exposure to nature.

Can a happier spouse help you live longer?

My husband Don is generally a pretty cheerful guy. He has a great network of friends, takes good care of himself, and does work that is meaningful to him. Certainly, Don’s happy disposition is a boon for me, as his happiness makes our relationship run more smoothly. But could it have any impact on my health—perhaps even extending my life? A new study by Olga Stavrova of Tilburg University in the Netherlands looked at that very question. […] Her findings were pretty remarkable: When a person’s partner was significantly happier—in science-speak, one standard deviation higher than average in life satisfaction—that person had a 13 percent lower chance of dying within the eight-year period. This was true regardless of the person’s age, ethnicity, SES [socioeconomic status], or health when their partner’s happiness was measured. […]  A happier partner tended to exercise more, which was tied to a person’s own willingness to exercise more. And since more exercise is tied to greater longevity, it’s possible that this social influence around exercising is what’s making the difference.

Viewpoint: Neuroscientists cannot afford to ignore differences between male, female brains

As a neuroscientist who identifies as a woman, I love that there is discussion of dismantling the patriarchy and supporting diversity for those working in STEM. But, as a neuroscientist who studied the neurobiology of postpartum depression and how hormones affect the brain, there’s another layer to the issue of sexism in the field that we have to talk about: diversifying our research subject pools. Neuroscience has historically had a problem of predominantly using male test subjects, from studies of how the brain works to what happens in brain illnesses. The field then assumes that whatever has been true for them will be true for everyone else. This assumption is dangerous. Take the drug zolpidem (trade name: Ambien) to treat insomnia. When the medication was first released in 1992, doctors provided men and women with prescriptions of equal doses of zolpidem, and hoped that this would alleviate their sleep troubles. But, no such luck… for women. Women began reporting adverse effects ranging from hallucinations to sensory distortions because the drug was not clearing out as quickly from their bodies. In 2010, women accounted for 68% of ER visits related to zolpidem. Researchers are still not entirely sure why women are more sensitive to it; hypotheses range from differences in how men and women’s liver enzymes work, body weight differences, and even testosterone levels. Nonetheless, the FDA now recommends that women should be prescribed smaller doses than men.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for June 19, 2019

★ Antidepressants can reduce empathy for those in pain

Novel insights of an interdisciplinary collaboration involving social neuroscientists, neuroimaging experts, and psychiatrists from the University of Vienna and the Medical University of Vienna show that antidepressant treatment can lead to impaired empathy regarding perception of pain, and not just the state of depression itself. The results of this study have been published in the scientific journal Translational Psychiatry. […] patients underwent functional magnetic resonance imaging while watching videos of people undergoing painful medical procedures. Their brain activity and self-reported empathy were compared to those of a group of healthy controls. Before treatment, patients and controls responded in a comparable way. After three months of antidepressant treatment, the research revealed relevant differences: patients reported their level of empathy to be lower, and brain activation was reduced in areas previously associated with empathy.

Those results corroborate one of Dr Breggin’s basic scientific observations, that all psychoactive drugs suppress empathy for self and others and antidepressants very potently.

Mindfulness appears to diminish depression by reducing rumination

New research sheds light on the relationship between depression and mindfulness. The study found that people who exhibit more dispositional mindfulness tend to ruminate less about past events. “I have long studied rumination, which is a counterproductive way that some people approach difficult situations and aversive emotions (e.g., anxiety, fear, and a self-defeated stance), and I have recently become interested in mindfulness, as it seems, in many ways, to be the opposite of rumination,” explained study author Paul Jose, a professor of psychology at Victoria University of Wellington. “Ruminators tend to latch onto a negative emotion and repeatedly mull it over in their mind, whereas mindfulness teaches us to not to become entangled with our negative emotions. Instead, according to Buddhist teachings, one should be aware of one’s negative emotions, e.g., worrying about an upcoming event, but just let the negative emotions pass away without becoming unduly attached to them.”

Pomegranate compound with anti-aging effects passes human trial

Urolithin A, a metabolite of biomolecules found in pomegranates and other fruits, could help slow certain aging processes. EPFL spin-off Amazentis, in conjunction with EPFL and the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, has published a paper in the journal Nature Metabolism outlining the results of their clinical trial. […] Pomegranate, a fruit prized by many civilizations for its health benefits, contains ellagitannins. When ingested, these molecules are converted into a compound called urolithin A (UA) in the human gut. The researchers found that UA can slow down the mitochondrial aging process. The catch is that not everyone produces UA naturally. To get around that problem, and to make sure all participants received an equal dose, the team synthesized the compound.  […] UA is the only known compound that re-establishes cells’ ability to recycle defective mitochondria. In young people, this process happens naturally. But as we age, our body starts to lose its power to clean up dysfunctional mitochondria, causing sarcopenia (loss of skeletal muscle mass) and the weakening of other tissues. The team focused on slowing, or even reversing, this natural effect of aging.

Suppliers of antidepressants accused of illegal anti-competitive conduct

Suppliers of antidepressants accused of illegal anti-competitive conduct by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA). The CMA has provisionally found that four pharmaceutical companies broke competition law in relation to the supply of an anti-depressant drug. The CMA has accused competitors King and Auden Mckenzie of sharing out between them the supply of nortriptyline to a large pharmaceutical wholesaler. The CMA has provisionally found that, in 2014, the two companies agreed Auden Mckenzie would supply only 10mg nortriptyline tablets and King would supply only 25mg nortriptyline tablets, as well as agreeing to fix the quantities and the prices of supply. The CMA has also accused the companies King, Alissa and Lexon of exchanging commercially sensitive information, including information about prices, volumes and entry plans, to try to keep Nortriptyline prices high. […] “We expect drug suppliers to abide by competition law so that the NHS is not denied the opportunity of benefitting from lower prices for medicines.”

History professor traces the rise of psychiatric drugs

There was a series of specific debacles that were hugely embarrassing for the profession. One concerned the decision to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM] in the 1970s by vote. If people could vote diseases in and out, some wondered what kind of medical profession this was. There was a very high-profile article in the 1970s that appeared in Science called “On Being Sane in Insane Places” that basically involved a social scientist sending stooges into hospitals and making up symptoms that had never been described in any kind of diagnostic manual, and all of them were admitted to the hospitals. The minute they were admitted, they started acting completely normal but some of them were in for weeks and weeks. It was hugely embarrassing not to be able to determine between sane and insane people. Then insurance companies started asking why we should make reimbursements if psychiatrists can’t tell who is sick and who isn’t.

How Much Work Brings Happiness? Not Much, Study Shows

Having a job can be a boon to mental well-being, but for many of us, it only takes one day of work per week, a new study suggests. The study, of more than 70,000 adults in the United Kingdom, found that when unemployed people found a job, their mental health typically improved. But, on average, it only took eight hours of work per week — with no sign of extra benefits with more time on the job. The one-day work week may not be a reality any time soon. Nor would it likely satisfy people who thrive on the job. But the findings do suggest that when it comes to mental health, many people would be fine working less than the standard 40 hours, according to researchers Brendan Burchell and Daiga Kamerade-Hanta. “We aren’t advocating an immediate jump to one-day work weeks,” Burchell said. “Our results came as a surprise to us.”

The Antidepressant Fact Book – by Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for June 18, 2019

Bringing mindfulness to the masses

 It started underground, a grassroots effort by Penn State researcher Robert Roeser to help his students understand how ancient wisdom and modern psychology could be combined to help them cope with suffering and cultivate flourishing. Then a professor at Stanford University, Roeser wanted to teach his students contemplative practices like mindfulness that could help them better understand themselves and not only cope with the stress of college life, but also to thrive. Because contemplative practices like meditation weren’t yet mainstream or backed up by research, Roeser taught these techniques quietly and found the students loved them. […] “We’re interested in the intersection of science and practices like mindfulness, which stem from old wisdom traditions,” said Roeser, the Bennett Pierce Professor of Caring and Compassion in the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center. “We’re trying to bring these two together, ancient wisdom practices and modern science, which aims to produce replicable, verifiable knowledge, in order to improve our understanding of human development and to create new practices to help individuals flourish.”

FDA overlooked red flags in drugmaker’s testing of new depression medicine

Ketamine is a darling of combat medics and clubgoers, an anesthetic that can quiet your pain without suppressing breathing and a hallucinogenic that can get you high with little risk of a fatal overdose. […] The problem, critics say, is that the drug’s manufacturer, Janssen, provided the FDA at best modest evidence it worked and then only in limited trials. It presented no information about the safety of Spravato for long-term use beyond 60 weeks. And three patients who received the drug died by suicide during clinical trials, compared with none in the control group, raising red flags Janssen and the FDA dismissed. The FDA, under political pressure to rapidly greenlight drugs that treat life-threatening conditions, approved it anyway. And, though Spravato’s appearance on the market was greeted with public applause, some deep misgivings were expressed at its daylong review meeting and in the agency’s own briefing materials, according to public recordings, documents and interviews with participants, KHN found.

Childhood trauma, genetics associated with suicidal behavior in bipolar disorder

Childhood trauma and certain genetic variants may increase risk for suicidal behavior among patients with bipolar disorder, according to cross-sectional data published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. Investigators recruited 135 outpatients from the Bipolar Disorder Program in Spain, extracting both retrospective data on illness course and current data on sociodemographic and clinical features. Patients underwent assessment for childhood trauma and suicidal behavior per the Childhood Trauma Questionnaire and the Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale, respectively. In addition, genotyping was performed with participant blood samples. A set of 8 hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis genes and 28 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were selected for analysis per prior literature on the genetics of bipolar disorder. […] These data indicate that childhood maltreatment, particularly emotional and sexual abuse, may increase risk for suicidality among adult patients with bipolar disorder. In addition, genetic variability analyses identified 1 CRH-BP and 2 FKBP5 SNPs as associated with suicidal behavior, although only the FKBP5 rs2766533 polymorphism remained significant after permutation correction. Researchers noted that no interaction between genes and the environment was found. Further research in a larger cohort is necessary to explore these findings.

‘Benzos’ becoming deadly as people try to quit cold turkey

Benzos are typically used to treat anxiety and only for a short period of time. The problem is that while opioid withdrawals won’t kill you, benzodiazepines can. The withdrawal is supposed to be slow, methodical and in the care of a doctor. Pedersen tried to quit cold turkey and it almost killed her. “It was so incredibly painful to get off, I just couldn’t go any faster,” she said. Doctor Ky Dorsey, the chief of psychiatry at Mckay Dee Hospital says, benzos are extremely addictive. He says the brain develops an emotional dependency on them. “When you try to come off of it, you feel anxious and so you think ah, I need more of it,” said Dr. Dorsey. “The withdrawal syndrome can actually kill you. It can cause your heart rate to go up, your blood pressure to go up to the point where you die.”

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for June 17, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 06.12.19

Probably my most impassioned discussion of The Psychiatric Abuse of Children with guest psychotherapist Michael Cornwall, PhD adding experience and grounding, as well as wisdom.  And we introduce my first major reform project in years, to be directed by Michael through our nonprofit Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy.  The FDA has approved using a TENS machine called Monarch to delivery electrical “stimulation” to the frontal lobes of children to treat ADHD.  It is actually electrical disruption of normal brain function.   I stumble on air trying to find words horrific enough to describe the size of the danger to children.  The current is applied every night, all night, to the entirely normal brains of children 8 to 12 years old with no apparent limit on for how many months or years of treatment.    Now that it’s FDA approved, Monarch can e legally used on any and all children at the doctor’s whim.  The FDA required only a single 4-week long study to approve this gross intrusion to the highest centers of the normal brain.  Only 62 children were studied and only half of them got the treatment.  It’s a tiny experimental group without replication by a second study.  Meanwhile, the manufacturer is intent on a year or more of electrifying the children every night, but its 12-month study utterly failed.  All but three children and families quit the study before it was scheduled to end.  We are talking about a potentially disastrous tsunami of psychiatric abuse of children, spilling over onto adults.  Michael Cornwall and I tell you about our new organization that this atrocity has inspired.  It’s called Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children! or SPAC!   We invite you to join SPAC! And  we invite you to help us stop this latest psychiatrist abuse of children.   

10 crucial behaviors that keep love alive

Despite the readily-available relationship advice, relationship-seekers are too often finding that what they expect to experience and what actually happens, rarely match up. Undaunted, most of them continue to seek and master the skills that they feel will fulfill the promise of lasting love. Yet, in over forty years of working with individuals and couples, I have sadly watched their repeated disappointments when seemingly hopeful relationships just don’t work out. They wonder what they are missing. I believe I know what is missing and how they can win this battle. It is just a matter of looking in the wrong place. I truly believe that, no matter how much effort and energy people put into mastering complicated and diverse relationship skills, they often overlook the more basic and crucial behaviors that enduring love requires. Without these basic behaviors, no couple can deepen and maintain a long-term relationship. 

4 skills from psychiatry that can improve end-of-life care

Palliative care inherently involves difficult topics and, therefore, requires an unusual communication skill set. Fortunately, these skills are not unique to palliative care, and elements of psychiatry, in particular, relate. Two physician specialists in end-of-life care provide insights into this commonality, focusing on ways to remain patient-centered and build and convey empathy. The AMA Code of Medical Ethics provides additional guidance on end-of-life care […] Indrany Datta-Barua, MD, an associate psychiatrist at Chicago Psychiatry Associates, and Joshua Hauser, MD, associate professor of medicine and director of the palliative medicine fellowship at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine […] focused on four key skills…

The “online brain”: how the Internet may be changing our cognition

The impact of the Internet across multiple aspects of modern society is clear. However, the influence that it may have on our brain structure and functioning remains a central topic of investigation. […] Overall, the available evidence indicates that the Internet can produce both acute and sustained alterations in each of these areas of cognition, which may be reflected in changes in the brain. However, an emerging priority for future research is to determine the effects of extensive online media usage on cognitive development in youth, and examine how this may differ from cognitive outcomes and brain impact of uses of Internet in the elderly. We conclude by proposing how Internet research could be integrated into broader research settings to study how this unprecedented new facet of society can affect our cognition and the brain across the life course.

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

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

News & Information for June 15-16, 2019

Mad Science, Psychiatric Coercion and the Therapeutic State: An Interview with Dr. David Cohen

On MIA Radio this week, MIA’s Peter Simons interviewed David Cohen, PhD, a social worker, professor of social welfare, and Associate Dean for Research at the Luskin School of Public Affairs of the University of California, Los Angeles. He discussed his path to becoming a researcher focused on mental health, coercive practices, and discontinuation from psychiatric drugs.

Why are the youngest children in a classroom diagnosed with ADHD?

Many recent studies have found that children are significantly more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD if they are younger than their peers in their classroom, known as the relative age effect. A recent article, published in Pedagogy, Culture & Society, discusses the implications of the relative age effect findings. […] The relative-age effect, seen when children are younger when compared to their peers in the same grade in school, occurs because school-year cutoffs are based on when children are born. For instance, children born in January might be in a class with children born in December of the same year, making them 11 months younger. In early childhood, 11 months is a long developmental period, making some children likely to be at an earlier stage of development while their peers are more cognitively developed.

Human nature isn’t toxic; people are

So-called “toxic masculinity” is having a moment. The popular recognition of this intersectional feminist belief was exacerbated by the American Psychological Association’s “guidelines” for working with men and boys. These guidelines were compiled by the APA’s Division 51, “The Society for the Psychological Study of Men & Masculinities,” which deemed “traditional masculinity” harmful.  The distribution of the APA’s guidelines created significant controversy. Multiple psychologists stated the new guidelines followed ideological, rather than scientific, principles. […] The [APA’s] message is clear: Men are the oppressors, and women are the oppressed. Boys and men should therefore have therapeutic treatment that includes a discussion about their “privilege,” while women should be encouraged to pursue “resistance.” In other words, your sex dictates your status.

ECT litigation update: Are patients being warned of brain-damage risk?

The DK Law Group (“DKLG”) continues to litigate new actions on behalf of those injured by ECT. In October of 2018, in Riera v. Somatics, LLC, the United States District Court for the Central District of California ruled that there was sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to find that the prominent manufacturer of ECT devices, Somatics, LLC, caused brain injury in the plaintiffs by failing to warn their treating physicians of the risk of brain injury associated with ECT, and also through a failure to investigate and report to the FDA complaints of brain damage and death resulting from ECT. The decision is now published and can be cited to support that those who administer ECT must keep aware of, and communicate to patients, the complaints of injury reflected by the FDA’s adverse event database. If the manufacturer fails to report complaints of a particular adverse event or risk, and a patient doesn’t receive warning of that risk in consenting to treatment, both the manufacturer and the doctors/ECT providers are potentially liable.

★ Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction recognized as medical condition

The announcement came earlier this week. On June 11, the European Medicines Agency formally declared that it was recognizing Post-SSRI Sexual Dysfunction (PSSD) as a medical condition that can outlast discontinuation of SSRI and SNRI antidepressants. After lengthy and extensive review, the agency’s Pharmacovigilance Risk Assessment Committee determined that “sexual dysfunction, which is known to occur with treatment with SSRIs and SNRIs and usually resolves after treatment has stopped, can be long-lasting in some patients, even after treatment withdrawal.” The newly recognized condition is “characterized by the fact that patients continue to present sexual side effects after the discontinuation of the drugs,” the authors of a case study noted earlier this year, with symptoms “mainly consist[ing] of hypo-anesthesia [marked numbness] of the genital area, loss of libido, and erectile dysfunction.”

Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing

Growing evidence of a positive association between contact with natural environments and health and well-being has led to calls for improved understanding of any exposure-response relationships27,28. The aim of the current study was to assess these relationships with a measure based on direct exposure to natural environments, rather than residential proximity. […]

After a range of covariates had been taken into account, individuals who spent between 1 and 119 mins in nature in the last week were no more likely to report good health or high well-being than those who reported 0 mins. However, individuals who reported spending ≥120 mins in nature last week had consistently higher levels of both health and well-being than those who reported no exposure. Sensitivity analyses using splines to allow duration to be modeled as a continuous variable suggested that beyond 120 mins there were decreasing marginal returns until around 200–300 mins when the relationship flattened or even dropped. We tentatively suggest, therefore, that 120 mins contact with nature per week may reflect a kind of “threshold”, below which there is insufficient contact to produce significant benefits to health and well-being, but above which such benefits become manifest. 

Cultivating kindness through meditation can slow the aging process

New research finds a link between these practical and spiritual concerns. A new study reports that cultivating kindness through the practice of meditation may slow the aging process. […] 176 participants between the ages of 35 and 64. All provided blood samples at the beginning and conclusion of the 12-week study. The researchers used these samples to measure the length of their telomeres, the compound structures found at the ends of chromosomes. Often compared to the plastic tips of shoelaces, telomeres protect DNA against instability and degradation. Shorter telomere length has been linked to various aging-related diseases and a higher risk of mortality. […] “Telomeres tended to shorten across all experimental conditions—significantly so in the mindfulness meditation group and the control group,” the researchers report. “However, the daily practice of loving-kindness meditation appeared to buffer against that attrition,” as members of the loving-kindness group “showed no significant telomere shortening over time.”

Listening to music may ease cancer patients’ pain

Listening to music at home may reduce cancer patients’ pain and fatigue and ease symptoms like loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating, according to research in Taiwan. In the study, breast cancer patients assigned to 30 minutes of music listening five times a week had “noticeably” reduced side effects of cancer and its treatment over 24 weeks, researchers report in the European Journal of Cancer Care. The patients said the music helped their physical and psychological wellbeing because it distanced them from negative thoughts about cancer. “Music therapy is convenient, does not involve invasive procedures, and can easily be used by people in the comfort of their homes,” said senior study author Kuei-Ru Chou of Taipei Medical University.

VA releases new findings on the connection between Traumatic Brain Injury and dementia

VA and the Kristine Yaffe Lab at the University of California, San Francisco, have taken a new approach to understanding the association of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) — with and without loss of consciousness (LOC) — with dementia among Veterans. Their recent study, one of the largest in the United States, included 178,779 Veterans in the VA health care system who were diagnosed with various levels of TBI severity. The study found that TBI with and without LOC are both associated with a heightened risk of developing dementia. Even mild TBI without LOC was associated with more than a twofold increase in the risk of a dementia diagnosis. […] To learn more about TBI symptoms and treatment for Veterans, visit VA’s mental health page on TBI or go to MakeTheConnection.net, which features videos of Veterans talking about their experience with TBI.

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 June 14, 2019

Two hours a week is key dose of nature for health and wellbeing

Spending at least two hours a week in nature may be a crucial threshold for promoting health and wellbeing, according to a new large-scale study.

 
Research led by the University of Exeter, published in Scientific Reports and funded by NIHR, found that people who spend at least 120 minutes in nature a week are significantly more likely to report good health and higher psychological wellbeing than those who don’t visit nature at all during an average week. However, no such benefits were found for people who visited natural settings such as town parks, woodlands, country parks and beaches for less than 120 minutes a week.

Inpatient Psychiatric Sleep Disturbances Related to Clinical Outcomes

Self-reported sleep disturbances during inpatient psychiatric treatment contributed to worse short-term and long-term clinical outcomes, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. Researchers examined the relationship between self-reported inpatient sleep disturbances and clinical outcomes, including suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, disability, and overall well-being. Patients who were voluntarily admitted to the hospital completed evaluations to assess depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation and behavior, anxiety symptoms, quality of life, function, and substance use. […] Significant associations between sleep trajectory group and clinical outcomes at discharge were revealed.

Study links certain sleep disorders with accelerated aging

Sleep-disordered breathing is a general term that encompasses several chronic conditions from frequent snoring to obtrusive sleep apnea, which occurs when the airways become blocked during sleep. During OSA fits, sufferers will usually stop breathing for about 10 seconds at a time though it can sometimes be longer. This causes the individual to violently awake. There are certain ailments that fall under the umbrella term of SDB, that don’t cause individuals to stop breathing completely during sleep, like sleep hypopnea for instance, a disorder wherein blood oxygen saturation becomes lower due to continued shallow breathing. However, every case of SBD, results in intermittent sleep, as the deprivation of oxygen, however severe, triggers an inner alarm inside the body.

How people want to feel determines how they respond to others, Stanford psychologists find

In a new study, Stanford psychologists examined why some people respond differently to an upsetting situation and learned that people’s motivations play an important role in how they react. Their study found that when a person wanted to stay calm, they remained relatively unfazed by angry people, but if they wanted to feel angry, then they were highly influenced by angry people. The researchers also discovered that people who wanted to feel angry also got more emotional when they learned that other people were just as upset as they were, according to the results from a series of laboratory experiments the researchers conducted. Their findings, published June 13 in Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, reveal that people have more control over how their emotions get influenced than previously realized, the researchers said. “We have long known that people often try to regulate their emotions when they believe that they are unhelpful,” said James Gross, a professor of psychology at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences. “This set of studies extends this insight by showing that people can also regulate the way they are influenced by others’ emotions.”

