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Breaking News and Information – April 2019

  • June 4, 2019
  • /   Dr. Peter Breggin
  • /   newsflash

Current News


News & Information for April 30, 2019

How religious experiences may benefit mental health

Religion may have a wide range of health benefits, research suggests. For instance, a study that appeared last year found that religious believers tend to live 4 years longer, on average, while another study found that attending religious ceremonies slashes the risk of premature death among seniors. [...] Now, a new study is bringing these research topics together, as a team of psychologists [...] asked 4,285 study participants to answer a survey in which they had to describe their "God encounter experiences and mystical experiences." The surveys asked the participants about their experiences with the "God of [their] understanding," a "Higher Power, Ultimate Reality, or an Aspect or Emissary of God (e.g., an angel)." The survey also inquired about how the participants felt after the experience and how it changed their lives, if at all. [...] Overall, the study found that most participants who had "God encounter experiences" reported positive effects on their mental health. Namely, the mystical experiences improved their life satisfaction, purpose, and meaning, and these positive changes lasted for decades after the experience.

6 Ways to Boost Mental Health and General Wellness

In 1949, the National Mental Health Association (now known as Mental Health America) declared May as Mental Health Month. It initially begun as Mental Health Week, its growing public interest and the broad scope of issues meant that it broadened into a month-long awareness campaign. This year marks MHA's 70th year celebrating Mental Health Month! [...] According to the Mental Health America website, this year's campaign will center on the following themes: animal companionship (including pets and support animals), spirituality, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections. Below we will elaborate on these recommendations.

Study: Mindfulness may help decrease stress in caregivers of veterans

Mindfulness therapy may be an effective way of mitigating the stress experienced by spouses and other informal caregivers for military veterans, a new study [...] that taught caregivers of veterans in central Illinois mindfulness-based cognitive therapy skills. The caregivers in the treatment group—mostly women caring for their spouses—reported significant decreases in their perceived levels of stress, anxiety and worry. By contrast, the researchers found no significant changes in any of these symptoms among the participants assigned to the waitlist control group. "This not only shows the feasibility but also the promise that mindfulness has for improving mental health outcomes in this vulnerable, hard-to-reach population," Lara-Cinisomo said. "Although the study population was small, it shows that there's interest in this type of programming." [...] "Despite our small numbers, we were able to show that mindfulness helps and that it should be pursued not only by researchers, but by practitioners and those providing services to this population," said Lara-Cinisomo, who is currently working with colleagues at the RAND Corporation and Loyola University to build on these findings. 

Founder of the Center for Healthy Minds discusses the importance of mindfulness

University of Wisconsin professor Richard Davidson discussed the importance of mindfulness practice and well-being cultivation at Memorial Union Monday night. Davidson is a professor of psychology and psychiatry at UW and the founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds, which aims to “cultivate well-being and relieve suffering through a scientific understanding of the mind,” according to their website. [...] Our brains change unwillingly most of the time, but Davidson said he believes we can practice to better control it. “If we nourish our minds even for the small amount of time each day that we brush our teeth, this world would be a very different place,” Davidson said. Cultivating well-being can benefit people’s physical health, Davidson said.

Why Trees Can Make You Happier

In one recent study, 585 young adult Japanese participants reported on their moods after walking for 15 minutes, either in an urban setting or in a forest. The forests and urban centers were in 52 different locations around the country, and about a dozen participants walked in each area. In all cases, the participants walking in a forest experienced less anxiety, hostility, fatigue, confusion, and depressive symptoms, and more vigor, compared to walking in an urban setting. The results were even stronger for people who were more anxious to begin with. [...] In another recent study, Polish participants spent 15 minutes gazing at either a wintertime urban forest or an unforested urban landscape. The trees in the forest had straight trunks and no leaves (because of winter), and there was no other shrubbery below the trees—in other words, no green; the urban landscape consisted of buildings and roads. Before and after, the participants filled out questionnaires related to their moods and emotions. Those who gazed at a winter forest reported significantly better moods, more positive emotions, more vigor, and a greater sense of personal restoration afterwards than those who gazed at the urban scene. [...] It may be that some of these benefits have to do with how forests affect our brains. One study found that people living in proximity to trees had better “amygdala integrity”—meaning, a brain structure better able to handle stressors. These findings and many others—including an earlier review of the research—show how even short amounts of time in a forest can give us a break from our frenzied lifestyles.

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 April 29, 2019

What to Know If You Want to Stop Taking Antidepressants

Antidepressants work well for many people, and can be literal lifesavers. Due to the way your body gets used to them, starting and stopping the drug isn’t simple: If you’ve begun a prescription, you know that they can take weeks to start working. And in the event that you and your doctor decide it’s time to stop taking them, antidepressants can also be tricky to discontinue. After the New Yorker recently ran an article on the challenges one woman faced with switching and discontinuing psychiatric drugs, I began hearing from people who got the idea that antidepressants are difficult to impossible to quit, and that they were afraid doctors don’t know how to safely guide people through the process. Fortunately, that’s not the case: psychiatric professionals do understand that this is an issue, and it is possible to discontinue the drugs—but you’ll need to do it slowly, carefully, and with professional help.

‘Prozac generation’: Dark truth about life in ‘Lucky Country’

“In the course of our lives, there are a whole lot risk factors that predispose us to depression, (and) there were a whole lot of protective factors that kept us from being depressed. What’s happened is the risk factors have gone up and the protective factors have gone down,” Prof Carr-Gregg says. One key protective factor that has been lost is “spirituality”. “Not necessarily religiosity but where you have a sense of belonging, a sense of meaning, a sense of purpose. In other words, you feel part of something bigger than you,” he says. [...] “One of the critical things missing in the general practitioner’s armour, they may well have a PBS (pharmaceutical benefits scheme) prescription pad, what they won’t have is a capacity for social prescribing, and here you’re really talking about GPs playing a more active role in working with psychosocial organisations, services and others,” he says. As for why powerful drugs are being handed out free and easily while basic lifestyle modifications are being left prohibitively expensive, Prof Rosenberg says: “It’s a great question.”

Can a New Medical Device Help Treat ADHD?

Mindful of that need, last Friday the FDA approved the first non-drug device to treat the disorder. Aimed at children aged 7 to 12, the prescription-only device—called the Monarch external Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation (eTNS) System—is described in an agency press release as “innovative, safe, and effective” in treating children who have difficulty staying focused and paying attention, two of the key criteria listed for a diagnosis of ADHD. The size of a cell-phone, the device sends a low-level electrical pulse to the parts of the brain thought to be involved in “selective maintenance of attention.” Through a small patch that adheres to the forehead, just above the eyebrows, the device emits a signal that produces a “tingling sensation on the skin.” “While the exact mechanism of eTNS is not yet known,” the FDA acknowledges, “neuroimaging studies have shown that eTNS increases activity in the brain regions that are known to be important in regulating attention, emotion, and behavior.”

Putting Down Your Phone May Help You Live Longer

If you’re like many people, you may have decided that you want to spend less time staring at your phone. It’s a good idea: an increasing body of evidence suggests that the time we spend on our smartphones is interfering with our sleep, self-esteem, relationships, memory, attention spans, creativity, productivity and problem-solving and decision-making skills. But there is another reason for us to rethink our relationships with our devices. By chronically raising levels of cortisol, the body’s main stress hormone, our phones may be threatening our health and shortening our lives. [...] Also, try to notice what anxiety-induced phone cravings feel like in your brain and body — without immediately giving in to them. “If you practice noticing what is happening inside yourself, you will realize that you can choose how to respond,” says Jack Kornfield, a Buddhist teacher at the Spirit Rock Meditation Center in California. “We don’t have to be at the mercy of algorithms that are promoting the fear of missing out.”

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 April 28, 2019

The Minds of Men - Full Interview of Dr. Breggin

This is Peter R. Breggin's interview with film makers Aaron and Melissa Dykes in the making of The Minds of Men, a documentary in which Dr. Breggin is featured. This is the whole unedited interview, presenting some of Peter Breggin's most inspired and engaging discussions about his life’s work and shows what motivated him to become such an avid lifetime reformer. You will know him and understand his work much better after viewing this.

The effects of antidepressant exposure across generations: an interview with Dr. Vance Trudeau

On MIA Radio this week, MIA’s Zenobia Morrill interviewed Dr. Vance Trudeau, a professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada. Dr. Trudeau describes a recent study he conducted, alongside a team of researchers, led by Dr. Marilyn Vera-Chang, that has implications for understanding of the long-term impact of antidepressant drug exposure (see MIA report). The study, titled “Transgenerational hypocortisolism and behavioral disruption are induced by the antidepressant fluoxetine in male zebrafish Danio rerio,” linked antidepressant exposure to decreased coping behaviors in zebrafish that lasted several generations. Dr. Trudeau is the research chair in neuroendocrinology at the University of Ottawa, where he studies how the brain regulates hormonal activity in fish and frogs. Such analyses offer important insights into the effects of environmental exposures on human health because these hormonal systems are shared across species.

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 April 27, 2019

Part 8: Sadists with Agendas

Sadists with Agendas is the subject as Dr. Peter Breggin examines the motives behind psychiatric atrocities in segment VIII, the final part of his unedited interview filmed for use in the amazing blockbuster film, The Minds of Men, which features Dr. Breggin. Dr. Breggin shares his feelings, thoughts and actions surrounding one of the most important accomplishments of his career: his successful international campaign to stop the world-wide resurgence of brain-mutilating lobotomy and psychosurgery. In the several segments, he describes his response to learning the truth about the hidden, devastating impact on children and adults and his discovery of the racist and political ambitions of leading psychiatrists and neurosurgeons.

Headspace: How the meditation app turns your stressful phone into a source of calm

Meditation and mindfulness have been around for thousands of years. But the advent of smartphones and computers led to a new phenomenon: the mindfulness app. There are a few to choose from, including the punchy, assertive 10% Happier, the elegant and placid Calm and the first app that really brought mindfulness to our phones, Headspace. Andy Puddicombe, a former Buddhist monk who went on to run a meditation clinic in London, met a new business partner, Richard Pierson, and launched Headspace in 2010. The company began as an events organisation and led to the now-ubiquitous app in 2012. On a smartphone or on a computer, users can listen to guided meditations, for instance, which vary in length from one minute to 20 minutes. They are focused on different topics, from stress to sleep, mindful eating to transforming anger. The app, which offers the first ten sessions for free and a subscription after that, has an appealing design with distinctive animations to introduce you to new techniques. 

Nurture Alone Can’t Explain Male Aggression

A young bank teller is shot dead during a robbery. The robber flees in a stolen van and is chased down the motorway by a convoy of police cars. Careening through traffic, the robber runs several cars off the road and clips several more. Eventually, the robber pulls off the motorway and attempts to escape into the hills on foot, the police in hot pursuit. After several tense minutes, the robber pulls a gun on the cops and is promptly killed in a hail of gunfire. It is later revealed the robber is a career criminal with a history of violent crime stretching all the way back to high school. Now tell me: Are you picturing a male or a female robber? If you look back at the last paragraph, you’ll notice that I didn’t actually specify the robber’s sex. Nonetheless, I’d be willing to bet that you were picturing a man. Don’t worry—you weren’t being sexist; you were simply playing the odds. Most men are not especially violent, but most people who are especially violent are men. And rare though they might be, men such as our fictitious robber are the extreme of a more general trend, namely that men are more violent than women, more in-your-face aggressive, and more prone to taking risks.

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 April 26, 2019

The 5 best meditation apps for 2019, according to meditation experts

Mindfulness expert and psychologist Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D., has heard multiple covers of that classic tune, and says it's natural to feel that way at first. He likens learning to meditate to starting out on something that's physically challenging, such as riding a bike. "When you practice over time, it gets easier," says Goldstein, creator of the Mindful Living Collective, an online network of regular folks who practice mindfulness and work together to share what they've learned to help each other meet their personal goals. Just as you owned your neighborhood once you got the hang of pedaling, meditation, Goldstein says, "allows you to gain more confidence around managing your stress and emotions."

Boys more likely to be victims of teen dating violence than girls, study shows

Who is more likely to be victimized by teen dating violence? If you’re quick to think it’s girls, new data shows you’re wrong. In a surprising twist, recently published research indicates boys are more likely to report being victims of dating violence committed by partners who hit, slap or push them. Researchers with the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) conducted a longitudinal study of dating violence. While reports of physical abuse went down over time, they say there is a troubling gender-related trend. Five percent of teens reported physical abuse from their dating partners in 2013, down from 6 percent in 2003. But in the last year, 5.8 percent of boys reported dating violence compared to 4.2 percent of girls. “It could be that it’s still socially acceptable for girls to hit or slap boys in dating relationships,” says lead author Catherine Shaffer, a PhD student with SFU, in a release. “This has been found in studies of adolescents in other countries as well.”

Childhood maltreatment, reduced cortical surface area, and depressive relapse

Depressive relapse is more common in adults who experienced maltreatment in childhood and correlates with reduced cortical surface area, according to a study recently published in Lancet Psychiatry. This connection is consistent with previous studies, which have labeled childhood maltreatment as a risk factor for major depressive disorder. [...] During this 2-year period, 75 of the patients experienced a relapse in their depression and 35 patients did not. A significant association was found between those who had experienced prior childhood maltreatment and those who later suffered a depressive relapse (odds ratio [OR] 1.035; 95% CI, 1.001–1.070; P =.045). At the 2-year follow-up, the researchers also found a false-discovery rate-corrected significant association between baseline cortical surface area of the right insular cortex and depression relapse.

What Behaviors Predict Sleep Duration and Quality?

Behavioral sleep health research is making advances to define practical aspects of this synergistic approach to sleep. On April 17 of this year, expansive research situating sleep within the context of other key lifestyle and health behaviors was published in Sleep [...] The authors conclude that “the most noteworthy finding of these analyses was the strong and consistent nature of the relationship between higher reported sedentary time and poor sleep health… The associations between sedentary time and sleep outcomes were strongest when calculating sedentary time as time spent lying and sitting compared to using sitting time only.” [...] The take-home message is that physical activity as well as sitting and reclining awake can be behaviorally modified to help promote healthy sleep. Being mindful of consistent physical engagement (e.g., walking and taking stairs whenever possible, considering a stand-up desk or taking brief walking/stretching breaks from desk work) is one possible approach. Not using a bed for reclining with electronics and generally minimizing lying down awake, especially during times not allotted for sleep, is another potentially beneficial behavior change. Certainly, physical activity in the middle of the night should be avoided, but consistently scheduling a block of time during the day for fitness is also a welcome addition – not for tonight or tomorrow night, but for months and years of good sleep and good health.

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 April 25, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour – 04.24.19

This was Open Mic Wednesday, the last Wednesday of the month.  I start out addressing the fact that psychiatric drugs are neurotoxins.  Then I open the mic to six callers in a row who present very challenging problems in their lives or the lives of family members, often complicated by the psychiatric drugs they are taking or took in the past.  No miracles, but you get a good idea about the direction and encouragement I give people when they or their family members are stuck in a bad place and want new and better approaches.

Mental Illness Is All in Your Brain — or Is It?

Harrington is unsparing in her depiction of what often resembled a biological fetishism. Schizophrenic patients were subjected to insulin-induced comas or had their brains scraped by lobotomies. Some therapeutically-minded psychiatrists, so impressed by the germ theory of disease, believed that psychosis could be cured by the surgical excision of “infected” organs like teeth, ovaries and colons. [...] One pattern you begin to notice in “Mind Fixers” is how psychiatric theories — whether biological or psychoanalytical — had a way of grafting themselves onto prevailing prejudices of the day. Another pattern has to do with how each approach prided itself on being more compassionate and less stigmatizing than whatever had come before. Psychoanalysis might have emerged in reaction to biological psychiatry, but once the postwar psychoanalytic dispensation created “a generation of scapegoated parents” who had been blamed for their children’s mental illnesses, Harrington writes, the biological revolution of the 1980s started to look like a “road to redemption.” We know what happened after that. Psychiatrists, seeking to distinguish themselves from other mental health professionals, moved away from talk therapy and guarded their prescribing rights. Financial incentives provided by the pharmaceutical industry meant that psychiatrists helped drug companies repurpose old medications for new illnesses, like “social anxiety disorder.” Antipsychotics would no longer be limited to schizophrenic patients; as one drug company researcher said, “It’s not like we’re making any more schizophrenic brains.” It was the medical equivalent of mission creep.

Increased muscle power may prolong life

Increasing muscle strength is good, but increasing muscle power may be even better for enjoying a longer life, according to a recent study [...] Muscle power differs from muscle strength in that it relies on generating force and velocity while coordinating movement. For example, lifting a weight one time requires strength, but lifting it several times as quickly as possible requires power. The study involved 3,878 nonathlete participants who were 41 to 85 years old. Each participant took a maximal muscle power test between 2001 and 2016 using an upright row exercise. [...] The researchers found that those who had maximal muscle power above the median for their sex had higher survival rates than those in the lower quartiles. In fact, the participants in quartile one had a risk of dying that was 10 to 13 times higher than that of those in quartiles three and four, while the risk for those in quartile two was still four to five times higher. [...] "Our study shows for the first time that people with more muscle power tend to live longer."

For millennials, mysticism shows a path to their home faiths

Discovering the Christian mystical tradition through the work of Franciscan friar Richard Rohr helped change that. "Father Richard's work allowed an entryway into Christianity when I didn't think there was any," said Graffagnino, who is studying to be an interfaith chaplain at Starr King School for the Ministry, a Unitarian Universalist seminary in Berkeley, California. [...] "The collectives are emerging outside of formal religion, for the most part, because we became too insular," the 76-year-old Catholic mystic said. "They've imbibed this kind of universal sacred, and we're seeing this especially in the millennials. They just put us to shame." Whether it's in the stillness of silent meditation, walking a labyrinth, or centering prayer; the practice of engaging with scripture through Lectio Divina, the Ignatian tradition's Daily Examen; or a combination of Buddhist mindfulness, Kundalini breath work and Taizé prayer, many young adults are happy (to borrow a line from Van Morrison) to sail into the mystic.

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 April 24, 2019

Alert 96: Open Mic on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour Today

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

Happy Wife, *Longer* Life! Having a happier spouse may add years to lifespan, study finds

As the old saying goes, “Happy wife, happy life!” It turns out that adage may need to be changed to, “Happy wife (or husband), longer life!” That’s because a new study shows that having a happy spouse is linked to greater longevity. In fact, researchers say that a spouse’s satisfaction in life predicted a person’s lifespan even more than it did their own overall contentment. “The data show that spousal life satisfaction was associated with mortality, regardless of individuals’ socioeconomic and demographic characteristics, or their physical health status,” says study author Olga Stavrova, a researcher at Tilburg University in the Netherlands, in a statement to the Association for Psychological Science. [...] “This research might have implications for questions such as what attributes we should pay attention to when selecting our spouse or partner and whether healthy lifestyle recommendations should target couples (or households) rather than individuals,” she says.

Childhood trauma associated with increased risk for suicide in schizophrenia

Individuals with schizophrenia who experienced high levels of childhood trauma expressed higher current suicidal ideation, depression, and psychotic symptoms compared with patients with low childhood trauma, according to a study published in Psychiatry Research. Furthermore, sexual abuse and physical neglect are unique risk factors for suicidality. The investigators of this cross-sectional study sought to examine the dimensions of childhood trauma in patients with schizophrenia and to use dimensions of childhood trauma and clinical factors to predict suicidal risk. [...] The investigators suggest that patients with schizophrenia who experienced high childhood trauma have an association with increased suicidal risk: When sexual abuse is a part of their history, this uniquely predicted the presence of suicide attempts, while physical neglect and depression predicted suicidal ideation. Therapists should screen for these dimensions of childhood trauma to prevent suicide in this patient population.

Bullying victimization associated with suicidality in adolescence

Bullying victimization may be associated with an increased number of suicide attempts in adolescents from low- and middle-income countries, according to study results published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The researchers analyzed health survey data from 48 low- and middle-income countries from 5 World Health Organization regions. The team analyzed data from the Global School-based Student Health Survey, focusing on bullying victimization within the past 30 days and 12-month suicide attempts in 134,229 adolescents between age 12 and 15 years. The links between bullying victimization and suicide attempts were assessed using meta-analysis and multivariable logistic regression. [...] “There is an urgent need to implement effective and evidence-based interventions to address bullying in order to prevent suicides and suicide attempts among adolescents worldwide,” the researchers wrote.

Attention Bias Modification Treatment effective for treatment-resistant anxiety in youth

Attention bias modification treatment (ABMT) and attention control training (ACT) reduced anxiety in youth who did not respond to cognitive behavioral therapy, according to trial data published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Investigators conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess the efficacy of ABMT and ACT in reducing anxiety symptoms. The cohort comprised 64 youths who had not achieved remission from anxiety despite completing cognitive behavioral therapy. [...] Both treatment arms produced significant reductions in anxiety severity.  [...] “These findings…raise intriguing questions about mechanisms of anxiety reduction in treatment-resistant youth with attention training that require further research,” the investigators concluded.

TERMS of Happiness: 5 simple keys for maximizing health and happiness

Here are five simple keys that unlock the door behind which your best life can be found. I know that sounds like quite a bold claim, but after 30 years of clinical practice, and scouring the psychological and medical literature for even longer, these five factors seem to consistently rise to the top of the list. As I put it, these are the TERMS by which you can live your best life. The acronym “TERMS” refers to: Think well, Eat well, Relate well, Move well, and Sleep well. [...] Obviously, not everyone can maintain or balance all five of these keys at all times. But if you want to come to "TERMS" with your best life as soon as possible, the more boxes you can check on any given day the better. 

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 April 23, 2019

Antidepressants: is there a better way to quit them?

[Antidepressants] are not supposed to be long-term medication. But whether depression is now better diagnosed or we live in sad times, more and more people are taking the pills and the weeks extend into months and years. In some cases, the users find they can’t stop. “The withdrawal effects if I forget to take my pill,” another reported, “are severe shakes, suicidal thoughts, a feeling of too much caffeine in my brain, electric shocks, hallucinations, insane mood swings … Kinda stuck on them now cos I’m too scared to come off.” “While there is no doubt I am better on this medication,” said a third, “the adverse effects have been devastating when I have tried to withdraw – with ‘head zaps’, agitation, insomnia and mood changes. This means that I do not have the option of managing the depression any other way.”

No More Time on the Couch: The Rise of Digital Mental Health Therapeutics

“The online program took me through my thinking process and showed me how to negate my automatic negative thoughts,” recalled Wylie. “The homework really helped, but it was tough—no one wants to go into their most anxious places on purpose; it was truly worth it though, as my life is totally different now that I’ve completed the Learn to Live program.” Learn to Live is one company that that is bringing what is known as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT, to the masses via a digital platform. It’s one of the hottest sectors in all of health care, with over a billion dollars of investment capital flowing into the space over the past few years. In the world of psychology, CBT is known as the workhorse, an effective yeoman’s tool useful not only for anyone combatting stressful life situations, but also a proven anodyne for treating a wide range of mental health problems—from serious life-threatening conditions, such as clinical depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to cumbersome social anxieties and dangerous behavioral afflictions, such as substance abuse and eating disorders.

Can virtual reality boost positive feelings in patients with depression?