Meditation helps treat and even prevent opioid addiction, University of Utah studies show

A series of studies headed by a University of Utah professor suggest that mindfulness training — or meditation — can help those struggling with opioid addiction. Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement, or MORE, is a program developed by Eric Garland, director of the Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development and the associate dean for research in the U.’s College of Social Work. Through several studies, one of which is slated to be published this summer, he found the program helped people recover from and even prevent opioid addiction, more so than traditional group therapy. […] “What happens when people become more and more addicted is that they become less responsive to natural pleasure. They become blunted to joy from everyday events and experiences and that kind of pushes them to take higher and higher doses of the drug just to feel OK. Mindfulness Oriented Recovery Enhancement seemed to be reversing this process by increasing physiological sensitivity to natural pleasure,” he said. “We saw this by changes in people’s heart rate as they were looking at pictures of smiling babies, beautiful sunsets, lovers holding hands, you know we showed them pictures of things that should be naturally rewarding.”

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

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

News & Information for June 13, 2019

Alert 105: Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children! or SPAC!

My Wednesday June 12, 2019 show was my most impassioned discussion of The Psychiatric Abuse of Children with guest psychotherapist Michael Cornwall, PhD adding experience and grounding, as well as wisdom.  What the FDA has unleashed upon children is unprecedented and begins a new era of electrical abuse.

Michael and I tell you about our new organization that this atrocity has inspired.  It’s called Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children! or SPAC! We invite you to join SPAC! And  we invite you to help us stop this latest psychiatrist abuse of children.   This will be my first major organized reform effort in many years.  SPAC! will be directed by Michael through our nonprofit Center for the Study of Empathic Therapy. 

The FDA has approved using a TENS machine called Monarch to delivery electrical “stimulation” to the forehead through to delicate, vulnerable frontal lobes of children to treat ADHD.  The current spreading diffusely like a mini-electrical lobotomy cannot fix anything. It actually causes a broad  electrical disruption of normal brain function.  I was so dismayed but this “treatment,” I stumble on air trying to find words horrific enough to describe the size of the danger to children. 

The current is applied every night, all night, to the entirely normal brains of children 7 to 12 years old with no apparent limit on for how many months or years of treatment.    Now that it’s FDA approved, Monarch can be legally used on any and all children at the doctor’s whim.  The FDA required only a single 4-week long study to approve this gross intrusion to the highest centers of the normal brain. 

Only 62 children were studied and only half of them got the electrical treatment.  It’s a tiny experimental group without replication by a second study that will lead to a pandemic of abuse.  Meanwhile, the manufacturer is intent on a year or more of electrifying the children every night, but its 12-month study utterly failed.  All but three children and families quit the study before it was scheduled to end.  The FDA gave no importance to this disastrous result, confirming that the FDA’s Medical Devices section has lost its conscience.

We are talking about a potentially disastrous tsunami of psychiatric abuse of children, spilling over onto adults.   Learn more about this “treatment” and about our new organization, including relevant publications you can download for free.  https://breggin.com/childrens-page

Peter R. Breggin

Caffeine and neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with dementia: A systematic review

Researchers conducted a systematic review of seven studies to assess the link between caffeine consumption and neuropsychiatric symptoms in patients with dementia. These studies were identified from Medline (PubMed), Embase, Emcare, Cochrane, PsychInfo, Web of Science, and gray literature. They excluded studies involving subjects without a diagnosis of dementia, or those that presented a review or expert opinion. Sleeping difficulties and behavioral symptoms were reported in four and five studies, respectively. According to the findings, neuropsychiatric symptoms in individual patients with dementia could be either induced or attenuated by caffeine, and thus, a prudent individualized approach is needed for caffeine intake in these patients.

Mindfulness App Alters Brain Reactivity, Cuts Cigarette Use

A mindfulness-based smoking cessation app may help reduce smokers’ daily cigarette consumption — especially for women — and may change brain activity in the posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), a region implicated in cravings, new research suggests. Investigators compared the mindfulness training (MT) app to a smoking cessation app from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) over a 1-month period and found that among those who used the MT app, there was a significant correlation between a reduction in PCC reactivity to smoking cues and a decline in cigarette consumption that was not found in the control group.

The psychology of screen time

The average American spends up to six hours a day with some sort of screen media, but little is known about how that exposure and interaction affects users. Researchers in the field of media psychology at Michigan State University are seeking to understand the causes and consequences of humans’ media use. With the largest concentration of media psychologists in the world in MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, experts are working across disciplines to analyze how people interact with content, how stories impact users and why we choose to spend time with various media. Their findings will help explain the roles, uses and effects of media communication. MSU’s media psychologists are studying topics such as binge-watching, fear appeal messages, race and media and many more topics related to the time people spend connected to a variety of media. A few projects are highlighted below. […]

New study shows dramatic rise in Ontario teens visiting ER for self-harm

The number of Ontario teens visiting a hospital emergency department for self-harm more than doubled over nearly a decade, according to a new study that researchers say shows rising demand for mental health supports in the province. The study, published this week in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, also found the rates of visits by teens aged 13 to 17 for mental health problems rose 78 per cent in that same period between 2009 and 2017. Increases in both types of visits were even more pronounced among teenage girls, it says. […] “Something changed in 2009,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. William Gardner, a senior scientist at the CHEO Research Institute and professor of epidemiology at the University of Ottawa. Before then, rates of emergency department visits by teens for self-harm had been declining, falling by roughly a third over the six previous years, and visits for mental health issues had increased only slightly, he said.

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 June 12, 2019

Frequent Alert 104: New Project: Stop the Psychiatric Abuse of Children!

Abuse of Children!   The inspiration for this was FDA approval of overnight electrical stimulation of the brains of children labelled ADHD with a TNS machine called Monarch.   Envision a future where children and their parents, and their teachers, and their doctors, all believe there is a newer and safer method than drugs–hooking up electrodes to the foreheads of kids to “stimulate” their frontal lobes every night.  Imagine millions of children enduring this stigma, this humiliation, this lie about being helped, this encouragement to see themselves as broken devices, and and the specter of unknowable long-term brain injury.   We don’t want to imagine it.  We want to stop it.  Call into the show with your own reactions and ideas!

Listen in @ www.prn.fmWednesdays 4 PM, NY time

Call in with comments or questions @ 888-874-4888

Or listen to any show on the archives @ www.breggin.com

 

Antidepressants in old age may increase risk of dementia, Israeli study finds

A study of over 71,000 elderly Israelis suggests people over the age of 60 who use antidepressants may have as much as three times the risk of developing dementia as those who don’t use the drugs. From 2013 to 2017, the study tracked dementia onset in a huge sample of Israeli patients over 60 whose medical backgrounds were already familiar to researchers. Among its findings: While 2.6 percent of those who did not take anti-depression drugs developed dementia during the period, among those who did take the drugs the figure soared to 11%. […] The results suggest “antidepressant exposure in old age may increase the risk of dementia,” the researchers said. They suggested the antidepressants may cause damage to nerve cells, speeding the onset of the various neurological diseases known as dementia.

Antidepressants: So there is a problem – but we still don’t know how big

It is one of the most contentious issues in medical science: have antidepressants being over-prescribed, and do some patients simply find them impossible to stop? Dr Gordon’s decision to speak out now follows a landmark new position statement issued on May 30 by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, at UK level, calling for “greater recognition of the potential in some people for severe and long-lasting withdrawal symptoms on and after stopping antidepressants”. […] Others, like Dr Gordon, believe they have been over-prescribed and, for some patients, do more harm than good. They question why nearly all existing trials covering the drugs’ safety and effectiveness cover periods of just eight to 12 weeks when many people spend years, if not decades, taking them. Many studies have also been funded by pharmaceutical companies.

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 June 11, 2019
 

Research: Publication bias and the canonization of false facts

Science is facing a “replication crisis” in which many experimental findings cannot be replicated and are likely to be false. Does this imply that many scientific facts are false as well? To find out, we explore the process by which a claim becomes fact. We model the community’s confidence in a claim as a Markov process with successive published results shifting the degree of belief. Publication bias in favor of positive findings influences the distribution of published results. We find that unless a sufficient fraction of negative results are published, false claims frequently can become canonized as fact. Data-dredging, p-hacking, and similar behaviors exacerbate the problem. Should negative results become easier to publish as a claim approaches acceptance as a fact, however, true and false claims would be more readily distinguished. To the degree that the model reflects the real world, there may be serious concerns about the validity of purported facts in some disciplines.

People taking antidepressants after age 50 are 3X more likely to get dementia

People taking antidepressants in middle or old age could have triple the risk of developing dementia, a study has found. Antidepressants may damage or kill crucial nerve cells in the brain, researchers suggested as part of a study of more than 71,000 people. Rates of dementia were found to be 3.4 times higher among people who took the depression drugs after the age of 50. […] ‘Our study results indicate that antidepressant exposure in old age may increase the risk of dementia,’ said the researchers, led by Dr Stephen Levine of the University of Haifa in Israel. […] ‘Clinicians, caregivers and patients may wish to consider this potential negative consequence of antidepressant exposure with the objective of balancing the adverse events and symptomatic benefits of… antidepressant medication in old age’.

Regulating gut bacteria may ease anxiety

More than half of the studies in a new systematic review found that regulating intestinal microbiota by adjusting diet or taking probiotic supplements reduced symptoms of anxiety, according to results published in the journal General Psychiatry. “In the clinical treatment of anxiety symptoms, in addition to the use of psychiatric drugs for treatment, we can also consider regulating intestinal flora to alleviate anxiety symptoms,” researchers wrote. “Especially for patients with somatic diseases who are not suitable for the application of psychiatric drugs for anxiety treatment, probiotic methods and/or nonprobiotic ways … can be applied flexibly according to clinical conditions.” […] The fact that nonprobiotic interventions outperformed probiotic interventions may suggest that alteration of diet, a diverse energy source, may do more to influence gut bacteria than introducing specific bacteria types through a probiotic supplement, researchers reasoned. 

How depression pills can wreck your sex life: Fresh warning for patients

Sex problems are a known side-effect of depression pills — but one that affected patients say they weren’t properly warned about by their doctors. Worse, for some, these problems can last for years, even after they’ve eventually come off their medication. Yet campaigners say patients’ complaints have largely fallen on deaf ears, with the medical profession and drug companies either saying that the symptoms were not connected to the tablets, or assuring patients their problems would disappear once they stopped taking them. But, today, in a victory for these very patients and the Daily Mail, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has announced it’s now advising that a commonly prescribed group of depression pills — namely, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) — should carry warnings about the risk of longer term enduring sexual dysfunction. 

Association between life purpose and mortality among US adults over 50

A growing body of literature suggests that having a strong sense of purpose in life leads to improvements in both physical and mental health and enhances overall quality of life. There are interventions available to influence life purpose; thus, understanding the association of life purpose with mortality is critical. […] This study’s results indicated that stronger purpose in life was associated with decreased mortality. Purposeful living may have health benefits. Future research should focus on evaluating the association of life purpose interventions with health outcomes, including mortality. In addition, understanding potential biological mechanisms through which life purpose may influence health outcomes would be valuable.

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

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

News & Information for June 10, 2019

Alert 103: A Smashing Victory–and an Insidious New Threat

Dr. Peter Breggin’s new blog on Mad in America, “A Smashing Victory–and an Insidious New Threat,” describes saving a young man from involuntary ECT.  It also presents a new electrical threat to the brains of America’s children and initiates new countermeasures to stop this abuse before it gets completely out of control.

Psychiatrist Peter Gordon claims Royal College ‘gaslighted’ him in antidepressant row

A PSYCHIATRIST said he was “gaslighted” by his own professional body after openly criticising its stance on antidepressant withdrawal and conflicts of interest. Dr Peter Gordon, an experienced old age psychiatrist from Bridge of Allan, resigned from the Royal College of Psychiatrists Scotland in November last year. […] He said the College was too close to the pharmaceutical industry, adding: “as a direct consequence informed consent and realistic psychiatry are compromised”. […] In 2014, Dr Gordon petitioned the Scottish Parliament for a ‘Sunshine Act’ which would require doctors to declare all payments and the cash value of gifts they had received on a publicly accessible register. He said patients deserved to know whether medical professionals including GPs and psychiatrists, had been paid by commercial companies. […] Dr Gordon believes he has been seen as a troublemaker by psychiatry’s leaders for speaking openly about his own experience of withdrawal, as well as campaigning for greater transparency around potential conflicts of interest such as links to drug manufacturers.

Internet may alter brain functions, says study

The Internet can alter specific brain regions and affect our attention capacity, memory processes and social interaction, a study has found. The research, published in the journal World Psychiatry, showed that the Internet can produce both acute and sustained alterations in specific areas of cognition. Researchers, including those from Oxford University in the U.K. and Harvard University in the U.S., investigated hypotheses on how the Internet may alter cognitive processes.

“The key findings of this report are that high-levels of Internet use could indeed have an impact on many functions of the brain,” said Joseph Firth, Senior Research Fellow at the Western Sydney University in Australia. The limitless stream of prompts and notifications from the Internet divides attention, which, in turn, may decrease the capacity to concentrate on a single task, said Mr. Firth, who led the study “Given we now have most of the world’s factual information literally at our fingertips, this appears to have the potential to begin changing the ways in which we store, and even value, facts and knowledge in society, and in the brain,” he added.

Is social network site usage related to depression? A meta-analysis of Facebook-depression relations

Facebook depression is defined as feeling depressed upon too much exposure to Social networking sites (SNS). Researchers have argued that upward social comparisons made on SNS are the key to the Facebook depression phenomenon. To examine the relations between SNS usage and depression, we conducted 4 separate meta-analyses relating depression to: (1) time spent on SNS, (2) SNS checking frequency, (3) general and (4) upward social comparisons on SNS. We compared the four mean effect sizes in terms of magnitude. […] RESULTS: In both SNS-usage analyses, greater time spent on SNS and frequency of checking SNS were associated with higher levels of depression with a small effect size. Further, higher levels of depression were associated with greater general social comparisons on SNS with a small to medium effect, and greater upward social comparisons on SNS with a medium effect. Both social comparisons on SNS were more strongly related to depression than was time spent on SNS. […] CONCLUSIONS: Our results are consistent with the notion of ‘Facebook depression phenomenon’ and with the theoretical importance of social comparisons as an explanation.

FDA overlooked red flags while testing new depression drug

A chemical cousin of the club drug ketamine has been hailed as a miracle cure for those battling depression, but critics say there are safety concerns that shouldn’t be ignored. Ketamine is a darling of combat medics and club goers, an anesthetic that can quiet your pain without suppressing breathing and a hallucinogenic that can get you high with little risk of a fatal overdose. For some patients, it also has dwelled in the shadows of conventional medicine as a depression treatment—prescribed by their doctors […] That effectively changed in March, when the Food and Drug Administration approved a ketamine cousin called esketamine, taken as a nasal spray, for patients with intractable depression.  […] The problem, critics say, is that the drug’s manufacturer, Janssen, provided the FDA at best modest evidence it worked and then only in limited trials. It presented no information about the safety of Spravato for long-term use beyond 60 weeks. And three patients who received the drug died by suicide during clinical trials, compared with none in the control group, raising red flags Janssen and the FDA dismissed. […] Esketamine’s trajectory to approval shows—step by step—how drugmakers can take advantage of shortcuts in the FDA process with the agency’s blessing and maneuver through safety and efficacy reviews to bring a lucrative drug to market.

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 June 8-9, 2019

Depressing conclusion as new study reverses 25 years of research

New techniques for identifying the genetic roots of disease have led researchers to conclude that 25 years worth of research studying a set of genes thought to be strongly associated with depression is wrong, according to a recent study in the American Journal of Psychiatry. Countless hours, and an estimated $250 million US, have been spent over the past 25 years investigating a connection between certain genes and mental illness. But that connection, new research suggests, simply isn’t there. “The fundamental problem was this sort of misplaced optimism — that was very defensible at the time — that we’d find genes that had big effects,”  Richard Border, the study leader, told Quirks & Quarks […] “The most studied candidate gene with respect to depression, by far, is the serotonin transporter gene. And in the 90s and early 2000s, it made a lot of sense to look at this variant,” said Border. The first generation of studies looking for connections between variants of this gene and depression seemed to show great promise. But in followup work scientists had difficulty replicating the results. Border said that some researchers, persuaded that there had to be some kind of connection, would look for reasons to explain away the problems in replication — making their hypothesis and explanations more and more convoluted and complicated. “In the meantime, in the last 10 years there’s been this sort of genome-wide revolution in genetics where it’s now very cost effective to have large samples where you can look across the entire genome at millions of variants in very large samples,” added Border.

Is Alcohol a Depressant That Causes Depression?

Since alcohol is a depressant and alters some of the brain chemicals that regulate mood, you may wonder if it can cause depression or anxiety. Scientists have had observational evidence for decades that suggests an association between alcohol use and mood disorder. For example, a small study in 1991 concluded that depressive episodes after drinking alcohol may be related to reduced levels of serotonin. Walker says it’s a combination of many chemical imbalances (caused by alcohol consumption) that may lead to mood disorder – but it happens over time.”If you drink too much in one night, you can deplete the neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) normally associated with feeling content,” Walker says. “But you can recover after a night of drinking. If you drink over time, you’ll end up with chronic dysregulation.

Atheists still believe in the supernatural, new report finds

Atheists, agnostics, and other non-believers are among the most disliked, untrusted, and misunderstood people in our society. Most Americans wouldn’t vote for a qualified atheist if they ran for president. Many parents hope their child doesn’t marry one. Most atheists in the United States have a story about coming out to somebody who then either accused them of being a Satanist or was utterly unable to comprehend what an atheist was.

  • A new report indicates atheists and agnostics still believe in supernatural phenomena despite not believing in gods.
  • They tend to hold these beliefs at lower rates than the general population.
  • This is in line with previous studies that show non-believers are just as prone to irrational thinking as their religious counterparts.

Despite rejecting or at least questioning the notion of gods, unbelievers aren’t wholly divorced from superstitious belief. […] up to a third of self-declared atheists in China believe in astrology. A quarter of Brazilian atheists believe in reincarnation, and a similar number of their Danish counterparts think some people have magical powers. Agnostics were more likely to believe in supernatural phenomena than atheists across the board. Notice how the graphs have similar patterns but with different point values.

Getting Pharma Out of Medical Education: An Interview with Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman

On MIA Radio this week, MIA’s Gavin Crowell-Williamson interviewed Adriane Fugh-Berman, MD, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology and in the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC). She is the director of PharmedOut, a GUMC research and education project promoting rational prescribing and exposing the effects of pharmaceutical marketing on prescribing practices. Dr. Fugh-Berman leads a team of volunteer professionals that has deeply impacted prescribers’ perceptions of the adverse consequences of industry marketing. […] Dr. Fugh-Berman is the lead author on key articles on physician-industry relationships, including a national survey of industry interactions with family medicine residencies, exposés of how ghostwritten articles in the medical literature are used to sell drugs, an analysis of drug rep tactics, and an explanation of industry publication planning. 

Is emotional intelligence something you can learn?

Wouldn’t you like to have better street smarts? How much better could your life be if you knew how to regulate your emotions and gauge the feelings of others? Would better relationships, stronger friendships, and success at work be yours? Emotional intelligence (EI), also known colloquially as EQ, hopped from the psychological literature into the popular imagination due to claims that it’s an ability more important to your success in life than your academic intelligence. In brief, the originators of the concept defined high EI as meaning that you are unusually equipped to have empathy toward others, understand yourself, and regulate your emotions so that you don’t explode or implode at the least frustration that comes your way. Naturally enough, the next question became whether EI can be trained. If you could just raise your EI up a couple of notches, so the thinking goes, you’d be able to rise to the top of your organization, winning friends and respect from all in the process.

What dreams reveal about different cultures

We tend to think of our dreams as being uniquely personal — nighttime narratives built from our own experiences that help us process our day-to-day lives. While dreams can give us a glimpse into the rich tapestries of our personal selves, anthropologists have culled data that suggests dreams weave their way into our cultural fabric, manifesting themselves in ways that shape societal beliefs and reveal collective anxieties. When the Society for Psychological Anthropology held its biennial conference in April in Santa Ana Pueblo, New Mexico, anthropologists specializing in psychology and dreams explained their cultural dream research. It was a discussion that not only showed how culture and dreams are intertwined, but also the differences across various cultures, according to Psychology Today.

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 June 7, 2019

New research finds evidence that mindfulness helps “ADHD”

A recent review published in Behavioural Neurology suggests that mindfulness is a promising way to improve attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in adults. The study collectively examined several studies of mindfulness-based interventions as treatment for ADHD and narrowed down studies that were of good quality. Researchers examined a total of 13 studies with collectively 753 participants who had an average age of 35.  All of these studies found that mindfulness techniques were helpful as part of treatment for ADHD.  Non-medication treatment options for ADHD are a very important consideration. Medications that treat ADHD often have medical and psychological side effects both in the short- and long-term. For example, stimulants that treat ADHD can make people more irritable and moodier than usual and come with risks to heart health as well, including irregular heart rhythms, high blood pressure, and higher heart rates. Over time, the same dose of medication may not be as effective as before and one can need higher doses over time. 

An 81-year Harvard study says staying happy and mentally sharp boils down to 1 thing

Ahh, the pursuit of happiness. So many voices in the chorus telling us how to master it. There are psychology-based tricks to happiness, watch-outs for what kills happiness, even equations for happiness. Despite all the sources of inspiration on the topic, it’s hard not to take notice of an authoritative, 81-year-long study conducted by the big brains at Harvard University. Known as the Harvard Study of Adult Development, it is one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Started in 1938, the Harvard study has been seeking to answer one question: What keeps us happiest as we go through life? The research started by tracking the lives of 724 men. Any original study participants left are now in their 90s, so now the study is examining the lives of 2,000 children of these men. This just might go on longer than The Simpsons. As psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, the study’s fourth director, said in a recent TED Talk, the core conclusion of the study is breathtakingly simple: “The clearest message is this: good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Period.”