The University of California, Los Angeles, psychiatry researcher and her colleagues are testing whether virtual reality can curb anhedonia, a symptom of depression and other serious mental health conditions that’s marked by a lack of interest or ability to feel pleasure. They’re putting patients into pleasant scenarios — like a stroll through a sun-soaked forest while piano music plays — and coaching them to pay close attention to the positive parts.The idea is to help patients learn to plan positive activities, take part in them, and soak up the good feelings in the process. It’s an unconventional strategy — not just for its use of virtual reality, but also for how it approaches a patient’s symptoms. Treatments for depression and other serious mental health conditions primarily target negative symptoms, like hopelessness, sadness, and anxiety — but they often don’t help with the lack of positive feelings that some patients experience. “Most treatments, up until now, have done an OK job at reducing negative [symptoms of depression], but a very poor job at helping patients become more positive,” said Craske.

How mindfulness, minus the hype, benefits your brain and mood

A study from Dr. Sara W. Lazar, et al., showed that meditation actually increases brain density in the prefrontal cortex. In essence, mindfulness — being about attention, awareness, relationality, and caring — is a universal human capacity akin to our capacity for language acquisition,” writes Brigid Delaney of The Guardian. Modern mindfulness is probably the easiest thing in the world, and the hardest thing for your brain, even if you do it for just five minutes a day. The simple idea of being mindful — being present, being more conscious of life as it happens, and being aware of your environment can help you enjoy life to the fullest. Even things you might think are boring, like tidying up, can be amazing if you are truly present.

In his TED Talk All It Takes Is 10 Mindful Minutes, mindfulness expert and Founder of Headspace, Andy Puddicombe, explains, “… Not being lost in thought, not being distracted, not being overwhelmed by difficult emotions but instead learning how to be in the here and now; how to be mindful, how to be present. I think the present moment is so underrated. It sounds so ordinary and yet we spend so little time in the present moment that it’s anything but ordinary.”

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 April 22, 2019

FDA approves first medical device to treat ADHD in children

The first medical device to treat childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, was OK'd Friday by the US Food and Drug Administration. Designated for children ages 7 to 12 who are not currently on medication for the disorder, the device delivers a low-level electrical pulse to the parts of the brain responsible for ADHD symptoms. "This new device offers a safe, non-drug option for treatment of ADHD in pediatric patients through the use of mild nerve stimulation, a first of its kind," Carlos Peña [...] said in a statement. Called the Monarch external Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation System, eTNS, and marketed by NeuroSigma, the treatment is only available by prescription and must be monitored by a caregiver. The pocket-sized device is connected by wire to a small adhesive patch placed on the child's forehead above the eyebrows. Designed to be used at home while sleeping, it delivers a "tingling" electrical stimulation to branches of the cranial nerve that delivers sensations from the face to the brain. A clinical trial of 62 children showed that the eTNS increases activity in the regions of the brain that regulate attention, emotion and behavior, all key components of ADHD.

Antidepressant use linked to longer, more frequent psychiatric rehospitalization

[A]n article in Frontiers in Psychiatry investigating the relationship between antidepressant use and rehospitalization for at a pair of psychiatric hospitals [...] found that antidepressant users were hospitalized at a higher rate than similar patients who did not take the drugs and that they stayed in the hospital for longer upon readmission. Antidepressants, the authors conclude, may negatively impact recovery through more and more prolonged psychiatric hospitalizations. “Our data suggest that antidepressant use during acute inpatient care, compared to non-use, may increase the risk and duration of subsequent rehospitalizations over a 12-month follow-up in patients with both primarily affective and non-affective disorders,” write the authors. “Our findings, therefore, challenge the alleged long-term benefit of antidepressants and raise the possibility, that, in the long run, antidepressants may possibly do more harm than good.”

Antidepressants linked to longer workers comp claims

Concurrent treatment of chronic pain, depression, anxiety and occupational injuries is associated with large increases in total workers compensation claim cost and delayed return to work, according to a study authored by the chief medical officer for AF Group, which released the findings Monday. Published in the latest Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, the study examined the impact of anti-anxiety benzodiazepines and antidepressants in combination with opioids on workers comp claim cost and closure rates, according to a statement from AF Group. To gather data, researchers with Lansing, Michigan-based AF Group and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore analyzed 22,383 work-related indemnity claims from 2008-2013 that had three years maturity in Michigan from AF Group brands, the company said. Results showed that the slowest claim closure rate — 58.3% in that time period — occurred among claimants with prescriptions for all three types of medications. Claims with both opioid and antidepressant prescriptions closed at a rate of 64.8%. The group without any medications had the highest closure rate at 91.8%, followed by the group with only opioid prescriptions at 89.1%.

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 April 20 - 21, 2019

ECT Explained by a CET (Certified Engineering Technologist)

When persons holding the beliefs of modern western “psychiatry” advocate for and attempt to explain electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), formerly known as electroshock therapy, they usually say something like: “We don’t know how it works. We just know that it works.” This is completely understandable since those working in this field of medicine rarely have any training in electrical theory or safety, unlike those working with electrical injuries or those truly using electricity for therapeutic modalities, such as physiotherapists. [...] Before the introduction of “modified ECT” and modern western “psychiatry” starting to “offer scientific, humane, and effective (sic) treatments,” so-called “psychiatrists” openly speculated on how brain damage and a lower IQ was beneficial to persons suffering from psychic trauma. Since such speculation is no longer publicly acceptable, all they can say is, “We don’t know how it works. We only know that it works.” [...] The only issue for intelligent discussion is whether or not such brain damage is therapeutic, and the only rational question to ask is: how could an intelligent person believe brain damage is therapeutic? It is obviously not therapeutic and believing it is therapeutic is not a question of intelligence, but concerns the ability to think rationally.

3 things to know about using St. John’s wort for depression

St. John’s wort has been used to treat a variety of mental health conditions including depression. Here, we discuss three things to know about using St. John’s wort for depression. St. John’s wort, Hypericum perforatum, is a flowering plant native to Europe that has been used for centuries to treat a variety of mental health conditions, especially depression.  The name comes from the fact that St. John’s wort usually blooms on the birthday of the biblical John the Baptist. The yellow flowers and leaves of St. John’s wort contain active ingredients such as hyperforin and hypericin, which are phytochemicals and used to make liquid extracts, pills, teas, along with topical preparations. 1. May have similar effects to a placebo in treating depression [...] 2. May decrease the effects of prescription medicines [...] 3. May have life-threatening side-effects if combined with antidepressants [...] In summary, there is conflicting evidence regarding the use of St. John’s wort in treating depression although most studies suggest that St. John’s wort is just as effective as standard antidepressants but with fewer side effects. Nonetheless, studies have repeatedly shown that it is dangerous and possibly life-threatening to take St. John’s wort in combination with numerous other prescription medicines. As a result, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional about the safety of taking St. John’s wort if someone is already taking other medications. 

★ UCLA News: When psychiatric medications are abruptly discontinued, withdrawal symptoms may be mistaken for relapse

Withdrawal symptoms following the practice of discontinuation, or abruptly “coming off,” of psychiatric drugs in randomized clinical trials may be mistaken for relapse and bolster the case for continued use of medication, according to two new studies by UCLA researchers published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. Principal investigator David Cohen [...] said that clinical trials employing a drug discontinuation procedure had not previously been studied systematically. “For years, observers have asked whether people getting more symptoms when they came off their medication was their disorder returning or the withdrawal effects from drugs that could be reduced by more gradual, patient-centered discontinuation,” Cohen said. [...]

In the first study, the researchers found:

  • In 67 percent of studies, no justification was given for a particular discontinuation strategy, which was abrupt or lasted less than two weeks in most cases (60 percent).
  • In 44 percent of studies that related to antidepressants, stimulants and antipsychotics, researchers used mainly abrupt discontinuation to test whether the drugs prevented relapse. Yet, researchers in most studies did not indicate that misclassifying a withdrawal reaction could occur.
  • Most studies incorporating benzodiazepines used discontinuation differently. These studies recognized that withdrawal symptoms were common, and they employed longer drug-tapering periods (more than eight weeks in most cases) to help people successfully come off and stay off these drugs.
  • The pharmaceutical industry was involved in 70 percent of the 80 studies; in most of the relapse-prevention studies; but in few of the benzodiazepines studies with longer tapering periods, according to the researchers.

Cohen [...] observed across the 80 studies that [...] only a single study out of the 80 actually employed the discontinuation procedure in order to distinguish clearly between “relapse” and “withdrawal symptoms,” the researchers noted. “This suggests to us that sponsors or researchers of discontinuation studies are really uninterested in exploring this crucial question,” Cohen said.

In their second study, Cohen and Récalt focused on whether they could detect evidence in the relapse-prevention randomized control trials that an actual misclassification — a confound — of relapse with withdrawal was occurring. “Most publications do not raise the issue openly, so they do not provide the data to examine this issue directly,” said Cohen [...] In line with a stream of previous warnings in the literature, the two studies show that more justifications are needed for why and how these discontinuation trials are conducted. Clinicians and consumers should not accept conventional interpretations of what is actually occurring to deliberately drug-discontinued participants in the trials, Cohen said, “and what this could mean for long-term use of psychiatric medications by ordinary people around the world.”

Study: 1 In 5 Children Suffers From A Mental Health Disorder

One in five children suffer from a mental disorder — with notable increases in depression and anxiety over the past 30 years — yet less than one-third have had contact with a mental healthcare provider, a new study finds. Results from the 2014 Ontario Child Health Study actually mirror findings from a similar study conducted in 1983, but this latest version shows a higher proportion of children and youth with disorders have had contact with health providers and in other settings, usually via schools. The new study also found that the patterns of prevalence among different genders and age groups have changed. Specifically, hyperactivity disorders in boys between four and 11 years old spiked from 9% to 16%. Conversely, there was a significant decrease in disruptive behavior in boys 12 to 16 years old, with numbers from 10% to 3%.

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 April 19, 2019

Neuroscience shows that 50-year-olds can have the brains of 25-year-olds if they sit quietly and do nothing for 15 minutes a day

Neuroscientist Sara Lazar, of Mass General and Harvard Medical School, started studying meditation by accident. She sustained running injuries training for the Boston Marathon, and her physical therapist told her to stretch. So Lazar took up yoga. [...] Eventually, she looked up the scientific literature on mindfulness meditation (a category into which yoga can fall). She found the ever-increasing body of evidence that shows that meditation decreases stress, depression, and anxiety, reduces pain and insomnia, and increases quality of life. [...] In her first study, she looked at long-term meditators (those with seven to nine years of experience) versus a control group. The results showed that those with a strong meditation background had increased gray matter in several areas of the brain, including the auditory and sensory cortex, as well as insula and sensory regions. [...] However, the neuroscientists also found that the meditators had more gray matter in another brain region, this time linked to decision-making and working memory: the frontal cortex. In fact, while most people see their cortexes shrink as they age, 50-year-old meditators in the study had the same amount of gray matter as those half their age.

Next frontier in study of gut bacteria: mining microbial molecules

The human gut harbors trillions of invisible microbial inhabitants, referred to as the microbiota, that collectively produce thousands of unique small molecules. The sources and biological functions of the vast majority of these molecules are unknown. Yale researchers recently applied a new technology to uncover microbiota-derived chemicals that affect human physiology, revealing a complex network of interactions with potentially broad-reaching impacts on human health. Led by immunobiologist Noah Palm, the research team used a chemical screening technology, known as PRESTO-Tango, that simultaneously tests thousands of human receptors at once. With it, they identified human gut bacteria that release small molecules that activate a specific group of receptors. Since these receptors regulate a wide range of physiological functions, the authors reasoned that the small-molecule-producing bacteria would also impact various aspects of human biology. [...] A number of gut microbes produce small molecules that activate receptors for dopamine. One molecule made by a unique gut microbe can reach the brain and potentially impact how different individuals respond to antidepressants.