Longer exhalations are an easy way to hack your vagus nerve

[S]ome new scientific literature (Gerritsen & Band, 2018 and De Couck et al., 2019) […] corroborate that longer exhalations are an easy way to hack the vagus nerve, combat fight-or-flight stress responses, and improve HRV. What is HRV? Heart rate variability represents the healthy fluctuation in beat-to-beat intervals of a human or animal’s heart rate. During the inhalation phase of a breathing cycle, the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) facilitates a brief acceleration of heart rate; during exhalation, the vagus nerve secretes a transmitter substance (ACh) which causes deceleration within beat-to-beat intervals via the parasympathetic nervous system […] In 2018, Roderik Gerritsen and Guido Band of Leiden University in the Netherlands published a detailed theoretical review, “Breath of Life: The Respiratory Vagal Stimulation Model of Contemplative Activity,” in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. This review presents a wide range of studies that illustrate how slower respiration rates and longer exhalations phasically and tonically stimulate the vagus nerve. 

New insights into ​hikikomori​ — people who withdraw from society for months or years

Hikikomori is a dark term that describes people who stay holed up in their homes, or even just their bedrooms, isolated from everyone except their family, for many months or years. The phenomenon has captured the popular imagination with many articles appearing in the mainstream media in recent years, but, surprisingly, it isn’t well understood by psychologists. The condition was first described in Japan, but cases have since been reported in countries as far apart as Oman, Indian, the US and Brazil. No one knows how many hikikomori exist (the term refers both to the condition and the people with it), but surveys suggest that 1.79 per cent of Japanese people aged 15-39 meet the criteria. However, while some assumptions about risk factors have been made, based largely on reports of specific cases, there has been a lack of population-based research. A new study, published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, plugs some of the knowledge gaps.

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

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

News & Information for June 6, 2019

The stimulant epidemic: Why our worries should go beyond opioids

Every day over 130 Americans die from opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Going relatively unnoticed is the rapid rise in overdose deaths from stimulants, including cocaine and amphetamines. An acute observer might identify that adulterated stimulants are part of the growing trend of the “synthetic phase” of the opioid epidemic – but this fails to tell the whole story. A CDC report published last month highlights that stimulant-involved overdoses across all demographic groups have increased dramatically, nearly doubling between 2015 (12,500) and 2017 (24,275). Overall, 19.8 percent of overdose deaths involved cocaine and 14.7 percent involved other stimulants in 2017. There was opioid co-involvement in 72.7 percent of cocaine and 50.4 percent of stimulant-involved overdose deaths. This was largely driven by synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. However, stimulant-involved overdose without opioid co-involvement is also increasing. A similar trend can be found in our own backyard.

Expert urges cautious approach to ketamine use

Physicians and patients are excited about ketamine, the latest drug to treat depression, but Stanford psychiatrist Alan Schatzberg says we need to tread carefully. Ketamine is commonly used in anesthesiology and for severe pain relief. After a number of positive reports in the medical literature, ketamine became more widely used in existing pain clinics, as well as in new ketamine clinics, which started popping up around the country. […] Alan Schatzberg, MD, the Kenneth T. Norris Jr. Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, wrote a commentary published online May 21 in the American Journal of Psychiatry in which he asked the psychiatric community to proceed with caution when it comes to the new drug. He spoke recently with science writer Mandy Erickson about the dangers and unknowns of ketamine and esketamine.

7 happiness hacks (from a seriously positive person)

You know those people — the kind who always leave you in a better mood when you hang out with them? Mimi Missfit — YouTuber, BBC presenter, beauty devotee — is one of those women. Her ‘let’s do this’ attitude has won her thousands of followers, and landed her major campaigns with the likes of Schwarzkopf LIVE Colour. A total style chameleon (she colours her own wigs so she can constantly switch up the shade), she’s become a fashion and beauty icon — particularly for women of colour — on her own terms. With a personality as bold as her hair, here Mimi shares her rules for squeezing every good vibe outta life. …

Sometimes Love Hurts – The only around the pain is through it.

Pain is inevitable in this life. If there is a body, there is pain. Be it physical, emotional or mental, the potential for pain awaits us at every turn. Why is pain inevitable? The great poet Kahlil Gibran said, “Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” Pain accompanies the experience of realizing our own truth. Pain awakens us to our own spiritual path. Want to know where you are on your path to full self-awareness? Look at how you deal with your pain. Our own individual experience of self-love awakens through shedding the layers of denial and illusion that keep us numb; numb to our pain and therefore love. Like the snake shedding its skin, shedding our illusions is painful because we have to rub up against the pillars of our sacred beliefs and assumptions (disguised as Truth) that we cling to so dearly. A few of these are: our need for love and acceptance, our perceived financial security, our fleeting self-esteem, the list goes on and on and on.

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 June 5, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour replays a wonderful show with nutritionist and friend Pam Popper, PhD

Today at 4 pm NY Time on PRN, Pam, plus two wonderful callers and I, make this an inspiring show all about human purpose. If you’re looking for encouragement or courage, seeking inspiration and direction, or simply wanting to enjoy yourself, join into this wonderful robust conversation about living by principles and finding purposes.

Study: 15-minutes of meditation associated with similar effects as a day of vacation

Meditation and vacations appear to have overlapping effects, according to new research in The Journal of Positive Psychology. The study found that both meditation exercises and vacationing were associated with higher levels of wellbeing and increased mindfulness. “This research was an extension of a larger research study my colleagues and I conducted. In conducting that research, which required daily participation for 8-weeks, a number of participants indicated that they would be away for some portion of the study period,”  said study author Christopher May, an assistant professor at the University College Groningen. “We then systematically tracked when participants were on vacation away from their normal work or study obligations. This allowed us to examine the relative impact of vacation and meditation on variables such as mindfulness, positive emotion, and negative emotion. Interestingly, very little work had been done before looking at this relationship.”

7 signs social media is making you feel bad, according to experts

Think for a moment to what your life was like before social media. Do you even remember? The pictures we took at sleep away camp looked very different than the selfies some teens are posting today. While some aspects of social media can be great, there seems to be a catch to keeping up with apps like Facebook and Instagram — and for some, it’s coming at the expense of our emotional wellness. Here are 7 signs social media is making you feel bad, according to experts. […] 1. Comparison Is Killing Your Joy So many of us can get sucked into comparing our lives to others that we see on social media. How many times have you scrolled through your newsfeed after a really crappy day and the first thing you see is a skinny and tan mom with her perfect husband and beautiful kids on vacation to a place you’ve always wanted to go but haven’t been able to afford? […] 2. It’s Easy For You To Get Sucked Into The Drama Before you buy into that next drama-filled news story, apply your critical thinking skills and determine if what you’re buying into is in fact fake news. […]

How Deferred Gratification Creates Lasting Happiness

If given the choice between eating a marshmallow right now and waiting 15 minutes to eat two, which action would you choose? Walter Mischel, a researcher at Stanford University, created this experiment involving 4-year old kids back in the ’60s and ’70s. It was a simple test that revealed startling discoveries. The group who were given strategies to resist the temptation of eating the marshmallow had delay abilities, enabling them to plan ahead and trick the brain into avoiding instant gratification. What’s even more interesting is that this same group of children demonstrated positive traits later in life. Compared to the group that ate the marshmallow instead of waiting, the “patient” group exhibited higher self-esteem and lower rates of depressions, obesity, and drug use. This experiment exemplifies the power of deferred gratification, or the ability to delay gratification in order to achieve long-term happiness. […] Mastering deferred gratification in three steps […]

My PTSD stopped me from leaving the house – then I found yoga

For some, yoga can be a chore. But for Sissi Ervasti, it saved her life. Like three million other Australians, Sissi has lived with depression and anxiety most of her life. But it wasn’t until seven years ago that she found herself in a dark place – one she felt there was no way out of. “In 2012 I was detained by a partner and severely tortured,” she tells 9Honey of the domestic violence incident. “It resulted in a lengthy court case and was quite unpleasant.” Following the attack, Ervasti developed post traumatic stress disorder. […] “I learnt about how to regulate my emotions to fuel my body, to become aware when I was having a flashback,” Ervasti explains. “It helped me to feel the beginnings of a panic attack rather than all of a sudden being in a panic attack.” […] “I feel like I have been born again, I guess, because I now have the confidence to go out and live my life. Some days are harder than others, I am not going to pretend like it’s all perfect,” she continues. “But with yoga I feel like I have the skills to deal with the bad days.

Holland includes death as treatment option for troubled teens and children

In the Netherlands, where assisted suicide is legal under certain conditions, a 17-year old girl has been euthanized following her claims that her depression and PTSD made it so she could no longer carry on and that life had lost its meaning. Noa Pothoven was molested and raped as a young child and had as a result suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anorexia. Pothoven announced on Instagram her decision to end her life. She said that life had become unbearable and that she could no longer carry on. She asked for people not to try to change her mind, saying, “love is letting go in this case.” […] In the Netherlands, “children as young as 12 can be granted euthanasia if they desire, but only after a doctor concludes that the patient’s suffering is unbearable with no clear end in sight,” according to The Daily Mail.

Toxic Pssychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for June 4, 2019

In Menopause, Cognitive Behavior Therapy Effective in Managing Sleep Disturbances

Although hormone therapy (HT) is the most commonly recommended treatment for menopause symptoms, research is ongoing for alternatives, especially nonpharmacologic options. Cognitive behavior therapy has previously been proposed as a low-risk treatment for hot flashes, but a new study suggests it may also effectively manage other menopause symptoms. Results are published online in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). […] The study demonstrated that cognitive behavior therapy significantly improved hot flashes, depression, sleep disturbances, and sexual concerns, although little improvement was seen in anxiety. Moreover, the improvements were maintained for at least 3 months posttreatment. Although a small study, it lays the foundation for future research focused on how various psychological treatments may help the millions of women who suffer with menopause symptoms.

Psychosocial interventions for people with schizophrenia or psychosis on minimal or no antipsychotic medication: A systematic review

Antipsychotics are the first-line treatment for people with schizophrenia or psychosis. There is evidence that they can reduce the symptoms of psychosis and risk of relapse. However many people do not respond to these drugs, or experience adverse effects and stop taking them. In the UK, clinical guidelines have stressed the need for research into psychosocial interventions without antipsychotics. This systematic review examines the effects of psychosocial interventions for people with schizophrenia or psychosis who are on no/minimal antipsychotics. Databases were searched for empirical studies investigating a psychosocial intervention in people with a schizophrenia spectrum disorder who were not taking antipsychotics or had received an antipsychotic minimisation strategy. We identified nine interventions tested in 17 studies (N = 2250), including eight randomised controlled trials. Outcomes were generally equal to or in a small number of cases better than the control group (antipsychotics/treatment as usual) for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), Need Adapted Treatment and Soteria. […] The majority of studies reported outcomes for the intervention which were the same as the control group [antipsychotics/treatment as usual], however, study quality was problematic. Given the adverse effects of antipsychotics and that many people do not want to take them, high quality trials of psychosocial treatments for people on minimal/no antipsychotics are needed.

Ian’s thoughts: In other words, there’s no clear evidence that the usual antipsychotic treatment was any better than minimal or no antipsychotic medication with psychosocial interventions, and there is some indication that usual antipsychotic treatment led to inferior outcomes. Note that in this study, the control group is people on normal antipsychotic treatment. 

The evidence for physical activity in the management of major mental illnesses

RECENT FINDINGS: Emerging evidence suggests that physical activity may confer protection against depression and anxiety/stress disorders. There is robust evidence that structured and supervised physical activity, including aerobic and resistance training, can improve multiple outcomes in major depression, pre/postnatal depression, anxiety/stress disorders and schizophrenia. Emerging evidence suggests a potential role for physical activity in bipolar disorder and alcohol use disorders. SUMMARY: The quantity and quality of evidence regarding the efficacy of physical activity for mental illnesses is increasing. Given the established and further potential benefits and low adverse risk profile, physical activity should be offered as an adjunctive part of core mental health treatment. However, there is a need for high-quality multisite randomized controlled trials that can be replicated in routine care in mental health services. Future population-level trials are needed to examine the potential use of physical activity in those at risk of mental health conditions to see if physical activity can prevent the development of mental disorders.

Meditation app effective in improving young adults’ attention spans

Between Twitter notifications and the constant of flood of work emails, staying focused on one task can be challenging. However, researchers have discovered that a new meditation platform could be effective in improving young adults’ attention spans. In the study, which was published in Nature Human Behavior, the MediTrain closed-loop digital meditation platform helped healthy young adults sustain their attention and working memory. “Media and technology multitasking have become pervasive in the lives of young adults and research has shown that this behaviour is associated with challenges to their attention abilities that present as increased distractibility, diminished attention span, poorer academic performance and reduced personal contentment,” the authors of the study wrote. “Given that attention is a fundamental component process of all aspects of higher-order cognition (for example, memory, decision making, goal management and emotional regulation), there exists a need for new methods to enhance attention abilities.”

3 neuroscience-based strategies to get unstuck now

As an executive coach, I invest a great deal of time in helping people get unstuck. And I repeatedly see 3 key reasons where they ensnared. We all want to be happy, to get along, to have great lives. The tricky part is we don’t live in a vacuum, we must interact with others. This can be the best part of life and yet at times the most challenging. Here are my top 3 “get unstuck fast neuroscience-based ” tools: You’re bopping along, having a great day, then you get blindsided by someone’s unpleasant behavior. Why? It’s their thing—not yours… Why take on their negativity, get fearful/avoid conflict/get angry/judgmental? It’s all about energy. Emotions have energy, and you have a choice as to whether you absorb that energy or not. […] Have you ever noticed that your mind is always talking? Blah blah blah all the time. We know from both Wayne Dyer’s research and the NSA that a human has about 60,000 thought per day and 90% of them are repetitive. Whoa. That’s nuts! What would happen if you didn’t think so much? Have you ever had that experience—when you’ve stopped the relentless dialog in your mind. Try it. […] Be careful what energy you fill your life with. Mike Dooley of Tut says “a young soul learns to take responsibility for their actions, a mature soul learns to take responsibility for their thoughts, and a wise soul learns to take responsibility for their happiness.” Why not be a wise soul?

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 June 3, 2019

Antidepressants and opioids double the risk of falls in older people: Study

Suffering a nasty fall as you get older can leave many people suffering for years – with some never able to fully recover – and now a new study has claimed combining certain medications could increase the risk of taking a tumble even further. New data shows taking antidepressants or opioids may more than double the risk of falls and hip fracture in the older population. Around 30 per cent of over-65s living in the community and half of all aged-care residents fall at least once a year and while many are embarrassed to talk about it because of fears of being judged or losing their right to live independently, their medication may be the reason behind it.

Risk of hip fracture associated with starting psychoactive drugs

Time interval = 180 days, 95% confidence interval, SSRI selective
serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Source: Reference 12

The study shows medications including antidepressants, opioids, antiepileptic drugs, benzodiazepines and antipsychotics all increased the risk of falls in older people. […] When SSRIs and anxiety medication benzodiazepines are taken together, the risk of a hip fracture increases five-fold. “This equates to one extra hip fracture for every 17 patients aged 80 years and over who are treated for a year”, researcher Libby Roughead said in a statement. 

Ian’s thoughts: The ability to cause elderly people to fall seems a reasonable proxy for magnitude of neurological impairment. If so, these data indicate that SSRIs are more neurologically impairing than any other drug class evaluated, including opioids. 

Dr Martin Whitely on the link between antidepressants and youth mental health

Over the last decade, suicide and antidepressant prescriptions among Australian children and teenagers have risen dramatically, despite warnings by the United States’ Food and Drug Administration of a link between higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviours and the use of antidepressants in people under 25 years of age. Mental health patient’s rights advocate, researcher and author Dr Martin Whitely joins Jane to talk about young Australians and mental health.

11 Keys to Overcoming Depression at Your Place of Residence

Depression is a disorder, a mental disorder, described by a change in moods and emotions. It can lead to a change in the behavior of an individual, for example, a talkative person deciding to be lonely. Depression is a common issue in the present world. Some of its causes include problems that you experience in marriage or at work, having medical complications and financial difficulties. Researchers have shown that women are more likely to have depression, as compared to men, especially when they are at home.  However, there are some ways of overcoming grief at your place of residence, and I have explained to them in this article. The common characteristics of people undergoing depression include lack of sleep, oversleeping, loneliness, loss of weight, and having undivided attention to pleasure, among others. Let us now go into details in understanding how you can fight depression.

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

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

News & Information for June 1-2, 2019

Experiencing withdrawal: What it’s like to stop taking antidepressants

When Elizabeth tried to get off her antidepressants for good, she says she felt like she was in a fog. The 29-year-old educator, who asked Global News to only use her first name, said she had six days of “serious side effects” after she stopped taking paroxetine, an antidepressant often used to also treat anxiety. “I had nausea, headaches, felt sick and like something was ‘off,’” she said. “[I felt] lethargic and had no energy, no motivation and struggled with sleeping.” […] Stewart says it’s important for patients to know the difference between withdrawal symptoms and signs of their depression or anxiety. A recent study published in medical journal The Lancet found that if withdrawal symptoms are mistaken for recurrence of a mental health issue, like depression, it can lead to “long-term unnecessary medication.” Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within days of stopping medication and last several days to weeks, Stewart says. “They are less common if the med withdrawal is tapered,” she explained.

Overdose Death Rates Skyrocket Among Middle-Aged Women

Overdose death rates among women aged 30 to 64 years rose by 260% between 1999 and 2017. […] From this data, they determined that the unadjusted drug overdose death rate increased from 6.7 deaths per 100,000 population (or 4,314 total drug overdose deaths) in 1999 to 24.3 (or 18,110 deaths) in 2017. The rate of overdose deaths involving any opioid increased 492% during this time period, while nearly all subcategories of drugs saw increases in deaths, save for cocaine, which decreased significantly between 2006 and 2009. The highest death rate increases involved synthetic opioids (1,643%), heroin (915%) and benzodiazepines (830%). Those figures reflect the experiences of the women profiled in the KNXV piece. Pamela Aguilu became dependent on prescription opioids after undergoing spinal surgeries. “I would say that I got addicted right away,” she said. “I was taking massive amounts of oxycodone.”

23 science backed ways to boost happiness in your life

The complete guide to boosting happiness in your life, according to science. People often ask me: “What can I do to boost my happiness?” I tell them that there are tons of things you can do, but then I can only recall a handful of practices in the moment. So I decided to create this complete guide for how to be happy, according to science. If you use these 23 practices consistently, you are very likely to increase your personal happiness:

Psychiatrists argue for more attention to iatrogenic harms

A recent editorial in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics hopes to call attention to iatrogenic harms that service-users can experience as a result of psychiatric treatment. The authors define iatrogenesis as the side effects and risks associated with medical intervention, including medical error, adverse drug reactions, malpractice, and negligence. Psychiatric iatrogenesis typically manifests as complications of psychotropic drug treatment such as tardive dyskinesia, insulin resistance, cardiac/metabolic disturbances, and result from direct toxicity, intoxication, withdrawal, or drug interaction. The editorial argues that psychiatry has traditionally been evaluated in terms of how well it improves psychiatric symptoms, with little focus on the negative psychological and behavioral impacts of the treatment and with side effects accepted as an inevitable shortcoming to treatment. 

How a mindfulness retreat inspired modern sports psychology

The 1960s was a fertile time for subscribing to new ideas, and at a new sports centre set up to help athletes achieve their best, the wackier the idea, the better. The Esalen Institute, in the United States, was one the cornerstones of the counterculture movement. In sports, it promoted the idea of applying psychic powers to performance, inspired by a 5th century Buddhist doctrine describing supernatural powers attained through spiritual advancement. But the ideas weren’t isolated to the US; in the Soviet Union, too, there was great interest in “superhuman experiences” to achieve athletic greatness. “During the Cold War both America and the Soviets were trying to find any way to win or any way to prove that their life was superior,” British author Ed Hawkins tells RN’s Sporty.

Your meditation practice may reduce negative emotions in the people you interact with

New research suggests that people who meditate could end up decreasing negative emotions not only in themselves but in their relationship partners as well. The new findings have been published in the European Journal of Social Psychology. “Most research on meditation has focused on its benefits for the individuals doing the practice. This research, particularly over the last 20 years, has shown that meditation has numerous benefits for the practitioner, such as increasing mindfulness and positive emotions, and decreasing negative emotions,” said study author Christopher May, an assistant professor at the University College Groningen. “It occurred to me that these individual benefits might also impact others. Our question then was: could we detect benefits in others who interacted with a person that was benefitting from meditation? This work was inspired by other work showing, for example, that emotions, health behaviors, and even happiness can be contagious,” he explained.

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

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

News & Information for May 31, 2019

BBC: Psychiatrists call for warnings over antidepressant withdrawal

Patients suffering severe symptoms when they come off antidepressants too quickly need more help and support, the Royal College of Psychiatrists says. Current guidance suggests that most people should be able to withdraw from the drugs over four weeks. But psychiatrists say some patients taking the pills long-term can experience serious side effects that can last much longer. National clinical guidelines are currently being updated. The number of prescriptions for antidepressants in the UK nearly doubled between 2007 and 2017, from around 40 million to more than 82 million, a report by the College shows. At the same time, data shows an increase in depression among adults and children. A normal course of antidepressants should last at least six months, and in patients at risk of a relapse for at least two years. But there is evidence that some patients are prescribed them for longer than this, the report says. […] Prof John Geddes, professor of epidemiological psychiatry from the University of Oxford, said: “As clinicians, it’s important that we make sure patients are aware of the evidence we have on antidepressant withdrawal.

Could saffron be an alternative, herbal treatment for ADHD?

A study investigating the effects of saffron in children and teens suggest potential as an alternative herbal treatment for ADHD. […] Researchers from Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Iran recently decided to compare the safety and effects of saffron and methylphenidate in 54 patients diagnosed with ADHD, aged 6-17 years, over a six-week period. The article was published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. Methylphenidate, commonly known as Ritalin, is a stimulant that is commonly prescribed for patients with ADHD. […] The researchers concluded that the short-term use of saffron capsules appears to provide the same effect as methylphenidate. However, a larger controlled study with longer durations of treatment with saffron and methylphenidate are needed to further analyse whether saffron could be used as an herbal treatment for ADHD.

Xanax withdrawal: ‘I was fighting for my life’

The death of an inmate who was cut off from Klonopin at the Muskegon County Jail is shedding light on the dangers of withdrawing from long-term use of benzodiazepines. Benzos, as they’re commonly called, are a class of medication that affects the central nervous system and are used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety. Klonopin, Valium, Xanax and Ativan are among the most common.

“There is a benzodiazepine crisis in this country,” said Sara Jane Niemczewski, who’s recovering after enduring 10 months weaning off Xanax. “Nobody’s talking about this crisis… It’s time that people know about this, and it’s time that the ones who are suffering aren’t suffering alone. They don’t deserve that. Nobody deserves that.” […] “To say (the withdrawal) was hell is an understatement,” Niemczewski said. “The symptoms are endless. Burning skin. Nerve pain. My skin was on fire. My muscles were on fire. You cannot sleep. You cannot get any relief.” She said she struggled just to walk and was often confined to her bedroom. “I wanted to die. Every day I wanted to die. I was fighting for my life,” she said.

4 Lessons On Happiness Everyone Can Learn From

I rarely think, speak or write about happiness in life. And I genuinely agree with the famous French philosopher Alber Camus saying—”You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” I also very much respect the following four approaches when it comes to what contributes towards happiness. Hopefully, they will prove as useful to you or at least serve as “food for thought.” 1. Happiness comes from solving problems “Happiness is a problem! To be happy we need something to solve” says Mark Manson […] 2. Expectations define happiness There is this theory called Expectation Disconfirmation Theory (EDT) developed by Richard L. Oliver in 1977 and 1980 that is one of my favorite when it comes to measuring satisfaction. I used his cognitive theory to test a model in my Ph.D. thesis as it is widely used for marketing purposes. The theory seeks to explain […] 

Meryl Streep: ‘We hurt our boys by calling something “toxic masculinity”‘

Meryl Streep has expressed her opposition to the term “toxic masculinity”, stating her view that use of the expression can be harmful for boys. The actor made her comments while taking part in a Q&A for the upcoming second season of acclaimed television show Big Little Lies, in which Streep is a new cast member. During the talk, which was hosted by Vanity Fair, Streep addressed the topic of toxic masculinity while discussing an anecdote about a male fan who had told Nicole Kidman that he enjoyed the show. The three-time Oscar winner explained that she dislikes the term because, in her opinion, all individuals can exhibit toxic behaviour, regardless of gender. “Sometimes I think we’re hurt. We hurt our boys by calling something toxic masculinity. I do,” Streep said. “And I don’t find [that] putting those two words together … because women can be pretty f***ing toxic. It’s toxic people,” the Suffragette star said. “We have our good angles and we have our bad ones.” Streep added that she thinks labels can be “less helpful” than direct communication when calling out detrimental behaviour. “We’re all on the boat together. We’ve got to make it work,” she said.

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 May 30, 2019

Anti-depressants CAN ruin lives: Major U-turn as psychiatrists say millions of patients MUST be warned over severe side effects

Doctors have been told to warn millions of patients about the severe side effects of antidepressants. In a major victory for the Daily Mail, the Royal College of Psychiatrists today admits for the first time that antidepressants can cause side effects lasting for months. And in a move that could significantly reduce the over-use of the pills, the influential body said the potential harms are so serious that all patients should be warned of the risks when they are first prescribed the drugs. For years, health officials have played down the difficulty of withdrawing from antidepressants, insisting side-effects were ‘mild’ and last no more than a week or two. But in a new ‘position statement’ published today, the Royal College admits some patients experience ‘severe’ side effects which can last weeks or even months. […] ‘It’s a real step forward in trying to stop the widespread harms that have been experienced by people trying to come off these drugs. ‘We have been working very hard to persuade the Royal College to change its position and it has been the Daily Mail that has been giving voice to the research community that has called for a change.’ Psychiatrist Dr Joanna Moncrieff, of University College London, added: ‘I’m really pleased to see this shift – it is really important for patients who have had difficulties coming off their drugs to have doctors acknowledge the problem and not just have it dismissed. ‘Hopefully, it will also make people more cautious about prescribing them in the first place.’

Joanna Moncrieff was on The Dr. Peter Breggin Show a couple months ago…

Wean patients off depression pills, say doctors

Patients on antidepressants must be weaned off them because too many are “stuck” on medication for years, leading doctors have concluded. In a significant shift in position, the Royal College of Psychiatrists accepts it has not paid enough attention to people suffering crippling withdrawal effects such as anxiety, confusion and exhaustion when trying to come off medicines taken by one in six British adults. Fresh guidance from the college says doctors must warn about this risk when prescribing antidepressants, GPs should encourage those who have been taking them for years to try to stop, and patients should be advised to cut doses gradually rather than going cold turkey. Patient groups said the college’s shift could have a “huge impact” in leading to changes to NHS…

High-fat diets can cause depression, study finds

A new study suggests that a diet high in saturated fats can cause depression by disrupting the normal functioning of the hypothalamus. Publishing their findings in the journal Translational Psychiatry, the researchers describe how there has long been an established correlation between obesity and depression. What’s been less clear, however, is whether obesity causes depression and, if so, which biological mechanisms drive the process. […] After conducting protein and mRNA analyses, the researchers found that a high-fat diet disrupts the cAMP/PKA signaling pathway in the hypothalamus. This seems to be caused by the accumulation of fatty acids in the hypothalamus, a result of a high-fat diet. These accumulated fatty acids interfere with the normal functioning of the hypothalamus, leading to depression. “This is the first time anyone has observed the direct effects a high-fat diet can have on the signaling areas of the brain related to depression,” George Baillie, lead author on the study, told New Atlas. “This research may begin to explain how and why obesity is linked with depression and how we can potentially better treat patients with these conditions.”

New study asks: Should we replace mental health meds with exercise?

Exercise has long been prescribed as part of a healthy lifestyle — an important directive, considering that 80 percent of Americans are insufficiently active. Previous research has shown that lifting weights helps lift depression, cardiovascular activities reduce the effects of anxiety, and any type of movement improves mental health. A new study at the University of Vermont Medical Center published in the journal Global Advances in Health and Medicine takes that last claim one step further: Exercise should be prescribed to patients with mental health issues before psychiatric drugs. This research follows a growing acknowledgment of the chronic problems associated with SSRIs and other pharmacological interventions. The efficacy of antidepressants diminishes over time, leaving patients hooked as they suffer more side effects than benefits. As Jerome Groopman recently reported in The New Yorker, the field of psychiatry has long offered contentious treatments because we do not have a biology for mental illness. Mental health scripts are guesswork, more of an art than science.

Cognitive behavior therapy shown to improve multiple menopause symptoms

Although hormone therapy (HT) is the most commonly recommended treatment for menopause symptoms, research is ongoing for alternatives, especially nonpharmacologic options. Cognitive behavior therapy has previously been proposed as a low-risk treatment for hot flashes, but a new study suggests it may also effectively manage other menopause symptoms. Results are published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS). […] “This small study is in line with other studies of menopausal women showing a benefit of cognitive behavior therapy in improving hot flashes. It additionally demonstrated an improvement in depression, sleep, and sexual function,” says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director. “Larger trials comparing cognitive behavior therapy to other active treatments will help us to better understand how effective this therapy will be in highly symptomatic women.”

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 May 29, 2019

Alert 101: Pinar Miski, MD, on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour

Replaying a great Dr. Peter Breggin Hour.
 
Because PRN.fm is moving its NYC offices, there is no live show on Wednesday May 29th, which would usually be the Open Lines Wednesday to call in on all subjects.  I will be replaying the August 9, 2018 show:

Where are all the young psychiatrists? Well, they are beginning to express themselves. My guest is psychiatrist Pinar Miski, MD, who teaches my live on-line course, “Why and How Stop Taking Psychiatric Drugs.” Pinar brings serious clinical experience as a psychiatric consultant on medical wards and also as a person knowledgeable in the field of nutrition. She offers a caring, straightforward and sound approach to helping people that may help you rediscover your faith in yourself. It may even put some healthy chinks in the psychiatric armor. This was Pinar’s first radio show ever and it was 5/5 stars.

Listen in @ www.prn.fmWednesdays 4 PM, NY time

Or listen to any show on the archives @ www.breggin.com

 

 

 

 

Healthy, stress-busting fat found hidden in dirt

Thirty years after scientists coined the term “hygiene hypothesis” to suggest that increased exposure to microorganisms could benefit health, CU Boulder researchers have identified an anti-inflammatory fat in a soil-dwelling bacterium that may be responsible. The discovery, published Monday in the journal Psychopharmacology, may at least partly explain how the bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, quells stress-related disorders. It also brings the researchers one step closer to developing a microbe-based “stress vaccine.”  […] “The idea is that as humans have moved away from farms and an agricultural or hunter-gatherer existence into cities, we have lost contact with organisms that served to regulate our immune system and suppress inappropriate inflammation,” said Lowry. “That has put us at higher risk for inflammatory disease and stress-related psychiatric disorders.” Lowry has published numerous studies demonstrating a link between exposure to healthy bacteria and mental health. One showed that children raised in a rural environment, surrounded by animals and bacteria-laden dust, grow up to have more stress-resilient immune systems and may be at lower risk of mental illness than pet-free city dwellers. […] One Lowry-authored study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2016, showed that injections of M. vaccae prior to a stressful event could prevent a “PTSD-like” syndrome in mice, fending off stress-induced colitis and making the animals act less anxious when stressed again later. “We knew it worked, but we didn’t know why,” said Lowry. “This new paper helps clarify that. […] This is just one strain of one species of one type of bacterium that is found in the soil but there are millions of other strains in soils,” Lowry said. “We are just beginning to see the tip of the iceberg in terms of identifying the mechanisms through which they have evolved to keep us healthy. It should inspire awe in all of us.”

A major new study asks: How does church affect marital health?

While research tells us that husbands and wives who attend church regularly are between 28 and 47% less likely to divorce, less is known about how much an active and shared religious faith matters for overall relationship quality, sexual satisfaction, fidelity, and domestic violence. To find out, we divided the GFGS respondents into three types of couples: (1) highly religious couples who attend religious services 2 to 3 times per month or more together, (2) less/mixed religious couples with fairly minimal religious service attendance, and (3) shared-secular couples who never attend religious services. First, the good news: Highly religious couples report the highest relationship quality, the best sex, and less cheating. Overall, The Ties That Bind report finds that regular religious attendance is linked to higher-quality relationships in its 11-country sample. In the United States, for instance, data from the GFGS indicate that 67% of highly religious wives enjoy above-average relationships compared to 44% of wives in less/mixed religious marriages and 53% of wives in secular relationships.

Expecting the worst can lead to the worst if you’re neurotic

A new study shows how neurotics create their own self-fulfilling prophecies. […] A new study by Wilson McDermut and colleagues at St. John’s University in New York City suggests that personality traits do play an important role in affecting people’s dysfunctional beliefs and, as a result, their happiness. They note that these beliefs “both characterize personality dysfunction and perpetuate it by generating interpretations that are molded to fit those existing schemas” (p. 2). Oddly enough, however, the research team observes that the research literature on personality and the literature on dysfunctional beliefs have little overlap. But given the well-established body of evidence for both the dimensional view of personality disorders, as well as the acceptance of cognitive theory in depression, these two literatures should be able to inform each other. In other words, your personality may very well set the stage for you to hold beliefs that will get in the way of your success and happiness. The question is how. […] the McDermut et al. study suggests that the tendency to hold negative expectations and views of oneself and one’s ability seems more likely to develop when people’s personalities already bias them to view the world through anxious and worried perspectives. Although the findings showed some variations depending on which outcome measure was used, in each analysis, neuroticism and its counterpart of low emotional stability emerged as the quality most likely to predict a view of the self based on doubt and expectations of failure. If dysfunctional beliefs that highly neurotic individuals hold can be addressed through intervention, it is possible that they could be helped to reverse the process and emerge with renewed beliefs in their abilities.

Stressed out people with no offline support more likely to overuse Facebook

Are we stressed out because we spend too much time on Facebook, or does our stress lead us to spend too much time on social media? This chicken and egg question is at the heart of new research from psychology researchers in Germany recently published in the journal Psychiatry Research. In the study of 309 Facebook users (not a terribly large study, but enough to get an idea of possible trends), researchers “investigated the links between daily stress, social support, Facebook use, and Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD).” We’ve long known that alongside the dangers of frequent social media use – such as increased anxiety – lie social and emotional benefits such as ease in maintaining long-distance relationships and experiencing feelings of social support. Studies have suggested that introverts may get the most out of social media interactions because it compensates for real-life interaction; but at the end of the day your personality type determines how you engage with people on Facebook and what you get out of it (whether it’s increased levels of friendship and well-being or another notch on your perceived social influence).

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for May 28, 2019

14 Ways You Can Become Happier

It was initially believed that you could control 40% of your happiness. However, scientists now say that your happiness markers are up to your behavior, genes, and circumstances. So how can you become happier? While we’re busy focusing on so many other factors such as how to get better at work, how to get more done, we often forget that we need to do something about trying and becoming happier as well. It’s as if we care about everything but our happiness. In fact, so many of us think that there is no simple way to make oneself a happy human being. Is that true? It doesn’t have to be. You see, there are some ways you can make yourself happier by reducing stress and improving your quality of life. Wondering how you can become an overall happier person? Here are 14 ways you can become happier:

Two cases of pathological gambling associated with Abilify 

Two young patients’ pathological gambling emerged simply due to exposure to aripiprazole [Abilify], neither related to manic or psychotic symptoms nor with history of addictive or impulsive behaviors. Their pathological gambling disappeared soon after switching aripiprazole to other antipsychotics. One patient has tested such a relationship by reexposure to aripiprazole while his compulsion to gamble recurred. CONCLUSIONS: In addition to previously recognized risk factors, pathological gambling might occur in young patients whose history did not reveal an addictive tendency while they were sensitive to the pharmacological effect, as well as adverse effects, of psychotropic agents. 

Psychotropic medications serve as powerful tools for U.S. military, imperialism

A new study, published in Medical Anthropology Quarterly, overviews a growing phenomenon in the U.S. military referred to as ‘pharmaceutical creep,’ where psychiatric drugs have become circulated throughout deployment zones with increasing regularity. This can range from the non-prescribed distribution of substances like stimulants to increase soldier performance to the prescription of antidepressants in ways that impede military objectives. According to the author of the study, Dr. Jocelyn Lim Chua, an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina: “Psychopharmaceuticals variably drift, seep, infiltrate, deploy: They are smuggled into [deployment zones], flow in from civilian life, leak out of military supply chains, penetrate the military-corporate body, and are actively drawn into the tactical logic of urban counterinsurgency.” […] Today, one area where the relationship between psy-professions and the U.S. military is particularly evident is in the wide array of roles that psychopharmaceuticals serve in the everyday lives of deployed soldiers. As outlined in an article published in the New York Times, for instance, the number of psychotropic drugs prescribed for military personnel increased over 700% from 2005 to 2011.

Man fights forced shock therapy order

A local man is fighting a court order forcing him to undergo shock therapy. “This shouldn’t be happening in the state of Connecticut where they can strap you down and do something to you that can cause a person brain damage,” said Virginia Teixeira, a lawyer for the Connecticut Legal Rights Project. A May 30 hearing in Superior Court here has been set for an emergency order to halt the therapy, which is expected to be done at Yale-New Haven Hospital. The 26-year-old man, whose name is not being disclosed, is currently an inpatient at the Greater Bridgeport Community Mental Health Center. Following a hearing on May 3, Bridgeport Probate Judge Paul Ganim ordered involuntary shock therapy, or electroconvulsive therapy as it is also known, be performed on the man. […] “He obviously was sophisticated enough to contact me and ask me to file an appeal,” she said. “The client told me he is really scared and asked me to help him. This should not be forced on him.”

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 May 27, 2019

FDA approves using electricity all night long on children’s brains

By Michael Cornwall, PhD. The FDA just approved sales of an electrical device called the Monarch eTNS, manufactured by the NeuroSigma company of Los Angeles, to be used on the brains of children diagnosed with so-called ADHD. The Monarch eTNS device is the size of your cellphone, with a wire attached to an electrode that gets stuck on a 7-12 year old child’s forehead above their eyebrows all night long while electricity is released into the child’s trigeminal cranial nerve, and also into their vulnerable pre-frontal cortex — “which sends therapeutic signals to the parts of the brain thought to be involved in ADHD,” according to the FDA press release. “Therapeutic signals”? Really? The “parts of the brain thought to be involved in ADHD”? Really? My god, Orwell’s dystopian 1984 or Huxley’s Brave New World is now here. Take your pick.

Michael Cornwall was on The Dr. Peter Breggin Show a couple weeks ago….

Studies: Greenspace provides health benefits

Studies show that greenspace and landscaping contribute to health, happiness and intellect. It’s natural to long for spring when it’s cold outside. Living landscapes are an important part of the outdoor lifestyle that Americans enjoy, but the benefits go beyond the barbecue and backyard baseball. Greenspaces are necessary for your health. “The advantages of grass and landscaping surpass the usual physical benefits that result from outdoor activity. […] Numerous studies have found that people who spend more time outside or are exposed to living landscapes are happier, healthier and smarter.” Researchers have studied the impact of nature on human well-being for years, but recent studies have found a more direct correlation between human health, particularly related to stress, and the importance of people’s access to nature and managed landscapes. […] Children who are raised on farms in a “dirtier” environment than an urban setting not only have a stronger immune system but are also better able to manage social stress, according to the National Academy of Sciences.

Ditching detention for yoga: Schools embrace mindfulness to curb discipline problems

At Doull Elementary in Denver, when students misbehave repeatedly, they are assigned to a new after-school activity—yoga. Doull’s version of alternative discipline is part of the school’s embrace of social-emotional learning and is emblematic of the growing trend of K-12 schools to cultivate school environments that are attuned to the social and emotional well-being of children. For many schools, the pursuit of social-emotional learning often starts with overhauling traditional approaches to student discipline and misbehavior. […] “What we love about yoga is that they leave with some actual skills that can help them in life,” said Doull Elementary Principal Jo Carrigan. “Doing a math sheet or handwriting sheet didn’t help them solve a problem, didn’t help them recognize what anger feels like in their body.”

7 things this tech company does to improve mental health in the workplace

As a newspaper editor, reporters would sometimes come into my office, close the door, and break down in sobs. Doing social media for an open-office tech startup, I had to leave the building and walk around the block to cry. No job has normalized tears for me more than Buffer, and I’m so grateful for it. At Buffer, we try to bring ourselves authentically to work. We delight in the joys of life–new babies, pets, plants! work and life achievements–and we don’t shy away from the hard stuff, such as depression, anxiety, burnout, and grieving. In honor of May’s Mental Health Awareness Month, in this post we’ll talk about mental health at work–what we’re doing at Buffer to focus on this important topic, and what anyone can do—regardless of their company or role–to focus on well-being.

How to Find Peace by Tidying Up

Don’t you love it when your home is clean and organized? There’s something deeply satisfying about being in a space that’s free of clutter and where everything has its place. We feel more relaxed and can focus our attention. Unfortunately for many of us, the idea of an organized home feels like a faraway dream. Between busy schedules, an abundance of stuff, possibly kids, and feeling overwhelmed, just getting the dishes cleaned feels like a major victory. And each day the clutter grows.

I recently spoke with professional organizer Alejandra Costello on the Think Act Be podcast, to get her insights on how to maintain an organized home. I was struck by how much overlap there is between the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and the approach she described—no wonder her videos have been viewed by millions of people around the globe. […] Not surprisingly, an effective approach to organizing your home includes cognitive, behavioral, and mindfulness-based strategies—mind, body, and spirit. Ready to live in a tidier home? Enjoy the freedom you’ll feel from applying these principles as you declutter and organize your space.   

Mindfulness is much more than meditation

As I noted in my last blog post, mindfulness and meditation are commonly conflated. And, while they are certainly related, they are not the same. Although meditation practice is a primary pathway to achieving and sustaining mindfulness, mindfulness extends far beyond meditation. It may be helpful to think of meditation as a subset of mindfulness. You can practice mindfulness and learn to observe your present-moment experience—whether positive, painful, or neutral—both internal and external, with greater acceptance, with your eyes wide open, without sitting silently on a cushion, and without special settings or uninterrupted blocks of time. There are myriad ways to incorporate mindfulness into the ordinary tasks and activities of everyday life. There are virtually unlimited opportunities to consciously anchor your awareness in the here and now and access brief but meaningful moments of mindfulness throughout the course of your day. Small pebbles can make big ripples.

Toxic Pssychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for May 25 – 26, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – May 22

This hour with my guest, author Jeffrey Masson PhD, was so stunning, I am going to do a series of shows with him, much as I did in 2015. Jeffrey shook the psychoanalytic world when his book Assault on Truth showed that Freud knew that his patients had been sexually abused but hid the truth to further his career. Then, having been trained as a psychoanalyst, he took on the entire psychotherapy establishment, observing that no one can be taught empathy and that licensing professional talkers was doing more harm than good. Then, having endured enough attack on himself, he turned to writing bestselling books about animals including When Elephants Weep and Dog’s Never Lie About Love. (The animal behavioral establishment railed against him for humanizing dogs.) In this wonderful hour, we talk about life, about birds and trees, and energy and courage, about how and why some people see through shams into the truth. We both loved our time together; I hope you will, too. Jeff lives in Australia, so this is a real opportunity to hear this thoughtful, courageous man.

Poor gut health may cause depression, says study

study, published in the Nature Microbiology, suggests a connection between gut and brain health. The researchers of the study analyzed the fecal microbiome data of more than 1,000 people. All of them were enrolled in the Flemish Gut Flora Project. This data was pooled with data on depression diagnoses for exploring the link between gut bacteria, depression and quality of life. The research reveals that people suffering from depression exhibited low levels of gut bacteria. Mental health problems have been a topic of great attention for many years. It is a majorly growing health concern and scientists have been trying to uncover it causes since years. This new study out of Belgium adds that depression could well be a symptom of poor gut health. The study enumerates that depression comes with persistently low levels of two gut bacteria in particular, Dialister and Coprococcus. This fact holds true even among those who took antidepressants. The results were validated via an autonomous cohort of more than 1,000 people who took part in the Dutch LifeLines DEEP and clinically depressed patients. The findings of the study were significant as they suggest a probiotic-based treatment for depression.

University mindfulness programs help students gain headspace

In the middle of balancing rigorous coursework with various extracurricular activities and a social life, giving importance to and dedicating time to mental health can be difficult for some college students. To help students maintain a healthy mental outlook, the University supports meditation and mindfulness through various resources such as the Contemplative Sciences Center, Counseling and Psychological Services and the School of Medicine, which offer different courses and programs in these areas. These practices are intended to help students improve both their mental and physical health. […] Data Science graduate student Charisma Ravoori attends these classes on Sundays at Clemons Library. According to Ravoori, meditation helps with focus and helps her stay calm during stressful scenarios.  “It teaches you not to react immediately and take a minute to think about what’s going on and process that,” said Ravoori. 

Could exercise boost well-being among psychiatric inpatients?