Avoiding Withdrawal Syndrome for SSRIs Requires Months, Not Weeks, and a More Gradual Curve, Paper Concludes

Tapering patients off selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) should be done much more slowly and gradually than currently recommended, over a period of months rather than weeks, in order to avoid withdrawal syndrome, a team of researchers suggested in a paper published online March 5 in Lancet Psychiatry. Although serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) were not the subject of the paper, studies show they show the same hyperbolic dose-response pattern, said the paper's first author, Mark Abie Horowitz, PhD, a neurobiologist who is currently a clinical research fellow at University College London and a psychiatry trainee at Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, Australia. “The clinical data also show that withdrawal symptoms from SNRIs last much longer than the one to two weeks ascribed to them by standard texts, much more in the region of months,” Dr. Horowitz told Neurology Today. “Tapering protocols suggested for SSRIs in the paper also apply to SNRIs; they should occur over at least months, down to doses close to one-fortieth of therapeutic doses and titrated to individual tolerability.”

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 April 18, 2019

Alert 95: "The Best of the Best!"

My guest on the Dr. Peter Breggin Hour yesterday April 17, 2019 is the “Best of the Best.”  She is Mary Neal Vieten, PhD, a Commander in the US Navy. This psychologist directs a most extraordinary program outside the military to help active duty and retired warfighters to reconsider psychiatric medications, to deal with trauma and other blocks to success, and to achieve new goals for themselves.  

Especially impressive to me is the thoroughness with which she has dispatched the medical model and all the lingo associated with it in order to remove all stigma and to focus on personal empowerment.  Commander Vieten is accomplishing one of the single most important goals we can aspire to—the successful development of non-medical, educational and caring-based programs for people who are suffering from severe emotional stress compounded by dreadful medical diagnoses and treatment.  I am deeply appreciative of her work.

 "SSRIs were number 10 of the top 25 substance categories associated with reported fatalities.

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  [...] 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 In particular, SSRIs raise serotonin levels in the body, and when combined with other serotonergic agents, they can lead to a potentially fatal condition called serotonin syndrome (SS). The actual incidence of SS and associated morbidity is likely underestimated, as SS is frequently underdiagnosed and underreported and can easily be overlooked, especially when mild.7 It has been suggested that more than 85% of physicians are not familiar with the existence of SS or which drugs or drug combinations may cause it.8 “In my experience, the majority of prescribers have absolutely no idea that [SS] even exists, let alone what causes it and what to do about it,” according to Irene Campbell-Taylor, MB ChB, PhD [...] “It is alarming because SSRIs are among the most frequently prescribed antidepressants, and patients are not usually warned about other serotonergic agents that can interact with SSRIs and induce serotonin syndrome, a condition that can be lethal,” she told Psychiatry Advisor.

Forget A Chill Pill: You’ll Zap Away Stress With A Daily ‘Nature Pill,’ Researchers Say

 Rough day? Step outside for a bit — it may be the strongest and fastest-acting medicine around. A new study finds that spending just 20 minutes walking or even simply sitting down somewhere outdoors that makes you feel more connected with nature can lower your stress hormone levels. “We know that spending time in nature reduces stress, but until now it was unclear how much is enough, how often to do it, or even what kind of nature experience will benefit us,” says lead author Dr. MaryCarol Hunter, an associate professor at the University of Michigan, in a media release. “Our study shows that for the greatest payoff, in terms of efficiently lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol, you should spend 20 to 30 minutes sitting or walking in a place that provides you with a sense of nature.”

Instantly Reduce Stress With This Simple, 1-Minute Exercise

Have you been meaning to meditate but just haven't gotten around to it? Despite its apparent simplicity, starting a new meditation practice can be intimidating, especially when we are so caught up in our fast-paced and media-saturated lives. The good news is that practicing meditation only takes a moment. That's right — one moment! That's even less than a minute! The skills instilled by mindfulness practices are comprehensive and greatly affect an individual’s well-being as they are repeated over time. According to the American Psychological Association, the cognitive benefits of meditation include enhanced “self-control, objectivity, affect tolerance, enhanced flexibility, equanimity, improved concentration and mental clarity, emotional intelligence and the ability to relate to others and one’s self with kindness, acceptance and compassion.” 

Researchers at Harvard utilized MRI technology to find that, when engaging in meditation just 27 minutes per day, both long-term meditators and people with no meditation experience showed decreased the grey matter density in the amygdala [a brain region associated with fear], and an increase of grey matter around the hippocampus — the region of the brain responsible for compassion, self-awareness and introspection. A regular meditation practice has even been shown to have an effect on our genes. Research on epigenetics, or gene expression, have shown that it strengthens those genes known to control the stress response, thus making an individual more resilient to stress overall.

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 April 17, 2019

Stop drugging Texas nursing home residents who have dementia

Imagine the horror of living in a deep fog day in and day out. Your steps, if you’re able to walk, are wobbly. Your memories are confused. Your grasp of reality is lost. And to discover that you’ve been purposefully sedated for no legitimate reason. Federal reports show that thousands of nursing home residents in Texas are being inappropriately prescribed antipsychotics. They’re not given the drugs because of psychiatric conditions for which they can legitimately be prescribed. Rather, they are being administered for other causes. Sometimes, it’s merely for the convenience of nursing home staff. It’s called a chemical restraint and it’s akin to the way people were handled in the Dark Ages. This is a misuse of one of the most powerful classes of psychiatric drugs. For those with dementia, which is not uncommon among nursing home residents, receiving antipsychotics is especially dangerous, even deadly. That’s why the Food and Drug Administration gives these medicines a black-box warning: an alert of an increased risk of death among people with dementia.

Experts Warn Benzo Prescription Abuse on the Rise Among Youths

Just as the opioid epidemic has gained the full attention of the medical and law enforcement communities, experts say a new drug is trending upward on a national level among teens and young adults. In New York City, statistics show the number of high school students abusing benzodiazepines [...] About 13,000 high school students in New York City used the drug recreationally in 2017, which was about the same as 2015, according to the Center for Disease Control's Youth Risk Behavior Survey. However, the drug isn't included in the database prior to 2015, and experts say current data hasn't caught up with reality. "There's so many resources that have been put toward educating young people about the dangers of opioid use, but I haven't seen any messaging toward 'benzos,'" said Jazmin Rivera, project director for Tackling Youth Substance Abuse, a coalition of stakeholders in the fight against addiction on Staten Island.

Calls mount for drug makers to pay for addiction crisis

As state lawmakers prepare to debate a state budget that again calls for spending tens of millions of dollars to address addiction and substance use, one representative is offering up a plan that would have drug companies pick up the tab. Rep. James O’Day, a West Boylston Democrat, last week urged the Health Care Financing Committee to advance his bill (H 3654) to impose a new assessment on makers of opioids and benzodiazepines dispensed in Massachusetts. The proceeds would be dedicated to substance use disorder education, prevention, intervention, recovery and treatment. “People talk about, ‘We all know someone who has lost someone,’ and to me it has just become way too second-nature,” O’Day said at a Thursday hearing. “We can’t continue to talk about this problem, week after week and month after month, and we all indicate how we all know someone. Well, that’s extremely and painfully true but this particular legislation I filed I think is an important opportunity to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for the devastating effects of their reckless and deceitful marketing practices that have not only impacted other states across the country but definitely here in Massachusetts.”

Early Stresses Contribute to Schizophrenia

Emerging evidence has demonstrated that stress and other environmental factors may contribute to the development of schizophrenia.1 Although genes do play a role in the disease, the genetic concordance rate of schizophrenia is approximately 50% — even in identical twins.1 That is why researchers continue to study the psychosocial and environmental inputs linked to the early-stage schizophrenia phenotype.1 Animal studies have suggested that unregulated stress during vulnerable developmental stages in childhood and adolescence can contribute to schizophrenia.1 Human studies point to physical and mental abuse, being socially disadvantaged, and living in an urban environment as risk factors for schizophrenia.1 Children who react poorly to stress and have high anxiety levels are especially vulnerable.1

Reflecting on 30 Years of Forgiveness Science

This year marks an important 30th anniversary of which the world is hardly aware and from which the world has greatly benefitted. In 1989, the scientific community witnessed the first empirically-based published article in which there was an explicit focus on person-to-person forgiving. That paper appeared in the Journal of Adolescence with a focus on how children, adolescents, and young adults thought about forgiveness, particularly with a focus on what circumstances would make their forgiving more likely (Enright, Santos, & Al-Mabuk, 1989). Prior to this study, there was research on apology, or people seeking forgiveness, but never with a deliberate focus on people forgiving one another. [...] I have watched as thousands of researchers began to join this field of forgiveness studies. Topics expanded to include the theme of self-forgiveness (Woodyatt & Wenzel, 2013), trait forgiveness or the more general tendency for people to forgive as part of their personality(Emmons, 2001), and even group forgiveness in which different communities as a whole engage in forgiving one another (Wohl, Hornsey, & Bennett, 2012). Cross-cultural studies (see, for example, Hanke & Fischer, 2013; Ho & Fung, 2010) show for the most part that forgiveness is an important construct in many world communities. Forgiveness interventions now are being extended to children who learn about forgiveness by observing story characters as they enter into and resolve conflicts (Enright et al., 2007; Enright & Song, 2018).

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 April 16, 2019

The Secret Benefit of Being Alone

Often, when we choose to do something by ourselves, we encounter lots of questions and opposition from friends and peers. Being alone is often perceived as negative. Humans are innately social creatures, and when it comes to how we spend our time, we often subconsciously interpret this social tendency as an expectation — of others and of ourselves. But a growing body of research suggests that solitude actually carries a slew of well-being benefits, from increased self-confidence and creativity to better rest. “There is such pressure to be social in our culture that we forget that being alone is also necessary for our mental health and well-being,” Margarita Azmitia, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, tells Thrive. “The mindfulness movement is an example of how one can use solitude to relieve stress and ‘take a moment’ that results in increased well-being — and we have research evidence of this.”

Take More Time to Quit Antidepressants

A new study conducted by an international team of researchers suggests that patients should be tapered off antidepressants medication over months or years. The research study dismisses the preconceived notion that four weeks period to quit antidepressants is sufficient and the withdrawal symptoms are due to underlying mood problems. The new study suggests for a long time period of several months to a year to be taken in consideration for quitting antidepressant smoothly. [...] Mark Horowitz, clinical research fellow at the UK National Health Service and co-author of the study, said: “Many people have to pull apart their capsules and reduce the dosage bead by bead. We provided the science to back up what they’re already doing.” Previously, various studies conducted regarding antidepressants quitting drawbacks have showed that people experienced severe withdrawal symptoms during the procedure. A study conducted in Japan in 2010 suggested that around 78% of patients experienced severe withdrawal symptoms.

We Need More Research Into Antidepressant Withdrawal

Getting off my antidepressant was hell. I'm not alone—and the pharmaceutical industry isn't helping. [...] The drug [Cymbalta] was supposed to help me with my depression, and I think on a neurochemical level it did. Alas, the side effects made me less happy, which conflicted with the core purpose of the pill. My brain was sluggish, my body heavy, my ability to feel pleasure dulled across the board. [...]  I wanted this drug out of my body. Immediately. Next week [...] I began a slow tapering-off [...] The next two months were absolute hell. Not just on me, of course, but also on the people around me. I either couldn't sleep or I had to sleep all the time. I felt full after just a few bites of any food, stripped of appetite, but at other times had trouble convincing myself to stop eating as I binged. Like many people, my depression manifests first as anger and then as self-loathing for the anger. 

For busy students, two-hour meditation study may be as beneficial as longer course

For time-crunched medical students, taking a two-hour introductory class on mindfulness may be just as beneficial for reducing stress and depression as taking an eight-week meditation course, a Rutgers study finds. The study, conducted by researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is published in the journal Medical Science Educator. The researchers say many medical students would like to use meditation to avoid burnout and provide better medical care, but are daunted by the prospect of making time for a daily meditation routine. "What we found should encourage even the busiest medical students and physicians," said lead author Periel Shapiro, an MD candidate at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "There are shorter, sustainable ways to bring meditation into your life, and they can help you reduce stress and depression and improve your medical study and practice."