The study, carried out by scientists from the University of Vermont in Burlington, investigated how an exercise regime might benefit inpatients at a psychiatric facility. They published their findings in the journal Global Advances in Health and Medicine. […] He designed an experiment that combined physical activity with information about healthful nutrition — building a holistic, drug-free intervention. […] In all, they recruited 100 patients to take place in the trial.  […] Each participant carried out 60-minute sessions of structured exercise. According to the authors, “Each 60-minute exercise session consisted [of] a combination of cardiovascular training, resistance training, and flexibility development.” […] Overall, the findings were encouraging. After completing the bouts of physical activity, 95% of participants showed improvements in mood and self-esteem, compared with the questionnaire scores before the sessions. Also, 91.8% of participants said that they were happy with how their bodies felt after the sessions. They also reported reductions in depression, anxiety, and anger. […] “We were certainly surprised by the percentages, especially given that they were consistently high, irrespective of the specific diagnostic backgrounds.” In other words, the level of positivity was comparable between people with very different types of mental condition, from schizophrenia to major depressive disorder.

11 Ways To Implement Mindfulness Training To Create A More Balanced Workplace

Many aspects of modern working environments can be stressful. As such, offering opportunities to de-stress in the workplace, ranging from corporate yoga classes to mental health days, is becoming increasingly popular as companies focus more on supporting employee mental health and wellness. In fact, mindfulness actually carries a lot of weight when it comes to encouraging greater employee productivity, preventing burnout and creating a higher quality work product. Yet, not all mindfulness methods and corporate mental health offerings are created equal. Knowing what your employees need to maintain healthy mental states and a certain level of workplace mindfulness can be difficult. To help, we asked 11 members of Forbes Human Resources Council to share their best recommendations for incorporating mindfulness training or other health initiatives into the workplace. […] My best recommendation for implementing mindfulness initiatives into the workplace is by incentivizing them. To gain employee buy-in for the program, employers can offer idea bonuses or other non-monetary suggestion initiatives to generate buzz and engagement across the workforce. From there, companies should continue to incentivize participation via specific behaviors or desired program outcomes.

Is creativity the key to happiness? See what crafts and hobbies could do for you

“Creative hobbies actually bring us into the present moment, and scientists have found that when our attention is in the present moment, that is when we’re happiest,” she said. So if you’re focused on the perfect knit-purl pattern of a scarf you’re making or the tiny details of a needle-felted figure, your mind is worried about the usual day-to-day concerns […] The research from Bluprint shows that there’s no need to be a master of a craft — it’s the act of creating that’s important. “I think what’s interesting about this new study is that it shows 75 percent of people who have creative hobbies don’t mind making mistakes in the process,” Lee said. “I think that’s what’s really great about these hobbies, because we are not at work. We do not have to focus on rules and doing things exactly a certain way. We are free to improvise, to try new things.”

Why the secret to happiness lies in ‘we’ not ‘me’

“Freedom sucks. To be unattached is bad.” Or so says the New York Times columnist and author David Brooks in his latest book, The Second Mountain: The Quest for the Moral Life. In it, he wages war against our self-centred culture – and managed to knock Michelle Obama’s Becoming off the bestseller lists. Its message is simple. For decades, we have exalted “me” at the expense of “we”. The ego has been centre-stage – pampered and made-over, instagrammed and tweeted – while “others” are sidelined. As a result, we are capable only of the flimsiest relationships, which leave us ultimately disappointed. Brooks has hit a nerve. The rise in mental health issues, suicides, opiate abuse, absent fathers, broken relationships and distrust bespeak a seriously troubled culture. And not just across the pond. “We’ve created a culture in both our countries that is way too individualistic and meritocratic,” he tells me during his two-day book tour of the UK. For decades, we were taught to consider our own feelings, rights and needs – “but we have gone too far.”

Adverse Childhood Experiences: When Will the Lessons of the ACE Study Inform Societal Care?

There have been few studies in medicine that have produced such compelling findings as the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study, which so convincingly describes how abuse, trauma, and other childhood difficulties exact a long-term psychological—and physical—toll. Yet, Felitti encountered significant resistance to his work early on, and despite the conceptual impact of the ACE study, the incorporation of the findings into public health policy is still in its beginning stages. For Felitti, the light bulb that went off after Patti told him of the incestuous molestation was the start of a long scientific, and ultimately political, process. Soon after Patti confided in him, Felitti and his colleagues at Kaiser Permanente in San Diego began to ask other obese patients about whether they also had a history of sexual abuse. “We were shocked. Of the first 286 patients we asked, 55% reported a history of abuse,” he said.

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 May 24, 2019

Mindfulness Yoga Offers Relief from Depressive Symptoms in Parkinson’s Disease, Study Finds

In a randomized trial with Parkinson’s disease patients, researchers found a yoga program that focused on mindfulness was more effective in alleviating anxiety than a more standard exercise program of stretching and resistance training. An average of six sessions of mindfulness yoga (yoga combined with meditation and controlled breathing) significantly reduced depressive and anxiety symptoms in patients with mild-to-moderate Parkinson’s disease (PD) compared with stretching and resistance training, according to a paper published in the online April 8 edition of JAMA Neurology. “Our study concludes that mindfulness yoga alleviates psychological distress, and improves spiritual well-being, quality of life, motor symptoms, and mobility. When it comes to managing stress and symptoms of PD, what is exciting is that yoga has now been proven to be a better strategy than just stretching,” lead investigator Jojo Y.Y. Kwok, PhD, MPH, RN, a research assistant professor in the School of Nursing at the University of Hong Kong, told Neurology Today in an email.

IQ is dropping in many countries and that doesn’t bode well for humanity

People are getting dumber. That’s not a judgment; it’s a global fact. In a host of leading nations, IQ scores have started to decline. Though there are legitimate questions about the relationship between IQ and intelligence, and broad recognition that success depends as much on other virtues like grit, IQ tests in usethroughout the world today really do seem to capture something meaningful and durable. Decades of research have shown that individual IQ scores predict things such as educational achievementand longevity. More broadly, the average IQ score of a country is linked to economic growth and scientific innovation. […] As yet, the United States hasn’t hit this IQ wall — despite what you may be tempted to surmise from the current state of the political debate. […] If we want to prevent America from suffering this fate, we’d better figure out why IQs are dropping elsewhere. But it’s uncharted territory. Until recently, IQ scores only moved in one direction: up. 

3 reasons to exercise that don’t involve fitness

2) Exercise Makes You Happier Exercising = Happy, Says the results of 23 studies by the University of Michigan. Everyone’s familiar with the concept of the runner’s high that occurs when opiate-like endorphins flood the brain with happy juice during exercise, but that’s not the whole story. A quick 20 minute dose of exercise can also help decrease production of cortisol, the stress hormone which triggers our instinctive fight or flight response system. We’re rarely battling predators in the wild these days, but the stresses of modern life, from the constant barrage of smart phones notifications to cab drivers cutting us off in traffic, leave our cortisol production in overdrive. With little fleeing and fighting to let our brain know the threat is over, we remain constantly on edge. Exercise reduces cortisol production by tricking our brain into thinking we’ve responded to the threat, either by running away or running into battle. Since we’ve responded, our brain can bring the threat level down from Def Con 4 and shut off the cortisol spigots.

Use of Xanax, Valium increase risks of miscarriage

Recently, researchers have given strict warning that taking a high dosage of Xanax, Valium and several other anti-anxiety drugs may lead to miscarriage. Most of people intake these drugs to fight with mood disorders. Scientists have also found that when these drugs are taken by women during their pregnancy then they become more prone to miscarriage during their first trimester. While speaking to the press, Anick Berard stated that doctors should assist their patients whether they should take anti-anxiety drugs during pregnancy or not. She further said that doctors should also help women to improve their overall mood swings during pregnancy. Berard and other researchers had attained data of more than 400,000 pregnant women, from 1998 to 2015. The research report stated that 6% of pregnant women had suffered from a miscarriage. The report also includes that out of 6%, 1% of women were on the anti-anxiety drug during pregnancy. Berard also said that no matter what anti-anxiety drug women were taking all those drugs were equally harmful.

A solution to psychology’s reproducibility problem just failed its first test

Behavior change is difficult—just ask any psychologist. A new study shows behavior change among psychologists is no different. Efforts to improve the robustness of research by asking psychologists to state their methods and goals ahead of time, a process called preregistration, have stumbled at the first hurdle. “Preregistration is not as easy as it may seem,” says Aline Claesen […] She and her colleagues examined 27 preregistration plans filed by psychologists from February 2015, when the journal Psychological Science started to offer badges for preregistered studies, to November 2017. In every case, her team reports this month in a preprint on the PsyArXiv server, the researchers deviated from their plan—and in every paper but one, they did not fully disclose these deviations. “I was totally surprised by how many of these [changes] were undisclosed,” says Wolf Vanpaemel, a psychologist on the KU Leuven team. “There’s no good excuse for not transparently indicating all changes you made.” […] As part of an effort to lessen the field’s reproducibility problems, psychology picked up the idea of preregistration from clinical research, where it has been the norm for more than a decade. By setting out, for example, the number of volunteers that will be recruited and the criteria that will be used to analyze the data, preregistration is intended to make research more transparent and reduce both the temptation to fish for significant results and the opportunity for bias

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 May 23, 2019

Poor sleep can trigger “viral” loneliness and turn you into a social leper

Being sleep-deprived can make you lonely and antisocial – and by extension, ruin your social life. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that people suffering from sleep deprivation are not only lonely but avoid contact with other people. That, in turn, makes them socially repellent others. People who are well-rested feel lonely after brief contact with someone who is sleep-deprived, creating a “viral” effect. The study is the first to show that the relationship between sleep loss and social isolation goes two ways and that poor sleep may play a part in the worldwide loneliness epidemic. […] “We humans are a social species. Yet sleep deprivation can turn us into social lepers,” said senior author Matthew Walker, a Berkeley professor of psychology and neuroscience. “The less sleep you get, the less you want to socially interact. In turn, other people perceive you as more socially repulsive, further increasing the grave social-isolation impact of sleep loss. That vicious cycle may be a significant contributing factor to the public health crisis that is loneliness.”

The study: Sleep loss causes social withdrawal and loneliness

Loneliness and social isolation markedly increase mortality risk, and are linked to numerous mental and physical comorbidities, including sleep disruption. But does sleep loss causally trigger loneliness? Here, we demonstrate that a lack of sleep leads to a neural and behavioral phenotype of social withdrawal and loneliness; one that can be perceived by other members of society, and reciprocally, makes those societal members lonelier in return. We propose a model in which sleep loss instigates a propagating, self-reinforcing cycle of social separation and withdrawal. […] Taken together, these data establish that a lack of sleep—both total sleep deprivation and more modest, real-world reductions in sleep quality—leads to a behavioral profile of social withdrawal and loneliness. The underlying neural mechanism of this sleep-deprivation effect involves hypersensitivity in brain regions that warn of human approach—a social repulsion signal, yet impairment in regions that encourage understanding of another’s intent, a prosocial signal. 

3 mindfulness tips to help you sleep better

One of the biggest new age contributors to sleep deprivation is stress. Frequently being in a heightened state of alertness can delay the onset of sleep and cause rapid, anxious thoughts to occur at night. Insufficient sleep can then cause further stress. “But I’m not really stressed!” you might be thinking. I am perfectly handling my job, a side venture and two children! Assuming you’ve ruled out a medical cause, consider the possibility that you are, in fact, stressed. All those with sleep disturbances often attempt self-medication, consuming highly addictive over the counter drugs. That definitely is not the solution. A simplistic way to enjoy a restful night’s sleep lies not in some over the counter pill, but a highly effective technique called Mindfulness.

How to make your midday walk a more mindful experience, from a ‘walking professor’

Bonnie Smith Whitehouse is an English professor at Belmont University in Nashville, but her class structure is decidedly different from most. A firm believer that the best ideas come when you least suspect them, Whitehouse has all of her students get walking before they get writing. […] At a certain point, I realized I felt better after I took a walk—my thoughts were clearer, and I had lots of ideas. So I became interested in experimenting with that as a professor. What I found is that throughout much of history, teaching and learning and writing and thinking didn’t just happen in a classroom with rows. That’s something we made up in the Industrial Era. Before that, great teachers like Plato and Aristotle conducted their teaching on walks. I started experimenting with that and teaching a class on how to use walking to generate ideas.

Could virtual reality be used as treatment for ADHD?

A new study has been carried out by researchers from UC Davies MIND Institute that’s investigating the potential for virtual reality to help children with ADHD to cope in the non-virtual world. It is expected that if the research can prove to be effective, then a new treatment option for children with ADHD could be found. Julie Schweitzer a professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences […] said, “If a parent could download an app to purchase the treatment, families in many places in the world could access it.” […] The UC Davis MIND Institute is already testing virtual reality exposure therapy as a non-pharmaceutical therapy for distractibility in general. It is expected that the study will include up to 50 children aged between 8 and 12 years old who are highly distractible and not on medication for ADHD.

Unreported clinical trials threaten credibility of published studies

Large trials that go unreported threaten the credibility of available, published evidence and are detrimental to the scientific process, according to a brief research report and an editorial published in Annals of Internal Medicine. Researchers identified the 500 largest preregistered randomized controlled trials (RCTs) with a start date after June 1, 2007, and completion date before June 1, 2012 that lacked reported results on clinicaltrials.gov and remained unpublished more than 46 months after completion. Nonrandomized, cluster-randomized, and non-preregistered trials were excluded from the analysis. The researchers evaluated whether these trials were subsequently published or had posted any results through January 2019. Whenever possible, investigators were contacted by email to verify publication status. […] In the accompanying editorial, the authors express concern that the credibility of published evidence is threatened by large unreported trials when extensive results remain undisclosed. Failure to report clinical trial results also threatens the public’s trust in research and the integrity of medical literature. The authors believe that such failures of disclosure should be considered academic misconduct at the individual and institutional levels.

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 May 22, 2019

Alert 100: Scholar Jeffrey Masson on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour Today

Jeffrey Masson PhD. is an astonishing scholar and person who will be my guest on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour today, Wednesday May 22 at 4 pm New York Time on www.prn.fm.  Based on Freud’s personal correspondence, Jeff was the first to courageously disclose that the creator of psychoanalysis knew that many of his female patients had been sexually abused as children but hid the truth to protect his own professional status.   After writing more good books critical of psychiatry and psychotherapy, Jeff went on to an astonishing career writing extraordinarily empathic books about animals, both domesticated and wild.  He and I together also researched the role of psychiatry in Nazi Germany and presented on these topics in Cologne, Germany.  At that time, we visited a dreary and frightening East Berlin shortly before the Berlin Wall came down.  Jeff and I have so much to talk about that this show could range into all the most interesting nooks and crannies of human existence.   The last time he was on the radio with me in 2015, he was so amazing that I did a series of four separate hours with him.  I personally look forward to renewing my on-air visits with him.

Listen in @ www.prn.fmWednesdays 4 PM, NY time

Call in with comments or questions @ 888-874-4888

Or listen to any show on the archives @ www.breggin.com

Be sure to subscribe to Dr. Breggin’s Frequent Alerts

Why Do Volunteers Live Longer?

Research suggests that volunteerism is associated with a lower risk of dying. Once a month, I volunteer at a meal center to help serve food to people who are in need. Prepping and serving the dinner is a busy yet fun team activity of five to six people, organized by two generous souls. Despite the many other things that I need to do, I really look forward to meeting and serving the patrons, even if only briefly. Although my motivation begins with wanting to help others and being grateful for what I have been given, it is joy that helps bring me back when I am very busy. I first noticed this some time ago: At the end of our shift, after the kitchen and dining room have been cleaned up, I would experience a lightness of being, a sense of satisfaction and reconnection to purpose. It just feels good. […] Most have heard the ancient wisdom that giving benefits the giver more than the receiver.  “A generous man will prosper, he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed” from Proverbs speaks to this point. If we look at that solely from a materialistic perspective, the concept is hard to fathom. But if we look at it from a spiritual and now biologic perspective, it totally makes sense. 

Mindfulness app cuts smoking. Brain scans suggest how

People who tried a new mindfulness app reported smoking fewer cigarettes a day, according to a new study. Further, the researchers say the people who most reduced the number of cigarettes they smoked also showed decreased reactivity to smoking-related images in a part of the brain known to activate when someone experiences a craving. For a randomized controlled trial comparing smoking-cessation apps, one group of 33 participants used a mindfulness-based app for four weeks, while another group of 34 participants used a free smoking-cessation app from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). “This is the first study to show that mindfulness training could specifically affect a mechanism in the brain and to show that changes in this brain mechanism were connected to improved clinical outcomes,” says Jud Brewer, an associate professor of behavioral and social sciences and psychiatry at Brown University and director of research and innovation at the School of Public Health’s Mindfulness Center.

Report: Religious Couples Have Happier Marriages

Both religion and egalitarianism have something to offer those seeking a happy marriage in a world of shifting mores—though religion leads to more children—a new report on international perspectives on marital happiness shows. The report, a joint project of the Institute for Family Studies and the Wheatley Institution, uses data from two surveys of respondents in eleven countries: Argentina, Australia, Chile, Canada, Colombia, France, Ireland, Mexico, Peru, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The authors set out to examine the now standard bromide that progressive, secular social values lead to happier marriages.

Antidepressant withdrawal guidance must be updated to reflect evidence

Recommendations on antidepressant withdrawal need to be updated urgently to reflect the scientific evidence, said a group of experts writing in The BMJ.1 It was a concern that the evidence base contradicted the official position of the UK National Institute on Health and Clinical Excellence on antidepressant withdrawal, they said, and they warned that if doctors were following these recommendations many people may have had their withdrawal symptoms misdiagnosed as a relapse or a failure to respond to treatment. As a result, patients who were trying to come off antidepressants may have had them reinstated or switched, or …

Electroconvulsive Therapy Made Me a Stranger to Myself

A few months prior to my 30th birthday, my mom called me wanting to plan a party. […]  “Do you remember I hosted nice, big parties for both of your brothers when they turned 30?” she asked me. […]  Searching my brain for those memories, I paused. “No. Not at all.” I replied, depressed. […] I was silent. “Does it feel like listening to someone talking about a stranger?” “Yes, I guess so,” I said. I never thought about my memory loss like that. Her question exploded like a mortar in my mind, throwing me back, leaving me shell shocked and empty. It made me realize that many of my memories are no longer my own. […] I want to believe my psychiatrist and my doctor are competent, but I can’t forgive them for putting me through ECT. It kills me to admit that, because they are professionals I trusted with my life and wellbeing and they wronged me, even though they believed they were doing good. I want to unearth the positives from this experience, but other than giving me something to write about, I can’t think of one. ECT violated my mind, leaving it barren and bitter. I want my memories back, even the bad. I am incomplete without them. I’m forever searching, unfulfilled, through a permanent fog cast by violent waves of electricity. I refuse to accept the loss of so many memories, the loss of life. It was not worth it.

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for May 21, 2019

Which is better for families — traditional, religious gender roles or secular ones?

Two approaches to gender roles that seem opposite may both result in marital happiness. When it comes to marriage, women are most satisfied if they are half of a religious couple embracing traditional gender roles — or if they are half of a secular, progressive couple embracing egalitarianism. Women tend to be less satisfied, however, if their partnership straddles the ideological middle, according to new research. Highly religious, traditional couples fare best, reporting the greatest satisfaction with their relationship and sex life. Those couples are a bit ahead of progressive, secular couples, and this pattern forms what researchers call a “J-shaped curve.” Less religious or mixed-religious couples — whether they approach gender roles traditionally or are more egalitarian — form the dip in the J, reporting less relationship satisfaction. 

This study says you have to do more of this if you stare at a screen all day

Humans usually blink 20 times per minute, said researchers, but when they’re concentrating on computer work, that rate of blinking drops dramatically. It’s a drag staring at a screen all day. Sometimes it feels our lives are ruled by devices, be it computers, cell phones, or TVs. In fact, a new survey says that 36% of adults claimed they wouldn’t be able to avoid looking at a screen for 24 full hours, and two in five couldn’t recall their last day without screens. […] “The results demonstrate how screens have really taken over our lives, they are everywhere we look,” eye care expert and oculoplastic surgeon Sabrina Shah-Desai said in a statement. “Obviously it’s difficult to avoid them, especially in a working environment, but it’s vital we take steps to look after our eyes and have regular breaks from artificial light and digital devices.”

Mediterranean diet may help protect against symptoms of depression

The Mediterranean-style diet, long associated with longer life and reduced risk of cancer, may also help protect against depression, new research shows. Researchers in Greece found that a diet rich in vegetables and lower in poultry and alcohol — two hallmarks of the Mediterranean diet — was associated with a decreased likelihood of developing symptoms of depression or a diagnosis of depression later in life. The study was presented over the weekend at the American Psychiatric Association’s 2019 Annual Meeting in San Francisco. It is the latest example in a surge of recent research showing how what we eat can affect our brains and mental health. Another popular diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) eating plan, has also been found to reduce the risk of depression later in life.

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 May 20, 2019

Children taking ADHD drugs more likely to take antidepressants as teens

A team of researchers, led by Nir Madjar and Dan Schlosberg from Israel, hypothesized that greater adherence to methylphenidate (MPH) during early childhood would predict a lower risk of antidepressant (ADM) use in adolescence, but instead found the contrary. The study, published in European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, is the first of its kind, spanning a large general population-derived sample over a 12-year follow up. The authors report the primary finding: “children with high MPH adherence had a 50% higher likelihood for first ADM prescription during adolescence when controlling for the use of other non-ADM psychiatric medications or parental use of ADM.” […] The results […] indicate that “children with high MPH adherence had a 50% higher likelihood for first ADM prescription during adolescence when controlling for the use of other non-ADM medications or parental use of ADM.” The authors explain that this could mean ADHD children who adhere to MPH treatment have a higher risk of developing symptoms of depression and anxiety that would warrant ADM treatment in adolescence.

10 Happiness Myths that keep you miserable

Happiness myths are fantasies which lodge in your mind when repeated. You believe them despite a lack of evidence and, unlike fairy tales, some are damaging. They stop you getting what you want because you can’t see the truths they hide. Understanding these common misconceptions will help you attract happiness. 1. Happiness is permanent You will be disappointed if you believe happiness is perpetual. Life is full of trials. Sometimes, you’ll be sad, angry, or disappointed. On other occasions, you won’t identify an emotional state. Even the happiest people say they are content rather than blissful and expect their mood to dip. […] Recognize myths about happiness, and you will have a greater chance of finding joy. Old sayings and beliefs aren’t helpful if they block what you seek. Let them go and follow your bliss, understanding it will ebb and flow.

How I learned to stop worrying and rediscover the ancient philosophy of Stoicism

Stoicism is a Greco-Roman philosophy that began around 300 BCE with Zeno of Citium (modern-day Cyprus) […] In the twentieth century, Stoicism inspired a family of schools of effective psychotherapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), starting with Albert Ellis’s rational emotive behavior therapy in the 1950s […] Stoicism’s basic tenets can be distilled into three major topics: live according to nature, three-disciplined practice, and the dichotomy of control […] How, then, do we live according to nature? The Stoics, and Epictetus in particular, translate this into living by practicing three disciplines: desire, action, and assent […] The dichotomy of control is the central concept in Stoicism. What is it? Put simply, it’s the idea that certain things are under your control, while others are not. This may seem obvious—and it is—but from this observation stems the foundation of our practice: that we should focus our energy and resources on affecting what we can control, and turn away as much as possible from what we can’t. This, as you may suspect, is much more easily said than done. There’s a crucial difference between understanding something, which we can do by reading and reflecting on it, and internalizing that same thing, which can only be done with repeated practice.

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 May 18-19, 2019

Genetic theory of depression collapses: hundreds of studies falsified

In 1996, a group of European researchers found that a certain gene, called SLC6A4, might influence a person’s risk of depression. It was a blockbuster discovery at the time. The team found that a less active version of the gene was more common among 454 people who had mood disorders than in 570 who did not. In theory, anyone who had this particular gene variant could be at higher risk for depression, and that finding, they said, might help in diagnosing such disorders, assessing suicidal behavior, or even predicting a person’s response to antidepressants. […]

But a new studythe biggest and most comprehensive of its kind yet—shows that this seemingly sturdy mountain of research is actually a house of cards, built on nonexistent foundations. […] Using data from large groups of volunteers, ranging from 62,000 to 443,000 people, the team checked if any versions of these genes were more common among people with depression. “We didn’t find a smidge of evidence,” says Matthew Keller, who led the project. […] “This should be a real cautionary tale,” Keller adds. “How on Earth could we have spent 20 years and hundreds of millions of dollars studying pure noise?”

“What bothers me isn’t just that people said [the gene] mattered and it didn’t,” wrote the psychiatrist Scott Alexander in a widely shared blog post. “It’s that we built whole imaginary edifices on top of this idea of [it] mattering.” Researchers studied how SLC6A4 affects emotion centers in the brain, how its influence varies in different countries and demographics, and how it interacts with other genes. It’s as if they’d been “describing the life cycle of unicorns, what unicorns eat, all the different subspecies of unicorn, which cuts of unicorn meat are tastiest, and a blow-by-blow account of a wrestling match between unicorns and Bigfoot,” Alexander wrote.

Ian’s thoughts: Given that the gene in question, SLC6A4, is “responsible for getting a chemical called serotonin into brain cells,” this result seems to also undermine the serotonin theory of depression. If variance in serotonin causes variance in depression, then variance in the gene controlling for serotonin would be a likely candidate for affecting depression. But it seems not. So after a 23-year unicorn chase, it might be time to check our premises. 

Protesters demonstrate in Montreal against the use of electric shock therapy in psychiatry

Demonstrators rallied in Montreal Saturday to denounce the use of electric shock therapy, also known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), to treat psychiatric disorders.

The treatment, as described by the Mayo Clinic, involves sending small electric currents through the brain to trigger a brief seizure and change the patient’s brain chemistry. It is a procedure which is done under general anesthesia. Pare-chocs, the group organizing the protest, is calling for an end to the practice. In Quebec, the group contends that 11,000 ECT treatments were administered in 2017, up by 1,000 over the previous year. […] “We see that the rates in different places in Quebec are going up and we are against electroshock because it causes potential damage to the brain. We have other things that work well without causing damage, so we are here to denounce that situation.”

Dementia: New WHO prevention guidelines evaluate 12 risk factors

Millions of people around the world have a form of dementia, but scientists are still unsure exactly what causes this condition. Nevertheless, newly published prevention guidelines from the World Health Organization evaluate 12 risk factors and offer advice on how to tackle them. […] Earlier this week, the World Health Organization (WHO) published a new set of guidelines — downloadable from their website — that seek to advise governments, policymakers, and healthcare providers on how best to tackle dementia prevention.

How Smartphones Sabotage Your Brain’s Ability to Focus

Our phones give us instant gratification. But there’s a cost: loss of attention and productivity. WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez goes on a quest to understand the science of distractions and what you can do stay be more focused and productive.

Extrapyramidal symptoms from antipsychotics differ with age

Patient age is significantly associated with the type of extrapyramidal symptoms that stem from antipsychotic use, according to a study presented during a poster session at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting. “Antipsychotic medications are widely used to treat a growing number of mental health disorders. However, their utility may be limited by the potential to cause serious movement adverse reactions,” wrote poster presenter Areef S. Kassam, MD, and coauthor Elizabeth Cunningham, DO. “Akathisia, dystonia, parkinsonism, and tardive dyskinesia (collectively known as extrapyramidal symptoms or EPS) are associated with reduced social and occupational functioning, negative patient attitudes toward treatment, and nonadherence to pharmacotherapy.” […] The study revealed a significant association with age and EPS type: patients with akathisia and dystonia tended to be younger, while patients with parkinsonism and tardive dyskinesia tended to be older, according to the poster abstract. In addition, the investigation showed patients with tardive dyskinesia had a greater average body mass index (BMI) and were more likely to be female.

Concomitant use of lithium and antipsychotics may be neurotoxic

 Concomitant use of lithium and antipsychotics, particularly haloperidol, may be associated with neurotoxicity in some patients, and should therefore be carefully monitored, according to research presented at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, held May 18-22, 2019, in San Francisco, California.1 […] “The simultaneous use of lithium with antipsychotics, especially the high potency ones like haloperidol, should be either avoided or monitored very cautiously. Blood levels of both lithium and the antipsychotic must be checked regularly and any potential symptoms or signs of neurotoxicity should be looked for carefully,” concluded the case study authors.

Potential pitfalls of using antidepressants for anxiety disorders

Clinicians should consider their long-term strategy before initiating antidepressants in patients with anxiety disorders, researchers urged at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting, warning of high relapse rates and hazards of later discontinuation. […] Dr. Batelaan outlined a systematic review and meta-analysis the group did, which was published in the BMJ in 2017. It summarized results from 28 studies, with follow-up periods of 8 to 52 weeks, and a total of more than 5000 patients. It found that more than one-third of patients (36.4%) relapsed within the follow-up period. Other research has shown most such relapses take place within the first few months after discontinuation. […] “I think we should inform our patients at the beginning of the treatment about all of these issues. We should tell them that there are high relapse rates,” Dr. Scholten said. “We should inform patients that it’s not always easy for people to discontinue their antidepressants… We should also inform people that treatment is not always guaranteed for a long-lasting effect, even for CBT.”

Naltrexone XR May Be Associated With Dysphoria, Suicide Ideation

Monthly injections of naltrexone extended-release (naltrexone XR) may induce a dysphoric state and suicidal ideation in some patients, according to a case study presented at the American Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting, held May 18-22, 2019, in San Francisco, California. These adverse effects underscore the need for clinicians to give patients an oral test dose of naltrexone XR before initiating treatment. Researchers described the case of a woman aged 36 with opioid dependence who presented with severe anxiety, suicidal ideation, and dysphoria following an initial naltrexone injection. […] “In this era of the opioid epidemic, the use of naltrexone XR will only increase given its success in assisting with abstinence from opioids. Clinicians should be aware of the need to administer an oral test dose, as well as educate and be vigilant of the existence and time course of potential adverse reactions, including dysphoria and even suicidal ideation,” concluded the authors of the case study.

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

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

News & Information for May 17, 2019

ADHD, Stimulant Medication, and Psychosis—Oh My!

I have recently heard a new concern from parents in my practice with children with ADHD about whether there is an increased risk of developing psychosis triggered by stimulant medication, specifically amphetamines. This concern stems from an article in one of the finest medical references, The New England Journal of Medicine.  […] This is a very large (337,919 patients) observational study. From 2004 to 2015, researchers followed a group of 13- to 25-year-olds […] The use of amphetamines for treating ADHD in this population has increased 3.8 times while methylphenidate use increased only 1.6 times over the study period. […] My anecdotal experience has been that children on stimulant medications for ADHD treatment may at times cry uncontrollably, see spiders or bugs on their skin, become anxious about cars driving by or see a large green frog in their closet (the mother reported that he was described as very polite and wore a top hat)—but still. 

Study Examines Benzodiazepines with Antipsychotics for Aggression

Study results published in International Clinical Psychopharmacologysuggest that adding benzodiazepines to antipsychotic medications was previously considered an effective therapy modification, but recent studies indicate otherwise. The authors aimed to clarify if the addition of benzodiazepines reduces the amount of aggression seen in acutely psychotic patients. […] These investigators gathered data from 400 patient charts between 2012 to 2014, and analyzed the first 2 weeks of hospitalization. Two groups were defined: those who were only prescribed antipsychotics, and those who were prescribed antipsychotics and benzodiazepines. They compared levels of aggression between the 2 groups to see what effect—if any—benzodiazepines had on aggressive behavior. […] The authors’ main conclusion was that the 2 groups presented with no differences in measures of violence, and adding benzodiazepines to address aggression was inappropriate. One of the reasons that benzodiazepines have come under fire in the last few years is their propensity to cause addiction, cognitive decline, and falls. In this study, the research found no increase in falls or referrals to the emergency room in either group.

The Block’s Jess Eva reveals what it’s like on antidepressants: “You get emotionally numb”

The Block’s Jess Eva has spoken candidly about her battle with postnatal depression, revealing what it’s like to be on antidepressants to treat it. Speaking on her radio show, Triple M Sydney’s Moonman in the Morning, the 33-year-old former reality TV contestant said that the medication made her ’emotionally numb.’ ‘There’s certain things in life that I didn’t find scary, cause you get emotionally numb, that I’m finding a little bit scary to do now that I’m off them and can feel emotion,’ Jess said. She explained how the meds made her ‘flat line’. ‘The lows were so low, you sacrifice the highs to not get the lows,’ she recalled. […] she was on antidepressants for five years […] she went on a slippery slide at Sydney’s Luna Park over the weekend and loved the experience, because she can now finally feel emotion. […] ‘I haven’t felt emotion for five years, this is awesome. It was truly incredible.

Concerns after data reveals three million Australians now using antidepressants

Three million Australians are now reliant on antidepressants. New data from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme shows one in every eight Australians are using the drugs, including 100,000 children.

The data has prompted concerns Australia is over-diagnosing and over-treating depression. Psychiatrist Dr Jon Jureidini, from the University of Adelaide, tells Ben Fordham too many doctors are prescribing the drug. “The marketing of antidepressants has been extremely successful, and lots of people have been led to believe they’re better off taking the drugs. “The safety of these drugs is often overestimated, the risks are underestimated.”

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 May 16, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – May 15, 2019

One day before this Dr. Peter Breggin Hour, marvelous psychologist Michael Cornwall PhD sent me information about a  device newly approved by the FDA to pass electric current through the brains of children to treat them for supposed ADHD.  The laudatory hooey written by the FDA, which you will hear on the show, is beyond belief.   The entire study lasted only 4 weeks with a mere 30 or so children being afflicted with the Orwellian device.  Nonetheless, within the four weeks, children were already experiencing adverse effects such as headache and fatigue.  What will happen to them after months or years of exposure, we can only imagine, because the study lasted a mere 28 days.  I felt so outraged, I had to do something, and so I called Michael on an emergency basis to please come on the show that you can now listen to here.   We look with passionate outrage at this atrocity from a variety of moral, educational, scientific and societal perspectives.  I conclude that we will be inflicting “mini-lobotomies” on epidemic proportions on our children under the cover of psychiatry. 

Mindfulness smoking-cessation app can change the brain

Researchers have found that a mindfulness-based smartphone app designed to help people stop smoking was effective at reducing study participants’ self-reported daily cigarette consumption. And those who reduced their cigarette consumption the most also showed decreased reactivity to smoking-related images in a brain region known to be activated when someone experiences a craving. […] “This is a new study to show that mindfulness training could specifically affect a mechanism in the brain and to show that changes in this brain mechanism were connected to improved clinical outcomes,” said Brewer, who is the director of research and innovation at the Brown University School of Public Health’s Mindfulness Center. “We’re moving in the direction of being able to screen someone before treatment and offer them the behavior-change interventions that will be most likely to help them. This will save everybody time and money.”

Study shows those in a strong union are more content than people who are single and rich

Happiness ratings have been taken since 2011, when the then prime minister David Cameron wanted to go beyond economic figures in working out what voters wanted. Respondents are asked to give a mark out of ten for how happy they are, how satisfied with life, how far they feel their lives are worthwhile and how anxious they are. In the year to last September, the ONS said that ‘marital status appears to matter more for people’s life satisfaction than it did six years before, while economic activity contributed less.’ Married people rated their life satisfaction 9.9 per cent higher than widows and widowers, and 8.8 per cent higher than divorced or separated people. The importance placed on being married may have been affected by a number of factors over the past few years, including falling divorce and unemployment rates.

Benzodiazepines may raise miscarriage risk early in pregnancy

Pregnancy is often a time of heightened worry. But researchers warn that taking anti-anxiety drugs like Valium and Xanax may increase the risk of miscarriage. Called benzodiazepines, these powerful drugs have long been prescribed to treat a variety of mood disorders. However, a new Canadian study finds that when taken in early pregnancy, they raise the risk for a miscarriage in the first trimester by 11 percent. Medication use in pregnancy is a tricky business, experts say. “In medications in pregnancy, physicians have to decide, are the risks higher than the benefits, because there isn’t any risk zero,” said lead researcher Anick Berard. […] “This study reinforces the fact that these drugs have a risk potential that is significant and needs to be discussed with the patient,” he said.

Science of Happiness: Giving yourself a break will make you happier, experts say

Self-compassion is becoming an emerging focus for some of the nation’s biggest companies. It’s not as soft and gentle as people think. Research found that many people spend a lot of time beating themselves up for mistakes, missteps and missed opportunities. However, scientists explain that giving yourself a break has a range of benefits — from becoming happier to boosting your productivity. UC Berkeley Psychology Professor Dr. Serena Chen said self-compassion starts with treating yourself the way you would treat a friend. “You’re not judgmental, you don’t start thinking they’re losers or idiots and so forth,” Chen said. “I mean really, it’s simply directing that kind of thinking and approach to yourself.” […] “While it may be challenging to do this practice every time you face a stressful situation, an initial goal could be to try it at least once per week,” the center’s website says. “This practice can be used any time of day or night. If you practice it in moments of relative calm, it might become easier for you to experience the three parts of self-compassion — mindfulness, common humanity, and self-kindness — when you need them most.”

Extension Notes: Being kind may improve one’s mood

What do you do when you’re in a bad mood? Maybe you grab a bowl of ice cream or plop down in front of the TV. Or perhaps you do something healthier like go for a walk or write in a journal. Researchers at Iowa State University found that there’s another simple way to boost your mood and it involves focusing on other people. For the study, college students walked around a building for 12 minutes and used one of three approaches to lower anxiety and increase happiness. Loving-kindness: Students were told to look at others and think, “I wish for this person to be happy.” They were encouraged to try to really mean it when they were thinking positive thoughts.

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 May 15, 2019

Amphetamine, Methylphenidate ADHD Treatment Linked to Adolescent Psychosis

The use of amphetamine and methylphenidate for the treatment of young people with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was associated with an increased risk for new-onset psychosis, according to results from a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of 221,846 young people aged 13 to 25 years who were diagnosed with ADHD between 2004 and 2015. Patients were propensity score matched to 1 of 2 treatment groups (methylphenidate or amphetamine; n=110,923 in each), and the incidence of new-onset psychosis was compared between the 2 stimulants. Clinical data were obtained from 2 large, US-based insurance databases, and the results were combined using a fixed-effects meta-analysis. After analysis, the researchers found a total of 343 cases of psychosis in the matched treatment groups, which included 237 (0.21%) and 106 cases (0.10%) in the amphetamine and methylphenidate groups, respectively. In addition, they reported that the hazard ratio for psychosis in amphetamine group was 1.65 (95% CI, 1.31-2.09).

ECT Really Does Cause Significant Memory Loss

There’s a three-year hole in my life in which I remember almost nothing.  Toward the end of that period I had a course of 21 Electro-Convulsive Therapy (ECT) treatments administered over five months. I lived in Phoenix and I couldn’t even tell you where my apartment was.  I was married during that time, and the few pictures I have fire no recognition. I do remember the routine before each treatment.  A pair of nurses named Nancy and Karen, one dark-haired with her sleeves pushed up, the other a red-head with glasses, prepped me with an IV and wheeled me into a tiny room. The doctor came in.  Nancy slipped out while Karen placed a blood-pressure cuff around my right ankle.  The doctor pressed the electrodes against my temples and fiddled with the dials on a machine placed off to my right.  He slipped a block of rubber between my teeth just as the anesthesia in the IV kicked in and all went dark.

1 in 8 Australians on antidepressants

New data from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme shows three million Australians ­ – that’s one in every eight people, including 100,000 children, are now reliant on anti-depressants. The data shows people aged 38-57 were most likely to be using anti-depressants and has prompted concerns Australia is over-diagnosing and over-treating depression. A new watchdog on mental health, Psychwatch Australia is asking the question: ‘Why is the Lucky Country so miserable?’ when we are consistently ranked near the top of the World happiness ratings and it points to 4 reasons why so many of us are taking antidepressant medication:

One of the Most Important Ingredients for a Happy Marriage

We can pick them out in restaurants. We spot them at sporting events. Happy couples. They are distinguished by the way they behave toward each other. They are engaged and interested. Leaning forward, connecting through good eye contact, nodding, and smiling, they listen, laugh, and appear to love each other´s company. These sightings raise the very important question—how do they do it? Thankfully, research has some answers. […] One significant aspect of Grover and Helliwell´s research was their findings regarding the importance of friendship. Exploring friendship as something that could explain the link between marriage and life satisfaction, they found that for couples who considered their spouses to be their best friend, the well-being impact of marriage was twice as large as for other couples. These findings suggest that friendship enhances romantic relationships in more ways than one, given its positive impact on well-being. Considering the changes that occur during different stages of life, throughout the duration of marriage, other research has similarly examined how friendship works to solidify romantic love and commitment.

Antipsychotic drugs overused in aged care

Only 10 per cent of “chemical restraint” drugs prescribed to people with dementia in residential aged care facilities are clearly justified, a royal commission has heard. Australia’s chief medical officer Brendan Murphy said regulation alone will not solve the problem of the overuse of antipsychotic drugs. An expert committee this year found the rate of prescription of antipsychotics is too high, the aged care royal commission heard on Tuesday. The aged care clinical advisory committee noted only a small proportion, estimated at about 10 per cent of the current use, is clearly justified. Professor Murphy said it was an anecdotal assessment from experts in the field. “The sense was that in their clinical experience, in probably eight to nine out of 10 cases you probably didn’t need and shouldn’t be using those drugs, so it was merely an estimate, a guesstimate.”

Toxic Pssychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for May 14, 2019

Lavender is rising through the ranks of anti-anxiety medications

With the growing popularity of holistic health practices, western medicine is at a crossroads with treatment practices — should they stand by Big Pharma or explore more natural options? A German psychiatrist, professor Peter Hans-Volz, is recommending that people who suffer from anxiety be given lavender oil first, which is just as effective as addictive anti-anxiety drugs, reports Daily Mail. Other mental health experts disagree on the unsubstantiated lavender oil, preferring te use of evidence-backed and fast-acting benzodiazepines, like Valium, Ativan and Xanax, Daily Mail reports. […] A 2017 study looked into the efficacy of lavender oil taken orally in people suffering from certain types of anxiety and found a significant reduction in anxiety after use. But there is certainly far more research into the effects of anti-anxiety medication than the efficacy of lavender oil. But that isn’t to say that the gentler alternative doesn’t work for some people.

Keep calm & carry on: anger more harmful to health than sadness, study finds

Being angry or being sad aren’t particularly ideal dispositions for sound mental health, but which is worse when it comes to physical health? A new study finds that anger appears to be much more harmful, with the potential to increase one’s risk for ailments like heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer in old age. […] Researchers say that older adults who regularly show anger are more likely to have higher levels of inflammation, which can lead to numerous chronic illnesses. Inflammation occurs when the immune system attempts to protect the body and fight off bacterial infections and viruses after an injury or when battling an illness. “As most people age, they simply cannot do the activities they once did, or they may experience the loss of a spouse or a decline in their physical mobility and they can become angry,” says lead author Meaghan A. Barlow, a researcher at Concordia University, in a release by the American Psychological Association. “Our study showed that anger can lead to the development of chronic illnesses, whereas sadness did not.”

Methylphenidate treatment for ADHD tied to several types of insomnia

Methylphenidate use was significantly associated with sleep problems and several different types of insomnia, according to a meta-analysis published in Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. Although FDA labels for methylphenidate medications include its association with sleep-related adverse events, the magnitude of this effect, as well as which types of sleep problems are specifically tied to its use, is less clear […] “Both the size of the effect and the type of sleep problems are important elements to consider in daily clinical practice when prescribers and patients balance the benefits and the risk associated with methylphenidate,” they wrote. […] “Our work has implications for future clinical trial designs. Given that insomnia occurs with all methylphenidate products, studies would be more informative if they reported results for different classes of insomnia rather than lumping all types of insomnia under one nonspecific term,” they wrote. “Insomnia and other sleep [adverse events] should be routinely reported, and study reports should provide sufficient data for inclusion in future meta-analyses.” 

Vigorous exercise reduces depression in women with chronic illness

Women with chronic illness who engaged in vigorous physical activity had less severe depression, according to the results of a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders, but health-related quality of life (HRQoL) explained much of the variance in depression symptoms. A bidirectional relationship exists between depression and chronic illness, with depression contributing to poor health behaviors and increasing the risk for a chronic illness developing, whereas the presence of chronic illness can trigger depression. […] The authors contended that improving HRQoL is essential for the prevention and management of depression symptoms in women with chronic illness and that physical activity is an important element of managing chronic illness. Psychological and health-related issues that influence HRQoL, such as sleep quality and health-related hardiness, are crucial factors for physicians to consider in older women with chronic illness.

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 May 13, 2019

Study: teaching liberals about white privilege reveals “startling” blind spot

Is there a blind spot in the sympathies of liberals? A recent study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology, looked at what happened when “social liberals” were educated about “white privilege”. While they did become more aware of the benefits being white might afford in society, the liberal-minded also exhibited less sympathy for poor white people. Polls show that liberals are generally more focused on race and racism as being a bigger social problem than conservatives. To gauge whether other issues like the poverty of whites is perceived as less important, the team of researchers carried out two studies. […] What the scientists found was that liberals who learned about white privilege were more sympathetic to Kevin if he was described as being Black (rather than white). Conservatives, on the other hand, were found to express low levels of sympathy for poor people, no matter what race they were. It also didn’t matter to them if they read about white privilege prior to that. In a finding that the study’s author […] called “startling” […] being educated in white privilege didn’t grow the sympathy for poor black people among the liberals. Rather they blamed poor white people for their poverty, as if they could have done better considering all the privileges they supposedly received because of their race.