Research Debunks Notion of ‘Depression Genes’

Researchers from the University of Colorado Boulder are calling for scientists to abandon candidate gene hypotheses for major depressive disorder after finding the 18 most studied candidate genes for depression are no more linked with the disorder than randomly chosen genes. They published their findings online in The American Journal of Psychiatry. “We are not saying that depression is not heritable at all. It is,” said associate professor Matthew Keller, PhD, senior author of the study. “What we are saying is that depression is influenced by many, many variants, and individually each of those has a miniscule effect.” [...] “This study confirms that efforts to find a single gene or handful of genes which determine depression are doomed to fail,” said lead author Richard Border, MA, a graduate student and researcher at the university’s Institute for Behavioral Genetics.

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 April 15, 2019

Happiness expert: These are the three components of lasting happiness

Happiness is arguably one of the most important goals in life. It can also feel like one of the most elusive, perhaps because people are chasing the wrong things. But there is a way to lasting happiness and purpose, New York University business school professor and happiness expert Jonathan Haidt tells CNBC Make It.

“Many people think that happiness comes from getting what you want,” Haidt, author of “The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom ” tells CNBC Make It. But when we get what we want it feels good “only for a very short time — that doesn’t bring us lasting happiness.” People also think, “You’ll never succeed in controlling the world...so focus on yourself...and that is the path to happiness,” he says. “The Stoics in the West, the Buddhists and Hindus in many other Eastern philosophies came to this view.” But it is not the answer either, says Haidt. “This view...says, ‘don’t try to change the world at all — just work on yourself.’ And I think that’s not really the best way.”

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

By Dr. Peter Breggin

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

News & Information for April 14, 2019

Finally some robust research into whether “Diversity Training” works – unfortunately it’s not very promising

Diversity trainings are big business. In the United States, companies spend about £6.1 billion per year, by one estimate, on programmes geared at making companies more inclusive and welcoming to members of often-underrepresented groups (British numbers aren’t easy to come by, but according to one recent survey, over a third of recruiters are planning to increase their investment in diversity initiatives). Unfortunately, there’s little evidence-backed consensus about which sorts of diversity programmes work, and why, and there have been long-standing concerns in some quarters that these programmes don’t do much at all, or that they could actually be harmful. In part because of this dearth of evidence, the market for pro-diversity interventions is a bit of a Wild West with regard to quality. For a new paper in PNAS, a prominent team of researchers, including Katherine Milkman, Angela Duckworth, and Adam Grant of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, partnered with a large global organisation to measure the real-world impact of the researchers’ own anti-bias intervention, designed principally to “promote inclusive attitudes and behaviors toward women, whereas a secondary focus was to promote the inclusion of other underrepresented groups (e.g., racial minorities).” The results were mixed at best – and unfortunately there are good reasons to be sceptical that even the more positive results are as positive as they seem.

Ditching junk food will improve your mood

A majority of people are living with depression. Without help and treatment, it becomes difficult to work and maintain relationships with friends and family. Why medication and therapy treat depression, so does increasing frequency of exercising and switching to healthier diets. According to research, eating unhealthy diets increases the risk or severity of depression, on the flip side, healthy foods reduce the risk. As thus, what should you eat more and what should you avoid for the sake of your mood? Having a healthy diet means eating a wide variety of nutritious foods. Contrariwise, unhealthy diets are those that are low on nutrition and contain a lot of foods that are high in energy. These foods (unhealthy diets) may include.

CDC Study Links Kratom with Drug Overdose Deaths

Kratom is a plant native to Southeast Asia, which can produce stimulant and opioid-like effects. Since kratom use has grown in popularity in the United States as an herbal supplement, concerns have been raised about its safety due to its abuse potential.1  Kratom is currently not federally scheduled as a controlled substance, but it is considered a drug of concern. Additionally, a new report by the CDC found that kratom caused 91 overdose deaths in 27 states.1  The CDC analyzed data from the State Unintentional Drug Overdose Reporting System (SUDORS), which contains detailed information on opioid overdose deaths from death certificates and medical examiner and coroner reports.1 Kratom overdoses are included in SUDORS even though it is not an opioid.

More Psychological Supports Needed to Manage Antidepressant Discontinuation

In a new study, a team of researchers from the UK investigated what interventions are available for assisting people who are attempting to discontinue antidepressants. The systematic review of the existing literature, recently published in Annals of Family Medicine, identify Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) as two psychological interventions that have been found to support discontinuation without increasing the risk of relapse/recurrence when compared with clinical management by primary care clinicians. “Providing psychological therapies seems to enable significantly higher discontinuation rates as compared with brief guidance on tapering to primary care clinicians alone,” the authors write. “This approach may work by providing support to patients to manage fears of withdrawal, relapse, and lack of self-efficacy, which are possible barriers to discontinuation. Alternatively, having an effective therapy for the depression or anxiety for which the medication was initially given removes the need for it, without increasing relapse/recurrence risk.”

Withdrawal Symptoms Routinely Confound Findings of Psychiatric Drug Studies

Psychiatric drug studies routinely use rapid discontinuation from drugs to test whether patients “relapse,” or experience a return of their psychiatric symptoms. However, rapid discontinuation can result in withdrawal effects that mimic “relapse,” meaning that withdrawal from the drugs could be causing the worsening symptoms. According to researchers, withdrawal symptoms from psychiatric drugs “may include anxiety, depression, mania, and psychosis, in addition to nausea and vomiting, tachycardia, lightheadedness, and diarrhea.” This is not an exhaustive list; many other symptoms have been reported. Researchers David Cohen and Alexander M. Récalt, both at UCLA, wanted to discover how pervasively drug trials use rapid discontinuation practices; they also wanted to analyze how much data about relapse might be confounded by withdrawal symptoms. To that end, they conducted two studies, both published in the journal Psychotherapy & Psychosomatics.

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 April 13, 2019

The Key To Happiness? Just Smile, Meta-analysis of Smiling Studies Suggests

A new study reveals that smiling actually makes people feel happier. Researchers from the University of Tennessee and Texas A&M say that, in fact, several of our emotions can be manipulated to a degree by our facial features. The effect, they note, isn’t necessarily long-lasting or even profoundly powerful, but it’s significant enough to show a correlation between our emotions and how we carry ourselves. “It appears that the physical act of smiling can make us feel happy, that frowning can make us feel sad, that scowling can make us feel angry,” says lead researcher Nicholas Coles, a PhD student in social psychology at UT, in an interview posted by the university. [...] “Some studies have not found evidence that facial expressions can influence emotional feelings,” Coles says in a statement. “But we can’t focus on the results of any one study. Psychologists have been testing this idea since the early 1970s, so we wanted to look at all the evidence.”

Science Minute: Smiles Could Be Hiding the Secret to Happiness

Nicholas Coles, social psychology PhD student at UT, explains the relationship between smiling more and feeling happier. 

SCHNEIBEL: That is Nicholas Coles, a social psychology PhD student at UT. He and his colleagues recently published a study on whether making facial expressions can lead people to feel the emotions related to those expressions.

Coles and his team combined nearly 50 years of data from 138 studies involving more than 11,000 participants from all around the world. For over a century, psychologists have disagreed about this topic. But Coles and his team provided the strongest evidence to date that facial expressions can influence our feelings.

COLES: It appears that the physical act of smiling can make us feel happy. That frowning can make us feel sad and that scowling can make us feel angry.

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 April 12, 2019

The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour with Jeanne Stolzer – 04.10.19

The second in a row of two great radio hours with Jeanne Stolzer, PhD as my guest talking across a broad range of extremely controversial issues including the biological basis of gender differences, the reality of male abuse of women, and the backlash about toxic masculinity that is crushing the identity of boys and men. We emphasize the importance of shared values that defy the concepts of diversity and encourage a unity of basic beliefs in responsibility, mutual respect and love. Society thrives when one-to-one human-to-human relationships transcend warring diverse groups. Shared values that empower all individuals are more important than diversity in creating a healthy society. This is an hour that sharpened my own thinking because Jeanne Stolzer is such an astonishing combination of courageous communicator, devoted scientist, and genuine advocate for freedom and equality. Join the intellectual and spiritual ride that she creates! 

Birdwatching is the self-care we all need

Research has established the health benefits of an increased exposure to nature, and birding, of course, is much easier to do outdoors. One study found that just listening to birdsongs can help restore attention and lessen stress. The idea of mindfulness — the psychological state of being focused and fully attentive to your experience in the present — has recently become more familiar thanks to the rise of practices such as meditation and yoga. Diverting all your attention to faint bird calls and methodically searching a wooded area for different birds can help to bring you to this coveted state. I’m not just speculating: Psychology professor David Standish has confirmed birdwatching is an exercise in mindfulness.

If you’re coming off antidepressants, withdrawals and setbacks may be part of the process

Depression is a common mental disorder affecting over 300 million people across the world. It’s estimated that one in ten people in Australia (10.4%) suffer from depression. Alongside other therapies, medication is often used to treat patients with depression. About 8% of Australians are taking antidepressants for depression, anxiety and related conditions (but in this article we’re focusing on depression). Antidepressants are powerful drugs that affect the way the neurotransmitters in our brains work, usually with the outcome of increasing the overall amount of a chemical called serotonin. Low levels of serotonin cause low mood, so increasing the availability of this transmitter improves mood. [...] A condition called antidepressant discontinuation syndrome affects about 20% of people withdrawing from antidepressants. This syndrome can cause flu-like symptoms (headache, body aches and sweating), difficulty sleeping, irritability, feeling sick (nausea or even vomiting), disturbance in balance, confusion, anxiety and agitation.

KDKA Radio with Robert Mangino: The Boy Crisis

Mangino's last guest is the author of the book The Boy Crisis, Dr. Warren  Farrell. They discuss what factors are negatively impacting young boy's motivation and sense of purpose. Topics include motivation, parenting, and mental health. 

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 April 11, 2019

Brain scans may reveal concussion damage in living athletes

Researchers may be closing in on a way to check athletes while they’re alive for signs of a degenerative brain disease that’s been linked to frequent head blows. Experimental scans found higher levels of an abnormal protein tied to the disease in a study of former National Football League players who were having mood and thinking problems. It’s the first time a major study has tested these scans for detecting chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, which is only diagnosed now after death, with brain autopsies. [...] Mike Adamle, a former running back for the Chicago Bears and sports announcer, has been told he has symptoms consistent with CTE, and has been evaluated by Stern at the Boston research center though he was not part of the current study. “I had more than a few” concussions, Adamle said. “If you were running, everybody kind of led with their head. Back then, it was a test of your macho man stuff.” The illness has been devastating, said his wife, Kim. “He couldn’t remember his lunch or he couldn’t remember his lines on the air,” and lost multiple jobs, she said.

Exercise and Engagement, Not Money or Apps, Keep Us Happy, Engaged At Work

In today’s competitive environment, almost everyone is always stressed or, at least, tired. With technology blurring the definition of working hours, glancing at the mobile screen has become a habit of sorts. We use the same device to check our levels of productivity and steps taken in a day—all in the hope that our work and health will improve.  Research, however, says we don’t need technology to achieve either. A study, led by Curtin University in Australia and published in the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, says people who have the ability to shape their own role, work collaboratively with their colleagues, and participate in mindfulness activities are more likely to stay engaged at work. [...] It found that employees who were encouraged to “proactively craft their own jobs, such as by taking on a challenging new work project, learning a new skill, or brainstorming with a colleague to problem solve, were more likely to stay engaged at work”. The research also found that employees who participated in health activities such as mindfulness, stress management, exercise or relaxation programs were more likely to stay engaged at work, as these activities helped to reduce symptoms like stress, anxiety and depression.