Montreal protesters urge end to ‘ineffective’ electroshock therapy

A group of citizens staged a rally at place Émilie-Gamelin on Saturday to advocate an end to electroshock therapy as a method to treat mental illness. It was the 13th year in a row the event was held and spokesperson Ghislain Goulet of the Comité Pare-Chocs said protesters want the province’s health minister to work toward finding alternative therapies with the goal of totally abolishing the practice, saying the minister has a “duty to protect the most vulnerable citizens.”

An ECT protest on the same day in Ireland

Electroshock therapy is still used to treat certain mental illnesses like major depression or schizophrenia when traditional medications don’t have any effect. At least 800 people were given the treatment between 1996 and 2013, according to a 2016 report from the Institut national de santé publique du Québec. Two-thirds of those who receive the treatment are women. Goulet said the treatment is ineffective because most patients go back to using their medication afterward, but many end up with brain damage that results in memory loss.

Psychiatry skeptics gather in Montreal to protest electroshock treatment

Dozens of protesters gathered at Place Émilie-Gamelin in downtown Montreal to call for an end to the use of electroshock therapy in Quebec. In electroshock therapy, also known as electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), a brief electric pulse is applied to the scalp, causing a convulsion. It is often used to treat depression. Comité Pare-Chocs, the group that has organized the event for last 10 years, said the treatment causes brain damage, proof of its effectiveness is “shaky,” and yet it is still being administered for several mental health issues from depression to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. “It’s too destructive, it’s too risky and it’s still a controversial experimental treatment,” said founding member Céline Cyr. “It should not be allowed in 2016.”

Governor Stitt Signs Bill To Crack Down On Antipsychotic Drugs In Nursing Homes

A new law cracks down on giving antipsychotic drugs to patients in nursing homes in Oklahoma. Senate Bill 142, signed by Governor Kevin Stitt last week, requires informed consent for nursing home patients and their families regarding the use of powerful antipsychotic drugs. The bill’s author, Senator Stephanie Bice, says Oklahoma ranks as the worst state in the nation when it comes to the use of antipsychotics on nursing home patients with no psychiatric diagnosis. “What I was surprised to know when I started researching this topic over the interim is that 20% of Oklahoma nursing home patients are being prescribed an anti-psychotic that don’t have a clinical diagnosis, and this bill attempts to address that.” The Oklahoma City Republican says elderly patients inappropriately prescribed this drugs run the risk of over-sedation falls, accelerated cognitive decline, and increased risk of stroke and pneumonia. Under the new law, a prescribing clinician would examine and diagnose the nursing home patient before an antipsychotic could be given. The new law takes effect November 1.

Empathic Therapy Training Film – A Psychotherapy Training DVD

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

News & Information for May 12, 2019

Women Experience More Incivility at Work — Especially from Other Women

One finding that has been frequently documented is that women tend to report experiencing more incivility at work than their male counterparts. However, it has been unclear to as to who is perpetrating the mistreatment towards women at work. Some have theorized that men may be the culprits, as men are the more dominant social class in society and may feel as though they have the power to mistreat women. Perhaps as more overt forms of mistreatment like sexual harassment have become legally prohibited and socially taboo, subtle forms of discrimination in the form of incivility may increasingly occur within the workplace. Others, however, have theorized and suggested that women may be mistreating other women because they are more likely to view each other as competition for advancement opportunities in companies. Our research examined these two opposing views by conducting three complementary studies. These studies involved rather large samples, surveying between 400 and over 600 U.S. employees per study, across a variety of service operations and time periods. In each study, we consistently found that women reported experiencing more incivility from other women than from their male coworkers. Examples of this incivility included being addressed in unprofessional terms, having derogatory comments directed toward them, being put down in a condescending way, and being ignored or excluded from professional camaraderie.

Constructing Alternatives to the DSM: An Interview with Dr. Jonathan Raskin

On MIA Radio this week, MIA’s Jessica Janze interviewed Dr. Jonathan Raskin, in the Department of Psychology at the State University of New York at New Paltz where he serves as department chair and teaches classes in psychology and counselor education.

Dr. Raskin’s research is focused on constructivist meaning-based approaches in psychology and counseling. He recently authored a textbook titled Abnormal Psychology: Contrasting Perspectives. Dr. Raskin describes a recent article he wrote (What Might an Alternative to the DSM Suitable for Psychotherapists Look Like?) that highlights psychotherapists’ dissatisfaction with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fifth edition (DSM-5) and suggests some principles for building alternative models.

5 weeks to happiness? This online course is designed to reduce stress and boost satisfaction

People shake their fists at the fact that none of us make it out of school with “practical” knowledge (like how to do taxes or invest in the stock market). Personally, though, I’ve always wondered why curriculum doesn’t include strategies for finding the nine-letter feeling we all crave like avocado toast on a Saturday morning: happiness. Finally, online classes are cropping up to do just that, and a new study suggests that, to some degree, happiness is a choice. A brand-new study published in Health Journal found that hundreds of caregivers in charge of watching over loved ones suffering from dementia greatly benefited from a course in gratitude, reports NPR. The eight gleeful techniques they learned include: mindfulness; “reframing” the less-than-fun aspects of life; reflecting on strengths; sharing a positive event on social media; finding one positive thing to give thanks for each day; performing acts of kindness; deep breathing, and setting goals. Over the course of five weeks, depression scores of participants went down 16 percent and their anxiety scores also decreased by 14 percent.

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

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

News & Information for May 11, 2019

Antipsychotics Still Being Abused In Nursing Homes

Antipsychotic drugs are sometimes given to patients living in nursing homes to calm behaviors associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s. But for decades, staff have been wrongfully using the powerful medications as a crutch-to-caregiving to make these patients easier to handle. Antipsychotic drugs can be especially dangerous when used without the patient’s physician or family’s knowledge or consent, a haphazard tactic given that the mismanagement and misuse of these drugs have been known to cause sudden death and drastically decline a person’s well-being. […] Just this month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) along with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA), and the Administration for Community Living (ACL) released guidance on the inappropriate use of antipsychotics for older adults and individuals living in nursing homes and other care facilities. […] Since at least the mid-80s, consumer interest groups have pushed to curtail the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing home residents with dementia. […] More recent highlighted movements in the fight against the problem start in 2008, when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an advisory and black box warning that “the treatment of behavioral disorders in elderly patients with dementia through the use of antipsychotic medications is associated with increased mortality.”

Study Subjects Wanted: Using Twitter to Predict Onset of Depression

We are a team of psychologists at Trinity College Dublin who are trying to better understand depression. What are we trying to do? We are interested in using language to predict the occurrence of depression early. Our hope is that in doing so we can one day be able to help doctors provide treatments earlier and maybe even prevent depression altogether. In order to participate, you must: Be at least 18 years old; Have had a Twitter account for at least 1 year; Have at least 500 Tweets; Interested in participating? 

Article in The Times about the study above seeking participants:

How people use Twitter may give clues to depression, according to TCD research

Psychologists at Trinity College Dublin are studying whether people’s activity on social media can be used to predict depression. The researchers will look at the Twitter feeds of people who have been depressed in the past year to see whether the language they used on the social media platform — as well as interactions, frequency and time of tweeting — align with their decline in mental health. The specialists hope that, by using language to predict the occurrence of depression, they will be able to help doctors provide treatment early or even prevent the mental health problem. They are currently seeking Twitter users who have had a depressed episode in the past year, clinically diagnosed or not, to take part in the study. Participants must…

Mental health apps are sharing data without proper disclosure

It’s important for health apps to keep your data under lock and key, but it’s not clear that’s the case for some mental health apps. A study of 36 mental health apps (not named in the public release) has revealed that 29 of them were sharing data for advertising or analytics to Facebook or Google, but many of them weren’t disclosing that to users. Only six out of 12 Facebook-linked apps told users what was happening, while 12 out of 28 Google-linked apps did the same. Out of the entire bunch, just 25 apps had policies detailing how they used data in any form, while 16 described secondary uses. […] The immediate solution is a familiar one: verify that an app has a privacy policy, and check to see where your data is going before you use the app in earnest. Study co-author John Torous also suggested sticking to apps from more trustworthy sources like health care providers and the government. In the long term, though, there may need to be stricter requirements to ensure that your health information only goes where it’s truly necessary.

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

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

News & Information for May 10, 2019

Team links Prozac during pregnancy and autism behavior in mice

Researchers have found a potential link between autism-like behavior in adult mice and exposure to a common antidepressant in the womb. They also identified a treatment that helped improve memory loss and social interactions, according to the new study in the journal Molecular Brain. […] Little is known about its safety during pregnancy, and not enough studies have taken place on its long-term effects on offspring. […] “Many human association studies have been conducted to investigate connections between antidepressant exposure during pregnancy and children with autism and attention deficit disorder. But they have not been able to pinpoint a causal relationship,” says senior and corresponding author Hyunsoo Shawn Je, associate professor from the Duke-NUS neuroscience and behavioral disorders program. 

Antidepressants are crushing Americans’ sex drive: Millions say they were not warned the pills would affect their libido and ability to orgasm – but quitting can be agony

As many as 70 percent of the millions of Americans that take antidepressants feel the drugs’ effects in the bedroom, too. A new survey of 1,000 American adults found that between 58 and 70 percent of those taking selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) experience low sex drive or other sexual dysfunction. SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed kind of antidepressant, fighting symptoms by keeping more serotonin available in the brain. 

Stopping Antidepressants: How to Reduce Chances of Withdrawal Symptoms

The struggle some people experience when they try to go off antidepressant medications has been the focus of several news stories during the past two years. People have described withdrawal symptoms including nausea, anxiety, vertigo, trouble sleeping and strange “zapping” sensations in the brain. […] Problems with stopping these antidepressants were, generally, unknown when the first one, Prozac, hit the market in 1987. But today, with so many taking the medications — some for decades — there’s much more awareness about how carefully people need to wean off them. “It should be done slowly, it should be done cautiously, it should be done on a template of stability and it should be done in collaboration with a skilled provider,” says Dr. Ipsit Vahia, a geriatric psychiatrist and medical director of Geriatric Psychiatry Outpatient Services at McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School in Belmont, Mass.

Science says ‘savoring conversations’ can make you happier in life—here are 7 types of interactions we crave most

There’s more to savor in life than just food. In the same way that we might savor a glass of wine or our favorite dessert, we can also savor meaningful life experiences. A 2018 study from the University of Arizona demonstrates how we savor different types of communication. Communications professor Maggie Pitts surveyed 65 adults, asking them whether they savored their daily interactions in life and, if so, to share a detailed example of an experience they had savored. “Communication savoring happens when we realize something joyful, important or meaningful is happening in a social interaction with another, and we then try to hold on to and elevate that experience,” Pitts said in an interview with Psych Central.

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 May 9, 2019

Alert 99: ECT Protesters Rally on The Dr. Breggin Hour

The May 8, 2019 Dr. Peter Breggin Hour was a landmark radio program to be listened in the show archives.  This Saturday May 12 at noon in Toronto at Queens Park, there is a shock protest and a hunger strike taking place against ECT.   This radio hour was happily given over to the protestors.

This amazing hour begins with my interviewing Bonnie Burstow, PhD, a leading Canadian, researcher, teacher and writer in criticizing psychiatric oppression.  She is joined by Connie Neil, an 80-year-old Canadian shock survivor who plans to participate in the hunger strike.  Stephen Ticktin,  a Canadian psychiatrist and devoted international activist then comes on the air with us.  He is followed by Don Weitz, a Canadian survivor of insulin coma shock, who has for decades been a leading psychiatric reformer.  Each of them will be at the shock protest.  Finally, we are joined by an anonymous American shock survivor.  

Shock treatment is a crime against humanity that is defended by all the force that can be leveraged by psychiatry, including the shock and drug manufacturers, the psychiatric and medical associations, the media, federal insurance programs including Medicare, and the FDA.   

From the human stories to the politics and the details about how shock causes damage—this is an extraordinary hour.  It was for me also a great moment, having so many old friends and reform-minded colleagues together on the air. 

When the show started, I had no idea how amazing it would become.   It is disillusioning to hear that such a dreadful abuse as ECT has recently found FDA approval but it is inspiring to hear the progress being made in the courts, including my research and forensic work.  Most inspiring is how survivors of shock treatment like Connie and Don, continue to fight back along with honorable professionals, like Bonnie and Stephen. 

On my free ECT Resource Center, you can find out all you need to know about shock treatment which is more damaging in its modern form than it was decades ago, and it is making a comeback!  Go to www.123ECT.com.

New Warnings for Common Sleep Meds

Since current label warnings on sleep medications such as zolpidem (Ambien) and eszopiclone (Lunesta) don’t seem to have prevented “sleep driving” and other dangerous effects, the FDA said it will now put a black box around those warnings. […] The agency’s new safety announcement noted that these can have serious and even fatal consequences. It listed nearly 20 fatal incidents involving falls, motor vehicle crashes, guns, and drowning. One homicide while under the influence was reported to the FDA. Most of the approximately 70 serious incidents occurred in patients using zolpidem. Relatively few were among those taking eszopiclone or zaleplon (Sonata), but “these data are consistent with the higher number of zolpidem prescriptions dispensed” compared with the other drugs. “As a result, we are requiring a Boxed Warning, our most prominent warning, to be added to the prescribing information and the patient Medication Guides for these medicines,” the FDA said. “We are also requiring a Contraindication, our strongest warning, to avoid use in patients who have previously experienced an episode of complex sleep behavior with eszopiclone, zaleplon, and zolpidem.”

Almost Half of Americans Take Prescription Drugs: CDC

Americans are good at popping pills. About 46% of the U.S. population used one or more prescription drugs in the past 30 days, according to a survey from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS). With almost half the U.S. population taking drugs, it may be surprising that this figure is a slight improvement from the prescription drug use rate from 10 years earlier. “Changing trends in prescription drug use over time may be influenced by changing disease prevalence and diagnosis, expanded treatment recommendations, and decline in the use of inappropriate or ineffective therapies,” according to the NCHS report.

A look at Americans’ prescription drug use in past month

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control looked at survey data from 2015 to 2016 in an effort to evaluate the average amount of monthly prescription drug use by Americans’. It showed nearly 46 percent of Americans had used prescription drugs in the past month. The most commonly used drugs were asthma and ADHD medications for kids and teens. Antidepressants for young adults, and cholesterol-lowering drugs for seniors. Females, the elderly and white people were the most likely to take prescription drugs.

Living Alone May Raise Risk of Common Mental Disorders

The prevalence of common mental disorders is higher in people living alone, compared with people who do not live alone, according to a study published in PLOS ONE. “Furthermore, the results of the multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that people living alone had a significant 1.39–2.43 times higher odds for common mental disorders,” wrote researcher Louis Jacob, PhD.


Jacob 2019
Fig 1. Prevalence of common mental disorders by living arrangement.

“This association was observed in all age groups including young adults and both sexes.” […] Loneliness explained 84% of the association between living alone and common mental disorders, researchers reported. “Based on these findings, prevention of common mental disorders in people living alone should consider all ages,” researchers wrote, “and targeting loneliness in particular may be important.”

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 May 8, 2019

From Gloom To Gratitude: 8 Skills To Cultivate Joy

You can be taught to have a more positive attitude. And — if you work at it — a positive outlook can lead to less anxiety and depression. The latest evidence comes from a new study of caregivers — all of whom had the stressful job of taking care of a loved one with dementia. The study found that following a five-week course, participants’ depression scores decreased by 16 percent and their anxiety scores decreased by 14 percent. The findings were published in the current issue of Health Psychology. The course teaches eight skills to help people cope with stress. Techniques include mindfulness and deep breathing, setting an attainable daily goal, keeping a gratitude journal and — yes, it works — performing small acts of kindness. […] 

Here’s a quick summary of the eight techniques used in Moskowitz’ study:

1. Take a moment to identify one positive event each day.

2. Tell someone about the positive event or share it on social media. This can help you savor the moment a little longer.

3. Start a daily gratitude journal. Aim to find little things you’re grateful for, such as a good cup of coffee, a pretty sunrise or nice weather.

4. Identify a personal strength and reflect on how you’ve used this strength today or in recent weeks.

5. Set a daily goal and track your progress. “This is based on research that shows when we feel progress towards a goal, we have more positive emotions,” Moskowitz says. The goal should not be too lofty. You want to be able to perceive progress.

6. Try to practice “positive reappraisal”: Identify an event or daily activity that is a hassle. Then, try to reframe the event in a more positive light. Example: If you’re stuck in traffic, try to savor the quiet time. If you practice this enough, it can start to become a habit.

7. Do something nice for someone else each day. These daily acts of kindness can be as simple as giving someone a smile or giving up your seat on a crowded train. Research shows we feel better when we’re kind to others.

8. Practice mindfulness by paying attention to the present moment. You can also try a 10-minute breathing exercise that uses a focus on breathing to help calm the mind.

[…] “This study used a simple intervention that had measurable positive benefits. It’s a lovely contribution to the literature, and I would hope to see wider implementation of this and similar approaches,” she says.

Suicide more prevalent among physicians than general public

Physician suicide is an urgent problem with suicide rates higher than those found among the general public, with potential for an extensive impact on health-care systems. An article on five facts about physician suicide, authored by Sarah Tulk and Joy Albuquerque, was published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). Tulk is an assistant clinical professor with the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University. Albuquerque is medical director of the Ontario Medical Association’s Phys­ician Health Program, and an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto.

Everyday stress may boost blood vessel dysfunction in people with depression

Long-term stress has been linked with cardiovascular disease, but for people with depression, researchers say small, everyday stressors may be enough to diminish blood vessel function in otherwise healthy adults. A team of researchers led by Penn State found that among adults with depression, those who had experienced stress in the previous 24 hours had worse endothelial function — a process that helps regulate blood flow — than those with depression alone. […] “This study could be a jumping-off point for looking into whether if people are taught more behavioral strategies in dealing with everyday stressors, maybe that could be protective for their cardiovascular health,” Alexander said. “For example, maybe mindfulness or cognitive behavioral therapy could be beneficial not just for young, healthy adults, but also for those who are at risk for cardiovascular disease.” […] “This study could be a jumping-off point for looking into whether if people are taught more behavioral strategies in dealing with everyday stressors, maybe that could be protective for their cardiovascular health,” Alexander said. “For example, maybe mindfulness or cognitive behavioral therapy could be beneficial not just for young, healthy adults, but also for those who are at risk for cardiovascular disease.”

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 May 7, 2019

Study: Having strong sense of ‘Oneness’ linked to greater life satisfaction

Whether you’re religious or not, believing in oneness — the idea that all people and parts of the world and universe are connected in some way — leads to greater life satisfaction, a new study suggests. People influenced by feelings of oneness believe everything is interdependent and that no one thing carries greater value than another because neither can exist without the other. They might believe that everything happens for a reason, divine or not. For more religious individuals, oneness can also be viewed as all people under the same God share an interconnectedness. “The feeling of being at one with a divine principle, life, the world, other people or even activities has been discussed in various religious traditions but also in a wide variety of scientific research from different disciplines […] The results of this study reveal a significant positive effect of oneness beliefs on life satisfaction, even controlling for religious beliefs.”

Antibiotics in wastewater: UB chemist investigates a disturbing trend

 In the fight against antimicrobial resistance, wastewater is the battleground where University at Buffalo chemist Diana Aga works. Her research examines how sewage treatment systems help — or don’t help — to eliminate antimicrobial drugs and their remnants, called residues, from wastewater before it’s discharged into rivers and lakes. This science is vital as the world seeks to better understand how bacteria and other microorganisms are becoming resistant to medicines, giving rise to “superbug” diseases that don’t respond to known pharmaceuticals. […] “While traditional surveillance of antimicrobial resistance has focused on resistant bacteria from hospitals, we need to investigate the role of wastewater treatment plants and large animal facilities as potential hotspots for antimicrobial resistance,” Aga says.

Growing up in poverty doubles risk of psychosis disorder later

Researchers, who followed nearly 4,000 families for more than three decades, say the results suggest that intervention through social policies and investment in neighborhood improvements, as well as identifying those most in need of help by observing certain child behaviors, could prevent future debilitating illnesses and the societal and personal costs associated with them. “One important message to take from this study is that the stresses and chronic day-to-day challenges of living in under-resourced or impoverished communities can undermine the well-being of individuals whether they seem to have a vulnerability or not,” says lead author Paul D. Hastings, professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis.

Promoting Smoking Cessation in Individuals With Schizophrenia

Patients with severe mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, are 3 times more likely to smoke than the general population.1 In fact, as many as 60% of patients with schizophrenia are smokers.2 Although smoking is a modifiable risk factor, people with severe mental illnesses typically don’t seek smoking cessation services.1 Are those with schizophrenia genetically predisposed to smoking? Is the habit a form of self-medication? And lastly, how can mental health professionals encourage patients with schizophrenia to quit smoking? […] The incidence of lung cancer among patients with schizophrenia is more than 4 times higher than in the general population of the United States, according to research.2 Additionally, smokers with schizophrenia were more likely to consume alcohol regularly and are less likely to watch their intake of salt and saturated fat, follow a high-fiber or low-calorie diet, or exercise regularly compared with nonsmokers who have schizophrenia.2

Cognitive Processing Therapy Shows Benefit for PTSD in Youth

Developmentally adapted cognitive processing therapy was found to be more effective than another treatment modality, wait-list condition with treatment advice, in adolescents with abuse-related posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to results from a study published in JAMA Psychiatry. Researchers conducted a multicenter, randomized clinical study of 88 young people between the ages of 14 and 21 years who had PTSD secondary to childhood abuse (mean age, 18.1 years; 85% female). Participants were treated with developmentally adapted cognitive processing therapy or wait-list condition with treatment advice, and clinical outcomes were evaluated 8 weeks after commencing treatment, at the end of therapy, and 3 months posttreatment. The primary outcome was PTSD symptom severity, which was measured using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for Children and Adolescents for the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition. […] “Young people with abuse-related PTSD experienced greater benefit from [developmentally adapted cognitive processing therapy] than from [wait-list condition with treatment advice],” the researchers noted. “In future studies, dismantling designs should be used to further address the question as to whether emotion regulation training should precede trauma-focused interventions in this age group,” they concluded.