Mindfulness Can Help Connect Us to What Truly Matters

Dr. Irvin Yalom is a living legend in the psychotherapy community, a renowned author and existential and group psychotherapist. In his book about overcoming the terror of death, Staring at the Sun, he wrote of a famous philosopher, Heidegger, who makes a crucial distinction between two ways we exist in the world: the Ontological mode of being and the Everyday mode of being. In Ontological mode, we know every moment is precious, we’re in touch with what really matters—like our friendships and loved ones—and we are mindful that every moment, breath, bite, and step are not to be taken for granted. We’re in touch with our morality and the temporary preciousness of life. Accessing Ontological mode doesn't mean life is always easy, but it helps us feel the preciousness of every moment viscerally, even in the midst of significant struggle, loss, and pain. 

Long-term treatment with antidepressants may not be justified by available studies

A new study published in the current issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics sheds new light on long-term studies with antidepressant drugs. The higher occurrence of relapse in the groups assigned to placebo instead of drug continuation may be due to the studies not considering the potential occurrence of withdrawal syndromes. [...] Dr. Baldessarini points out that the effects of discontinuing treatment with psychotropic drugs, encountered in both clinically and therapeutic trials, raise important clinical and possible ethical concerns. Available research designed to test for the impact of various rates of discontinuing psychotropic treatments is rare, inconsistent, and inconclusive with respect to early withdrawal reactions commonly encountered with short half-life SSRIs and venlafaxine. Not investigating these issues, could compromise the scientific soundness of research, especially in trials that involve discontinuing a previous or current active treatment to a placebo. Indeed, trials involving discontinuation of an effective treatment are especially likely to produce exaggerated differences in morbidity between continuing treatment versus discontinuing it to an inactive placebo. According to Dr. Baldessarini, these findings highlight the need to recommend discontinuing psychotropic medicines as slowly as possible as we await adequate investigations aimed at testing for ways of conducting drug discontinuations.

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 April 10, 2019

Alert 94: With Professor Stolzer we ask: Is it the end of masculinity?

Today, Wednesday April 10th, for the second week in a row, Professor of Child Development Jeanne Stolzer will be my radio show guest, this time focusing more intensively on the crushing tragedy of America’s boys.  It’s live at 4 PM NY Time on www.prn.fm.  The American Psychological Association and Pharmaceutical Empire led by the American Psychiatric Association, in cooperation with many political and academic factions, are making a war on boys and young men that ultimately afflicts all grown men as well.  Listen live on www.prn.fm and call in live 4-5 pm to enter the discussion on  888 874 4888.  And don’t forget the archives on www.breggin.com.  This is a story filled with new information.

Yoga may help ease anxiety and depression in Parkinson's patients

People with Parkinson's disease may have less anxiety and depression when they practice yoga focused on mindfulness and breathing exercises, a small experiment suggests. Parkinson's disease is one of the most common chronic neurodegenerative diseases. Classic motor symptoms include tremors, rigidity, slowed movements, and postural instability - but patients with Parkinson's can also experience a variety of cognitive problems as well as psychiatric disorders like depression and anxiety, researchers note in JAMA Neurology. For the study, researchers randomly assigned 138 adults with Parkinson's to participate in eight weeks of either a mindfulness yoga program or an exercise program focused on stretching and resistance training to improve mobility and stability. All of the participants could stand and walk without canes or walkers.

The Powerful Link Between Insomnia and Depression

When one has difficulty sleeping, the waking world seems opaque. On top of feeling tired and fatigued, those who experience sleep disturbances can be irritable and have difficulty concentrating. When one has more severe cases of insomnia, one also faces a higher risk of developing heart disease, chronic pain, hypertension, and respiratory disorders. It can also cause some to gain weight. Sleep disruptions can also have a major impact on one's emotional well-being. A growing body of research has found that sleep disturbances and depression have an extremely high rate of concurrence, and many researchers are convinced that the two are biconditional—meaning that one can give rise to the other, and vice-versa. A paper that was published in Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience concluded, “The link between the two is so fundamental that some researchers have suggested that a diagnosis of depression in the absence of sleep complaints should be made with caution.” The paper's lead author [...] found that 83 percent of depressed patients experienced some form of insomnia, which was more than double the amount (36 percent) of those without depression.

Top Meditation and Mindfulness Apps for 2019

A recent study by the American Psychological found that 60% of Americans are stressed by money and work — who isn’t, right? The study also identified multiple negative effects of stress including anxiety, chest pains, fatigue, lack of sleep and depression. Well I’m not going to say that using one of these apps is going to solve something like depression or heal anyone of anxiety, but what they will do is improve your day, big time. If you’re anything like me, a busy entrepreneur that has about 5 million things going on in my brain at any given moment, you’ll want take a moment and consider one of these apps to help you stay focused, steady and most importantly more mindful through out the day.

Marijuana Edibles: Buyers and Users Beware

When he arrived at the hospital by ambulance, the 70-year-old man said he felt like he was dying. He was pale, nauseated, and reported severe chest pain. "He had had hallucinations at home," says his doctor, Alexandra Saunders, MD, chief medical resident for Dalhousie University in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada. Soon, the medical team confirmed he’d had a heart attack. He had eaten a marijuana-laced lollipop, given to him by a friend who thought it might help him sleep. "I don’t know if we can say it caused the heart attack,'' Saunders says, citing the patient's pre-existing heart disease. ''We don't have enough guidance to say what a safe dose would be." [...] When a marijuana edible is eaten, the blood level of THC peaks in about 3 hours, compared to 30 minutes when inhaled [...] Gomez advises those trying marijuana CBD edibles: "Start low and go slow. You don't know how the dosage level is going to interact with your body. Definitely start with small doses and wait [before eating more]."

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 April 9, 2019

Psychology and technology: how tech is improving mental health

As the son of parents who immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador, Jimmy Castellanos grew up being told how lucky he was to live in such a great country. He felt lucky, too — so much so that he enlisted to become a Marine. He thought it was his patriotic duty. In March 2004, then 20-year-old Castellanos was stationed at Al Asad Air Base, not far outside Baghdad, Iraq. There he maintained Marine aircraft as an aviation ordnance technician. On the 18th of that month, Castellanos was assigned to a standard resupply mission during which he'd ride in a truck to pick up some provisions elsewhere on the base. Only a few minutes before he was supposed to leave, however, a sergeant ordered him to stay behind and help guard an ammunition supply point. So Castellanos swapped spots with his roommate, who had been on guard duty for 12 hours.

Feeling down, mom? Here are 3 healthy snacks with mood-boosting ingredients

According to nutritional psychiatry, there is a huge connection between gut health and brain function. The gut houses 90% of our serotonin receptors (the feel-good chemicals that make us happy) so what we eat matters when it comes to our mood. Here are three healthy snacks with mood-boosting ingredients that can help you get out of that funk: 1. Kombucha Kombucha is fermented tea that’s packed with probiotics (good gut bacteria that occurs naturally) and prebiotics (plant-based fibres that help probiotics grow.) [...] Aside from its A+ in the taste department, Kombucha has been shown to boost mood and decrease depression. According to a 2017 review from the Annals of General Psychiatry, researchers found that out of 10 studies, the majority of them showed that probiotics can improve symptoms of depression. 2.Granola bars Did you know that the granola bar at the bottom of your bag could help you feel happier today? These handy little bars are packed with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are known to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. Not all granola bars are created equal though, so make sure to find one that knows how important these mood-boosting ingredients are. [...] 3. Chickpeas and lentils These legumes may look tiny but they’re great for your mental health in a big way! Sprinkle them on your salad for tons of protein, fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, and folate! 

Trying to find answers for the sex recession, we’ve reached a double standard

Late last month, The Washington Post published findings from the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, offering yet another piece to the puzzle in understanding the current sex drought in America. [...] The decline is even more drastic when comparing the sexes. For the past 30 years, twentysomething women and men reported comparable rates of sexlessness. But in 2018, 28 per cent of young men reported having no sex in the past year, while only 18 per cent of young women said the same. Furthermore, 27 per cent of men under 30 reported not having sex since turning 18, a percentage that has more than tripled in the past 10 years. [...] Others have interpreted these findings as a positive sign, that perhaps young American adults are simply making better decisions about sex. But according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are skyrocketing. Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis totalled almost 2.3 million cases in the United States, marking the highest number of reported cases to date, particularly among those aged 15 to 24.

Depressed? Try These Proven Natural Remedies to Lift Negative Emotions

Negativity, anxiety, anger, stress, trauma, and depression: chances are very high that you or someone you love struggles with these negative emotions. There are many ways to deal with emotional pain. Self-medication with harmful substances or behaviors briefly offers relief, only to make the problem worse in the long run. These include food, drugs, alcohol, risky sexual behavior, shopping, mindless TV, video games or internet surfing.  Christian psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Amen offers new hope. He says many of us can turn around our negative emotions by changing some of our daily habits. Furthermore, he suggests several coping mechanisms that can make us feel better now and later. [...] "Here at Amen Clinics, we look at people's brains," he told CBN News, "We have a database of 150-thousand scans on people from 120 countries. And when I started looking at the brain, I'm like, 'Oh, we can make it better or we can make it worse.'"

Can Yoga Improve Self-Image? New research shows increased body appreciation among people who practice yoga.

Yoga is like a miracle drug. It has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, reduce inflammation, counteract depression, and promote sleep and breathing, among other things. New research published in the journal Body Image adds another benefit to the list. In this latest article, researchers at Washington State University show that a regular regimen of yoga can improve individuals' body appreciation. Here's how they arrived at this conclusion. They recruited 376 undergraduates from Washington State University who were enrolled in a 16-week yoga class. The researchers asked participants to complete measures of mindfulness and body appreciation at various points throughout the 16-week course. [...] As they hypothesized, the researchers found an upward movement in the body appreciation scale at later time points during the yoga course. This suggests that yoga does, in fact, improve self-image.

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 April 8, 2019

'Boy crisis' threatens America's future with economic, health and suicide risks

In an astonishing disclosure about the two greatest dangers to the future of America’s economy, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell revealed on CBS' "60 Minutes" last month the peril posed by “young males”: young males not looking for work; being addicted to drugs (think opioid crisis); and being unprepared for the transition to technology. Powell posits that this economic problem is also a national security problem. He implies that we ignore this crisis at our own peril. Yet his warning is ignored. In my half-century of research on boys and men, I have discovered that there is, in fact, a boy crisis, that it is a global crisis, and that it is particularly egregious in America. The crisis is more than economic. It is multifaceted, with each facet magnifying the others. It is a crisis of education. Worldwide, 60% of the students who achieve less than the baseline level of proficiency in any of the three core subjects of the Program for the International Assessment are boys. Even boys’ IQs are dropping.

Study: Just Being Reminded Of Coffee Increases Alertness, Attention

Researchers from the University of Toronto say that being exposed to things that stoke thoughts of drinking coffee can stimulate arousal in the brain and increase one’s alertness and attention similar to the way actually drinking a cup can. They examined a psychological effect called priming, in which subtle cues of something familiar can influence one’s thoughts and behavior. “People often encounter coffee-related cues, or think about coffee, without actually ingesting it,” says study co-author Sam Maglio, an expert on consumer behavior and an associate professor in the Department of Management at UT Scarborough, in a release. “We wanted to see if there was an association between coffee and arousal such that if we simply exposed people to coffee-related cues, their physiological arousal would increase, as it would if they had actually drank coffee.”

10 Powerful Ways To Receive Spiritual Guidance

Spiritual guidance is a term we often hear but what does it really mean? Can you receive help with a problem from beyond? If the answer yes, how can you make this happen? As a shaman and spiritual counselor, I’m often asked these types of questions, particularly from people in recovery from an addiction. Perhaps you can relate? My hope in penning this piece is to help provide answers while dispelling common myths. Hopefully, by the end of this piece, you will have a deeper understanding of what spiritual guidance means and how to receive it. ...

1 in 5 at Oklahoma nursing homes given powerful antipsychotics without appropriate diagnoses or prescriptions

Nearly 1 in 5 Oklahoma nursing home residents is being given powerful antipsychotic drugs despite the lack of an appropriate medical diagnosis, according to a 2018 AARP report. Unprescribed drugs designed for people with schizophrenia and other severe psychiatric disorders are being given to a greater portion of the state’s nursing home population than those of any other state, according to the report. Routinely using drugs inappropriately to tranquilize patients who are difficult to manage is a nightmarish scenario that must stop. Legislation pending in the state House would crack down on the practice.

What to know about the recently filed North Carolina Opioid Epidemic Response Act

A bill filed in the N.C. Senate last week aims to prevent people from abusing legal drugs and guide those with drug dependencies toward treatment to address the opioid epidemic in North Carolina. If passed, Senate Bill 546, or the Opioid Epidemic Response Act, would eliminate the state registration requirement for prescribers of buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addictions. It would also decriminalize drug testing equipment used to detect contaminants in controlled substances, remove the ban on the use of state funds to purchase supplies for the syringe exchange program and revise the N.C. Controlled Substances Reporting System (CSRS). [...] “We can’t arrest our way out of this problem, so we want to drive people toward treatment, and we want to make sure that the treatment facilities are on the up and up, they’re using the best practices and we want to hold them accountable for being efficient and graduating these individuals from drug dependency,” he said.

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

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

News & Information for April 6-7, 2019

Dr. Breggin Interviewed on The People's Radio 


The Latest in Military Strategy: Mindfulness

As commander of the coalition forces in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt juggled ruthless pursuit of enemies and delicate diplomacy with tribal leaders, using a trove of modern weaponry and streams of tech-generated data. But his best decisions, he said, relied on a tool as ancient as it is powerful. Maj. Gen. Piatt often began daily operations by breathing deliberately, slack-jawed, staring steadily at a palm tree. Mindfulness — the practice of using breathing techniques, similar to those in meditation, to gain focus and reduce distraction — is inching into the military in the United States and those of a handful of other nations. [...] The approach, he said, is based on the work of Amishi Jha, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Miami. She is the senior author of a paper published in December about the training’s effectiveness among members of a special operations unit. The paper, in the journal Progress in Brain Research, reported that the troops who went through a monthlong training regimen that included daily practice in mindful breathing and focus techniques were better able to discern key information under chaotic circumstances and experienced increases in working memory function. The soldiers also reported making fewer cognitive errors than service members who did not use mindfulness.

Can Religion Help with Depression?

Depression is the second leading cause of disability in the world; isolating risk and protective factors can aid in reducing the prevalence of depression worldwide. [...] One variable that has been recently explored as a protective factor is religiosity/spirituality. [...] Many studies have demonstrated the positive effects of religiosity for depression (2, 3). [...] In sum, it seems like religiosity/spirituality may confer resilience to the development/recurrence of depressive episodes in individuals in general and in ones with high risk in specific. This resiliency is maybe a result of the relationship between religiosity and a thicker cortex, efficient macro-structure and connections, or better blood flow to brain areas implicated in depression (9). Scientists are still working to discover more protective factors.

Screen time has little effect on teenagers' wellbeing, says study

Screen time has little effect on the psychological wellbeing of teenagers, regardless of whether they use devices for hours a day or just before bedtime, according to a study by researchers at Oxford University. The research, based on analysis of the screen use of more than 17,000 teenagers across Ireland, the US and the UK, found use of screens before bedtime was completely unrelated to psychological wellbeing, and screen time more generally had a “minuscule” effect on wellbeing in teenagers when compared with other activities in an adolescent’s life. The effect was believed to be small enough that adolescents “would need to report 63 hours and 31 minutes’ more of technology use a day in their time-use diaries to decrease their wellbeing” by an amount big enough for them to notice. [...] “The analysis is robust and suggests an overall population effect too small to warrant consideration as a public health problem. They also question the widely held belief that screens before bedtime are especially bad for mental health.”

Ambushed by Antidepressants for 30 Years

Before antidepressants, I was articulate and accomplished. I could think — I could do anything I set out to do. I was a banking executive living in a beautiful apartment in Boston’s Back Bay when a home invasion in 1985 prompted my doctor to prescribe antidepressants for PTSD. Just as my attacker slammed into me, SSRI antidepressants ambushed the neurotransmitters in my brain causing cognitive decline, severe anxiety, panic attacks and suicidal depression. They helped me function for a while, but the debilitating mental and physical side effects of antidepressants held me prisoner. I couldn’t “decide” to get off them. When the antidepressants didn’t “work,” my doctors either upped the dosage of the one I was on or switched me to a different one. A higher dose made the side effects worse; a new drug continued the assault on my brain under a different name.

“I Love My Diagnosis”: The Benefits of Mental Illness

An acquaintance recently shared with me what he apparently felt was outstanding news: “I just found out I’m clinically depressed!” he beamed with pride. He perhaps thought that I, as a psychiatrist, would share in his excitement. Maybe he thought it would strike a chord of kinship for me to know he’s “one of my people.” Or part of my “target population.” In line with my training, I was struck with how his affect seemed seriously off-kilter given his proclaimed diagnosis. (Hmm, come to think of it, maybe he really was deeply disturbed). In inquiring further, I learned that he was supremely satisfied to discover that there is now an explanation for the sense of personal dysfunction (his words) that he says he has experienced his entire life. He wore his new diagnosis like a shiny badge—as if he’d just joined an elite and exclusive club.

Guilt, Shame and Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming Negative Emotions

By Dr. Peter Breggin

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

News & Information for April 5, 2019

Fascinating picture shows anti-ageing drugs really DO work

A fascinating picture of two very different mice shows anti-aging drugs really do work. Scientists gave the youth-enhancing medication to mice, with some of the rodents being left with glossy fur and bright eyes. This is a stark contrast from the frail, tired-looking mice who did not receive the drugs - and could easily be confused as being twice as old as the treated animals.

  • Mice treated with the drugs kept their glossy fur and bright eyes
  • Stark contrast to the frail, tired-looking mice who did not receive the medication
  • Drugs extended the rodents' lifespan by 36% - equivalent of 30 human years
  • Six trials are testing the drugs in humans, which may be available in two years 

Researchers found giving the rodents anti-aging - or senolytic - drugs extended their lives by 36 per cent - the equivalent of around 30 human years. Six trials testing senolytic drugs in humans are already underway and a further half a dozen are due to start in the near future. If successful, medication that slows aging may be available in as little as two years, the researchers claim. The research was carried out by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and led by Dr James Kirkland, a clinical geriatrician and director of the Robert and Arlene Kogod Center on Aging. [...] Rather than just trying to treat one disease, scientists are now looking to create a broad-spectrum drug that can 'turn off' the process that triggers a host of conditions. Dr Kirkland compares this to an antibiotic that is capable of relieving up to 25 infections.

Ian's thoughts: Here's an NIH news release on the same research by Kirkland et al. Last year we posted a study that showed the inexpensive over-the-counter supplement fisetin, a plant polyphenol, has the same effect in mice of reducing senescent cells, aka, 'zombie cells'. 

Antidepressants are the new antipsychotics

Long-term care providers have made remarkable progress in reducing antipsychotics. Now it’s time to turn the attention to antidepressants. A recent quality improvement project, which had results published in the Annals of Long-Term Care, was a fascinating look into how this can succeed, and how barriers come up. Alicia Harbison, D.O., and Joseph Mwesige, M.D, oversaw the project at a nursing home in 2017. Their goal was decreasing the use of antidepressants among 55 residents by 25% within three months. Around half of the residents involved had dementia, not depression, which can have similar symptoms. Harbison noted that many of the residents were no longer able to tell the clinicians how long they had been on a specific medication, and there was no access to their previous electronic health records. “A common issue is that our elderly patients were placed on a medication and were never told when to stop it,” she said. “As they aged and have other medical conditions, then they have blood pressure medications and various other drugs, and no one has thought, ‘When do we stop the antidepressant?’” [...] “A lot of residents were on five-plus medications,” Harbison said. “For most people, many medications you grow out of, or change so that you don’t need them anymore.”

New rules would allow longer forced holds

A proposal to loosen detention rules in Washington's involuntary treatment act is dividing rights groups and mental health advocates in Olympia. The bill, from Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, would allow people having a mental health or substance abuse crisis to be held for up to five days before seeing a judge, putting Washington among the states with the longest such holds nationwide. The change would target the state's involuntary treatment act, which currently allows authorities to hold non-criminal patients against their will for 72 hours before an initial hearing. But while supporters say that would give more time for treatment, groups including the state's disability rights watchdog have objected. The bill received a public hearing Thursday, likely one of the last before lawmakers decide whether to bring it to a full vote of the state House.

Bad Diets Are Responsible For More Deaths Than Smoking, Global Study Finds

About 11 million deaths a year are linked to poor diet around the globe. What's driving this? As a planet we don't eat enough healthy foods including whole grains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables. At the same time, we consume too many sugary drinks, too much salt and too much processed meat. As part of a new study published in The Lancet, researchers analyzed the diets of people in 195 countries using survey data, as well as sales data and household expenditure data. Then they estimated the impact of poor diets on the risk of death from diseases including heart disease, certain cancers and diabetes. (They also calculated the number of deaths related to other risk factors, such as smoking and drug use, at the global level.) "This study shows that poor diet is the leading risk factor for deaths in the majority of the countries of the world," says study author Ashkan Afshin of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington. Unhealthy diets are "a larger determinant of ill health than either tobacco or high blood pressure," he says.

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 April 4, 2019

The Dr Peter Breggin Hour, April 3rd

A very challenging show, with my brilliant and enthusiastic guest Jeanne Stolzer, PhD., an award-winning teacher. It is filled with unorthodox but scientific ideas that do not yield to political correctness.  About the differences between women and men built into our bodies by physical evolution, passed on by our genes, and then affected by family and society and our own individuality.  How these differences were used by men in very recent millennia to develop patriarchal societies that enforce the subjugation of women.  But how, on the other hand, the reflexive rejection of these actual biological and evolutionary differences between men and women has been especially harmful to boys and men in recent decades, disempowering and intimidating them.   Is masculinity now a “disease” as the American Psychological Association says, and what does such a concept do to boys and men? How women of course have a right and ought to be free of patriarchy and also to reject traditional roles, but what can society do to support those women who do want to be the primary caretakers of their children?  What are the consequences of not nursing a child and not providing a constant, loving caretaker in the early years of life?    You are not likely to hear a discussion remotely like this anywhere else, making this a unique and important hour of conversation that is critical to all our lives and to where society is going.  It simply would not be permitted at most universities or in the media.

Self-help app helps reduce depression, anxiety symptoms

A popular smartphone app based on cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness showed efficacy in individuals with symptoms of anxiety and depression, data presented at the Anxiety and Depression Association of America annual meeting showed. There has been increased demand for technology-based behavioral health tools to ease the burden of mental illness, according to the meeting abstract. [...] Moberg and colleagues found that self-reported depression, anxiety and stress declined at 1 month among adults who used the app and self-reported self-efficacy rose, according to results from the intent-to-treat analysis. Although the researchers found no relationship between overall app engagement and symptom improvement, follow-up analysis indicated that participants who finished more thought record exercises saw a greater degree of sustained symptom improvements through the 2-month follow-up than those who completed fewer exercises, according to the abstract. Furthermore, participants who also took psychiatric medications during the trial had less benefit from the app, as measured by reduction of anxiety and stress symptoms. This app may be especially helpful to individuals who use thought records and do not take psychiatric medication, according to the abstract.