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 May 6, 2019

Study reveals inconsistency in ADHD diagnostic determinations

Seeking to explore the relationship between research and clinical procedures applied in the identification of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) […] Their findings, published in Child and Adolescent Mental Health, indicate poor agreement between two evaluative systems, and across multiple time points. […] “[Results] demonstrated poor agreement between clinician’s diagnosis of ADHD and a clinically rated standardized diagnostic assessment. […] A large proportion of the disagreement between the research and clinician diagnoses in this study seems to have arisen from children assessed by clinicians as having possible ADHD. Time is an important factor in the diagnosis of ADHD, and it will often not be possible to make a definite diagnosis based on initial contact. It, therefore, seems entirely appropriate that clinicians would identify a larger number of children as having possible ADHD at initial assessment.”

Dogs rescue humans from loneliness and poor health

Eric O’Grey was once unhealthy, depressed and lonely.When he was 50, his doctor told him to buy a funeral plot because he’d soon need one. He weighed 350 pounds, with cholesterol at “a walking dead level.” That was in 2010; fast forward to 2019, and O’Grey, now 60, is alive and well because of a shelter dog named Peety. O’Grey, who had become a shut-in, found a nutrition expert who put him on a ration diet and also prescribed a shelter dog, which O’Grey thought was “crazy.” The intention was to get him outside and moving. “I think I have the perfect dog for you,” O’Grey recalled the woman in charge of adoptions saying at the Silicon Valley shelter. Peety was an older dog with skin problems who had trouble walking because of his weight. […] “I had this super happy puppy on my hands,” said Landers, who named the dog River. “Being sedentary was not an option. … I started pushing through the pain because suddenly I had a motivation that was bigger than just me.”

Risk of mental health disorders higher for adults living alone, study finds

Research has linked common mental disorders to loneliness felt by individuals in solo living arrangements. Lacking social relationships caused by living alone may trigger anxiety, mood disorders, and substance abuse. Interventions are important to address the mental well-being of people living by themselves. […] The researchers believe that reducing levels of loneliness in people living alone is important. An expert suggested that individuals who are not in a cohabiting relationship, whether living with a partner or spouse, must actively seek means of developing social support. “Look for meet-up groups related to something you enjoy. This will help with meeting other people with similar interests and provide a natural means of developing social support. Fill your life with fun and exciting things,” saidJessy Warner-Cohen, Ph.D., MPH, a health psychologist at Long Island Jewish Medical Center who was not involved in the study.

How ethical is it for advertisers to target your mood?

How do you feel about this article? Distracted already? Here, have some Ritalin, the extremely unproblematic drug that helps you concentrate. I see you are yawning: time for a giant cup of tasty Nescafe, every bit as good as something that has been blasted out of a shiny Italian steam machine for £10 a cup. Ah yes, Italy, now is exactly the right time to visit Venice, before it fills up with tourists, because I know that by this stage in the paragraph you are feeling in need of a holiday. If only media purveyors could read your mind and offer you something in the moment you were likely to buy, all the financial woes of journalism would be over. That hypothesis is being widely tested. The effectiveness of psychographic targeting is one bet being made by an increasing number of media companies when it comes to interrupting your viewing experience with advertising messages.

Journeying off psychiatric medications after 20 years of compliance

By spring of 2016, my ability to say “no” to suicide was holding on by a thread. I wanted to be well or I wanted to be dead. I couldn’t stand the in-between anymore. My inner world was growing increasingly dark. Hospitalizations had always felt like warped sanctuaries, where a sophisticated bulldozer demolished the little sense I had left while holding me, powerless, in a trance. I did not want to end up there again. After my parent’s divorce and my first suicide attempt, I was diagnosed with bipolar I disorder in the spring of 1998. Since then, I have been diagnosed with ADHD, borderline personality disorder, psychosis, etc… I have attempted suicide and been hospitalized many times. For about 20 years, I tried my best to adjust and comply with the diverse medication cocktails I was prescribed. […] I’m a non-smoker and live medication-free after 20 years of dependence. My life may not seem like much from the outside, but to me it’s everything. I’m so grateful to be regaining the use of my brain again! I live in a cozy little apartment by myself and have kept the same job for almost 10 years. I’m a psychiatric survivor making small changes towards a purposeful life. 

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 May 5, 2019

Brain Over Body: Hacking the Stress System to Let Psychology Influence Physiology

here are people who show incredible resistance to extremes of temperature.Think of Buddhist monks who can calmly withstand being draped in freezing towels or the so-called “Iceman” Wim Hof, who can remain submerged in ice water for long periods of time without trouble. These people tend to be viewed as superhuman or special in some way. If they truly are, then their feats are simply entertaining but irrelevant vaudevillian acts. What if they’re not freaks, though, but have trained their brains and bodies with self-modification techniques that give them cold resistance? Could anyone do the same? As two neuroscientists who have studied how the human brain responds to exposure to cold, we are intrigued by what happens in the brain during such resistance. Our research, and that of others, is beginning to suggest these kinds of “superpowers” may indeed result from systematically practicing techniques that modify one’s brain or body. These modifications may be relevant for behavioral and mental health, and can potentially be harnessed by anyone.

Do You Meditate? Meditators Are Higher in These 5 Strengths

There’s no shortage of benefits when it comes to having a meditation practice. There are hundreds of studies that reveal a variety of positive well-being outcomes. But, there may also be benefits to your strengths. In a study recently published, researchers Dandan Pang and Willibald Ruch at the University of Zurich in Switzerland carefully examined over 1,300 people for their mindfulness and strengths levels, using the most popular, validated tests on each topic – the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the VIA Inventory of Strengths. The results showed each of the 24 character strengths were significantly correlated with mindfulness, with the exceptions of prudence and humility. The authors went on to explain: “The character strengths of hope, bravery, curiosity, social intelligence, zest, love, perspective, gratitude, self-regulation, and creativity displayed medium effect correlations with at least one facet of mindfulness and the total score of mindfulness.”

Case Highlights Potential for Serotonin Syndrome With Single Serotonergic Medication

A recently published report describes the case of a 21-year-old female patient who experienced serotonin syndrome likely induced by paroxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), and highlights the importance of monitoring for serotonergic toxicity even in patients taking just one serotonergic medication. […] his case report highlights the importance of monitoring for toxicity in patients utilizing serotonergic agents. “A comprehensive clinical evaluation combined with the use of Hunter’s criteria can assist clinicians in distinguishing serotonin syndrome from other etiological explanations,” the study authors concluded. They added, “Early detection and discontinuation of the serotonergic agent, along with symptom management, are the most effective treatment strategies for serotonin syndrome.”

The Creators of the Implicit Association Test Should Get Their Story Straight

The implicit association test, co-created by Harvard University psychology chair Mahzarin Banaji and University of Washington researcher Anthony Greenwald, is an excellent example. […] The problem, as I showed in a lengthy rundown of the many, many problems with the test published this past January, is that there’s very little evidence to support that claim that the IAT meaningfully predicts anything. In fact, the test is riddled with statistical problems — problems severe enough that it’s fair to ask whether it is effectively “misdiagnosing” the millions of people who have taken it, the vast majority of whom are likely unaware of its very serious shortcomings. There’s now solid research published in a top journal strongly suggesting the test cannot even meaningfully predict individual behavior. And if the test can’t predict individual behavior, it’s unclear exactly what it does do or why it should be the center of so many conversations and programs geared at fighting racism.

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 May 4, 2019

Consumer Alert: Tylenol’s Empathy-Killing Properties Confirmed in 2nd Study

In 2015, a groundbreaking study found that Tylenol (known by the chemical names acetaminophen and paracetamol) not only blunts pain, but has potent psychotropic side effects highly relevant to human social connection and behavior, such as blunting both positive and negative emotional stimuli, also known as “affect flattening” in psychiatric terminology. Now, a new study published in March in the journal Frontiers of Psychology titled, “A Social Analgesic? Acetaminophen (Paracetamol) Reduces Positive Empathy,” further confirms that this extremely popular drug (billions of doses taken annually) directly interferes with the experience of human empathic connection; specifically, reducing empathy for other people’s suffering. […] “Results showed that acetaminophen reduced personal pleasure and other-directed empathic feelings in response to these scenarios,” the researchers reported. “These findings suggest that (1) acetaminophen reduces affective reactivity to other people’s positive experiences and (2) the experience of physical pain and positive empathy may have a more similar neurochemical basis than previously assumed. Because the experience of positive empathy is related to prosocial behavior, our findings also raise questions about the societal impact of excessive acetaminophen consumption.”

Ian’s thoughts: Durso et al (2016) also reported Tylenol reduces empathy. Antidepressants also reduce empathy. In both classes of drugs, the effect is associated with syndrome of indifference, apathy and a “flattening of affect.” The ability to empathize requires the ability to feel the potential pain and sadness of others. So it’s not too surprising that drugs that blunt your ability to feel your own emotions would likewise blunt your ability to feel the emotions of others, thereby suppressing empathic connection. 

Happiness training may ease dementia caregivers’ anxiety, depression

Much has been written about the stresses and emotional demands of caring for family members with dementia, and a new study suggests that some of this burden can be offset by training that helps caregivers focus on the positives of their experience. In a randomized, controlled trial, researchers showed that a six-session online training program produced modest improvements in caregiver anxiety and depression, according to results published May 2 in Health Psychology. “Caregivers have high rates of burden and distress and depression,” said the study’s lead author, Judith Moskowitz, a professor and director of research at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. “There are programs out there to help them but those usually have to do with education on how to deal with the actual care activities.”

White privilege lessons decrease sympathy for under-privileged whites

White privilege lessons are sometimes used to increase awareness of racism. However, little research has investigated the consequences of these lessons. Across 2 studies (N = 1,189), we hypothesized that White privilege lessons may both highlight structural privilege based on race, and simultaneously decrease sympathy for other challenges some White people endure (e.g., poverty)—especially among social liberals who may be particularly receptive to structural explanations of inequality. Indeed, both studies revealed that while social liberals were overall more sympathetic to poor people than social conservatives, reading about White privilege decreased their sympathy for a poor White (vs. Black) person. Moreover, these shifts in sympathy were associated with greater punishment/blame and fewer external attributions for a poor White person’s plight. We conclude that, among social liberals, White privilege lessons may increase beliefs that poor White people have failed to take advantage of their racial privilege—leading to negative social evaluations.

Ian’s thoughts: Any form of “teaching” that reduces empathy toward a class of people based on their genetic traits cannot be the ethical path forward. A cosmopolitan ethos for diverse populations is logically centered on shared humanity, not on differences, not on dividing citizens into genetic classes (eg, sex and race) and imposing an empathy hierarchy thereupon. 

Is ‘forest bathing’ a way to escape Hong Kong’s stifling city buzz and truly appreciate nature?

A howl breaks the silence surrounding the High Island Reservoir in Sai Kung. It is not by any wild animal though, but by Jasmine Nunns, a forest therapy guide, calling to her participants – or “forest bathers”. “Forest bathing offers a break from city life. Listening to the sound of birds is not like listening to traffic and people. It’s about reconnecting with our bodies, and other people,” says Nunns, 33, founder of Kembali, a group that offers nature and forest therapy walks, as well as workshops for corporations and individuals. Nunns has been guiding nature walks on various trails across Hong Kong since 2017, as well as organising women-only swimming groups in rock pools and waterfalls. She says she hopes to help participants experience the healing power of nature. Participants are invited to wear blindfolds to encourage them to explore their hearing and spatial awareness.

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

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

News & Information for May 3, 2019

How Drug Companies Helped Shape A Shifting, Biological View Of Mental Illness

Historian and Harvard professor Anne Harrington believes that pharmaceutical companies have played an oversized role in determining how mental illness is treated in the United States — leading to a rise in the use of antidepressant drugs. Harrington’s new book, Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness, chronicles the history of psycho-pharmaceuticals, such as Prozac and Xanax, which have been used to treat depression and anxiety, as well as lithium, the first drug to treat what is now called bipolar disorder.

Amid America’s opioid crisis, deaths from stimulants are steadily rising

Headlines about America’s drug crisis have long centered on opioids such as heroin and fentanyl. But a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention paints a more complicated picture of the drug crisis. Overdose deaths involving cocaine and psychostimulants such as methamphetamines, MDMA, methylphenidate (commonly sold as Ritalin) and caffeine have also been steadily rising. In 2017, there were 23,139 overdose deaths involving these drugs, making up nearly a third of the 70,237 fatal overdoses that year, according to Thursday’s report. Between 2015 and 2016, cocaine-related overdose death rates rose 52% while psychostimulant-related overdose death rates rose 33%. From 2016 to 2017, fatal overdose rates from both classes of drugs rose by about a third again. Overdose deaths from these stimulants jumped from 12,122 in 2015 to 17,258 in 2016 — an increase of 42% in just one year.

FDA: People are accidentally killing themselves on sleeping pills. Warning labels needed

Federal health officials will require drugmakers of popular sleeping pills to add warning labels to certain prescription insomnia medications after reviewing cases of dangerous, sometimes fatal, incidents tied to the drugs. “Black box” warning labels will be required for brand name drugs including Lunesta, Sonata and Ambien, among others, to caution patients about their possible side effects, the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday. “While these incidents are rare, they are serious and it’s important that patients and health care professionals are aware of the risk,” acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said in a statement. “These incidents can occur after the first dose of these sleep medicines or after a longer period of treatment, and can occur in patients without any history of these behaviors and even at the lowest recommended doses.”

 Possible link between autism and antidepressants use during pregnancy

An international team led by Duke-NUS Medical School has found a potential link between autistic-like behaviour in adult mice and exposure to a common antidepressant in the womb. They also identified a treatment that helped improve memory loss and social interactions, according to the new study published in the journal Molecular Brain. Antidepressants are commonly prescribed for treating major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, including in pregnant women. One of the most commonly prescribed antidepressants is fluoxetine, a serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Fluoxetine can cross the placenta and is also detected in breast milk. Little is known about its safety during pregnancy, and not enough studies have been conducted on its long-term effects on offspring.

Toxic Pssychiatry

Toxic Psychiatry – by Dr. Peter Breggin, MD

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

News & Information for May 2, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 05.01.19

Here is your introduction to a remarkable psychiatrist on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour. I am often asked, “Are there any other psychiatrists like you?” By psychiatrist like me, they usually mean psychiatrists who care so much about their patients that they do psychotherapy and avoid giving them drugs. They might also mean a psychiatrist who will fight for patient rights. Well, there are not enough psychiatrists like that, but they do exist and more and more of them are surfacing. Today’s guest is psychiatrist Gail Tasch from Wisconsin–and today she “came out” on the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour. There is much to be gained from this hour, including the effectiveness of treating newly admitted inpatients without starting them on drugs or by starting them on minimal drugs or by reducing some of the medications they were admitted on. Working within the conventional psychiatric system, Dr. Tasch manages to help people. Also, we can learn from her journey from more traditional psychiatry into the reality that drugs are dangerous neurotoxins. An enlightening, lively hour.

Adverse events during first years of life may have greatest effect on future mental health

A Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) study has found evidence that children under 3 years old are most the vulnerable to the effects of adversity — experiences including poverty, family and financial instability, and abuse — on their epigenetic profiles, chemical tags that alter gene expression and may have consequences for future mental health. Their report appearing in the May 15 issue of Biological Psychiatry, which has been published online, finds that the timing of adverse experiences has more powerful effects than the number of such experiences or whether they took place recently. “One of the major unanswered questions in child psychiatry has been ‘How do the stressors children experience in the world make them more vulnerable to mental health problems in the future?’,” says Erin Dunn […] “These findings suggest that the first three years of life may be an especially important period for shaping biological processes that ultimately give rise to mental health conditions. If these results are replicated, they imply that prioritizing policies and interventions to children who experienced adversity during those years may help reduce the long-term risk for problems like depression.”

Study Finds Surprising Benefit To Listening To Sad Music

Sad songs. Why do we love them so much? And might they be.. bad for us? Especially for people with clinical depression? Psychology researchers at the University of South Florida studied this question, and uncovered some surprising results. “We study the ways that depression alters emotional behavior, emotion-related physiology and how those changes in emotion might relate to why people become depressed, why they stay depressed or why they recover from their disorder,” said Jon Rottenberg, who directs the USF Mood and Emotion Lab. […] just like the previous team of researchers, they found that indeed, the depressed people preferred sad music. “It was quite a strong effect, this preference for sad music,” said Rottenberg.  Then they gave them a different task, which involved listening to sad music and reporting on how they felt afterward. And that’s where the surprise came in. “They actually were feeling better after listening to this sad music than they were before,” said Rottenberg. That’s right–listening to sad music actually made them less sad. Yoon says sad music seems to have a calming effect. “We cannot really assume that sad music is only sad. It can actually help your mood,” she said.

Which Came First: Smiling or Happiness?

I recently played a word association game with my eight-year-old granddaughter, Kya. I said “peanut butter,” she said “jelly.” I said “dog,” she said “cat.” I said “smile,” she said “happy.” After this game, I reflected on the association we often make between smiling and happiness. As Kya’s response indicated, when we see someone smiling, we tend to assume they’re happy. Being happy, we think, comes first: People feel happy and then they smile. But can it work the other way around: people smile and then they’re happy? Both scientific evidence and personal experience support this idea. Science tells us that a smile has the power to not only impact you but also the people around you in positive ways. One study used MRI technology to investigate ways in which facial actions can initiate particular emotions. When people are asked to use the muscles in their face to show such emotions as fear, anger, disgust, sadness, and happiness, they actually experience elements of the corresponding emotion. This is due to the fact that the muscles in your face let your brain know that you’re smiling. Your brain then generates the chemicals that make you feel happy.

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 May 1, 2019

Alert 98: Meet Another Enlightened Psychiatrist Today on The Dr. Peter Breggin Show

Today, Wednesday, May 1st, is your introduction to a remarkable psychiatrist on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour.  I am often asked, “Are there any other psychiatrists like you?”   By psychiatrist like me, they usually mean psychiatrists who care so much about their patients that they do psychotherapy and avoid giving them drugs.  They might also mean a psychiatrist who will fight for patient rights.   Well, there are not enough psychiatrists like that, but they do exist and more and more of them are “coming out.”  Today’s guest is psychiatrist Gail Tasch from Wisconsin–and today she is “coming out” on the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour.  Welcome her! 

Listen in @ www.prn.fmWednesdays 4 PM, NY time

Call in with comments or questions @ 888-874-4888

Or listen to any show on the archives @ www.breggin.com

Detecting and Managing Serotonin Syndrome

According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, approximately 1 in 10 adults in the United States is affected by depression.1 This overwhelming number of people affected are often treated with antidepressant medications. In fact, antidepressants are the prescription medications most frequently used by US adults between the ages of 20 and 59 years.1 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, antidepressant use increased nearly 65% over the course of 15 years.2 Between 2011 and 2014, 12.7% of people aged 12 years and older reported antidepressant medication use in the last month vs 7.7% from 1999 to 2002. Of people treated within the last month, a quarter of them have been using antidepressants for more than 10 years. Moreover, use increases with age, ranging from 3.4% among people aged 12 to 19 years to 19.1% among people aged 60 years and older.2 […] Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) constitute the most widely used antidepressants.”5 However, they are associated with significant toxicity. According to the 2016 annual report of the National Poison Date System, SSRIs were number 10 of the top 25 substance categories associated with reported fatalities.6

Teen suicide rates spiked in the month after the debut of ‘13 Reasons Why,’ a study says

The rate of suicide among U.S. boys ages 10 to 17 surged in the month after the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” premiered in March 2017, according to a new study […] The nine months after the release saw an extra 195 deaths by suicide in this age group than would have otherwise been expected from seasonal patterns alone, according to the study […] The increase was primarily driven by boys, whose rate of suicide went up 28.9% in the month after the premiere of the show. Rates remained stable for girls during the same month, even though a teen girl is the show’s main character. […] The series follows the fictional story of a teenage girl named Hannah Baker, portrayed by Katherine Langford, who leaves behind 13 mysterious audio recordings on cassette tapes after killing herself. […] “Youth may be particularly susceptible to suicide contagion,” said Jeff Bridge, first author of the study […] “Portraying suicide as the inevitable outcome of Hannah’s victimization was, at best, a missed opportunity and, at worst, dangerous to those vulnerable to suicide,” Mr. Ackerman wrote. Another recent study found that students who watched the full second season of the show were less likely to report self-harm and thoughts of ending their lives than students who didn’t watch “13 Reasons Why” at all, potentially because the characters come together and discuss suicide. Students who didn’t watch the entire second season had a higher risk of future suicide, according to the results.

7 ‘Pills’ for Health, Long Life, and Happiness

Do you ever wish you could just take a few pills and suddenly blossom into your best health? You can! Well, okay, these “pills” aren’t exactly the kind that you swallow in a gulp, and that’s that. They are practices rather than, say, a vitamin. Still, all these recommendations are easy to follow and can fit snugly into your day. Moreover, they are completely natural and have zero to few negative side effects. And these seven pills are not fads: Overwhelming amounts of scientific research tell us that these pills are—forgive the pun—pillars of human health. 1. The Nature Pill Numerous studies have demonstrated that a “Nature Pill,” such as hiking in a natural area or strolling briefly outside, is an excellent stress reliever. […] Smallest Dose: Even tiny doses of nature—such as having green plants in your office or looking out the window at the trees—seem to cause a measurable drop in cortisol, according to these studies. 2. The Exercise Pill This amazing pill can…(take a deep breath–a long list is coming)…maintain muscle strength, prevent lower back pain, boost the immune system, strengthen bones, elevate mood, ease mild depression, lower blood pressure, reduce diabetes risk, strengthen bones, promote healthier brain functioning, keep you at a healthy weight, and even reverse some aspects of aging, among countless other benefits. …

Morning Exercise May Improve Decision-Making During the Day

Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise in the morning improves cognitive functions associated with better decision-making for the rest of the day, according to a new study by researchers from the University of Western Australia. “Sedentary behavior is associated with impaired cognition, whereas exercise can acutely improve cognition,” the authors said. This paper, “Distinct Effects of Acute Exercise and Breaks in Sitting on Working Memory and Executive Function in Older Adults,” was published April 29 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. […] From a public health perspective, the researchers are on a mission to promote so-called “Brain Breaks” throughout the day as a way to combat the global epidemic of too much sitting. Brain Breaks are also being implemented in Australian schools to help refresh, refocus and re-energize students throughout the day. […] “Uninterrupted sitting should be avoided to maintain optimal cognition across the day,” Wheeler said in a statement. This new study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) has neuroprotective benefits and should be encouraged for the maintenance of brain health across a lifespan.

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

By Dr. Peter Breggin

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

 

 

 

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