Self-Compassion May Buffer Against Depression, Anxiety in Bipolar Disorder

Self-compassion partially mediated the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and psychiatric symptoms in patients with bipolar disorder, according to study data published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. [...] Maladaptive perfectionism was a significant predictor of low self-compassion, and low self-compassion, in turn, was a significant predictor of self-reported depression (both P <.01). Patients with greater maladaptive perfectionism scores had more severe self-reported depression, an effect partially mediated by self-compassion. However, self-compassion did not appear to predict clinician-rated depression or to mediate the relationship between perfectionism and clinician-rated depression, suggesting a discrepancy between self- and clinician-rated measures. Lower self-compassion was also associated with greater levels of anxiety and emotion regulation difficulties. Self-compassion partially mediated the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and anxiety as well as the relationship between maladaptive perfectionism and emotion regulation difficulties. [...] “Given evidence that self-compassion may be modifiable through psychotherapy, the present findings suggest that individuals with [bipolar depression] who exhibit maladaptive perfectionistic tendencies may potentially benefit from psychological interventions designed to foster self-compassion,” the researchers concluded.

Analysis Supports Valbenazine’s Efficacy as Treatment for Tardive Dyskinesia

The use of valbenazine was shown to significantly improve tardive dyskinesia in patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and other mood disorders, according to supplemental analysis results published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. [...] After post hoc analysis, the researchers reported that medium-to-high effect sizes were seen for mean changes in AIMS total score from baseline to week 6 (40-mg group: −1.8, d=0.52; 80-mg group: −3.1, d=0.89). In addition, AIMS total score treatment responses between 10% and 70% improvement were found to be statistically significant in the valbenazine 80-mg arm vs placebo (P ≤.01). Researchers noted that the KINECT 3 study was not designed to test all the post hoc analyses presented. “Results from these supplemental AIMS analyses indicated a consistently stronger effect with valbenazine versus placebo, with sustained improvements during double-blind long-term valbenazine treatment,” the researchers wrote. “It is hoped that these analyses will help clinicians interpret clinical trial data and make relevant treatment decisions for their patients with [tardive dyskinesia],” they concluded.

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 April 3, 2019

The contribution of cannabis use to variation in the incidence of psychotic disorder across Europe

Cannabis use is associated with increased risk of later psychotic disorder but whether it affects incidence of the disorder remains unclear. We aimed to identify patterns of cannabis use with the strongest effect on odds of psychotic disorder across Europe and explore whether differences in such patterns contribute to variations in the incidence rates of psychotic disorder.

Figure 2 Fully adjusted ORs of psychotic disorders for the combined measure of frequency plus type of cannabis use in three sites. Error bars represent 95% CIs. OR=odds ratio.

Our main findings show that among the measures of cannabis use tested, the strongest independent predictors of whether any given individual would have a psychotic disorder or not were daily use of cannabis and use of high-potency cannabis. The odds of psychotic disorder among daily cannabis users were 3·2 times higher than for never users, whereas the odds among users of high-potency cannabis were 1·6 times higher than for never users. Starting to use cannabis by 15 years of age modestly increased the odds for psychotic disorder but not independently of frequency of use or of the potency of the cannabis used. These measures of extent of exposure did not interact with each other, nor did they interact with the sites. This lack of interaction between degree of cannabis use (ie, daily use of cannabis or use of high-potency cannabis) and site might reflect insufficient power in our study; however, it could also indicate that although the magnitude of the effect might vary depending on the degree of cannabis use, there is a consistent effect of daily use and use of high-potency cannabis on the ORs for psychotic disorders across all study sites.

Want a happier Monday? Adjust your weekend mindset

Taking more vacation days leads to greater happiness, researchers have found. But if that’s not an option, there’s a near-term solution: treat your weekend like a mini-vacation. Researchers at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management report employees who adopt a vacation mindset on weekends feel happier and more refreshed come Monday morning compared to those who don’t. Their studies, which involved more than 1,000 people, found those who acted like they were on vacation spent more time eating and being intimate and less time doing chores and caring for children, but researchers say the greater levels of happiness had more to do with the subjects' "in the moment" mentality, no matter the activity or the money spent. 

Why Even a Little Nature Is Good for Your Brain

In a new study, mountain hiking had similar psychological and stress-reducing benefits whether or not there were signs of human habitation [...] The researchers sent 52 volunteers to spend three October days in “a renowned summer and winter sports area” in the Austrian Alps. On back-to-back days in random order, they did two hikes that were as identical as possible—a bit more than 4 miles, climbing and then descending about 2,500 feet, taking about three hours, walking at similar speeds—with one crucial difference. One of the hikes took place in an area with virtually no signs of human habitation, while the other was continually in sight of features like a highway, ski lift, snow cannons, construction sites, and a parking lot. The purpose of the study wasn’t disclosed, so the subjects weren’t alerted to the differences between the two hikes. [...] The results of the Austrian study suggest that getting into nature is great regardless of the presence or absence of manmade features. The cortisol data, for example, showed a nice drop from pre-hike to mid-hike, and a further drop by the end of the hike—but no differences between the two hikes.

Big Pharma Family Planned To Profit From Addiction

It was 2014, and the company the family had controlled for two generations, Purdue Pharma, had been hit with years of investigations and lawsuits over its marketing of the highly addictive opioid painkiller OxyContin, at one point pleading guilty to a federal felony and paying more than $600 million in criminal and civil penalties. But as the country’s addiction crisis worsened, the Sacklers spied another business opportunity. They could increase their profits by selling treatments for the very problem their company had helped to create: addiction to opioids. Details of the effort, named Project Tango, have come to light in lawsuits filed by the attorneys general of Massachusetts and New York. Together, the cases lay out the extensive involvement of a family that has largely escaped personal legal consequences for Purdue Pharma’s role in an epidemic that has led to hundreds of thousands of overdose deaths in the past two decades.

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 April 2, 2019

Alert 93: Are America’s boys in trouble?  

Jeanne Stolzer, PhD, a brilliant professor of child development, warns about the ruination of America’s boys on The Dr. Peter Breggin Hour tomorrow, Wednesday, April 3 at 4 pm NY Time.  It’s not just psychiatric drugs, it’s everything going around them that undermines their identity.  This is a discussion of vast importance.  Listen on www.prn.fm and call in to join the conversation on 888 874 4888.

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

Can DNA tests help prescribe antidepressants?

Grit alone got Linda Greene through her husband's muscular dystrophy, her daughter's traumatic brain injury, and her own mysterious illness that lasted for three years and left her vomiting daily before doctors identified the cause. But eventually, after too many days sitting at her desk at work crying, she went to see her doctor for help. He prescribed an antidepressant and referred her to a psychiatrist. When the first medication didn't help, the psychiatrist tried another - and another and another - hoping to find one that made her feel better. Instead, Greene felt like a zombie and sometimes she hallucinated and couldn't sleep. In the worst moment, she found herself contemplating suicide. "It was horrible," she said. She never had suicidal thoughts before and was terrified. She went back her primary care doctor. [...] When she and her doctor got the results, they noticed an antidepressant that hadn't worked well for her back in college was supposedly a good match for her genetics. She tried a different recommended medication, but after a few weeks, her symptoms were worse than ever. Now, she's off that antidepressant and relying on a medication she had already been taking for anxiety, vitamin supplements, yoga and diet changes to address her symptoms.

Why Did the FDA Approve This New High-Dose ADHD Drug?

A new time-released formulation of a drug used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat children as young as six years old. It’s called Adhansia XR and its active ingredient is methylphenidate [Ritalin], which has been used to treat ADHD for more than 50 years. [...] So, what makes Adhansia XR different from the drugs that came before it? “The only difference in this new drug and the old ones is the higher dose,” Dr. Mary Ann Block, a Texas-based physician and non-pharmaceutical ADHD treatment author, told Healthline. [...] Adhansia XR also happens to be manufactured by Purdue Pharma, the company that made its fortune advertising, marketing, and selling oxycodone (OxyContin). The company is currently exploring bankruptcy in the wake of roughly 2,000 lawsuits that accuse the company of contributing to the opioid epidemic in the United States. Purdue’s newly approved ADHD medication is currently the highest dose available on the market — and they want to go higher.

Noninvasive Brain Stimulation Effective in Resistant Depression

Nonsurgical brain stimulation is a viable alternative or add-on treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) in adults, new research suggests. Investigators reviewed 113 clinical trials that randomized over 6700 patients (average age 48 years, approximately half women) with MDD or bipolar depression to an array of nonsurgical stimulations or sham therapy, focusing on response (efficacy) and all-cause discontinuation (acceptability).

Research shows high altitude increases depression and suicide, especially for women

Researchers at the University of Utah believe people who live at higher altitudes can become more depressed than people who live closer to sea level. The effect, they say, is especially noticeable in women.  Dr. Shami Kanekar said she understands one of the main reasons people move to Utah is for the beautiful mountains. Skiing is supposed to make people happy, but that doesn’t always end up being the case for people with depression. “They go up to the mountains for vacation but feel extremely depressed, and their medication’s not working,” she said. “They’re more depressed!” [...] “You see higher depression, higher anxiety in females, while males don’t seem to have that change,” Kanekar said.

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 April 1, 2019

Minds of Men Interview Part 7: Torturing Patients

In Part 7, Dr. Breggin describes how he stopped psychosurgeons who inserted electrodes deep into their patients’ brains to secretly stimulate and burn holes in their brains by remote control. 

See prior parts of Dr. Breggin’s interview here.

The Challenge of Going Off Psychiatric Drugs

She began taking twenty milligrams of Prozac, an antidepressant; when she still didn’t feel better, her dose was increased to forty milligrams, and then to sixty. With each raised dose, she felt thankful to have been heard. “It was a way for me to mark to the world: this is how much pain I am in,” she said. Laura wasn’t sure whether Prozac actually lifted her mood—roughly a third of patients who take antidepressants do not respond to them—but her emotions felt less urgent and distracting, and her classwork improved. “I remember her carrying around this plastic pillbox with compartments for all the days of the week,” a friend from high school said. “It was part of this mysterious world of her psychiatric state.” [...] ‘What the heck is going on?’ ” Most antidepressants dampen sexuality—up to seventy per cent of people who take the medications report this response—but Laura was ashamed to talk about the problem with her psychiatrist. “I assumed he’d see sexuality as a luxury,” she said. “He’d be, like, ‘Really? You have this serious illness, and you’re worried about that?’ ” 

Like Loving-Kindness Meditation, Wishing Others Well Boosts Happiness

Despite the interest in self-care these days, there’s a growing body of evidence suggesting that what ancient wisdom has taught for eons is true—turning attention away from ourselves and toward others is really the key to happiness. To this end, a new study from Iowa State University finds that when people mentally wish others well for just a brief period, they’re considerably happier and less stressed than people engaging in even other seemingly beneficial activities. The work was published this month in the Journal of Happiness Studies. To understand how wishing others well might affect mood and other variables, the research team first gave a group of undergraduate participants surveys to capture a number of measures regarding their states—happiness, stress level, satisfaction with life, empathy, level of caring, and feelings of connectedness. They also measured a number of personality traits, including their overall level of mindfulness, narcissism, intellectualness, and so on.

7 Easy Things You Can Do Instead of Worrying

It’s very difficult to distinguish helpful ways of thinking about your stressors from unhelpful ones. Your brain will try to convince you that you’re helping yourself by worrying and ruminating. In fact, you are probably making things worse. Repetitive negative thinking can make you more passive about solving the problem, lower your mood, and kill your joy. But reducing worry is easier said than done. Your brain's wiring makes you naturally vigilant for any future dangers or threats. You need practical tools and practices to be most successful. The following research-based practices can help you break free from rumination.

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

By Peter R. Breggin, MD

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


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